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Major events mark 2002 second quarter

The building of Kids Kingdom, Marvin Durr’s murder, WorldComInc.’s decline, a four-county rampage and hospital expansionscontributed to a busy 2002 second quarter.

April

Volunteers turned out in droves to build the 10-acre KidsKingdom playground off Industrial Park Road April 3-7. The projectwas completed on schedule as volunteers worked in shifts to buildthe playground over a period of five days. Funding for the projecthad been in progress for months.

A fire at McDonald’s April 7 caused the restaurant to shut itsdoors for what was expected to be a few weeks. However, EricHarkey, the owner, decided to use the down time to make renovationsand install new updated equipment. The restaurant remained closedmost of the year.

Three Jackson residents, two men and a woman, were arrested andseveral vehicles recovered April 10 when law enforcement officers,in a joint effort, broke up an auto theft ring spanning fivecities. A total of 17 vehicles had been connected to the thievesand 11 had been recovered in the weeks leading to the arrests.Three of the vehicles had been stolen in Brookhaven, but only onehad been recovered at the time of the arrests.

Brookhaven received a $70,000 grant April 15 to fund an airportmaster plan that city officials say will be useful in consideringrelocation of the current facility. Mayor Bill Godbold saidrelocating the airport would allow the industrial park to expand.The study is ongoing.

Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center opened anOutpatient Services Office at Lawrence County Hospital April 15 andannounced plans for further expansion there. SMRMC took over thetroubled hospital in 2001 under an agreement with the LawrenceCounty Board of Supervisors and stabilized its finances.

WorldCom Inc.’s Bernie Ebbers resigned as chief executive andpresident of WorldCom Inc. April 29 as the company’s stock pricescontinued their plummet. Vice Chairman John Sidgmore succeededEbbers in both positions, but would not remain long. Ebbers builtWorldCom from the ground up from its origins as LDDS here 20 yearsago to the second largest telecommunications giant in the worldbefore watching it succumb to fraudulent accounting practices,plummeting stock prices and Securities and Exchange Commissionprobes. Ebbers was not among the company’s senior executivescharged with more than $9 billion in fraudulent accountinglosses.

May

The first week of May brought a periodic and unusual visitor tothe county. Every 13 years, the county is visited by cicadas, blackinsects about one or two inches long with a similar wingspan andbright markings. The insects, often mistakenly called locusts, weregone by the end of the month.

An overwhelming response resulted in possibly the largest amountever raised in the Lincoln-Lawrence County Relay for Life May 4.The event netted $88,781.

Lawrence County Hospital announced May 4 that it had contractedwith a Memphis firm to provide emergency room doctors 24 hours aday, seven days a week. The firm replaced local doctors who havetheir own private practices to staff. The change became effectiveJune 1.

Brookhaven aldermen voted to dedicate the city’s sports complexto the late Hansel King May 7 and named Terry Reid as his successoras recreation department director.

Monticello officials met with Gov. Ronnie Musgrove May 8 andsecured his support for the MS-LOU Emergency Evacuation Commission,a proposal that would four-lane Highway 27 from the state line toCrystal Springs to aid in evacuating Louisiana’s coast whendisaster looms.

A Philadelphia man and his wife rampaged through four countiesMay 16, with the man firing an automatic weapon at law enforcementofficials, before killing themselves behind a home near Arm. APearl River Basin Narcotics Task Force agent was shot in the footand the Lawrence County Sheriff nearly killed during the pursuit.Also wounded was a 33-year-old nurse in Columbia. The chase beganin Wiggins where the man killed his ex-wife and her boyfriend. Theman’s 5-year-old son, abducted from his mother in Wiggins, was inthe vehicle during the chase, but was recovered without injury.

Brookhaven aldermen awarded the $949,000 Whitworth Fire LoopSystem project May 21 and construction began soon afterward.

Brookhaven emergency services were tested during a drillsimulating a terrorist attack at the courthouse May 28.

June

Marvin Durr was found inside a burned car June 18 on SouthWashington Street. He was the son of the Rev. and Mrs. Jerry Durr.Two Brookhaven men were quickly captured and charged with capitalmurder, car jacking, arson and conspiracy charges in the crime. Onepleaded guilty to capital murder while the other is still awaitinghis day in court.

WorldCom Inc.’s downward spiral escalated June 25 with theannouncement that it was on the brink of bankruptcy. Theannouncement sparked a national and political outcry when it wasrevealed the company actually lost millions of dollars when itreported profits. It also prompted the federal government to filecharges of fraud against the telecommunications giant.

Editor’s Note: On Sunday, the Year in Review series takes alook at July, August and September happenings.