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296th deployment tops first quarter events

The departure of approximately 200 soldiers with the ArmyReserve’s 296th Transportation Company for service during the warin Iraq led the news in the first quarter of 2003, but it was farfrom the being the only element in the news.

January

Students, parents and Brookhaven Public School Districtadministrators were briefly at odds in early January when schoolofficials allowed a 17-year-old senior accused of armed robbery toreturn to the classroom. School officials reminded parents that”the law supercedes policy” and they were entitled to provide thestudent with an education. They could take no action until, and if,he was found guilty. The year passed with no further incident.

Monticello aldermen voted Jan. 10 to purchase Atwood Water Parkfrom the Pearl River Basin Development District. The purchase votecame in a hastily-called meeting after Lawrence County supervisorsreneged on an agreement to split the cost of the park. Supervisorshad earlier offered a joint purchase agreement to the city, butchanged their minds and rescinded the offer.

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove visited area schools Jan. 14 and told ofhis desire to make education funding a top priority. Musgrove hadasked the legislature to commit 62 percent of the state budget toeducation.

Approximately 200 men and women assigned to the 296th ArmyReserve unit here left Jan. 18 for service in Iraq. The unit firstdeployed to its mobilization center at Fort Stewart, Ga., and laterwas transferred to Iraq for combat operations. They returned inSeptember.

Brookhaven’s garbage situation continued to emerge in headlinesin January.

After earlier voting to discontinue commercial garbage pick upservice, aldermen agreed to look for other alternatives. Later thatmonth, the aldermen approved a waste department reorganizationplan.

The original Lincoln Hall on the Copiah-Lincoln CommuntiyCollege came crashing down in mid-January as part of a campusrenovation project. The dorm housed the football team, which movedto Franklin Hall.

Rico, a popular drug dog with the sheriff’s department, waskilled Jan. 24 during a house fire that destroyed the home of hishandler, Capt. Chris Picou, and his family. The family escaped theblaze without serious injury, but Picou was unable to coax Rico tojump out a window to save him. Four other pets also died in thefire.

February

Co-Lin held opening ceremonies for its year-long 75thanniversary celebration Feb. 3 with guests ranging from U.S.senators to alumni attending.

The Lawrence County Board of Supervisors agreed Feb. 3 topurchase Wanilla Water Park from the Pearl River Basin DevelopmentDistrict, but declined to purchase Atwood Water Park. The parksbecame available when the county withdrew their membership in thedistrict. County supervisors later offered the city a proposal tosplit the cost of the Atwood purchase, but rescinded the offerafter the city voted to accept it. Monticello purchased the waterpark on its own after a hastily called second meeting.

Brandi Cobb and her parents returned home Feb. 7 after more thana year waiting and recovering from a double lung and hearttransplant in St. Louis. Cobb, who has cystic fibrosis, needed thetransplant to prolong her life.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans of Mississippi’s Third Brigadevolunteered to rebury two black Union soldiers in early February.The soldiers’ graves were in danger of being washed away at PortGibson Military Park and the state had no funds to save them. SCVmembers from the area jumped in and did it for them. They saved thegraves Dec. 28, 2001, and reburied the soldiers, with full militaryhonors, in February.

Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop M held an open house Feb. 21 topresent their new headquarters building on Highway 84 Bypass to thepublic.

Bogue Chitto native Ernest Avants, 72, was convicted Feb. 28 ofaiding and abetting in the 1966 slaying of Ben Chester White, ablack sharecropper. Prosecutors said the shooting death was stagedto lure Martin Luther King Jr. to southern Mississippi to beassassinated. Avants had been acquitted of murder during a statetrial in 1967.

March

The long march toward the city’s annexation plans began inearnest with the first court hearing March 3. There was standingroom only as proponents and opponents alike gathered to hear thecity’s plans to annex 16.7 miles of the county.

A Lincoln County Jail inmate was back behind bars March 17 afterbriefly escaping from the facility’s recreational area. The manescaped around 2:40 p.m. and was back in jail by 5 p.m. the sameday.

New voting district lines were approved in March. The clearancemeant about 1,000 voters cast ballots in different precincts duringthe 2003 elections.

City officials began comtemplating whether to move or take overmaintenance of the Kids Kingdom playground March 18. Officialsexpressed its location on a flood plain and liability as its chiefconcerns.

The old train depot was approved as a location for the MilitaryMemorial Museam March 18. The museam honors area veterans for theirservice and sacrifices.

Brookhaven got a “jump start” on its plan for a Multi-ModalTransportation Facility March 27 with a $75,000 check from theMississippi Department of Transportation. The grant was used tofund environmental study and other work at the proposed site onNorth Railroad Avenue.

The Brookhaven Municipal Airport was closed for night-timetraffic for a few days at the end of March after all of the runwaylights were vandalized March 29. Three teenagers were charged withmisdemeanor malicious mischief following their arrests April 8.

Sunday: April through June.