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YEAR IN REVIEW: Area welcomed Home Depot, storm evacuees

The announcement in September that Home Depot planned to locatein Brookhaven topped the news in the third quarter of 2004.

Many residents greeted the news with joy, but some opposedissuing bonds to supply the infrastructure needed for the projectand feared the arrival of a chain store could shutter some localbusinesses.

Other stories in the third quarter included the flood ofevacuees in the area fleeing Hurricane Ivan and the slaying bytorture of a 4-month-old girl in Lawrence County, in which thebaby’s grandmother is charged.

July

Don Estes, a retired businessman, was elected Brookhaven WardFour alderman July 6. He was unchallenged in his bid to replaceformer Alderman Bob Massengill, who was elected mayor.

A Bogue Chitto woman filed a lawsuit against the LincolnCounty’s Sheriff’s Department July 5, alleging she was sexuallyharassed by two jail employees while incarcerated in the LincolnCounty Jail. She was later joined by two other women in separatelawsuits making the same claim. The two jail employees were firedJuly 6 after an internal investigation. The lawsuits have not yetbeen to trial.

Three men were severely injured in a paving accident in LincolnCounty July 19. A road crew worker, a member of an inmate work crewand in independent truck driver were hit with hot tar when a liquidasphalt spreader hose burst. While those three were being treatedat a hospital, two others were injured in separate but similarincident at the same site.

The death of a four-month-old Monticello infant resulting frommolestation drew ire statewide in late July.

August

The West Nile virus claimed the life of a Lincoln County woman,Ava Adams Pickett, on Aug. 4. It was the only confirmed deathresulting from West Nile in the area during 2004.

Several hundred people gathered along Broad Street in Monticelloon Aug. 14 to witness a parade honoring the 49 soldiers of the106th Support Battalion Headquarters Company, based in the town.The soldiers left Monticello on Aug. 17 for Camp Shelby fortraining before being deployed to Iraq as part of the 155th BrigadeCombat Team. They will deploy to Iraq in January 2005.

Former Brookhaven School District Assistant Superintendent LeaBarrett was promoted to superintendent of the district Aug. 17.Barrett replaced former Superintendent Dr. Sam Bounds, who resignedto pursue another job opportunity earlier in the year.

Brookhaven had an emotional turnout Aug. 25 for a brief ceremonyto send off the approximately 75 soldiers of their home MississippiArmy National Guard unit, Detachment 2 of the 155th InfantryBattalion. The soldiers joined more than 3,500 called up around thestate to train at Camp Shelby for deployment to Iraq in January2005.

September

School, community and state officials marked the dedication ofthe John Dow/L.G. Young Instructional Technology Building on theCopiah-Lincoln Community College Campus on Sept. 2. The $3.1million building features nearly 200 computers for student use, sixcomputer labs/classrooms, an instructional training lab, sevengeneral classrooms and a conference room.

The community became aware of the intentions of a large homeimprovement store, later identified as Home Depot, to locate herein September. Although welcomed by many, some residents objected tothe new business and the need for the city and county to pass taxincrement financing bonds to pay for the needed infrastructure atthe proposed site. Both governmental bodies announced theirintention to pass the bonds, but the process has not been completedbecause officials are still awaiting written confirmation from HomeDepot.

An historic structure dating back to before the Civil War waslost to fire Sept. 8. Varnado’s Grocery, also known as the UnionChurch store, was erected in the 1840s.

A grandmother was arrested in early September on charges oftorturing her four-month-old granddaughter to death in July. Theinfant died from complications resulting from molestation. Thegrandmother was indicted in December, but a trial date has not beenset.

Another fire Sept. 16 claimed a second historic structure whenthe “Old Green Building,” the original West Lincoln schoolbuilding, burned down. Hundreds of emotional people gathered toexchange memories and watched in sadness as the building burned.Volunteer fire departments from Lincoln, Lawrence, Franklin, Copiahand Amite counties helped fight the blaze.

A referendum to ban beer sales in Lawrence County presented thismonth never made it to the ballot in November because it lacked theappropriate number of signatures. The lack of signatures wasdiscovered by the state attorney general’s office when it wassubmitted to them because local officials felt it cited the wrongstate statute.

Hundreds of evacuees from Florida, Louisiana and other coastalstates flooded into the area in September to escape Hurricane Ivan.Local volunteer organizations and churches provided food andshelter for nearly a week until the hurricane passed.

Ward Four Alderman Don Estes, elected in a special election inJuly, died in September. An October special election was scheduledfor October select a replacement.