Natchez Area Local News
           by Peter Rinaldi  

   
    Following an increase in shootings and property crimes, Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell has formed a task force to address residents' concerns about crime. The mayor, police chief, sheriff, constables and private citizens will meet in committee to see what can be done about the growing crime problem. There have been six shootings and three murders since the New Year in the city.

    While unemployment percentages remain high in Southwest Mississippi and East Central Louisiana compared to statewide norms, they are about average for the area. Adams County reports 7.9% jobless, Franklin 6.8%, Wilkinson 8.8%, Amite 7.1%, Jefferson 12.8%, and Claiborne 11.4%. Concordia Parish has 7.9%, Catahoula 7.8%, and Tensas 9.1%.

    The Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office showed a $4.1 million deficit for the year ending June 30, 2016, according to the Silas Simmons CPA audit submitted to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor. Revenues dropped in part because participation in the work release program declined. Employers in the oil and gas industry did not take advantage of prison inmate labor as they had in previous years, since that industry's activity has dropped significantly.

    Tony McKinley, 54, of Natchez, was killed on I-55 near Hazlehurst when his Ford F150 pickup collided with a 18-wheeler. McKinley lost control of his truck, exited the highway and turned over. He was not wearing his seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle.

    Adams County will return its $1.4 million loan authority to the state. The money was supposed to be used to help Elevance transition to new products and expand its plant at the port. The company decided instead to sell its struggling biofuels operations. Supervisors will seek $700,000 in reimbursements from Elevance for improving the rail line to the company, since it did not keep its promise to expand and add new employees.

    Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said he remains committed to building a new port for the city. The $40 million project is 80% funded by grants. While no businesses have yet signed on to use the port, the city's port director said that business should be coming. The facility, which will include some slack water dockage should open in late 2018.

    Dist. 21 State Rep. Andy Anders said the special session of the Louisiana Legislative will consider items to cut since there is a $304 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year.

    Roderick Hoggatt, 47, of Adams County, was charged with touching a 14-year old child with lustful purposes. Adams County Sheriff's deputies removed the 14-year old runaway from his vehicle and then found drugs, including meth, cocaine and hydrocodone, and a stolen gun. He was jailed on multiple charges.

     Two suspects wanted in a Ferriday shooting were arrested in Claiborne County. The Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office used cell phone tracking to find Robert O'Quinn, 28, and Fareedah Sabir, 24, both of Ferriday. Both face attempted second degree murder and aggravated battery charges for both shooting the victim and trying to run him over with their vehicle.

    The Louisiana Attorney General said it was OK for Concordia Parish Police Juror Jerry Beatty to serve as a juror and keep his job as a street supervisor for the Town of Ferriday, since the jury and the town are separate political entities.

    The Natchez Krewe of Phoenix Mardi Gras parade will be held Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. in downtown Natchez. Vidalia's Mardi Gras parade will be held Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. along Carter Street.

    Baton Rouge talk show host Diane Andrews will tape a Black History Month show at the Arcade Theatre in Ferriday on Feb. 17 at 11 a.m. The taping will be open to the public.

     A Wilkinson County inmate, Oliver McCray, has filled a hand-written $500 million lawsuit against the county, alleging he was improperly convicted and imprisoned, saying a grand jury foreman's signature was forged. Therefore, he was not properly imprisoned. He seeks his immediate release and damages.

    The Mississippi Legislature is considering a bill that would allow locals to use go-cups for their alcoholic beverages in some parts of Natchez. Currently, the use of go-cups on the streets is prohibited. The bill faces an uncertain future.

    The Wilkinson County Sheriff's Office has been running more patrols in the Lake Mary area, as residents reported damage of the road by ATVs, destruction of property, improper use of alcohol and profanity. Deputies have been writing tickets and making arrests of offenders, mostly for misdemeanor crimes.

    January storms and flooding caused major damage to the Bonds Road and Kelly Wactor Road bridges, forcing supervisors to close those roads until further notice. 

Natchez Area News
     by Peter Rinaldi

Febuary 2017