Year in Review: Complex issues impact schools, town, candidates in 2015
Looking back on 2015, some might call it the year of meeting rooms and court rooms.
The fate of Tunica County schools was decided in Jackson meeting rooms in July, when state officials opted to place the district under conservatorship. Dr. Margie Pulley, a native of Greenwood, was dispatched to Tunica in July to help the school system prepare for the coming school year and ultimately correct deficiencies.
In the months leading up to the state takeover, a citizens’ group formed and petitioned State Superintendent Dr. Cary Wright to remove Tunica County Superintendent Steve Chandler. The group alleged that Chandler was creating a hostile work environment and organized a sick out for teachers, administrators and staff within days of starting the new semester. They traveled to Jackson in late January to meet with Wright and voice concerns.
In May, the district received a report from an audit conducted by the Mississippi Department of Education’s Office of Accountability. The district was deemed “noncompliant” in 25 of 31 areas.
Police urge extra security for homes, cars
A string of residential and auto burglaries that began in early December has Town of Tunica residents on edge.
Nine burglaries of homes and one business along Beat Line Road, Shady Lane, and Edwards Avenue that occurred from December 3 to December 24 are under investigation by the Tunica Police Department.
Police Chief Richard Veazey distributed a map to town aldermen on January 5 showing the location of each incident. Veazey said Koonce, Erwin & Wilkes, at 1246 Edwards in the downtown area, had experienced two burglaries during the three week time frame. Missing were several electronic items and cash, Veazey said. A residence at 1012 Edwards reported three entries or attempted entries, he said. Again, electronics and cash were the targets.
North Tunica FD in funding crisis
Over a year ago, North Tunica County Fire District commissioner Stanley Jones warned that the fire station in the resort area would be forced to cut staffing if the district continued to be underfunded.
Now, those warnings have proven prophetic. As of January 1, 2016, the district cut the number of firefighters on duty from four to three. The move jeopardizes the district’s fire rating, which stands at seven currently but could be revised by the Fire Ratings Bureau within the Mississippi Insurance Commission. Any downgrade to the rating would adversely affect the cost of insurance for property owners in North Tunica County.
“It seems like the county is taking public safety and putting it on the back burner,” Jones said in an interview this week.
The North Tunica County Fire Protection District provides emergency services to homes and businesses in a defined section of the county. The district includes all of the casino properties; several large apartment complexes: industrial properties Schulz and GreenTech Automotive, with Feuer about to come on line; the outlet mall; and Tunica National Golf & Tennis Center. North Tunica firefighters also respond to car accidents in the north part of the county. The district has mutual aid agreements with other departments in the area such as the Tunica Fire Department and departments in Eudora and Walls, but assistance from all of those departments is at least 15 minutes away.
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