Monday, February 08, 2016
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The Tunica Times • P.O. Box 308/986 Magnolia Street, Tunica, MS 38676

Only hope is outside

I am just a small town newspaper reporter, but this morning, I was a witness to the death of democracy in my community. The series of events that have led to this day can all be verified through court records and other sources. I am writing to respectfully request that someone, anyone send immediate help to Tunica County.

Early in 2015, candidates began filing paperwork to run for county offices. Historically, local politicians have either run as Democrats or they choose to run as independents. Those choosing to be affiliated with the Democratic Party are included in a primary election historically held in August. During the qualifying process, three candidates were ruled ineligible by the Tunica County Democratic Executive Committee. They were Craig Harris, who was seeking of the office of Beat 4 Supervisor; Craig Jones, who was seeking the office of Beat 5 Supervisor and Jacqueline Dishmon-Boykin (Tunica Times, March 20, 2015, Candidates can appeal Dems’ ruling). All three chose to pursue legal action in an attempt to be included on the ballot. Harris lost in court. Dishmon-Boykin was successful in her quest. Jones appeared to be successful (Tunica Times, May 29, 2015- Judge rules for Jones). His name was not on the ballot in August for reasons that are still unclear at this point.

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County matters pending Saturday shooting

Heading into next week’s swearing in, county supervisors tended to routine business on December 7 and again on December 15. The Board plans to meet again at 9 a.m. on Monday, December 28, to close out the 2012-2016 term. The upcoming Board begins the 2016-2020 term on Monday, January 4.

On December 15, supervisors discussed but did not act on a request by North Tunica County Fire District commissioners for submission of legislation to up special taxes in the district from 5 mills to 8 mills. County administrator Michael Thompson said three mills would generate $600,000 to $700,000 in additional revenue for the fire district.

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Bryant backs away from supervisor election controversy

Gov. Phil Bryant is steering away from dealing with the election issues surrounding Tunica County District 5 Supervisor’s seat, an official at the governor’s official said.

The governor’s move takes one huge obstacle out of the way for Billy Pegram, former District 5 supervisor.  Pegram, who ran as an Independent candidate in the recent general election, won by 11 votes over one-term incumbent McKinley Daley.

Yet, uncertainty has swirled around the seat since Special Circuit Judge Henry Lackey ordered special elections for a new primary – and subsequent general election – for District 5 at the end of October, just days before the general election.  Lackey issued the order after finding that a candidate who had properly qualified to run for supervisor of District 5, Craig Jones, was not listed on the August primary ballot.

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District clears nine of 25 standards

Tunica County School District Conservator Dr. Margie Pulley recently announced that nine of the 25 standard violations that were cited when she took over the district have been cleared by the Mississippi Department of Education in less than six months.

The nine items made compliant were regarding the school board and superintendent, licensed professional staff, strategic planning process, academic year, professional development, academic promotion, GED option, pupil transportation, and facility maintenance, Pulley reports. When asked what was done to fix these issues, Pulley said she simply submitted the paperwork required for them.

An accreditation summary report dated Dec. 16  from the Mississippi Department of Education’s Office of School Performance confirms Pulley’s progress and provides details about the violations remaining.

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