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Ag Safety Day drew 200-plus youngsters to learn safety tips 

HOUSTON – Several hundred 5th graders from Houston and Okolona schools attended Progressive Agriculture Safety Day – designed to teach them a variety of safety tips – Friday, May 10 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Houston Coliseum.

The event, offered through the Progressive Agriculture Foundation, is an annual staple here– it’s been held for nearly 20 years, event organizers said.

At the heart of this effort is the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day program. This educational program provides training and resources for local communities to conduct one-day safety and health programs. Safety Days are designed to be age-appropriate, hands-on, fun, and safe for children.

“We had 234 5th graders from Houston and Okolona Schools as well as 47 volunteers. The students learned safety tips for a variety of everyday circumstances, including snake identification, fire safety, first aid, animal safety, and ATV safety,” according to Chickasaw Extension Agent Erika McDaniel.

For the grand finale, the Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Deptartment gave a drug awareness talk and demonstrated an automobile stop using the drug dog.

“Many people in this area know someone whose life has been affected by a farm-related injury or death. Even more tragic is that these incidents could have been prevented with a few simple safety precautions.

“The mission of the Progressive Agriculture Safety Days is simple – to provide education, training and resources to make farm, ranch and rural life safer and healthier for children and their communities,” McDaniel said.

“I think the students probably enjoyed the Sheriff’s Department canine demonstration and the fire engine the most.

“The most important takeaway is to be away of your environment at all times and to make smart, common sense decisions,” she concluded.

Progressive Agriculture Safety Days are conducted in the United States, Canada and the U.S. Territories. In addition, the program is licensed in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, according to information from the group’s website.

Law Enforcement Appreciation

Chickasaw deputy J. R. Kilgore was among about 75 people enjoying a tasty dinner and friendly conversation as the Town of New Houlka hosted its 9th annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Day Tuesday, May 14 at 11 a.m. at the New Houlka Community Center. Drawings for door prizes followed the meal. The event honored law enforcement officers and supporting agencies in Chickasaw and surrounding counties. As Mayor Jimmy Kelly put it: “We appreciate our law enforcement folks and all they do for us.” Town employees cooked the hamburgers, numerous women donated cakes, pies and other sweets, and several people and businesses in town gave food and money to help make the event a success.

Okolona man’s conviction upheld for aggravated assault, weapon possession 

JACKSON – On a 7-2 vote earlier this month, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied an Okolona man’s appeal of his 2017 jury conviction for aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

David Stanfield, 43, AKA David Lee Stanfield, was convicted of shooting three people after a party at his sister’s home in Feb. 18, 2015 erupted in violence.

Court testimony indicated people were drinking and gambling at the party. Records indicated that Stanford had been playing dice at the party, won $900, then fell asleep. When he awoke, his pockets had been flipped inside out and the money was gone.

He accused some other men of the theft, and the accusations led to gunfire that injured three men.

He was indicted for three counts of aggravated assault, and one count of felon in possession of a firearm.

A jury sentenced Stanfield to 20 years in prison for aggravated assault on one man, and 10 years for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Five of the 10 years were suspended. The sentences were to run consecutively.

The jury found him not guilty of a second aggravated assault charge, and could not reach a decision on the third charge, according to court records.

In his appeal to the Supreme Court, Stanfield claimed he was acting in self-defense. He said the gun went off during a struggle and the court should have allowed a jury instruction of self-defense on the firearms charge. Stanfield said he was trying to defend himself after another person at the party pulled a gun on him.

According to Supreme Court records of May 9, “The sole issue before the Court is whether the trial court erred in instructing the jury that self-defense is not a defense to the crime of felon in possession of a firearm. It did not. Accordingly, we affirm,” court records indicated.

Memorial Day events set In Houston

HOUSTON – Although Memorial Day is not until the last Monday in May – this year, Monday, May 27 – several observances of the day, which honors the dead from America’s wars, will be held in coming days, and two have already been held, according to William D. Sykes VFW Post 7149 Commander Frank Pemper. The VFW and Houston American Legion Post 95, whose Post Commander is Russell Lancaster hold the ceremonies.

Capsule summaries of each:

--Monday, May 27, at 1 p.m., ceremonies will be held on the lawn at the Chickasaw County Courthouse Square. Houston Pilot Club members will also place a wreath at the Court Square on that day.

--Thursday, May 23, 150 flags will be placed on veterans’ graves at Memorial Gardens that morning, then a like number of flags will be placed at Houston Cemetery near Houston High School at 5 p.m.

Previously held events:

--Tuesday, May 21, VFW awards were given out to Houston Elementary, Middle School and High School teachers, and a Voice of Democracy award was also given.

--On Saturday, May 18, crosses, flags and dogtags were set out on the lawn of the Courthouse Square. They will remain there until after Memorial Day. See related picture and editorial, Page 4.

Sheriff: CCF search turned up “minor” contraband

HOUSTON – Chickasaw County Sheriff James Meyers said he requested the MDOC (Mississippi Department of Corrections) inspection of the Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility held Friday morning.

The inspection did not involve the county jail, which is a separate facility.

The inspection turned up some minor contraband – ”a little marijuana, some tobacco” – but no major illegal items such as weapons, cellphones or hard drugs, the sheriff said Saturday morning.

He said the uncovered contraband was found “in the usual places – cells, racks, lockers, books, socks, shoes.”

He said some charges will likely be filed in connection with the results of the search. He declined to say the number or type of charges.

Smuggling in or possessing prison contraband can bring a three-year prison sentence upon conviction.

“It was a routine inspection, which I asked for. About 30 MDOC agents, including two canines, showed up Friday about 9 a.m. and gave us a thorough inspection that lasted until 11:30 a.m. I was well satisfied that no serious contraband was uncovered,” he said.

MDOC holds similar searches periodically at all county facilities where state inmates are housed. They’re a routine part of making sure inmates don’t get items they shouldn’t have, the sheriff said.

It’s a cat and mouse game of sneaking in contraband versus officers trying to stop it. Despite authorities’ best efforts to prevent it, some slips through the cracks, he said.

The Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility houses about 305 male inmates. They include inmates awaiting arraignment and trial. In addition, the facility holds adult medium custody inmates who have been sentenced, and minimum custody inmates who participate in work within the surrounding community each day.

Offenders at Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility can participate in substance abuse treatment, fatherhood programs, horticulture and literacy classes, computer and typing courses, and even earn a GED and adult basic education all while incarcerated. This prison also has a Bible college and discipleship program, the sheriff said.