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Amory, Nettleton boards address kratom issues

Last week, the Amory and Nettleton boards of aldermen had similar approaches for kratom bans in their respective cities. While aldermen in Nettleton took city attorney Gary Carnathan’s advice to table the matter for further research, Amory’s board took a potential ban under advisement after first being approached during their May 7 meeting.

Kratom is an herb-based product found in some tobacco and convenience stores. Those opposed to it argue it’s an addictive drug responsible for taking the lives of 12 Mississippians in recent months. Its supporters, however, argue it has helped improve their quality of life.

Glenn Lautzenhiser with the Crime and Addiction Task Force of the Lowndes County Community Foundation appeared before Amory officials with retired Columbus physician Dr. Charles Rhea to make their case against kratom. Rhea gave a perspective based on scientific and medical research.

“The Food and Drug Administration has not been able to do sufficient research to formulate policy to schedule kratom,” he said.

He said the drug is helpful as a painkiller and an agent to lessen withdrawal symptoms from hard opioids but is addictive and leaves the user in just as bad a fix.

“It does not respond to antidotes, nor does it qualify for rehabilitation programs. There is no upside to this,” he said.

Rhea and Lautzenhiser responded to questions from Mayor Brad Blalock and Ward 4 Alderman Glen Bingham about forms the drug is available in and how long effects typically last.

“It’s small now but has the potential to become a monster,” Rhea said.

Nettleton aldermen were asked in April by Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics officer Tammy Reynolds to pass a kratom ban. Four kratom supporters, who use it in its raw form, shared their personal success stories to the board May 6 during a public hearing.

“I’m not here to lobby you or change your mind or anything like that. I’m just here to offer myself as an expert on the matter to be free to the city’s needs. I just didn’t want anyone to make an uneducated passing of anything,” said Patrick Sudduth of Fulton, who said kratom helps relieve back pains and headaches.

One person said using the unadulterated form of kratom helped her curb a drinking problem and perpetual pain lingering from a wreck she had when she was 24. She added her dog, who has arthritis, showed improvements in health by using the raw form of kratom.

A former heroin addict said treatment didn’t help him kick the habit, but the use of the unadulterated form of kratom helped him to make a life for himself as a married man running his own business.

“There’s a lot of information that can be gleaned from people who have used kratom,” Carnathan said. “There’s a lot of information that should be received. I think this public hearing can benefit everybody.”

Kratom has not been banned statewide or nationwide, but several area county and city governments have been requested by members of the Lowndes County Community Foundation and the MBN to issue kratom bans through home rule jurisdiction.

During its April 16 meeting, Aberdeen aldermen were presented with the same request, and city attorney Bob Faulks is working on an ordinance catered to the city. The matter was not discussed in last week’s meeting.

A countywide kratom ban, approved in March by the board of supervisors, went into effect last week, making it a misdemeanor offense in the county and in the cities.

By municipalities passing similar bans, it gives their respective police departments jurisdiction.

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High school graduation season begins this weekend

For the class of 2019, high school is quickly coming to an end. With staggering dates beginning this weekend, the schools serving Monroe County students will big farewell to their graduating seniors.

Nettleton High School will have the first ceremony May 18 at 9 a.m. at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo. Cayson Housley is this year’s valedictorian, and Katie Grace Payne is salutatorian.

Amory High School will host its graduation ceremony May 20 at 7 p.m. on the football field. In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held in the school’s auditorium. This year’s valedictorian is Jamison McComb, and Ashley Griffie is the salutatorian.

On May 23, three high schools will host their graduation ceremonies, beginning with Hatley at 6 p.m. on the football field, with the gym as a backup in case of rain. Kaitlyn Sykes is salutatorian, and Camron Wright, Will Cantrell and Will Bishop are the valedictorians.

Aberdeen High School will hold its ceremony at 7 p.m. in the gym, and Smithville High School will host its graduation at 8 p.m. in the dome.

Aberdeen’s valedictorian and salutatorian will be announced during the graduation ceremony. Smithville’s valedictorian is Karrigan Callihan, and Noah Wells and JimiAnn Taylor are salutatorians.

Hamilton High School will round out this year’s graduation ceremonies May 24 at 7 p.m. on the football field. In case of rain, it will be in the gym.

Daniel Miller is Hamilton’s salutatorian, and the valedictorians are Icie Cockerham, Deidra Keaton and Jaydan Ray.

For a complete list of the members of this year’s senior class, check out the supplemental graduation magazine in this week’s Monroe Journal.

Hi there, I’m George, and my smile pretty much sums up my attitude. I’m a really friendly dog who came to the Aberdeen Animal Shelter in April at 5 months old. For more information, call 369-2188.

Janice Howell/For the Monroe Journal  

The Hamilton dugout erupts and celebrates after the final out against Nanih Waiya on Thursday.

Aberdeen hit with another round of flash flooding issues

ABERDEEN – City drainage couldn’t keep up with torrential rains mid-afternoon May 11, causing water to rise on numerous roads and yards throughout Aberdeen. The flooding issues were a repeat of what happened in parts of downtown during April 13 and 14’s severe weather outbreak.

“One of the problems we have is old drainage. A lot of pipes haven’t been converted or changed. As far as a usual situation, I don’t care how many ditches you clean, that’s not going to stop the rain,” said Aberdeen Public Works Director Richard Boone. “I understand the frustration of the people, but you can’t do anything about Mother Nature, especially with the rains we’ve been having.”

Effected areas reported to Monroe County Emergency Management Agency Director Donna Sanderson were parts of North Meridian, Chestnut, Alice, Commerce, High, High Extension and Matubba streets; Glendale Circle; and Highway 145.

Other areas in town, including sections of Commerce and Canal streets, experienced issues as well.

“I’ve spent $3,000 and more, and I’m going to have to spend more money on a car I don’t even have a tag for yet. I can’t keep doing this,” said Latoya Loyd, who lives on James Street.

During April’s storms, her 2014 Kia Optima, which she had for 10 months, was flooded. She paid the $500 insurance deductible for that claim and $2,500 down on a 2016 Volkswagen Passat, which had floodwater come up in the floorboard during Saturday’s rains.

Loyd headed up relief efforts in April through the Home Depot Foundation for flood victims in Aberdeen and tornado victims in Hamilton.

Sanderson, who said no one reported issues to her about water coming in their homes, said the rains were part of a pop-up storm that tracked part of the same path as the April 13 tornado over Dobbs Circle onto Greenwood Springs. She said Aberdeen was the only area experiencing flooding, and there was no other damage reported from the storm.

Aberdeen City Clerk Jackie Benson said city crews have been working since April’s floods to clean the city’s drainage ditches.

“The city is being vigilant to get ditches cleaned to help alleviate flooding issues,” she said.

Boone said he wants to plan to include a crew focusing on ditches and drainage areas for next year’s budget. He said an overall plan with city officials and department heads will take time to completely work out.

During its April 16 meeting, the Aberdeen Board of Aldermen were approached by numerous residents impacted by that flooding event. Benson said during last week’s board of aldermen meeting claims were filed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

She added earlier this week several claims were sent to the city’s insurance provider related to the April floods.

During the Monroe County Board of Supervisors meeting, held the day before the latest floods, District 4 Supervisor Fulton Ware requested a resolution for cleanup on Aberdeen’s downtown city ditch. The ditch was cleaned out from Meridian Street to Darracott Access Road several years ago.

“I had one elderly lady who is 80 years old say she had water in her house,” Ware said of the April floods.

Supervisors approved the resolution, and board attorney David Houston will research details.

Unrelated to Saturday’s storm, the city’s water department had to flush the lines after someone had an accident involving a fire hydrant, which caused murky water for customers.