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Former sheriff, Nulls enter guilty pleas
by Jebb Johnston and Staff reports
Dec 07, 2016 | 796 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former sheriff Charles Rinehart and two others entered guilty pleas to two counts of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of fraud against Alcorn County on Wednesday. Rinehart entered an Alford plea in which the defendant pleads guilty but does not admit to the criminal act. The case deals with vehicle purchases for the sheriff's department. The pleas came in Pontotoc County Circuit Court. District Attorney John Weddle said the defendants were there for hearings on motions before Judge Thomas Gardner in anticipation of a trial next week in Alcorn County but decided to go ahead and plead guilty. Each of the the three were sentenced to 20 years but will be placed in the house arrest program as an alternative to incarceration. Rinehart, 75, of Rolling Wood Circle, Corinth, was placed in the house arrest program for two years followed by five years of probation upon successful completion of house arrest. Pamela Denise Null, 48, of Norman Road, Corinth, was placed in the house arrest program for two years followed by five years of probation. Teddy Cleveland Null, 51, of Norman Road, Corinth, was placed in the house arrest program for one year followed by five years of probation. During a lengthy investigation by the State Auditor’s Office centering around Dal Nelms, the former Second District supervisor, auditor investigators discovered what appeared to be fraudulent bids for the purchase of multiple vehicles by the county from Cars For Less, a business operated by Teddy and Denise Null. Further investigation revealed that Rinehart submitted to Alcorn County the Cars For Less bids along with fraudulent competitive bids prepared by Denise Null. “Although the investigation did not produce additional charges involving stolen parts or proof that Rinehart benefitted from the transactions or that the county paid more for the vehicles than they should have,” said Weddle, “the bid laws are there for a reason, and violation of those laws should and did result in the defendants accepting responsibility for their actions.” Rinehart’s attorney, Tony Farese, said the former sheriff always maintained his innocence. “His actions in this matter was to try to provide the best cars at the cheapest price to save the county money,” said Farese. “He decided to purchase wrecked or salvage vehicles through Teddy Null, which, in the four counts that he pled guilty to and the 10 counts he was indicted for, it’s uncontradicted that Cars for Less was the cheapest bid. Unfortunately, Mr. Rinehart did err in relying on the Nulls to obtain legitimate second bids.” He said Denise Null obtained the other bids through Copart, an online service. All of the cars involved are still in service today, he said, except for a 2010 Crown Victoria that was wrecked while in service. Farese said Rinehart felt the plea was in the best interest of his family. “This is a result of not following the correct letter of the law in the bid process,” he said, “and for that error, Mr. Rinehart is certainly sorry and accepted responsibility since he was, in fact, responsible as sheriff.” The four counts on which the subjects entered pleas involved a 2009 Chevrolet Trailblazer and a 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe. The state auditor’s civil demand against Rinehart remains a separate matter, said Weddle, who expressed appreciation for the auditor’s office’s work in the case. “The work they have done has resulted in numerous violations resolved before the court,” he said. State Auditor Stacey Pickering thanked the DA’s staff for their work on the case. “Without committed prosecutors, our job would not be effective. This case proves that no one is above the law, including Sheriffs,” he said. Rinehart, who served eight years as sheriff, and the Nulls were arrested in June 2015 following grand jury indictments.
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A Tractor Supply team member shows off the Corinth-Alcorn Animal Shelter Angel Paws Christmas tree at the local store. / Staff photo by Zack Steen
A Tractor Supply team member shows off the Corinth-Alcorn Animal Shelter Angel Paws Christmas tree at the local store. / Staff photo by Zack Steen
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Facing sewer revenue shortfalls, city raises rates
by Jebb Johnston
Dec 07, 2016 | 497 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After several months of looking at options, the Corinth Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday adopted a sewer rate increase. The rate hike is in response to an annual shortfall of about $800,000 resulting largely from a substantial decline in revenue from industrial customers that could wipe out the sewer enterprise fund by 2018. The increase affects both the customer base rate and usage rate. The monthly residential base rate goes from $5 to $10; the commercial base rate rises from $10 to $20; and the industrial base rate goes from $10 to $25. The usage rate will go up by 20 cents per 100 cubic feet per year during the next three years. It has already increased by that amount in each of the last five years. It could continue to increase beyond the three years, but the board hopes to be able to revisit the rates for possible reductions in the future if volume picks up. The base rate increase will kick in at a date yet to be determined. The usage rate increases will come in July of 2017, 2018 and 2019. “I think it’s important to shift a good bit of our income over into the base rate so that our revenue doesn’t get undermined by conservation efforts,” David Huwe, director of community development and planning, recently told the board. The current average residential bill is $21.23. The city has debt payments for the major treatment plant rehabilitation and sewer collection assessment and repairs — investments totaling $23 million. Usage among six of the largest customers fell from just shy of 50 million cubic feet in fiscal 2010 to 33.3 million in fiscal 2016. The loss of Quad Graphics was a major factor, taking 3.8 million cubic feet per year of usage and $112,000 annual revenue with it. Another factor was a water recycling and fiber reclamation project at Kimberly-Clark, which cut its usage by about 30 percent, or $300,000 in revenue at current rates. The plant also saved about $250,000 annually with the improved condition of its effluent stream. The city also speculates that other industries tried to limit their usage following the 2012 rate increase. Usage is trending slightly downward on the residential side. One likely factor, the city believes, is the gradual replacement of toilets and appliances with more efficient models.
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Shelter seeks support for 'Angel Paws'
by Zack Steen
Dec 07, 2016 | 67 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Tractor Supply team member shows off the Corinth-Alcorn Animal Shelter Angel Paws Christmas tree at the local store. / Staff photo by Zack Steen
A Tractor Supply team member shows off the Corinth-Alcorn Animal Shelter Angel Paws Christmas tree at the local store. / Staff photo by Zack Steen
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Paws for a good cause. The Corinth-Alcorn Animal Shelter is wishing for a Christmas filled with donated gifts for their four-legged friends. The shelter is hosting Angel Paws, a fundraiser where Christmas trees filled with Christmas wishes were placed at five local businesses throughout the Crossroads area. “On each tree are handmade ornaments with a photo of a shelter animal on one side and a list of needed items on the other side,” said Volunteer Shelter Director Charlotte Doehner. “It’s a lot like the popular Angel Trees, but ours are just for fur-babies.” Some of the items on the wish list include dog food, cat food, kitten food, garbage bags, brooms, heavy duty tarps, food bowls, litter scoops, litter boxes, pet shampoo, hand sanitizer, spray bottles, pet crates, rubber gloves, old bedsheets, newspapers, mops, Walmart gift cards and cash donations. The trees were donated and decorated by shelter volunteer Donna Orlick. Trees are located at Tractor Supply, Pet Sense, Vet Med, Corinth Animal Care Center and Jackson Animal Clinic. The shelter has also placed Christmas donation cans at businesses throughout Corinth. “Students from Corinth Middle School decorated the donation cans for us to hopefully gather some extra coins from folks while they are doing their Christmas shopping,” added Doehner. Another upcoming shelter fundraiser, the McDaniel’s Christmas, will take place on Saturday. Held at the home of Bobby McDaniel located at 25 County Road 105, just off Kendrick Road, in Corinth, the event will also include free photos with Santa, a puppy kissing booth and refreshments. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Doehner also said the annual shelter fundraiser calendar will soon be back from the printer. “Our 2017 calendar is wonderful,” she said. “With more than 75 local animals featured throughout the calendar, I can’t wait for everyone to see it.” Calendars are excepted to be in by Dec. 15. Cost is $15. The local animal shelter is a no-kill, non-profit organization on a mission to save the abused, neglected, abandoned and injured animals of Corinth and Alcorn County. (For more information or to make a donation to shelter, contact 662-284-5800, email alcornpets@gmail.com or visit alcornpets.com.)
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Church presents dinner theater
by Bobby J. Smith
Dec 07, 2016 | 77 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s going to be a country Christmas at Pleasant Hill United Pentecostal Church. The church will present its dinner theater featuring the children’s musical “It All Happened in the Country” beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The nights will begin with a home cooked meal at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7. “People can come and have a meal and then see the play or they can just come to the play, whichever way they would like,” said Pat Grossell, Sunday school director at Pleasant Hill and director of the play. Anyone who wishes to be a part of the meal is asked to make reservations to make sure there will be enough room in the fellowship hall, Grossell said. “It All Happened in the Country” is the musical story of two city kids who find themselves stuck in the country at Granny’s house after their car breaks down. “Their city ways and the country ways of Granny and Uncle Yule and the country cousin just don’t mix really well,” Grossell said. “What happens is the city kids learn the meaning of Christmas through song and through Uncle Yule and Granny.” The production will feature older members of the church playing the roles of Granny and Uncle Yule, with other roles by teenagers and the kids choir kids from first to fifth grades. Grossell said church members have been working on the play since October. She gives special credit to Kristen Whitley, the director of the children’s choir. “She has worked really hard in getting the kids prepared and working with them,” Grossell said. Admission is $6 for kids and $7 for adults. (For more information contact Pat Grossell at 415-9953.)
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