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Roses and thorns 12-5-10




A thorn to the party responsible for the release of a Lowndes County murder suspect from state prison.  


Nathaniel Lee Major Wilder Jr., of 1508 15th Ave. N., was released Nov. 3 from a correctional facility in Walnut Grove, despite facing a capital murder charge in Lowndes County. The defendant''s absence was discovered after he failed to appear for his trial in Lowndes County Circuit Court earlier this month. 


Lowndes County Sheriff''s Department officials say they had put a "no-release" order on Wilder, who was serving four years in the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility for a felony committed in Hinds County. 


State Department of Corrections officials insisted they didn''t have an order to hold Wilder, who had to be tracked down by U.S. marshals in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and rearrested -- at taxpayer expense. Sheriff''s Department officials showed us documentation that there was a hold on Wilder in MDOC''s computer system. 


No matter who is to blame, MDOC''s attitude surrounding the matter is troubling. The agency clearly has no interest in figuring out what went wrong here, and how an alleged killer went free. 


The state agency''s cavalier attitude would probably be different if Wilder hadn''t been found, or if he committed a serious crime after he was mistakenly allowed to walk free through its doors. 




Roses of condolences to the Golden Triangle residents who lost their homes and belongings to the tornadoes that touched down Monday night in Starkville and Monroe County, and roses of thanks to those who have stepped up to help their neighbors in their time of need. 


In Starkville, 15 homes in The Pines mobile home park were totally destroyed by the storm, and dozens more were damaged. 


The Red Cross and the Oktibbeha-Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services have put more than two dozen victims, who had nowhere else to turn, in hotels. 


To assist local tornado victims, send donations to the Starkville Red Cross office at 100 Felix Long Drive, Starkville, MS 39759, or call 662-323-4621. Donations also can be sent to Oktibbeha-Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services at P.O. Box 443, Starkville, MS 39759. 


To aid Monroe County victims, send donations to the Columbus Red Cross office, 220 5th St. N., Columbus, MS 39701-4570, or call 662-328-5710. 




A rose to Columbus Main Street, which organized Friday night''s successful Wassail Fest and downtown Christmas tree lighting. 


The evening began with choral music and the televised tree lighting by Mayor Robert Smith, next to the Tennessee Williams Home. From there, crowds hit shops in earnest, sampling wassail -- a punch made of cider and fruit juices, and occasionally, a few unnamed secret ingredients -- and voting on which business offered the best-tasting holiday drink. Twenty-nine downtown businesses participated, offering deals and door prizes along with holiday cheer. 


Santa and Mrs. Claus were available for photo ops at the Rosenzweig Arts Center. Businesses including Holly Hocks and Paper Daisy offered crafts for the kids. 


A group of carolers added to the festive holiday mood, singing along Main Street. 


If you didn''t attend, you missed out. Wassail Fest is one of the best-attended events in downtown Columbus each year -- several people we spoke to mentioned how surprised they were at the turnout. 


The idea is a great way to get customers into downtown businesses. Kudos to Main Street, and to the businesses that participated. 




A rose to Debbie Fancher, the retired Columbus math teacher who won the Columbus Arts Council''s raffle drawing this week for an all-expenses-paid trip to New York. 


Not that she needs a rose from us -- her $100 raffle ticket, pulled at a gala drawing Thursday at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport, has paid nice dividends already. 


The prize, valued at $5,000, includes round-trip airfare for two, dinner and drinks, tickets to two Broadway shows, four nights in a hotel, and other goodies. 


We know a hundred bucks for a raffle ticket is steep. We thank everyone who bought one to support the arts council which, like everyone else, is facing funding shortfalls during the recession.



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