Thursday, September 9, 2010
News close to home
You never know what to expect in the newspaper business.
Late Tuesday afternoon of last week, I had just finished the front page and we were about ready to send it to Oxford via computer for printing when I got a telephone call.
The caller said she had just found out a prisoner had escaped from the courtroom after his sentencing.
Naturally I said, “Hold the front page.”
We kept doing some last-minute proofing of the pages, while staff writer Sue Watson walked over to the courthouse, less than a block from our office in downtown Holly Springs.
Meanwhile, while she was going there to see what she could find out, I made a telephone call to Kelly McMillen with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department.
He and other officers were stationed on Chulahoma Avenue at the time, in an area where the escapee had been spotted.
He kindly took the time, during a hectic period for him, to give me a quick story for the front page news briefs – prior to our going to press.
I immediately called Pam and told her to stay in the house and lock the doors. Others in Holly Springs were doing the same.
Sue returned from the courthouse with more information, which is included in the follow-up story in this week’s newspaper.
We stayed in touch with Kelly McMillen and Sheriff Kenny Dickerson via cell phone while we finished up the pages and sent them to Oxford.
We knew we could post any updates on our website – www.southreporter.com – or perhaps call Oxford and ask the press crew if we could sent a “new” front page in case of a capture that evening.
Then, Sue and I left the office about 5:30 p.m., about an hour and a half after the escape, in search of pictures and more information.
Our first stop just happened to be in my neighborhood. Officers were on the bridge just past Cedar Hill Road. They had search dogs and proceeded to walk the creek bed directly behind our house.
Our house has been broken into twice, but this was a first – searching for an escapee so close by.
We stopped and talked to Kelly McMillen, who was on Hernando Road just across the Highway 78 overpass. We were updated, and then we drove around the area – Marianna Road and Peyton Road.
It was obvious that this was a total team effort.
Law enforcement officers not just from the county, Holly Springs and Byhalia, but from adjoining counties had pulled together for the search.
I later drove Sue back to the office and I made a few more rounds for photos.
The next morning we were back on the phone with the sheriff’s department. We got the call we and everyone else had been hoping for from Sheriff Dickerson nearing lunch-time. He let us know the escapee had been captured around Lewisburg in the edge of DeSoto County. We immediately updated our website.
Officers deserve many thanks for their tireless efforts in catching the escapee so quickly.
And like Sheriff Dickerson said – teamwork is the key.
The public, which can provide crucial information concerning crime, is an important part of that team.
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