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Capt. Monk and the USS Passumpsic

By By Suzanne Monk / managing editor
Oct. 5, 2003
It's been almost 20 years since my father retired as a captain from the U.S. Navy but he was at NAS Meridian this week being fitted for a new dress uniform. He and mother will be in Missouri next weekend attending a ship's reunion for the USS Passumpsic (AO-107).
The Passumpsic was a tanker "jumbo-ized" during the Vietnam War. Then-Cmdr. Samuel W. Monk assumed command in 1972, and shipped out from the port of Los Angeles bound for the Pacific Theater.
The war ended, or at least our country's part of it did, and Daddy ended up being the Passumpsic's final skipper and one of only three non-captains ever allowed to command her. The Passumpsic was decommissioned in late 1973, there being little further need for the wartime massiveness of a jumbo oiler.
Under my father's command, the ship was known as the "Pumping Passumpsic."
Easily as long as three football fields, its job was to refuel another ship while both were under way. Kind of like what the 186th Air Refueling Wing does, only at sea instead of in the air, and sometimes the Passumpsic refueled from port and starboard simultaneously.
I hope he takes the 6-foot portrait of the Passumpsic that hangs on the wall of his den with him to the reunion. And, I told mother to be sure and take lots and lots of pictures my father in winter blues, with four stripes on his sleeves and row upon row of medals, is rather a dashing figure.
Notes from the cops and courts beat
More parking math: Just out of curiosity, I asked the city of Meridian for an accounting of how much money had been taken in for parking tickets over the last few years. In 2001, the city made $23,448. That number increased to $35,842 in 2002. As of the end of August, the city had collected $21,398 for tickets in 2003 a little behind last year's pace.
Meanwhile, the number of arrest warrants issued because of unpaid tickets seems to be a little ahead. Last year, 150 warrants were issued, or an average of 12.5 per month. As of the end of August, 120 warrants had been issued, or about 15 per month.
Choosing your battles: A hearing in the case of Rita Jack has been re-scheduled. The Meridian Police Department fired Jack in September 2001 amid unproven allegations that she stole money from the station's front desk.
A two-year battle ended (sort of) in August of this year, when Circuit Judge Robert Bailey ordered her reinstatement with full back pay. Jack has been reinstated, but the city is fighting the judge on the back pay issue.
The new hearing is set for Oct. 7.
I think most people don't understand why city officials are so doggedly persistent about this. So, I wonder: From their perspective, at what point does the public relations downside outweigh any potential financial savings?
School lawsuit: Remember the case of the mother who is suing the Lauderdale County School District? Her 15-year-old daughter went on an out-of-town band trip chaperoned by only one person band director Larry Wayne McKenzie.
McKenzie seduced and impregnated her. He's serving 20 years for statutory rape.
The lawsuit against Lauderdale County is getting down to brass tacks. Judge Bailey has identified what kinds of compensatory damages are "fair game." The mother's attorney, Bill Ready Jr., is working on an itemized list.
The next step is either a trial or a settlement.
Jury reversal: A couple of weeks ago, I told you about a Lauderdale County woman who sued a nursing home in Columbus for failing to protect her mother from the sexual advances of another resident.
The jury's verdict went against her and she appealed successfully. The Mississippi Court of Appeals ruled that the jury was wrong, reversed the decision and ordered Circuit Judge Larry Roberts to conduct a new trial.
That's not happening yet.
As expected, the nursing home has asked for another hearing before the COA. If that doesn't work, the next stop is the Mississippi Supreme Court.
But, consider this hypothetical situation. If the COA's decision stands, Judge Roberts' only realistic option would be to conduct a new trial and then tell the jury how to vote. It's called a directed verdict.
Either that or try the case over and over until a jury gets it "right."