AP-MS--Mississippi News Digest,ADVISORY, MS

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Associated Press

Posted on August 9, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Good afternoon, Mississippi editors.

The news editor is Brian Schwaner (1-504-523-3931). The AP photographer is Rogelio Solis. If you have contributions for or questions about the Mississippi report, call 1-601-948-5897. To report technical problems: 1-800-469-1362. AP stories, along with the photos that accompany them, can also be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com. Reruns are also available from the Service Desk (877-836-9477).

TOP STORIES

STILLBORN DEATH APPEAL

JACKSON — The Mississippi Supreme Court has affirmed a lower court's dismissal of an indictment against a woman who suffered a stillbirth and was arrested in 2010 because of alleged drug use during her pregnancy. Nina Buckhalter was charged with negligent culpable manslaughter, but a local judge threw out the case in 2012. Prosecutors appealed. In a ruling Thursday, the Mississippi Supreme Court said the indictment, which alleged Buckhalter willfully caused the death of the fetus, was "fatally flawed." Buckhalter was in her 31st week of pregnancy at the time of the stillbirth, documents say. Assistant District Attorney Doug Miller had argued the trial court erred in finding a woman cannot be charged with a crime when her acts lead to the death of a fetus. The justices didn't address that claim. By Holbrook Mohr.

MISSING SISTERS

BOLIVAR, Tenn. — The widow and mother of a Mississippi man who kidnapped two Tennessee girls and murdered their mother and sister have pleaded guilty to their roles in the crimes. Teresa Mayes pleaded guilty on Friday to second degree murder in the deaths of Jo An Bain and her 14-year-old daughter Adrienne. She also pleaded guilty to kidnapping in the May 2012 abduction of sisters Alexandria and Kyliyah, who were 12 and 8 at the time. Mayes was sentenced to 35 years at the hearing in Bolivar. Her mother-in-law, Mary Mayes, pleaded guilty to kidnapping and was sentenced to 13 ½ years. The women helped Adam Mayes, who was on the run with the younger girls for two weeks before he killed himself as authorities closed in.

LAFAYETTE COUNTY-CAMPAIGNING LAWSUIT

JACKSON — A lawsuit against the Lafayette County School District has been reinstated by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case centers on a lawsuit that alleges the district fired assistant principal Lisa Mooney because she campaigned for an opponent of Schools Superintendent Mike Foster in 2007. Mooney's attorney, Jim Waide of Tupelo, said the court found there was circumstantial evidence that the district fired Mooney because she campaigned for a special education teacher who ran against Foster. U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers of Oxford had dismissed Mooney's lawsuit, ruling it had been too long since the 2007 election to support a finding that Mooney's campaigning was the reason for her 2010 firing.

WASTEWATER TESTING INDICTMENT

JACKSON — A federal judge has reset the sentencing date for an environmental laboratory owner in Mississippi who was convicted on federal charges of falsifying records on industrial wastewater samples. Tennie White was the sole operator of Mississippi Environmental Analytical Laboratories Inc. She was convicted in May in U.S. District Court in Jackson on two counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction. Sentencing was set for Aug. 8 before U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate. It has been continued to Aug. 23.

COURTHOUSE-REMODEL

LIBERTY — The oldest functioning courthouse in the state is looking for a face-lift. The Amite County Board of Supervisors has voted to apply to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for one of its highly competitive Community Heritage Preservation Grants. The program has about $5 million to spread around the state for the preservation and restoration of historic courthouses and school buildings. The grant proposal — presented Monday by Mary Helen Ferguson of The Ferguson Group — covers five renovation sections totaling $2.7 million. The board committed a cash match of $51,280 or 20 percent of the totals from the top two priorities: restoring the courtroom and the courthouse exterior.

LEE COUNTY SCHOOLS

TUPELO — Through two days of school, enrollment in the Lee County School District looks similar to last year. Superintendent Jimmy Weeks said the district currently has about 6,985 students. That number is down 19 students from the second day of school last year. Weeks says the number will continue to climb during the next three weeks. The district's official enrollment report doesn't come until October. Saltillo High School currently has 43 more students than it did at this time last year. The largest declines are at Verona, which has 64 fewer students than this point last year, and Shannon High School, which is down 52 students. Preliminary enrollment numbers for the Tupelo Public School District are expected to be released soon.

HIGHWAY SHOOTINGS

SARDIS — The capital murder trial of James D. Willie, 29, accused of killing two people along North Mississippi highways last year, has been continued until next year. Willie was set to stand trial Monday in Panola County for the May 8 shooting death of Thomas K. Schlender. Schlender, of Raymond, Neb., was found shot to death inside his pickup, which was in the median of southbound Interstate 55 near the Pope, Miss., exit in Panola County. Schlender was traveling from his Nebraska home to Florida to pick up his grandson from college. During a pretrial conference Thursday in Sardis, Circuit Court Judge Jimmy McClure approved the defense attorneys' motion for a continuance after they said they needed more time to prepare for the death penalty case.

JACKSON RECYCLING

JACKSON — There's no longer a place for residents to drop off their recycling in the Jackson city limits. The two facilities that once accepted recycling are privately run and under different management, but both have the same problem: Unsorted recyclables have piled up to the point debris is spilling out of their warehouses, and the sites have been forced to shut down. Waste Management, the company that handles the city's garbage collection, says curbside recycling is still being sorted properly, so the average Jackson recycler has nothing to worry about. But for months now the company has had to ship the city's recyclables to a processing facility 80 miles away in Sumrall, because the local facilities proved incapable of handling the task.

ZERO TAX VALUE

BILOXI — City officials estimate Biloxi has lost millions since Hurricane Katrina due to low and zero tax assessments by the Harrison County Assessor's office and they expect to appeal the values by Monday's deadline. The zero assessment on the Casino Magic hotel tower, Southern Trucking's concrete plant, Gulf Coast Mental Health Center and the Biloxi Yacht Club are among the assessments they plan to appeal to the Harrison County supervisors because the properties' owners aren't being taxed for them. Jerry Creel, the city's community development director, said that by Thursday they had identified 18 properties on which the assessor reduced the value of the building to zero after Katrina in 2005. Creel's office is still looking at other properties that have "no reasonable assessment" on the buildings, he said.

MISSISSIPPI NEWS IN BRIEF

ALCORN COUNTY-DRUG ARREST

CORINTH — A 56-year-old Corinth man faces drug charges after being arrested by the Alcorn County Narcotics Unit. Clyde Ellis McIerran was booked with selling methamphetamine. Investigators say they bought the drug several times from McIerran. Narcotics unit spokesman Darrell Hopkins said investigators believe McIerran was selling drugs in Corinth and elsewhere in Alcorn County, and that more charges may be filed against him.

OLIVE BRANCH POLICE

OLIVE BRANCH — Olive Branch officials have authorized police department to buy two new vehicles that will be used by plain-clothed investigators. Officials will buy a 2011 Chevy Tahoe for $17,650 and a 2009 Chevy pickup for $14,500. For a few years now, Olive Branch police brass has been using alternative methods for obtaining vehicles for the workforce. The department has purchased low-mileage used cars, as in the case this week; bought vehicles using grants, and accepted a car as a gift from a local citizen. The vehicles typically replace cars with about 200,000 miles on them that are no longer cost-effective to maintain.

STOLEN CHECKS

GULFPORT — A 47-year-old Poplarville man is set for trial on charges alleging he stole checks, forged the account holder's name and received more than $20,000. The trial date for Cleveland Andrew Galloway is Sept. 4. A federal grand jury indicted him in July on three counts each of bank fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He has pleaded not guilty. Galloway is accused of stealing checks from a Poplarville resident's home, writing checks to himself and causing illegal money transfers between Jan. 4, 2011, and Jan. 11, 2012. The alleged victims of bank fraud are BankPlus and Chase Bank. Galloway is free on bond pending trial.

ROAD CLOSED

PASCAGOULA — A portion of Beach Boulevard will be closed Monday to install a new crosswalk. The road will be closed to vehicles between City Park Street and Oliver Street. One-way traffic on both streets will be maintained as it is now. The work is expected to take five days and includes cutting out asphalt, pouring concrete, and installing brick pavers. As soon as the concrete has set enough for vehicle traffic, the road will be reopened. Motorists are asked to use caution and observe the detours. Pedestrians will be able to pass through the area, but will need to use extreme caution during this time due to the construction activities.

MOSS POINT STABBING

MOSS POINT — Jackson County Coroner Vicki Broadus has released the name of Wednesday's stabbing victim in Moss Point. Broadus said 42-year-old David Drinkard, of Moss Point, died of blood loss after he was stabbed. Drinkard's body was found in a flower bed outside a home. Police Chief Keith Davis says a 14-year-old girl on her way to the school bus saw Drinkard's body in the flower bed of her house. She went inside and woke her father.

COLUMBIA SEX CHARGE

COLUMBIA — A 63-year-old Columbia man has been booked on charges of inappropriately touching a 14-year-old girl. Larry James Watts surrendered Wednesday. Police say they received a complaint Monday regarding sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl. According to investigators, Watts inappropriately touched the girl. He was booked at the Marion County jail on charges of touching of a child for lustful purposes, a felony.

LAUREL POLICE-MENTORING

LAUREL — Police Chief Tyrone Stewart says he wants to set up a program to mentor children in Laurel. Stewart said he believes too many children in Laurel are wasting their lives away because community leaders are not taking the time to act as mentors. The chief planned to kick off the effort with a rally at Oak Park Elementary School with children, parents and community leaders.

DRUG STORE ROBBERY

TERRY — Terry police say two men robbed a drug store at gunpoint on Wednesday night. The robbery took place around 6 p.m. at Terry Drugs. Store employees told investigators that two men came to the back door of the store and held the owner at gunpoint. The suspects stole narcotics and an unknown amount of money, police said.

LAMAR COUNTY-PARK

OAK GROVE — Lamar County will get a $300,000 state grant to help fund in improvements at Optimist Park in Oak Grove. The money will be provided by the Mississippi Department of Transportation and will be used to build a pedestrian pathway, pavilion and picnic area. The county will add $100,000 of its own money to the state grant. Lamar County Supervisor Phillip Carlisle says the improvements will be a plus for quality of life. The work is expected to be completed and open to the public by fall 2014.

OCEAN TECHNOLOGY WORKSHOP

BAY ST. LOUIS — The Marine Technology Society plans an Oceans In Action Workshop on Aug. 22 at the Stennis Space Center in Hancock County. The session will focus on marine technology used by federal and state agencies, regional associations, universities and industry on the Gulf Coast to support a wide variety of issues. Mission updates will be presented by federal agencies, including the Naval Research Laboratory, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Applied Sciences Directorate, NOAA's National Data Buoy Center and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

MERIDIAN ROBBERY

MERIDIAN — Police say a 20-year-old man has been arrested in connection with an armed robbery that took place in July. Capt. Dean Harper said Devante D. May was booked on Wednesday with armed robbery. Authorities say May is suspect of robbing a clerk at gunpoint on July 8 at the Paradise Food-Mart.

ENTERTAINMENT/LIFESTYLE

GREENWOOD-SKATING RINK

GREENWOOD — A synthetic ice skating rink may become part of Greenwood's downtown Christmas celebration if $10,000 in seed money can be raised in the next few weeks. Brantley Snipes, executive director of Main Street Greenwood Inc., proposed the idea Tuesday to the Greenwood City Council. For $10,000, Artificial Ice Events of Dallas will come in for two days, set up the rink and provide skates and staff, Snipes said. She said the event is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 5-6, coinciding with the annual Roy G. Martin Delta Band Festival and Christmas Parade.

CIVIL WAR-CORINTH BATTLEFIELD

CORINTH — The Corinth Battlefield Unit of Shiloh National Military Park will host a Civil War Kids Day on Saturday at the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center. Superintendent John Bundy said events will begin at 10 a.m. and end at noon. Children 8 to 12 years of age can experience the life of the typical Civil War soldier through hands-on activities. In addition, National Park Service rangers will demonstrate how to load and fire a Civil War musket.

RODGERS TRIBUTE

MERIDIAN — The Jimmie Rodgers Foundation will sponsor a tribute to the country music singer/songwriter on Sept. 5 at the Temple Theatre in downtown Meridian. The celebration will mark what would be Rodgers' 166th birthday. The concert, starting shortly after 6 p.m., will feature Randy Houser, a native Mississippian whose hits "How Country Feels" and "Runnin' Outta Moonlight" are topping the charts.

BUSINESS

CORINTH-TOURISM

CORINTH — Tourism leaders are asking for an increase in funding from officials of the city of Corinth and Alcorn County. The Corinth Board of Mayor and Aldermen and Alcorn County Board of Supervisors will complete their budgets in September for the coming fiscal year. The Corinth Area Convention and Visitors Bureau wants an increase in its monthly allotment of tourism tax funding from $42,000 to $45,000. Crossroads Arena is poised to receive $200,000 from the tourism budget, down from $250,000 in the current fiscal year. The tourism budget anticipates total income of $588,570. Convention and Visitors Bureau board member Sandy Mitchell told Corinth officials that the CVB expects to have $13,500 remaining at the left at the end of the current fiscal year.

SPORTS

CHIEFS-SAINTS

NEW ORLEANS — The Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints open their preseason schedules against one another Friday night in the Superdome. The game marks Saints coach Sean Payton's reappearance on an NFL sideline for the first time since serving his bounty suspension for all of the 2012 season. By Brett Martel. AP Photos planned.

The Associated Press

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