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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).
JACKSON, Miss. — The Mississippi Senate on Wednesday was debating a teacher pay raise plan proposed by Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. Teachers would receive $1,500 this July 1 and $1,000 a year later, then could become eligible for merit pay raises. The House passed its own teacher pay raise proposal in early February, but the two chambers must agree on a single plan before anything can go to the governor. By Emily Wagster Pettus. UPCOMING: 400 words by 4 p.m.
JACKSON, Miss. — The Mississippi House of Representatives is considering a package to restrict some union organizing and picketing practices, as well as local laws that might benefit workers. The House could give final passage to the bills, sending them to Gov. Phil Bryant for his consideration. By Jeff Amy. UPCOMING: 450 words by 5 p.m. CST.
XGR-FREEDOM SUMMER HONOR
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi lawmakers are honoring civil rights activists as the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer approaches. Hundreds of college students from across the nation converged on the state in 1964 to help local people challenge what was then a strictly segregated society. They registered black voters, established schools and did other projects to help people who were struggling with generations of poverty and racial oppression. By Emily Wagster Pettus. SENT: 311 words.
UNDATED — A second baby born with the AIDS virus may have had her infection put into remission and possibly cured by very early treatment — in this instance, four hours after birth. Doctors revealed the case Wednesday at an AIDS conference in Boston. The girl was born in suburban Los Angeles last April, a month after researchers announced the first case from Mississippi. By Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione. SENT: 529 words.
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JACKSON, Miss. — Total Environmental Solutions Inc. and Utility Services LLC have agreed to address violations of the Clean Water Act, including effluent violations and unauthorized overflows of untreated raw sewage at 18 sites in Mississippi. The Department of Justice announced the consent decree Wednesday in lawsuit filed by the Environment Protection Agency and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. SENT: 275 words.
GREENWOOD, Miss. — Leflore County and Balkamp, a NAPA parts distributor who closed down its Greenwood distribution center in 2009, have settled a lawsuit over the deed, lease and taxes on its former building. County supervisors have voted to void tax sales on Balkamp's former home in the Greenwood-Leflore Industrial Park, bringing to an end several years of legal wrangling. UPCOMING: 340 words at 3:15 p.m. CST.
COLUMBUS, Miss. — American Eurocopter has changed its name to Airbus Helicopters Inc. and will begin manufacturing a new commercial helicopter in Columbus. The announcement came Tuesday in Columbus and France. SENT: 253 words.
LAW FIRM EXPANDS
RIDGELAND, Miss. — The Butler Snow law firm is expanding in Alabama, adding 19 attorneys to its office in Birmingham. A spokesman for the firm said the expansion will bring its national staff of attorneys to nearly 280, with a total of 24 in Birmingham. SENT: 184 words.
MISSISSIPPI NEWS IN BRIEF
PRESCRIPTION DRUG RING
GULFPORT, Miss. — A Georgia doctor and three Mississippi men have been indicted on federal charges of illegally distributing painkillers. At a news conference Wednesday in Gulfport, federal authorities announced the arrests of Dr. Sanjay Sinha, 49, of Woodstock, Ga.; Biloxi residents Robert Thornton II, 36, and Joshua Locke, 36; and John Mattina, 44, of Ocean Springs. SENT: 245 words.
JACKSON, Miss. — A longtime Mississippi lawmaker is back at work in the House of Representatives. Democrat Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville returned to the Capitol Wednesday, and his colleagues greeted him with a standing ovation and ringing cowbells. SENT: 107 words.
LONG BEACH PIER
LONG BEACH, Miss. — Harrison County officials say they spent $174,000 to repair the Jim Simpson Pier in Long Beach with the understanding the Federal Emergency Management Agency would reimburse them. The county has been notified by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency that no reimbursement is coming. UPCOMING: 279 words by 3:30 p.m. CST.
GREENWOOD, Miss. — Leflore County is beginning the installation of eight new warning sirens. The original grant paperwork listed incorrect locations for eight of the 11 sirens — in flood plains, on private property or under power lines — and approval from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency was needed before hooking them up in a new location. UPCOMING: 121 words at 3 p.m. CST.
AMORY BEATING DEATH
AMORY, Miss. — Bond has been set at $300,000 for Christopher Lee Thompson on a charge of murder related to the beating death of an Amory man. The 46-year-old Thompson, himself an Amory resident, was arrested Sunday and charged Monday with the murder of Tommy Harlow. SENT: 97 words.
OLIVE BRANCH SLAYING
HERNANDO, Miss. — A sentencing hearing for 19-year-old Charles Dalton Shoemake, who pleaded guilty in the 2012 slaying of an Olive Branch man, has been continued to March 18. Shoemake, of Olive Branch, pleaded guilty on Jan. 14 to the slaying of Paul Victor III, his 21-year-old neighbor. Victor's body was dumped in Shelby Farms in Memphis and set on fire. He was discovered by a jogger. SENT: 119 words.
HATTIESBURG SALES TAX
HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Hattiesburg City Council has unanimously backed a request from Mayor Johnny DuPree that potentially could bring an estimated $10 million revenue stream to the city for the next 30 years. But the possible addition of a 1 percent tax on in-city sales of multiple goods and services would not offset the need to raise sewer rates to pay for the development and operation of a mandated, new wastewater treatment system. SENT: 130 words.
PASCAGOULA, Miss. — A 57-year-old Pascagoula man pleaded guilty to sexual battery of a nine-year-old, which occurred on Sept. 26, 2012, in Gautier. Judge Kathy King Jackson sentenced Larry Dean Smith on Monday to 40 years, 20 years to serve day for day, the remaining on post release supervision, of which five years are reporting. SENT: 73 words.
PASCAGOULA, Miss. — Reports of beach erosion and the need to better stabilize the city's seawall prompted action from the Pascagoula City Council. City engineer Jaci Turner says the beach was constructed by the Corps of Engineers about four years ago as a seawall for protection. SENT: 129 words.
WEST POINT, Miss. — Clay County will get almost $10,500 to help clean up illegal dumps. The money will come from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. SENT: 52 words.
LOWNDES SEWER SERVICE
COLUMBUS, Miss. — A Columbus city utility is considering plans to bring sewer service to an area just south of the city limits. The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors has set a March 20 public hearing on the plan for Columbus Light and Water to extend its lines. SENT: 129 words.
FLINT CREEK WATER PARK
WIGGINS, Miss. — A developer plans to invest $5 million to improve the Flint Creek Water Park, which is owned by the Pat Harrison Waterway District. Russell Ryals plans to build swimming pools, hot tubs, water slides and a lazy river at Flint Creek, in Stone County. SENT: 126 words.
PSC EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
JACKSON, Miss. — The Mississippi Public Service Commission has named Katherine Collier as its executive secretary. The three-member commission voted unanimously Tuesday to name Collier to replace Brian Ray, who plans to retire on June 30. SENT: 108 words.
ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia looks to solidify a bye to the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament when it hosts Mississippi State, a team UGa beat by 20 points on the road in their first meeting. By Sports Writer Paul Newberry. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts at 6 p.m. CST
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas has climbed into the NCAA tournament picture by winning seven of its last eight games. The Razorbacks look to continue their winning ways when they host Mississippi, which has won four straight in Fayetteville, on Wednesday night. By Sports Writer Kurt Voigt. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts at 7 p.m. CST.
DULUTH, Ga. — Jessica Jackson and No. 11 seed Arkansas face Valencia McFarland and No. 14 seed Ole Miss in the opening round of the SEC women's tournament. UPCOMING: 150-word newsnow. Game starts at 7:30 p.m. CST.
DULUTH, Ga. — Bri Kulas and No. 12 seed Missouri face Martha Alwal and No. 13 seed Mississippi State in the opening round of the SEC women's tournament. UPCOMING: 150-word newsnow. Game starts at 5 p.m. CST.
The AP-Jackson, Miss.
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