Latest Mississippi Headlines From AP


Possible tornado, big hail hits Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Authorities say wind damaged more than 40 homes in central Mississippi, hail the size of golf balls and quarters pounded some areas and heavy rains flooded roads and homes.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Mike Edmonston, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, said officials were trying to determine if it was a tornado that hit Simpson County. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said three homes in Simpson County were destroyed and 40 damaged. Water went into eight Scott County homes.

Edmonston said golf ball-size hail hit Claiborne, Copiah, Rankin and Simpson counties with smaller hail in other areas. He said golf ball-size hail hit across the state line in Tensas Parish Louisiana and lightening blew out the back window of a police car in Franklin Parish.


Miss. redistricting suit moved to new US judge

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – One federal judge has removed himself from a lawsuit over Mississippi legislative redistricting, and the case has been reassigned to a new judge who was involved in redistricting as a lawyer a decade ago.

U.S. District Judge Dan Jordan wrote in a court order Wednesday that he removed himself from the case because he learned that one of his relatives intends to run for the Legislature.

The case was moved to U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, who was confirmed to the bench in December.

Reeves was an attorney for Democrats when Mississippi’s congressional redistricting went through courts after the 2000 Census.

The current redistricting lawsuit was filed by the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It seeks to block elections in the outdated districts.


Sluggish job growth remains rule in Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Sluggish job growth remained the rule in Mississippi last month as the state’s unemployment rate jumped slightly.

The Department of Employment Security says that the state added 5,200 non-farm jobs in February – on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. Mississippi had 13,200 more jobs in February than in February 2010, for a 1.2 percent growth rate.

The count from January 2010 to 2011 rose by 13,000 jobs.

Mississippi’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for February was 10.2 percent, up from 10.1 percent in January. The national unemployment rate for February was 8.9 percent, down from 9 percent in January.


Gulfport police chief’s daughter killed

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) – A Gulfport man has been charged with DUI causing death related to a traffic accident in which the daughter of Gulfport Police Chief Alan Weatherford was killed.

The accident occurred Tuesday night. Deputy Chief Leonard Papania says Darryl Edward Blappert Jr. was being held Wednesday in the Harrison County jail on a $1 million bond.

County Coroner Gary Hargrove says Deanna Tucker died at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport about six hours after the accident.

Papania says Tucker was struck by a vehicle that left the roadway and collided with a parked car. He says Tucker was loading her small child into the car at the time when she was struck, pinning her between the cars.

The child was unharmed.


Woman pleads guilty in death of daughter

(Information in the following story is from: WDAM-TV,

ELLISVILLE, Miss. (AP) – A Jones County woman has pleaded guilty to felony neglect in the 2010 death of her two-year-old daughter.

WDAM-TV reports that Lydia Viner entered the plea Tuesday in Jones County Circuit Court. Prosecutors say she neglected her child and allowed ongoing abuse to happen to her daughter while in her care.

Her daughter, Victoria, died at a Jackson hospital last August 13th. An autopsy showed the child died of blunt force trauma to the head.

Circuit Judge Billy Joe Landrum sentenced Viner to five years in prison and then suspended the sentence.

Justin Barrat Blakeney is charged with capital murder in the case. He is being held without bond.

No trial date has been set for Blakeney.


Barbour: Special Miss. budget session, if needed

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour says he wants lawmakers to finish writing a budget before their regular session ends, but he’s not bothered by calling them back for a special session if that’s what it takes to get the job done.

The Republican governor called lawmakers back for a budget special session in 2009 when lawmakers failed to agree on a spending plan during the regular session.

The current three-month regular session is scheduled to end Saturday, but House and Senate negotiators say they still had significant differences Wednesday about how much to spend on education and mental health. They also disagree about how much money to leave in the state’s financial reserves.

The budget is expected to be about $5.5 billion for the year that begins July 1.


Miss. lawmakers send governor animal cruelty bill

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi lawmakers have passed an animal cruelty bill that includes a felony charge.

The final version of the measure passed the House on Wednesday and earlier passed the Senate. It now goes to the governor.

Under the bill, a first offense of animal cruelty is a misdemeanor. A second offense within a five-year period would be a felony. Senator Bob Dearing says the bill is a start.

Dearing wanted a felony on a first offense. He also says the bill doesn’t include the word “kill” when describing the offense against a domesticated cat or dog.

House Agriculture Chairman Greg Ward says if someone burns or mutilates an animal, it’s understood they were trying to kill it.


Limestone quarry in NW Alabama gets opposition

(Information in the following story is from: TimesDaily,

RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. (AP) – Nearly 100 residents opposed to a planned limestone quarry in Franklin County met to develop their case against what they call a threat to their community, possibly involving sacred Indian burial grounds.

Quarry company officials said the proposed 100-acre quarry would bring 30 to 40 jobs to the region and would be under strict federal and state environmental guidelines.

Limestone Redbay Incorporated, of Columbus, Mississippi, applied to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management for air and water release permits March 16th.

The public has until April 15th to comment. Residents can to request a public hearing.