Columbus' Sears closing Friday

Sears has been a tenant of the Leigh Mall in Columbus for nearly 40 years. The store will close its doors forever this Friday due to national financial woes. (Photo by Monica Land)

News Briefs From Across The State

By Monica Land

Store opened 40 years ago

The mood at the Sears store in Columbus was somber this week as the community and employees prepare for the last day of business. The Sears Holdings Corp. announced they will close the doors of the Leigh Mall staple on Friday, March 16.

The Lowndes County store is among three in Mississippi and dozens across the country that the company is closing as a result of poor holiday sales.

The Commercial Dispatch reports that while Sears has not released individual closing dates, a sign outside the Columbus store shows the close of the business is Friday.

Customers continue to mill around inside looking for last minute bargains, as signs of failure loom throughout the store. Many of the merchandise items have been marked 30 to 60 percent off. But even the fixtures, countertops and display cases are for sale.

“It's sad,” said one store employee who's been there for 17 years. “It's just really sad.”

The Columbus store occupies about 41,000 square feet and was one of Leigh Mall's original tenants when the mall opened in 1973.

Sears will close stores at the Metrocenter Mall in west Jackson and in McComb.

Woman sentenced for fraud, arson

A former Ripley woman has been sentenced for convictions of arson and insurance fraud charges.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that Circuit Judge Robert W. Elliott this past week sentenced 51-year-old Regina Dees to 10 years with eight of it suspended on the first degree arson charge. He sentenced her to two years for insurance fraud. The sentences will run concurrently.

She must also pay a total of $7,706 in fines and restitution to the district attorney's office, Farm Bureau Insurance and Ripley volunteer Fire Department. Dees, who now lives in Memphis, had been convicted in February.

Prosecutors say the charges against Dees date back to incidents that occurred in 2008.

Man to be sentenced in gun case

A sentencing hearing is scheduled this month for a man convicted of illegally obtaining guns by using a third party to purchase them from a pawn shop.

Prosecutors say Edward Dubois Curry couldn't buy the four pistols himself because he was a convicted felon. Another man allegedly bought the guns for Curry in December 2008 and February 2009 from Wesson Pawn and Gun in Wesson.

Curry pleaded guilty in January. His sentencing is set for March 23 in U.S. District Court in Jackson.

He faces up to five years in prison.

New fire insurance ratings in county, city

Monticello and Lawrence County have achieved new fire insurance ratings.

Officials tell the Daily Leader that the city has new rating of six and the county had an eight. The ratings came from the state.

Monticello Fire Department Capt. Jared Evans says a class six rating will lower insurance costs to businesses and homes.

Previously, the Monticello rating was a seven and the county was a 10.

Communities are classified between a one rating, the highest, and a 10 rating, which is the lowest. The score that is determined from applying the Fire

Suppression Rating Schedule is translated into a public protection classification for a community.

The lower the number, the lower insurance rates are for homeowners and businesses in the given community.

Waveland City Hall to open by March 26

The city of Waveland expects to move into its new city hall by March 26.

The old city hall and most other buildings in the town were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.

The Sea Coast Echo reports that the complex includes the new city hall building, the city hall annex and the Coleman Avenue Fire Station.

The new city hall is constructed on the same footprint as the old one; however, it will be much bigger. A replica of the Hurricane Camille mural will be replaced in front of the new facility.

For the past two years, city government has been located at a strip mall on U.S. Highway 90. FEMA has been paying the rent for the city until its permanent facilities are complete.

Health department gets grant

Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) said the United States Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $65,357 in State Systems Development Initiative funds to the Mississippi State Department of Health for the Mississippi State System Development Initiative.