News Briefs From Across The State

By Monica Land

Canton Alderman Louis Smith

Specific charges not released

FBI spokesperson Deborah Madden confirmed Canton Alderman Louis Smith, who represents Ward 4, was arrested by agents at 2:30 Wednesday afternoon, WLBT reported.

Sheila Wilbanks of the U.S. Attorney’s Office wouldn’t confirm the specific charges against Smith but said a court hearing is scheduled for 1:30 Thursday afternoon.

Smith is seeking re-election. Madison County election officials are working to finalize Canton’s election numbers.

Domestic dispute leads to drug arrests

Moss Point police said officers answered a call about a domestic dispute and found heroin, marijuana and a large amount of the synthetic marijuana called Spice.

Police told The Mississippi Press and WLOX-TV that nearly an ounce of marijuana was out in plain view. They say a search turned up about two grams of heroin and the synthetic marijuana.

Police and the South Mississippi Metro Enforcement are not releasing the names of people who were arrested, saying they’re still investigating and more arrests are likely.

Police said agencies are seeing more and more synthetic drugs, which can be very dangerous.

Gulfport names new police chief

Gulfport’s Deputy Chief Leonard Papania was appointed to Chief of Police for the Gulfport Police Department on Wednesday. All Gulfport city council members were in favor of the decision, WLOX reported.

Soon to be mayor of Gulfport Billy Hewes says he’s thrilled to be working with Papania.

The 46-year-old was serving as Gulfport Police Department’s deputy chief. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from USM and he has been serving as chief since former Gulfport Police Chief Alan Weatherford retired in February.

In all there were 65 applicants for the top spot.

Governor signs rural water bill

Legislation that Gov. Phil Bryant has signed into law clarifies that the three-member elected Public Service Commission does not have authority over rural water associations.

Bryant signed Senate Bill 2322 this month.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that the bill includes an amendment by Rep. Jerry Turner, R-Baldwyn, to require the rural water associations’ meetings to be open to their customers and to require that the customers receive notice of meetings where boards of directors are elected.

The issue of jurisdiction over the state’s about 950 rural water associations arose during allegations of mismanagement by the North Lee County Water Association in 2011. The Board of the Lee County rural water association eventually resigned and the director pleaded guilty to lying about federal water quality reports.

Judge grants delay in Vicksburg mayor’s trial

A federal judge has agreed to reschedule Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield’s trial on a federal bribery charge.

Winfield is charged with seeking $10,000 in cash in exchange for a city contract. He has pleaded not guilty.

A judge this week granted a delay so Winfield’s lawyer has more time to review evidence in the case.

Winfield’s trial is now set for Aug. 5 in Jackson.

Winfield, a 39-year-old Democrat, is completing his first term as mayor of the historic Mississippi River city and qualified to seek re-election. Winfield was defeated in Tuesday’s election by  State Representative George Flaggs, Jr.

The FBI arrested Winfield on Feb. 20. A federal grand jury indicted him March 19.

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