News Briefs From Across The State

By Monica Land

Elderly woman killed in fire

A 36-year-old Purvis man has been charged with murder and first-degree arson following a fatal house fire on Monday, May 13.

Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel tells The Hattiesburg American Timothy Taylor was taken into custody for investigation on suspicion of arson. He says Taylor was picked up in Purvis late Monday night, charged with arson after his arrest, then with murder on Tuesday.

Emergency Management Director James Smith says after the fire was put out, they found human remains inside the home.

Rigel says the cause of death and a confirmed identity on the victim are both unknown pending autopsy. The victim was described only as an elderly woman.

Oxygen tanks in the home exploded during the fire, authorities said.

He said Lamar County Justice Court Judge Bill Anderson denied bond on both charges. Taylor is being held in the Lamar County Jail.

Dems work on Miss. Medicaid expansion proposal

Mississippi legislative Democrats say they're working on proposals to keep Medicaid alive and funded in the budget year that starts July 1.

They say they're doing this in case Republican Gov. Phil Bryant calls a special session before the end of June.

However, Bryant said last week he believes he can run Medicaid without legislative authorization – even with no budget in place.

House Democratic Leader Bobby Moak says there's new urgency because a federal agency on Monday released proposed rules for how it would reduce Medicaid payments to hospitals that treat large numbers of uninsured patients. If the rules are adopted, changes could start taking effect in a few months.

Mississippi hospital leaders worry they'll still face large numbers of patients who don't have private insurance or Medicaid.

Port of Pascagoula approves $1.5M dredging project

Port of Pascagoula commissioners have approved a $1.5 million dredging project to prepare a Bayou Casotte berth for a specialized wood pellet exporting facility.

The board awarded the $1.47 million contract to C. F. Bean LLC for the dredging, testing, transporting and disposing of about 45,000 cubic yards of silts around Terminals E and F.

Port Director Mark McAndrews tells The Mississippi Press the contract is higher than typical because there is a chance of contaminants that will need special handling.

Any contaminated sediments will be trucked to the MacLand Disposal Center, a certified landfill, and any clean materials will be placed at the former International Paper Co. mill site.

The dredging work is being funded through the port's harbor maintenance fund.

Tupelo Furniture Market moves spring market to January

The spring Tupelo Furniture Market, originally scheduled for mid-February, will now be held Jan. 16-19.

TFM president Kevin Seddon tells the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that the move means the Tupelo date also will be bracketed by the Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market (Jan. 8-15) and the Dallas Total Home and Gift Market (Jan. 15-21).

Exhibitors will have to decide on which markets to attend.

Seddon says he expects to lose some of those exhibitors.

However, many exhibitors and buyers have said they've been missing out on the lucrative tax season with the February dates.

Seddon says the market felt because of tax season, it had to get out in front of it to benefit as many exhibitors and buyers as possible.

BancorpSouth offering early retirement

BancorpSouth Inc., the parent of BancorpSouth Bank, is offering a voluntary early retirement package to employees age 60 and over with 10 consecutive years of experience with the company.

BancorpSouth spokesman Randy Burchfield says in a statement that the company does not know how many employees might accept the package. He says the company is not releasing details on what is being offered.

BancorpSouth employs about 4,200 employees at more than 270 locations in eight states.

In April, BancorpSouth said profit fell in the first quarter as lower interest rates cut into its income.

The bank said profit fell to $20.8 million, or 22 cents per share, in the quarter that ended March 31. That's down about 9 percent from the same three months of 2012.