Man gets maximum prison term in rundown death of black man
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A judge has sentenced a white man to 20 years in prison for repeated assaults on African-Americans in Mississippi’s capital city, and a second sentencing has been delayed.
U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate sentenced 21-year-old John Louis Blalack of Brandon to the 20-year maximum. He pleaded guilty to two felony hate crime charges in January.
Autoworker James Craig Anderson died in June 2011 after being beaten and run over by a truck.
Wingate says he will sentence another man, Robert Henry Rice, on aggravated assault charges and not Anderson’s death. Officials say they must recalculate sentencing guidelines for Rice, and Wingate will now decide his sentence May 8.
Rice pleaded guilty to one felony hate crime charge in January and faces up to 10 years in prison.
SAILBOATS CAPSIZE-SAILORS MISSING
US Coast Guard suspends search for missing boaters in Ala.
DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (AP) – The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search of Mobile Bay for boaters who were missing after a storm hit coastal Alabama during a sailboat race.
Coast Guard officials said in a statement Thursday night that the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is now leading the recovery mission for a boater who is still missing.
Authorities have said they’re launching an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Dauphin Island Regatta, which was hit by near hurricane-force winds Saturday.
Around 100 boats carrying about 470 people were on Mobile Bay for the race when the squall occurred, even though forecasters had issued alerts about the possibility of severe weather along the coast.
Five of the boaters’ bodies have been recovered.
MISSISSIPPI ECONOMIC COUNCIL
Increasing gas tax makes for tough politics, adviser says
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi will need strong bipartisan leadership for the “tricky political question” of increasing the gasoline tax to pay for highways, bridges and other transportation needs.
That’s what Joe McAndrew, policy director of a national group called Transportation for America, told state business leaders Thursday.
McAndrew spoke during the annual meeting of the Mississippi Economic Council, the state chamber of commerce.
He says 12 states have increased or restructured their gasoline tax since 2012 to help pay for highways and other transportation projects.
Mississippi’s tax on gasoline and diesel fuel has been 18.8 cents per gallon since 1987.
Some lawmakers say the state should increase the tax to pay for highway and bridge repairs. But, there was no serious discussion of it during this legislative session this election year.
Gov. Bryant expects to name new College Board member soon
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi Gov. Bryant says he will act quickly to choose a new member for the state College Board.
Glenn McCullough of Tupelo was confirmed to the 12-person board during the recent legislative session, but Bryant announced Thursday that McCullough will become director of the state’s job creation agency, the Mississippi Development Authority.
McCullough had been scheduled to start a nine-year term on the College Board on May 9, but says he will give up that position before it starts. He says he wants to focus on the MDA job that he begins in June.
Bryant says he would interview potential College Board nominees Thursday and could name his choice Friday.
The nominee will serve until the Legislature is back in session. Board members must be confirmed by the state Senate.
TVA preparing to test new reactor at Watts Bar
SPRING CITY, Tenn. (AP) – The Tennessee Valley Authority says it is preparing to conduct testing on a new reactor at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant that is nearing completion.
The federal agency has said it plans to complete the plant’s Unit 2 reactor by December 2015. It would be the nation’s first new nuclear generating plant of the 21st century.
TVA senior vice president Mike Skaggs told the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Wednesday during a tour of the project that the unit will be ready in May for “hot functional testing” to determine how well equipment will perform.
The Watts Bar 2 project will add 1,100 megawatts of electricity, providing enough energy for approximately 650,000 homes.
TVA is the nation’s largest public utility, supplying power to about 9 million people in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
Jackson seeks $15M for 3 main corridors
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Jackson is seeking a $15 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve portions of State Street, Capitol Street and Medgar Evers Boulevard.
Robert Lee, the city’s construction and engineering manager, tells The Clarion-Ledger a decision on the application should be known this fall.
Lee said if the state receives the grant money, it would be used to improve State Street from Fondren to Sheppard Road and to upgrade Capitol Street and Medgar Evers Boulevard. The improvements would include water and sewer upgrades as well as making the streets more cycling friendly. Sidewalks would also be upgraded.
The grant requires a minimum local match of 20 percent, which would be $3 million if the city is successful in obtaining $15 million.
Trucking company sued in fiery Georgia crash that killed 5
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) – The mother of one of five nursing students killed in a Georgia highway crash last week is suing the trucking company that employed the driver suspected of causing the fiery collision.
Kim Deloach McQuaig filed the wrongful death suit Wednesday against Total Transportation of Mississippi and its parent company, Tennessee-based U.S. Xpress Enterprises. The civil suit in Bryan County State Court seeks monetary damages for the death of McQuaig’s daughter, 21-year-old Abbie Deloach of Savannah.
The Georgia State Patrol has said the April 22 crash on Interstate 16 appears to have been caused by a tractor-trailer that smashed into stop-and-go traffic slowed by an unrelated wreck. Deloach and four fellow nursing students from Georgia Southern University died.
Total Transportation CEO John Stomps did not immediately return a phone message Thursday.
ALCORN ST COMMENCEMENT
Alcorn alumna Jacqueline Walters to speak at commencement
LORMAN, Miss. (AP) – Prominent physician Dr. Jacqueline Walters will give the commencement speech to more than 700 Alcorn State University graduates May 9.
Dr. Walters, who’s also known as Dr. Jackie, earned dual bachelor’s degrees from Alcorn State University and the University of Mississippi.
She later earned her medical degree from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine.