Bryant asks court to reject rewording of initiative ballot
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Gov. Phil Bryant says no court should have the power to reword how the Legislature phrased its version of an education funding ballot initiative.
The citizen-led Initiative 42 would require lawmakers to fund “an adequate and efficient system of free public schools.” People could sue if funding falls short.
The Legislature put an alternative, Initiative 42-A, on the ballot. It originally said lawmakers must fund “an effective system of free public schools.”
Circuit Judge Winston Kidd on April 2 rewrote the title of 42-A to say the Legislature should fund “effective public schools” but specify there’s no court appeal.
Bryant asked Wednesday to intervene in a state Supreme Court case, saying Kidd never had the power to reword the ballot.
Legislative leaders earlier asked the court to reject Kidd’s decision.
GULF OIL SPILL
Claims administrator in oil spill case gets subpoena power
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The administrator of claims arising from a settlement over economic damages caused by the 2010 BP oil spill has been granted subpoena power.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier (BAHR’-bee-aye) on Wednesday granted a motion seeking subpoena power by administrator Patrick Juneau.
Juneau filed the motion last week. It noted that the power to investigate possibly fraudulent claims from the 2012 settlement transferred from a special court-appointed master, former FBI director Louis Freeh, to Juneau on March 31.
BP has been critical of Juneau’s administration of the oil spill settlement, but ended an attempt to oust him earlier this year, saying it was satisfied with efforts to improve fraud prevention and detection in the claims program.
BP’s anticipated settlement cost has grown from $7.8 billion to more than $9.7 billion.
CRIME SPREE COUPLE
Couple accused of breaking into homes of family and friends
PELAHATCHIE, Miss. (AP) – Police say two people are accused of a crime spree in Rankin County and are still on the run.
Multiple news sources report authorities have been searching for 23-year-old Leigh Ann Jackson and 18-year-old Joseph Bradley Westerfield. Investigators say the two have been breaking into homes of people they know, including family, stealing items and selling them illegally on social media and in convenience store parking lots since Friday.
Rankin County Investigator Raymond Duke says he believes officials will catch them by week’s end.
The two will face burglary and weapons trafficking charges when caught.
Mississippi highway dept. apply for I-22 designation
TUPELO, Miss. (AP) – The Mississippi Transportation Commission has authorized the Mississippi Department of Transportation to submit an application for approval to designate U.S. Highway 78 as Interstate 22 in north Mississippi.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports U.S. 78 was congressionally designated as a future interstate corridor and will connect to Interstate 269 in Mississippi once construction is complete. MDOT’s application to change U.S. 78 to I-22 will be sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration for final approval.
Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert says I-22 will play a vital role in promoting safety and economic development throughout the region.
He says I-22 will connect local communities in northeast Mississippi to the future I-269 corridor located in Marshall and Desoto counties.
Multimillion dollar amphitheater coming soon to Brandon
BRANDON, Miss. (AP) – The city of Brandon has received approval to begin building a multimillion-dollar amphitheater.
The Clarion-Ledger reports Brandon Mayor Butch Lee received approval Monday from the board of aldermen to move forward with getting information on a bond for the facility.
Workers have begun to clear space for the 200-acre park in which the amphitheater will be located. The $7 to $10 million facility will seat somewhere between 5,500 to 6,000 and host music and community events.
The city passed a two percent food and beverage tax two years ago to help pay for the park and amphitheater. The tax generated about $850,000 in its first year.
Lee says the project should be completed in 18 months to two years.
Tupelo Middle School set to expand online course offerings
TUPELO, Miss. (AP) – Tupelo Middle School is expanding its online course offerings this fall.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports a select group of seventh and eighth graders will be allowed to take one of two online-hybrid courses.
For these courses, students will complete assignments online and also meet regularly with a teacher.
Tupelo Middle School Principal Kristy Luse says the classes are being offered so students are able to fit two electives, such as band or drama, into their schedule instead of just one.
A recent mandate that English classes meet twice a day means students only have time to take one elective this year.
The two online-hybrid courses being offered are eighth-grade history and Information and Communication Technology-2.
Hattiesburg board approves new school for 6th-graders
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) – Hattiesburg Public School District will have a new school for the year beginning in August – one that is for sixth-graders only.
The Hattiesburg Public School District Board of Trustees approved the science, technology, engineering, arts and math school 4-1 at its meeting Tuesday night.
The Hattiesburg American reports sixth-graders from the district’s six elementary schools will be educated at Lillie Burney Elementary, with Lillie Burney’s Pre-K through fifth-grade students going to several nearby elementary schools around the district.
Superintendent James Bacchus proposed the idea of a STEAM school in March after seeing similar examples in Starkville, Columbus and Ocean Springs.
The school takes the idea of a science, technology, engineering and math education and increases student engagement by adding the arts.
OCEAN SPRINGS-FILM ORDINANCE
Ocean Springs aldermen agree to can film ordinance
OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) – The Ocean Springs Board of Aldermen has voted unanimously to rescind the 11-page film ordinance they passed last month, which the mayor vetoed last week, and start over with encouragement from the film industry.
The Sun Herald reports the detailed ordinance was considered overreach by some. It governed filming on private property, set fees and hours for filming and required disclosure about projects.
Independent film producer Wes Benton told aldermen Tuesday he pulled three projects from of the city — with a total budget of $13.3 million — when the ordinance was passed “because of the uncertainty” it caused.
Mississippi’s film commissioner, Ward Emling, came from Jackson on Tuesday to help the city draft an ordinance and permits.
BILOXI BASEBALL STADIUM
Biloxi Shuckers getting closer to playing at home
BILOXI, Miss. (AP) – Seats are going in and grass will be going down at MGM Park, as it gets closer to completion so the Biloxi Shuckers can play at home.
The Sun Herald reports Jason Wold with Yates Construction told the Biloxi Council on Tuesday he expects the stadium turf to be laid starting Thursday or Friday. He says crews are working Saturdays and Sundays.
Council President Felix Gines said he was at the stadium Tuesday, adding the video boards will be installed soon.
Shuckers hope to play their first series in Biloxi starting on June 6 against the Mobile BayBears.