Latest Mississippi news, sports, business and entertainment


Mississippi school district drops cheering charges

SENATOBIA, Miss. (AP) – A Mississippi school superintendent who pressed charges against people for cheering at a high school graduation has now dropped the charges.

According to multiple media reports, Senatobia Superintendent Jay Foster says the school district withdrew the complaints Monday.

Foster says he wasn’t trying to create a hardship for those arrested. He says he was protecting the rights of the class of 2015 and future Senatobia High School graduating classes.

He says in the past, out-of-control cheering meant some families couldn’t hear graduates’ names called or see them receive their diploma.

He says the misdemeanor disturbing-the-peace charges were filed because people disobeyed repeated instructions to hold cheers at the May 21 event.

The charges carry a fine of up to $500 and jail time of up to six months.


Miss. justices hear debate over school funding ballot titles

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – The Mississippi Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday about how two school-funding initiatives will be presented to voters in November.

The central question is about the ballot title – a description with 20 or fewer words.

The title for the citizen-led Initiative 42 says the proposal would require “an adequate and efficient system of free public schools.” People could sue if education funding falls short.

The Republican-controlled Legislature put Initiative 42-A on the ballot as an alternative. The original ballot title for 42-A, written by Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood, said lawmakers must fund “effective free public schools.”

A circuit judge rewrote the title of 42-A to say the Legislature should fund effective schools, but specify that people could not ask a judge to order legislators to follow a funding law.


Officials: 2 dead at motel; 1 victim’s wound self-inflicted

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) – Jackson County sheriff’s deputies say they found two people dead in a motel room, and one victim’s gunshot wound was apparently self-inflicted.

The bodies were found by the housekeeping staff at a Motel 6 off Interstate 10 in the St. Martin community Monday afternoon.

Sheriff Mike Ezell has identified the victims as 28-year-old Varnasia Rena Frost and 39-year-old Myron Dewan Hall.

Ezell says the man and woman died of gunshot wounds, and the man’s wound appeared to be self-inflicted.

Ezell says the deaths remain under investigation, but officials are calling it a murder-suicide.

He says the exact time of their deaths is still not clear. The couple checked into the motel Saturday.


Liquor vote under way in Kosciusko


KOSCIUSKO, Miss. (AP) – Kosciusko voters are deciding whether to allow the sale of liquor in the city.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

WLIN-FM in Kosciusko reports the board of alderman was presented a petition in April with over 900 signatures from residents in favor of allowing alcohol to be sold in the city limits.

Kosciusko and Attala County allow the sale of beer and light wine, but not liquor.

It is the first liquor referendum in Kosciusko since 1983.


Louisiana casino revenue up 10.9 percent

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Louisiana’s 15 riverboats, four racetrack slots casinos and Harrah’s land-based casino brought in more than $237.1 million in May, 10.9 percent better than the $213.9 million the gambling halls won the year before.

State police released the May figures on Monday.

The Baton Rouge riverboats’ combined winnings were nearly $25.4 million in May, compared with more than $25.1 million in May 2014.

Winnings in the New Orleans casino market were down 5.7 percent in May when compared with the year before.

Lake Charles saw its winnings increase by 46.7 percent from May 2014.

Shreveport-Bossier City was up 0.7 percent, with the six riverboat casinos and the slots at the Harrah’s racetrack bringing in nearly $66.8 million.

The Opelousas market, represented by the slots at Evangeline Downs, was up by 2.1 percent to $8.6 million.


Jackson seeks to regulate tobacco paraphernalia

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – The Jackson City Council is looking at an ordinance to regulate the selling of tobacco paraphernalia including bongs and pipes in convenience stores.

The Clarion-Ledger reports an ordinance proposed by City Councilman Tyrone Hendrix would require convenience stores to keep such items out of view of minors. Some other council members said they hope the ordinance can go further and prohibit the selling of the items altogether. However, City Attorney Monica Joiner said her office will have to research the issue to see if the city can legally prohibit the selling of the items.

Surinder Singh, who owns several convenience stores in Jackson, if the city passes an ordinance making it illegal to see such items, convenience store owners will comply with it.


Suspect in George County murder has $1M bond set


LUCEDALE, Miss. (AP) – A $1 million bond has been set for 28-year-old Joshua Brandon Vallum, accused in the murder of an unidentified man whose remains were found in woods in George County.

The Sun Herald reports Justice Court Judge Cedric Howell set bond for Vallum, who is held at the George County jail. Vallum, from George County, faces a murder charge.

Howell has been in custody since June 2, the day the remains were found buried in woods off Odom Road in the Rocky Creek community.

Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Shonna Pierce said Monday investigators believe they know the victim’s name, and have taken DNA samples of people related to him.

Pierce said no motive has been determined.

Online jail records do not list an attorney for Vallum.


Man sentenced to 24 years for DUI causing death in Biloxi


BILOXI, Miss. (AP) – A man from Honduras has been sentenced to 24 years in prison for driving impaired in a crash that killed another driver and burned the other driver’s passenger.

The Sun Herald reports 29-year-old Victor Antonio Rodriguez Carransa pleaded guilty Monday on two counts of driving under the influence in a crash resulting in death or disfigurement.

Forty-eight-year-old Chris Vicari died as a result of a Nov. 17, 2013, crash on U.S. Highway 90. His passenger, Amanda Dawson, was burned.

Circuit Judge Lisa Dodson gave Carransa 24 years for each count and ordered the prison terms to run concurrently. The hearing was in Harrison County Circuit Court.

District Attorney Joel Smith said Carransa’s blood-alcohol content level was 0.18. The state’s legal limit is 0.08.