Latest Mississippi news, sports, business and entertainment

HEAT WARNING

Heat warning for West Tennessee, parts Arkansas, Mississippi

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Weather officials have issued an excessive heat advisory for eastern Arkansas, northwest Mississippi and West Tennessee.

The National Weather Service in Memphis says high temperatures in the middle and upper 90s and high humidity can produce heat index readings of more than 110 degrees on Wednesday.

Weather officials say the high temperatures will create an increased risk of heat-related illnesses including heat stroke. Residents are advised to drink plenty of fluids, stay out of the sun and check on relatives and neighbors.

In Memphis, officials have opened three cooling centers in the city for those seeking relief from the heat.

Officials say the advisory ends Wednesday night. Cooler temperatures are forecast for the end of the week.

RAIL TERMINAL

Jindal: Florida Fuel Connection to invest in rail project

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – State officials say Florida Fuel Connection LLC will make a $75 million capital investment to build a petroleum terminal and rail transportation facility in East Feliciana Parish, near the Mississippi River.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and Florida Fuel Connection CEO John H. Armbrust announced the plans Tuesday.

Jindal, in a news release, said the complex will provide a starting point for the shipment of fuel via rail to Florida, which lacks pipeline connections to regional oil refineries.

The project will create 50 new direct jobs at an average annual salary of $70,000.

The company plans to transport gasoline, jet fuel and diesel from Colonial Pipeline’s system near Baton Rouge, and link the pipeline to existing rail lines to facilitate delivery across the Gulf Coast to distribution points in Florida and Georgia.

WATER DISTRICT

Unincorporated areas to see water system updates

 

GREENVILLE, Miss. (AP) – A new water utility district has been created for three unincorporated areas of Washington County to seek money to upgrade local water service.

The Delta Democrat-Times reports the district will serve the areas of Winterville, Golden Acres and Lamont.

Supervisors approved the new utility district this week.

Officials say the new system will cost about $2.3 million.

It will also provide fire protection for residents in the three communities.

Supervisor Troy Wesley says if the water issues were limited, residents would be provided better insurance rates and property values would increase.

Wesley says the board of supervisors will continue to seek funding and grants on a local, state and federal level.

FUSION FURNITURE-EXPANSION

Furniture maker adding jobs in Ecru

ECRU, Miss. (AP) – Upholstered furniture manufacturer Fusion Furniture Inc. is expanding operations at its facility in north Mississippi’s Pontotoc County

The company announced Tuesday that it will invest $1.6 million and create 100 jobs, bringing employment in Ecru location to 430.

Fusion Furniture will build a 100,000-square-foot addition at its existing facility.

Mississippi Development Authority is giving a $200,000 grant to help pay for site preparation. Pontotoc County will build an access road and grant a 10-year property tax abatement, although the value of those contributions weren’t available Tuesday.

Wages for the jobs were not released.

Founded in 2009 in Pontotoc County, Fusion Furniture specializes in the manufacture of upholstered sofas, sectionals, loveseats, sleeper sofas, chairs, ottomans and chaises.

Bo Robbins is Fusion’s president and primary shareholder.

ALCORN SUPERVISOR ARRESTED

Bonds revoked for ex-Alcorn County supervisor

CORINTH, Miss. (AP) – An Alcorn County judge has ordered a former county supervisor held without bond as he awaits trial on an embezzlement charge.

According to multiple media reports, prosecutors sought to revoke the bond of Jimmy “Dal” Nelms in the embezzlement case after Nelms was arrested last week for grand larceny.

Nelms has been in custody at the county jail since Thursday, when he turned himself in after being accused of stealing cash from a money bag at O’Reilly Auto Parts in Corinth earlier this month. On Friday, Nelms resigned from the board of supervisors and withdrew his candidacy for re-election.

Nelms faces a 156 count indictment of forgery and embezzlement of public money while serving as supervisor. A new trial date is pending.

Nelms bond was revoked during a court hearing Tuesday.

GEORGE CO SLAYING

Man accused in transgender girl’s killing due in court

 

LUCEDALE, Miss. (AP) – A George County man accused in the murder of a transgender teenager is due in George County Justice Court on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.

The Sun Herald reports that 28-year-old Joshua Vallum is held on a first-degree murder charge in the killing of 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson, a transgender girl from Theodore, Alabama, whose birth name was Michael Wilkins.

Vallum has been in custody since June 2, the day authorities found human remains under some brush on Vallum’s father’s property.

Authorities say Vallum told them the remains belonged to Williamson. Her identity was later confirmed through DNA analysis.

Mercedes is the ninth known transgender woman killed in the United States in 2015, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

The hearing had been set for Tuesday.

MURDER SENTENCE-APPEAL

Jackson man loses appeal of conviction in mother’s death

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – The state Court of Appeals has upheld the life sentence given a Jackson man in the death of his mother.

Bobby Marc Lewis was convicted of murder in Hinds County in 2013.

Authorities say Lewis fatally shot Sharmeise Church at their Jackson home in 2011 after she tried to throw him out of the house.

In his appeal, Lewis argued the shooting was an accident. Lewis argued, if anything, he should have been convicted of manslaughter.

The Appeals Court on Tuesday said prosecutors had evidence that Lewis, while under the effects of alcohol and drugs, shot a gun while arguing with his mother and killed her. The court said the jury was instructed on both murder and manslaughter and convicted him of murder.

CLARKSDALE CHEATING

Clarksdale teacher accused of cheating will give up license

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A Clarksdale teacher admits she cheated on state tests and will give up her Mississippi teaching license for at least two years.

In an agreement with the Mississippi Department of Education, Frances Smith-Kemp will voluntarily surrender her license and cooperate with the larger state inquiry into cheating in the Clarksdale district. She admits breaking state law, but does not admit to criminal liability.

The agreement was announced Tuesday before a panel of the state teacher licensure commission, which was holding a hearing on misconduct charges against Smith-Kemp.

The state will recommend reinstating Smith-Kemp’s license to the commission after two years if she cooperates.

Testimony Monday showed Smith-Kemp pointed out wrong answers to students during math and language arts testing in 2013, until they arrived at the right answer.