Johnson seeks second comeback as Jackson mayor
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The race to replace the late Chokwe Lumumba as mayor is likely to be a blend of familiar and fresh faces.
Three-term Jackson mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., who lost in the 2013 Democratic primary, says he will seek his former seat. It would be second comeback for Johnson, who lost to Frank Melton in 2005 but retook the mayor's office in 2009.
Councilman Melvin Priester Jr. says he will announce plans Tuesday.
City Clerk Brenda Pree says no candidates had formally qualified as of Monday morning. Candidates must file petitions with signatures of 50 registered voters by March 19.
Other possible candidates include state Sen. John Horhn, City Councilman Tony Yarber and Lumumba's son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba.
The election is April 8. A runoff, if necessary, would be April 22.
Former marine resources chief pleads guilty
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Former Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Executive Director Bill Walker pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to a charge of conspiring to defraud the federal government.
The Sun Herald reported Walker admitted he conspired with his son, Scott, and a former Department of Marine Resources manager to spend $210,000 in federal money granted through DMR on property Scott Walker owned.
Prosecutors say Bill Walker and his wife co-signed their son's loan and were also were liable for the debt.
Scott Walker previously pleaded guilty to the charge and is scheduled for sentencing on June 5.
Members of the Walker family attended Monday's plea hearing in Hattiesburg.
Prosecutors charge DMR manager Tina Shumate approached the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain about buying Scott Walker's waterfront property in Jackson County with money DMR would supply. The Land Trust and Scott Walker signed a contract for the property's purchase in April 2011.
Walker has agreed to repay a total of $572,689 for misappropriation of DMR funds, including the $210,000 spent on the land transaction.
The U.S. attorney's office said Bill Walker supplied DMR funds for the property purchase. The money included $100,000 the National Park Service granted with the stipulation that it not be used for land acquisition and $110,000 in federal Hurricane Katrina relief money meant to reimburse salaries, prosecutors said.
After the Land Trust bought the property, Scott and Bill Walker used a portion of the proceeds to pay off a loan they held, the government alleged. Bill Walker took out a new loan to pay the remaining balance.
Bill Walker headed the state agency responsible for conserving coastal resources from 2002 until the Commission on Marine Resources fired him in January 2013 after federal and state investigations of agency spending were underway.
In exchange for Bill Walker's guilty plea, the U.S. attorney's office agreed to drop four other charges against him: fraud, stemming from the land transaction; and conspiracy to commit mail fraud and two counts of mail fraud, allegedly committed from November 2006 to July 2013 with his son and former DMR Chief of Staff Joe Ziegler.
The government alleges the Walkers and Ziegler conspired to funnel money intended for DMR into a private foundation Bill Walker controlled.
Ziegler and Shumate maintain their innocence in the case set for trial June 2.
Financing in place to fix courthouse clock
HERNANDO, Miss. (AP) - Private and public financing has been obtained to repair the clock in the tower that dominates the DeSoto County Courthouse grounds in downtown Hernando.
County Supervisor Bill Russell of Walls tells The Commercial Appeal the hands on the tower's four clock faces have been stuck for months since a lightning strike,.
County Administrator Vanessa Lynchard says the estimated $6,500 repair cost is coming from corporate donations and public funding.
The Board of Supervisors approved the final financing - $500 - at a meeting last week.
Hattiesburg Zoo acquires Sumatran tigers
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Two Sumatran tigers have gone on display at the Hattiesburg Zoo.
WDAM-TV reports the male siblings were born at the Los Angeles Zoo.
They are named Cinta and Kuasa.
The tigers each weigh more than 200 pounds but are much smaller than the zoo's current resident Siberian tiger, Tigger.
BAY ST LOUIS-WETLANDS FILLED
Sentencing date changes for developer
GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - Sentencing has been delayed for an Alabama developer who filled wetlands near Bay St. Louis in violation of the Clean Water Act.
The Sun Herald reports William R. "Rusty" Miller, of Fairhope will be sentenced April 17 in U.S. District Court.
His sentencing had been set for March 17. Chief District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. changed the date after Miller's attorney asked for more time to review a pre-sentence investigation report.
Miller faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
He had been set for trial on an 11-count indictment involving wetlands violations on a 1,710-acre parcel west of the intersection of Mississippi Highway 603 and Interstate 10.
Natchez-Adams School District to host meeting
NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) - The Natchez-Adams School District will host a town hall meeting next week to discuss plans to restructure two schools and provide performance data on each school.
The town hall meeting is one of many Superintendent Frederick Hill implemented when he took over the district in 2012 to keep parents and community members in the loop regarding district and school activity.
The Natchez Democrat reports the town hall meeting will be March 18 in the Natchez High School auditorium.
Hill will seek input on a preliminary proposal to restructure the district's middle and high schools into smaller learning communities.
The proposal includes establishing three smaller learning communities for students: middle school academies, an early college model and a career academy.
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