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Special election set for a south Mississippi House seat

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Gov. Tate Reeves has set a nonpartisan special election to fill a seat in the Mississippi House. The race will be in District 88 in Jasper and Jones counties. Republican Rep. Ramona Blackledge of Laurel resigned Jan. 31, less than month after the start of the four-year term. The freshman lawmaker said she had to choose between serving in the House and collecting her state retirement pay. She said she could not afford to relinquish the pension. Candidates' qualifying deadline is March 2. The special election is April 21. If a runoff is needed, it will be May 12.


Lawyer: Mississippi can't ignore feds' prison investigation

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — An attorney who has seen conditions inside Mississippi prisons says lawmakers need to improve lockups that are crowded, shabby and violent. Cliff Johnson is director of the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi law school. He said Thursday that state officials need to act soon. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the Mississippi prison system after a string of inmate deaths in recent months. Johnson says Mississippi needs to show it is serious about trying to fix problems. More than two dozen protesters wore black tape over their mouths. They said that symbolizes state officials' unwillingness to hear prisoners' voices.


Body found in lake ID'd as former Mississippi State player

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — Officials in Mississippi have identified the body found floating in a lake as a former Mississippi State University football player. News outlets report 27-year-old Philemon Jones was identified Wednesday. His body was found Monday in a lake in Lee County. The coroner's office hasn't determined his official cause of death. No foul play is suspected. Jones had been reported missing after family members say they hadn't heard from him since Jan. 20. Jones played for the Mississippi State football team from 2011 and 2014. He started in 27 career games and played in 45.


Part of the ceiling collapses at Atlanta airport restaurant

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta airport officials say part of the ceiling at a restaurant inside a terminal collapsed, leaving a large chunk of it tilted at an angle and draped over countertops in the dining area. The airport's general manager says it appears that the ceiling was improperly attached, and there are now plans to review construction methods and design plans at other businesses inside the airport. The collapse happened shortly before 8 a.m. Thursday in Concourse A. The airport said one customer requested emergency assistance, and was taken to a hospital by Atlanta Fire Rescue. Another person was treated at the scene.


Physician wins special election to become Pascagoula mayor

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — A family physician has been elected mayor of a city on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Dr. Steve Demetropoulos defeated two candidates Tuesday in Pascagoula. They ran in a nonpartisan special election. Demetropoulos will be sworn in Feb. 18 to finish a four-year term that ends June 30, 2021. Former Mayor Dane Maxwell stepped down after being elected to the Mississippi Public Service Commission.


Grand jury clears officers in shooting of wanted felon

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) — Deputies involved in the shooting death of a wanted felon in Mississippi last year have been cleared of any criminal conduct. News outlets reported Tuesday that Hancock County deputies acted appropriately when they fatally shot 29-year-old Lawrence Bottoms in April. He had jumped from a second-story window after authorities deployed tear gas into the Bay St. Louis home where he was located. Officers opened fire after he ran into the woods and pulled out a handgun. Bottoms had been wanted on a charge of being a felon in possession of a gun out of East Baton Rouge Parish in Louisiana.