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September 24, 2018 - 12:00 am

MISSISSIPPI-EMBEZZLEMENT

Mississippi auditor: 2 ex-workers at college misspent money

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi auditor is demanding that two former community college employees repay nearly $1 million dollars to the state. Most of that is for public money the auditor says was misspent from 2013 to 2017 on personal items like shoes, watches and a chandelier.

Auditor Shad White announced the demand Monday against Gwendolyn Jefferson and Stacie Neal, who worked for Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale.

Jefferson and Neal have not been arrested or charged, and it was not immediately clear whether either is represented by an attorney.

White gave investigative documents to a district attorney who will decide whether to seek criminal charges.

This is the second-largest repayment demand the auditor's office has issued in the past five years. White says an investigation started after a tip from the college.

SOLAR FARM

Mississippi cooperatives to buy power from Delta solar farm

GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) — A British company says it will build a solar farm in the Mississippi Delta with plans to sell electricity to Mississippi cooperatives.

Hattiesburg-based Cooperative Energy said Monday that it has signed a 15-year agreement to buy electricity from a 100-megawatt facility that Renewable Energy Systems plans to build in Carroll County.

The facility would be largest solar generation facility in Mississippi.

RES declines to say how much the solar farm would cost. A farm about half that size in southern Mississippi built several years ago cost $100 million.

Cooperative Energy would be the only customer for the solar farm. It makes and distributes electricity for 11 cooperatives in southern and western Mississippi.

RES says it plans to begin generating electricity at the 652-acre (264-hectare) site east of Greenwood by 2022.

NATCHEZ BRIDGE REOPENING

Mississippi River bridge reopens at Natchez ahead of plan

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — One of two bridges over the Mississippi River between Natchez, Mississippi, and Vidalia, Louisiana, has reopened months ahead of schedule after repairs.

Mississippi Department of Transportation spokesman Jas N Smith said Monday that crews finished restriping lanes on the eastbound and westbound bridges over the weekend.

He says landscaping, cleanup and sign work remains, but the major traffic impacts are mostly over.

The state spent $26.8 million to replace the pins that held the 77-year-old westbound bridge together and to repaint it. The bridge was closed for part of the time, with U.S. 84 traffic down to one lane each way.

The project was originally supposed to last until April, but Smith says contractors made rapid progress.

Officials earlier replaced the pins and repainted the newer eastbound bridge.

BURNING DEATH-MISSISSIPPI

Jury selection begins in retrial over woman's burning death

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Jury selection begins Monday in a retrial of a man accused of killing a Mississippi woman by setting her ablaze.

Jurors couldn't reach a verdict last year in the first trial of Quinton Tellis, charged with capital murder in the 2014 death of Jessica Chambers.

A jury is being selected in Starkville and will be taken 90 miles (150 kilometers) northwest to Panola County, where Chambers died.

Prosecutors say cellphone locations, videos, a keychain and Tellis' statements link him to Chambers' death. The government may also call a witness who says she picked up a man the night Chambers died.

The defense emphasizes emergency personnel heard the dying Chambers say someone named "Eric" or "Derek" attacked her.

Tellis faces another murder indictment in Louisiana in the death of Meing-Chen Hsiao.

TUPELO-BLIGHT

Blighted apartment complex in Tupelo will be demolished

(Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, http://djournal.com)

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi city is preparing to tear down an apartment complex that's in bad shape.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports Tupelo bought the President's Gate apartments about nine months ago for $2.5 million. Last week, the City Council awarded a $314,000 demolition contract.

The complex once had 257 apartments. Only 17 were occupied by July, and the city notified people to move out by the end of September.

Century Construction received the demolition contract. Once the buildings are down, the company will tear out the concrete foundation and plant sod. It's unclear what the city plans to do with the property once demolition is complete.

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TRANSMISSION LINE

TVA plans new power line in central Mississippi

FLOWOOD, Miss. (AP) — Tennessee Valley Authority says it plans to build a new power line in central Mississippi.

The line would stretch 4.5 miles (7.25 kilometers) from an existing transmission line to a new substation in the Jackson suburb of Rankin County. It would connect to a new substation being built by the Central Electric Power Association near Northwest Rankin High School.

The federal power agency says it designed a route after public input but is still seeking environmental approvals. It says the new line will increase power supply and reduce outages.

TVA will begin surveys this fall and start buying easements from property owners next year. The power supplier says it plans to begin construction in 2020.

It's one of 14 transmission projects TVA is working on in Mississippi.

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