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November 16, 2018 - 12:00 am

ELECTION 2018-SENATE-MISSISSIPPI

Senator spoke of 'difficult' voting for liberals in video

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The spokesman for a Democratic challenger says Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith "embarrasses" Mississippi when she talks about making voting more difficult.

A video released Thursday shows Hyde-Smith talking about "liberal folks" and making it "just a little more difficult" for them to vote.

Her campaign spokeswoman Melissa Scallan says the senator was joking.

Hyde-Smith, who is white, faces Democrat Mike Espy, who is black, in a Nov. 27 runoff. The winner gets the final two years of a six-year term.

Espy campaign spokesman Danny Blanton says "voting rights were obtained through sweat and blood."

A video released Sunday showed Hyde-Smith praising a supporter by saying: "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row." Hyde-Smith said that was "an exaggerated expression of regard."

INFANT-HOT CAR DEATH

Woman gets 20-year sentence for infant son's hot car death

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — Prosecutors say a Mississippi woman was on a dayslong drug binge when her baby died after she left him in a hot car.

News outlets report 29-year-old Elizabeth Marie Barhonovich pleaded guilty to manslaughter Thursday in the death of her son 10-month-old Kash Barhonovich. She told the Circuit Court judge it was her fault, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison that will run consecutively to a six-year sentence for an auto burglary conviction in Harrison County.

Authorities say Barhonovich was using meth and Xanax around the time she left Kash in a vehicle in June while she was inside their Jackson County home.

Assistant District Attorney Angel Myers McIlrath says in a statement Kash died over Barhonovich's addiction. An autopsy revealed he died of hyperthermia, or elevated body temperature.

HEALTH WORKER EMBEZZLEMENT

Former health department manager indicted for skimming cash

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) — A former county health department worker in northeast Mississippi has been indicted for skimming cash paid by patients.

Phyllis Welch of Columbus was arrested Wednesday and jailed in Lowndes County on a felony embezzlement charge. She's pleading not guilty, with a trial set for February.

State Auditor Shad White says the 55-year-old Welch stole $1,967 in patient payments from May through September of 2017 while managing the Lowndes County Health Department office.

White says Welch altered records to show fake deductions from cash payments and stole the money.

White demands that Welch pay $4,103. That would cover losses, plus interest and investigation costs. If Tullis doesn't pay within 30 days, White says he will file a civil suit.

Welch faces up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

ALCORN STATE

Trustees name campus advisers for Alcorn president search

LORMAN, Miss. (AP) — Trustees are appointing 26 members of a campus search advisory committee to help them look for a new president for Alcorn State University.

The College Board made the announcement Thursday. Leading the committee will be Alfred Galtney, director of Alcorn's Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, and alumna Jacqueline Beasley, senior vice president of administration of Minact Inc. The first meeting isn't yet scheduled for the group, which includes faculty, staff, students and alumni.

The board also hired Parker Executive Search to help find a new leader for the historically black institution with 3,800 students. College Board spokeswoman Caron Blanton couldn't immediately say how much Parker would be paid.

Al Rankins Jr. left the Alcorn presidency to become higher education commissioner on July 1, overseeing Mississippi's eight public universities.

TORNADO RECOVERY-MISSISSIPPI

Officials: City damaged by tornado won't get federal funds

(Information from: WTVA-TV, http://www.wtva.com)

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — Officials say a Mississippi city recently hit by a tornado won't get state or federal funding to help repair related damages.

WTVA-TV reports Tupelo leaders announced Thursday that victims of the tornado, rated EF-2 on the enhanced Fujita scale, won't receive funding from state or federal emergency management agencies.

Chief Operations Officer Don Lewis says the damage isn't considered a disaster. A twister with top winds of 115 mph (185 kph) struck in Pontotoc County last week, traveling through parts of Lee County and Tupelo.

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency says three homes in Tupelo were destroyed, seven had major damage and 27 had minor damage. An assisted living center near city limits was also damaged, forcing residents to evacuate. Residents are now at a nearby hotel while it's repaired.

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HOSPITAL BANKRUPTCIES

Bankrupt company has sale plans for 3 Mississippi hospitals

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Three different operators have plans to take over north Mississippi hospitals from a bankrupt company.

A Coahoma County supervisor says the county has reached agreement for Community Health Services to take back a hospital in Clarksdale and run it for a year. That averts bankrupt Curae Health's threat to close it.

Meanwhile, the operator of a Holly Springs hospital is offering $2.5 million to buy Curae's hospital in Batesville. Others could offer more in a potential Dec. 14 bankruptcy auction.

Finally, Tupelo-based North Mississippi Health Services says it expects to complete the purchase of an Amory hospital for at least $10.5 million.

Curae bought the hospitals from Community in 2017, but says revenues declined and expenses outpaced expectations, leaving it unable to pay debts. Curae says it owes $96 million.

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