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This Hour: Latest Mississippi news, sports, business and entertainment

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Construction worker dies after falling from tower

BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (AP) - A Georgia man has died after falling from a water tower in Brookhaven where he was working.

The victim was identified as 41-year-old John T. Johnson of Du Pont, Georgia. He was an employee of Southeast Tank and Tower.

The Lake Park, Georgia-based company specializes in the repair and renovation of water storage tanks. It has a contract to sandblast and repaint the tower.

Lincoln County Coroner Clay McMorris says Johnson died Wednesday at King's Daughters Medical Center Emergency Room shortly after the accident.

Police Detective Clint Earls tells The Daily Leader Johnson was working with a crew when he fell from a scaffold and plunged 70 to 90 feet.

Earls says federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration personnel will investigate the accident.


Miss. sales tax holiday starts after midnight

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi merchants and shoppers are gearing up for the fifth annual back-to-school sales tax holiday.

Mississippi's sales tax holiday starts Friday at 12:01 a.m. and ends Saturday at midnight. For retailers, it is one of their busiest times of the year.

As in previous years, shoppers can save 7 percent on certain clothes and shoes that cost $100 or less per item. While individual items can't cost more than $100 each to qualify for the tax break, shoppers have no limits on how much they can spend

Qualified items include clothes, coats and shoes that aren't for special activities.

School supplies, book bags, most accessories and computers aren't included in the annual tax holiday.

Accessories such as jewelry, handbags, wallets, watches, backpacks, and similar items do not qualify.


More money needed for cheating investigation

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi Department of Education will request $1 million in its fiscal 2016 budget to fund cheating investigations like the one it launched in May of the Clarksdale Municipal School District.

The Clarion-Ledger reports the state Board of Education members approved the new line item at a meeting Wednesday in Jackson.

Department spokesman Pete Smith says the agency has no funds set aside for such investigations and had to borrow money from other areas within the department to fund the current one.

The Department of Education signed two contracts with Caveon Test Security in the past two months totaling nearly $300,000 to investigate allegations of widespread cheating at Clarksdale's Heidelberg Elementary School.

The investigation recently entered its second phase, which includes a detailed accreditation audit.


Southern Miss to close Pine Haven apartments

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Pine Haven apartments - home to graduate and family housing on the University of Southern Mississippi campus - will close at the end of the year.

Scott Blackwell, director of Residence Life at Southern Miss, tells The Hattiesburg American due to a decrease in demand for graduate student/family housing, a decision was made about a year ago to stop accepting new tenants for the nine-building complex.

Blackwell says the complex has outlived its usefulness. He says the original 19 units were built between 1959-1963 at a cost of $90,000.

He said it would cost more than $20 million to rebuild the original 300-unit complex, and university officials believe there are local apartments for graduate students and those with families.


Ex-cop charged in murder-for-hire scheme

PURVIS, Miss. (AP) - Authorities say a former law enforcement officer already jailed without bond on a forcible rape charge has been charged with two counts of attempted capital murder in a murder-for-hire scheme he allegedly tried to orchestrate from his cell.

Lamar County District Attorney Hal Kittrell tells The Hattiesburg American 47-year-old Averal Burnett, who had 22 years in law enforcement, is accused of giving money to a former inmate at Pearl River County Jail to kill two people who were tied to the rape case.

Kittrell said the case evolved after the former inmate allegedly tipped off Picayune Police Department to Burnett's scheme.

He says the investigation is continuing.

It was unclear whether Burnett has an attorney.


Coroner IDs Gulfport man killed in home invasion

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove has released the identity of the man fatally shot during a home invasion.

Hargrove tells The Sun Herald 41-year-old Lamont Hayes, of Gulfport, died at 1:08 a.m. Wednesday in the Garden Park Medical Center emergency room. Hargrove said Hayes died of blood loss from a gunshot wound to the groin.

Sgt. Damon McDaniel says authorities are still asking for help in identifying two men who are believed to have broken into Hayes' home just before 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

He said the men, wearing dark clothing and bandanas over their faces, entered the home by unknown means and assaulted Hayes while he slept. During the assault, McDaniel said, Hayes was shot.

After a failed attempt to steal Hayes' vehicle, McDaniel said the two assailants fled.


Harrison Central High School vandalized

LYMAN, Miss. (AP) - Sheriff's deputies are investigation vandalism on the Harrison Central High School campus.

The Sun Herald reports the letters WH 2K15 were painted Tuesday night in green on the artificial turf, football dummies, campus buildings, two bathrooms and athletic field house.

There was also paint at midfield of the football stadium, but it was cleaned up by Wednesday afternoon.

Shools superintendent Henry Arledge said the Harrison County Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident.


Surveys explore U-boat, oil spill impact

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The photos taken nearly a mile under the Gulf of Mexico are so clear that small holes are visible in a lifeboat that may have gone down with a passenger ship sunk in 1942 by a Nazi submarine, or may have been scuttled after passengers and crew were rescued.

Interpretations differ. But the pictures taken by a pair of mini-subs tethered to Robert Ballard's exploration vessel Nautilus are among the brightest and clearest ever taken of the Robert E. Lee and the U-166, which was sunk by depth charges from the Lee's escort on July 30, 1942.

Ballard's two submersibles provide much more light than the singleton available to most scientists.

The U-166 was among dozens of German U-boats that menaced U.S. shipping during World War II in an operation Germany code-named "Drumbeat."

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