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February 6th News Roundup

By Associated Press | Published 06 Feb 2013 09:44am | comments
Senate education panel OKs school prayer bill
 
JACKSON, Miss. - The Senate Education Committee has approved a measure meant to make it legal for students to pray before public school groups.
 
Senate Bill 2633, sponsored by Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Republican from Elllisville, was approved by the committee Tuesday. A similar bill is pending in the House.
 
It suggests naming events including morning announcements, football games and graduations as "limited public forums" choosing students to speak at each. The bill says schools can't punish students who pray, and sponsors say the aim is to promote such prayer.
 
The bill bans teachers from penalizing students for expressing religious views in schoolwork. It requires allowing students to organize prayer groups and religious clubs and allowing outside religious groups to use school facilities in the same way as nonreligious groups.
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OXFORD, Miss. - The consensus top recruit in the nation Robert Nkemdiche has announced he will attend Mississippi. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end from Loganville, Ga., has been on several programs' wish list for more than a year, but Ole Miss appeared to be his destination for months because of close family ties. His brother Denzel Nkemdiche plays for the Rebels.
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Abortion-inducing drugs could face restrictions
 
JACKSON, Miss. - Mississippi could restrict the use of abortion-inducing drugs and make women visit a physician an additional time after using the drugs.
 
The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee approved Senate Bill 2795 Tuesday, sponsored by Picayune Republican Angela Burks Hill. It goes to the full Senate for more debate.
 
A companion measure died Tuesday in a House committee without a vote. Tuesday was the deadline for committee action in the chamber where a bill was introduced.
 
Hill's measure says physicians can only prescribe the abortion-inducing drugs "mifepristone" and "misoprostol" according to directions from the Food and Drug Administration, instead of giving "off-label" instructions now common. It also would force a woman to return to a doctor's office to take a dose of misoprostol, instead of taking it at home.
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Columbus native, civil rights icon dies
 
COLUMBUS, Miss. - Diane Hardy Thompson, one of three African-American women who integrated then-Mississippi College for Women in 1966, has died at an Augusta, Ga., burn center. She was 64.
 
Officials with Lee-Sykes Funeral Home in Columbus say a funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday. Other details are pending. Survivors include her daughter, her mother and other siblings
 
Karen Thompson McKinstry of Columbus, Thompson's daughter, tells The Clarion-Ledger (http://on.thec-l.com/XVnZvB ) that her mother, who had been battling bone cancer, had suffered a bad reaction to treatment; she had not been burned.
 
The retired schoolteacher finally got her degree from Mississippi University for Women in 1996, 30 years after the school was integrated.
 
She was honored at the annual Dream 365 breakfast, among events in Columbus' Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, Jan. 21, but was too ill to attend. Her daughter accepted the award.
 
Laverne Greene-Leech and Barbara Turner Bankhead were also part of the trio that integrated the college; all were part of same high school senior class in Columbus.
 
"We were close friends and we knew we were going to college, but we didn't know how," Greene-Leech, also of Columbus, said. "At that particular time, the `W' was the most reasonable college that we could have gone to.
 
"We weren't trying to do anything special. We just wanted to go to school. We enrolled. Of course, in 1966, it was not the thing to do, but we did."
 
Their bond didn't help with the isolation they felt, "just knowing that we weren't wanted on that campus," she said.
 
Greene-Leech was the first to leave, in 1967.
 
"I couldn't take any more ... Barbara stayed on through `68 and Diane stayed on through `69," she said. "We all kind of had a bad taste in our mouth about the `W.' But as time went on and healing began, I think we all felt better. ... Diane and I began to reconcile and to see the progress the W has made now, we were happy. And we knew that whatever we went through, it was well worth it for the students today."
 
After going back and receiving her degree, Thompson taught 6th grade science at West Lowndes Middle School until her retirement in 2010.
 
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Runoff scheduled in Senate District 28
 
JACKSON, Miss. - Former Jackson city councilman Marshand Crisler and former Jackson Public Schools school board member Sollie B. Norwood will vie in a Feb. 26 runoff to complete the term of the late state Sen. Sen. Alice Harden.
 
Harden, a Democrat from Jackson, died in December.
 
Nine candidates were on the ballot in Tuesday's special election for the District 28 post.
 
Complete, but unofficial returns showed Crisler got 25 percent of the vote and Norwood got 22.5 percent of the vote. Harden's niece, Tamarra Grace Butler, got 22.1 percent of the vote.
 
Senate District 28 is located entirely in Hinds County.
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School fire investigated as arson
 
OXFORD, Miss. - Authorities say a fire in a bathroom at Lafayette High School is being investigated as arson.
 
Classes at the school resumed Tuesday.
 
Lafayette County School Superintendent Adam Pugh tells the Oxford Eagle (http://bit.ly/p2p8XY ) that the fire was started in the girls' bathroom on the English Hall about 2 p.m. Monday. School officials put out the fire and no injuries were reported. The school was evacuated.
 
Pugh says the damage was primarily caused by smoke damage, but some walls were damaged by the flames from the fire.
 
He says the entire English hall will be closed for two to three days in order to ventilate due to the smoke.
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SALTILLO, Miss.  - Saltillo residents who have an opinion about the possibility of a smoking ban in the city's public buildings have an opportunity to be heard next month. On March 5, residents may talk to the Saltillo Board of Alderman about if they think the city needs to join 64 other smoke-free communities.
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OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. - After several months of debate and deliberation, Ocean Springs aldermen have ratified a contract with Waste Pro to continue to provide garbage collection service for the city. The contract is for one year with an option to renew, up to a maximum of six years.
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