Ex-POW Hall dead at age 83
HATTIESBURG -- Retired Air Force Col. George Robert Hall, an American prisoner of war who spent much of his 7 1/2 years in captivity in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, has died in Hattiesburg. He was 83.
Officials with Moore Funeral Home in Hattiesburg said Tuesday that Hall died Sunday. His brother Sam Hall of Hattiesburg says in a statement that his brother died from complications of his 20-year battle with Parkinson's Disease.
A funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Main Street United Methodist Church in Hattiesburg.
Hall was shot down over North Vietnam in 1965 during a during a reconnaissance mission. He was released in 1973.
-- Associated Press
Hattiesburg council will vote on diversity proposal
HATTIESBURG -- Hattiesburg City Council is expected to consider a resolution that would spell out the city's official stance when it comes to discrimination and diversity.
The council will be asked to vote Tuesday on a resolution that would be the city's first policy statement on diversity.
City Attorney Charles Lawrence says the resolution is similar to one adopted last month in Starkville that was the first in the state to specifically include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender protection in a city's official, policy statement on diversity.
-- Hattiesburg American
MDOT adds 24-hour information hotline
JACKSON -- The Mississippi Department of Transportation has launched a new voice recognition travel information service for residents and travelers across the state.
MDOT says by dialing 511, motorists will have access to free, 24-hour information on weather-related road conditions, construction sites, travel times and other traffic information for all interstates and select U.S. and state highways.
MDOT officials say in a news release Tuesday that "Mississippi 511" uses an interactive voice response system with speech recognition as its primary interface with callers, allowing for hands free operation.
Officials say travelers can receive personalized travel information by creating a user account at MDOTtraffic.com and defining their route
Currently, Mississippi 511 is not available to Verizon customers.
-- Associated Press
Southaven aldermen will discuss tax resolution
SOUTHAVEN -- Southaven officials plan to ask state legislators to remove the repealer clause from the city's 1-cent tourism tax or to extend the tax.
At Tuesday's Board of Aldermen meeting, officials will vote on a resolution asking that the Mississippi Legislature remove the repealer, which would cause the tax to expire in July, or to extend the tax for another three years.
The 1 percent tourism tax was approved by voter referendum in 2010 and then, to satisfy state legislators, residents were asked to vote on the issue again in 2011.
The money generated from the tax was touted as a way the city could finance a $35 million improvement project for the city's parks system and also build a senior citizens activity center.
-- Commercial Appeal
Rankin school district trimming gifted program
BRANDON -- The superintendent of the Rankin County school district says discontinuing the district's Venture gifted program in grades 9-12 makes sense.
Administrators recently announced that, beginning in the 2014-15 school year, Venture will continue to be offered in grades 2-8 but no longer in grades 9-12, where gifted enrollment has dwindled to 85 students in the current school year. The state mandates that districts offer gifted education in grades 2-6 but doesn't provide funding after that.
Superintendent Lynn Weathersby says no gifted teachers will lose jobs but instead will receive different assignments in the fall.
USM project headed to space station
LONG BEACH -- NASA has chosen a research project by a team at USM-Gulf Park to be tested by scientists aboard the International Space Station.
The survival of some tiny blue-green algae is the key to an experiment being conducted by USM Associate Professor Dr. Scott Milroy.
Milroy's project is one of two projects nationwide that NASA picked.
Milroy says students from four high schools in Hancock County and Mobile helped design the salty solution for the algae to live and grow.
Milroy says the project could help discover whether living organisms could survive on the planet.
Milroy received a $278,000 grant from NASA to fund the project. The next step is to develop the equipment to get the materials ready for transport to the Space Station late next year.
-- Associated Press