Your top local stories this June 28th:
The U.S. Marshals Service is warning Mississippi residents about a new phone scam. They issued an alert yesterday saying scammers are calling people using the agency's real phone number and convincing victims that they owe money. The callers try to get victims to pay a fine, saying they'll be arrested if they don't comply. The U.S. Marshal Service says they never ask for any type of payment, and are urging residents to report any attempted scams to the FBI.
A National Guard unit from Pascagoula is leaving tomorrow to prepare for a deployment in the Middle East. And members of the 859th Vertical Engineer Company will get a patriotic farewell. The mayors of Pascagoula and Gautier are encouraging people to line the streets, and wave flags as buses carrying the 160 soldiers head to the Air National Guard base in Gulfport. They'll fly to Fort Bliss, Texas for some training and then it's on to Kuwait for some building construction assignments.
There are now a dozen beaches on the coast where people are being told to stay out of the water. The Department of Environmental Quality has closed two more beaches in Gulfport because of toxic algae. Harbor Beach and East Courthouse Road Beach were added to the list of places where the water isn't considered safe. And more tests are planned today.
It may be summer but we're still getting spring-like thunderstorms in Mississippi. The National Weather Service says we're still seeing stronger disturbances that are more typical of the spring moving through the state - and that'll continue today as some organized storms push to the south through western Mississippi. Yesterday, we had reports of scattered storm damage all the way from the Tennessee line to the coast, including trees that were blown down on houses in Clarke and Lauderdale counties. And unlike typical summertime storms, the ones on Monday produced three tornadoes. The latest touchdown that the Weather Service has confirmed was an EF-1 tornado that did substantial tree damage along the Big Black River northwest of Jackson.
Summer is a busy time at driver service offices across Mississippi. And the Department of Public Safety is reminding people who need a new or reinstated driver's license that they can avoid the crowds and save time by doing it online. DPS is also promoting a new program allowing teenagers to make a Saturday appointment to take their driver's license tests. Meanwhile, one of the candidates for Secretary of State is proposing that the responsibility for driver services be shifted to that office. Republican Michael Watson says that would make the process more efficient. He also wants to privatize driver testing and commercial driver's licenses.
Mississippi's HIV diagnosis rate is one of the highest in the country. And the State Health Department this week is encouraging Mississippians to get tested. It says an estimated ten-thousand people across the state are living with HIV. The Health Department says early diagnosis is the key to effective treatment. Last year young adults in their 20s accounted for 40 percent of the new HIV cases in Mississippi.
Arrests have been made in a murder in Gulfport and another one in Wiggins. Police say Tony Williams of Bay St. Louis is charged in a robbery-shooting on May 8th that left Delfred Lewis dead in Gulfport. And in Wiggins, Frederick Alexander of Poplarville has been arrested for the murder of Martin Atkinson on Wednesday. And a Lumberton man, Tyrese Youngblood, is facing an accessory charge.
Scot Chestnut filled in for Uncle Henry on "Gulf Coast Mornings"...where we talked about last night's Democratic Debate, the G20 Summit, raw cookie dough and much more: