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Magnolia Mornings: March 1, 2024

Magnolia Mornings: March 1, 2024

By: Magnolia Tribune - March 1, 2024

Magnolia morning
  • Important state and national stories, market and business news, sports and entertainment, delivered in quick-hit fashion to start your day informed.

In Mississippi

1. Former Beulah mayor arrested for embezzlement

Bertha Thomas, the former Mayor of Beulah, has been arrested on three counts of embezzlement, according to the State Auditor’s office.

Thomas is accused of embezzling tax disbursements issued to the town by the Bolivar County Tax Collector. She was served with a $12,573.42 demand letter at the time of her arrest. Thomas faces up to 20 years and $5,000 in fines per count if convicted. All persons arrested by the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

A $10,000 surety bond covers Thomas’ employment as the Beulah City Mayor. Surety bonds are similar to insurance designed to protect taxpayers from corruption. Thomas will remain liable for the full amount of the demand in addition to criminal proceedings.

2. MDA site development grants awarded

Governor Tate Reeves announced Thursday that the state of Mississippi is investing $993,250 in site development projects throughout the state. The grant funds are meant to assist local economic development entities in their efforts to spur economic growth by attracting new industry to competitive, shovel-ready sites.

The Mississippi Development Authority awarded the grant funds through its Site Development Grant Program for projects in the Ready Sites and Premier Sites categories. Ready Sites are eligible to receive up to $50,000 in funding while Premier Sites are eligible to receive up to $250,000.

According to a release from the Governor’s office, those awarded funding include:

  • Ready Sites
    • Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission – $50K for clearing and grubbing 10 acres at Stennis International TechPark
    • Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission – $50K for clearing and grubbing 10 acres at Port Bienville Industrial Park
    • Leake County Board of Supervisors – $50K for clearing and grubbing 40 acres at Leake County Business Park
    • Pearl River County Board of Supervisors – $50K for constructing a road into Pearl River County Technology Park
    • Washington County Economic Alliance – $12.5K for updating environmental due diligence at 61 & 82 Leland Industrial Park 
  • Premier Sites
    • Pearl River County Board of Supervisors – $250K for wastewater system improvements and a geotechnical investigation at Pearl River County Industrial Park
    • Scott County Board of Supervisors – $118.25K for environmental due diligence at Wooten Industrial Site
    • City of Water Valley – $250K to construct a new entrance into W.C. Gardiner Industrial Park
    • Winston County Economic Development District Partnership – $162.5K for environmental due diligence at Winston County Industrial Park

National News & Foreign Policy

1. Congress averts shutdown with CR

U.S. Capitol (Photo by Frank Corder | Magnolia Tribune)

Congress once again averted a partial government shutdown by passing a continuing resolution that extends funding for part of the government until March 8 and the rest until March 22.

Lawmakers had a self-imposed deadline of March 1 to negotiate spending levels. House Republicans want spending cuts while prioritizing border security, among other conservative requests. Senate Democrats have pushed back.

However, Speaker Mike Johnson (R) said this week that negotiators have agreed in principle on six of the twelve spending bills in question. Those could come to the floor early next week.

The measure now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

2. Biden, Trump visit southern border towns

Eagle Pass, Texas border crossings, December 18, 2023 (Photo from Griff Jenkins on X)

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump visited Texas on Thursday to survey the state of the southern border.

Biden made a stop in Brownsville where he chided Republicans in Congress for not passing the border and foreign aid bill negotiated earlier this year. House and Senate Republicans were critical of the bill, saying it did not go far enough to address the illegal immigration crisis at the border while sending billions more overseas.

“This bill was on its way to being passed. Then it was derailed by rank-and-file politics,” President Biden said. “The U.S. needs to reconsider this bill and those senators who oppose it need to set politics aside and pass it on the merits.”

Trump, however, went to the hot bed of border crossing at Eagles Pass, 300 miles from Brownsville. There, he met with Gov. Greg Abbott and other officials. Trump criticized the Biden Administration’s handling of the border.

“This is a Joe Biden invasion,” Trump said.

Sports & Entertainment

Big 3 set for weekend baseball matchups

(Photo from Southern Miss Athletics)

Ole Miss Baseball (6-4) is hosting the Iowa Hawkeyes for a three-game series to open the month of March at Swayze Field in Oxford.

Down in Starkville, the Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-4) opened their weekend play on Thursday hosting St. Mary’s for a three-game series at Dudy Noble Field.

Further down the road, Southern Miss (6-3) is hosting Indiana State at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg.

Markets & Business

1. Futures lower but NASDAQ reaches first closing record in over 2 years

CNBC reports that stock futures were lower Friday morning after the market wrapped up its fourth winning month and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite reached its first closing record since November 2021.

“Major averages ended another positive month as the rally driven by an artificial intelligence boom and hopes for rate cuts chugged along,” CNBC noted. “The Nasdaq was the best performer in February with a 6.1% gain. The S&P 500 climbed 5.2%, while the Dow added 2.2% for its first four-month winning streak since May 2021.”

2. Musk sues OpenAI

The Wall Street Journal reported that Elon Musk has sued OpenAI and its Chief Executive Sam Altman, alleging they broke the artificial-intelligence company’s founding agreement by giving priority to profit over the benefits to humanity.

“The lawsuit, filed late on Thursday in a San Francisco court, marks a dramatic escalation of a long-simmering feud between tech industry titans over the future of artificial intelligence,” WSJ reported. “It pits Musk, the world’s second-richest man, against the world’s most valuable company, Microsoft and Altman, one of Silicon Valley’s leading entrepreneurs.”

According to WSJ, Musk, who helped found the ChatGPT maker in 2015, claims OpenAI’s close relationship with Microsoft goes against the company’s original commitment to public, open-source artificial intelligence.

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Magnolia Tribune

This article was produced by Magnolia Tribune staff.