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MISSISSIPPI-HUMAN SERVICES-CONTRACTS

Mississippi gave $2M in welfare money to wrestler's group

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The state of Mississippi gave more than $2.1 million in federal welfare money to a ministry run by former pro wrestler Ted DiBiase Sr. He was known in the ring as “The Million Dollar Man" and is the father of a man indicted on charges of embezzling federal welfare money from the state. The Clarion Ledger reported that DiBiase's Heart of David Ministries had a contract with the Mississippi Department of Human Services. Son Brett DiBiase worked for department Director John Davis. Both are among six people indicted. Heart of David Ministries saw revenues double in the year Brett DiBiase was hired by the state.

PRISON UNREST-MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi inmate with broken arm waits weeks for a cast

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi inmate had to wait about a month to get a cast on his arm that was broken during a prison riot. People close to Wesley Clayton say he got the cast Wednesday after a legislator intervened on his behalf. The state Department of Corrections will not answer questions about Clayton's situation, citing privacy concerns. Mississippi prisons are under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department after a string of inmate deaths. Sherren Smith is the mother of Clayton's children. She says he received a pain injection after his arm was broken but she and others had to make multiple calls seeking help for him.

SOUTHERN STORMS-FLOODING

Mississippi residents fleeing floods after torrential rains

RIDGELAND, Miss. (AP) — Residents along a rain-swollen river in Mississippi are packing up belongings and fleeing to higher ground to escape what authorities warn could be devastating weekend flooding. The Pearl River flows through metro Jackson, Mississippi, and forecasters say it may reach levels not seen in more than four decades. So Leti Vargas enlisted help from relatives to clear appliances out her double-wide mobile home. Trash cans and ducks floated nearby. The flooding is the result of days of heavy rains over the Southeast. Flood concerns extend into neighboring Alabama, where some have already had to flee floodwaters.

AP-US-MISSISSIPPI-SHOOTINGS

Jury chosen in trial of man charged with killing 8 people

MAGNOLIA, Miss. (AP) — Opening arguments are set for the death penalty case of a Mississippi man accused of killing eight people. Jury selection took five days for the trial of Willie Cory Godbolt. The opening is Saturday. Investigators said Godbolt went to his in-laws' home in May 2017 and argued with his estranged wife and her family over the couple's two children. A deputy was called. A witness said Godbolt shot and killed the deputy, Godbolt's mother-in-law and two other people. Police said Godbolt then shot and killed four other people at two other homes. Godbolt has pleaded not guilty.

OBIT-RODEO CLOWN

Legendary rodeo clown Lecile Harris dead at 83

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A legendary rodeo clown who spent decades performing has died. News outlets report 83-year-old Lecile Harris died in his sleep after the final performance of the 55th Annual Dixie National and Rodeo Livestock Show on Wednesday in Jackson. Harris was known for his role on the television show “Hee Haw.” He was also inducted into the Mississippi Rodeo Hall of Fame and the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. He started out as a bullrider but switched to comedy after being hurt. The Mississippi Fair Commission confirmed his death in a statement. Funeral plans have not been announced.

MISSISSIPPI HOUSE-SPECIAL ELECTION

Special election set for a south Mississippi House seat

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Gov. Tate Reeves has set a nonpartisan special election to fill a seat in the Mississippi House. The race will be in District 88 in Jasper and Jones counties. Republican Rep. Ramona Blackledge of Laurel resigned Jan. 31, less than month after the start of the four-year term. The freshman lawmaker said she had to choose between serving in the House and collecting her state retirement pay. She said she could not afford to relinquish the pension. Candidates' qualifying deadline is March 2. The special election is April 21. If a runoff is needed, it will be May 12.