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This Hour: Latest Mississippi news, sports, business and entertainment

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CASINOS-NO HARRAH'S

Miss. casino revenue stable after Harrah's closure

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Gambling revenues tumbled in Mississippi's river region in the first month after Harrah's Tunica Hotel & Casino closed, but the trend didn't worsen much. Meanwhile, Gulf Coast casinos posted their best June in years.

State figures show casinos statewide won $174 million from gamblers in June, up less than 1 percent from June 2013.

The 18 river casinos won $78.7 million, down 12 percent from a year earlier. The 12 coastal casinos won $95.7 million, up 13 percent from June 2013.

Revenue statewide fell 4 percent over the last 12 months. Mississippi casinos winnings are down about 25 percent from 2007's peak.

Overall revenue has fallen from the year earlier in 21 of the last 24 months.

The numbers exclude Choctaw Indian casinos, which don't report to the state.

HIT AND RUN-SUSPECT

Man accused in traffic fatality dies

BRANDON, Miss. (AP) - An 85-year-old man charged with manslaughter in the hit-and-run death of a 10-year-old Richland student has died.

Leake County Coroner Earl Adams tells The Clarion-Ledger that Raymond Watts died in Carthage on July 15. Adams says Watts had been under hospice care for end-stage heart disease and bladder cancer. His funeral was last Thursday.

Authorities say 10-year-old Allen Lutrick was struck Nov. 1, 2011, as he was boarding a school bus. Lutrick died the next day.

Watts also was charged with felonious fleeing the scene of an accident.

MDMR INVESTIGATION-SENTENCING

Scott Walker facing sentencing

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Ocean Springs businessman Scott Walker is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Hattiesburg on one count of federal program fraud and one count of conspiracy.

The 34-year-old Walker pleaded guilty in February. As part of a plea agreement, eight other counts were dropped.

Walker faces up to 10 years in prison for fraud and up to five years for conspiracy.

Walker admitted he conspired to spend $210,000 in federal funds on his waterfront lot in the Gulf Hills subdivision of Jackson County. The federal funds were intended for other purposes.

In a second case, Walker admitted receiving an unearned $180,000 "finder's fee" from the city of D'Iberville with half the proceeds going to a business he co-owned with Michael Janus.

SHARPTON-BIRMINGHAM

Rev. Al Sharpton to visit Birmingham next week

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Birmingham city officials say the Rev. Al Sharpton is planning a trip to Birmingham to help open a local chapter of the organization he heads.

Al.com reports that Sharpton, president of the New York-based National Action Network, will be in town July 30 for the grand opening of the network's local chapter headquarters.

Sheila Tyson, president of the organization's Birmingham chapter, said the headquarters on First Avenue North is being spruced up and will be ready for Sharpton's visit.

She said the grand opening is tied to Sharpton's push to commemorate the 1964 Freedom Summer activities, where civil rights leaders, activists, local citizens and others gathered in Mississippi for an extensive voter registration project.

DRUG TRAFFICKING

Texas-based drug ring leader gets nearly 23 years

BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) - Prosecutors say the leader of a Texas-based drug ring that supplied at least eight other states has been sentenced to nearly 23 years in federal prison.

Alejandro "Alex" Gonzales of Alvin was sentenced Tuesday in Beaumont.

The 36-year-old Gonzales in January pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine. Investigators say Gonzales and his associates for several years were supplied by cartels in Mexico.

The drugs were distributed throughout Texas as well as to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Oklahoma.

Gonzales was among more than two dozen people indicted last August in the drug trafficking conspiracy and firearms investigation. Further details on the other defendants weren't immediately available.

HATTIESBURG ENGINEER

Hattiesburg council approves new city engineer

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - The Hattiesburg City Council has approved hiring Lamar Rutland as the city's new engineer.

The Hattiesburg American reports Rutland spent the past four years as a civil engineer with the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg.

Rutland will become the city's first full-time engineer since Bert Kuyrkendall left last fall for a position in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

After the council vote on Tuesday, Mayor Johnny DuPree said he was looking forward to having Rutland, a Hattiesburg native, on board.

Rutland says he expects to hit the ground running.

BILOXI BASEBALL STADIUM

Biloxi stadium construction could start in a week

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Biloxi City Council President Kenny Glavan says it's time for Biloxi to be bold.

On Tuesday, the council voted to hire W.G. Yates & Sons to build a minor league baseball stadium.

The city will issue notice to proceed, and architect Leigh Jaunsen says Yates should be ready in a week.

The final contract is for $29 million.

Glavan says the city, with value engineering, already whittled the cost from $41 million to the $36 million budget it has for the stadium. The state had contributed $15 million and the city approved a $21 million bond.

The Sun Herald reports the contract does not include money to build a pedestrian walkway over U.S. Highway 90. Officials say the state transportation department will contribute some or all of that cost.

TRUCK-BODY

Body found in 18-wheeler on I-20 in Warren County

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) - The body of an unidentified man has been found inside an 18-wheeler, parked at a weigh station on Interstate 20 westbound in Warren County.

WLBT-TV reports the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Warren County Sheriff's Department responded to the call Tuesday.

Authorities say foul play is not suspected but has not been ruled out.

The victim's identity will not be released until next of kin has been notified. The body was taken to the state crime lab for an autopsy.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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