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

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MURDER-FOR-HIRE SENTENCE

Guilty plea in murder-for-hire plot

GRENADA, Miss. (AP) - A Grenada man has been sentenced to serve 10 years in prison in a murder-for-hire plot aimed at his wife.

Prosecutors say Robert Laspee Jr. was arrested in April in an undercover investigation. Prosecutors say Laspee solicited the assistance of a confidential informant to kill his wife.

Grenada County Circuit Court records show Laspee pleaded guilty earlier this month to conspiracy to commit murder.

He was sentenced to 20 years with 10 years to serve and five years' probation after being released from prison.

DIAMONDHEAD CASINO

Diamondhead casino site wins approval

DIAMONDHEAD, Miss. (AP) - A 400-acre tract of land near the Bay of St. Louis just off of Interstate 10 near Diamondhead has been approved as a location for a casino.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission gave site approval Thursday to Diamondhead Casino Corporation. The next time the casino will go before regulators is when financing is in place and the project is ready for construction.

Commission Chairman John Hairston says the site is on the Bay of St Louis, within 800 feet of the water's edge and is zoned for a casino by the city.

The site was found legal in the mid-90s, but in those days the casino had to float, which made the project much more challenging. Now, the project can be built on land.

The project will include a 300-room hotel.

FINANCIAL LITERACY

Fitch launches financial literacy initiative

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - State Treasurer Lynn Fitch says she wants to help Mississippi young people become more comfortable with handling their finances.

Fitch is pushing a computerized financial literacy program in schools across Mississippi called Treasurer's Education About Money.

Fitch says teachers will be trained to discuss personal finance, and the course will be accessible online.

The computer-based lessons will be offered through the company EverFi. Teachers can have students work through them at school or could assign them as homework.

The program is available for free to public and private schools, thanks to a partnership between Fitch's office and several sponsors.

It initially will be for high schools. Fitch says they hope to later expand it to elementary and middle schools.

Fitch discussed the program Thursday in Tupelo.

SENATE-MISSISSIPPI

Trial over Miss. GOP Senate race moved to Sept. 16

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A judge has adjusted the trial schedule for a lawsuit seeking to overturn Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran's Republican primary win.

In an order Friday, Judge Hollis McGehee says the trial will start Sept. 16 and end by Oct. 6. The original dates were Sept. 15-Oct. 3.

Cochran's attorneys say state Sen. Chris McDaniel's lawsuit was filed too late and should be dismissed.

Cochran defeated McDaniel in the June 24 runoff, and the state GOP certified the results July 7.

In court papers Thursday, Cochran's attorneys cite a 1959 Mississippi Supreme Court ruling that a statewide election challenge must be filed within 20 days of when results are certified. They say that means McDaniel had a July 27 deadline. McDaniel filed suit Aug. 14.

The general election is Nov. 4.

GOPHER FROGS

'Critical habitat' for endangered frog upheld

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A federal judge says U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials' were within the law when they declared thousands of acres in Louisiana and Mississippi as 'critical habitat' for an endangered frog species.

The case involved 1,544 acres in St. Tammany Parish and 5,000 acres in Mississippi named as critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog.

Landowners had argued that the Fish and Wildlife Service should have prepared an environmental impact statement on the designation, and that the service failed to adequately consider the possible economic impact of its decision.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman rejected those and other arguments Friday.

Landowners worry that the designation could cost more than $33 million in lost development. A wildlife service lawyer argued Thursday that such a high cost is unlikely.

JACKSON POLICE CHIEF

Vance named Jackson police chief

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mayor Tony Yarber has announced Lee Vance as Jackson's new police chief, saying Vance's experience in law enforcement and commitment to community collaboration made him the right person for the job.

Yarber made the announcement Friday. The city council will confirm the appointment.

Vance has more than 27 years in law enforcement. He has served as interim chief since former Chief Lindsey Horton announced his retirement last month.

Vance rose through the ranks in the Jackson Police Department, serving as patrol officer, public information officer, patrol sergeant, police lieutenant and commander.

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