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Endangered child advisory canceled, children found safe

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UPDATE:

Louisiana State Police have located Latina Marie Oates and her two children. The children are safe.

Original story:

The Louisiana State Police have issued a Level II Endangered/Missing Child Advisory on behalf of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations and Laurel Police Department. Louisiana State Police have reason to believe two children have been taken by their mother and are believed to be in imminent danger. They were last seen on surveillance video leaving the Hampton Inn in Laurel, Miss., (Jones County) during the early morning hours of March 17, 2020.

Latina Marie Oates, 33, of Powell, Ohio, left with two of her children, 9-year-old Mark Anthony Oates and 6-year-old Justin Lamar Oates. Mark was last seen wearing a black sweatshirt with the large white letters ADIDAS on the front. Justin was last seen wearing a black jacket and possibly black pants or dark blue jeans.

Shortly after their departure from the hotel room, an arrest warrant was issued for Latina Marie Oates on the charge of first-degree murder. Oates is believed to be in the New Orleans area with her two children. She is driving a 2013 white Toyota Camry displaying an Ohio license plate # GGM 5978.

Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of any of these subjects should immediately contact the Jones County Central Dispatch at 601-425-0270 or Sgt. Michelle King with the Louisiana State Police at HQ Communications 225-925-6636.

Business

Vicksburg inks deal with Viking River Cruises valued at $2.5 million

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The Viking Mississippi (image source: Viking USA)

Although Vicksburg hasn’t seen a riverboat docking in months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it hasn’t stopped the city or the companies running riverboat cruises from planning for the future.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. announced Tuesday that the city had signed an agreement with Viking USA, the parent company of Viking River Cruises. The contract includes $2.5 million in improvements that Viking will make to the waterfront. According to its website, Viking will begin Mississippi River cruises beginning in October 2022.

“This is a big win for Vicksburg’s future at no cost to taxpayers,” Flaggs wrote in a social media post Tuesday.

The agreement states that Viking will build a floating dock to accommodate its boats and a 10-foot wide sidewalk leading to parking and a pedestrian crossing over nearby railroad tracks. It could also include utility tie-ins, benches, pavilions, curbing, striping and signage Viking may want to add.

The city included the pedestrian crossing in its waterfront improvement plan announced in September.

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Crime

Former community college employee arrested for embezzlement

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(photo courtesy of Mississippi Office of the State Auditor)

Today State Auditor Shad White announced Special Agents from his office have arrested former Northeast Mississippi Community College employee, Amy Haynie, after she was indicted for embezzlement. Hanie was issued a $68,762.87 demand letter upon her arrest. That demand total includes interest and investigative expenses.

Amy Haynie (photo courtesy of Mississippi Office of the State Auditor)

Haynie is accused of embezzling cash from a college petty cash fund and from students as they paid various college-related fees. Investigators determined over $57,000 was stolen from the college. Haynie was able to hide the alleged scheme from May 2016 to February 2020 because the internal controls in her office allowed her to manipulate records of how cash was collected and deposited.

“The auditor’s office is committed to putting a stop to all fraud, but particularly fraud that involves theft from the students of Mississippi,” said Auditor White. “These are not victimless crimes. We will continue to pursue cases like these to make sure every dollar is spent in accordance with the law.”

Haynie surrendered to Special Agents at the Prentiss County Jail. Her bond was set at $10,000 by the court.

If convicted, Haynie faces up to 20 years in prison and $5,000 in fines. All persons arrested by the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The case will be prosecuted by the office of District Attorney John Weddle.

A $10,000 surety bond covers Haynie’s employment at Northeast Mississippi Community College. A surety bond is similar to insurance designed to protect taxpayers from corruption. Haynie will remain liable for the full amount of the demand in addition to criminal proceedings.

Suspected fraud can be reported to the Auditor’s office online any time by clicking the red button at www.osa.ms.gov or via telephone during normal business hours at 1-(800)-321-1275.

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COVID-19

Vicksburg Warren School District reports eight new COVID-19 cases and 47 quarantined

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The Vicksburg Warren School District reports eight new COVID-19 cases in schools for the week of Nov. 9 through Nov. 13.

In addition, 47 individuals were newly quarantined due to possible exposure to the virus in the same time period.

The following schools were affected:

Beechwood Elementary School 

  • 2 quarantined – teachers/staff
  • 3 quarantined – students

River City Early College

  • 2 new positive cases – teachers/staff
  • 1 new positive case – student
  • 6 quarantined – students

Vicksburg High School

  • 1 new positive case – teacher/staff
  • 4 new positive cases – students
  • 5 quarantined – teachers/staff
  • 30 quarantined – students

Vicksburg Junior High School

  • 1 quarantined – teacher/staff
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