Friday, August 22, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
College Board approves university bonding requests
Mississippi's public universities are likely to have less money to spend on capital projects in the state's 2016 budget year, under projections the universities agreed to with lawmakers in 2013. The College Board Thursday approved $710 million in bonding requests, as agencies make requests of the Legislature in advance of next year's sessions. Top projects at Mississippi State include an engineering and science complex and a music department building. Top projects for MSU's Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine include a food science, nutrition and health promotion complex and Blackjack forest and wildlife research facility.
Mississippi State Alum Opens JUVA Juice Location at Sanderson Center
The Joe Frank Sanderson Center at Mississippi State University now is home to a full-service smoothie bar. Open to all, JUVA Juice's fall semester hours of operation are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, and 2-7 p.m. Sunday. Hours are subject to change, however. Justin Mitchener, a 2005 physical education/sports communication graduate of the university, founded JUVA Juice in 2003. He expressed gratitude for the "unbelievable opportunity" to open the company's second location at his alma mater. Laura Walling, MSU's recreational sports director, said the addition of JUVA Juice should help the Sanderson Center fulfill a growing client request.
Martina McBride to perform at MSU Riley Center
Contemporary country music sensation Martina McBride will bring her soaring vocals and The Everlasting Tour to the MSU Riley Center in downtown Meridian on Aug. 28 at 7:30 p.m. A pre-show party will take place at 6 p.m. A Grammy Award winner, McBride is also a 14-time Grammy nominee who has been awarded 14 Gold Records, nine Platinum honors, three Double Platinum Records, and two Triple Platinum awards. Tickets are $80 and $74 from the MSU Riley Center box office or online.
Golden Triangle jobless rates see uptick in July
Recently released unemployment statistics show slight improvement over last July in the Golden Triangle. The numbers also tell a story of need for more job opportunities, as area rates are well above the 8-percent rate for Mississippi as a whole. Both Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties had unemployment rates of 10.1 percent in July 2013. They both showed slight improvement last month, with Lowndes showing a 9.9-percent unemployment rate and Oktibbeha a 9.4. Across the state, about 109,300 people were unemployed last month in Mississippi.
Starkville police presence moves to Twitter
The Starkville Police Department launched a Twitter account Wednesday that will provide updates on local policing issues, road conditions and severe weather situations, while directly answering questions and concerns from residents. The Twitter account is @Starkville_PD. The launch affirms SPD Chief Frank Nichols' promise to aldermen during his job interview earlier this year that the police department would increase its interactions and outreach with residents.
MDA numbers help with cities' retail pitches
Mississippi communities looking to land a big retailer such as Walmart or Target often give the Mississippi Development Authority a call. That is where they will get the retail sales numbers for their area broken down to nearly a dozen categories. The numbers, through "pull-factor" calculations, also give an idea of whether the buyers live in the community or come from outside it to make the purchase. The numbers, based on sales tax collections, can show retailers where their opportunities lie. Cities and counties eager for a major retailer to come in are advised to be as thorough as possible in the information they present, said Joy Foy, director of the MDA's Asset Development Division.
Religious Leaders Launch 'Moral Movement Mississippi'
A group of Mississippi religious leaders is launching what they call "Moral Movement Mississippi. Improving voting rights, better funding for public schools, and expanding the Medicaid program top the issues for the leaders. Organizer Rev. Jim Carstensen says leaders in the state need to make the poor, minorities and disenfranchised a higher priority. About two dozen Christian religious leaders announced the movement at the Capitol in Jackson earlier this week.
State Treasurer Fitch launches financial literacy initiative
Mississippi students now have an opportunity to be much more knowledgeable about money. State Treasurer Lynn Fitch announced on Thursday a new initiative from her office that will provide online resources for the state's schools to teach more about financial literacy. The Treasurer's Education About Money, or TEAM, program will include lessons on such topics as credit scores, insurance, credit cards, taxes, investing, mortgages and savings. Fitch's stop in Tupelo concluded a three-day, 16-stop statewide tour to announce the program.
Judge sets trial date, time limit for McDaniel challenge
Special Judge Hollis McGehee has set 9 a.m. Sept. 15 as the start of the trial in which Chris McDaniel will challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's June 24 victory in the Republican primary runoff election. McGehee, a retired chancery judge from Lucedale who handles cases when local judges step aside, also said "in no event shall the trial in this matter extend beyond ...October 3." McGehee has indicated the trial will be held in the Jones County Courthouse in Laurel. McDaniel was defeated in the runoff by 7,667 votes out of the 392,197 cast statewide. McDaniel is asking that the judge declare him the winner or order a new election.
Judge wants McDaniel election lawsuit decided quickly
Judge Hollis McGehee wants the trial of Chris McDaniel's challenge of his U.S. Senate GOP primary runoff loss to Thad Cochran to move along quickly. On Thursday he set the start date for Sept. 15, and ordered it be completed by Oct. 3. McGehee's order also says plaintiff McDaniel will be afforded 10 days of trial time to present his case, Cochran five days and then each will be allowed up to one full day for rebuttal. In a separate filing Thursday, McGehee gave notice of his intent to "designate and appoint expert witness." Also on Thursday, Cochran's legal team filed a response to McDaniel's lawsuit, and a motion to have it dismissed.
Trial on Mississippi election challenge set for Sept. 15
A trial is set to begin Sept. 15 for a lawsuit that seeks to undo a Republican runoff victory by Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran. The presiding judge specifies that the trial must be finished by Oct. 3, just over a month before the general election. Retired Chancellor Hollis McGehee filed a scheduling order Thursday at the Jones County Circuit Court in Laurel, where the trial will take place. He will hear pre-trial motions Aug. 28. Mississippi law says a new primary could be ordered even after someone wins the general election. If that were to happen, a new general election also would have to be held.
Congressman Harper Speaks at Alzheimer's Conference in Meridian
U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., says Alzheimer's disease is a devastating illness that is costing American families a high price both mentally and financially. Harper addressed health officials and caregivers at a conference in Meridian on Thursday. The Third District congressman told the group he's committed to helping find money in the federal budget to fight the disease. The conference has drawn professionals and caregivers from across Mississippi, as well as Alabama. It wraps up Friday.
Defense secretary: ISIS threat 'beyond anything we've seen'
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is beyond "just a terrorist group" and poses a greater threat than Al Qaeda, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday. "This is beyond anything that we've seen," he said during a briefing on Thursday afternoon about the Sunni militant group that has taken over territory in Iraq and Syria and earlier this week beheaded American journalist James Foley. "ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen," Hagel said. "They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded." Hagel's remarks come months after Obama dismissed ISIS, calling the group "JV".
Hostage-Taking Central to Islamic State Strategy in Syria
The Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State is holding as many as 1,000 Syrians, and possibly as many as 20 foreigners, in detention centers they control, say Syrian opposition activists involved in ongoing mediation efforts to release captives. The Islamic State, in its early days a reincarnation of al Qaeda in Iraq, has expanded its ranks and ambitions in the chaos of the Syrian civil war over the least two years, rounding up rivals, secular activists and others. Last year, it expanded its sights to foreign aid workers and journalists. The new spotlight on the group over the beheading of James Foley is revealing the extent to which their hostage-taking and killings have become central to their strategy.
Taliban-Bergdahl prisoner swap broke the law, federal agency says
The Defense Department broke the law when it exchanged five Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for captive Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl this year, the Government Accountability Office said Thursday. The Pentagon is required to give 30 days' notice to congressional committees before using appropriated funds to transfer detainees at Guantanamo Bay to another country, the GAO said. In this case, the office said, the Defense Department illegally "did not provide written notice to the relevant congressional committees until May 31, 2014, the same day as the transfer" of the five to Qatar.
Gas leak shuts down MUW cafeteria Wednesday night
A gas leak at Mississippi University for Women shut down a portion of the campus Wednesday night. The leak occurred in Hogarth Cafeteria around 6 p.m., when someone reported the smell of gas, according to MUW spokesperson Anika Perkins. MUW President Dr. Jim Borsig said the university is abandoning the line that leaked underground and installing a new one. The installation should be completed by noon Friday, Borsig said.
Sen. Cochran tours educational, community resources at USM Gulf Park
Sen. Thad Cochran toured the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park campus Aug. 21 with Dr. Steve Miller, interim vice president for the Gulf Park campus at Southern Miss, and Dr. Gordon C. Cannon, vice president for research at Southern Miss, to learn more about the educational and community resources available through the university, including an adaptive beach wheelchair for persons with disabilities. The wheelchair, along with other adaptive equipment, is housed at USM's Institute for Disability Studies Technology Learning Center in Long Beach.
Jackson State to Spend Up to $1.9 Million to Rent Apartments
Jackson State University will lease a 444-bed apartment complex next to its campus, with hopes of buying it later to accommodate increasing enrollment. The College Board approved plans Thursday for JSU to lease the Palisades apartments, spending as much as $1.9 million. The university has an option for a second year, but JSU President Carolyn Meyers said the university hopes by then to buy the complex, which adjoins the southwest corner of the school's campus. Trustee Ed Blakeslee urged university leaders to move ahead with plans for a permanent facility to accommodate the increasing numbers of students. "This is a good problem to have, but you don't want to have it for a long time," Blakeslee said.
City/U. of Alabama corridor studied
Improved pedestrian and bicycling options and slower traffic are the highlights of a preliminary plan for revamping the University Boulevard corridor between downtown Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama. The plans were unveiled Thursday by the consultant and architects for a task force formed about a year ago to study ways to better connect downtown and the university. The study is jointly funded by the city and the university. "This is your best chance to have a great corridor in Tuscaloosa," said Jeff Speck, the Washington D.C.-based planner who was brought on as consultant for the plan.
UGA's new Bolton Dining Commons a long way from the Revoltin' Bolton of old
The University of Georgia's new Bolton Dining Commons has only been officially open a week, but it's already setting records. Way back in the day, before most of today's Bolton customers were even born, students had a different name for the old Bolton Hall this one replaces -- Revoltin' Bolton, a cavernous, noisy building a block up the hill, now shuttered and awaiting an unscheduled demolition. The new Bolton could take UGA's campus food service to a whole new level, judging from the early numbers. Voting with their taste buds, students are showing their approval. At about 1,000 seats (350 on the first floor, 650 on the second) and 50,000 square feet, the new Bolton is the largest dining facility on campus.
LSU sends collection letter to hospital manager
LSU sent a collection letter this week to the research foundation running its hospitals in Monroe and Shreveport, saying the foundation owes the university system $25.3 million and accusing it of using LSU like its "personal piggy bank." The Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana took control of the two hospitals in October 2013, as part of Gov. Bobby Jindal's push to privatize most of the university-run public hospital system. In a blistering, two-page letter Thursday, the university says the foundation, which is operating the two hospitals as University Health, hasn't assumed the financial obligations required under its contract, despite taking over hospital management 10 months ago.
Larger-than-expected freshman class pressures U. of Kentucky's changing campus
When the University of Kentucky's freshman class moves in this week, their numbers might top 5,000, roughly 240 students more than expected. Officials call it a good problem to have, a result of successful marketing about freshman academic programs and the new dorms where they are housed. But that 5 percent surge puts pressure on all parts of campus, from facilities to class sizes. "There's a lot of buzz about UK, with the combination of new residence halls and the colleges really stepping up to help recruit more," said registrar Don Witt, who cited record numbers of applications, campus visits and orientation participants during the spring and summer.
Student threatened with gun on U. of South Carolina's Horseshoe
A student walking through the University of South Carolina Horseshoe early Thursday morning was robbed by a man who threatened him with a gun, university police said. The student told police that he was accosted around 12:40 am Thursday morning as he walked across the Horseshoe. He was approached by a black man about 6-feet tall and wearing a light grey t-shirt and khaki pants. The suspect made the victim take him to his East Quad dorm room when the victim said he did not have any money on him. The suspect, photographed by USC surveillance cameras, was last seen leaving East Quad heading toward Five Points. The early Thursday armed robbery on the USC campus was just the latest armed robbery of Columbia-area students.
U. of Missouri Human Environmental Sciences dean announces retirement
Stephen Jorgensen, dean of the University of Missouri College of Human Environmental Sciences, will retire effective Aug. 31, 2015. Jorgensen has served as dean of the college since 2001. Undergraduate enrollment increased from 1,093 in 2001 to more than 1,400 last fall, with graduate enrollment also seeing an increase, according to the university. The college's endowment grew almost 160 percent to more than $14 million during Jorgensen's tenure as well. A national search for his replacement will begin soon.
Colleges turn to social media blitzes to raise money
Colleges are increasingly turning to one-day social media blitzes to raise money, especially from their youngest alumni. Colleges are trying to pick up donations from recent graduates. That comes amid a decline in the rate of alumni participation -- which is the number of alumni donors divided by the number of alumni an institution has a means of contacting. Some experts have attributed that decline to the increased ease of tracking down graduates, while others have suggested longer life spans are also contributing. In any event, colleges are turning to social media to drum up donations from their youngest alums in the hopes that one donation will turn into a lifetime of giving.
Congress Making Headway on Higher Education Act
With a lame-duck session looming---typically a time when Congress accomplishes very little -- lawmakers in both the House and the Senate are priming higher education for the spotlight. Both chambers have made headway in charting their respective paths to reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, the mammoth law that includes the entire federal student loan system, the Pell grant tuition assistance program for low- and middle-income students, teacher-preparation provisions, and various programs that help disadvantaged students access higher education. Republicans and Democrats in both chambers agree that the now-expired HEA is in dire need of updating as student debt continues to balloon, and programs like the Pell Grant become more difficult to fund due to increased demand.

Meet the fan who makes the Mississippi State cowbells
Though he bears no relation to the superstar singer, Mississippi State superfan Marc Anthony has his own claim to fame. Known as the "Cowbell Guy," Anthony handcrafts and sells as many as 9,000 of the famous noisemakers each year for fans to take to football games. At his family-owned store, University Screenprint, he sells the cowbells along with custom screenprints, embroidery, clothing, novelty items and other Bulldogs gear. His cowbells are also sold at The Lodge, a Mississippi State merchandise store owned by Anthony's business partner, John Hendricks. As long as he can remember, Anthony has supported Mississippi State.
'Sky's the limit': If healthy, Mississippi State defensive line could be a strength
During the spring, Mississippi State had both of its starting defensive tackles out of action. Seniors P.J. Jones and Kaleb Eulls were both held out of team drills while recovering from ankle and foot injuries. However, that time provided some of the Bulldogs' younger interior defensive linemen to get first team reps which will only help their cause this fall. MSU's defensive tackles have a wealth of talent consisting of a five-star, three four-stars and four three-star prospects. "The talent isn't an issue here," said sophomore Chris Jones. "The issue will be to stay healthy. If everyone is healthy then the sky is the limit for us."
Jones, McKinney lead Mississippi State in All-SEC selections
Mississippi State placed five players on the 2014 Southeastern Conference Coaches' Preseason All-SEC Team, the league announced Thursday. Defensive lineman Chris Jones and linebacker Benardrick McKinney were both named second team All-SEC. Quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver Jameon Lewis and cornerback Jamerson Love were selected to the third team.
Mississippi State works on defensive rotation for season opener
Mississippi State defensive coordinator Geoff Collins moves closer to solidifying his defensive roster for the season opener against Southern Miss on Aug. 30. Collins has a defensive rotation set for each position. "We had 20 coming into this season who were in the two-deep (rotation) last year in the bowl game," Collins said. "We're trying to find 25. I think we're close to having a full two-deep ready to go. We don't talk about depth charts around here, so we're just trying to find 25 guys who are ready to play significant minutes next Saturday." Collins complimented his veteran linebacker group and expects each member to contribute.
Eagles battle rain, prepare for Bulldogs
The first afternoon practice for the Southern Miss football team on Thursday could almost have been considered a two-a-day session. The Golden Eagles, dressed in shoulder pads and shorts, went through the first hour, 15 minutes of the session at the Joe P. Park Practice Facility, before a heavy thunderstorm sent the Golden Eagles inside. When the practice finally resumed, Southern Miss transitioned onto the game field at Roberts Stadium to finish. "We started preparations today for Mississippi State (today)," said second year Golden Eagle coach Todd Monken. "We dedicated the back half of practice with two team periods being based on Mississippi State." The Golden Eagles and Bulldogs will open the season next Saturday, at 6:30 p.m., at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field.
Former Mississippi State great Fred Smoot joins CBS' NFL coverage
Fred Smoot isn't done with football yet. The former Mississippi State cornerback is set to join CBS's Sunday NFL coverage as studio analyst. He won't appear on the network, but will be seen on CBSSports Network's "That Other Pregame Show (TOPS)." CBS announced the hiring of Smoot -- who last played in the NFL for Washington in 2009 -- on Wednesday.
Fall into running: Region offers dozens of races
There is power in running with other people. Even if you don't have a regular group, area runners and walkers can harness that group power at races planned around the region this fall and runners looking for longer distances will have a half-marathon to chose. In Starkville, the Mississippi State Community Emergency Response Team is hosting a half-marathon in conjunction with a 5K on Oct. 18 on the Mississippi State campus.
McGillis plans to hire new Southern Miss softball coach within two weeks
Following the resignation of co-head coaches Kirsten Voak and Jon Malgradi last week, Southern Miss athletic director Bill McGillis told the softball team new leadership would be appointed within three weeks. On Wednesday, McGillis said it would likely be sooner than that. The second-year athletic director told the Hattiesburg American that the interview process would begin no later than next week. McGillis declined to discuss specific candidates, but said he and those assisting with the coaching search began with a list of 10 or 15 prospects and are filtering through those who have expressed interest in the job.
NCAA Files Intent to Appeal O'Bannon Decision
The NCAA has notified the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that it intends to appeal a judge's ruling in the Ed O'Bannon case that it violated antitrust laws. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled Aug. 8 that the NCAA broke the law by restricting schools from providing money beyond current scholarship limits to athletes. She said schools should be allowed to place up to $5,000 per athlete per year of competition into a trust fund for football players and men's basketball players, which they could collect after leaving school. A formal appeal hasn't yet been submitted, but NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy issued a statement Thursday. "We are appealing the Court's decision because we do not believe the NCAA has violated the antitrust laws," he said.

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