Thursday, August 21, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Kopetz Succeeds Brown as MSU Music Department Head
An experienced Ohio conductor and educator is the new head of Mississippi State's music department. Barry E. Kopetz began his administrative duties at the university Aug. 1. He formerly was a music professor at Capital University in Bexley, a suburb of Columbus. Kopetz succeeds longtime department head Michael Brown, who now is teaching the department's music appreciation classes fulltime. "Dr. Kopetz has had a distinguished record of accomplishment in the field of music and possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience in the administrative realm," said Richard Blackbourn, dean of MSU's College of Education, in making the announcement.
 
Mississippi State Experts Discuss Sweet Potato Research
Sweet potatoes are an important crop in North Mississippi. On Wednesday, Mississippi State University experts gave a crop condition update and shared research. And it was mostly good news for farmers. With more acreage in production and a mild summer, experts are optimistic about this year's crop. The event was held at the Pontotoc Ridge Flatwoods Branch Experiment Station.
 
MSU Horticulture Club Wins National Honors
The horticulture club at Mississippi State University took home top honors at the American Society for Horticultural Science annual conference held in late July in Orlando, Florida. The MSU team placed second overall in the student competition, which included plant identification of greenhouse and woody ornamental crops; a commodity quality judging competition of greenhouse, woody ornamental, vegetable and fruit and nut crops; and a written exam. "Our team consists of collaborative, focused students whose drive and dedication resulted in several individual and team victories," said Richard L. Harkess, professor of plant and soil sciences.
 
Automated electric, water meter rollout in Starkville expected in 2016
Workers are expected to replace Starkville's 13,002 electric and 11,037 water meters with automated, usage-measuring devices in 2016 after city aldermen approved an implementation plan that is not expected to increase either utilities' rates. The advanced metering infrastructure, provided by German manufacturer Elster, will utilize new meters that communicate to gatekeepers via cellular waves that, in turn, send precise usage measurements daily to Starkville Electric Department's website. Not only will customers be able to track their daily and average water and electricity usage, but the technology allows for bill projections, more-flexible billing cycles and in-depth infrastructure status reports.
 
Starkville police make pair of burglary arrests
Police made a pair of burglary arrests earlier this week. On Tuesday, Starkville Police Department officers arrested Shaston Carea Irons, 25, of Derma, after responding to a residential burglary in progress. After determining the suspect was on foot in the area, officers detained Irons. He has been charged with burglary of a dwelling and is in the Oktibbeha County Jail. On Monday, police arrested Douglas Wayne Erwin, 21, of Starkville. Starkville police had added increased patrols in the area of Carver Drive due to an increase in reported auto burglaries and stopped Erwin as he was walking in that area.
 
Mississippi finishes last in quarterly state GDP study
Mississippi's gross domestic product shrank in the last three months of 2013, putting the skids on what had been an upward trend, according to figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The state's seasonally adjusted GDP, the sum of what's spent on goods and services plus investment and foreign trade, fell by 3 percent from last October through December in the BEA's first-ever release of state-by-state GDP data. "There are some things you can take away from it," said Corey Miller, economic analyst with the state Institutions of Higher Learning. "We're in a better position now than in 2013. There's been some slow growth. There hasn't been much (significant) growth in much of the country." But Mississippi had bright spots, too.
 
Judge: Voters deserve quick action on election challenge
Special Judge Hollis McGehee said for the sake of Mississippi voters he plans to move quickly to resolve the election dispute in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. "I consider them a party to this action," said McGehee, during the initial status hearing in the challenge filed by state Sen. Chris McDaniel to the results of the June 24 runoff election he lost to six-term incumbent Thad Cochran. McGehee scheduled a hearing for Aug. 28 for arguments on motions the Cochran campaign plans to file today. In those motions, attorneys for Cochran are expected to claim McDaniel waited too long to file the challenge which, theoretically, could result in the matter being resolved. Barring that, McGehee said he hopes to start the trial by Sept. 15 or Sept. 22 at the latest.
 
McDaniel challenge could require three more elections
Even with what one lawyer called "a rocket docket," the judge in Chris McDaniel's lawsuit challenging his loss to incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran expressed doubts whether a trial can be finished before the Nov. 4 general election. Special Judge Hollis McGehee told lawyers for Chris McDaniel and Thad Cochran he feels compelled to quickly hold trial on McDaniel's challenge of his June 24 GOP Senate runoff to Cochran, but the case is complicated and unprecedented. McDaniel claims the election was "stolen" from him through illegal and improper voting and black Democrats "raiding" a GOP primary because of Cochran race baiting and other skullduggery.
 
Judge in Mississippi election challenge doesn't block ballot preparation
A judge presiding over a lawsuit that challenges Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran's victory in a Republican primary runoff says he intends to finish the case before the November general election. But the judge is not blocking election preparation, including printing of absentee ballots for overseas military voters. During a status conference Wednesday in the Jones County Courthouse, retired Chancellor Hollis McGehee of Lucedale acknowledged he'll be asked to consider a lot of information on a tight timeframe. "None of us are aware of a statewide election contest that has been tried before," McGehee told about 50 spectators.
 
Palin goes 0 for 2 in Alaska as clout disappears nationally
Sarah Palin has lost the magic. The defeat of her choice Tuesday in a Republican Senate primary in her home state of Alaska capped a primary season in which her favored candidates have stumbled across the nation. A referendum to restore Palin's signature achievement from her time as Alaska governor, a state tax on oil companies, was also headed toward defeat following Tuesday's voting, dealing a double whammy loss to Palin in her home state and highlighting her declining influence. Palin backed failed attempts to unseat incumbent Sens. Thad Cochran in Mississippi and Lamar Alexander in Tennessee. Her Senate picks in Oklahoma, Minnesota and Georgia all failed to advance beyond the Republican primary as well.
 
U.S. Tried to Rescue Journalist James Foley From Islamic State Captors in Syria
U.S. Special Operations forces mounted an unsuccessful mission inside Syria earlier this summer to try to rescue several Americans held by Islamic extremists, including the journalist who was beheaded this week, senior Obama administration officials said. President Barack Obama ordered the secret operation, the first of its kind by the U.S. inside Syrian territory since the start of the civil war, after the U.S. received intelligence the Americans were being held by the extremist group known as Islamic State at a specific facility in a sparsely populated area inside Syria. Among the group, intelligence agencies believed at the time, was James Foley, the U.S. journalist whose beheading was shown in a grisly video released Tuesday.
 
Corker: Volkswagen expansion in Chattanooga was off if UAW won
While the United Auto Workers says its Chattanooga local has signed up more than 670 Volkswagen workers, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said Wednesday that the VW plant expansion would not have happened had the union won the factory's February election. "What I know for a fact ...the announcement would not have occurred for a lot of reasons," Corker said. "Plenty of people in Germany understood the impact." One reason Corker cited was concerns raised by Republican state lawmakers about the UAW and the election process at the plant. Last month, VW said it would assemble a new sport utility vehicle in Chattanooga.
 
Kirkland to lead UM World Class Teaching Program
Veteran educator Tammy Kirkland has joined the University of Mississippi School of Education as director of the UM World Class Teaching Program. The Pine Grove native takes the helm from the program's previous leader, Jackie Parker, who retired in May. Designed for working teachers, the WCTP helps Mississippi educators become National Board Certified Teachers from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Kirkland earned a master's degree in educational leadership and a bachelor's degree in elementary education from UM. Since 2003, she has taught at New Albany Elementary School. She also has served as a middle childhood generalist mentor for the university's WCTP.
 
Delta State leadership accepts cool challenge and passes it on
On Sunday during move-in day, Delta State University President Bill LaForge stepped up to the plate and took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. "Our students are Delta State. I thought they'd get a kick out of pulling the ice water trigger and being there to see it. And I want them to be aware of social causes, philanthropy, and the need to rally around other people in a time in need. It was also a great way to highlight our move-in day at Delta State for our new students," said LaForge.
 
Delta State fraternities start school year by giving back
Two Delta State University fraternities have joined forces for a cause. Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Alpha Phi Alpha are hosting a clothing drive. "This idea was actually derived from something we did in the past, usually in the spring time, called the 'shirt off my back run.' During that event we hosted a 2-mile fun run while also collecting articles of clothing to donate to the St. Gabriel Mercy Center. We didn't have a chance to do it last spring and so we wanted to be able to still do something to give back, and we are really excited to partner with Alpha Phi Alpha, another Greek organization, in our efforts to give back to the Delta," said SAE member Mikel Sykes.
 
Toomer's Corner construction phase nearly complete
The first phase of construction at Toomer's Corner at Auburn University is nearly complete. The fences surrounding the construction zone were taken down last week, showing the updates to the corner for the first time since construction began in March. Mike Clardy, director of communications and marketing at Auburn, said people can now see the first phase of redevelopment and enhancement at the corner. "We are very excited to get to this point, with an on-time finish and a very nice looking end result," Clardy said. Elizabeth Howerton, a veterinary student at Auburn, said she was glad to see the construction would be complete before football season began.
 
Former U. of Kentucky professor allegedly misused $400,000
A former University of Kentucky professor faked invoices, made graduate students work for his private consulting business for free, and ultimately misused more than $400,000, UK officials alleged Wednesday. The allegations against Dongping "Daniel" Tao have been turned over to local, state and federal authorities for possible criminal charges. The university completed two investigations of Tao, a mining engineering professor who was hired at UK in 1996. The investigations began last fall, after a graduate student complained that work for Tao's private clients went uncompensated. The investigations then turned up apparent financial improprieties.
 
LSU athletes, leaders help with campus move in
About 2,500 students, many of them freshmen, moved into LSU's residence halls on Wednesday, and many of them got some help from a few special volunteers. As cars crept through campus along Highland Road, several football and basketball players, gymnasts and even President and Chancellor F. King Alexander were there to lend a hand to students and their families. LSU's fall semester starts Monday. "The parents are all surprised that we're here," said LSU's starting punter Jamie Keehn, who was helping at the Laville Honors House. In all, more than 500 people -- various student groups participated, in addition to the athletes -- volunteered to help move students into their new dorm rooms.
 
Georgia regents asked to boost health premiums, deductibles
Faculty, staff and retirees of the University System of Georgia are likely to wind up with an increase in health insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles after the Board of Regents votes next month. Wednesday, the board's personnel committee got a briefing on the increases and an explanation of a recommended policy shift to what private industry calls a "defined benefit" approach. The phase in is to allow employees time to adjust their personal budgets, according to Marion Fedrick, vice chancellor for human resources.
 
Regents OK $1 million budget boost for U. of Georgia's Baldwin Hall
The $1 million increase in the renovation and expansion of Baldwin Hall on the University of Georgia's medical campus won the approval of the Board of Regents in Wednesday's monthly meeting. The board approved the increase from $7.75 million to $8.75 million while the project is in the pre-planning phase. The extra money is for more classrooms and offices, upgraded lighting, a bigger elevator, and additional restrooms accessible to people with physical handicaps.
 
Grant will help U. of Florida researchers fight childhood cancer
University of Florida researchers have spent more than a decade pursuing a new way to treat a debilitating and sometimes fatal form of childhood cancer. Seeing promise in the progress to date, Alex's Lemonade Stand, a Pennsylvania-based foundation, awarded a $250,000 grant for a team led by Steven Ghivizzani, a professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation in the UF College of Medicine, to continue research about a potential treatment for osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that strikes children and teenagers. It is the sixth most common form of cancer in children. He said that the grant will assist ongoing research with Chen Ling, a professor in the department of pediatrics, on the development of a potential new gene therapy to treat osteosarcoma.
 
Haslam promotes Tennessee's free tuition program
Gov. Bill Haslam on Wednesday urged students to take advantage of his program to cover a full ride at two-year colleges for any high school graduate. The Republican governor has been visiting several schools throughout the state and wrapped up his trip Wednesday at Antioch High School in southeastern Davidson County. Haslam told a packed auditorium of students he doesn't want affordability to be a reason a person doesn't attend college. The free tuition plan, "Tennessee Promise," requires students to work with a mentor and complete eight hours of community service a year. The program is a cornerstone of Haslam's "Drive to 55" campaign to improve the state's graduation rates from the current 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025.
 
Texas A&M expanding game coverage to Spanish-language radio stations
A new Spanish-language Radio Network launched by the Texas A&M athletics department's multimedia rights holder will reach Hispanic and Latino fans with Aggie football games from the Texas Panhandle down to the Rio Grande Valley, university officials said. "It is vital that we are reaching all of our fans in the state," Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp said after Wednesday's announcement. "Texas A&M is a land grant institution with roots in 250 counties across the state. Our job is to be in touch with the needs of the state." Texas A&M Athletics Director Eric Hyman said in a statement that reaching out to Spanish-speaking fans is part of Texas A&M's mission and legacy as a land-grant institution.
 
U. of Missouri curators extend Wolfe's contract to 2018
The University of Missouri announced Wednesday morning that the UM Board of Curators approved an extension of UM System President Tim Wolfe's contract through June 30, 2018. The contract extension was effective July 1. Wolfe's existing contract was slated to end Feb. 15. John Fougere, chief communication officer for the UM System, said in an email that Wolfe's base salary has not changed from $459,000 during the 2013-14 school year. Wolfe's incentive pay is still $100,000, Fougere said, but instead of that pay being 100 percent based on his annual performance, Fougere said it's now 50 percent based on performance and 50 percent based on longevity.
 
New report on international admissions at U.S. grad schools shows continued growth
Foreign applications to U.S. graduate schools and initial admission offers to international students continue to increase, driven by a surge of interest from India and despite a slight drop in applications from China, according to a new survey on international graduate admissions from the Council of Graduate Schools. International student applications increased by 10 percent at American graduate schools this year -- the ninth consecutive year of growth -- while initial admission offers rose by 9 percent, marking the fourth straight year of 9 percent increases. In short, one big takeaway from the CGS data is "more of the same," at least as far as the last two years are concerned.
 
Men punished in sexual misconduct cases on colleges campuses are fighting back
Men punished for sexual misconduct in the wave of cases sweeping college campuses are fighting back against what they call unfair student disciplinary systems and publicity that threatens to shatter their reputations. The current and former college students describe themselves as victims of false accusations amid a national campaign -- led by the White House -- to stamp out sexual violence on campuses. While the federal push to increase awareness of sexual assault is aimed at keeping students safe and holding the nation's colleges and universities accountable, some of the accused say the pressure on their schools has led to an unfair tipping of the scales against them.
 
Community college that serves Ferguson, Mo., has high aspirations, but low graduation rates
When U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder landed in St. Louis Wednesday morning, a community college in Ferguson was his first destination. St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley is where the nation's chief lawyer met with students and community leaders in an attempt to quell the most heated racial flare-up in recent American memory. But the Ferguson campus is also where scores of the region's young people set their sights, hoping higher education can offset the burdens of a disadvantaged upbringing. Many youth in the predominantly black area are not unlike Michael Brown, the college-bound teenager shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer. Even on campus, though, these students face long odds.
 
U.S. School Enrollment Hits Majority-Minority Milestone
America's public schools are on the cusp of a new demographic era. This fall, for the first time, the overall number of Latino, African-American, and Asian students in public K-12 classrooms is expected to surpass the number of non-Hispanic whites. The new collective majority of minority schoolchildren---projected to be 50.3 percent by the National Center for Education Statistics---is driven largely by dramatic growth in the Latino population and a decline in the white population, and, to a lesser degree, by a steady rise in the number of Asian-Americans. African-American growth has been mostly flat. That new majority will continue to grow, the same projections show. It's a shift that poses a plain imperative for public schools and society at large, demographers and educators say.


SPORTS
 
Harris anxious for his Mississippi State debut
Some ice and a few hours of rest is what Dez Harris' trainer prescribed for his injury. He felt pain in his knee as he watched the remainder of the McAdory High School's 2012 jamboree from the sideline. The team's quarterback expected to return to the field when the team returned home from Hueytown, Alabama the next day. Instead doctors told the Mississippi State recruit he'd be out for the entire season with a torn ACL. "I was committed to play SEC football and it humbled me," Harris said. "It brought me back down to show me as easy as it comes it can be taken from you." What he had hoped would heal overnight turned into a two-year process.
 
Bulldogs confident about running game
Mississippi State lost its top tailback, LaDarius Perkins, to the NFL, and Derrick Milton transferred to McNeese State. Yet the Bulldogs do not seem to be worried about their running game at all. Quarterback Dak Prescott returns as the team's leading rusher. But MSU also has a bevy of quality backs including four who chewed up 783 yards and scored seven touchdowns on the ground a season ago. "I don't know if I've had this many quality backs in a while," said running backs coach Greg Knox.
 
McKinney leads Mississippi State's 2015 draft prospects
Mississippi State kicks off its season in 10 days. The NFL will start its season soon after. They begin a solid five months of football. So of course let's talk about the end of 2014 and the 2015 NFL Draft. CBS Sports listed its top Mississippi State prospects of the 2015 draft. Linebacker Benardrick McKinney led the list of four players. Safety Justin Cox was No. 2, followed by tight end Malcolm Johnson and wide receiver Jameon Lewis.
 
MSU's DeAndre Ward talks about getting a scholarship
Mississippi State linebacker DeAndre Ward made national headlines earlier this week when a video of him receiving a scholarship during a team meeting went viral. Ward spoke with the media on Wednesday about the emotional experience and what the aftermath has been like in motivating him to work even harder. MSU opens its season Aug. 30 against Southern Miss in Starkville.
 
SEC: Football fan experience better
All 14 Southeastern Conference members have taken steps to improve the fan experience at football stadiums, the league said. The changes resulted from recommendations made by a working group approved by SEC athletics directors in June 2012 to review attendance trends with some fans choosing to watch at home. "The fan experience goes beyond winning and losing games," said Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin, chairman of the working group. "It starts from the time they approach the stadium to the moment they leave campus."
 
Mississippi State women's cross country picked sixth in SEC
Preseason Southeastern Conference polls predict the Mississippi State women's cross country team to finish in sixth place for the 2014 season, while the men's team is picked 10th. Both teams placed seventh last season in the 2013 SEC Championships, after each were slated to end the year 11th. "Being picked sixth and 10th is meaningless to us to be honest because polls don't mean anything," Mississippi State coach Houston Franks said. MSU begins the season on Aug. 30 at the Memphis Twilight.



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