Thursday, April 24, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Riley Foundation buys building for Mississippi State
A purchase of property will boost Mississippi State University's growing presence in downtown Meridian. Becky Farley, executive director of The Riley Foundation, confirmed on Wednesday that the foundation had bought the building on the corner of 23rd Avenue and 5th Street. "This is the remaining property of the block that is not owned by Mississippi State and we intend to donate that to MSU," Farley said. Mark E. Keenum, MSU president, expressed his thanks on Wednesday. "The gift of additional downtown Meridian property adjacent to the Kress Building further underscores the vision and generosity of The Riley Foundation as they continue to partner with Mississippi State University for the benefit of the people of east central Mississippi and west Alabama, the city of Meridian and Lauderdale County," Keenum said.
 
State Leaders Meet at MSU for 2014 Manufacturing Summit
Industry leaders from across the state met in Starkville Wednesday for the 2014 Manufacturing Summit at Mississippi State University's Franklin Furniture Institute. Business groups and state leaders discussed the industry's future and how to capitalize on its current growth. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert were just a few of the state leaders who met at the summit to focus on the future of Mississippi's workforce. The future seems bright for Mississippi workers. Reeves says the state will continue to make smart investments that benefit both workers and tax payers.
 
Manufacturing leaders gather in Starkville
An annual summit draws dozens to Mississippi State University. "It's a great session. It's a learning opportunity to come with other industry people who we normally compete with day-to-day," said Roger Bland, president of Southern Motion Inc. This was the 4th Annual Manufacturing Summit. Organizers say it seeks to provide a forum for government and industry leaders to share ideas for fostering a better environment in the state for job creation.
 
Lt. Gov leads manufacturing summit at Mississippi State
Mississippi has changed much since 1991, but Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves wants to point out a statistic that has not changed in relation to one that has. "If you go back to 1991 and look at the data, and you look at manufacturing as a percentage of GDP (gross domestic product), you find manufacturing as a percentage of GDP is the same today as it was 20 years ago," Reeves said. "But if you look at manufacturing employees, the number of employees have been cut in half. That's neither good nor bad. What has led to that is that companies have become significantly more productive, and that efficiency has led to greater profits in the long term, but it's led to less employment."
 
Heart Association: Mississippi State Fit-Friendly for Employees
Mississippi State's ongoing work to promote healthy lifestyles has been recognized by a leading national advocacy organization. The American Heart Association has designated MSU a Gold Fit-Friendly Worksite based on the university's wide range of fit-friendly opportunities for employees that have helped to create a "culture of wellness" on campus, according to the AHA. "Faculty and staff at Mississippi State are increasingly committed to regular exercise, healthy diets and wellness benefits that complement traditional health care coverage," said Judy Spencer, the land-grant institution's chief human resources officer.
 
MSU Students Get a Taste of Impaired Driving
Students at Mississippi State got an up-close look at the dangers of impaired driving Wednesday. The Mississippi Highway Patrol and the MSU Police Department teamed up with the university's Department of Health, Education, and Wellness to bring an impaired driving simulator to campus. The students used special goggles while navigating a special course driving a go-cart.
 
Soybean yield more than doubles in less than a decade
Soybeans have been an important commodity in Mississippi for more than 50 years, but recent advances have pushed the crop's value above $1 billion. Mississippi soybeans had a value of $267 million in 2006, $1.27 billion in 2012 and $1.17 billion in 2013. Prices have been high for the past several years, but state producers put more effort into management and increased yields to a record average of 45 bushels an acre in 2012 and 2013.
 
Women for Agriculture Begins Monthly Program
Mississippi Women for Agriculture will kick off a new lunch-and-learn program May 2. The first meeting of the "Farm Women Friday" series will be hosted by the Mississippi State University Extension Service at the Yazoo County Extension office and broadcast to county Extension offices across the state. James Isonhood, Mississippi assistant attorney general, will present "A Primer in the Oil and Gas Industry." Rachael Carter, a specialist with the MSU Extension Service Center for Government and Community Development, will give an update on the "Managing Oil and Gas Development in Mississippi" project.
 
Starkville aldermen promote Sanders to community developer
Aldermen unanimously promoted Buddy Sanders, Starkville's former city planner, to community developer and began the process to fill his now-vacant position Tuesday. Sanders, who joined the city's community development department in 2013, was selected out of a four-person candidate pool after one applicant dropped out of contention before public interviews. His salary was set at $68,000. City leaders applauded Sanders' job performance as city planner. Ward 5 Alderman Scott Maynard said Sanders' experience and local feedback from the business community helped set the incoming community developer apart from his competition.
 
Governor signs mid-pregnancy abortion ban
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has signed a bill to ban abortion at the midpoint of a full-term pregnancy. Supporters say it's designed to protect women's health, while abortion-rights advocates say it's unconstitutional. Felicia Brown-Williams, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, says the Mississippi law is similar to an Arizona law blocked by a federal appeals court.
 
Quick decisions needed on rehiring teachers
Superintendents and local school boards across the state were learning late Wednesday that they will have to decide almost immediately whether they want to rehire teachers for the 2014-15 school year. They originally thought they had until May 1 to provide nonrenewal notices to teachers they did not want to or could not afford to re-employ for the upcoming school year. "It was just a lot of miscommunication all the way around," said Sam Bounds, executive director of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents.
 
Wright begins Mississippi education department reorganization
State Superintendent Carey Wright has appointed three top-level executives, the first step toward reorganizing the Mississippi Department of Education. Kim Benton, who had been chief deputy state superintendent for instructional enhancement and internal operations since 2012, has been named chief academic officer. Todd Ivey, who had recently been the head of educational accountability, and before that the longtime head of financial operations, has been named chief operations officer. Pat Ross, who had been the director of accountability services, has been named chief school improvement officer. This year, the Legislature passed and Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law a bill giving Wright the power to fire department employees without cause or a hearing for two years beginning July 1.
 
Cochran meets and greets at Natchez event
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran was in Natchez Wednesday for a private event in the evening, but hosted a spontaneous meet-and-greet at the Natchez Grand Hotel during the afternoon. Cochran said his focus in the nation's capital right now is the federal appropriations process. He is the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee. His visit to Natchez is a part of a statewide tour Cochran is making as part of his re-election campaign. "I am looking forward to serving the people of Mississippi another six years," Cochran said.
 
Southern Whites' Loyalty to G.O.P. Nearing That of Blacks to Democrats
President Obama's landslide victory in 2008 was supposed to herald the beginning of a new Democratic era. And yet, six years later, there is not even a clear Democratic majority in the country, let alone one poised for 30 years of dominance. It's not because Mr. Obama's so-called new coalition of young and nonwhite voters failed to live up to its potential. They again turned out in record numbers in 2012. The Democratic majority has failed to materialize because the Republicans made large, countervailing and unappreciated gains of their own among white Southerners.
 
How a lab accident could revolutionize energy storage
Researchers have created an elegant and affordable new way to build a material with powerful capacities for energy storage. For the past several years, scientists at George Washington University's Institute for Nanotechnology have been learning how to synthesize graphene, a sheetlike, orderly network of carbon atoms so thin that its third dimension is almost undetectable. Until recently, they had focused on synthesizing "nanotubes," tiny curls of graphene that are strong conductors of electricity. But in 2010, says Michael Keidar, the institute's director and an author of Tuesday's report, "We tried to grow nanotubes and we accidentally grew graphene" sheets at the same time.
 
Oxford weighs in on diversity comment
When Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson made the comment that dollar stores would bring a "different demographic" to the elite Oxford Square, some residents characterized it Wednesday as badly worded but fairly benign. On Tuesday afternoon, Patterson clarified what he meant in a NewsWatch 99 television report in which he said, "It's a market-driven thing. If there were Dollar Generals and Family Dollars out there, you'd have a different demographic." Patterson said that if the Square offered more affordable stores, it would be more diverse. Ole Miss African-American studies chairman Charles Ross told student-run NewsWatch 99 that he believes the issue is socioeconomic.
 
Head of Ole Miss-Tupelo campus to retire
Jim Pate has a soft spot for nontraditional students. As dean of the University of Mississippi's Tupelo campus for the past nine years, he has interacted with many adult learners who were often trying to balance jobs and families while pursuing higher education. "They sometimes get kind of lost in the system," Pate said. "They have a lot of challenges in their personal lives, so it is important to show some patience and concern to help them along. Sometimes life has been really tough, and our folks do a great job of working with them." Pate will retire on June 30, following a 47-year career in education.
 
Ole Miss launches commitment to be 'climate neutral'
The University of Mississippi has launched a campus-wide commitment with the goal of making Ole Miss "climate neutral." Chancellor Dan Jones signed the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment, to which some 600 of his counterparts across the country also gave their signatures. "Sustainability is about efficiency in all things; it's a smart way to live," said Ian Banner, university architect and director of sustainability. "Do as much as you can with as little as necessary. Try not to waste, pollute or destroy. Respect what is around you and preserve it for coming generations."
 
East Mississippi Community College Expands to Marion
Officials from the town of Marion and East Mississippi Community College were all smiles on Wednesday for the signing of an inter-local agreement. It involves a satellite branch that EMCC is preparing to open in Marion. "Lauderdale County is one of the original counties that supported East Mississippi Community College going back to its beginnings," says EMCC President, Dr. Rick Young. "So, this is something that we've been wanting to do." The initial plan is to move three or four mobile units behind the fire station, and possibly start offering workforce training classes this summer.
 
Kopplin to continue fight against teaching creationism in public school science classes
Zachary Kopplin, one of the most visible opponents of teaching creationism in public school science classes, will testify before the Louisiana Senate Education Committee on Thursday in a fourth attempt to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act. Kopplin told LSU students he is not hopeful for a more favorable outcome this year and said he has his eyes set on the November 2015 elections when new committee members could swing support in his favor. "Whether we pass or fail tomorrow, it does not really matter because this is sort of ground zero for a much larger fight for science in this country." Kopplin was at LSU to receive the Manship School of Mass Communication's Courage and Justice award.
 
Money spent on academic initiatives will pay off for students, U. of Georgia says
The University of Georgia will invest between $4 million and $5 million in a series of academic initiatives designed to reduce the time it takes UGA students to graduate, get more and academically stronger graduate students and improve undergraduates' readiness for jobs or additional schooling after they graduate. But the investment will pay off in lower costs and better outcomes for students, UGA President Jere Morehead and UGA Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Pamela Whitten and said Wednesday.
 
Stegeman scaffolding finally will come down, UGA officials say
The scaffolding at Stegeman Coliseum that's protected pedestrians from falling glass fragments will finally come down this summer, after a fix for the breakage problem is installed. The scaffolding was erected shortly after two giant glass walls were installed outside the coliseum as part of a $12 million expansion and renovation project completed in 2010. Several of the 358 large glass panes that form the walls cracked for reasons architects couldn't explain, and though no one was hurt, UGA officials ordered the protective scaffolding put up over entryways beneath the walls, just in case.
 
Clinton School Building at U. of Arkansas Gets LEED Award
Officials say a 115-year-old building affiliated with the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service has received an award for being environmentally friendly. Sturgis Hall received the certification Tuesday for leadership in energy and environmental design -- or LEED. It was presented by Jason Hartke, the vice president of national policy for the U.S. Green Building Council, to Clinton Center operations director Debbie Shock in Little Rock. The council is a nonprofit group that promotes environmental-friendly building construction.
 
U. of Florida opens tuberculosis lab in Haiti
The University of Florida on Wednesday opened a state-of-the-art lab in Haiti to train researchers to better understand and fight tuberculosis. The 1,500-square-foot facility will bring graduate students from outside Haiti to train Haitian technicians, who will then go on to work at the national laboratory, said Dr. Michael Lauzardo, division chief of Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
 
Texas A&M veterinary program offering hands-on training, animal pathology studies
While there may not be a shortage of pathologists graduating from vet schools around the country, few of those graduates have the training to allow them to work in a veterinary diagnostic laboratory, according to Texas A&M professors. The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory has been offering a third-year vet elective course and pathology residency program since 2009 to give students the opportunity to experience hands-on work inside of a diagnostic lab. The course gives students an overview of lab operations and on-the-job training.
 
Drones being used again for U. of Missouri classes
University of Missouri instructor Bill Allen is confident that recent rulings prohibiting drones from flying outdoors will be overruled. And he hopes that when it happens, his students will be prepared to use drones in their industries of choice. "There has been mounting interest within the science community on campus, especially in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, to do research and teach using drones," Allen said. "I've been playing with this idea since last December, when a group of about 25 faculty members got together and discussed the interest and need for a class like this. These are faculty from all over campus, but especially CAFNR and other life sciences." This isn't Allen's first attempt at a drone class.
 
Lawmakers Call on Education Dept. to Toughen Rules on College-Sponsored Debit Cards
In a move to protect college students from banking practices perceived to be unfair, 23 Democrats in Congress sent the U.S. Department of Education a letter on Wednesday urging it to revise its rules covering college-sponsored debit cards. Under the proposed changes, banks that team up with colleges to offer debit cards to disburse student aid would be barred from imposing high fees, would be required to disclose their contracts, and would be prohibited from marketing the cards aggressively.
 
What do the people want? Americans may take nuanced view of higher ed reforms
Americans might take a more nuanced view of higher education than the agendas advanced by the politicians they elect, according to a report released today based on 115 forums conducted across the country. The survey -- a joint project of Public Agenda, the Kettering Foundation, and the National Issues Forum -- found participants were alarmed by debt, but not government spending; didn't want the country's colleges and universities to abandon philosophy and the liberal arts as it focuses on science, technology, engineering and math; and were struggling to balance the pros and cons of a traditional four-year degree. David Holwerk, a spokesman for Dayton, Ohio-based Kettering, said politicians should take more notice of the public's views than they did when they pushed through health care reform or Common Core, which are both suffering.
 
BOBBY HARRISON (OPINION): Where was the outrage about earlier comments?
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "Many people supporting Sen. Thad Cochran have voiced outrage with some of the comments and actions of state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is challenging the veteran Cochran in the June 3 Republican primary. These people have described comments that McDaniel made years ago as the host of a talk radio program in Jones County as embarrassing and perhaps racist. And they also are shocked that perhaps McDaniel was scheduled to speak at a Guntown event where apparently a known segregationist would be a vendor. McDaniel disputes that he was ever scheduled to speak at the event. Regardless, it seems fair to ask where was this outrage by certain members of the state Republican Party for the comments and actions of past Mississippi politicians."
 
SID SALTER (OPINION): Lessons from the death of a congressman
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Politics has always been -- and will likely always be -- a full-contact sport and in no venue is that more evident than in the South. Some of my earliest political memories are of listening to incendiary speeches under the Founder's Square Pavilion at the Neshoba County Fair. In its current incarnation, politics has come to be dominated more by digital attacks than by those echoing off tin roofs during stump speeches. Door-to-door campaigning has for the most part been replaced by email blasts, social media campaigns and YouTube postings. Increasingly, the digital rhetoric is beginning to mirror the vitriol in the stump speeches of old. But a casual conversation last week with a close friend brought to mind a bit of perspective from my own career covering politics and politicians."


SPORTS
 
Brown could pitch for Mississippi State vs. Texas A&M
The Mississippi State baseball coaches are encouraged by the news they're getting about Preston Brown and believe he could return for the stretch run to the team's season. MSU coach John Cohen said Brown (3-1, 1.95 ERA), who hasn't pitched since March 29 due to shoulder soreness, could pitch Saturday against Texas A&M in Game 3 of the three-game Southeastern Conference series at Dudy Noble Field. "He threw really, really well earlier in the week," Cohen said. "We feel like he might be available. We're going to wait and see."
 
Setup Pitch: No. 22 Mississippi State vs. Texas A&M
Mississippi State faces off with Texas A&M this weekend, concluding a nine-day stretch that included seven games against Southeastern Conference opponents. The Bulldogs have been all over the place in that span, making trips to Columbia, Mo., and Jackson before coming back to Starkville for today's matchup. The cluster of games is a result of ESPN moving MSU's series opener with the Aggies to Thursday. So far the Bulldogs are 4-0 during their recent conference stretch after sweeping Missouri over the weekend and beating Ole Miss at Trustmark Park on Tuesday.
 
Aggies, Bulldogs to open SEC baseball series tonight
Texas A&M and 22nd-ranked Mississippi State, each coming off big Tuesday-night victories, will open a three-game Southeastern Conference series at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Starkville, Miss., in a game that will be televised by ESPNU. Unranked A&M (25-17, 8-10) is fighting to make the 12-team SEC tournament. A&M hung on for a 6-5 victory at 11th-ranked Rice on Tuesday. "I'm just really proud of our guys going out on the road and getting a big win," A&M head coach Rob Childress said. "It will help us down the road and most importantly this weekend."
 
Nice catch: West Coast freshman making strides in Starkville
Brendan and Shannon Collins had only seen their son, Mississippi State freshman catcher Gavin Collins, play in the Hi Corbett Classic in Tucson, Ariz. But the couple traveled all the way from Lake Forest, Calif., to visit Starkville and Dudy Noble Field for the first time for the recent Super Bulldog Weekend. The Collins' witnessed their son become a hero in front of a record crowd of 15,586 in the Saturday contest as Gavin collected the walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Bulldogs a 6-5 win over Ole Miss. "I just want to thank this crowd," Collins said afterwards. "15,000-plus, that's awesome man. With everyone being here, that's what gave us that extra boost to come back and get that win. That was a big win for us."
 
JOHN L. PITTS (OPINION): College baseball on top in our state
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's John L. Pitts writes: "The first rule of successful entertainment is to always leave the crowd wanting more. It worked for Elvis and for Shakespeare. Why should it be any different for college baseball? When it comes to the rivalry between Ole Miss and Mississippi State, fans can't wait for the next episode. ...With four SEC weekends remaining, the teams have identical 10-8 league records. Both are well-ranked in all the various college polls that are floating about. But the really dazzling numbers are the attendance counts for the four games -- almost 48,000. MSU set a Friday night record (13,224), an NCAA on-campus record (15,586) for the Saturday game and a record (39,181) for an on-campus series. Naturally, Tuesday night's game set another record, packing 8,496 into Trustmark Park."
 
Stuedeman's Mississippi State squad riding high after ranked victories
In the preseason, Mississippi State senior softball players Alison Owen and Logan Foulks talked about their team's chances to make a Super Regional for the first time in program history. There was a stunning level of confidence for a program that had earned one postseason victory in the past five seasons. MSU always has had to make do with less in softball. However, the Bulldogs always have held their own in the middle of the pack in the rugged Southeastern Conference. Playing in this league can mask a lot of deficiencies. Average play can lead to an NCAA regional invitation. After all, the Bulldogs have made 10 of those. However, to reach that next level, a special group of athletes was going to be needed. Coach Vann Stuedeman was hired three seasons ago to bring in those top-notch athletes.
 
Stansbury not interested in USM job
Rick Stansbury has heard and seen the reports he is a candidate for the job of men's basketball coach at Southern Mississippi. The former MSU men's basketball coach told The Dispatch on Wednesday he won't pursue the opening in Hattiesburg. The Dispatch reported earlier Wednesday that multiple sources close to the situation said Stansbury wasn't involved in the search at Southern Mississippi. "I have no interest in Southern Miss," Stansbury said Wednesday. "It is not the right fit for me no matter what other reports have said."
 
Will Southern Miss always be stepping-stone school?
On more than one occasion in the past several years, Southern Miss has found itself smack in the middle of a classic Catch 22. The Hattiesburg school has never had trouble attracting successful football and men's basketball head coaches. However -- highlighted most recently by Donnie Tyndall's departure for Tennessee after two seasons at the helm of the Golden Eagle basketball program -- retaining these successful coaches has proven difficult in recent years. When describing the type of coach he's looking for to replace Tyndall at Southern Miss, first-year athletic director Bill McGillis indicated he strongly prefers to hire someone that will stick around for more than two years.
 
Emmert supports more efficient, effective NCAA
Mark Emmert wants the NCAA to fast-track upgrades for college athletes --- regardless of whether a player union is pushing for them. The NCAA president told The Associated Press that a new governance system could solve many problems by providing more opportunities for college athletes and their families. "It's the intention of the membership and my hope with the governance (proposal) in place, that the 65 universities in the big five conferences and the other schools can came to a quicker resolution about ways to help student-athletes," Emmert said Wednesday.



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