Friday, May 17, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Don’t miss a pitch at MSU games; order concessions from your smart phone
Two recent Mississippi State graduates have found a way to “keep fans in the game” so they don’t miss crucial moments of play while waiting in concession lines. This baseball season at the university’s Dudy Noble Field/Polk-Dement Stadium has been the inaugural season for SportSnax, a company that claims “waiting in line is old school.” Founded by Daniel J. Payne and Eric A. Hill, SportSnax now enables fans to place orders from smart-phones and have concession food and drinks delivered directly to their seats. Working with Aramark, which provides order filling and delivery, SportSnax launched in March, with service available to all fans in the stadium’s chairback seating sections.
 
Seniors scramble to pass exam; state offering emergency testing
When Forrest County School District officials found out Wednesday that the state education department was offering one last chance for seniors to take exams required for graduation, they rushed to get their three eligible students into a district car and headed to Mississippi State University where the tests were being given. Graduation is today and there wasn’t any time for the seniors to study before getting to Starkville to take the exams. Interim State Superintendent of Education Lynn House announced that seniors who had completed all graduation requirements except for passing one subject area test would be eligible for emergency testing at the Research and Curriculum Unit at Mississippi State. By Thursday, more than 100 seniors statewide had registered to take the tests.
 
Region’s farmers use break in weather to plant
Northeast Mississippi farmers finally had a chance to get into the ground this week. Growers across the region have been eagerly planting cotton and soybeans during a short break from rainy weather. Farmers in southern and western parts of the state managed to get corn planted before crop insurance deadlines hit. Northeast Mississippi farmers, however, say the lack of dry weather inhibited their ability to get much corn in the ground. Crop insurance typically does not cover crops planted a certain number of days after the deadline. The crop insurance deadline for planting corn was April 25. Mississippi State University agronomist Charlie Stokes said very few acres of corn were planted in the region.
 
Marketing plans capture value for calves
Cattle producers often discuss the common phrase, “you can’t improve what you don’t measure.” Perhaps another phrase that is just as important is you can’t capitalize on what you don’t market, said Brandi Karisch, Mississippi State University Extension beef cattle specialist. A sound marketing strategy allows a producer to capture added value in a group of calves.
 
Keith Morton: He's always looking for ways to do things better
If you want testimony about the ups and downs of farming, talk with Keith Morton. He’s got firsthand experience with both. And he says, knowledge he gained from Mississippi State University Extension management programs and specialists, from production conferences, and from farmers willing to share their experience and advice, led to the adoption of practices that boosted yields, reduced costs, and increased revenues.
 
Brown nominated for U.S. district judgeship in Mississippi
President Barack Obama on Thursday nominated Jackson attorney Debra M. Brown to be a U.S. District judge for northern Mississippi. If confirmed, Brown would be the first African-American woman to serve as a federal district judge in the state, said a spokesman for Mississippi’s senior U.S. senator, Republican Thad Cochran. Brown is a shareholder in a Jackson law firm, Wise Carter Child & Caraway. Brown graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Mississippi State University in 1987.
 
Never give up on dreams, Miss Mississippi tells students at Infinity in Hancock County
Children from Biloxi Cub Scout Troop 213 and Little Oak Middle School's Science Club in Slidell met Miss Mississippi at Infinity Science Center on Thursday and heard her story about how hard work helped her obtain an education in science. Miss Mississippi 2013, Paromita Mitra, is pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering with a minor in mathematics.
 
Supreme Court Upholds Former MSU Student’s Death Sentence
The state’s highest court upholds a former MSU student’s death sentence. An Oktibbeha County Circuit Court jury convicted Bobby Batiste of capital murder and ordered the death penalty following a five-day trial in October 2009. Batiste, who is now 33, was convicted of robbing and killing his roommate, Andy Galanis, in their off-campus apartment in May 2008. The court decision was split 6-3.
 
Universities seek $30 million more in 2015 budget
The College Board will seek roughly $30 million more in state money in the 2015 budget year. The board members voted Thursday to ask the Legislature for the money for Mississippi’s eight public universities. Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds said $20 million would aid operations of the schools, using the new funding formula the board approved earlier this year. Projections show $20 million would provide enough money so every university would get at least a small increase. The board is trying to equalize funding among universities based on how many courses students complete and other factors.
 
Trainer named final school merger commission member
The entire seven-member Commission on Starkville Consolidated School District Structure was set Wednesday after officials announced Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer as its final member. Starkville school board members elected Superintendent Lewis Holloway, board member Lee Brand and Stennis Center for Public Service Leadership Director Rex Buffington as its three-person delegation to the soon-to-be formed committee Tuesday. Officials also announced David Shaw, Mississippi State University's vice president for research and economic development, will serve as its representative. Oktibbeha County School District Conservator Margie Pulley and Mississippi Department of Education Interim Deputy State Superintendent Larry Drawdy round out the group.
 
Willie Manning's second death penalty case awaiting judge's decision
Willie Jerome Manning, who won a stay of execution in one capital case, waits to hear if an Oktibbeha County judge agrees he was denied a fair trial in 1996 when he was sentenced to death for the slayings of two women. The judge has promised a decision by the end of June. The Mississippi Supreme Court will have the final say on whether the death sentence will stand. On May 7, Manning was within hours of being executed for the fatal shootings of two Mississippi State University students when the state Supreme Court ordered a reprieve. The Supreme Court has not said why it issued the stay. Manning had argued DNA testing would prove him innocent. The execution overshadowed the pending case in Oktibbeha County.
 
Process under way to fill state superintendent post
The Mississippi Board of Education hopes to name a state superintendent by late September or early October, though members concede it could be early 2014 before the new hire can be in place. The board met Thursday via teleconference during its regular monthly meeting with the search firm it has hired to develop a timeline for selecting a leader for the state’s public school system. Iowa-based Ray and Associates will lead a nationwide search. The maximum salary the board is allowed to pay to the state superintendent, based on state law, is $305,000 annually. Ray and Associates is being paid $30,000, plus expenses, estimated to be about $8,650, to conduct the search.
 
Christmas trees are back, in new farm bill
A Christmas tree-promotion program that pumped up conservative mockery and panicked the Obama administration is back for a second go-around, under a new farm bill. Tree farmers in California, North Carolina and other states secured the industry-funded promotion program through one of many amendments to the farm bill that the House Agriculture Committee approved late Wednesday night. Many of these farmers had been stunned when the administration quickly withdrew a similar effort in late 2011 after Fox News and conservative commentators lampooned it as a “Christmas tree tax.” The promotion program would raise about $2 million annually for advertising, similar to the much larger industry-funded programs for beef and milk, among others.
 
Wicker, other Republicans end boycott of EPA nominee, allow vote
A Senate committee voted Thursday to approve Gina McCarthy’s nomination to head the Environmental Protection Agency after Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker and other Republicans ended their boycott of the vote. Wicker and the other GOP committee members still voted against McCarthy’s nomination. The committee’s Democrats all voted for the nomination, which was approved 10-8. The nomination now goes to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. Wicker said Republicans want more information about how decisions are made at the EPA. “Frankly, this shouldn’t be a partisan issue as far as getting the information,’’ he said.
 
Blackburn Middle School to become Jackson State 'living laboratory'
Jackson students at Blackburn Middle School will soon become guinea pigs for successful learning though a partnership with Jackson State University. The middle school will serve as a learning lab, starting this fall, for aspiring teachers at Jackson State University. JSU President Carolyn Myers and Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Cedric Gray announced on Thursday afternoon a partnership between the university and school district.
 
Saltillo man to lead search for new Mississippi Valley State president
A man from Saltillo has been appointed to lead the search committee to find a new president for Mississippi Valley State University. State College Board member Shane Hooper will head up the five-member group, which includes fellow board member Dr. Ford Dye of Oxford. Committee members were appointed Thursday by College Board President Bob Owens. In October, the board decided against renewing the contract of Donna Oliver to remain as university president.
 
College Board Promotes Minority Business in State
Public universities are looking for ways to increase diversity among students, faculty and staff. Higher Education Commissioner Dr. Hank Bounds, says universities are also seeking ways to include more minority businesses in the bidding process on goods and services. The new initiative is called the Mississippi Public University Minority Economic Opportunity. IHL officials say their goal is to raise minority contract participation around the state to at least 12 percent.
 
Northeast Mississippi Community College graduates 450 students
Northeast Mississippi Community College held the first part of its 65th annual commencement exercises on Thursday. Northeast will finish commencement exercises as about 250 graduates walk across the stage today at the Bonner Arnold Coliseum in Booneville. Northeast President Johnny L. Allen believes the emphasis on graduation rates at the state’s 15 community/junior colleges will continue to become more and more important as the Legislature works toward directly tying that rate to funding for the two-year schools.
 
Aviation students at Auburn University have three years to finish
Any Auburn University student who wishes to finish with a professional flight degree from the university has three years to do so. On Thursday, the College of Business emailed all pre-business students currently enrolled in a professional flight (AVMF) course through the college with instructions for finishing the AVMF degree program. Alumni from the “Fly Auburn” group, including recent graduates Clayton Adamy and Bennett Nast, sent a press release Wednesday, which quoted the email. “On Friday, May 10th, the College of Business announced its plans to outsource flight education to a professional flight school and to discontinue the AVMF major,” Dr. Norman Godwin, associate dean for academic affairs in the college, stated in the email. “In anticipation of moving forward with these plans, the College is no longer accepting new students into the AVMF major.”
 
College graduations around Baton Rouge
More than 4,400 students in Baton Rouge are donning caps and gowns for the walk across the graduation stage, a symbolic act representing their transition from one phase of their lives to another. On Thursday, LSU honored 3,735 graduates hailing from 59 Louisiana parishes and representing 45 states. At LSU on Thursday, graduates ranging in age from 20 to 78 years old packed into the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on the south Baton Rouge campus and heard from ABC News political correspondent Cokie Roberts, who served as this year’s commencement speaker. On Friday, individual colleges will hold diploma ceremonies at various times and places around the LSU Baton Rouge campus.
 
U. of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro, Stacey Campfield spar over 'Sex Week'
University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro defended the Knoxville campus’s spring “Sex Week” program under critical questioning Thursday from state Sen. Stacey Campfield in a legislative hearing. “In my professional opinion, it is very, very important on a university campus to have some sex education going on,” DiPietro told the Knoxville Republican at one point, adding that if a single unwanted pregnancy or sexual assault was prevented as a result, that would justify the program. “I have to go back to the First Amendment,” he said. “I have a professional obligation to preserve the First Amendment. I’m sorry.”
 
US Former Ambassador to South Africa speaks at UGA
James A. Joseph is the only U.S. ambassador to South Africa to have served while Nelson Mandela was president. Joseph was emissary to South Africa at a time of mass transformation, and he witnessed Mandela’s leadership unfold. As a result of his service, Joseph was presented with the Order of Good Hope by former South African President Thabo Mbeki in 1999, the highest honor a non-citizen can receive. After working with Mandela, and seeing the way he led South Africa, Joseph realized there was a dearth of competent leaders, but he vowed to change that. Joseph, who spoke Thursday at the University of Georgia Chapel, pioneered an emerging leaders program that partnered the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa, with Duke University, where Joseph works as a professor.
 
U. of Florida management of St. Augustine now producing historical dividends
Visitors to the country's oldest continuously occupied city founded by European settlers can now see the impact of the University of Florida's stewardship of two dozen state-owned properties in St. Augustine. Three years after taking over the management of 38 buildings on 23 parcels in the historic downtown quarter, UF can point to the opening of the Colonial Quarter, a historically accurate tourist attraction with live re-enactors in colonial garb that has been operating for two months.
 
U. of Kentucky moves forward with 3 more dorms holding 1,610 beds
The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees approved the next phase of new dorm construction on campus Tuesday, allowing UK to move forward with three new dorms at the old Cooperstown complex near W.T. Young Library. The residence halls are the latest fruit of UK's partnership with a private developer, Education Realty Trust. In this phase of the partnership, Education Realty Trust (EdR) will put up $101.2 million in equity for the construction of 1,610 student beds, several classrooms and study spaces.
 
TEEX complex honors former Texas A&M police chief Robert Wiatt
From FBI badges, a wedding picture and a signed and dedicated photograph of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the late Robert Wiatt, a former Texas A&M University police chief and FBI agent, is featured inside and out at the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service's new training complex. Close to 100 law enforcement officials from around the Brazos Valley, along with Chancellor John Sharp and Regent Jim Schwertner, gathered to honor Wiatt at the dedication for TEEX's Robert E. "Bob" Wiatt Physical Skills Training Complex on Thursday.
 
U. of Arkansas Building Successful Startups, This Year Led By Picasolar
Startups launched from the Walton Business College at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville are earning both accolades at national business-plan competitions and money as viable, high-growth businesses. Picasolar is the latest graduate-level UA startup to fare well on the national business-plan circuit. Since 2008, the UA entrepreneurship program has launched 10 startup ventures that grew to become high-growth businesses. Those firms employ roughly 100 Arkansans and pay above-average salaries, and they've raised more than $16 million in private investments, grants and incentives.
 
Students get advice on looming loan debt
With more than 5,000 University of Missouri students set to graduate this weekend, some MU staff members have been working to lend them the skills to manage their student debt via a new counseling program. Exit loan counseling is mandated by the federal government, but this year the Office of Student Financial Aid and the Office for Financial Success began offering one-on-one counseling sessions and saw a big response from students. Students were notified about the program earlier in the semester and allowed to set up appointments. Nick Prewett, director of financial aid at MU, said more than 500 students responded.
 
U. of Missouri students pitch soccer promotion ideas to Fox execs
Days before graduation, University of Missouri journalism students got a taste of professional life after college as they had an opportunity to pitch their creative concepts to Fox Sports executives. Four teams of five to six students each stood in front of three Fox Sports executives, and presented marketing campaign concepts for Fox Soccer's coverage of the FIFA World Cup. The presentation was schoolwork — part of the students' final for a senior capstone class -- but it also gave them a chance to have their campaign concept actually be used by Fox and potentially seen by millions of people.
 
Smith brothers, both U. of Missouri professors, bond through academics
As an 11-year-old living on an Army base in Sagamihara, Japan, George Smith spent his spare time collecting snakes and butterflies. His brother, A. Mark Smith, a year and nine months younger than George, spent more time in the Ginza district of Yokohama, playing a pinball-like game called patchinko. Mark also favored medieval history; while other kids memorized baseball statistics, he memorized the names of English kings and queens from 1066 to 1603. Nearly 50 years later, the brothers are well-known professionally in areas they were interested in as children. Both are curators' professors, an appointed position in the University of Missouri System.
 
U. of Missouri looking for new vendor to run alert system
The University of Missouri plans to begin using a new alert system when its contract with the current provider expires Aug. 27. The committee in charge of selecting the new system has been sending proposals to several vendors as part of a standard process. Terry Robb, MU's director of information technology, said in an email that the committee is looking for a system that is hosted on the vendor's servers and doesn't require downtime for maintenance. MU also wants a system that can deliver alerts to a variety of devices in times of emergency.
 
U. of Missouri System names interim finance VP
An interim vice president of finance has been named for the University of Missouri System. Thomas Richards, who now serves as treasurer of the UM System, has been named interim vice president of finance and administration. Richards was appointed treasurer in 2011. Richards will be taking the place of Nikki Krawitz, who will retire this summer. Krawitz has worked at the university since 1996, and as vice president of finance and administration, she is responsible for a budget totaling $2.7 billion and investments totaling $5.5 billion.
 
Data show increasing pace of college enrollment declines
The decline in college enrollments appears to be accelerating, with 2.3 percent fewer students enrolled on campuses this spring than there were in spring 2012, according to data published Thursday by the National Student Clearinghouse. College enrollments typically fall or flatten when the economy improves, so the clearinghouse's report of declines isn't terribly surprising (despite the relatively slow improvement in the job market, as defined by unemployment figures). But the size of the decrease is likely to be of concern to college officials trying to fill their classes to deal with increased costs or flattening state support.
 
House Panel Approves Market Approach to Student-Loan Interest Rates
With interest rates on some federal student loans set to double in just over six weeks, and members of Congress and President Obama scrambling to avert the increase, a key Congressional panel on Thursday approved legislation that it said would solve the problem for the long term. The White House and most Republicans are pushing a permanent fix, with interest rates tied to federal borrowing costs. Democrats are divided on the issue, with some suggesting a more generous market-based rate and others favoring an extension of current rates. On Thursday the House education committee passed a bill, HR 1911, that would switch to a market-based formula for setting rates, similar to the president's budget proposal for 2014.
 
Obama taps Giffords for Fulbright Scholarship Board
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will be joining the State Department board charged with awarding Fulbright Scholarships to study abroad, the White House has announced. Obama appointed Giffords, who studied as a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico from 1993 to 1994, to join the bipartisan 12-member board. Other board members include professors, university presidents and a former ambassador, as well as former Bush and Reagan administration official Anita McBride and former Hillary Clinton aide Lisa Caputo. The prestigious program, named after longtime Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, awards more than 8,000 grants each year.
 
Common Science Standards Face Capacity Issues
With the completion of new standards intended to reshape science education, the real heavy lifting now begins. First, states must decide whether to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards developed by a coalition of 26 states and several national organizations. Already, though, considerable focus is turning to laying the groundwork for the biggest task of all: bringing the standards to life at the classroom level. The capacity challenges for states and school districts are immense as they contemplate taking on the new standards, which call for bringing greater depth to science understanding and asking students to apply that knowledge through the practices of scientific inquiry and engineering design.
 
Salary hikes step in right direction
A Hattiesburg American editorial asserts: "About 200 full-time University of Southern Mississippi employees will see a bump in their paychecks come July. That’s when the university’s new minimum wage takes effect. On Tuesday, Southern Miss President Rodney Bennett announced the new minimum salary for full-time employees would be $10.10 per hour, or $21,000 per year. The largest concentrations of the 194 affected full-time employees are custodians in the physical plant and residential housing."
 
The real mover and shaker in Jackson
Longtime political observer and columnist Bill Minor writes: "Did you know Gov. Phil Bryant has moved the Governor's Mansion from where it has stood for 170 years on Capitol Street to 520 George Street in downtown Jackson? No? Well, I do, because I received an official-looking piece of mail with Bryant's return address as 520 George St., not the Mansion. Evidently the stately old mansion is no longer the governor's official residence. I wonder what the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Daughters of the American Revolution will have to say about that. Of course, Bryant is still living in the mansion. But for all intents and purposes, by using the George Street address for what appears to be official mail, he has forfeited his legal address to that address."
 
Regional federal assets note big anniversaries
A Daily Journal editorial asserts: "Significant anniversaries on Saturday of two federal agencies – 80 years for TVA and 75 years for the Natchez Trace Parkway – affirm the importance in Northeast Mississippi of investment in projects well conceived, carried to completion and moved forward. ...Systems like the Natchez Trace and TVA are often described as and in fact are national assets. Their primary impact is more regional, but the nation would not be as rich and strong without them."


SPORTS
 
Bulldogs rally in eighth
South Carolina didn’t want to get beat by Hunter Renfroe, but the rest of Mississippi State’s offense was more than happy to pick up the slack. With their slugger continuing to struggle, the No. 24-ranked Bulldogs rallied from three runs down to defeat the No. 14 Gamecocks, 5-4, in the series opener at Dudy Noble Field on Thursday night. Game 2 is today at 6:30 p.m.
 
Mississippi State rides another rally to win
In its last 10 Southeastern Conference games, Mississippi State held the lead following the sixth inning just once. Thursday was the latest addition to that total, but it also marked the fourth time during that stretch the Bulldogs manufactured enough runs in the final three innings to come away with a win. MSU scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat South Carolina 5-4 and complete its fourth comeback victory in six games. “We never stop,” MSU junior Brett Pirtle said. “We stay calm throughout the whole game. If we’re down, we know we have a chance to actually come back. That’s credit to just the guys having confidence.”
 
MSU softball faces tough draw in opener
Mississippi State University's softball team has a rare assignment in the opening round of the University of South Alabama-hosted Mobile Regional. MSU (32-22), the No. 3 seed in the regional, will take on Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season conference champion Florida State (41-16), the No. 2 seed, at 3:30 p.m. Friday in the opening game of the four-team, double-elimination event. "We have on the toughest tasks of any regional," MSU coach Vann Stuedeman said. "You typically don't see a team of Florida State's stature fall to a two seed. They are very good in every facet of the game."
 
Becker wants to make most of MSU's trip to regional
Last season, Stephanie Becker made her first trip to a NCAA Regional as a cheerleader in a player's uniform. After suffering a labrum injury in the first inning of a first-round loss in the 2012 Southeastern Conference tournament, Becker was forced to watch her teammates lose the two games in the Eugene (Ore.) Regional. Following a season in which the 6-foot left hander led the team in ERA, strikeouts, and victories, Becker didn't enjoy being a spectator in the most critical part of season. "I get to help out my team this season," Becker said. "I promise you the entire pitching staff is ready to do the best we can and whatever (MSU coach) Vann (Stuedeman) wants us to do on every pitch." One year after the injury, Becker will get her postseason opportunity when MSU (32-22) takes on Florida State University at 3:30 p.m. Friday in the Mobile Regional hosted by the University of South Alabama.
 
MSU’s Ramey shoots 75 to open NCAA play
Mississippi State junior Chad Ramey fired a 3-over-par 75 Thursday to open play NCAA regional play. The Fulton native ended the first round in 20th place, while the Bulldogs were at 22-over 310 and in 12th place. “A tough day for us," coach Clay Homan said. MSU’s Axel Boasson shot a 76, Joe Sakulpolphaisan 79 and Okolona junior Barrett Edens an 80.
 
Jaguars awarded DT Love off waivers from Patriots
The Jacksonville Jaguars have added another defensive lineman from New England, landing fourth-year tackle Kyle Love off waivers from the Patriots. The Patriots released Love on Wednesday after he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Love had lost about 20 pounds before receiving the diagnosis about two weeks ago. He has since gained about half of it back. Love joined the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Mississippi State in 2010.



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