Monday, May 27, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Starkville to host baseball regional
For the first time in 10 years and the first time under coach John Cohen, Mississippi State will host an NCAA regional. MSU was announced as one of the 16 host sites Sunday night. The No. 16-ranked Bulldogs will learn of the three teams coming to Starkville when the full 64-team field is announced today at 11 a.m. on ESPNU. The Starkville Regional begins Friday with games at 2 and 7 p.m., with MSU playing in the later game versus the No. 4 seed. Those will also be the game times Saturday and Sunday, and if necessary, another game would be played at 7 p.m. Monday.
 
Mississippi State to host NCAA Regional
Turns out, Mississippi State isn’t finished playing at Dudy Noble Field this season. For the first time since 2003, the Bulldogs, who fell to Vanderbilt in Saturday’s SEC Tournament semifinals, were selected as one of 16 Regional hosts for the opening round the NCAA baseball championships, which begin this week. Like countless other Mississippi State baseball fans, MSU coach John Cohen’s computer took center stage at around 8 p.m. Sunday night when the hosts were announced.
 
MSU EcoCAR Garners Awards
Mississippi State’s EcoCAR 2 team is bringing home several awards from year two of a highly competitive three-year advanced automotive engineering challenge. The year one champion team suffered a set-back this week when an internal mechanical breakdown led the team to drop the entire drive train out of their vehicle to repair the damage. By reassembling the vehicle within a 10-hour timeframe, students demonstrated a Bulldog can-do spirit, said David Shaw, MSU vice president for research and economic development. Shaw and MSU Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Gilbert flew to San Diego earlier in the week to visit the team during competition. “The design of the MSU EcoCAR 2 was one of the most creative and innovative in the competition,” Gilbert said.
 
Higher Education Briefs: MSU, churches work to help meet food needs of students
A new program at Mississippi State is connecting university students in need to available food resources in the Starkville area. The university’s Food Security Network is an alliance of several food pantries and community churches created to assist any local resident in need, according to graduate student Stedmond Ware of Greenwood, an AmeriCorps VISTA member and volunteer coordinator for MSU’s Maroon Volunteer Center. Sponsored by the MVC and Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement, the program works to increase general awareness of the network among potential clients and increase the number of volunteers who can work at the pantries.
 
Home and Garden: Lee County volunteers win two at conference
Lee County Master Gardeners were awarded the Outstanding Association Award for Mississippi for 2012 during last week’s Mississippi Master Gardener Conference in Brookhaven. “The nine-page application we submitted is what won us the award. We documented everything, all of the 15 volunteer service projects we have, including our Learning Series and other presentations for the public,” said Susan McGukin, program associate for volunteer management at Mississippi State University’s Extension Service for Lee County.
 
Gaskin challenges Ward 4 race, seeking new election
Ward 4 candidate John Gaskin's attorney, Matthew Wilson, confirmed he has formally challenged the May 7 Democratic primary and is seeking a new election during the June 4 general election. Wilson filed the challenge with the Starkville Democratic Municipal Election Committee Friday about 4 p.m. Democratic election committee member Chris Taylor confirmed he was served with those papers. Gaskin and his opponent, Jason Walker, finished the May 7 primary tied at 186, but the SDMEC counted 12 of 16 affidavit ballots the next day. Walker picked up eight of those votes, defeating Gaskin 194-190. When contacted by the Dispatch Friday, Walker said he was aware of a challenge, at least unofficially. "Now it's in the hands of the Democratic committee," he said.
 
Special election needed to replace retiring prosecutor
A special election will be needed this year to replace longtime city and county prosecutor Roy Carpenter Jr. Carpenter submitted a letter to both county and city governments in early May announcing his intention to retire June 30 after serving the area for nearly three decades. Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer said he expects a special election to be called in November to replace Carpenter. The board passed a resolution Monday to alert the county election commission to the need, but no date was decided. As for Carpenter's city duties, the Starkville Board of Aldermen approved advertising for the part-time position. New hires require approval by the board.
 
Nissan marks 10th anniversary of Canton plant
On May 27, 2003, a gold Nissan Quest minivan burst through a paper barrier to the cheers of assembled workers and dignitaries in the company’s new Canton plant. It was Mississippi’s entry into automaking. A decade later, some workers are looking back at their changed lives and Nissan is celebrating with a free Saturday festival at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson that includes a circus, a concert by Kool & the Gang and a fireworks show. By the day that first minivan rolled off the line, Bob Mullins had been working for Nissan Motor Co. for more than two years. Mullins was vice president of economic development at Hinds Community College when he got a call asking if he could come to Tennessee the next day to interview for a job as the Japanese automaker’s first Mississippi-hired employee. “The first thing we did was take a tour of the plant in Smyrna, Tennessee,” remembers Mullins, whose employee number is not 1, but 30,001. “It was nothing like I’d ever seen, and I had been to a lot of plants in Mississippi.”
 
Funds dry up as veterans' monuments decay
On the shoreline of Hawaii’s most famous beach, a decaying structure attracts little attention from wandering tourists. A few glance curiously at the crumbling Waikiki Natatorium, a salt water pool built in 1927 as a memorial to the 10,000 soldiers from Hawaii who served in World War I. But the monument’s walls are caked with salt and rust, and passers-by are quickly diverted by the lure of sand and waves. The faded structure has been closed to the public for decades, the object of seemingly endless debate over whether it should be demolished or restored. The latest plan is to replace it with a beach, more practical for the state’s lucrative tourism industry -- and millions of dollars cheaper, according to state and local officials. The corroding monument has challenged the community to maneuver a delicate question: How do we honor those who have served when memorials deteriorate and finances are tight?
 
Few state workers to get raises
For the seventh budget year in a row, there will be no across-the-board pay raises for rank-and-file state employees. Only a small number of state employees will get pay raises during the upcoming budget year that begins July 1, according to House Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson. There are more than 30,000 current state employees. In many appropriations bills this year, the Legislature added language to prevent agencies from giving pay raises not specifically authorized by the Legislature, he said.
 
Board of Education could OK grant process for armed police in schools in June
The state Board of Education could approve a process next month for awarding state grants to help fund armed police in schools. A bill approved this year in the Legislature will fund matching grants up to $10,000 per school per year for trained law enforcement officers. The Legislature appropriated $7.5 million for the Mississippi Community Oriented Policing Services grant, which Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who proposed the idea, said would help many districts that don’t currently have armed police. The bill takes effect July 1. Department of Education spokeswoman Patrice Guilfoyle said the department has to get board approval on the grant process before moving forward with applications. She said the department hopes to bring it before the board at its June 20 meeting.
 
Analysis: Census report outlines school spending
At least once a year, Mississippi lawmakers have the same basic argument about education funding. One side says: You can't fix public schools by throwing money at them. The other side retorts: How would anyone know? The state has never tried it. A new report from the Census Bureau provides fodder for the debate. To find Mississippi, look all the way to the bottom of the list: "States spending the least per student were Mississippi ($7,928), Arizona ($7,666), Oklahoma ($7,587), Idaho ($6,824) and Utah ($6,212)."
 
Republican state senator to back Medicaid expansion
State Sen. Billy Hudson of Hattiesburg says he supports Medicaid expansion, making him the only state Republican to publicly buck Gov. Phil Bryant and the GOP legislative leadership on the issue. But another Republican lawmaker from Hattiesburg says the issue “is not going away” and Medicaid expansion will have to be dealt with. “I’m not leaning towards it -- I’m going to vote for (expansion) if I have an opportunity to,” Hudson said Friday, after making similar comments to the Forrest County Board of Supervisors and the Hattiesburg American newspaper on Thursday. Hudson said the Hattiesburg area has a vital medical industry that employs about 6,000 people, including Forrest General, one of the largest county-owned hospitals in the country.
 
Medicaid officials still hope for best
A spokeswoman said state Medicaid officials remain hopeful the health care agency will be reauthorized and funded for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. But spokeswoman Erin Barham admitted, “We are currently reviewing guidelines regarding the procedure for notifying interesting parties of possible impacts if the Legislature does not fund and re-authorize the agency.” Legislation to continue the agency for the upcoming fiscal year died during the 2013 session, which ended in early April, as a result of a fight between House Democrats and Republicans on whether to expand Medicaid to cover those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level or about $15,000 annually.
 
Chaney fears some won't get health insurance under new law
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney says he fears some people won't be able to get health insurance when enrollment under the federal law opens in October. The Affordable Care Act was designed to provide affordable health insurance coverage to Americans regardless of income. Open enrollment programs under the act starts in October. The act takes effect Jan. 1, 2014. Chaney told the Vicksburg Post that confusion over plans, coverages and rates during the enrollment period could discourage some from getting insurance.
 
States’ Policies on Health Care Exclude Poorest
The refusal by about half the states to expand Medicaid will leave millions of poor people ineligible for government-subsidized health insurance under President Obama’s health care law even as many others with higher incomes receive federal subsidies to buy insurance. Starting next month, the administration and its allies will conduct a nationwide campaign encouraging Americans to take advantage of new high-quality affordable insurance options. But those options will be unavailable to some of the neediest people in states like Texas, Florida, Kansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia, which are refusing to expand Medicaid. Roy S. Mitchell, the executive director of the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program, a nonprofit group that supports the expansion of Medicaid, said “there’s going to be a huge void” as many uninsured poor people find that they are not eligible for Medicaid or insurance subsidies. “There will be an outcry,” Mr. Mitchell said. “It may bolster our advocacy efforts.”
 
Political intelligence firms set up investor meetings at White House
Wall Street investors hungry for advance information on upcoming federal health-care decisions repeatedly held private discussions with Obama administration officials, including a top White House adviser helping to implement the Affordable Care Act. The private conversations show that the increasingly urgent race to acquire “political intelligence” goes beyond the communications with congressional staffers that have become the focus of heightened scrutiny in recent weeks. Hedge fund executives and other investors are increasingly interested in the timing and nature of health-policy decisions in Washington because they directly affect the profits and stock prices of pharmaceutical, insurance, hospital and managed-care companies. Similar interest surrounds other industry sectors, such as defense, agriculture and energy, whose fortunes are especially dependent on government decisions.
 
George P. Bush, nephew of George W. and grandson of George H.W., enters politics modestly with run for Texas land commissioner, but expectations high
On a recent afternoon, as McLennan County Republicans polished off their barbecue, the head of the local GOP worked his way through the group's luncheon agenda. A plaque was presented. A local judge spotlighted. The fertilizer plant explosion in nearby West, Texas, was discussed. Only then, after 30 minutes or so, did the featured speaker take his brief turn at the microphone. If it seemed a comedown after a lifetime spent near the pinnacle of politics, bunking at the White House and growing up a prince amid Republican royalty, George P. Bush never let on. He is the fourth generation to enter the family business.
 
Low gas prices roil energy economics in Gulf
The low natural gas prices that have juiced much of Louisiana’s economy are also reshaping the oil-and-gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico, pushing the focus away from the coast and toward deep water far offshore. Indicators tell a tale of two economies -- deep water, which has massive oil deposits that companies are spending billions of dollars to extract, and the shallow water fields that after decades are producing less oil and natural gas, experts say. It’s also a tale of two commodities, oil and gas, with oil fetching a price that reaps producers profits and gas dipping below the point at which drillers make money.
 
Convictions in drug ring leave ruined lives in path
Decades in prison await former college student Patrick Coates of Pearl, sentenced in Rankin County Circuit Court on drug trafficking charges that have branded him as one of the metro area’s biggest drug dealers. Like those whose lives were ruined by drugs, Coates’ family doesn’t get off easy, either. Their pain goes on and on, long past the arrests, the prosecutions and the criminal trials. Coates was an initial focus of “Operation Brilliant Orange,” a local-state-federal undercover operation that began in 2010 and delved into the sale of controlled substances on college campuses. Coates “was the biggest ecstasy supplier to the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi’s campuses, and he also supplied ecstasy and LSD throughout the metro area,” said Michael Guest, who prosecuted Coates’ case as district attorney for Madison and Rankin counties.
 
Andy Mullins, a fixture in education circles, retiring after 42 years
Andy Mullins had spent three years as point person of this historic 97-minute event — the Sept. 28, 2008, presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain on the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford. As a reward, then-Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat made sure his chief of staff got one of the coveted seats inside the Gertrude C. Ford Center. And while the candidates bantered about foreign policy, national security and economic issues, an exhausted Mullins didn’t get a chance to relish the moment. He fell asleep halfway through it. “I hate admitting it, but I did,” Mullins chuckles. “While I was so proud for Ole Miss and the state of Mississippi, I was totally spent.” Friends and peers will find that completely out of character for the 65-year-old Mullins, who has worked nonstop helping improve public education in Mississippi over the past three decades. He is retiring June 30 as special assistant to Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones. During his 42-year career, Mullins has served as special assistant or chief of staff to two governors, three state superintendents and three Ole Miss chancellors.
 
Ole Miss to research improvised explosive device detection on Pascagoula beach
The University of Mississippi will be on the Pascagoula beach to research the feasibility and performance of devices meant to detect buried improvised explosive devices, city leaders said Friday. This research will be performed at the east end of the beach and will take about two days to complete. It will not cause any harm to the beach. The work has not yet been scheduled, said Jaci Turner, the city's planning, inspections and engineering director.
 
USM hosts alternative fuels workshop for high schoolers
School is out and summer is here, but I have some more school work to tell you about, courtesy of Alvin Holder, assistant professor in chemistry at the University of Southern Mississippi. He was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation and recently held a workshop for students from Hattiesburg High and Oak Grove High schools. The students learned about alternatives to fossil fuels in the 21st century. They did a number of experiments and used things such as spinach and blackberries to find out about such concepts as light, solar cell basics and electrochemistry.
 
MUW celebrates nursing milestone
Mississippi University for Women's nursing program has much to celebrate this month, from its 40th anniversary to learning this week that it is now the largest nursing program in the state. The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning made the designation after reviewing data from both public and private institutions that teach nursing. The W's program, which boasts 635 students, emerged as the forerunner. Over the past 40 years, 25 percent of all graduates were nursing students. It is now the single most popular major on campus, with its students making up one-third of the current student body.
 
IHL launches minority business enterprise
The College Board has started a program trustees hope will ease the procurement process between minority-owned businesses and state universities. The Mississippi Public University Minority Economic Opportunity Initiative is designed to ensure minority-owned businesses have everything they need to be included in the bidding process when universities start one. The procurement officers at each university campus will receive training on how to post opportunities to the site and how to use it to retrieve quotes and information from the vendors. “The ability to use the site to request quotes and track the outcome, including when a vendor does or does not submit a proposal and whether the vendor receives the bid, will save our universities time and effort,” said Dr. Hank M. Bounds, Commissioner of Higher Education. “It will also provide data for future decision-making.”
 
Auburn University receives $1M for cyber security center
The Alabama Legislature recently approved $1 million for Auburn’s cyber security center, investing in Auburn’s cyber capabilities and its economic development potential. As one of the strategic initiatives supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research, cyber continues to be a focus for Auburn University. AU is expanding its research, education, workforce development and economic development in the growing cyber security field. “Cyber concerns range from disabling the electrical grid to hacking into financial institutions to stealing intellectual property,” said retired Lt. Gen. Ron Burgess, former director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. Burgess now serves as senior counsel for Auburn’s cyber, national security and military programs.
 
Auburn University student-designed bike racks installed at museum
Three sculptural bicycle racks were installed at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art during May’s National Bike Month, giving museum visitors a place to park their rides. The museum’s assistant director, Andy Tennant, said the museum needed an innovative place for students and visitors to secure their bicycles. The museum collaborated with industrial and graphic design students and faculty at Auburn University to design a bicycle rack that maintains the artistic integrity of a museum, but also incorporates the necessary functions of a bicycle rack. “Museum-goers will have an experience with art from the moment they arrive when viewing ‘Cyclers,’” Tennant said.
 
‘Theater has been my life, and it’ll continue to be my life’; father of U. of Alabama theater department retires
Ed Williams founded the University of Alabama Department of Theatre and Dance in 1979. Now he’s leaving it. In between those moments, four decades passed. Most of a life happened. Shortly after the Saturday night, April 20, performance of “Show Boat,” which Williams, 69, directed as his last official faculty show on the Marian Gallaway Theatre stage, friends, family, students and others gathered to celebrate Williams at nearby Morgan Auditorium. They attempted, in talks whimsical, sentimental, snarky and direct, to capture a little something of that span, which must have felt a little like trying to capture the history of theater in a classroom hour.
 
U. of Arkansas Seeking $30 Million On-Campus Hotel Project
When University of Arkansas officials opened the Reynolds Center near the Walton College of Business in 2006, they knew the land directly behind it would one day be a prime location for something. Directly across the street was the Harmon Avenue parking garage with more than 2,000 parking spaces. Plus, unused land isn’t exactly plentiful on the UA campus. So they made sure to run utilities to the parcel to the east for the something that would be built there sooner rather than later. Now under consideration for that spot is a full-service hotel featuring 125-150 beds with 13,000 SF of conference space and a price tag in the neighborhood of $30 million.
 
Texas A&M dean cycling across U.S. to benefit Habitat for Humanity
The rapidly clearing faculty lot signaled that it was time to go home. The Texas A&M University dean backed his shiny red vehicle out of its parking spot -- the back, right corner of his office. He had exchanged his suit and tie for a jersey and helmet. A pair of red cycling shoes took the place of his signature lizard boots. "I've got to stay hydrated," said Jose Bermudez as he filled water bottles in preparation for the long stretch of road that awaited. But the 16 miles between his office and home was nothing compared to the thousands between his determination and a potential home for a low-income family in Bryan-College Station. In two weeks, Bermudez, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University, will compete in what is considered by some to be the world's toughest bike race, the Race Across America (RAAM), in support of the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
 
Triplets heading to LSU
Grant, Claire and Caroline Pearson have a bond they say most people just don’t get. “We think the same way,” said Grant, the oldest of the three siblings. “We can just look at each other and know.” They share that bond as triplets, which often becomes the topic of conversation when meeting new people. The most popular question is what it’s like to be a triplet, they said. “People ask that a lot,” Claire said. “They wonder what it’s like.” The trio will head to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge this fall. Grant and Caroline will be pre-med students, and Claire will major in communication disorders. They looked at other schools, not necessarily intending to go to the same college, but all three decided on their parents’ alma mater, LSU.
 
Regents halt work on office for UGA President Michael Adams
Michael Adams won’t be moving into an office in the University of Georgia’s Richard B. Russell Special Collections Libraries Building after all. Adams had planned to move into space on the Russell Building’s third floor after university workers converted a small classroom into an office suite for Adams to use after he steps down as UGA president June 30. Although Adams will no longer be the university’s president after that day, he will remain on the UGA faculty. But now officials with the University System of Georgia have rejected the idea. “We felt it was better not to convert one of only two classrooms in the Russell Building to an office. We did not state that Dr. Adams’ office had to be in the Main Library, but he is moving into an existing office there,” said University System of Georgia spokesman John Millsaps. Adams agreed with the Regents decision, said Tom Jackson, UGA’s vice president for public affairs.
 
Whale of an addition for UGA natural history museum
The Georgia Museum of Natural History was already one of the largest university-based natural history museums in the country, but it got a lot bigger this week. Volunteers and museum workers unloaded three large box trucks full of specimens on Friday, and much more is coming next week and in July, said museum director Bud Freeman. As officials with United Parcel Service, which coordinated the move, looked on, they unloaded literally tons of bones and animal skins.
 
UGA, other universities, show low classroom utilization rate
A two-year study by the University System of Georgia shows classrooms are empty during most of the week. Of the 440 classrooms at the University of Georgia, the average is used just 18.5 hours per 40-hour work week, and when used, just two-thirds of the seats are full, according to the study. That is a 31 percent utilization rate. At most schools, the results show capacity for additional courses and for some bigger classes. But system administrators say there is a limit to how crowded a classroom can be.
 
Take one day at a time, Suze Orman tells U. of Florida vet school grads
Learning to become a veterinarian means students have to do some rather unpleasant manipulations to large animals that they never believed they could do. But now that they have succeeded at that, paying off their vet school loans is not the impossibility they may think -- at least that's what financial guru Suze Orman told Saturday's fresh crop of animal docs in an address at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine commencement.
 
U. of Florida Levin College of Law unveils environmental fellowship
A new scholarship program at the UF Levin College of Law has been created to support law school graduates who want a career championing the environment and helping draft public policy to protect the Everglades. The E. Thomas Rumberger Everglades Foundation Fellowship Programs is named after Tom Rumberger, founder of Rumberger, Kirk and Caldwell law firm and the lead counsel for the Everglades Foundation since 1989. The goal was to create something that honored his love of the law, UF and the environment, said Jon Mills, UF’s law school dean emeritus and director of the Center for Government Responsibility at the law school.
 
Florida Gov. Rick Scott warns universities he will fight tuition hikes
Florida Gov. Rick Scott is strongly warning universities that he will fight against any tuition hikes this year. Scott made the warning in a letter sent out Friday to the heads of the boards that oversee the state's 12 public universities. He urged university boards to join him in a "worthy battle" to keep tuition rates flat. "I want to be clear on this: we absolutely will fight to hold the line on tuition in Florida," Scott writes. "This would be a tax increase on our families that must be stopped. We don't want a three percent increase or even a one percent increase in tuition on our students." The letter could be seen as a prelude to a legal challenge.
 
A visit to Rowan Oak | Birney Imes (Opinion)
The Dispatch's Birney Imes writes: "Owned by the University of Mississippi and now a National Historic Landmark, Rowan Oak has for years been a destination for literary pilgrims. They come, as I have, to be with the spirit of who many believe to be America's greatest writer, if that can be said about any one writer. Martin Dain was a successful commercial photographer based in New York. The son of a Russian Jew and a native of Massachusetts, he first encountered Faulkner at a lecture in the mid-1950s in Paris where he was studying and working in a photography lab. In the years that followed Dain became a passionate reader of Faulkner, and in 1961 he made the first of about half a dozen trips to Mississippi to photograph Faulkner's world. He came with trepidation. Mississippi was in the throes of its civil rights cataclysm; Northerners with cameras were treated with suspicion, often hostility. With the help of two sympathetic locals, Dain achieved the access he needed. Ed Meek, then a student and later a journalism professor, served as a guide and James Silver, an Ole Miss history professor and a friend of Faulkner's, served as a conduit to the writer. (Silver's book, 'Mississippi: the Closed Society,' and friendship with James Meredith led to him being largely ostracized in Oxford.)."
 
Feds charge us $12 billion to fund secrecy | Michael Newsom (Opinion)
The Sun Herald's Michael Newsom writes: " Secrecy is about the only thing that's bipartisan anymore. Republicans and Democrats on the federal, state and local levels have worked together over the years to shut the American people out. Elected officials and the people they hired to run agencies have conspired against us. Thanks to these 'public servants' and their terrible creativity over the last decade, you and I now know very little about what our government is doing with big chunks of our money. Uncle Sam is using $12 billion out of our pockets to fund federal secrecy. I read that figure in a magazine piece last week and did a double take."
 
Move cautiously on virtual teaching
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "More and more parents choose to home school their children. National statistics show the number of home schooled children grows about 7 percent each year. Likewise the number of students in charter schools continues to increase, growing about 12 percent each year. A growing number of states, 31 at last count, allow virtual public schools where students go to school full-time online. Many if not most of these alternative schools rely more and more on the Internet for teaching."
 
MAEP a mythical creature | Geoff Pender (Opinion)
The Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "With much of the GOP education 'ree-form' such as charter schools now water under the bridge, I predict the public education debate, fear and loathing in Mississippi will return to its stasis: school funding, or lack thereof. And once again that mythical creature, the unicorn of the Capitol, the MAEP formula, will be prancing around, with some lawmakers trying to feed it magic candycorn, others trying to dart it with crossbows as education advocates look anxiously on. But none will capture it."
 
Except as donors, unions irrelevant
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Combative emails and phone calls trailed -- as they almost always do when I write on that topic -- my most recent column on the pursuit of a union vote at Nissan’s auto manufacturing plant by the United Auto Workers. Pro-union critics made their usual protestations about the historic good the unions did in getting rid of child labor sweat shops, unsafe working conditions, and winning the 40-hour work week. But in point of fact, those are not serious issues in the current dispute over the UAW’s attempt to infiltrate foreign-owned auto plants in the South."


SPORTS
 
MSU golfer Ally McDonald places 10th in NCAAs
Mississippi State sophomore Ally McDonald faded to a tie for 10th place on the final day of the NCAA women's golf tournament. McDonald, from Fulton, shot an 81 on Friday after three previous days under par at the University of Georgia Golf Course. She had eight bogeys and a double bogey in her final round. The Bulldogs finished last in the 24-team field.
 
Mayers officially named AD at Delta State
After serving Delta State University for the past 37 years in various capacities, Ronald G. "Ronnie" Mayers was officially named Director of Athletics and Director of Aquatics on Friday by President William N. LaForge. Mayers, who has served as interim director since October 1, 2012, replaces Jeremy McClain, who resigned to accept a position at the University of Southern Mississippi.
 
Batting $400,000: SEC baseball coaching salaries continue to rise along with the pressure
The SEC has reached the national championship series at the College World Series for five straight years. Georgia began the streak with a runner-up finish in 2008. This week, Georgia coach David Perno found himself unemployed after three Omaha trips in 10 years. That's the price these days of being a $450,000-a-year SEC baseball coach who misses the NCAA Tournament in three of the past four years. At least nine SEC coaches make $400,000 or more in guaranteed annual pay this season, according to an AL.com analysis of most of the SEC contracts. Twelve years ago, Florida made waves by hiring Pat McMahon for more than $200,000 after he made $75,000 at Mississippi State. Today, McMahon's salary would be less than all but one SEC coach even when calculating inflation.
 
Pick up the pace: SEC experiments with 8 football officials as more teams switch to hurry-up offenses
The offensive revolution is just beginning in the Southeastern Conference, and its on-field officials are trying to keep up. The SEC experimented with an eight-man officiating crew at Auburn's A-Day spring game April 20, an approach meant to help alleviate pressure on the umpire in fast-tempo situations. The move from a seven-man crew is not permanent yet, but it could be in 2014 and beyond -- especially if uptempo offenses continue to spread like wildfire like it has in the Big 12 and Pac-12 conferences in recent years. "The eighth official actually helped us," said Steve Shaw, the SEC's coordinator of officials.
 
Gay swimmer said he found acceptance at Texas A&M
Amini Fonua, like many Aggies, was disheartened last semester when he learned a group of student senators wanted to de-fund the university's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Resource Center. "The first words that went through my head were, 'Oh dear, not again,'" Fonua said. Unlike most Aggies, Fonua is an Olympic swimmer, a school record-holder in the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200 medley relay and an NCAA All-American. He is also openly gay. Fonua has been open about his sexuality to friends, family and teammates for years, but two weeks ago he came out publicly in A&M's student newspaper, The Battalion, a few days before he graduated.



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