Thursday, May 30, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Starkville prepares for big regional crowd
Bart Wood, general manager of The Little Dooey, a popular barbecue restaurant near Mississippi State University’s campus, is geared up for the weekend. Thousands of baseball fans will be flocking to MSU and Starkville, where they’ll spends thousands of dollars at area hotels, restaurants and shops. “We’re treating this like an SEC football weekend,” Wood said. All the excitement is generated by MSU hosting an NCAA baseball regional tournament for the first time in 10 years. An influx of Bulldog fans, as well as fans of the other three teams -- Central Arkansas, Mercer and South Alabama -- will stream into the area. Joe Dier, MSU’s media relations director for baseball, said the campus and city are abuzz about the tournament. “It will be very similar to Super Bulldog Weekend (in April), where we have the hotels, restaurants, parking lots and roads filled with people,” he said. “We had 14,500 for the baseball game that Saturday, and we’re expecting similar numbers this weekend.”
 
Boys State Program Hears From Bryant
Recalling his own struggles with a learning disability and measuring the impact on his life of a teacher who helped him conquer it, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant challenged more than 380 Boys State participants on the campus of Mississippi State University to “stay here and help us” as Mississippi prepares to “achieve greatness.” Bryant, the state’s 64th governor and a veteran state official, touted Mississippi’s leadership in aerospace engineering, music, medical breakthroughs and other fields in challenging the delegates to embrace their home state’s heritage.
 
Bryant visits Boys State delegates
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant visited delegates at American Legion Boys State at Mississippi State University Wednesday as delegates transitioned from primaries to elections for their mock state’s top offices and began choosing projects for their cities.
 
Ag commissioner applauds the nation’s food supply
Cindy Hyde-Smith, the state’s leading advocate for Mississippi agriculture, touted the nation’s food supply as the safest and most affordable in the world when she spoke Tuesday [May 28] at the 2013 Boys State. Hyde-Smith became the first woman to be elected Mississippi’s commissioner of agriculture and commerce in 2011 after serving 12 years in the Mississippi State Senate. After explaining the regulatory functions of her department to the 390 participants, she encouraged them to give credit for their food to farmers. “When you sit down to a meal, first thank God and then thank the farmer,” she said. Following her speech at Mississippi State University, Boys State participant Andrew Smith of Monticello said he would like to follow in her political footsteps. After earning a degree in business administration and economics, he wants to enter politics with an emphasis on agriculture.
 
Miss. ag commissioner applauds nation's food supply
Cindy Hyde-Smith, the state's leading advocate for Mississippi agriculture, touted the nation's food supply as the safest and most affordable in the world when she spoke Tuesday, May 28, at the 2013 Boys State. Hyde-Smith became the first woman to be elected Mississippi's Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce in 2011 after serving 12 years in the Mississippi State Senate. After explaining the regulatory functions of her department to some 390 participants, she encouraged them to give credit for their food to farmers.
 
Osmania University Meets Team From Mississippi State University
A team of professors and academicians from Mississippi State University visited Osmania University, on Wednesday. The visiting team discussed various issues, related to academics and research, with the Vice-Chancellor of Osmania -- Prof. S Satyanarayana. The Mississippi State University team, led by Jerome A Gilbert, expressed the desire and interest to develop partnerships with Osmania University in teaching, research, and student-and-faculty-exchange programmes. Gilbert said that he was "very impressed" by the ongoing research at Osmania.
 
Researchers watch for asteroid to sail past earth
A massive asteroid is on track to sail past earth this Friday, and NASA officials say we have nothing to worry about. The rare space event has caught the attention of many researchers, including experts at Mississippi State University. According to one MSU professor, Dr. Donna Pierce, the rock will travel 15 lunar distances from the earth, or 15 times the distance between the earth and the moon. Experts say the event will allow researchers to gain more information about the asteroid.
 
Hidden Treasures: MSU Veteran’s Memorial Rose Garden
It’s that beautiful time of year when the flowers are in bloom. But, if you don’t have a green thumb or can’t enjoy your own garden, Mississippi State University has something for you. At the Veteran’s Memorial Rose Garden the blossoms are showing off -- 350 roses are now in bloom, displaying full colors in pinks, reds, oranges and yellows. The rose garden was planted in 2006 on the edge of North Farm near the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park. It’s a unique garden for the area.
 
Board releases research videos to help soybean growers
The Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board is hoping its research videos will help the state’s growers overcome the challenges they face during the planting season. “MSPB invests in numerous production-research projects that we believe will improve the profitability of soybean production in the state,” says Bubba Simmons, a farmer from Hollandale and a MSPB member. “But just as investing in the research is important, it is important that soybean farmers know about the results of these projects and how they can benefit them. There’s no better way to hear about those projects than directly from the researchers working on them.” The videos allow farmers to hear directly from university researchers and Extension staff as they speak about MSPB-funded projects and present useful information to the state's soybean farmers.
 
Gay rights advocates applaud Boy Scouts decision
Last week the Boy Scouts of America reached a landmark decision when it changed its policies to allow openly gay boys into the organization. The new policy, which goes into effect in January, has been met with both applause and controversy. Members of the Mississippi State University Spectrum, an advocacy and support group for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, said while the decision to allow gay Scouts is a step in the right direction, the organization still has a long way to go when it comes to inclusiveness. The BSA still does not permit gay troop leaders or officials. Local Scout executive Jeremy Whitmore of the Pushmataha Area Council said while everyone may not agree on either decision to allow openly gay scouts or allow gays to be Scout leaders, he believes children benefit from being a part of the organization.
 
State GOP Leaders Endorsing Local Mayoral Candidates
State Republicans are choosing sides in local municipal elections. Gov. Phil Bryant is backing Dan Moreland in the Starkville mayoral race. Bryant tells WCBI he believes Moreland is the right man for the job in Starkville. But when asked about his thoughts on Mayor Parker Wiseman winning, he refused to comment. “I think Dan is a good, conservative vote. We’re looking at municipal leaders that would help expand the economy and not just talk about raising taxes. I get a little tired as governor to hear leaders say all we need to do is have a new tax, all we need to do is expand the sales tax. Let’s get people in there that can expand business, that can create jobs to be economic developers and I believe Dan can do that,” said Bryant.
 
Local Democrats set hearing date for Starkville Ward 4 challenge
Local Democrats will hear Ward 4 candidate John Gaskin's election appeal at 8:15 a.m. Friday at City Hall. Chris Taylor, a member of the Starkville Democratic Municipal Election Committee and an executive member of the party's local chapter, confirmed the meeting's logistics Tuesday at a monthly party meeting. While he did not comment on the appeal and Gaskin's desire for a new election, Taylor did say there was not enough time remaining before the June 4 general election to place an additional Ward 4-specific race on the ballot. "Those names will not, cannot appear," Taylor told Democratic Party members Tuesday. "It's too late to be added." Gaskin's attorney, Matthew Wilson, previously told the Dispatch he would seek litigation with the circuit court if the Democratic Party did not move quickly enough on the challenge.
 
Golden Triangle cities earn Main Street honors
Each of the Golden Triangle's three cities are among 47 in Mississippi to have been designated as accredited National Main Street Programs in 2013 for meeting revitalization performance standards as dictated by the National Main Street Center. Columbus, Starkville and West Point can each lay claim to the distinction for meeting specific criteria and standards involving the preservation and revitalization of Main Street. For Starkville, this is the third consecutive year to earn the title. Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO Jennifer Gregory said marketing and promoting the city's downtown area through events as well as strong tax collection numbers have been instrumental in the city earning the nod once again.
 
Starkville sets interview date for prosecutor applicants
Aldermen will hold a special meeting 5 p.m. Monday at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership to interview city prosecutor candidates. City officials confirmed on social media Tuesday that two applications for the position have been submitted. The application window ends 5 p.m. Thursday. The need for a new prosecutor emerged when Roy Carpenter Jr. announced his intent to retire effective June 30. Carpenter began serving as the city prosecutor in 1986 and county prosecutor in 1983.
 
Special Session Still In Limbo As Lawmakers Discuss Medicaid
Gov. Phil Bryant has yet to set a date for a special session. The governor tells WCBI he’s waiting on Democrats to get their act together. “I hope at some point those Democrats that voted to kill Medicaid will think, ‘What on earth have we done?’ Now they say, ‘Oh, we’re for it!?’ Well if you’re for something, when I was in the legislature you voted for it. If you’re against it, you vote against it. So there’s this great confusion of politics that’s going on,” said Gov. Bryant. Democratic State Rep. Tyrone Ellis vehemently disagrees with the governor. He says throwing people out of nursing homes is the last thing Democrats want to do.
 
Hudson only Republican senator in state to support Medicaid expansion
State Senator Billy Hudson of Hattiesburg is in full support Medicaid expansion. This may seem unusual, especially coming from a Republican senator. However, he says he simply wants to do right by others -- all politics aside. Hudson is the only Republican in Mississippi standing up for the expansion of Medicaid. Gov. Phil Bryant has been stern on the issue by recently stating that he does not intend on calling a special session for reauthorization or expansion, unless house Democrats agree to extend it. Hudson spoke with conviction as he expressed how the political agenda of his colleagues are negatively affecting the lives, and health, of Mississippians.
 
Bryant exploring options besides Medicaid
Gov. Phil Bryant, who has been adamant in his opposition to expanding Medicaid coverage, “is exploring a number of ways to continue providing health care access to those who need it,” spokesman Mick Bullock said Wednesday. Bullock’s comments come on the heels of published reports that Bryant had been in discussions with federal officials, including Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius, about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. “The bottom line is that Gov. Bryant simply does not get it,” said Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville. “He has backed himself into a corner because of his far-right political philosophy and is blind to how this (expansion) program can help working Mississippians.”
 
Mississippi's economic outlook ranks in top 10 nationally, annual report says
The nonprofit, Washington-based American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative think-tank for state-based public policy issues and potential solutions, has released its annual “Rich States, Poor States” report that examines the latest trends in state economic growth. The data rank the 2013 economic outlook of states using 15 equally weighted policy variables, including various tax rates, regulatory burdens and labor policies. The sixth edition focuses on the growing momentum in state capitals for fundamental pro-growth tax and pension reform. Gov. Phil Bryant said he was truly pleased to see this recognition from ALEC. Although the national report paints a rosy picture of the state’s economic outlook, senior state Economist Marianne Hill raised some concerns about the economic outlook report pertaining to Mississippi.
 
New Mississippi Power CEO faces tough questions
Ten days after the announcement that G. Edison Holland Jr. was elected the new president and CEO of Mississippi Power, the Public Service Commission is questioning his conflicting statements on cost overruns at the Kemper power plant and independent monitors at the site question whether the plant can fire up on schedule. The April report by Burns and Roe Enterprises, an independent monitor at the Kemper County plant, says installation of piping is the chief concern at the construction site in Kemper County.
 
Stabenow Criticizes Tea Party but Says Farm Bill Is On Track
Among the topics for discussion back home during this Memorial Day recess: the farm bill. Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., is talking about the farm measure in her home state and reaffirming that it is on track to pass the Senate next week, with cautious optimism that the House will follow suit with its own version this year, unlike in 2012. “We’re going to be passing the bill again next week in the Senate,” Stabenow told Michigan Live on Tuesday. “The committee in the House has reported the bill out. The problem has always been with the folks that don’t think we should be helping farmers at all.” Stabenow and farm bill advocates in both parties will have to contend with opposition from the right, particularly in the House, as the process moves forward.
 
Sen. Alexander cites 4 'grand principles' for energy future
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., on Wednesday opened the 2013 Tennessee Valley Corridor National Summit with a major speech on energy policy, calling for the government to double its funding for energy research, get rid of long-running subsidies for wind and oil, and focus efforts on clean energy sources -- not just those that are renewable. Alexander, the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations' subcommittee on energy and water, said the U.S. should let the marketplace drive energy solutions and pursue cheaper, not more expensive energy in the drive toward energy independence. The Tennessee Valley Corridor summit is focused on economic development and support of government-sponsored activities. The theme of this year’s event is “Security America’s Future,” with focus on manufacturing, energy, environment, workforce and innovation.
 
Sanderson Farms 2Q profit gains on stronger demand
Sanderson Farms Inc. said Thursday that its fiscal second-quarter net income rose 2 percent thanks to higher demand for poultry products. Its performance topped Wall Street's view. Shares climbed in premarket trading. The Laurel company earned $24.4 million, or $1.06 per share, for the three months ended April 30. That's up from $23.9 million, or $1.04 per share, in the prior-year period. This easily beat the average 71 cents per share prediction from analysts surveyed by FactSet. But Chairman and CEO Joe F. Sanderson Jr. said in a statement that feed costs continue to be high, and the company anticipates grain prices will stay high due to the tight supply of corn and soybeans.
 
Bryant to unveil plans for stadium in Biloxi
Gov. Phil Bryant and Biloxi city officials will announce plans today to build a $36 million Minor League Baseball stadium in downtown Biloxi that could draw thousands of new visitors to Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. The stadium will be located across U.S. Highway 90 from the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino parking garage. MGM Resorts International, the corporate parent of Beau Rivage, has agreed to give the city a 20-year, rent-free lease, with options to extend for multiple years beyond that. The stadium expected to seat 7,000 people for baseball games and 14,000 for concerts. Overtime Sports owner Tim Bennett, who helped bring the Mississippi Braves to Trustmark Park in Pearl and has worked for nine years on the Biloxi baseball deal, said Bryant’s announcement will “have some pretty monumental things ... We couldn’t do all of this if we didn’t have a team lined up … But when we moved the Braves, it was the same scenario, couldn’t make an announcement until a certain time period because of the confidentiality required.”
 
Tax breaks benefit rich households the most, report says
Federal income tax breaks disproportionately benefit wealthier households, according to a report issued Wednesday that is certain to become ammunition in the budget battles as Congress debates the best ways to reduce Washington's deficits. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the top 10 major tax breaks "are distributed unevenly across the income scale," with the top 1% of households -- those who make more than $450,000 a year -- receiving more than 17% of the savings in 2013. Totaling $900 billion a year, the top tax breaks include the mortgage-interest deduction, the low rate on dividends and capital gains, breaks for charitable giving and the tax-free status of employer-sponsored healthcare plans.
 
Mississippi alligator infestation lawsuit reinstated
Tom Christmas and his wife argue that they didn't discover the 84-plus alligators on land next to their homestead until four years after they bought the property in southwest Mississippi. ExxonMobil Corporation counters that the Christmases' real estate agent told them about the alligators as far back as 2003. Exxon says the couple waited too long to file a lawsuit claiming the 'gators robbed them of enjoyment of their land, and the statute of limitations has passed. On Tuesday, the state Court of Appeals ordered a Wilkinson County judge to sort the whole thing out. ExxonMobil spokesman Todd Spilter said the company will ask the Appeals Court to reconsider its decision.
 
AmeriCorps Busy at East Mississippi Community College
Since arriving May 21, a team of AmeriCorps volunteers has done landscaping, painting, and framed a volleyball court on the campus of East Mississippi Community College in Scooba. EMCC vice president, Dr. Andrea Mayfield, says the service of AmeriCorps will be a great benefit to students and the college. The team worked Wednesday on skirting for Katrina cottages that are being used as campus housing. "I don't know if other community colleges have these but they did become available to us several years back," Mayfield said. "And because of our tremendous growth we had a need for additional housing. And it was a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to increase our capacity through these cottages. And that's what we've done."
 
U. of Alabama's Bailey may be considered for New Mexico State provost
Former University of Alabama President Guy Bailey could be considered for the provost job at New Mexico State University, according to a Las Cruces Sun-News report. The newspaper reported Wednesday that the New Mexico State Faculty Senate on June 6 will consider allowing the president-designate to waive usual search procedures if he hires one of the other four presidential candidates as the top academic administrator. Bailey, a former president at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, resigned as UA’s president on Oct. 31, 2012, 58 days after he started his duties. Bailey remains a tenured employee at UA and is on paid leave at an annual salary of more than $500,000.
 
Poles for wire Toomer’s structure installed Wednesday; wires to follow in June
The three concrete poles that make the foundation of the temporary wiring structure at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn were installed Wednesday morning. Poles are in place near the white rock in the median on College Street and in the landscaped islands in front of Toomer’s Drugstore and the Bank Vault on the opposite sides of the corner, forming a triangle. The wires that will connect the poles and be rolled following Auburn University athletic victories will be installed in early June, according to Kevin Cowper, assistant Auburn city manager. The temporary structure will be used for at least three years. The permanent changes to Toomer’s Corner will be constructed starting in the summer of 2014, but according to horticulture experts at the university, the new trees planted will need about three years before they will be strong enough to withstand rolling.
 
U. of Florida alerts parents of some pediatric patients about possible identity theft
The University of Florida sent letters early this week to 5,682 pediatric patients or their parents telling them that they may be victims of identity theft. A former employee at the UF Pediatric Primary Care Clinic at Tower Square, now known as UF Health Pediatrics-Tower Square, may have ties to an identity theft ring, according to a UF news release Wednesday. The employee, who was not identified, may have compromised patient information including names, addresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers, according to UF. UF is offering fraud resolution services for patients who suspect identity theft associated with the incident.
 
Harsh views, few facts on immigration, U. of Florida survey shows
Floridians have strong opinions but few facts about immigration, an extensive survey by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences shows. The recent survey of 507 Florida residents -- the majority of them over 40, white and living in Central Florida -- found mostly negative attitudes about immigrants who may not have the necessary documentation to be in the U.S. legally. The majority see these immigrants as a threat to their safety, economic livelihood and way of life, and believe they should be deported. "We definitely saw there were a variety of different attitudes and some concerns about undocumented immigrants," said Tracy Irani, director of the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education. The study also found "significant knowledge gaps about current and pending immigration policy," she said.
 
Real estate company plans office building at U. of Kentucky's Coldstream Research Campus
A national real estate firm hopes to build a headquarters building for regional and national corporations at the University of Kentucky's Coldstream Research Campus, officials have announced. KDC, a commercial real estate and investment firm based in Dallas, said it will begin construction when 50 percent of the planned 100,000-square-foot building is leased. "I am excited that KDC has taken an interest in marketing their Corporate Center design on the Coldstream Research Campus," said George Ward, executive director of Coldstream. The research campus houses more than 62 companies with 1,360 employees that work in the biotech, pharmaceutical, equine health and service industries.
 
Vietnamese ambassador attends trade forum at U. of Missouri
For Nguyen Quoc Cuong, Vietnam's ambassador to the United States, on Tuesday wasn't just about trying Tiger Stripe ice cream or touring the division of plant sciences at the University of Missouri. Instead, it was about exploring trade between Mid-Missouri and Vietnam. This week, U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, was joined by Cuong and representatives from the city of Columbia for a forum on Missouri/Vietnam trade at the Reynolds Journalism Institute on the MU campus. "We are in the business of education in Columbia," Mayor Bob McDavid said. "This is our company; this is what we do well." McDavid said the innovation of the university leads to the development of jobs and products within Columbia. Vietnam imports a lot of pork, beef, poultry, dairy and soybeans, which are all things Missouri produces, Cuong said.
 
MU Bookstore gets new name: The Mizzou Store
The MU Bookstore has officially changed its name to The Mizzou Store as of Wednesday. Michelle Froese, manager for Student and Auxiliary Services, said the name change is an effort to help MU families better connect with the bookstore. Froese said the term "university bookstore" is too generic. Although the bookstore sells books, it also sells clothing, gifts and many more items. The university wanted a name that would better reflect all its store has to offer. "'Mizzou' is a unique identifier for the university," Froese said. "Very rarely people call it the University Bookstore. Instead, they say, 'I'm going to the Mizzou store.' In common usage, that name makes more sense."
 
AAUP Urges Direct Talks Between Colleges' Boards and Faculties
Citing several instances of what it regards as breakdowns in shared governance, the American Association of University Professors is calling for colleges' governing boards to take steps to hear directly from faculty members, without letting administrators filter such talks. In a draft statement issued on Thursday, the AAUP calls for colleges to establish committees consisting solely of trustees and faculty members to meet regularly to discuss subjects of interest to both sides. The association also calls for faculty representatives to attend the business meetings of governing boards and have a seat on every standing committee of such boards, including the executive committee.
 
In Deals With 10 Public Universities, Coursera Bids for Role in Credit Courses
Coursera, the Silicon Valley-based provider of massive open online courses, announced on Thursday a series of deals with state universities that would place the young company squarely in the middle of the current upheaval in public higher education. The company, which has made its name by working outside higher education's tuition-based credentialing system, announced partnerships with 10 public institutions that would extend well beyond providing support for new MOOCs. Under the new deals, Coursera is recasting itself as a platform for credit-bearing courses that would be offered to students enrolled at multiple campuses within a public-university system. The company's new partners are the State University of New York system, the Tennessee Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee systems, the University of Colorado system, the University of Houston system, the University of Kentucky, the University of Nebraska system, the University of New Mexico system, the University System of Georgia, and West Virginia University.
 
U. of Tennessee, Regents schools to test online courses next fall
College students in Tennessee taking general education courses like algebra and freshman composition next fall could be doing it in a new, interactive online platform. In an 18-month pilot program designed to see how well students learn online, the University of Tennessee and Board of Regents systems are partnering with Coursera, one of the largest providers free, massive open online courses, known as MOOCs. If it’s a success, the higher education systems will considering expanding its online offerings with the Coursera platform and making the credits transferable. Gov. Bill Haslam, in his bid to see more than half of all Tennesseans earning a college degree of some kind by 2025, has set aside $53,000 to pay for the partnership, said UT President Joe DiPietro.
 
U. of Kentucky to offer free online chemistry class on Coursera
The University of Kentucky is dipping its toe into the mostly uncharted waters of free online education. UK announced Wednesday that it would join nine other universities across the nation in signing up with Coursera, one of the first online platforms for massive open online courses, called MOOCs. The venture will use MOOC technology to improve college access and completion rates; in UK's case, the UK Chemistry Department will develop a free online course designed to prepare high school students for college-level chemistry. UK officials said the course would allow students to perform better on Advanced Placement chemistry in high school or at the college level. Chemistry is one of the most popular majors at UK.
 
Public colleges are often no bargain for the poor
Many public colleges and universities expect their poorest students to pay a third, half or even more of their families’ annual incomes each year for college, a new study of college costs has found. With most American students enrolling in their states’ public institutions in hopes of gaining affordable degrees, the new data shows that the net price -- the full cost of attending college minus scholarships -- can be surprisingly high for families that make $30,000 a year or less. The numbers track with larger national trends: the growing student-loan debt and decline in college completion among low-income students.
 
Joblessness Shortens Lifespan of Least Educated White Women, Research Says
Researchers have known for some time that life expectancy is declining for the country’s least educated white women, but they have not been able to explain why. A new study has found that the two factors most strongly associated with higher death rates were smoking and not having a job. The aim of the study, which is being published Thursday in The Journal of Health and Social Behavior, was to explain the growing gap in mortality between white women without a high school diploma and those with a high school diploma or more.
 
Gov. warms up to fed money
The Clarion-Ledger editorializes: "Gov. Phil Bryant remains opposed to expanding Medicaid, but he is showing signs that he is open to using federal monies to make health care services more accessible and more affordable to Mississippi’s working poor. Now, it seems, he might be open to some sort of program that would use the federal Medicaid funds earmarked for expansion to help fund block grants that provide health care services to the needy. The details of such a program are not known, but it nonetheless remains the first signal by the governor that he is willing to look at some sort of expansion alternative."
 
Capitol staffers deserve raises, too | Jimmie Gates (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Jimmie Gates writes: "When the Legislature was in session, I observed hardworking state workers cleaning the state Capitol, emptying garbage baskets, changing blown light bulbs in the historic building that has 4,700 light bulbs Even after the legislative session ended this year, I have gone over occasionally to work out of the Capitol press office and have observed these same employees going about their daily tasks. Even when the Legislature isn’t in session, visitors still flock to the state Capitol for tours. When I learned most rank-and-file state employees won’t get an across-the-board pay raise for the seventh budget year in a row, I thought about these state Capitol workers and the countless other public servant state employees who are on the bottom rung of the wage scale."
 
Mayoral races to watch
Consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "Mississippi's municipal primary and primary run-offs are in the books, but many towns and cities still face competitive races in the June 4 general election. Here are a few races political leaders are watching. ...Starkville's Mayor Parker Wiseman seeks reelection to a second term, challenged by Republican Dan Moreland. Moreland is Chairman of the Starkville Parks Commission Board and formerly a justice court judge. An attorney, Wiseman is touted by Democrats as one of their future statewide leaders."
 
We're not robbing education to pay for Medicaid
Longtime political observer and columnist Bill Minor writes: "House Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson scared education advocates out of their shoes two weeks ago by circulating a letter with dire numbers on how Medicaid has drained tight revenues from their pet program the past decade and would worsen if Medicaid is expanded. The Poplarville Republican's spending figures went unchallenged until last week when Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, recognized as the Legislature's most knowledgeable fiscal authority, weighed in with a letter debunking Frierson's figures and conclusions. ...The Fierson-Brown dueling letters aside, basic issues remain regarding Medicaid's future in Mississippi, the nation's poorest state where 625,000 needy citizens now have no other health insurance program."
 
Too late to debate size, role of government after disasters
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "How big do you want government to be? What government services do you consider essential? Are you willing to pay for the government you say you want? ...Perhaps the better questions after such calamities aren't those of whether schools need 'safe' rooms or whether aging bridges should be replaced, but rather whether the taxpayers want to fund a government large enough to provide those services. The truth is that just as there no atheists in the foxholes, there are few proponents of 'small' government in times of great crisis -- at least until the bills comes due."


SPORTS
 
LOTS OF BUZZ: Starkville Regional creates media, ticket demand
On many college campuses, school officials are excited when Memorial Day rolls around. That usually means graduation has concluded, final grades handed out and campus is a ghost town as students scatter for the summer. That would not be the case this week at Mississippi State University where the campus is buzzing as the Bulldogs play host to the Starkville Regional, beginning Friday at Dudy Noble Field. The four-team double-elimination event begins with two games Friday and could run through Monday. Many athletic department employees have worked overtime as the Bulldogs welcome their first regional tournament to campus since the 2003 season. "It has been a demanding week but weeks like this are why you are in the business," MSU Assistant Ticket Manager Jason Walker said. "When your programs have success, it is exciting. The buzz in our office has been incredible this week."
 
No secret: Tough SEC schedule has Mississippi State ready for Starkville Regional
Every time Mississippi State batters stepped into the box, or its pitchers took to the mound the last two weeks, a patch with three letters glared back at them: S-E-C. Barring a single mid-week game against Oral Roberts on May 12, the Bulldogs saw only SEC schools the last 55 days. Friday as the hosts of the Starkville Regional, MSU welcomes South Alabama, Mercer and Central Arkansas, all postseason quality teams, all familiar with Mississippi State, but none possess that patch. “Every team has an SEC pitcher on their team; one or two of them at least,” Mississippi State junior Hunter Renfroe said. “Once you don’t see the SEC patch on their chest, it is a little different.”
 
Freshman Gentry waits for next opportunity out of deep MSU bullpen
Unlike a lot of the members in the Mississippi State University locker room, Myles Gentry has great memories from playing the University of Central Arkansas this season. The freshman right handed reliever was key in the only victory MSU (43-17) had in a three-game series from March 8-10 when Gentry was called on in emergency duty in the first inning of the Friday night game. Gentry, who had eight previous appearances before that 4-2 victory over UCA, went from charting pitches to on the mound in a matter of minutes. In his longest outing of the season, Gentry (1-0) saved MSU from disaster by managing to keep the Bears, who came to Starkville leading the country in offense with 9.9 runs per game, to no hits in 4 1/3 innings. Of the 13 batters Gentry faced Friday evening, only a hit batter to the lead off the fifth inning would reach base in his 63-pitch effort. "That was unexpected," Gentry said after the victory.
 
Bulldogs tab Graveman to start regional opener
Kendall Graveman will get the honor of throwing the first pitch in Mississippi State University's first NCAA regional in 10 years. MSU coach John Cohen announced Wednesday afternoon the Bulldogs senior right hander will get the start Friday night against the University of Central Arkansas for the opening round game of the 2013 NCAA Starkville Regional at 7 p.m. Graveman (5-5, 3.04) has had only two quality starts in his last six starts against SEC opponents but the MSU coaching staff felt most comfortable in giving the first postseason start to its most experienced starter against a right-handed dominate UCA (39-20) lineup. "That's probably not a shock to anybody," Cohen said. "We are trying to win game one because if you do that, you can play a three-game set. Everybody in this tournament wants that opportunity to go 3-0 but you have to win game one to do that."
 
Graveman takes mound in Bulldogs’ opener
It was a pretty easy call for John Cohen. The Mississippi State coach said Wednesday that senior right-hander Kendall Graveman will start on the mound Friday when his team opens NCAA regional play against Central Arkansas. Game time at Dudy Noble Field is 7 p.m. “They’re a really right-handed club,” Cohen said, “but we really wanted to see what matched up well against them, and we feel Kendall’s our best matchup.”
 
SEC coaches vote 13-1 to keep 8 football games, but some sense 9 is inevitable
SEC football coaches voted 13-1 yesterday to keep eight conference games -- Alabama coach Nick Saban is the lone holdout for nine -- and were about evenly divided on whether to maintain permanent cross-divisional opponents. Those votes, of course, can mean very little in the big picture. Athletics directors and university presidents are part of these discussions, which won't be resolved this week at the SEC spring meetings. Even with the coaches' vote to keep eight games, there's a sense by some coaches and administrations that switching to nine is inevitable.
 
Mike Slive: College football must pay attention to NFL player safety rules
College football needs to pay attention to NFL rules changes for player safety, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said yesterday. Later this week at the SEC spring meetings, the league will hear from a conference task force examining head injuries. "We obviously all have a concern about the health and safety of our players," Slive said. "The NFL has been aggressive in dealing with that. One of the things we've created, for instance, is (national coordinator of officiating) Rogers Redding attends the NFL competition committee's meetings. So we've opened up the door over the last few years. (NFL Commissioner) Roger Goodell is very helpful so there's a flow of information back and forth. I think when they make rules that relates to the health and safety of those players, we need to pay attention to those rules." College football has been criticized for not reacting quickly enough to evolving research about head injuries.
 
Vanderbilt asks fans to put price on football
What renovations would you most like to see done to Vanderbilt Stadium? Does premium seating appeal to you? If so, how much would you be willing to pay for a seat-back chair, loge seating, club-level access or even a suite? Those questions and many more soon will be asked of Vanderbilt season-ticket holders, donors, alumni, local business owners and other Nashville-area residents as the university decides what improvements it can afford to make to the SEC’s smallest and perhaps least appealing stadium. Conventions Sports & Leisure International, an advisory and planning firm Vanderbilt has hired to conduct an in-depth survey, will begin contacting people and putting together focus groups near the end of June.
 
Report: SEC could be joining in Arch Madness
The Southeastern Conference men’s basketball tournament could be coming to Missouri. The 2017 SEC Tournament is expected to be awarded to St. Louis with the event to be held in the Scottrade Center, ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy reported, citing anonymous sources at the SEC’s annual spring meetings in Destin, Fla. St. Louis submitted bids for the 2017 and 2018 tournament, and AL.com reported it was one of three cities still negotiating for one of those tournaments in March. SEC officials visited St. Louis in March to see how the city performed as the host of Arch Madness, the moniker given to the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, which has been played with great success in St. Louis since 1991. St. Louis Sports Commission President Frank Viverito then attended the SEC Tournament the following week in Nashville.



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