Monday, June 3, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Businesses benefit from packed crowds for Bulldogs
The summer months typically mean slow numbers for retailers in Starkville. Students are gone for the summer, and retailers and restaurant owners can't rely on football games for expected revenue. Restaurants and bars usually have smaller staffs in the summer, too. But a weekend of college baseball -- and 20,000 fans -- can provide an unexpected boost in the year's slowest retail season. How much? About $2 million, said Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO Jennifer Gregory. The Mississippi State University baseball team is hosting an NCAA Regional for the first time in 10 years. The University of Central Arkansas, Mercer University, and the University of South Alabama joined MSU in the tournament, which began Friday. That's great news for businesses in Starkville, as MSU fans typically turn out in droves for baseball games. The Bulldogs own the top 10 home attendance records in NCAA history. And with UCA, USA, and Mercer within regional driving distance, the expectation for packed hotels, bars, and gift shops was high heading into the weekend.
 
Apps done Mississippi style
You might be hungry for a snack while watching Mississippi State University baseball in Starkville but don't want to wait in line. You might need a large piece of equipment for a construction site. You might want to keep track of your spending and bank account information. If so, there are apps for those, created by Mississippi residents and companies in an industry ripe for growth that could help the Magnolia State improve its standing as an area where technological innovation flourishes. The mushrooming of mobile apps can help states like Mississippi better position themselves with the San Francisco Bay area or the Pacific Northwest that have more prolific technology growth, since the right app idea at the right time can come from here as much as anywhere else, says Tony Jeff, president of Innovate Mississippi, which promotes innovation- and tech-driven economic development.
 
Region makes gradual gains
Northeast Mississippi has made steady progress in improving residents' income and education over the past decade, but much work remains. That was the message during Friday's annual CREATE Foundation State of the Region meeting at the BancorpSouth Conference Center. The outlook focused on a 17-county area that for the first time included Lowndes County, which became a CREATE member this year. Addressing the region's progress, CREATE Senior Vice President Lewis Whitfield noted gains in per capita income and in the percentage of residents with college degrees and high school diplomas. Representatives from the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University also spoke about the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program, a collaboration between the two institutions that will create an honors college experience for top-performing students who are studying to be teachers. That report was made by MSU Education Dean Richard Blackbourn and Ryan Niemeyer, the program's director at UM.
 
Golden Triangle touts decade of success
The newest member of the CREATE Foundation, Lowndes County, joined last fall and brought along an impressive resume. And its lead economic development agency has been the driver of much of that success. Joe Max Higgins, CEO of the Columbus-based Golden Triangle Development Link, said Lowndes County has benefited from the creation of more than 5,200 jobs and $4.5 billion in capital investment since 2003. Last year, the Link -- formerly the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link -- added West Point, and this year added Starkville under its economic development umbrella. The three cities have long been dubbed the "Golden Triangle," so the Link changed its name to reflect that. The Link recently added former University of Alabama Chancellor and former Mississippi State University President Malcolm Portera. Also coming on board is Chief Operating Officer Joey Deason, the former Mississippi Development Authority chief financial officer.
 
Portera begins recruiting role for LINK
A former leader of two area universities begins serving as a workforce development consultant with the Golden Triangle Development Link this month. Former University of Alabama Chancellor and Mississippi State University President Malcolm Portera is working with programs at MSU and East Mississippi Community College to ensure positions that come open when the Yokohama tire manufacturing plant begins operations in 2015 will be filled predominantly by people living in the Golden Triangle and Northeast Mississippi area, Link CEO Joe Max Higgins said Friday.
 
MSU cyber operations education earns federal designation
The National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command have designated Mississippi State University as a Center of Academic Excellence in cyber operations. The certification comes after a rigorous, two-year application process by faculty in the departments of computer science and engineering (CSE) and electrical and computer engineering (ECE). David A. Dampier, a professor of computer science and engineering at the land-grant institution, led the effort. In addition to Dampier, the MSU team which worked to attain the designation were, from CSE, Cindy Bethel, Yogi Dandass, Wesley McGrew, Mahalingam Ramkumar, Ed Swan and Byron Williams; and from ECE, Sherif Abdelwahed, Bryan Jones, Pan Li, Tommy Morris and Robert Reese.
 
MSU Gets 'Cyber' Designation
The National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command have designated Mississippi State University as a Center of Academic Excellence in cyber operations. The certification comes after a rigorous, two-year application process by faculty in the departments of computer science and engineering (CSE) and electrical and computer engineering (ECE). Of note, the university also holds national CAE designations in information assurance education and in information assurance research. Mississippi State is the only institution of higher education in the state to attain the three designations.
 
MSU student shares ag techniques during trip to Nigeria
A career interest developed in Mississippi State University's School of Human Sciences led one student to Nigeria, where she spent a week teaching Nigerians how to plant and use moringa trees. Alyssa Barrett, a senior agricultural science major from Wiggins, spent spring break in the west African nation. Barrett traveled with a team from Christian World Missions of Starkville. The team's goal was to start churches in the country and to offer agricultural training. "I had to learn something very quickly and then use an interpreter ..." Barrett said. "It was a challenge, and I loved it."
 
PCS student elected as delegate to Boys Nation in D.C.
A student at Presbyterian Christian High School will represent Mississippi at the upcoming Boys Nation in Washington, D. C. Jonathan Burks was elected as a delegate Saturday during the final day of the annual Boys State at Mississippi State University. 370 students from across the Magnolia State participated in that week-long event, which teaches incoming seniors how government works.
 
Boys State week nears end
Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann spoke with delegates at American Legion Boys State at Mississippi State University Friday about his responsibilities as a public official as delegates completed their city projects.
 
Cooley Takes Over 'Giving' Post at MSU
A professional staff member in the Mississippi State University Foundation is being promoted to a key fundraising leadership position. Asya Besova Cooley will become the university's new annual giving director, effective June 1. In that role, she will direct fundraising efforts that typically focus on gifts made to any MSU area on a continuing basis. Cooley also will be responsible for securing annual gifts for the institution and its academic colleges through direct marketing efforts. Since 2011, she has served as assistant director of annual giving and coordinator of the MSU Foundation's telefunding program.
 
Soybean producers take advantage of break in clouds
Many Mississippi farmers celebrated Memorial Day in their tractor seats as they took full advantage of about a week of good weather to make significant strides in planting. A nearly unbroken string of rains kept farmers mostly out of the fields through the early-spring planting window. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's May 26 Crop Progress and Condition Report shows their efforts to catch up. Soybeans are 46 percent planted in the state, when normally this crop would be about 88 percent planted. Cotton is still far behind the norm, with just 36 percent of the crop planted rather than the five-year average of 84 percent. Rice planting is farther ahead at 72 percent, compared with the normal 96 percent planted. Corn planting is all but finished. Trent Irby, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said poor conditions also have forced growers to replant some acreage.
 
CAPPS Summer Jam 2013 planned
The CAPPS staff in collaboration with faculty and staff from Mississippi State University is planning for an exciting summer program for students in the Louisville Municipal School District. This year's focus will be on Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science. Activities will be based on a study of animal habitats and conservation and will include several field trips. This program is free to any student in the Louisville Municipal School District, and is available to students entering the 5th grade through the 12th grade.
 
MSU Riley Center's season continues with performances by major music icons
Some of music's most revered icons will be featured in the final months of MSU Riley Center's Spring/Summer concert series. "We've got some terrific performances for the rest of the season, and they're really special in their own right," said Dennis Sankovich, executive director of the MSU Riley Center.
 
Summer classes at MSU-Meridian
Susan White, a 5th grade teacher at Clarkdale Elementary, registers for summer classes at MSU-Meridian, which begin Thursday, June 6. Open and final registration for summer classes is Monday and Tuesday.
 
Student testing results mixed
Twelve Hattiesburg High seniors were able to graduate with the Class of 2013 on May 24 at Reed Green Coliseum thanks to emergency testing offered by the Mississippi Department of Education. Twelve more may still have the opportunity to get a diploma because the department will offer the emergency testing until July 31. Lynn House, interim state superintendent of education, announced May 15 that seniors who had completed all the graduation requirements except for passing one subject area test would be eligible for emergency testing at the Research and Curriculum Unit at Mississippi State University. As of May 29, 1,060 seniors from around the state had taken the emergency testing.
 
Photos show elected Democrats at Moreland fund-raiser
An apparent rift in the Democratic Party emerged this week after photos surfaced placing three aldermen-elects and a party executive committee member at Republican mayoral candidate Dan Moreland's Wednesday fund-raiser. The future of at least one Oktibbeha County Democratic Party Executive Committee member's status with the party is in question after officials said those photos prove she publicly supports the GOP candidate. Also, Mississippi Democratic Party bylaws state the group can choose not to certify candidates in the future who openly support the party's opposition. While the Dispatch does not cover party fund-raisers, photos of recently elected Democratic Aldermen Roy A. Perkins, Henry Vaughn and Lisa Wynn at the May 29 Moreland fund-raiser were posted to social media shortly after the event.
 
Report: Starkville Parks Commission late with electric bill payments
Documents associated with an upcoming financial report state procedural gaps in Starkville Parks Commission's electric bill payments exist and accounts are shown beyond the 45-day legal payment window. The autonomous entity owes Starkville Electric Department more than $103,000 as of May 23, documents found within Tuesday's Starkville Board of Aldermen e-packet state, and SPC is estimated to owe $180,000 for overdue fees and forecasted usage through the fiscal year. That bill, the department's exhausted Fiscal Year 2013 2 percent food and beverage budget and allegations of overdue payments will be covered in Starkville City Clerk Taylor Adams' financial report Tuesday at City hall.
 
Gaskin reps eye June 7 for Starkville Ward 4 hearing
Ward 4 candidate John Gaskin's lawyer says he hopes members of the Democratic Party will listen to his client's election appeal on June 7 after today's hearing was canceled by the party. Gaskin's primary lawyer, David Mays of Roberson Law Firm, said Thursday he was in the process of contacting Democratic Party representative Chris Taylor about rescheduling the session. The meeting was canceled Thursday after Taylor said the Democratic committee would not have enough officers available Friday due to previous obligations. Mays took over as Gaskin's chief spokesperson after Matthew Wilson first spoke on the candidate's behalf when the challenge was filed last week. The Dispatch learned Ward 4 Alderman-elect Jason Walker is now represented by attorney Lydia Quarles, the same representative who handled numerous affidavit challenges for outgoing Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk during that primary's processing.
 
Gunn: Focus is on educational efficiency
Education reform may receive less attention from state lawmakers in 2014 than it did in 2013. Speaking at Friday's CREATE Foundation State of the Region meeting, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn said he feels the primary educational focus next year will be on making sure taxpayer dollars are being invested well. "We are going to work hard to measure the efficiency of your taxpayer dollars and put more money into the programs that work and shut down the programs that don't," he said at the BancorpSouth Conference Center. Gunn, R-Clinton, predicted the most heavily debated educational items next year would involve school governance and a program that would grant tax credits to those who donated to a fund to provide private school scholarships to low-income families.
 
DNA testing could yield suspect in Starkville cold case
Starkville Police Chief David Lindley says he can still remember the days following a double homicide on Sept. 3, 1990, referred to by residents as "The Labor Day Murders." "It is probably the most notorious homicide the city of Starkville has ever had that remains open and unsolved," Lindley said. With little evidence left behind at the time, authorities had great difficulty determining who was responsible. Now, new technology is helping detectives gain an edge in this cold case.
 
Employee of Tupelo company among three veteran storm chasers killed by Oklahoma tornado
Three veteran storm chasers, including one who worked for a Tupelo company, were among the 10 people killed when a violent tornado barreled into the Oklahoma City metro area. Jim Samaras told The Associated Press on Sunday that his brother Tim Samaras, 54, of Bennett, Colo., was killed Friday. Tim Samaras' son, 24-year-old Paul Samaras, also of Bennett; and another chaser, Carl Young, also died. Hyperion Technology Group President Geoff Carter confirmed the death of employee Tim Samaras in a Facebook post Sunday. "We are deeply saddened by the loss of Tim, Paul and Carl and our thoughts and prayers go out to their families," said Carter. "He is not only an employee but a dear friend, Tim will be missed and his passing will leave a big hole in our team." The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said it believed the deaths were the first time scientific researchers were killed while chasing tornadoes.
 
Hundreds rally for Eurocopter
A contingent of American Eurocopter employees and executives, as well as family members and state leaders, came together Wednesday to call on Congress to reconsider spending cuts that would slash production of the UH-72A Lakota Helicopter. Production of the aircraft used by multiple branches of the country's military is on a list of $50 million in Department of Defense budget reductions as a result of sequestration. The proposed cuts would bring funding for a combined 41 models down to 10, effectively leaving about 320 employees of the Columbus location with no helicopters to make in 2015 and only 10 to build in 2014. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and U.S. congressmen Roger Wicker, Alan Nunnelee and Gregg Harper joined Marc Paganini, President and CEO of American Eurocopter, and Sean O'Keefe, CEO of parent company EADS North America, in a rally to leave all funding for production of the helicopters untouched.
 
Southern farmers wait anxiously for action on farm bill
Congressional action on a new farm bill is "absolutely critical" so farmers in the South and elsewhere can plan ahead for the coming crop year, according to agriculture leaders, lawmakers and farm groups. The Senate is scheduled to continue debate on a five-year $500 billion farm bill when it returns this week from recess. The House is expected to vote on its version later in June. Differences between the two bills -- if both pass -- would have to be resolved by a conference committee. Farmers and ranchers say they need to know how the next bill will affect crop insurance and subsidies, which will influence planting decisions and loan discussions with banks. "We are moving in the right direction," Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, the top Republican on the Senate agriculture committee, said recently. "We've covered a lot of important issues, taken up a good many amendments, had votes and free and full discussion."
 
'Temporary' farm subsidy program may finally meet the reaper
The building is one of the finest on Central Park West. Celebrity residents. Park views. Units priced at up to $24 million. It is most definitely not a farm. But last year, the U.S. government sent $9,070 in farm subsidies to an apartment here. Even the woman who got that money isn't exactly sure why. "I really don't know," Lisa Sippel said. Sippel does own farmland, but it's in Missouri. Somebody there does the work. Still, Sippel gets the federal payments, which were originally meant to keep small farmers afloat. "I'm kind of an absentee landlord," she said. The money, it turns out, comes from one cockeyed farm-aid program that was supposed to end in 2003. It didn't: Congress kept it alive and now hands out almost $5 billion a year using oddly relaxed rules. Now, both the House and Senate are trying to kill off this budget leftover, 10 years late.
 
AP analysis: 1963 civil rights sit-in at Jackson Woolworth's changed Mississippi
May 28, 1963, started as just another work day for Jackson Daily News photographer Fred Blackwell. Within hours, he captured black-and-white images that traveled around the world and brought attention to the hostility that civil rights activists were facing in Mississippi's capital city. Now, Blackwell's most famous photo from that day is part of a historical marker commemorating the sit-in at the Woolworth's five-and-dime store in downtown Jackson. Blackwell said the sit-in participants were "amazing people for doing what they did." "All the glory goes to those people and their nerve," Blackwell said. "It's just a better world today because of it. Don't you think?"
 
Barnes listens to father, finds niche
When Rusty Barnes was at Northeast Mississippi Community College in the 1980s where he played free safety on the school's football team, he told his father he could not see himself getting up every morning, going to work and sitting behind a desk. Leon Barnes, who worked for 35 years on the railroad, told his son it would be hard for him to follow in his and his grandfather's footsteps and get a job with a railroad, but there were always jobs in the health and legal fields. Barnes chose law enforcement. The 48-year-old Barnes will spend some time sitting behind a desk in his new job as the director of the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security. He was appointed in early May by Gov. Phil Bryant and Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz.
 
Legislator: Internet sales tax could help fund road and bridge maintenance
At some time in the not-too-distant future, that book you buy from Amazon.com may help to provide the estimated $1 billion Mississippi needs to maintain its roads and bridges. Rep. Robert Johnson III, a 20-year state legislator and chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said he wants a sales tax on Internet purchases to be among the options lawmakers consider for funding a growing backlog of road and bridge maintenance needs. He said his first preference is to replace the fixed 18 cents-a-gallon tax on motor fuels with a rate tied to either the price per gallon of motor fuel or to inflation. Outside of that, he is ready to pursue a cyber charge, he said.
 
New gun law creates confusion
In one month a law will take effect in Mississippi that has many law enforcement officers, business owners and regular people confused. House Bill 2, a bill meant to clarify Mississippi's concealed carry gun laws, defines the word concealed and in doing so says it shall not include weapons being carried upon a person in a sheath, belt holster or shoulder holster that is wholly or partially visible. Gun rights advocates have taken to campaigning for and embracing a new open carry movement. Many law enforcement officials have expressed concern that this will bring more weapons into play in their everyday duties, increasing their call volume and confusion at crime scenes. House Bill 2 author, Rep. Andy Gipson, R- Braxton, said Mississippi has always been an open carry state and the campaigning and worry is much to do about nothing.
 
State Board of Education agrees on traits sought in Mississippi K-12 leader
A new Mississippi superintendent of education should be able to work with lawmakers, put students first in decisions and be able to navigate the state's diversity, say local superintendents and members of the state Board of Education. Those are among qualities state board members voted Friday to include on Mississippi's call for applications for a new superintendent. Now that the board has approved language, search firm Ray and Associates will be begin advertising the position and soliciting applicants. Board members hope to make a selection by October. Interim Superintendent Lynn House has served since Tom Burnham resigned last year. She isn't a candidate for the permanent post.
 
Blight sweeping Central American coffee plantations puts thousands out of work
Across Central America, even as rains arrive, many coffee plantations contain only spindly, nearly defoliated bushes, the result of a blight known as coffee leaf rust whose devastation, so far, has yet to affect the prices of premium highland coffee that baristas serve around the developed word. But while Americans have yet to feel its effects, the blight may soon prove to be as disastrous as any earthquake or volcanic eruption to afflict Central America. Already, it's knocked nearly half a million people out of work and driven up crime. And the crisis is only beginning. It may soon send a stream of new migrants toward the United States, speed up deforestation and invigorate illicit narcotics production. It also serves as a bellwether on climate change.
 
Risk-Averse Culture Infects U.S. Workers, Entrepreneurs
Americans have long taken pride in their willingness to bet it all on a dream. But that risk-taking spirit appears to be fading. Three long-running trends suggest the U.S. economy has turned soft on risk: Companies add jobs more slowly, even in good times. Investors put less money into new ventures. And, more broadly, Americans start fewer businesses and are less inclined to change jobs or move for new opportunities. The changes reflect broader, more permanent shifts, including an aging population and the new dominance of large corporations in many industries. They also may help explain the increasingly sluggish economic recoveries after the past three recessions, experts said.
 
Retiring UM professor Winkle leaves extensive legacy
Beginning a story about John Winkle's career at the University of Mississippi is difficult. It can focus on the number of students the political science professor taught during his 39-year career or the hundreds of practicing Mississippi attorneys who took his courses as undergraduates. It could highlight his role in starting the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, the Lott Leadership Institute and the Mock Trial program. Or the introduction could note the teaching style and personality that allowed him to win the most significant awards the university confers. Winkle, 66, retired last month.
 
Girls State starts at Southern Miss; week-long program teaches girls about politics
Girls State got underway Sunday at the University of Southern Mississippi with about 300 rising senior girls arriving on campus for the week-long program. The girls spent the day registering and checking into their dorm, before heading over to the Thad Cochran Ballroom for opening ceremonies. The 65th session of Girls State is sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary. The session will be held through Friday. During the course of six days, the girls will get a chance to learn about politics and governance through simulated campaigns and elections. The program also will feature guest speakers, including Mississippi elected officials from all levels of government.
 
Study: Coast county created 4,000 jobs in half-decade
A University of Southern Mississippi economic study shows that nearly 4,000 new jobs have been created in the Jackson County area in the last five years because of local companies' investments. The figures were released by the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation. The Mississippi Press reports the study estimates the jobs carry about $231 million in yearly salaries. Chad Miller, assistant professor and graduate coordinator at USM's Department of Economic and Workforce Development, said the study assessed $2.8 billion in capital investment at companies including Gulf LNG, Northrop Grumman Aerospace, Chevron Corp., Rolls Royce and others.
 
Delta State, city partner in recycling efforts
Delta State University and Cleveland Public Works recently partnered in recycling. While Cleveland continues in it's mission to better the city, Delta State assists in shipping their plastic to the public works department, where it is then recycled. DSU also bails its own cardboard and then puts the profits in the university's general fund. Director of Facility Operations, Ted Hochradel said "it makes the whole process more economical. It's a win-win situation for DSU and Cleveland."
 
Mississippi College building new president's home on Clinton campus
A new home for the president of Mississippi College will be built on the Clinton campus. School officials say the last home built for the president was constructed in 1966. The new five-bedroom home for the university's president and family will be located on the site of the former McGuffee House and Hilltop Theater in Clinton. The Hilltop Theater was once a popular Clinton movie house through the 1960s. After it was acquired by Mississippi College, the building was initially used as a band hall. It had been unoccupied and used only sparingly for several years.
 
U. of Alabama to mark 'Schoolhouse Door' date
On June 11, 1963, Vivian Malone and James Hood stepped through the doors of Foster Auditorium and ended racial segregation at the University of Alabama. On June 11, 2013, UA will host "Through the Doors: Courage. Change. Progress." at the same site where then-Gov. George C. Wallace made his infamous "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door" before the National Guard forced him to step aside and allow the two black students to make civil rights history. The program is part of a yearlong commemoration of the events of 50 years ago. Also part of the commemoration is a Friday interfaith prayer breakfast celebrating the role of the faith community in the civil rights movement. "This is an opportunity to reflect on our history, celebrate our progress and look ahead to the next 50 years of change on our campus," said UA President Judy Bonner.
 
U. of South Carolina tests expanded summer classes
On a hot morning last week that screamed beach day, more than 25 students sat in a University of South Carolina summer chemistry class, trying to concentrate on a difficult course they needed to pass for their majors. Getting through lessons in enthalpy and Hess's Law is a little easier in USC's newly expanded summer semester. With two extra weeks to teach, chemistry professor Amy Taylor-Perry could chop daily classes, which had been three-hours long, in half to 90 minutes. One result? Test scores are higher than during traditional semesters -- even in a class that includes a number of students who are repeating the class after failing in their first try. This year, for the first time, the state's flagship university has turned its summer session into a period more like its fall and spring semesters. The redesigned third semester, USC's former summer school session, gives students more opportunities to take classes so they can graduate in less than four years, or catch up if they are changing majors or taking an internship outside of the summer months.
 
State requests Updyke pay $1M in Toomer's Oaks restitution
Though he's currently in jail, the case against Harvey Updyke isn't over. A motion was recently filed by the Lee County District Attorney's office requesting that Updyke, who pleaded guilty in March to poisoning the Toomer's Oaks, pay more than $1.042 million in restitution for the destruction of the trees. According to the motion, it is estimated that Auburn University has already incurred more than $89,916.74 in costs over work on the trees and that it would cost an estimated $425,780 to plant new trees, pay consultant fees and perform soil remediation and replacement work, according to the Samford Park redevelopment cost estimate from the landscape master team. The state estimated that Auburn University, as well as the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, have current and future costs of $521,396.74 for the project, with the Department of Agriculture and Industries likely to spend $5,700 on testing as well.
 
U. of Florida faces mountain of maintenance needs
From cranky basement water chillers to leaky rooftops, from disintegrating electrical cables to erupting steam lines, the University of Florida campus is a city with aging infrastructure in dire need of repair. Without money to fix big-ticket items, UF must put these repairs on its deferred maintenance list. That list totals about $45 million, said Curtis Reynolds, vice president for Business Affairs and Economic Development. That's going to make it all the more difficult to decide which projects will get financed with the $16.7 million the Legislature has appropriated for UF's critical maintenance needs -- in other words, the systems at UF that are projected to fail within a year unless they get immediate attention. "When we are looking at critically deferred maintenance, we are looking across all of these systems to find a balance," Reynolds said.
 
U. of Kentucky study suggests horses can help humans learn
A pioneering study at the University of Kentucky suggests humans have a lot to learn from horses. A pioneering study at the University of Kentucky suggests humans have a lot to learn from horses. Horses can help people develop empathy and enhance social and leadership skills, according to a recently-completed study of equine-assisted learning among 21 nurses at UK Chandler Hospital. The two-year study was conducted by researchers with UK's College of Agriculture and UK's Center for Leadership Development. Janine Lindgreen, a clinical nursing specialist and co-investigator in the study, said spending time with horses at Lexington's Pine Knoll Farm was an eye-opener for those who took part.
 
Cuts in Lottery Scholarships Challenge Arkansas Colleges
While the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery seeks to compensate for slumping sales, the state's colleges and universities are struggling to help incoming freshmen compensate for a decrease of $2,500 in their lottery-funded scholarships. The Academic Challenge Scholarship is awarded by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and funded largely by the lottery. When it started in the 2010-11 school year, the scholarship awarded $5,000 to eligible students attending a four-year college and $2,500 to two-year students. The next year, the award dropped to $4,500 and $2,250 for new recipients while remaining at the higher level for the first group of students. It stayed the same for 2012-13. But for the upcoming school year, 2013-14, incoming freshmen at either four-year or two-year schools will receive only $2,000.
 
Even Some College Means a Higher Paycheck
A recent study by the Arkansas Research Center in Conway shows that students who completed even a few college courses will make more money than if they never went to college. The report, "Education & Wage Outcomes for the Arkansas Workforce," identified nearly 70,000 Arkansans who stopped their formal education in 2006 and then averaged out what their wages were in 2011, said ARC Director Neal Gibson. The study showed that those people who either dropped out of high school or only finished high school will have a tough financial road ahead of them. Their average wage after five years was just $12,500. "Can you imagine trying to make a living with $12,500, especially if you have children and especially if you're a single mom?" Gibson said. "The future's pretty bleak." The good news is that more education means more money. The average wage for someone with even a little college after five years was $23,000.
 
Study: U. of Arkansas Students Prefer Casual Dress, Even on Others
A study by a recent University of Arkansas graduate found that students on the Fayetteville campus react negatively to business attire and positively to "business casual" or casual clothes. The findings by Quang Ngo suggest that college students need to be educated about the importance of dress in the workplace, according to Kathy Smith, an assistant professor in apparel studies. "It's possible that college students are influenced more by the popular culture of their peers when making decisions about dress," Smith said in a press release from the UA. "Such results indicate the necessity for colleges and universities to develop programs for students to understand the importance of business professional clothing and how to dress professionally prior to beginning their career."
 
Rutgers president faces controversy on multiple fronts, including athletics
When Rutgers University hired Robert Barchi as its new president last fall, the experienced university leader and accomplished neurosurgeon was hailed as just the man to oversee a complicated merger and strategic planning process that would transform Rutgers -- which for many years has struggled to crack the upper echelons of universities -- into a research powerhouse. The first year was supposed to be the most challenging, culminating in the official July 1 merger of Rutgers with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, a separate educational institution with four campuses, eight academic units, a staff of more than 12,000 and about 8,000 graduate and professional students. And this year has proven quite challenging for Barchi, though not for the reasons many expected. Barchi's limited exposure to athletics issues means that he may have struggled with problems more seasoned presidents could manage.
 
How online learning is reinventing college
Online learning, once considered the Yugo of higher education, is now sweeping through American academia faster than anyone thought conceivable just five years ago. Almost every week, some elite private college or public university announces plans to put professors on camera and beam lectures to students half a mile or half a world away. For the schools, the technology is a way to reach people they might not otherwise engage and to experiment with a tool that could transform how they dispense knowledge in the future. For those tuning in -- often thousands, ranging in age from 9 to 90 -- it is a way to brush up on a subject, prepare for a course they may one day take on campus, or just learn from a professor they otherwise would never have access to, like a godfather of the Human Genome Project.
 
Gordon Gee apologizes to Big 10 and Arkansas coach
Gordon Gee issued a new set of apologies over the weekend. The Ohio State University president was apologizing at the end of last week for comments he made at an athletics council meeting at the university. When the full recording was heard, Gee could also be heard discussing Big 10 business and gossip, some of which he now says was untrue. On Sunday evening, Ohio State released a statement from Gee in which he outlined new apologies he had made during the day. Gee has enjoyed strong support from his board, which has paid him exceptionally well and lured him back for a second tour as president at Ohio State, having led Brown University and Vanderbilt University in between. Gee has been credited for phenomenal fund-raising ability and for hiring top administrators and faculty members. He has been beloved by many students and alumni. He also has a history of putting his foot in his mouth -- always apologizing and usually saying he was trying to be humorous.
 
As Clock Ticks, Senate Plans Student Loan Test Votes
With federal student loan interest rates set to double on July 1, Congress returns from recess facing a familiar partisan brawl with no quick resolution in sight. "This sounds like déjà vu all over again," President Barack Obama joked at a Rose Garden rally on the issue Friday, surrounded by college students. "That's because it is. We went through this last summer." Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced Friday that the Senate will vote during the first week of June on legislation to avert the scheduled interest rate increase. The vote could come as an amendment to the farm bill (S 954) that is pending on the floor, but will probably be done separately, a senior Senate Democratic aide said.
 
Federal farm bill matters to Mississippi
Jerry Hingle, executive director and CEO of the Southern United States Trade Association, writes: "The farm bill currently making its way through Congress is important to everyone who lives and works in Mississippi because it provides critical support to one of the pillars of the state's economy: international trade. The bill helps keep the doors open to exports of America's food and agriculture. Mississippi's total agriculture exports reached $1.3 billion in 2012. For that reason, as well as the need to diversify Mississippi's economy and provide support to producers and exporters of agricultural products, Mississippi has a vested interest in the fate of the bill."
 
Food stamps issue looms like lightning rod in farm bill | Sarah Robinson (Opinion)
The Daily Journal's Sarah Robinson writes: "In recent weeks, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, otherwise known as the farm bill, passed through the House and Senate Agriculture committees with relative ease. Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Republican Sen. Thad Cochran have been lauded for their bipartisan cooperation and leadership of the bill, and rightly so. For a brief moment, it seemed like Congress might pass a major piece of legislation this session and ensure much-needed support for farmers across the U.S. But once again a storm is swelling, and the threat of a stalemate in conference -- should the bill pass both chambers -- is very real. The lightning rod in the farm bill is the federal food stamp program."
 
One nation, indivisible, falling apart
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "In between bleeding heart liberals and heartless conservatives abide ordinary Americans with heartfelt concerns about the future of our country. Those of us with deep roots -- I am a Mayflower descendant -- shudder at the rise of divisive politics and the decline of historic ideals that unite us. In between Memorial Day, when we as a nation remember and celebrate those who died for our freedom, and Independence Day, when we as a nation remember and celebrate the freedoms they died for, we should remember our roots and ponder if the divided nation we are becoming is something to celebrate. Let us remember."
 
New regime, new network at Mississippi Department of Marine Resources | Michael Newsom (Opinion)
The Sun Herald's Michael Newsom writes: "I'm starting to wonder if much has really changed at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. ...To this country boy from Duck Hill, it appears the main difference is instead of a network of politically connected locals, we've got a much more high-powered clique at DMR with stronger ties to Jackson and Washington. To use a baseball analogy, it appears we've stepped up to the big leagues, and not in a good way."
 
Medicaid strategy angers Dems | Geoff Pender (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "Gov. Phil Bryant and Speaker Philip Gunn are hoping a handful of Republican House members will put aside ethical concerns, vote with the team and end the state Medicaid standoff. But this has Democrats spitting mad, crying foul and posting conspiracy theories. It's also likely to get the courts involved, and it's dragging the state Ethics Commission, bless its heart, into the fray. In other words, the Mississippi Medicaid situation is: situation normal, all fouled up, as the clock ticks."
 
Two candidates, one bad choice | Slim Smith (Opinion) | Dispatch
The Dispatch's Slim Smith writes: "Tuesday, Starkville voters will go to the polls to choose a mayor. Incumbent Parker Wiseman faces a stiff challenge from Republican challenger Dan Moreland. In recent weeks, Moreland's campaign -- thought to be badly damaged by a recent audit that showed sloppy accounting and budgeting practices in the Starkville Parks Commission -- has gained momentum. ...It has been said that the people generally get the government they deserve. Starkville deserves better than Dan Moreland. By any measurable standard, Parker Wiseman is clearly the only suitable choice."
 
Civil rights atrocities paved the way for Malik Pridgeon | Sid Salter (Opinion)
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "A half-century ago, the little tableau I saw unfold this week simply would not have happened. Mississippi State University hosted the 2013 Mississippi American Legion Boys State program this week and I watched as Gov. Phil Bryant posed for several photographs with the newly elected governor of Boys State. Bryant shook hands with his counterpart and engaged him in friendly banter, then put his arm around him in a congratulatory hug as the photographers took care of their business. The young man, Horn Lake High School product Malik Pridgeon, seemly equally happy for his face time with Mississippi's governor. Bryant's white. Boys State Gov. Malik Pridgeon is African American. Bryant was elected governor in a state with a solid white majority. Pridgeon was also elected by a constituency that is majority white in the 2013 Boys State delegation. The point is that Pridgeon's election as governor of Mississippi Boys State was a non-event from a racial standpoint. So, too, was Bryant's public embrace -- literally and figuratively -- of this impressive young man."


SPORTS
 
Sloppy effort sends Bulldogs to do-or-die game
Mississippi State and Central Arkansas have another rubber match, but the stakes are significantly higher this time. The No. 14-ranked Bulldogs couldn't finish the job Sunday night in the NCAA regional at Dudy Noble Field, falling 5-2 to UCA in front of 10,226 fans. The teams will meet again today at 7:05 p.m., with the winner advancing to the super regional round. "We lost our identity, and that's disappointing, but we have another day," MSU coach John Cohen said. "If we don't learn from it, we can see an instant replay."
 
Win or go home: Mississippi State's miscues force elimination game
Central Arkansas continues to act as Mississippi State's kryptonite. The Bulldogs had as many errors as they did hits Sunday night. For the second consecutive game against Central Arkansas, MSU committed four errors. This time around, the Bulldogs couldn't rebound like it did Friday and lost 5-2 in front of 10,226 at Dudy Noble Field in the NCAA Starkville Regional. "They're a solid ballclub," said MSU third baseman Sam Frost. "We weren't focused coming into today. We were looking ahead and maybe didn't quite take them seriously." The Bulldogs' (45-18) loss sets up a rematch today at 7 p.m. It was the eighth straight win for Central Arkansas (42-21) when facing elimination.
 
Notebook: UCA's Bears on another tear
Central Arkansas is trying to repeat some recent history. The Bears have gotten good at avoiding posteason elimination. They did so Sunday by beating No. 14 Mississippi State, 5-2, in the NCAA regional championship round. The teams meet again today at 7:05 p.m. After losing the opening game of the Southland Conference Tournament, UCA won five in a row. It's won three straight here, including a 3-0 win over South Alabama earlier Sunday.
 
Notebook: Errors plague Mississippi State SS Frazier
The SEC coaches voted Adam Frazier to its All-Defense team last week. If the coaches saw the junior's recent play, they may have voted differently. Frazier committed two errors against Central Arkansas on Sunday. He now has five in the last six games. Prior to that, the Bulldogs shortstop made just nine in his first 57 games this season. He finished with 210 assists. That was easily the most on the team and more than any first or second team shortstop in the SEC. "We did make a bunch of errors tonight. Really there was only one that hurt, that was the double play ball," MSU coach John Cohen said. "That's really the only one that really (hurt us)." In five games against Central Arkansas, Frazier has four errors. As a team the Bulldogs have 12 against Central Arkansas this season and eight in regionals.
 
Oconee County's Adam Frazier makes mark at Mississippi State
Few sports value patience like baseball. Players not only need to stay sharp for the right moment on the field, but also while waiting for their chance to contribute to the team. Former Oconee County standout Adam Frazier barely played when he first arrived at Mississippi State. But he grabbed his first opportunity and has become an all-conference performer in the Bulldogs' infield the last two seasons. Frazier capped a dream-like 2012 season by leading Mississippi State to the Southeastern Conference Tournament title, was named the tournament's most-valuable player and was picked for USA Baseball's collegiate national team last summer. Now, he has helped put Mississippi State back into the postseason as they host an NCAA regional that began Friday.
 
Loyalties Stretched for South Alabama Prez
John Smith says he's a South Alabama Jaguar fan but no one can blame him if he sometimes is conflicted about who to cheer for in the NCAA baseball regional in Starkville. Of the four teams in the Starkville regional, Smith has ties to three. He earned his doctorate in education from MSU and was assistant director of housing while there. He then went to Central Arkansas, where he held a variety of administrative positions, including interim president. From there, he went to South Alabama in 2007 and recently was named acting president.
 
Fulton's McDonald to defend MWGA State Amateur title
Defending champion Ally McDonald, a newly crowned collegiate All-American, will be in the first group off the tee on Monday as the MWGA State Amateur opens at Old Waverly in West Point. McDonald, a Mississippi State sophomore from Fulton, tees off at 8 a.m. with MSU teammate Mary Langdon Gallagher and her mother, 2012 semifinalist Cissye Gallagher.
 
MSU Lady Bulldogs finish historic season led by Hope native coach Ginger Brown-Lemm
Capping off the school's most successful women's golf season at Mississippi State University, the Lady Bulldogs team finished the NCAA Championships 24th overall for their first tourney appearance held at the University of Georgia in Athens under Hope native head coach Ginger Brown-Lemm. Brown-Lemm will be inducted into the Arkansas State Golf Association Hall of Fame in October with pro golfer and Hope native Ken Duke.
 
Little resolution at SEC meetings
The Southeastern Conference held one of its shortest business meetings in league history Friday. The powerful conference wrapped up its annual spring meetings with presidents and chancellors not taking a single vote, quite possibly the first time that's happened in the league's 80-year history. "Shortest meeting in the history of the league," University of Florida President Bernie Machen said. Presidents and chancellors delayed a decision about potentially moving to a nine-game league schedule. As expected, they agreed that 2014 and 2015 slates will follow the current 6-1-1 model, with teams playing six division opponents, one permanent, cross-division rival and one rotational game against the remaining six teams.



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