Monday, July 22, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Universities offering loan counseling
As Congress and the White House debate student loan debt, Mississippi universities are working to educate their students on the most responsible practices for financial aid. Mississippi State University recently announced it will develop a financial education program for students funded by a $40,000 grant from the Council of Graduate Schools. With student loan debt exceeding $1 trillion nationwide last year, the crisis is having an impact on undergraduate and graduate students in the U.S., said Karen Coats, MSU associate dean of the graduate school and co-principal investigator for the project.
 
Congressional resolution notes civil rights milestones, basketball game
It was a basketball game played 50 years ago, but it still stands out as a key moment in civil rights history. Last week, Republican Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker of Mississippi co-sponsored a resolution honoring the two 1963 basketball teams that played what has become known as "the Game of Change." The all-white Mississippi State University team sneaked out of Mississippi in defiance of a state injunction to play against the interracial team from Loyola in a game Loyola won 61-51. "That contest a half-century ago undoubtedly helped to move Mississippi and our nation forward in addressing the inequalities of our society," Cochran said.
 
Keenum delivering commencement address at JCJC
Jones County Junior College will hold summer commencement exercises at 10 a.m. Aug. 2 in the A.B. Howard Gymnasium. Keynote speaker will be Mississippi State University's 19th president, Mark Keenum. A Corinth native and Northeast Mississippi Community College and MSU graduate, Keenum was recently elected to chair the state delegation and serve on the executive council of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' commission, and on the American Public Land-Grant Universities board of directors.
 
Mississippi State again surpasses $80M mark in donations
Mississippi State University is reporting its third-straight year of more than $80 million in donations. John Rush, MSU vice president for development and alumni who serves as the MSU Foundation CEO, says Mississippi State will soon be announcing another long-term fundraising campaign this fall.
 
Honda's Fujino Readies 'Flying Acura' to Challenge Cessna
Michimasa Fujino began working on Honda Motor Co.'s aviation project 27 years ago at a hangar in Mississippi. Next year, Fujino, now president of the aircraft unit, says the project may finally get off the ground. If so, Tokyo-based Honda would become the first newcomer to get U.S. approval in the $21 billion business-jet market since 2006. For Fujino, the jet's debut would come more than three decades after the company assigned him, then 26, to be the fifth member of a team dedicated to figuring out how to make planes. Fujino said he was then dispatched to Mississippi State University.
 
MSU-CVM achieves high level of veterinary excellence
The Animal Health Center at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine has achieved the highest level of veterinary excellence following a thorough evaluation by the American Animal Hospital Association. MSU-CVM's Animal Health Center earned AAHA accreditation after a rigorous review of the hospital's practice protocols, medical equipment, facility and client service.
 
Campers learn to design, build new video games
Starkville fifth-grader Wyatt Shanahan came to Mississippi State University's Video Game Engineering Camp wearing a T-shirt listing a periodic table of elements for the video game "Minecraft."
 
Teen entrepreneurs turn 'know how' into business
Technological advances in computer hardware and software have so come fast and furious over the past decades that they've even carved out a place in our language with idioms like "There's an app for that." So what happens when local residents need a little insight with a new Apple computer or its advanced software? "There are two guys for that." Starkville High School graduates Nathan Ansel and Chase McCoy recently founded The Know How, a computer troubleshooting business dedicated to resolving technical problems and ensuring quality user experience in the future. Both are enrolled as computer science majors at Mississippi State University.
 
Heavy rains are blessing, curse to local farmers
For thousands of years, farmers have studied the sky, wondering when the next rain will fall. This growing season, Lowndes County farmers haven't had to do much wondering. Charlie Stokes, the area agronomy agent with the Mississippi State Extension Service, watches the rainfall as closely as the anxious farmer. Stokes said the area had a wet spring which led to difficulty during the planting months. "We've got a really late plant of crop," Stokes said. "We had a really wet spring and a lot of growers didn't even get their crops planted. For the ones that did, they're probably, on average, a month behind."
 
Apollo 11 Moon Landing Remembered
Forty-four years ago this weekend, the United States became the first nation to put a man on the moon. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong took a giant step for mankind. By the late 1960s, the race to put a man on the moon was in its home stretch. Mississippi State University professor Jim Newman worked with NASA five years before the launching of Apollo 11. "...we were good about doing the first things. Of course we weren't the first to put satellites in orbit, the Russians were. But then we came in and we beat them at the game. We beat them to the moon. But then we just let things fizzle after that," said Newman.
 
Jason Keith leading MSU institute
Jason Keith, Earnest W. Deavenport Jr. Chair and director of Mississippi State University's Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering, is taking on an additional role with the land-grant institution. Keith will lead the MSU Energy Institute, which is administrated jointly by the Office of Research and Economic Development and the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine. Keith, who has been Swalm's director since August 2011, is taking the institute's helm from veteran faculty member and administrator W. Glenn Steele, who retired from MSU as William L. Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering last year.
 
MSU alumni national board members seated
New members of the Mississippi State University Alumni Association's national board of directors have begun one-year terms after being appointed in February. The team includes president Tommy R. Roberson of Memphis, Tenn., Ronald E. Black of Meridian, first vice president; Jackson resident Brad M. Reeves, second vice president; and, Jodi White Turner of Montgomery, Ala., will continue her role as treasurer. Camille Scales Young, of Madison, continues on the board as immediate former national president.
 
Renasant Bank makes officer promotions
Renasant Bank has made a number of officer promotions. Larry Coggin is executive vice president, corporate banking administrator in Tupelo. Coggin attended Mississippi State University, graduating with a BBA in banking and finance. Lucius Brock is senior vice president, corporate relationship officer in Lafayette County. Brock attended Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi, graduating with a bachelor of business administration degree and an MBA, respectively. Alasha Rhea is vice president, employee benefits officer in Tupelo. Rhea graduated from Mississippi State with a bachelor's degree in business administration, majoring in marketing.
 
Kristy Irons Riley, Anna Grace Ward promoted
Kristy Irons Riley, former communications director for Mitchell Companies, has been promoted to general manager of M'Prints Promotional Products and National Scrubwear. Prior to this role, she served as the director of marketing and communication for the Division of Development and Alumni at Mississippi State University. In 2004, she received a bachelor of arts degree in English with a minor in public relations from Mississippi State. Mitchell Companies has also recently named Anna Grace Ward as the new communications manager. Ward graduated from Mississippi State University in 2011 with a bachelor of arts degree in communication with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in marketing.
 
Ben Hammond memorial softball tournament gets huge draw
In the midst of the adult softball summer league season, the Sammie Davidson Complex in Meridian was swarming with non-league play as the Ben Hammond Endowment Scholarship Fund Softball Tournament took over the fields on Saturday. The tournament was held in honor of Southeast Lauderdale student, Ben Hammond, who died in February at 13 years old after a farming accident. The Hammond family started the scholarship at Mississippi State University with the funding raised though Saturday's softball tournament to marry his love of sports and the Bulldogs into an event in his honor.
 
MDOT gives funds to Natchez depot restoration
The Mississippi Department of Transportation has given the city of Natchez $500,000 to help restore a local depot and relocate the Natchez Farmer's Market there. Mississippi Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King told city officials that the agency will give the city another $250,000 in the spring, The Natchez Democrat reported. The city is partnering with Alcorn State University and Mississippi State University to build a pavilion for the Alcorn State Extension program's farmers market and turn the depot into a public product development facility with a demonstration kitchen as well as a visitor center for the Natchez Trails Project.
 
Poultry industry petitions for road, bridge work
It is a common complaint heard from county supervisors -- chicken trucks are tearing up their roads and bridges, outstripping the resources at hand to maintain them. Last week, the poultry industry had a chance to face its accusers and offer its point of view, though it shied away from the finger pointing. "We don't need to get in a blame game here," said Mark Leggett, president of the Mississippi Poultry Association who presented last week at the State Capitol to the Senate study group looking into the growing problem of the state's crumbling roadways and bridges. "We don't need to think blame. We need to think economics." Using a map he obtained from Dr. Scott Samson, Extension professor at Mississippi State University, Leggett illustrated how suspect bridges surround the state's poultry facilities. He explained that these facilities serve as a hub, with the farms representing the spokes, which puts a large volume of traffic on county roads that too often do not have the capacity.
 
Highway 182 improvement project given green light
Starkville commuters should see increased activity and potential delays on Highway 182 in the coming weeks as workers begin a significant improvement project to the important thoroughfare. North Mississippi Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert confirmed the planned $2.8 million project is expected to continue through November, weather permitting. Improvements will include significant road overlays within the city limits. "Highway 182 represents one of the major entry ways into the city. It sees about 10,000-plus vehicles per day," Tagert said. "This project is first and foremost designed to improve safety, but there's certainly no question having adequate infrastructure is vital when trying to develop and recruit businesses in major corridors."
 
Starkville board expected to attempt veto override
Starkville aldermen are expected to amend Tuesday's board agenda to include a vote on Mayor Parker Wiseman's veto of chief administrative officer Lynn Spruill's termination despite its absence from the official plan. Numerous Spruill supporters are expected to attend Tuesday's meeting to show support for the embattled chief administrative officer.
 
Perkins inducted into Municipal League Hall of Fame
Starkville's senior board member, Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins, was inducted into the Mississippi Municipal League Hall of Fame last week and honored for his 20 years of civic duty. The self-described fiscal conservative and "voice of the people," reflected Thursday on his journey from the northern Oktibbeha County countryside where he grew up to arguing a winning case before the Mississippi Supreme Court. While he enjoys serving his Starkville constituents, Perkins has not ruled out pursuing higher office. A Starkville High School graduate, Perkins holds a law degree from Mississippi College and both a bachelor's and master's degree from Mississippi State University.
 
Legal expert: Miss., Fla. gun laws have parallels but differ
When a Tupelo man was shot and died outside a neighbor's house in June, questions arose over Mississippi gun laws. The case continues under investigation, but it's expected to be presented to an October grand jury, a District Attorney's Office spokesman said last week. Meanwhile, the Tupelo case and the controversial acquittal of George Zimmerman in Florida put self-defense issues into the spotlight. Phillip W. Broadhead, director of the University of Mississippi's School of Law Criminal Appeals Clinic and a professor of law, sees parallels and differences in the two cases.
 
Pre-K advocates encouraged by US education secretary
For years, advocates of improving education for Mississippi's 4-year-old children have been beset by frustrations. Until last spring, the state was the only one in the South and one of 11 in the nation that did not spend any money on early-childhood education. So when the United States Secretary of Education praised the state's efforts on that front earlier this week, the remarks were noteworthy. Cathy Grace, who has been among the states' biggest advocates for expanded pre-K, said those efforts are "a small step" that Mississippi must continue to increase. The former director of early childhood development policy for the national Children's Defense Fund said she was encouraged Duncan was aware "things are moving in Mississippi."
 
'Giant House Party' kicks off Friday
The annual event known as Mississippi's Giant House Party kicks off Friday. Inaugurated in 1889, the 124th annual Neshoba County Fair will take place from July 26 through Aug. 2. Located on Highway 21, the Neshoba County Fair is a favorite with politicians, who network around the grandstand to connect with potential voters in future elections. This year, the fair will boast incumbent politicians and newcomers alike. Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves are both scheduled to make an appearance at Founders Square on Wednesday, July 31, and Thursday, Aug. 1, respectively. This year's event will also play a role in the Heart O' Dixie Triathlon, where finishers complete the race on the fairgrounds.
 
Catching up with South Mississippi's Gene Taylor and Trent Lott
Though they are no longer representing Mississippi on Capitol Hill and fighting partisan battles, former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott and former U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor have more than enough to keep them busy these days.
 
How much influence would Bennie Thompson have in an election to replace him?
Mississippi 2nd District Congressman Bennie Thompson, D-Bolton, was one of the names floated as a possibility to replace outgoing Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano. Thompson has represented the 2nd District -- which encompasses the Mississippi Delta and parts of Hinds County -- since the early 1990s. His seat is considered the safest in the state; his re-election every two years is all but guaranteed. Thompson said in a statement Monday that he has no interest in the DHS job, and will stay where he is. Because of his tenure and string of relatively easy re-election campaigns, Thompson often holds considerable sway over municipal and county races within his district. And because of that, Thompson's preferred candidate to replace him, should he get the DHS post, would have a built-in advantage. Maybe.
 
State auditor Stacey Pickering wants to change fee system for clerks
Every year, the Mississippi auditor's office cites a handful of circuit and chancery clerks for overpaying themselves. Now, as lawyers for Auditor Stacey Pickering and Warren County fight in court with Warren County Circuit Clerk Shelly Ashley-Palmertree, the Republican Pickering says he wants to meet with clerks and county supervisors statewide to discuss changes to the fee system. "In light of some of the cases we've filed recently, this is an issue that needs to be discussed," Pickering said.
 
Mississippi's broadband safety network runs into interruptions
Mississippi's attempt to become the first state to build a high-tech, potentially life-saving broadband network that can beam videos and data to police, firefighters and medical teams during emergencies has come to a halt, stalled by bureaucratic and financial hurdles. With little notice, the state's Wireless Communications Commission voted last week to freeze construction on the $56 million project, already nearly 80 percent complete, because of an impasse with the federal government and a state budget shortfall.
 
Republicans who got farm subsidies targeted
House Democrats are targeting Republicans who receive farm subsidies but opposed a stripped-down farm bill with no food stamp assistance. Fourteen GOP lawmakers have received a total of $7.2 million in farm subsidies, according to the available data since 2004, but all voted for an amendment that would have decreased the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program according to a report Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) is releasing Monday. "It's outrageous that some members of Congress feel it is OK to vote for their own taxpayer subsidies but against critical nutrition assistance for 47 million Americans," Miller said.
 
Congress's Oversight of Domestic Spying Fails for Many Reasons, Scholars Say
The revelations from Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency has been tracking the communications of millions of Americans seem to have surprised Congress as much everyone else. "Snowden, I don't like him at all," said Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican, during a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week, "but we would have never known what happened if he hadn't told us." But to scholars who study Congressional oversight of the government's intelligence agencies, this is hardly news. Their analysis is unsparing: Legislators are ill equipped to handle the complexities of the country's fast-growing intelligence industry, turf battles prevent them from carrying out their duties effectively, and the intelligence agencies themselves conspire with the executive branch to limit access to information.
 
Air Force aims to land more top guns amid pilot shortage
Help wanted: At least 130 veteran military aviators for nine-year commitment to fly fighter jets. Salary: $34,500 to $97,400. Plus good benefits and a $225,000 signing bonus --- guaranteed. Contact: U.S. Air Force by Sept. 30. That's the offer from the Pentagon, which is so short of Air Force fighter pilots that it's boosting its salary package to make the job more enticing. It may be hard to imagine that life as a high-flying fighter jock has lost its swagger, but the Air Force revealed it has a shortage of 200 fighter pilots this year. And if something isn't done, the Air Force, which has about 3,000 fighter pilots, fears it may face a shortfall of 700 by 2021.
 
Faulkner conference focuses on black literature
A professor for the Department of English at the University of Chicago addressed the audience at the Nutt Auditorium on the campus of Ole Miss this weekend. His presentation explored the liberal imagination of William Faulkner."This is an opportunity to see how William Faulkner's work has influenced and continues to shape discussions of African-American literature," said Kenneth Warren. "We're interested in the kind of conversations that opened up between his work and the work of black predecessors, black contemporaries and his black sucessors," adds Jay Watston, the director of Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference.
 
Delta State University president LaForge returning to work
Delta State University President Bill LaForge says his doctors have given him a clean bill of health, and he will be back at work this week. DSU spokeswoman Michelle Roberts said Friday that LaForge will attend a Delta State alumni meeting next Thursday in Jackson, then will return to campus in Cleveland. Delta State University President Bill LaForge says his doctors have given him a clean bill of health, and he will be back at work next week. DSU spokeswoman Michelle Roberts said Friday that LaForge will attend a Delta State alumni meeting next Thursday in Jackson, then will return to campus in Cleveland.
 
International firm opening office at USM
A Netherlands-based software firm will operate an office in the Trent Lott National Center for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship at the University of Southern Mississippi. INCONTROL Simulation Solutions's new office location in Hattiesbug is a result of a partnership with the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security at USM.
 
Hamblin looks back on 48-year career
In 1965, before Dr. Robert Hamblin could begin teaching at Southeast Missouri State University, he first had to pass an interview with Southeast president Mark Scully. With that interview, Hamblin embarked upon a 48-year career in the English Department at Southeast, a career that will officially end Aug 5. When it came time to choose a college, Hamblin said that schools such as Ole Miss and Mississippi State University were financially out of his reach. He enrolled at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Boonville, Miss., where his grades improved. It was while he studied at Delta State that Hamblin discovered the literary works of Mississippi native William Faulkner.
 
Domestic partner benefits advocates ask if law or commitment holds UGA back
University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby recently said Georgia's public colleges and universities can't use state funds to pay for domestic partner benefits under current law and policy. Huckaby suggested the University of Georgia Foundation might be an avenue for funding such benefits. But the foundation's executive committee last month said that employee benefits are not part of its mission. And though the foundation is a private, nonprofit corporation, it is too intertwined with the state to help to bring such benefits as health and life insurance to unmarried partners at UGA, they said. With the foundation's and chancellor's statements, UGA administrators have gone as far as they can on that issue, university President Jere Morehead said in a recent radio interview. But proponents of domestic partner benefits aren't giving up.
 
Retired U. of Florida professor gives $1M to scholarship program
A retired University of Florida professor has donated $1 million to support UF's Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars program so students from low-income backgrounds can follow his path to higher education. The gift from Paul Nicoletti, D.V.M., will create graduate-level scholarships in UF's College of Veterinary Medicine, a part of UF Health. He made the gift during a four-month fundraising drive that collected $15 million for the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars program. Nicoletti's own life experience inspired his gift. A $150 Sears Roebuck scholarship took him from his family farm in Missouri and helped pay his way through the University of Missouri. He later obtained a master's degree in epidemiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
 
Algebra app created at U. of Florida becomes a hit statewide
Last year, when 59 percent of Florida high schoolers who took the state's new Algebra I end-of-course exam passed the test, state officials were pleased. Although the pass rate was better than expected, the other 41 percent of the students who took the test -- more than 66,000 kids across Florida -- failed and would have to retake the test in order to graduate. "It was really disheartening," said Boaz Dvir, of the University of Florida's Lastinger Center for Learning. So the Lastinger Center teamed up with Gainesville-based tutoring company Study Edge to see how they could help.
 
Texas A&M System chancellor orders audits to identify savings
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, who presided over the largest outsourcing of services ever at a public university, is now heading up moves to examine information technology, communications, airport operations and every single administrative position in the system. The 62-year-old former state comptroller is leading the system through a self-evaluation aimed at examining efficiencies and quality of service. Contracts have been awarded to private consultants to scrutinize the system's information technology services and communications staff, with completion expected this year, and the university is trying to outsource the management of Easterwood Airport.
 
All non-faculty positions in A&M System to be scrutinized for possible cutbacks
The Texas A&M University System has set into motion an audit that will assess every non-faculty job and impact the lives of thousands of Texans. The system is less than a year removed from a mammoth privatization deal that outsourced dining, janitorial, maintenance and landscaping services, and its officials have turned their attention to reforms in administration, information technology, communications and the operation of Easterwood Airport. The force behind the majority of the inquiries is Texas A&M University Chancellor John Sharp, who said he is committed to cutting through layers of administrative bureaucracy and finding savings wherever available. Sharp said he does not expect more outsourcing to be the primary result of the administrative, communication or IT audits, but does want to see the system run efficiently. Texas A&M system staff have been riled by the looming reviews -- a development not lost on the chancellor.
 
LSU urban ethnology classes help, study troubled areas
Walk down any street in New Orleans' 9th Ward, and Hurricane Katrina survivors tell harrowing stories about the destruction of their neighborhoods and relive the pain of being forced from their homes for months or even years. To some, the worst thought is the idea that the area's rich culture -- jazz parades, neighborhood potlucks, African-American homeownership passed down through generations -- was washed away by the 2005 storm. In response to Katrina, LSU Associate Professor Joyce Jackson, who was already studying the history of the 9th Ward, shifted the focus of her urban ethnography courses from strictly traditional academic research into a service-learning project. The endeavor was successful enough in New Orleans that Jackson and her students started a new venture, using similar techniques, in Baton Rouge earlier this year.
 
U. of Kentucky research team gets NASA grant to improve heat shield on spacecraft
Like many boys, Alexandre Martin often dreamed of exploring space as an astronaut. Then he grew up, and his work as a mechanical engineer veered instead to the study of electrical arcs in circuit breakers. Now an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky, Martin's research has come back around to his childhood dream: He and a research team just received a $1 million grant from NASA to improve the heat shields for spacecraft as they enter a planet's atmosphere. So while Martin won't be spacewalking himself, he'll be working on ways to improve the spacecraft that make it to distant planets like Mars and Venus.
 
Why does college cost so much? Rising tuition just part of problem, experts explain
When Lexi Knoch watched signs pop up around the Middle Tennessee State University campus heralding new buildings and parking garages, all she could think about was her tuition bill. From Knoch's perspective, expenses for buildings and new technology explained MTSU's increasing tuition. But as Congress debates how to deal with rising interest rates on student loans, experts say the most visible signs of spending on campus are insignificant compared with the many factors affecting tuition. "Those changes will never be a primary driver of student fees," said John Morgan, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents. Instead, economist David Feldman pointed to such factors as the growing gap between rich and poor and the difficulty of squeezing more productivity out of a service industry.
 
U. of Missouri curators look at funding for 2015 fiscal year
Despite recently imposed budget withholdings from the governor, the University of Missouri Board of Curators is moving ahead with its fiscal year 2015 state appropriation requests for the Missouri General Assembly. The board of curators met Friday morning via teleconference to vote on the requests for state appropriations. Members unanimously approved a $494.5 million request that includes funding for core operations and programs. That request includes $10 million for an MU medical school expansion. Last year, the board requested $483.4 million of state appropriations for core operations.
 
U. of Missouri to incorporate new emergency alert system in fall semester
The University of Missouri will install a new emergency alert system throughout buildings on campus to better inform students, faculty and staff during an emergency, said Karlan Seville, MU Campus Facilities Communications Manager. Two hundred twenty-five of the emergency mass notification alert beacons will be placed in classroom and administration buildings in high-traffic areas where people are likely to congregate, Seville said. Each beacon will be equipped with a siren, strobe light, a screen where the warning can be displayed and a speaker, which will allow for an audible alert. Seville said she is hopeful that the new alerts will keep people from going outside during severe weather and will instead encourage individuals to take shelter.
 
Down in the Delta, Outsiders Who Arrived to Teach Now Find a Home
If you are from around Helena-West Helena, Ark., you know Doug Friedlander is not. Born in New York City and reared on Long Island, Mr. Friedlander is Jewish and vegetarian and has a physics degree from Duke. But here he is, at 37, living in a roomy white house in this hard-luck Delta town of 12,000. Mr. Friedlander and his wife, Anna Skorupa, are part of a gradual flow of young, university-trained outsiders into the Delta's shrinking communities, many of whom arrived through Teach for America and stayed beyond their two-year commitment.
 
Penn State faculty object to details of a new preventive health care plan
It's increasingly common for colleges and universities, like other businesses, to offer the employees they insure incentives for staying healthy. And that makes sense; experts agree it's a lot cheaper to treat illnesses earlier rather than later, or to prevent them altogether. But instead of offering "carrots" to its employees for seeking preventive care, Pennsylvania State University starting this fall is opting for the "stick," imposing a $100 monthly surcharge on those who don't meet new health requirements. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Penn State's "Take Care of Your Health" initiative has some faculty up in arms.
 
'Third gate' needs resources to succeed
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "Gov. Phil Bryant and the Republican leadership of the Mississippi Legislature ushered several major initiatives into law in the 2013 session, including what's known as the 'third gate,' a program designed to get all students reading on grade level by the end of third grade. It's a well-intentioned effort, since reading undergirds all other learning. ...Clearly, if third gate is to succeed, more resources are needed and a way to locate more qualified personnel is essential. Legislators typically bemoan unfunded mandates when they come from the federal government. In this case, school districts are facing something approaching the equivalent. They've been told to improve performance -- and shown that other states have done it -- but they've not yet been given the financial resources to help make it happen."
 
Key state programs get appropriations
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "Both of Mississippi's U.S. senators, Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, made an imprint on a major appropriation bill that passed out of the Appropriations Committee last week. Each of the provisions in the bill impacted Mississippi through federal programs affecting jobs and quality of life. ...All the programs funded underscore Mississippi's continuing reliance on federal investment despite the frequent tiresome and fatuous criticism by some in state government. Aid is seldom refused and the jobs produced with the revenue usually are used as political capital by candidates in both parties."
 
Slimantics: Gopher Frogs: They've lost that lovin' feelin'
The Dispatch's Slim Smith writes: "As part of its mission as a research university, the folks at Mississippi State are always up to something interesting. Hardly a week goes by that we do not receive a press release that provides details of research projects the university is working on. Some are more interesting than others, obviously."
 
Exported gasoline, ethanol impact prices
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "With U.S. oil production soaring and demand for gasoline falling, why are pump prices rising, consumers, small businesses, and local governments want to know. Yesterday, OPEC was the culprit behind rising fuel prices by limiting the supply of crude oil in the face of growing world demand. Today, the U.S. has nearly weaned itself from OPEC oil as domestic production grows, but must still import crude oil from South America and Mexico. Tomorrow, experts say, U.S. domestic oil production from shale will exceed Saudi Arabia's. ...So, shouldn't more domestic oil and greater supplies of gas bring prices down? Well, only if that supply is kept in the U.S."
 
Politics limits reading coaches | Sam R. Hall (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Sam R. Hall writes: "Last week the Department of Education announced that they were able to hire only 24 reading coaches, just shy of a third of the 75 budget positions for the pilot program. You'll forgive my cynicism, but I find the line coming out of the Mississippi Department of Education hard to believe. ...This smells like a political power play. MDE has historically resisted legislative or gubernatorial interference in educational matters. In many cases, they have been correct to do so. In this one, they are not."
 
There's a 108 percent chance Cochran would win if he runs | Michael Newsom (Opinion)
The Sun Herald's Michael Newsom writes: "I saw a recent forecast saying there's a 99 percent chance U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran would be re-elected if he runs again in 2014. No disrespect to famed election picker Nate Silver, of the must-read FiveThirtyEight political calculus blog, but I think he's off on this one by just a smidgen. Silver's latest take on Cochran is overly conservative by giving a Democratic candidate even a 1 percent chance of winning Cochran's seat from him. ...If Cochran doesn't run, things could get really interesting. State Auditor Stacey Pickering, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Mike Randolph, U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee and Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum are all rumored to be interested in running as Republicans."
 
MDOT sheds shaky image | Geoff Pender (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "I had occasion last week to talk with MDOT headquarters, and after I hung up the phone, I started wondering if I had accidentally called the wrong place. It was a pleasant and informative conversation, and the agency provided the information I requested. No one cussed at me or told me to kiss a certain part of their anatomy. I mean, what's up with the Mississippi Department of Transportation these days? It's become downright boring. Seems all its leaders do now is focus on road work and such. ...What are state political writers to do? I'm pretty sure columnist Sid Salter still has to send royalty checks to past MDOT leaders for all the fodder they gave him."
 
Light political year sometimes welcome at Neshoba County Fair
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "There's already a little grousing about the relative lack of intrigue promised by the 2013 Neshoba County Fair political speaking lineup among journalists, political gadflys and other old grouches. To be sure, with statewide elections looming in 2015, and no contested judicial or federal elections, the state's premier political stump won't be covered with campaign signs in 2013. It should be relatively low-key year for political speeches. ...Also speaking this year will be MSU President Mark Keenum, Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones, and East Central Community College President Billy Stewart. The Neshoba County Fair Board also invited University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney Bennett and Jackson State University President Carolyn Meyers to speak as well, but both had scheduling conflicts. ...After watching political speeches at Neshoba since my childhood in the 1960s, I can tell you that neither politicians nor those who live at the fair particularly mind the 'off' political years. The pace slows down, the speeches are usually funnier and more personal, and the heat and tension of the campaign years is absent."


SPORTS
 
Bulldogs: Big 12 favorites loom in opener
Preseason football camp can seem to drag on forever, but there will be a steadily building buzz in Starkville this August. That's because Mississippi State is opening the season Aug. 31 against Oklahoma State, at Reliant Stadium in Houston. It's big-boy football from the get-go.
 
New emphasis on high hits in college football could lead to ejections, suspensions
Any hit above the shoulder pads will receive special attention this season. In an attempt to make college football safer, the NCAA Football Rules Committee has instructed officials to call penalties against players who target or hit a defenseless player. Those players could be ejected and subsequently suspended. "This rule change is probably the most significant rule change in my tenure," Southeastern Conference Coordinator of Officials Steve Shaw said Wednesday at the league's annual media days. Players have discussed the new rule and said they fear they could be punished for making instinctual plays in a violent game. Mississippi State University junior defensive lineman Kaleb Eulls, who has started all 26 games of his college career but hasn't been flagged for a personal foul, said he is in favor of officials increasing safety in the game. However, he said the added emphasis could cause more injuries.
 
Mississippi State's Russell named to Walter Camp Watch List
Mississippi State senior quarterback Tyler Russell was named to the 2013 Walter Camp Award Watch List, the Walter Camp Foundation announced Friday. The award, which is presented annually to the nation's most outstanding collegiate football player, is the fourth-oldest individual college football honor in the country. MSU will open the 2013 season against Oklahoma State University in the Texas Kickoff Classic at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 31 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. ABC or ESPN2 will televise the game.
 
Recruit William fits Schaefer's defensive mind-set at Mississippi State
Morgan William appears to be an ideal fit for Mississippi State University women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer's defensive mind-set. On Sunday, William, a 5-4 point guard from Shades Valley High School in Birmingham, Ala., gave a verbal commitment to attend MSU. The commitment was extra special because it came on William's 17th birthday. "I have been liking them for a while," William said. "They were consistent calling me and sending me letters, and it felt like home."
 
Mississippi State women's golf team will try to build on NCAA run
The Mississippi State women's golf team will try to build on a trip to the NCAA Championships this season with a schedule that features some of the nation's premier events and the second-annual Old Waverly Bulldog Invitational. MSU will open the season Sept. 8-10 at the Cougar Classic at the Yeamans Hall Club in Charleston, S.C. This will be MSU's sixth appearance in the College of Charleston-hosted event. Last season's event was ranked as the eighth-toughest field nationally.
 
Mississippi State's McDonald wins North & South Women's Amateur
Competing on one of the biggest stages for women's amateur golf, Ally McDonald claimed the 111th North & South Women's Amateur title Saturday with a 3&2 victory against Cindy Feng at Pinehurst No. 2. McDonald wasted no time winning the first two holes. She made the turn at 3-up and cruised until No. 14 when Feng cut the lead back to 2-up. The players halved No. 15 before McDonald won No. 16 to end the match. "This means a lot," McDonald said.
 
Mississippi State Athletics Takes It Up a Notch With New Social Media Coordinator
Meet Kyle Niblett (@KyleNiblett). He's a media relations professional in the acclaimed #HailState athletic department that is about to take their social media presence to new heights as their first Social Media Coordinator. A big thanks to Kyle for taking time to share his trade secrets with us.
 
UM sets record of $26M; season tickets up
Ole Miss received $26 million in cash for the most recent fiscal year, a new record, and is way up on season tickets from a year before. The Rebels have sold 39,810 season tickets for 2013, up more than 6,800 from this time a year before (with the possibility of selling several more thousand tickets before the season begins). Ole Miss sold 34,899 tickets for 2012, more than 10,000 below the allotment. The school also announced that Forward Together is over the $80 million mark. The $150 million campaign is designed to build a new basketball arena as well as renovate Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and the Indoor Practice Facility.
 
Season-ticket sales on pace at Southern Miss
Southern Miss is not where it wants to be when it comes to raising money to cover athletic scholarships or its 2013 football season-ticket sales. But Eagle Club fundraising just surpassed $2 million for the first time, and as of last week, somewhere between 7,000 and 8,000 season tickets had been sold with six weeks before USM kicks off the football season at 6 p.m. Aug. 31 by hosting Texas State at Roberts Stadium. "As we talk about numbers for the Eagle Club and ticket sales, I think the important thing to note is that while we were happy with what we did with the Eagle Club, we have to keep moving forward," USM deputy athletic director Jeremy McClain said.
 
Ex-Columbus, Ole Miss star faces sexual battery charge
A local football legend is currently awaiting prosecution in Monroe County for sexual battery. Vernon Studdard, 65, of Amory, was arrested last week by the Monroe County Sheriff's Department and charged with two counts of sexual battery. According to sources familiar with the investigation, Studdard is accused of molesting a young relative believed to be under the age of 10. At Columbus' Lee High School, where he was coached by future Ole Miss coach Billy Brewer, Studdard became one of the most prominent athletes in the school history and was one of the most coveted players in the South. He chose Ole Miss and went on to a standout career from 1968-1970, becoming the favorite target of legendary quarterback Archie Manning.
 
UGA player uses football as platform to spread God's word
Preaching the word of God and playing football have been a part of Ray Drew's life for as long as he can remember. Today, the rising University of Georgia junior and defensive end for the Bulldogs is a licensed minister and travels to churches throughout the state in between football practice and games to preach and minister. During a sermon delivered at Browns Chapel Baptist Church on Sunday, Drew told the story of Moses and the 10 plagues of Egypt. Balancing life, football, school and ministerial duties is not as hard as many might think, Drew said. The biggest challenge is finding time to do his personal devotionals and Bible studies.
 
U. of Missouri makes it easier to follow the Tigers
Sitting down about a year ago to come up with a plan of how to better bring an integrated live game experience to Missouri fans, Dave Reiter already had a pretty solid idea about whom he would call to make it happen. MU's director of strategic communications was aware of StatBroadcast Systems and its ability to provide real-time updates to media and fans through its in-game statistical distribution systems, StatMonitr and StatBroadcast Live. With the Tigers entering the Southeastern Conference, however, Reiter and Chad Moller, MU's associate athletic director for communications, wanted to make sure they were heading down the right path. A year of research and analysis of other schools that use StatBroadcast, especially MU's new brethren in the SEC, "and we realized it was great. It just makes everything more fan-friendly, adds that mobile element for more of our fans. It's absolutely the right move."
 
Internal NCAA documents reveal lack of oversight on concussions
Back in 2010, the NCAA began requiring every school to have a concussion-management plan. Athletes who are diagnosed with a concussion are not supposed to return to activity for at least the rest of that day. But documents released last week in a lawsuit against the NCAA show the concussion management plans have essentially not been enforced by college sports' governing body. More than 1,000 pages of internal NCAA documents were filed late Friday as part of an attempt to turn a concussion lawsuit against the NCAA into a class action. The contents of the documents were first reported by The Washington Times and call into question the NCAA's handling of head injuries.



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