Tuesday, July 23, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Art groups in region awarded state grants
The Mississippi Arts Commission has awarded $1.27 million in grants to artists, schools and organizations across the state. Oktibbeha County saw 14 grants for $54,870, including operating grants for the Mississippi Theatre Association and the Starkville Area Arts Council. Mississippi State University Libraries received a $3,000 grant to continue its Charles Templeton Ragtime Jazz Festival.
 
Latrobe Prize Research on Public Interest Practices Released
A comprehensive report on the research into current public interest practices in architecture has recently been released and is now available online. The research was funded by the 2011 Latrobe Research Prize $100,000 grant, awarded by the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects. Latrobe prize recipients and report authors include David Perkes, AIA, director of Gulf Coast Community Design Studio at Mississippi State University.
 
State Institutions of Higher Learning Meeting
The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning will hold a special called teleconference meeting on Tuesday, July 23 at 2 p.m., to discuss a University of Mississippi tuition issue, a Mississippi State University finance issue and a University of Southern Mississippi finance issue. Members of the public and media may attend the meeting in the IHL Board Room in the Universities Center on Ridgewood Road in Jackson.
 
New school year brings volunteer demand
Local demand for volunteers is ramping up as the new school year draws closer, with Mississippi State University, the Starkville School District and other local organizations making requests for aid in the coming weeks.
 
Wet Weather Affects Local Produce, Prices
Continued wet conditions are having an impact on produce. Since January, east Mississippi has received about ten inches more rain than usual. According to experts, the extensive wet weather could affect customers' wallets. "I've been doing this a few years and this is one of the oddest years that I can recall," says Dr. Wayne Porter, area horticulturist with the MSU Extension Service, serving 21 counties. Porter says extensive rain since last fall in Mississippi caused the planting of some crops to be delayed this year. In turn, this has led to mixed results.
 
Rice growers meet for updates
The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation met for its annual Rice Commodity Advisory Committee Meeting Friday. Speakers presented everything from legislation changes and Farm Bill updates to the market outlook for 2013 and rice production reports. The meeting started with the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation President Randy Knight and the MFBF Director of Public Policy Samantha Newman discussing how the 2013 Regular Session of the Mississippi Legislature affects the growers in Bolivar County. The Farm Bureau was also able to secure a slight raise in funding for Mississippi State University's Division of Agriculture. Dr. Tim Walker from Mississippi State gave a rice production report to close out the meeting.
 
Puckett Machinery founder to receive Hall of Fame award
Jackson businessman and philanthropist Ben Puckett will receive the second-annual Rube Award at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum's induction banquet Aug. 2. The Rube Award, named for long-time Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum executive director Michael Rubenstein, is awarded to the person whose love and passion for -- and contributions to -- Mississippi sports have made a meaningful difference. Puckett, a Mississippi State University graduate who died June 2, spearheaded Mississippi's Olympic efforts for 26 years.
 
Neel-Schaffer welcomes Keith Boteler
Neel-Schaffer Inc. has added Keith Boteler to its transportation group located in Jackson. Boteler recently retired after 25 years of service to the Mississippi Department of Transportation. While at MDOT, he was responsible for all IT/CADD related planning, development, implementation, and support for the Roadway Design Division. Boteler received his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Mississippi State University.
 
People on the Move: GodwinGroup
John McKie has been named chief integrated marketing officer for GodwinGroup in addition to retaining his duties as managing partner. McKie joined Godwin in 2000, became a partner in 2007, and has served as executive vice president. McKie has an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and an MBA from Mississippi State University.
 
Attorneys recognized for pro bono legal services
A former Lauderdale County deputy sheriff who is now an attorney in Madison and a Hattiesburg-area lawyer recently named one of Mississippi's top 50 attorneys share something besides professional success. Francis C. Springer, who practices family law, criminal defense wills and probate from his Madison office, received the 2013 "Beyond the Call of Duty Award" that is presented to a member of the Mississippi Association for Justice who has provided outstanding pro bono legal services during the previous year. Springer obtained his law degree from the Mississippi College School of Law in 2011. He also has a bachelor's degree from Mississippi State University.
 
Black Bears Back in Missouri after Successful Reintroduction Program
A successful reintroduction program is being credited with the resurgence of black bears in the Ozark forest in southern Missouri, according to a joint study by the University of Missouri, the Missouri Department of Conservation and Mississippi State University.
 
Citizens expected to rally for Spruill
Residents of Starkville are expected to gather at 5 p.m. this evening on the steps of City Hall to lend support to Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill. The Board of Aldermen elected to terminate Spruill's employment with the city in a 5-2 vote on July 2, which Mayor Parker Wiseman vetoed in the days thereafter. The board is expected to revisit the matter at tonight's meeting.
 
Conservative Coalition to oppose Common Core
The newly minted Senate Conservative Coalition has turned a disapproving eye toward the national Common Core education curriculum being enacted in Mississippi and most of the rest of the nation. Similar conservative opposition in some other states has at least slowed the enactment of Common Core, developed in 2009 by the National Governors Association and strongly supported by former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. Common Core is designed to develop cohesive national education standards that stress teacher flexibility and critical thinking skills. The state Board of Education has adopted it as the Mississippi academic curriculum.
 
Hood seeks to toss ruling blocking open carry law
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is asking the state Supreme Court to declare that residents can carry weapons openly in some public places. Hood filed an appeal Monday with the court asking justices to overturn a ruling by Hinds County Circuit Judge Winston Kidd, who declared the state's open carry law unconstitutionally vague. Hood says the law is not unconstitutionally vague. He also says the judge and those who sued to overturn the law were trying to use the courts to change a policy they disagree with.
 
Three House special elections Nov. 5
Special elections will be held Nov. 5 to fill three vacant House seats, including District 5, which consists of most of Marshall and a portion of northwestern Benton County. Gov. Phil Bryant set the special elections Monday afternoon to fill vacancies created when the incumbents won mayoral elections earlier this year. Kelvin Buck, who was in his third term in the House representing District 5, was elected mayor of Holly Springs. District 110 incumbent Billy Broomfield, who was elected in 1991, was elected mayor of Moss Point, while District 55 incumbent George Flaggs, who was in his seventh term, was elected mayor of Vicksburg.
 
Governor to lead health care symposium next month
Gov. Phil Bryant will host the Governor's Health Care Economic Development Summit on Aug. 15 in Jackson. The event is co-hosted by the Mississippi Economic Council, Mississippi Economic Development Council and Mississippi State Medical Association. Bryant will speak at 9 a.m. along with Dr. Clay Hays Jr., who is chairman of the Mississippi Health Care Solutions Institute. Hays, a Jackson cardiologist, was named by Bryant to lead the institute, which was formed as a recommendation of the Blueprint Mississippi Health Care report.
 
State Receives Federal Money for Obesity Campaign
The federal government is giving the Mississippi State Department for Health $8.5 million to craft a public health campaign specifically targeted at fighting obesity. State health officer Dr. Mary Currier says obesity has been an issue in other public health campaigns but this is the first time it will be the main focus of the campaign. Currier says the biggest goal of this campaign will be to get Mississippians to actually do something to change their weight, but also to make that choice the easy one. University of Mississippi public relations professor Robin Street says the state has a big challenge ahead building an effective anti-obesity campaign.
 
Bland works to develop 'Healthcare Industry Zone' in Meridian
Meridian Mayor Percy Bland is working to develop a Healthcare Industry Zone master plan to begin actively recruiting targeted development in the city, according a media release issued Monday. "Meridian has the potential to be a model city for Gov. Phil Bryant's Mississippi Healthcare Industry Zone Act," Bland states. "But to take advantage of the legislation -- and potential incentives from the state -- the city needs a comprehensive plan." Bland recently met with a member of Bryant's staff, along with other communities and project managers working on the initiative, to start developing a master plan to take advantage of the initiative.
 
Mississippi assistant attorney general's sons benefitted from grant he applied for at DMR
An assistant attorney general assigned to the state Department of Marine Resources applied for a federal Coastal Impact Assistance Program grant that resulted in contracts for his two sons. The sons were apparently under age 18 when their contracts to work on the grant's program were signed because both their parents -- Assistant Attorney General Joe Runnels and his wife, Vicki, co-signed the documents. Joe Runnels refused to talk about the grant project. "I would love to talk with you, Paul, except for the AG's office has a policy about not giving interviews to the press," he said. "So you'd have to talk to Jan Schaefer up at the attorney general's office."
 
Poll: Obama's job approval plunges; Congress, especially GOP, still unpopular
Stung by Americans' persistent worries about the economy and a capital gripped by controversy and gridlock, President Barack Obama is suffering his lowest job approval numbers in nearly two years, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll. The plummeting numbers -- still higher than those of Congress -- come after weeks of rising gasoline prices, revelations about domestic spying and turmoil in the Middle East. The disappointing results come as the White House this week looks to turn the national conversation back to the economy.
 
Poll: Public service valued; politics -- not so much
The American impulse to make a contribution to the community is strong, but the feeling that politics can be an avenue to do that seems to be souring. A new USA Today/Bipartisan Policy Center poll finds that Americans by more than 2-1 say the best way to make positive changes in society is through volunteer organizations and charities, not by being active in government. Those younger than 30 are particularly put off by politics. They are significantly less likely than their parents to say participating in politics is an important value in their lives. Analysts warn of a dangerous downward cycle: Perceptions of government as dysfunctional and politics as corrupt keep getting worse. That convinces some of the nation's ablest people, especially those just starting out, that they don't want to run for office or work for the government at any level. As a result, government and politics are likely to work even less well -- presumably prompting perceptions to fall further.
 
Poll: Immigration a quandary for Republicans
Majorities of Americans support the two main pillars of immigration reform -- increasing border security and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But partisan, racial and ethnic divisions dampen overall public support for a comprehensive reform package, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The new survey highlights the complexity of public attitudes on an issue that is at the center of President Obama's second term agenda. The findings also underscore how the legislative battle ahead presents House Republicans with the prospect of satisfying the party's base at a cost of diminishing the party's prospects of winning future national elections. Tension over immigration is not the only challenge facing Republicans, according to the poll.
 
Bob Dole's 90th Conjures Visions of Senate Long Gone
Seventeen years and 774 cloture petitions after he left the Senate, Bob Dole celebrated his 90th birthday Monday with the sort of plain-spoken tough love that marked his run as one of the most accomplished congressional leaders of all time. At an invitation-only Capitol birthday party Tuesday afternoon, his fans will raise a chocolate milkshake toast and wistfully remember what was and what may never be again. The week won't have the same emotional pull as Dole's last announced visit to the Capitol, in December, when he pulled himself out his wheelchair before saluting the coffin of his World War II hospital roommate and three-decade Democratic senatorial buddy Daniel K. Inouye. But his birthday wishes -- expressed with his trademark blast-of-Kansas-prairie-wind brevity -- may be more important than any of those moments. They were the bluntest articulation possible of the Senate's profound challenges.
 
MUW one of the nation's 'Great Colleges to Work For'
The W has been named as one of the best colleges in the nation to work for, according to a survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Dr. Jim Borsig, The W's president, said, "We are honored to receive this national recognition from The Chronicle. I credit our outstanding faculty and staff for the spirit they demonstrate to ensure we are providing the highest quality education to our students."
 
Summer research program provides hands-on experience
After a $650,000 grant was given to The University of Mississippi, three high school students are conducting research on campus. Their research is a part of a summer research program made possible by the National Science Foundation grant received by the university. Chemistry professor Amal Daas proposed the grant in July 2012 after a trial run of a mentoring program. One portion of the grant's funding will bring elite high school students to Ole Miss. Throughout Summer Session II, high school students have been assisting in research while graduate students mentor and work closely with the high school students.
 
Software firm to open in Trent Lott Center at USM
INCONTROL Simulation Solutions, a Netherlands-based software firm, announced Monday it will open an office in the Trent Lott National Center for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship at the University of Southern Mississippi Campus. The firm's new office location is a result of a partnership with the National Center for Spectator Sports (NCS4) at USM. Through grant-sponsored research, NCS4 developed SportEvac -- a computer-based simulation training system with applications for the sport security industry. "The No. 1 problem in sports safety security really centers around evacuations," said Lou Marciani, NCS4 executive director. "This university wanted to use a computer-based modeling and simulation tool to look at the what-ifs scenarios if something were to occur in the stadium. We can't practice these issues with physical bodies, so we have to rely on simulations."
 
Speeding ticket issued in 1987 winds up at former USM student's mother's house
When Rob Shetler graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1990, he returned to his native Indiana. His USM degree and memories were all he would have tying him to the Magnolia State -- until this year when a long-overdue speeding ticket arrived. "My mom is still in Indiana, and she received a letter in the mail," said Shetler, who hasn't used his parents' address since 1991. Shetler, it seems, had an outstanding speeding ticket issued near Sardis in Panola County. But he couldn't figure out why, and there wasn't a date on the ticket.
 
Auburn researchers discover native predator that kills crop-eating kudzu bug
Auburn University researchers have discovered a native predator that could help curb the spread of the crop-eating kudzu bug that is fast spreading across the Southeast. Native to India, the insect pest, also called a globular stink bug, was discovered in northeastern Georgia in 2009 and has since spread to 56 of 67 Alabama counties. But university research shows the insects that feast on bean crops may have a weakness. Xing Ping Hu, a university professor and specialist for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, says they have discovered a native parasitoid in the guts of several kudzu bugs dissected by her graduate student researcher, Julian Golec.
 
Consultant: LSU in need of $200 million boost
Despite its status as the premier university in Louisiana, LSU is not one of the country's most well-respected academic institutions, members of LSU's Transition Advisory Team said Monday. The group, led by consultant Christel Slaughter, is three days away from making public its recommendations on the best way to consolidate LSU's separate institutions under the main campus in Baton Rouge. The effort is called LSU2015. The goal is to transform LSU into an elite academic university. Slaughter estimated it would take at least $200 million in cash for LSU to become the type of globally competitive institution that could attract some of the world's most prominent academics and researchers. One particular area LSU could stand to improve is the number of research dollars being generated. LSU's research funds have been drying up in recent years as faculty have left and taken their grant money with them.
 
U. of Georgia students helping get Clarke school gardens ready for fall
Clarke County public school students won't have to do quite as much garden weeding when school starts up again Aug. 7, thanks to some University of Georgia students. The UGA students, most of them athletes, spent hours this week picking cucumbers, planting trees and pulling weeds at several Clarke County School District school gardens. The volunteer work was part of the agricultural leadership class they're taking this summer, which requires 10 hours of service learning. But the students went above and beyond their required work, said Debby Mitchell, a VISTA volunteer who works for UGA's Office of Service Learning. Under the supervision of UGA horticulture professor David Berle, Mitchell has been working with Clarke County teachers and students in their school gardens.
 
U. of Kentucky, Louisville to launch joint MBA degree program for executives
The University of Kentucky and University of Louisville are working to develop a joint masters degree in business administration for executives. The 17-month program would be aimed at preparing mid-level executives for senior leadership, said David Blackwell, dean of UK's Gatton School of Business and Charles Moyer, dean of U of L's College of Business. The plan was announced Monday at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Business Summit in Louisville. The program probably would start in fall 2014, with half the classes taking place in Lexington and half in Louisville. The classes would be held every other weekend to allow for students' job schedules. The two schools would split teaching duties, expenses and revenue.
 
U. of Missouri takes input on chancellor search
Confidence, courage, the ability to face criticism and the guts to make decisions are qualities those at the University of Missouri say they hope to see in the school's next chancellor. The UM System will engage in an external search for a new chancellor for the first time in two decades. Today at Jesse Auditorium, the system had the first of two public forums this week to allow people to give input on the characteristics they want to see in MU's next campus leader. That input will influence and inform the search description, UM President Tim Wolfe said. In May, Chancellor Brady Deaton announced his plans to retire Nov. 15. Deaton has held the reins at MU for nine years.
 
Stakeholders want integrity, lobbying power in new U. of Missouri chancellor
Attention to faculty, integrity and an understanding of limited financial resources are the top qualities speakers at a meeting Monday hope to see in the University of Missouri's next chancellor. The meeting is one of two forums -- the second will be Thursday -- that allow public input before the search goes behind closed doors. University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe called the timeline for the search "aggressive yet reasonable." Although the system aims to have a new chancellor selected by the time Chancellor Brady Deaton retires Nov. 15, Wolfe said the search could be extended if the committee cannot find the right candidate.
 
House proposal would slash funding for NEH in half, part of broader trend
There may be a problem in the mailroom of the House of Representatives. Judging by legislation introduced Monday by the chamber's Committee on Appropriations, which would cut the budget for the National Endowment for the Humanities in half next year, it seems the panel's members did not receive their copies of the recent report from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, which among other things called on governments and other funders to "significantly increase" their support for humanities and social science programs at all levels. Efforts to cut federal funding for the humanities and the arts are anything but new.
 
Grants, scholarships key to paying for college
Grants and scholarships are taking a leading role in paying college bills, surpassing the traditional role parents long have played in helping foot the bills, according to a report from loan giant Sallie Mae. Since the recession, more college-bound students have eliminated schools from their searches based on costs and have relied less on their parents once they get to campus, said the report released Tuesday. Worries such as tuition increases and job losses seem to have faded as the economy has improved, yet parents and students still make decisions on schools, majors and work schedules based on the price tag. "We have moved into a post-recession reality in how people pay for college," said Sarah Ducich, Sallie Mae's senior vice president for public policy.
 
Parents Shell Out Less Money for Their Kids' College
Parents are giving their children less cash to pay for college amid continued economic weakness, adding to pressure on students to borrow money, rely more on grants and scholarships---and in many cases, live at home. Parents shelled out an average of $5,727 from their income and savings for each child's college costs in the 2012-2013 academic year, down more than a third from $8,752 in 2009-2010, according to an annual report on college funding by student loan provider Sallie Mae to be released on Tuesday. The share of college costs paid by parents out of income and savings fell to 27% from 37% three years ago. The figures don't include borrowing by parents, which also declined slightly in the period.
 
OUR OPINION: Review and assess all of Mississippi's boards
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann's study of Mississippi's sprawling infrastructure of boards, agencies, districts and other entities that comprise a regulatory bureaucracy that's anything but small government should open doors for reform -- efficient downsizing -- once it's turned over to Gov. Phil Bryant. ...We hope Bryant considers not only the information coming from Hosemann about agencies, boards and commissions but also undertakes serious study of streamlining the state's bureaucracy, especially using technology to speed operations, record-keeping and transparency for inquiring citizens."
 
Report: Mississippi one of nation's best states for entrepreneurship | Jeff Ayres (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Jeff Ayres blogs: "Want to start a business and watch it grow? Mississippi is one of the best states to do that, a new study says. The entrepreneurship nonprofit Kauffman Foundation ranks the Magnolia State the fifth-best entrepreneurial state in the union, with a 2012 startup rate of 430 per 100,000 adults. ...The study cites telecommunications, oil and gas and biomass energy as fields ripe for new businesses, and programs from the Mississippi Development Authority and Mississippi State University that aid in research and capital."


SPORTS
 
Mullen shakes off concerns about Mississippi State
Dan Mullen visited every outlet ESPN offered with optimism about Mississippi State's football program. The Bulldogs fifth-year coach began the day answering questions Monday with fans in an online chat. He then took to the airwaves on a podcast before finally hitting the College Football Live and SportCenter sets. Each step of the way, a question touched upon Mississippi State going 1-5 in its final six games to finish 2013 with an 8-5 record. Mullen looked positively on the heightened expectations that now meet the program. "What I love is the perception around Mississippi State's changed and the expectations have changed," Mullen told ESPN's Chris Fowler.
 
Mississippi State's 1,000-yard rusher ready to lend a hand
LaDarius Perkins could be the ultimate utility man for Mississippi State this season. The senior tailback is looking to increase his receiving role, and he's also hoping to add a new special teams duty -- punt returns. And of course he'll run the ball, but whether he'll get as many carries as last season remains to be seen. Perkins rushed for a team-high 1,024 yards and eight touchdowns last fall. Backups Josh Robinson (335 yards), Nick Griffin (223) and Derrick Milton (165) all return and give MSU tremendous depth at tailback. That should allow Perkins to be more involved in a passing game that will have a different dynamic than it did last year.
 
Aggies challenge Kyle Field re-seating process in court
Several longtime Texas A&M football ticket holders could lose their seats because of Kyle Field redevelopment plans, lawyers who have filed suit to stop the re-seating process say. The lawyers suing the Texas A&M 12th Man Foundation will hold a press conference in downtown Houston on Tuesday to explain their view of the lawsuit and field questions. The suit seeks a temporary injunction to halt a re-seating process set to begin July 31. The plaintiffs claim changes to the seating, part of the university's $450 million renovation project, violates the agreements they entered into.
 
Tennessee's football uniforms will have minor changes in 2013
Tennessee will be tweaking its iconic orange and white uniforms in 2013, adding a symbol to reinforce new coach Butch Jones' emphasis on the Vols as a statewide team. The Vols will wear a state of Tennessee patch above players' names on both the home and road jerseys, Jones confirmed to the News Sentinel on Monday. Tennessee will also add a checkerboard background to the orange numbers on road uniforms. Jones said the changes, first reported Monday by Volquest.com, would be minor and subtle and would reinforce his statewide message.
 
Criticism of the NCAA Grows
Another power broker slammed the NCAA on Monday, decrying the stagnation of college sports' governing body. The crux of the issue, Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby said: Democracy has run amok. The nation's five most prominent athletic conferences win most of the national championships. Since 1992-1993, fewer than 70 schools -- roughly 20% of Division I -- have won 92% of all NCAA titles, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. But major conferences increasingly fail to pass the NCAA rules they want as they are outvoted by less-powerful schools. Conference commissioners are frustrated by what they see as the NCAA's never-ending deliberation. Bowlsby called for a reshaping of association governance, including the possible formation of federations by sport.



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