Friday, August 2, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Keenum touts higher ed system
Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum told Neshoba County fairgoers that a strength of the state is its system of higher education, which includes eight universities and 15 community colleges. "Working together we can and we are accomplishing a great deal to move Mississippi forward," said Keenum, speaking on the second day of the traditional political speeches at the Founders Square Pavilion. Keenum told the crowd he is proud to be working with University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones to improve teacher education. "Working cooperatively, both of our universities are offering substantial scholarships to some of our state's best and brightest students," Keenum said.
 
Cowbell clanging woke up the audience at Neshoba County Fair
Cowbell clanging woke up the audience at the Pavilion Thursday morning as Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum joined elected officials in speaking to Fairgoers. Keenum spoke of MSU's commitment to service and recognized Neshoba County as one of the university's top 10 alumni counties. Gov. Phil Bryant took aim against those opposing gun rights in his speech. Saying he heard some legislators wanted to repeal HB2 (which clarified "concealed" in Mississippi's weapon laws), he told the crowd with a satisfied grin, "Go ahead, make my day. I'll veto that quicker than a shot out of a Winchester."
 
Meridian Day at Neshoba County Fair
The Neshoba County Fair, deemed "Mississippi's Giant House Party," welcomed Wednesday the annual participants of Meridian Day as booths were set up to show Neshoba County and Philadelphia residents what Meridian and Lauderdale County have to offer. Mississippi State University-Meridian representatives like the fair because they can recruit potential students to the campus. "We always want to support Meridian and Lauderdale County because it is our home but we also want prospective students to learn more about MSU-Meridian and what we have to offer," said Candy Adams, recruiting coordinator for the college. "We have a great curriculum and opportunities for the student."
 
Mississippi State Alumni of Jackson County hosted send-off party for MSU students
The Jackson County Chapter of the Mississippi State Alumni Association recently hosted a send-off party for incoming freshman and transfer students from Jackson County that will be attending Mississippi State University in the fall. Food, drinks, and cake were provided. Campus representatives provided send-off t-shirts to all the students and the chapter provided door prizes for the students.
 
Natural resources businesses workshop to help landowners
Michigan landowners will learn about opportunities to start a natural resource business on their property during a workshop at the University Center in Gaylord on Aug. 24. Natural resources businesses include activities such as small-scale maple syrup, mushroom production, trail riding, fee hunting and fishing, rural bed and breakfasts, wildlife viewing and more. During the event hosted by Michigan State University Extension, landowners will hear from Dr. Daryl Jones, coordinator of the Natural Resources Enterprises Program at Mississippi State University and a nationally-known expert.
 
Brown nomination passed by committee
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the nomination of Jackson attorney Debra Brown in a federal judgeship in north Mississippi. The committee met Thursday in Washington. The nomination now goes to the full Senate for confirmation. If confirmed, Brown would become the state's first black female district judge. Brown graduated with a bachelor's degree from Mississippi State University.
 
Brown one vote away from getting federal judgeship
Jackson attorney Debra Brown is one step away from becoming Mississippi's first black female federal judge. Thursday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved her May nomination by President Barack Obama to the Greenville-based judgeship vacated in January 2012 by the sudden death of Judge W. Allen Pepper Jr. She must gain approval from the full Senate before assuming the lifetime post. Mississippi's senators expressed their satisfaction with the vote on Brown. When she was nominated, Sens. Thad Cochran of Oxford and Roger Wicker of Tupelo spoke strongly of their support for her confirmation. Brown earned a bachelor's degree in architecture from Mississippi State University.
 
Mallory, McAlexander Join BankFirst
BankFirst Financial Services welcomes two new members to its executive team: Marcus Mallory, Executive Vice President/Commercial Banking; and Jim McAlexander, Executive Vice President/Retail Banking and Branch Administration. Both will have major roles in overall strategic planning for the bank, as well as responsibility for the staff, budget, development and oversight of their respective key areas. Mallory holds a banking and finance degree from Mississippi State University. He is chairman of the MSU Finance and Economic Advisory Board. McAlexander holds a finance degree from Mississippi State.
 
Starkville police probing parody tweets
Starkville police are looking for the owners of two parody accounts on Twitter. The accounts, @BenCarverPrays and @DavidLittleBOA, satirized Aldermen Ben Carver and David Little. Both accounts have been deleted, presumably by their owner or owners. The accounts appeared after the Board of Aldermen fired Lynn Spruill, the city's chief administrative officer, on July 2 and after the board overrode Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman's veto of the firing on July 23. No explanation or discussion was offered regarding the firing, save for Carver's comment that he had prayed about the issue, hence the Twitter handle.
 
SFD hosts inspection seminar at CAVS
Officials who inspect fire causes from around the state converged Thursday at the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems in the Thad Cochran Research Park to learn more about the tools at their disposal.
 
Starkville municipal court handles record number of cases
Starkville's municipal court handled a record 13,703 cases in 2012, a number which reflects an almost 1,000 case increase from 2011, city documents show. A report released Tuesday to the city's audit and budget committee, a group comprised of Mayor Parker Wiseman and the entire seven-person board of aldermen, shows the court handled its largest load last year since 2000. "Nothing significant has happened as far as crime patterns, but the spike in municipal court is primarily due to grants the police department has received to do things which do produce more consistent misdemeanors, areas like traffic and alcohol enforcement," Starkville Police Chief David Lindley said. "Grants give us the ability to have overtime for special operations like DUI and roadblock details, and enforcement of minor-in-possession (of alcohol) laws."
 
Bryant promises public safety focus
Gov. Phil Bryant said Thursday at the Neshoba County Fair that the focus of the 2014 legislative session would be public safety. Bryant told fairgoers during the second and final day of the annual political speechmaking that his first session as governor was focused on economic development, and his second, earlier this year, was keyed toward education. "We are going to put together an aggressive agenda to protect you and punish criminals," said the first-term Republican governor. Bryant specifically cited the crime problem in Jackson, the state's capital city, saying he lived in nice, government housing in downtown Jackson and understood the issues.
 
Bryant: Focus to be on public safety in 2014
After focusing on education and job creation during his first two years in office, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant says he will concentrate on public safety in 2014. The Republican governor also says he has a "divine responsibility" to oppose abortion and to protect school prayer and gun ownership. Bryant's comments came Thursday during a speech at the Neshoba County Fair, an annual gathering known as Mississippi's Giant Houseparty. Other GOP leaders spoke Thursday, including House Speaker Philip Gunn, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, Treasurer Lynn Fitch and Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith. Hyde-Smith, in her first term as agriculture commissioner, said agriculture is a $7 billion business in Mississippi. "Farmers don't seek recognition, but I assure you they deserve recognition," she said.
 
Neshoba County Fair: Even in non-election year, politicians tout success
Gov. Phil Bryant at the Neshoba County Fair on Thursday said the state is on an economic development and job-creation roll and he doesn't forsee it slowing. Bryant said that under his watch the state has seen the creation of more than 7,200 new jobs, with more than $1.1 billion in private sector investments in the state. Bryant's speech culminated two days of old-timey stumping at the Neshoba County Fair. Bryant also talked state's rights and gun rights.
 
Gov. Bryant: Economic development efforts generating results - WTVA.com
Gov. Phil Bryant described Mississippi's growing economic success and the state's progress in education reform at the Neshoba County Fair, where he addressed fairgoers for the second time since serving as governor. Gov. Bryant also took the opportunity to announce a grant that will benefit the state's National Board Certified Teacher Program. Mississippi was chosen for this groundbreaking work because of the state's commitment to supporting accomplished teaching. This grant will help bolster Mississippi's World Class Teaching Program at five universities across the state -- Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, the University of Southern Mississippi, Delta State University and the University of Mississippi.
 
Wicker organizes second bipartisan caucus
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., arranged a second all-Senate caucus within a month on Thursday, a catered barbecue meal with chefs brought to Washington by Georgia Sen. Johnny Isaakson, a Republican. Wicker, a Tupelo resident, is credited with inspiring and arranging a first bipartisan caucus meeting two weeks ago, a meeting that Wicker said brought the Senate back from "the brink" of a vote for a rule change by majority vote that would have all but destroyed the body's collegiality. Thursday's meeting, also hosted by Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark., was "much more collegial" Wicker said Thursday afternoon, with conversations ranging all over the map, with many personal stories and reflections before leaving for a month-long recess. Wicker, in a mid-afternoon telephone interview, said Thursday's meeting was open and engaging even though senators had just come from a tense vote in which partisan positions were fully voiced.
 
Hearing delayed: Judge Coleman cancels motions hearing in Ware v. DuPree
The next chapter in Ware v. DuPree will take a little longer than first planned. Specially appointed Judge William Coleman canceled today's motions hearing, originally scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Forrest County Courthouse. "I think everyone realized more time was needed," explained Dave Ware's campaign manager David Morris. It is now tentatively scheduled for the week of Aug. 12, but no fixed date has been set. Coleman declared a mistrial Tuesday, after jurors were deadlocked 8-4 in favor of Ware's case that he had received more legal votes than Mayor Johnny DuPree during the June 4 mayoral election.
 
Education on genetic seeds necessary
At the Delta Area Young Farmer Emerging Issues Conference hosted by the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation recently at the Monsanto Learning Center in Scott, Ab Basu, the managing director of state affairs for Biotechnology Industry Organization, and Jerry Slocum of the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture addressed issues regarding genetically modified organism and labeling. Basu first expressed his excitement about the preemption bill in Mississippi, which would allow them to fight bans on biotech seeds at the state level instead of county by county.
 
Economists expect solid July jobs report
The Labor Department reported Friday that the economy added 162,000 jobs in July, steady growth but below what economists had predicted. The unemployment rate ticked down to 7.4 percent, the lowest rate since December, 2008. Following signs this week that the recovery is slowly strengthening , analysts had forecast that the economy would add about 185,000 jobs -- a slight decline from the nearly 200,000 jobs added each of the past three months, but close to the amount economists say is needed for a sustainable recovery. A closely watched private estimate of job creation by human resources provider ADP predicted 200,000 new jobs in July--- an estimate that proved overly optimistic.
 
Day care closes at Jackson State University
Change is inevitable at the Lottie W. Thornton Early Childcare Center at Jackson State University, but parents and administration are at odds about what the change will mean in the meantime. The center closed its doors on Wednesday, giving parents and employees only a three-day notice. At a Wednesday evening meeting, parents expressed mixed feelings about what should be done moving forward. Some parents requested the university hire a temporary teacher for the children currently enrolled in the center until a new director is hired. Other parents did not want a temporary fix and said they're willing to wait for a more permanent solution. One parent called for more professionalism and complained about dropping her son off in the morning only to find that the cook was the only employee present.
 
Graduation Day: Biofuels startup leaving U. of Alabama incubator for its own home
Inventure Renewables, which produces a crude sugar for use in biofuels and related industries, is slated to be the first company to graduate from the University of Alabama's business incubator when it moves to its new Tuscaloosa facility at the end of the month. The company is currently one of nine companies in UA's Bama Technology Incubator, which fosters startups to help them develop marketable products and processes, according to Dan Daly, director of UA's Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs center, which houses the incubator. Inventure Renewables is moving to the new building to increase the scale of its operation as the next step in proving whether its thermal process for converting biomass from agricultural byproducts into the crude sugar feedstock is viable on a larger commercial scale.
 
U. of South Carolina did not know of lawsuit against endowed professor
The University of South Carolina was not aware when it hired a top researcher that he had been sued over allegations that he misused federal grant money at his former school. Northwestern University agreed this week to pay $2.9 million to the government to settle a 2009 whistleblower lawsuit that alleged pharmaceutical researcher Charles Bennett improperly spent federal money, including on family travel, while at that school. The suit against Bennett, whose lawyer has denied the allegations, remains pending. "We were not aware of the lawsuit (when he was hired in 2010), and his background check came back clean," USC spokesman Wes Hickman said Thursday. Bennett, who holds an endowed chair at USC and runs a drug-safety center that is part of a special state program, remains employed at the school, Hickman said. But USC is reviewing his grant accounts, a process that could take several weeks.
 
Green groups want to speak out against fracking at U. of Tennessee meeting
Local environmental groups upset about the University of Tennessee's proposal to lease university-owned land to an oil company have asked to make a presentation to the system's governing board. The Southern Environmental Law Center, which represents nearly a dozen other green groups, sent a letter to the UT Board of Trustees on Thursday to request time to speak at the October meeting in Knoxville. University officials, when asked after business hours Thursday, could not confirm whether trustees had received the letter.
 
20 students indicted in U. of Georgia fake ID manufacturing ring
A Clarke County grand jury this week indicted 20 students in connection with a sophisticated counterfeiting ring that spread hundreds of fake IDs throughout the University of Georgia and other college campuses. The ring was headed by two roommates, who authorities said provided a door-to-door service, using couriers to take photos of customers in their own dorm rooms and collect personal information for the fake IDs, then delivered the finished product at prices that ranged from $50 to $100. UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said the probe took investigators to several college campuses in different states. "This was a multi-state, multi-institution investigation," he said. "It took us to colleges in Michigan, Alabama, Florida and several in Georgia."
 
UGA police crack theft ring that targeted vehicles on and off campus
The University of Georgia Police Department recently dismantled a theft ring that was responsible for stealing belongings from dozens of vehicles on and off campus. The three-member ring mostly targeted unlocked cars and trucks in late June and early July, but also smashed windows to get into vehicles, police said. UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said investigators reviewed store surveillance video and identified the person using the card as Gerald Anthony Thomas Jr., 18, of Lexington Road. In addition to stealing from vehicles in the Riverbend area, police said, the suspects struck at various UGA parking lots and decks, and student housing complexes.
 
Large Share of Higher-Ed Business Officers Plan to Retire Soon
About 40 percent of chief business officers at colleges and universities plan to make retirement their next career move, and more than a third expect to retire within four years, according to the results of a survey released on Thursday by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The turnover is due largely to age. The typical chief business officer at a college is a married white man, 56 years old, who has worked at his institution for about eight years, according to the survey results. Although business officers might be perceived as mainly concerned with accounting and budgeting, the job has grown into a multifaceted role on campuses, the survey found. "More than half of chief business officers also oversee human resources, public safety, facilities, and other vital functions," the association reported.
 
New study shows difficulty of encouraging professors to retire
Since the economic downturn, many experts on the academic work force have worried that professors will delay retirement (given that their investment accounts took hits), and that an already-tight job market will get even tighter. A new study takes more of a long-term view, but ends up confirming those fears. Examining trends at a large private university from 1981 to 2009, the study finds faculty members are likely to take much longer to retire. And unlike the more recent studies focused on the impact of the economic downturn, this study covers time periods in which retirement accounts would have been up and down several times. The paper also finds evidence that the faculty members most likely to retire are those who can do meaningful work (and be well-compensated for doing so) outside of academe.
 
For-profit colleges fear another attack
The Obama administration isn't backing away from its crackdown on for-profit colleges. A federal panel will tackle one of most controversial college regulations in Education Department history next month. The rule was meant to ensure that graduates of for-profit colleges are getting jobs and repaying their loans, but it was struck down last summer after a court challenge -- so the department is going back to the drawing board. The 15-member panel picked this week to rewrite the rule includes some prominent critics of for-profit colleges, who are already accusing the Education Department of bias against the industry.


SPORTS
 
Bulldogs open summer practice
The process continued Thursday, and Jamerson Love is embracing it. The key is to make sure everyone else -- especially the new guys -- embraces it, too. Mississippi State opened preseason camp on sun-baked practice fields, 30 days ahead of the season opener against Oklahoma State in Houston. Fifth-year head coach Dan Mullen spoke to players at the beginning of practice about enjoying the process of becoming a great team. Love, a junior cornerback from Aberdeen, said he enjoys it. "Honestly, I do, but when that heat is on you, man, it gets hard," he said. "But that's part of camp. You've just got to push through it and face that adversity and get better as a team."
 
MSU's Mullen turns up pressure on Day 1
Lil Wayne, the Dropkick Murphys and Guns N' Roses joined Mississippi State for its first football practice. Throughout the two-hour practice, giant black speakers poured music into the practice fields behind the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex. The one moment of silence came after the team stretched and huddled around coach Dan Mullen. "Raise the process of getting ready," highlighted the otherwise quiet speech Mullen said to his team. "There's guys that have never had to get ready before," Mullen said. "Their getting ready this year is going to be totally different than what it's been in the past. They have to raise the level of themselves."
 
Practice brings excitement: MSU players back on field doing what they love to do
Dan Mullen was looking for one thing on the first day of practice from his football team. That one thing was excitement. The fifth-year Mississippi State head coach saw that Thursday on the practice fields and was pleased with the effort he saw from his Bulldogs. "It seems like a long time since we have been able to do it, so it was great to be back out here," Mullen said. "(It was) a fun day (with) a lot of effort (and) a lot of excitement by the guys on the team. It was a good practice (Thursday)."
 
Mississippi State kicks off fall camp
The Mississippi State Bulldogs began preparation for the 2013 football season with their first practice of fall camp Thursday night with split-squad and position drills. Coach Dan Mullen said the players are getting back to being in full swing, and he is seeing excitement and energy on the fields. "Obviously it's great to be back out here on the field," Mullen said. "This is what we love, being out here coaching these guys up. It seems like a long time since we've been able to do it so it's been great to be back out here. "(It was a) fun day, a lot of effort and a lot of excitement by the guys on the team. Good practice today."
 
Griffin confident in surgically-repaired knee
Nick Griffin has been through this rodeo before, and he feels much better-equipped to jump back on the horse. Nearly eight months after tearing the ACL in his right knee, Griffin was running and cutting like normal on Mississippi State's first day of preseason camp Thursday. This is the second time the junior tailback has suffered a torn ACL, having injured the left one in the spring of 2011. He said he's gained confidence in his knee much more quickly during this rehab process.
 
West Point's Williams commits to Mississippi State
Veronica Williams had a sense of pride and joy when her son told her where he wanted to go to college on a football scholarship. After he told his mother, West Point High School tailback Aeris Williams told the nation Wednesday afternoon and became the 14th verbal commitment to Mississippi State University's 2014 recruiting class. "I wanted to scream because I was so happy for him that he'd be close to home," Veronica Williams said after her son announced his choice at the West Point High athletic office. "I didn't let him know that because I never want to choose someplace because of what I wanted, but yes, I wanted him at Mississippi State." Williams, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound tailback, is rated a four-star prospect by 247Sports.com.
 
MSU signee Spears will attend Trinity Valley C.C.
Multiple sources confirmed to The Dispatch on Wednesday that former New Albany High School standout Jazmine Spears failed to qualify academically at Mississippi State University and will attend Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College this school year. Spears, a three-time selection to The Clarion-Ledger's All-State team, gave a verbal commitment to play basketball at MSU in late March. She signed a National Letter of Intent on April 17, but the 5-foot-11 forward who averaged 30.6 points, 15.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 3.7 blocked shots per game for New Albany High last season won't be a part of MSU's Class of 2013. "It is not going to impact them that much because she wasn't a super high-ranked kid," said Dan Olson, director and owner of Dan Olson's Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, a national scouting service. "She was ranked 180 or something like that. It may bode well for them in the long run that they are not taking her now."
 
More than just eye candy, Alabama's new player-friendly facility thrives off 'functionality'
The roar of the falling water was too loud for Jeff Allen to be heard, so for just a few moments Thursday, Alabama's upgraded player-friendly facility was without its already famous waterfalls. That they were running before reporters entered the room, and that they were turned back on as they left for the next stage of a tour organized by Crimson Tide media relations helped prove Allen's point. "It looks nice," Allen said, "but it also has a purpose." For every bell and whistle in the 30,000-foot renovated facility that was displayed to local media members Thursday, a corresponding reason for its existence followed. The term "functionality," which was considered to be the No. 1 priority, was tossed around like a football, no matter the room.
 
Nick's Kids continues to improve lives of young people
In a room filled with children, even Shrek, Donkey and Fiona couldn't compete with Nick Saban. As Nick and Terry Saban walked into the North Zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium, the mood heightened just a bit. An already festive atmosphere for the Nick's Kids luncheon, complete with "Shrek" characters and University of Alabama football players, reached its apex with the appearance of Saban. Even the 61-year-old UA football coach couldn't contain his excitement. "Well, you know this is my favorite day of the year," Saban said. He arrived Thursday afternoon to distribute more than $400,000 to 115 organizations through the family's charity, Nick's Kids. Since the Sabans' 2007 arrival in Tuscaloosa, Nick's Kids has donated $4 million to state organizations that help children and families.
 
NCAA taking flexible approach to basketball tournament games
The NCAA announced changes Thursday to the way it will select teams for the men's basketball tournament, adding flexibility in hopes of keeping teams properly seeded. The selection committee voted last week to change the bracketing principles in hopes of keeping teams where they naturally belong, Chairman Ron Wellman told reporters. In previous years, the committee has had to move a team up or down one or two lines to accommodate rules such as when conference teams can meet in the tourney. The move comes in the wake of realignment that has seen league numbers swell over the past few seasons and has made the old rules difficult to navigate.



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