Monday, September 23, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Yokohama Tire gives $500,000 to EMCC, Mississippi State
Yokohama Tire Corp. will break ground this morning on a $300 million commercial tire plant. But on Sunday, company officials, joined by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and other state and local leaders, celebrated another special occasion. At the Ritz Theater in downtown West Point, newly named Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi President Tadaharu Yamamoto announced a $500,000 gift to East Mississippi Community College and Mississippi State University. Mississippi State President Mark Keenum said he would consult with university leaders as well as Yokohama leaders to determine the best use for the money. "My number one priority when it comes to gifts is scholarships for students and also faculty support, but we want to be sure we're doing what's best for Yokohama. ...We want to help them be successful, and the more successful they are, the more Mississippians they'll hire," he said.
 
Yokohama Tire gives $250K to both Mississippi State, EMCC
On the eve of breaking ground on their new plant in Clay County, Yokohama Tire Company made another statement of commitment to the Golden Triangle area. The global tire manufacturing giant announced plans to give $250,000 each to Mississippi State University and East Mississippi Community College Sunday. On hand for the announcement were newly-named YTC Mississippi president Tadahuru Yamamoto, MSU president Mark Keenum, EMCC president Rick Young, Yokohama Rubber Company president Hikomitsu Noji and Mississippi governor Phil Bryant. Keenum said he wants to ensure MSU uses its resources and research to help make a difference in the company's success. "It's a tremendous statement by Yokohama Tire to invest in the state's most comprehensive research university and recognizing the role that we have played up to this point in helping to attract them to locate here, but also recognizing the role we can play in the future in helping them be even more successful," Keenum said.
 
Yokohama Tire donates money to state colleges
Yokohama Tire Company held a community gifting conference Sunday at the Ritz Theater and Conference Center in downtown West Point. Not only is the company investing in the local and state economy, they're also investing in Mississippi's education. The company gave Mississippi State University and East Mississippi Community College a donation totaling half a million dollars. "We're honored that Yokohama Tire would provide an investment into our university to help support our students through scholarship and research," said Dr. Mark Keenum, MSU President.
 
New leader named for Mississippi State's Delta center
Jeff Johnson has been named director of the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville. Johnson will begin his new job on leader Nov. 16. Mississippi State University officials say Johnson is well-known agricultural economist who has administrative experience at Texas Tech and Texas A&M.
 
Higher Education Briefs: Brown named new state chemist
An accomplished Mississippi State researcher and administrator for the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory is taking the helm of that state agency housed on campus. Ashli Brown has been named State Chemist and director of the MSCL, effective Oct. 1 and pending formal approval by the Mississippi Senate. Previously, she served as the MSCL's director of research and agriculture forensics. The lab provides critical support to Mississippi agriculture -- the state's No. 1 industry, generating approximately $7 billion in revenue in 2012, according to data from the MSU Extension Service.
 
Corn disease spreading; experts expect it here
A bacterial infection of corn called Goss's wilt has been confirmed in four northeast Louisiana parishes -- the farthest south it has been found, the LSU AgCenter says. And though it hasn't yet shown up in Mississippi and Arkansas, experts there say it's sure to happen. The disease creates circular patches of dead and wilting corn, said AgCenter plant pathologist Clayton Hollier. It hasn't shown up in Arkansas or Mississippi, but with infections so close it's just a matter of time, said Jason Kelley, extension wheat and feed grains agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, and Tom Allen, a plant pathologist at Mississippi State University's Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, Miss. Although several Mississippi farmers thought their corn was infected this year, lab tests didn't bear it out, Allen said.
 
Invention Could Cut Crop Loss
A machine designed by a group of Mississippi State University researchers could help sweet potato farmers reduce skinning injury to potatoes and speed up harvest. The undercutter prototype, made from off-the-shelf components, shows early potential to help lower harvest and post-harvest losses caused by skinning, said Jason Ward, assistant Extension professor in MSU's Agriculture and Biological Engineering Department. Problems stemming from skin abrasions that happen during digging and handling account for 20 to 25 percent of storage losses, he said. The undercutter digs below the surface with a V-shaped blade to cut the roots that feed the potato from the soil. This stops the flow of nutrients and water to the potato and induces a state of shock that causes the skin to toughen, Ward said.
 
People on the Move: KPMG LLP
Will Mitchener has joined KPMG LLP as an audit associate. He has a bachelor's degree in accounting and masters of professional accountancy degree from Mississippi State University.
 
Tunica CVB names meetings sales manager
The Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau has named Mary Catherine Koonce meetings and conventions sales manager. Koonce's duties will include of sales and marketing activities geared toward the group market. Koonce began her career as an intern at the Tunica CVB and went on to work in communications and marketing at the Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau while attending Mississippi State University.
 
University hosts Veterinary Career Day
Saturday marked the fourth annual Veterinarian Career Day held at the West Virginia University Erickson Alumni Center. The WVU Davis-Michael Scholars Program allows West Virginia residents to attend a contract school such as the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine or the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and the program promises to pay the difference of out-of-state tuition. Richard Meiring, assistant dean for admissions at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine, said the fair allows him to interact with future students.
 
Starkville sees second-best July on record in sales tax receipts
Starkville collected $441,240.29 in non-2 percent sales tax receipts for July, a figure which represents the second-best July on record for the city. Sales tax returns for the calendar year continue to track closely to 2012's pace. The city is averaging $462,780.52 monthly in general returns this calendar year, a figure close to last year's average of $470,133.21. July's food and beverage tax return receipt, an almost $16,000 slide from June, represents the city's lowest grossing month this year. While Starkville's 2 percent returns have fluctuated as high as April's $162,626 mark, the city is now averaging $134,544 per month. The city's 2 percent returns are spread unequally between economic development, tourism initiatives and Mississippi State University student organizations. Starkville Parks Commission receives a lion's share, 40 percent, of those returns. Ten percent of those monies flow back to city government itself.
 
Cornerstone Park again part of Link development strategy
Cornerstone Park, an industrial site located south of the Miss. Highway 12 and Miss. Highway 25 bypass, has been submitted for at least two economic development projects after inventory and logistical analysis revealed 4-County Electric Power Association can commit more electricity than developers once believed. Previously, officials assumed the area could only support a residential load. But Joey Deason, Oktibbeha County's representative with the Golden Triangle Development Link, said 4-County committed to a 2-megawatt load for the approximately 225-acre area owned by the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority.
 
Eurocopter plant to add assembly line
Eurocopter officials announced Friday that the partial assembly line for AS350 helicopters produced at the Columbus plant will be upgraded into a full assembly line. The upgrade is set to be complete late next year. The move will preserve local jobs. It is also being implemented to offset an inevitable decrease in work orders for the UH-72A Lakota helicopters, which the Columbus facility also has a full production line for. Employees have produced an average of 40 of those aircraft for the past several years but are only contracted to produce 31 next year and 10 in 2015 for the U.S. military. With sequestration cuts, those orders are not guaranteed.
 
Universities, community colleges seek more funding
Since 2000, the amount of state funds going to higher education on a per-pupil basis has been dramatically reduced. Mississippi higher education officials, representing the eight public universities and 15 community colleges, are asking the Legislature to provide their schools an additional $129 million for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1. The higher education officials told the legislative leaders that for the state to progress economically more people need education past the high school level. "It is the best thing we can do to ensure the state is competitive," said IHL Commissioner Hank Bounds. The universities say a substantial portion of any budget increase will go to faculty salaries. Bounds said salaries for Mississippi university faculty are far below surrounding states.
 
State leaders looking to cut budget
During last week's Legislative Budget Committee hearings, members consistently said they were scouring for programs that were ineffective or duplicative with an eye toward cutting or eliminating them. At the conclusion of the four days of hearings where the 14 legislative leaders heard from a litany of state agency heads, Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, was asked if he had identified programs that could be cut. The first-term speaker said that would be the next step as the committee begins the process of developing a budget proposal that will be released in December and will be used by the full Legislature as a guideline when it meets in January. "That (looking for possible programs to cut) is the process we are about to engage in right here," Gunn said. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves predicted that the committee's budget proposal will place priority on spending for education while most other agencies will receive less funding or see no change.
 
State jobless rate dips as labor force shrinks
Mississippi's unemployment rate ticked down to 8.5 percent in August as workers kept leaking out of the labor force. A separate survey showed state employer payrolls fell slightly. Both sets of figures --- adjusted to cancel out normal seasonal changes --- were released Friday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's the lowest state jobless rate since February 2009. Mississippi's unemployment rate had initially been estimated at 8.5 percent in July, but that was revised up to 8.6 percent. The state jobless rate was 9.3 percent in August 2012. The labor force declined by more than 4,000 people, continuing a trend of fewer people looking for jobs. Mississippi's labor force has fallen every month in 2013. The education and health services sector saw the sharpest job loss, while the leisure and hospitality and government sectors also shed jobs.
 
Mississippi GOP lawmakers support food stamp cuts
House lawmakers voted 217-210 on Thursday, mostly along party lines, to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamp program, by nearly twice the amount that they rejected in June. The $39 billion is also almost 10 times more than the $4.5 billion in SNAP cuts approved by the Senate. All GOP members of Mississippi's House delegation voted for the cuts, saying the SNAP program costs too much and needs to be reformed to reduce waste and encourage self reliance. Nearly 48 million people are enrolled in the program nationally. As of June, there were 667,301 SNAP recipients in Mississippi, according to the state Department of Human Services.
 
Cantor's Farm Bill Strategy Pays Off
It's not easy to pass a farm bill in the House without a single Democratic vote. House Republicans, however, accomplished just that feat -- twice. The farm and nutrition bills were vital affirmations for Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., after the first bipartisan farm bill crashed and burned. As Republicans tussle with the White House and the Democratic Senate over the continuing resolution and the debt ceiling, it was important for House GOP leaders to illustrate control over their sometimes-unruly conference. It was especially important for Cantor, who made the farm bill and "Welfare Reform 2.0″ his pet issue. To understand what the Virginia Republican had at stake, you have to go back to January, to the Republican retreat at a golf resort in Williamsburg, Va. That's where Cantor laid out a plan to apply the principles of welfare reform to programs such as food stamps and housing.
 
Private sector fretting over logjam
After riding the Washington roller coaster through the 2011 debt limit fight and the fiscal cliff, the business community finds itself in a familiar place yet again: with policymakers throwing up roadblocks to the struggling economy. Groups representing all sizes of the private sector are ramping up calls for Washington to do something -- anything -- to help the economy, rather than hurt it. Instead, businesses are watching Washington hurtle towards a potential government shutdown or, even worse, a debt default, and wondering why policymakers keep playing politics while the economy teeters.
 
Shutdown threat reveals split in Republican Party
With one week left before a possible government shutdown, congressional debate has exposed deep divisions within the Republican Party, pitting tea-party-backed conservatives against their colleagues. Budget moves orchestrated by tea party leader Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas have encountered outright hostility from fellow Republican senators who say his strategy does not appear to have an endgame. "I didn't go to Harvard or Princeton, but I can count," Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said last week in a not-so-veiled swipe on Twitter at Cruz, who studied at both schools. Cruz's strategy is leading the party into a "box canyon" and "will fail and weaken our position," Corker said.
 
Mississippi community college rolls dip for third year
Enrollment has fallen at Mississippi's 15 community colleges for the third year in a row, according to preliminary figures reported by the Community College Board. The new data show that the number of students enrolled at the state's two-year schools fell 4.3 percent this fall to 77,661. That means community college enrollment has now dipped back below that of the state's eight public universities. The number of university students fell less than 1 percent to 80,532, breaking a string of 20 straight years of increases. "As the economy improves, folks are getting jobs they weren't able to get a couple of years ago," said Eric Clark, executive director of the Community College Board.
 
Steps toward a cure: 5K at JSU supports research for sickle cell disease
Tesia Sutton, 26, stood in the registration line Sunday with her dog Hugo as she waited for her younger brother Theo to join them. It's been a decade since Sutton has felt the crippling effects of sickle disease, and she has Theo to thank. Ten years ago, when Theo was just 10 years old, he gave his sister the gift of life, a bone marrow transplant. On Sunday, they walked together in the eighth annual Cure Sickle Cell Foundation 5K, held on the campus of Jackson State University. "I knew she needed it, so I did it. I didn't think too much about it, really," said Theo Sutton, 20, an architecture student at the University of Southern Mississippi.
 
People on the Move: JSU
Deshun Martin has been named general counsel of Jackson State University. A JSU alumnus, Martin formerly worked for Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood as a special assistant attorney general. He earned his law degree at the University of Mississippi. He and his brothers Kenya and Warren Jr. are the first set of triplets in America to graduate from law school and pass the bar examination at the same time.
 
U. of Alabama officials tread lightly on segregation
From the governor to a U.S. attorney, state and other leaders say they want to move past failed efforts and find a way to permanently end racial segregation in the University of Alabama's Greek system. But for now they're treading lightly in forcing change on sorority row. After days of controversy and a campus march, University President Judy Bonner on Friday said four blacks and two other minority students had accepted invitations to join some of the 18 white sororities at Alabama, and she expects the number to increase during the academic year. Gov. Robert Bentley called the news a "positive first step," but it may be too early to tell whether changes will be lasting. Because past efforts at integration failed to resolve the situation permanently, some alumni and faculty members have suggested that Greek organizations be ejected from their homes -- many worth millions of dollars -- on the state-owned land at the university to force compliance.
 
A Turnabout at Traditionally White Sororities, in Nine Days at Alabama
Nine days after the University of Alabama's campus newspaper detailed chronic racial discrimination within the campus's Greek system, the university's president said on Friday that six minority students had accepted offers of admission to traditionally white sororities. The announcement marked the first time since 2003 that those organizations said they had added minority students to their memberships. Other new minority members could follow, said the president, Judy L. Bonner.
 
UF Online expects 24,000 students within 10 years
The University of Florida's online bachelor's degree program will start off with a small number of students and it will operate in the red for the first few years but ramp up to 24,100 students and millions in profits within 10 years, administrators told the board of trustees this week. Its goal is to offer the same level academic curriculum as the on-campus courses, at 75 percent of the cost of regular tuition (about $112 per credit hour), and without many of the fees residential students pay for activities and services. "We don't want this degree to be a consolation prize for those that couldn't get into the residential program," said Andy McCollough, associate provost for UF.
 
Heavener Hall is taking shape at U. of Florida
Progress is being made on the construction of Heavener Hall, a big building on the cramped, busy northeast corner of campus where University of Florida business students will be able to study, work, relax and make lifelong connections. The $23 million, 56,000-square-foot brick building will house the undergraduate program of the Warrington College of Business Administration under one roof for the first time and provide 24/7 access for its students. "Heavener Hall will make an enduring impact, not only on our undergraduate program, but on the entire college," Warrington Dean John Kraft said.
 
U. of Georgia opens new center for student veterans
Military veterans now have their own place on the University of Georgia campus. UGA's Dean of Students, William McDonald, earlier this year hired retired Air Force Lt. Col. Ted Barco to run the new Student Veterans Resource Center. For now, the new center is tucked into a corner of the Tate Student Center in what used to be the building's post office. Plans are to add a larger lounge in another part of the building, said Brad Bell, a fundraiser for UGA's Student Affairs Department. Barco's first task is to find out just how many military veterans there are among UGA's student body of nearly 35,000.
 
LSU law school to stress apprenticeship
For one week in January, some of LSU's Herbert M. Law Center students will engage in small and intense "mini-courses" taught by "master lawyers" and judges. The courses are designed to prepare them for the situations they will encounter as practicing attorneys but aren't generally covered in law school coursework. During the inaugural Apprenticeship Week students have opportunities for a variety of courses including: "Effective Representation of Oil & Gas Clients," "The Art of Judging" and "Managing the Personal Injury Case," according to a news release. The new program is aimed at addressing concerns coming from the American Bar Association that clients seeking legal services are reluctant to pay for work done by lawyers fresh out of law school, in part, because some of them graduate without the skills needed to complete basic legal tasks.
 
A&M finds new way to fund construction projects
There's a new way to build buildings at Texas A&M -- get a private company to pay for it. It's a simple philosophy, according to Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. If a private company is willing to finance a construction project, that can save the system time and money. The new funding model was touted recently when the Board of Regents OK'd ground leases for the construction of a 4,000-bed West Campus Housing Project and an office center. System officials are also eyeing a private company to finance the Corps of Cadets dorm renovations, and every other campus construction project as well.
 
Texas A&M officially dedicates newest campus dorm
Texas A&M University has its first new on-campus residence hall since 1989. About 150 Texas A&M students, staff, faculty and administrators gathered on Friday for the official dedication of Hullabaloo Hall. The residence hall, which opened this fall, is located along University Drive where Crocker, Moore and McInnis Halls once stood. As part of the celebration, paintings of the demolished buildings, which will hang in the new hall, were unveiled. "As somebody who spent one year [in Corps Dorms 2, 6, 8 and 10] with no carpet on the floor and one bathroom per floor, I can just tell you that Old Army has gone to hell," joked A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. "This is a beautiful facility."
 
Students take part in century old tradition for Aggie Ring Day - The Eagle: Texas A&M
About 3,500 Aggies received their rings on Friday, a rite of passage that A&M students eagerly look forward to and which helps alumni connect. The tradition, which dates back to 1889, had several Aggies fired up on Friday. "I literally cannot contain myself," said Maci Hurley, a political science junior, prior to receiving her ring. "I'm so excited." The eligible Aggies must have earned 90 undergraduate or professional hours and hold at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA. The ring is a goal that many young Aggies strive for.
 
U. of Missouri faculty see vacancy as opportunity
University of Missouri Provost Brian Foster on Wednesday announced his plan to retire at the first of the year, which means MU's top two administrative chairs will have new inhabitants. Some professors said that might be a good thing. In June, Chancellor Brady Deaton announced he would retire effective Nov. 15 after nine years in the position. Foster has been provost since August 2005, a tenure he said has been longer than average. Stephen Montgomery-Smith, a professor of mathematics, said the provost's decision came as a happy surprise. "With the retirement of the provost, we have the opportunity to really make some good progress," he said, regarding shared governance and communication, which he had mentioned as problems with Foster.
 
U. of Missouri Faculty Council wants press financials
Members of the University of Missouri Faculty Council want to see the academic press's financial reports, but so far they have been left with empty hands. After a contentious transition last year from system-level management to the Columbia campus, the University of Missouri Press' future has been a frequent topic of discussion by faculty. The council has not made a formal records request to Robert Schwartz, system chief of staff and custodian of records.
 
Is panic over college costs the product of generalizations?
Has the rising cost of college reached a tipping point? Perhaps not, said three panelists at the National Association of College Admissions Counselors' annual conference last week. They offered their analysis at a meeting where many private college officials were very worried their sticker prices are scaring away would-be students. Steven Graff, senior director of admissions and enrollment services at the College Board, said it's become "knee jerk" to say college is too costly. "But," he said, "what I think we have to do is move away from the monolithic assumption that the word 'college,' the word 'price,' the word 'cost' are the same for every student, every institution, for every situation we are dealing with." Instead, the panel argued, college prices and costs require a more nuanced view than the one offered by most in the media or perhaps even by President Obama, who last month went on a campaign-style tour to tout his plan to curb college costs.
 
The Man Who Gets The Science Right On 'The Big Bang Theory'
Sure, Bob Newhart may have won his first Emmy for guest-starring as Professor Proton on the hugely popular show The Big Bang Theory, about four young scientists at Cal-Tech. But behind the scenes is a real-life professor, David Saltzberg, of UCLA. Saltzberg studies high energy particle physics and high-energy neutrino astronomy, using radio detection techniques when he's not working as The Big Bang Theory's science consultant. Every week, Saltzberg attends the show's live taping at the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank, Calif. He makes sure the whiteboards are correct. For every new episode, they're covered by a fresh scrawl of formulas dreamed up by Saltzberg and admired by physicists for their scrupulous accuracy -- and occasional shout-outs to what's happening in the world of science.
 
JIMMIE GATES: Finances shouldn't be college roadblock | Jimmie Gates (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Jimmie Gates writes: "The dream of going to college to build a better way of life may be more difficult to attain for students from low-income families. Top education officials didn't paint a rosy picture of higher education during state budget hearings this week. Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds told legislative budget leaders the state needs more people with associate and bachelor's degrees. The state ranks behind surrounding states in the number of individuals with such degrees. And the future isn't promising in reversing the trend. It has always been drilled into us that the one way to rise above poverty is through education, and that was true when I was a student."
 
LLOYD GRAY: Public news, privacy concerns | Lloyd Gray (Opinion)
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Lloyd Gray writes: "Decision-making in the news business regularly presents hard choices. Balancing the public's needs and expectations with the legitimate privacy concerns of people in the news or on the periphery can make for some particularly difficult decisions. News gathering by its very nature involves some degree of intrusiveness. That's unavoidable. There will always be times when we report news that someone -- or perhaps many people -- wish would not have been reported, and that in some way aggravates or embarrasses the subjects of that reporting. But most news people I know, and certainly the ones here at the Daily Journal, wrestle frequently with how to report the news in a way that is sensitive to the human pain that it may cause."
 
BILL CRAWFORD: Many tax increases are hidden
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "Don't let politicians and the media hide tax increases from you. My favorite example comes from property taxes. You calculate property taxes from two numbers -- the assessed valuation of the property times the millage rate. Politicians and the media focus on the millage rate. How often have you heard politicians exclaim, 'I did not raise your taxes?' when they mean they didn't raise your millage rate? What they seldom tell you, and the media likewise, is they voted to approve the tax rolls. Tax rolls set the assessed valuation for each piece of property each year. When politicians vote to approve higher assessed values for your property on the tax rolls, they're actually voting for higher taxes ...unless they also vote to lower your millage rate. Politicians love for tax roll values to increase because hardly anyone, including the media, shines a light on that part of the tax calculation."
 
BRIAN EASON: Wicker feels the pressure, changes position | Brian Eason (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Brian Eason writes: "Remember a month ago when Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker was getting attacked by tea party groups for opposing the defund Obamacare movement? It seems to have worked. Wicker has now pledged to vote for a measure that defunds Obamacare, after repeatedly explaining to other conservatives why it wouldn't work. He announced his support via Twitter Friday morning, tweeting: 'I will vote for the bipartisan House bill to fund the government and defund #Obamacare.' Arguably, this is a pretty loose use of the term bipartisan; just two Democrats supported the measure, or 1 percent of all Democrats in the House. But I suppose I'll let it slide."
 
SAM R. HALL: State economy slow to improve | Sam R. Hall
The Clarion-Ledger's Sam R. Hall writes: "Mississippi finds itself in a fairly unusual position: State economic growth is out-performing federal growth. State economist Darrin Webb reported Thursday that the state economy experienced 1.9 percent growth for the first half of the year, slightly ahead of the national growth rate of 1.6 percent. But Webb also said growth is slowing, and he expects the state to end the year with only 1.6 percent growth. Gov. Phil Bryant met the news with a rousing statement, but what he said was more about making a political point than it was to praise what he and his staff knows is a still a fragile and struggling economy."
 
GEOFF PENDER: Budget hearing or grudge match? | Geoff Pender (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "Normally a large spending request from K-12 education, or a projected $77 million shortfall for Medicaid, or $22.4 million for corrections would dominate the High Street chatter around the annual legislative budget hearings. But the buzz about last week's hearings centers on the Curious Case of the Flubbed Department of Public Safety Budget Request. It was a remarkably weird event highlighted by long, awk-waaaard moments of silence while DPS Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz and the key lawmakers who set his budget scowled at each other. At the heart of the incident was that Santa Cruz and the handful of his department folks he brought were unprepared Wednesday to make their pitch for a $32 million, or 46 percent, budget increase. But, to paraphrase a line from 'Casablanca,' you may be shocked -- shocked -- to learn there might be some politics going on here as well."
 
SID SALTER: Music, politics echoed from the old Sun-N-Sand
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "When I saw the obituary for Joe Martin in the Jackson newspaper, my mind shot back to a place that only exists in fading memories from three decades ago – the old Sun-N-Sand in Jackson. ...The Sun-N-Sand 'motor hotel' was the brainchild of R.E. 'Dumas' Miller in 1960, who brought a Polynesian motif to the place. As I've written before, my reaction in seeing the place in the early 1980s was that it was sort of a dump. But in that era, it was the 'dump' of choice for most of the power brokers in the Mississippi Legislature and at the same time it was the place that I learned most of the lessons of value regarding any reasonable attempts at covering legislative news."


SPORTS
 
Mullen stands behind Russell despite Prescott's emergence
Dan Mullen hasn't changed his mind. The Mississippi State coach wavered some after Dak Prescott's 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing against Auburn. But after the sophomore ran, passed and caught a touchdown Saturday against Troy, Mullen reverted back to his statement two weeks ago regarding the Bulldogs' quarterback situation. "Tyler (Russell) is our starting quarterback. We plan on Tyler being the starter against LSU moving forward," Mullen said. Plans can always change, though, and Mullen has two weeks to mull over the decision. Mississippi State has a bye this week and plays LSU on Oct. 5.
 
No quarterback controversies this week
There is no quarterback controversy at Mississippi State. Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen saw to that Saturday night right after MSU defeated Troy 62-7 at Davis Wade Stadium. Mullen very clearly stood behind senior Tyler Russell, who began the season as the returning starter but suffered a concussion in the opening game against Oklahoma State. "Tyler's still our starter, and we plan on him starting the LSU game moving forward," Mullen said. The first forward step for MSU (2-2) is this week's open date. The Bulldogs play at home against No. 6 LSU on Oct. 5.
 
No misunderstanding Mullen: Russell is MSU's starting QB
The statement couldn't be misunderstood. Minutes after a 62-7 victory against Troy on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium, Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen made sure everybody knew who was the Bulldogs' starting quarterback. The individual he named didn't play in the 55-point blowout. "Tyler (Russell) is our starting quarterback," Mullen said. "We plan on Tyler being the starter against LSU and going forward." Leading up to the game against Troy, Mullen and his coaches gave the impression Russell would return for MSU's game against LSU on Oct. 5 at Davis Wade Stadium. MSU (2-2) has a bye week this week.
 
REWIND: Mississippi State 62, Troy 7
Last season, Mississippi State squeaked out a 30-24 win at Troy in a game that came down to the wire. Saturday night seemed to be on track for another close contest with the Bulldogs clinging to a 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Credit MSU for making sure that did not happen again, scoring 52 unanswered points including five touchdowns in the second quarter. The Bulldogs' offense ran smoothly the entire evening with Dak Prescott at the helm and did not punt. The 45 first half points were MSU's most in the modern era.
 
Record-setting night: Longstanding MSU stats tumble as Dogs blast Troy
Last week, Dak Prescott did something no MSU player had done since 2010. Saturday he raised the stakes and pulled off a feat no Mississippi State player has ever done. The sophomore quarterback passed, ran and caught touchdowns against Troy -- in the first half. It took 4:32 into the second half for a teammate to join him. With an 8-yard touchdown run, Jameon Lewis joined Prescott as the duo became the first to accomplish the feat in program history. Mississippi State used the duo's performance to roll through Troy 62-7. "I thought we were going to improve from week three to four," MSU coach Dan Mullen said. "And it showed out there out on the field."
 
Perkins injures ankle vs. Troy, expected to play vs. LSU
Not that Mississippi State needed him in the second half Saturday, but an ankle injury forced senior tailback LaDarius Perkins to miss most of MSU's 62-7 victory against Troy. Perkins had five carries for 23 yards before aggravating the injury. The Fox Sports South broadcast announced after halftime that Perkins, who is third on the team in rushing with 109 yards on 29 carries, would be inactive for the second half. MSU was leading 45-7, so backups Josh Robinson, Derrick Milton, and Ashton Shumpert wrapped up the victory.
 
Mississippi State has 25th-straight sellout
Dan Mullen made it a goal of his to see every ticket for Davis Wade Stadium sold. On Saturday night, he got another sellout. The Bulldogs sold out DWS for the 25th straight time as they went onto a 62-7 victory over non-conference opponent Troy. "I thank our crowd," Mullen said. "Our crowd gave us that home-field advantage again." The sellout streak start dates back to the 2009 Florida game. Mullen lost to his former team that night 29-19. (Subscriber-only content.)
 
Mississippi State baseball team's recruiting class ranked No. 2 in nation
Boasting 12 players who were 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft picks or high school or junior college All-Americans, the Mississippi State baseball program's 2012-13 signing class has been ranked second nationally by Collegiate Baseball. The ranking is the second-highest for the Bulldogs by the newspaper based in Tucson, Ariz., which began ranking classes three decades ago in 1983. "It is really exciting for respected people inside our industry to recognize the work of (assistant coaches) Nick Mingione and Butch Thompson, two of the best recruiters in all of college baseball," MSU coach John Cohen said. "We will not be able to judge the quality of this class for a few years, but we really like this 2013 class."
 
Bjork: End zone expansion might be scaled down
When Ole Miss relaunched its Forward Together capital campaign a few weeks ago, there were immediate concerns by some about what appeared to be a scaled-back project in the north end zone of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Original plans in 2011 called for end zone suites and a finished product that would match the south end zone, which opened for business in 2002. The goal then was to create a main entrance on the north end that would connect the stadium to the Grove. Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork says additional premium seating for football remains important but that he and his staff are trying to achieve that in the most cost-effective manner. "We have the infrastructure and all those things that cost extra to build a feature like the south end zone. To build that on the north, we said is that the right approach? Do we need to replicate the north end zone exactly like the south. We discovered that maybe the answer is not necessarily," Bjork said.
 
Cleaning, recycling at Kyle Field is a massive effort
Equipped with rolls of trash bags in their pockets, Charles Mancuso and his wife Cindy emptied and rearranged the green recycling bins at the entrances to Kyle Field. Plastic water bottles, beer cans and Gatorade filled 50 to 60 bags as the Texas A&M-SMU game kicked off Saturday evening, leaving a trail of liquid as they were piled up for transportation. Brazos Valley Recycling, a company founded by the Mancuso family about seven years ago, has been supplying recycling bins for Kyle Field since last season. What started out as 75 bins inside the stadium soon became 200 receptacles inside and at all entrances. Next year, the company plans to start expanding, one tailgating area at a time.
 
Four suspected of taking TVs from Texas A&M tailgate site
Three teens and a 21-year-old are facing felony charges after being accused of stealing televisions from tailgaters at an RV lot on the Texas A&M campus. Texas A&M police officers responded to Lot 100e near Reed Arena just before 5 a.m. Sunday. Police spokesman Lt. Allan Baron said the owner of one of the televisions watched the group of teenagers steal the electronics that were left unattended outside. "The victim woke up to noise," Baron said. "He looked outside and saw people outside stealing TVs from the tailgate." According to the police report, all four suspects admitted to stealing the electronics because "they didn't have any money."



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