Friday, September 27, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Ag Secretary Vilsack: Farm bill passage critical to ag research
Failure to pass a farm bill in a timely manner could derail agriculture research programs that are major focus at Mississippi State University, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said during a visit to the campus Sept. 25. The university, which had some $97 million in ag research in fiscal 2011, was recently ranked 9th in the nation for research and development spending in agricultural sciences by private and public institutions. In 2012, USDA research grants to the university totaled more than $28 million. "I'm proud of the relationship between USDA and Mississippi State," Vilsack said.
 
Secretary of Agriculture reviews Mississippi State research
Some Mississippi State University researchers and students met with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack when he visited campus on Wednesday to learn about current agricultural research projects and discuss the future of the agriculture industry. Gregory Bohach, vice president of the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, said Vilsack looked at current projects on plant physiology research, biofuels production and beef production, among others. Bohach said the U.S. Department of Agriculture funds much of MSU's research, so Vilsack's visit was an important opportunity for MSU to showcase its research efforts in agriculture. "He was very impressed and made several comments about how State's heading in the right direction," Bohach said.
 
MSU receives research accreditation
Mississippi State University became the first and only university in the state of Mississippi to receive an accreditation from the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs. On Sept. 17, this self-regulating body that consists of educators all over the country from a number of universities, approved full accreditation to MSU for the next three years. David Shaw, vice president for research and development at MSU said the application is tedious and extensive. He said a great deal of documentation is required to demonstrate that MSU sets high standards. Jodi Roberts, MSU Institutional Review Board officer who was responsible for coordination of MSU's application, said MSU had to do a self-evaluation to put together the application, which took about seven to eight months.
 
Walk on the Wild Side
You could take a walk on the wild side in Starkville Thursday night. Kathryn Hunter showed off her latest print work at Mississippi State University. Hunter used printmaking, paper cutting and mixed media to create a visual relationship between people and animals. She didn't have to travel far to find inspiration. She began working on the collection earlier this year, and used the Sam Hamilton Noxubee Wildlife Refuge as her inspiration.
 
Bull Ring completed, tradition continues
In the 1950s, a bench that circled an oak tree called the Bull Ring was in front of the Colvard Student Union. However, after the bench was broken, it was removed from its prominent location on campus. This summer, the Bull Ring was brought back to Mississippi State University so current and future students could "shoot the bull" in front of the Union once again. According to Bill Broyles, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, funding for this project came from the Alumni Association, the class of 2012, the class of 2013, the Student Association and the MSU Foundation. "The Bull Ring project is a great example of what we can do when we all work together," Broyles said. "We are all indebted to these loyal Bulldogs for their generosity." Roger Baker, campus master planner, said MSU's history and traditions are the cornerstone of the campus master plan, and his role in the Bull Ring's restoration was to assist in bringing back this tradition.
 
Why Scientists Were Wrong About This Year's Hurricane Season
An infusion of very dry air over the Atlantic Ocean has kept the 2013 hurricane season from being the stormy summer that forecasters expected it to be in June. "A lot of people are scratching their heads right now," said Keith Blackwell, professor of meteorology at the University of South Alabama. While many factors that influence tropical storm formation were apparent at the beginning of the summer, the presence of so much dry air is not something that can be factored into a long-range seasonal forecast. In seasonal forecasting, "you can see large-scale signals which can lead you in the right direction, but seeing something like dry air months out is pretty much impossible," said Greg Nordstrom, a meteorology instructor at Mississippi State University in Starkville.
 
Starkville-MSU Symphony Orchestra continues to grow in 45th year
It started out as a small group of people meeting in a living room. Now, the Starkville-Mississippi State University Symphony Orchestra is set to begin its 45th season on Saturday in Columbus. The growth of the orchestra stems from community support, as well as a change within the orchestra itself. Michael Brown, the music director and conductor for the symphony, said one of the factors was the symphony becoming a professional orchestra rather than a community orchestra. (Subscriber-only content.)
 
Alien insects danger to state trees, crops
There are five insects that have been identified as pests in Mississippi and are affecting commercial growers and native plant life. All five insects are not native to the United States and are becoming a problem for many people in the state. Blake Layton, an entomologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the spotted wing drosphilia, bermudagrass stem maggot, kudzu bug and redbay ambrosia beetle are originally from different parts of Asia. Joe MacGown, a research technician with the Mississippi Entomological Museum, said the tawny crazy ant is thought to originate from Argentina or Brazil.
 
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announces $3 million for Mississippi programs
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced more than $3 million in funding for renewable energy projects, projects to improve public health in the Mississippi Delta region and awards to support small farmers. Vilsack made the announcement Thursday during a town hall meeting in Jackson. "These awards will help improve rural health facilities in the Delta Region, help socially-disadvantaged business owners expand markets across the nation, and help small businesses save energy and grow their bottom line," Vilsack said in a news release. The recipients include Synergetics DCS, Inc., Starkville: $230,122 to install a solar energy system; Synergetics Properties, LLC, Starkville: $125,000 to install a solar energy system; and David Palmer, LLC, Starkville: $40,625 to install a solar energy system.
 
Cabinet official visits Jackson; ag secretary says farm bill necessary for economic boost
Mississippi has great opportunity to grow and diversify its agricultural economy, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Thursday. The federal government is ready to provide financial and technical assistance in Mississippi for everything from farm-to-school programs to get more young people into farming to incentives encouraging more conservation among farmers and landowners, he said. But there's one major hang-up. "You can't do any of that without a farm bill," he told dozens of farmers, business and political leaders during an agriculture "town hall" meeting outside the old schoolhouse on the grounds of the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson.
 
U.S. Agriculture Secretary talks farm bill in Jackson
The price you pay for groceries could go up if Congress fails to pass a farm bill by the end of the month. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in Jackson Thursday to discuss the reasons for passing the farm bill. "[Not passing the farm bill] will create chaos in the marketplace and in grocery stores across the United States over the course of months. We need Congress to get its job done," Vilsack said. A crowd of farmers wondered what Secretary Vilsack had to say on the matter. "It's the single most important piece of legislation for rural America, for farmers, for anybody that's interested in jobs, energy, food," Vilsack told the crowd.
 
Farm Bill advances in House
House Republicans took the first steps late Thursday toward a formal Farm Bill conference with the Senate, as the Rules Committee cleared the way the way for a floor vote Friday that would marry up the separate titles approved in July and then last week. The provisions are part of a larger "martial law" rule approved 9-3 by the Rules panel and empowering the GOP leadership to move quickly over the weekend on debt and funding bills prior to the fiscal year ending Monday night. In this context, the farm language can seem a bit player in the furor over a threatened government shutdown and potential default. But it is a critical first step that Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) has been waiting for anxiously.
 
Mississippi higher education leaders: Change law to expand student aid
Mississippi education leaders will ask the Legislature to amend some financial aid laws during its 2015 session, a move they believe could help more than 31,000 students and families in the next fiscal year. The Education Achievement Council -- a body created by the Legislature in 2010 -- voted Thursday to approve recommendations that would cost an additional $77 million next year. Hank Bounds, the state's commissioner of higher education who also sits on the council, said he didn't expect the full amount would be approved but the council had to start somewhere. All recommendations require legislative action.
 
Mississippi's election history storied
All eyes in Mississippi have been on Hattiesburg, as its do-over mayoral election drags on and many wonder whether the city will ever seat a permanent mayor. But Mississippi has a long history of contested, delayed, do-over and downright weird elections, some that make Hattiesburg's current contest pale in comparison.
 
Superintendent search firm accused of withholding info in past
The search firm the State Board of Education used to arrive at its choice for a new superintendent has been accused in other states of holding back controversial information about a candidate it supposedly vetted, though the firm has denied this in some instances. The Iowa-based firm, Ray and Associates, never told the Mississippi Board of Education about a nationally reported cheating scandal in the former school district of newly hired Mississippi Superintendent of Education Carey Wright. Gary Ray, president of Ray and Associates, said Wednesday his firm didn't tell the board about the scandal because its investigation showed Wright had nothing to do with it. Wright has not been connected to or implicated in District of Columbia public schools testing scandal, which was featured earlier this year in a PBS "Frontline" segment about Wright's former boss Chancellor Michelle Rhee's tenure in the D.C. district and reported on widely by the media.
 
William Bennett to highlight Mississippi Education Symposium
State Sen. Nancy Collins, R-Tupelo, said she is excited that Northeast Mississippi educators will have the opportunity to learn about innovative teaching techniques in other parts of the country during a symposium in Tupelo on Oct. 29. The Mississippi Education Symposium, which will be held at the BancorpSouth Center, will be sponsored by Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and the state Department of Education and will feature William Bennett, former U.S. secretary of education, as one of the presenters. Part of the goal of the symposium, according to the MDE, is to provide materials to help teachers enact the Common Core educational standards that are set to be used by Mississippi and most other states, starting with the 2014-15 school year. Collins said she believes it will be beneficial to hear Bennett and other presenters discuss innovative teaching techniques, including cutting-edge classroom technology.
 
Bryant says Christianity shapes his world view
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant told a group of students Thursday that Christianity shapes his world view and he's not apologetic about opposing abortion or putting Nativity scenes on public property. The Republican spoke at Hartfield Academy, a Christian school in the Jackson suburb Flowood. The school is starting a series of programs for political and business leaders to talk about their faith. Bryant, who is Methodist, was the first speaker, and about 300 students from Hartfield Academy and Christ Covenant School of Ridgeland gathered in the Hartfield gymnasium to hear him.
 
Bryant Touts Delta as Auto Epicenter
A different kind of Detroit comparison was made in the Mississippi Delta this week. It's a comparison to Detroit's golden age as the center of the U.S auto industry instead of its later decline and recent fiscal insolvency. "What we're trying to do is develop a Southern automobile corridor that passes through Mississippi," Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said Tuesday, Sept. 24, as he and executives of Feuer Powertrain announced the German company would build a $140 million crankshaft factory in Tunica County. Bryant made the announcement on a rainy day inside the Tunica Riverpark building the day after he was in West Point, Miss., to announce Yokohama Tire Corp. will build a $300 million manufacturing plant there to make commercial truck tires.
 
Mississippi sues to block looming flood insurance hike
The Mississippi Department of Insurance filed a lawsuit Thursday against the federal government to try to block rates from increasing Oct. 1 in the National Flood Insurance Program. State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said unless something changes, some customers could see their rates rise by more than 3,000 percent because of a 2012 federal law. "Today, many consumers face loss of their property due to the increases," Chaney said in a news release. "Many of the new flood elevation maps are riddled with errors and consumers must pay for new elevation certificates to prove they are not in a flood zone." The lawsuit is against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA, one of its divisions.
 
Tempers flare: Officials spar; vote count continues
The counting of paper ballots in the special mayoral election continued to move at a glacial pace Thursday, as Dave Ware clings to his 32-vote lead over Mayor Johnny DuPree. But Ware vs. DuPree took a backseat to Jones vs. Perry on Thursday, as the brewing battle between election commissioner Turner Jones and Ware election observer Pete Perry erupted into a heated verbal exchange at City Hall. "Either he goes or I go," said Jones angrily, as he stormed out of the council chambers during the early afternoon. Despite threats of quitting punctuated by a dramatic exit out the front door of City Hall, Jones stayed to continue the vote count. His nemesis Perry agreed to remain outside the council chambers, while other Ware observers took his place for the ballot inspections. The fight erupted over crucial absentee ballots from the Train Depot, a precinct that sided heavily with DuPree on Tuesday.
 
Mississippi-built Corollas to be exported
Starting in 2014, Corolla sedans built at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi will be exported for the first time. Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday that shipments would be sent beginning in April to 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. TMMMS, which built its first car in October 2011, began building the 11th-generation Corolla in August. The compact sedan is the world's best-selling vehicle of all time, with more than 40 million sold since 1966. The plant earlier this year boosted production to a rate of 160,000 annually, or 10,000 more than originally planned. The added capacity "was increased to support increased demand, both domestically and for export," said Kevin Burgess, Toyota Mississippi's assistant manager of human resources and general affairs.
 
KiOR pushes back Natchez plans
KiOR announced Thursday plans to expand its operations in Columbus while planning to break ground in Natchez in the last quarter of 2014. The initial timeline from the company projected construction would start in Natchez near the end of the first quarter of 2013.
 
Years after signing it into law, Obama explains Obamacare to public
For years, President Obama's healthcare law has been praised, excoriated, legally challenged, upheld as constitutional and debated some more. Now, with its online insurance marketplaces days from opening for business, the White House is focused on a task that many of the law's supporters complain is overdue: explaining it. On Thursday, the president debuted a healthcare primer in a speech meant to convince young, uninsured Americans that they will find insurance coverage to suit their budgets. The speech was laced with political jabs at congressional Republicans who want to gut or delay the program, but mostly it was a direct plea to Americans to give the new virtual marketplace a try when the six-month enrollment period opens Tuesday.
 
FBI has been using drones since 2006, watchdog agency says
Operating with almost no public notice, the FBI has spent more than $3 million to operate a fleet of small drone aircraft in domestic investigations, according to a report released Thursday by a federal watchdog agency. The unmanned surveillance planes have helped FBI agents storm barricaded buildings, track criminal suspects and examine crime scenes since 2006, longer than previously known, according to the 35-page inspector general's audit of drones used by the Justice Department. The FBI unmanned planes weigh less than 55 pounds each and are unarmed, the report said. The FBI declined requests to discuss its drone operations Thursday.
 
Farmers face labor shortages in the fields
With the harvest in full swing on the West Coast, farmers in California and other states say they can't find enough people to pick high value crops such as grapes, peppers, apples and pears. In some cases, workers have walked off fields in the middle of harvest, lured by offers of better pay or easier work elsewhere. The shortage and competition for workers means labor expenses have climbed, harvests are getting delayed and less fruit and vegetable products are being picked, prompting some growers to say their income is suffering. But farmworkers, whose incomes are some of the lowest in the nation, have benefited. The shortage -- driven by a struggling U.S. economy, more jobs in Mexico, and bigger hurdles to illegal border crossings -- has led some farmers to offer unusual incentives: they're buying meals for their workers, paying for transportation to and from fields, even giving bonuses to those who stay for the whole season.
 
The IPCC climate-change report: It's still our fault
It has been a long time coming. But then the fifth assessment of the state of the global climate by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations body, was a behemoth of an undertaking. It runs to thousands of pages, involved hundreds of scientists and was exhaustively checked and triple-checked by hundreds of other boffins and government officials to whom they report -- and whose policies are often based on what they read. The first tranche of the multi-volume report -- an executive summary of the physical science -- was released in Stockholm today. And it is categorical in its conclusion: climate change has not stopped and man is the main cause.
 
Scientists Build First Nanotube Computer
In an advance toward a future of smaller, faster and more powerful electronics, researchers at Stanford University on Wednesday unveiled the first working computer built entirely from carbon nanotube transistors. These seamless cylinders of ultrapure carbon are among many exotic materials researchers are investigating -- including the quantum particles inside every atom and the DNA inside every cell -- as electronics developers near the limits of conventional silicon transistors. "It really is a computer in every sense of the word," said Stanford University electrical engineer Max Shulaker, who led construction of the device. "This shows that you can build working, useful circuits out of carbon nanotubes and they can be manufactured reliably."
 
Flesh-rotting 'krokodil' drug emerges in USA
A powerful heroin-like drug that rots flesh and bone has made its first reported appearance in the United States, an Arizona health official says. Known on the street as "krokodil," the caustic homemade opiate is made from over-the-counter codeine-based headache pills mixed with iodine, gasoline, paint thinner or alcohol. When it's injected, the concoction destroys a user's tissue, turning the skin scaly and green like a crocodile. Festering sores, abscesses and blood poisoning are common. The drug -- chemically called desomorphine -- emerged around 2002 in Siberia and the Russian Far East but has swept across the country in just the past three years, according to a Time magazine investigation. Krokodil became popular in Russia because heroin can be difficult to obtain and is expensive. Krokodil costs three times less, and the high is similar to heroin though much shorter, usually 90 minutes.
 
Renewable energy source finds home in Mound Bayou
Mound Bayou is housing green gas that has the potential to grow 14 feet tall. The Alcorn State University Extension service in Mound Bayou recently planted an entire acre of giant miscanthus for the purpose of research. "We are the studying the minerals in the miscanthus to determine how it affects the environment. The crop that we are currently growing is owned by a private company; therefore, any changes that we make have to be approved, but we intend to do extensive research on it," said Dr. Franklin Chukwuma, project director/specialist horticulture. The Alcorn State University Extension Service also conducts research on various farming practices, in efforts to improve the lives of and economics of small-town farmers.
 
U. of Alabama student to go to U.N. climate change meeting
A University of Alabama chemical engineering student was selected to attend a United Nations climate change conference in November. Emily Bloomquist, a sophomore from Tucker, Ga., is one of six students nationwide chosen by the American Chemical Society Committee on Environmental Improvement to attend the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw, Poland, from Nov. 16-22, according to a release from the university. The convention's goal is to enhance public literacy on global climate change.
 
Auburn faculty members named SEC program fellows
Three Auburn University faculty members were selected to attend Southeastern Conference workshops to exchange thoughts and ideas with faculty from other SEC universities. Jennifer Wood Adams, director of the School of Communication and Journalism, Sushil Bhavnani, the Henry M. Burt Jr. Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Richard Burt, head of the McWhorter School of Building Science, were selected as fellows in the 2013-14 SEC Academic Leadership Development Program. The SEC ALDP is a professional development program that seeks to identify, prepare and advance academic leaders for roles within Southeastern Conference institutions and beyond.
 
Judge wants explanation for disparity in LSU president search records
The LSU Board of Supervisors claimed it considered 35 semifinalists in its secret presidential search, but when the records were turned over to a state district judge, there were fewer names, a court hearing Thursday revealed. State District Judge Janice Clark said she would give the board and R. William Funk and Associates, a Dallas consulting firm that helped the panel make its decision in March, time to fax additional information to her so she does not have to subpoena the material -- something the judge said she will not hesitate to do. "There is a disparity that needs to be explained to this court," Clark said to Jimmy Faircloth, the board's attorney.
 
Impact of IBM felt in BR: LSU computer science enrollment up 55 percent
The IBM Services Center in Baton Rouge already is paying off, though the ceremonial groundbreaking for project was just held Thursday. IBM Senior Vice President Colleen Arnold said the center has exceeded its employment schedule, while an LSU official said the number of first-year computer science students at the university is up by 55 percent for the fall semester. The dean of the LSU College of Engineering, Richard Koubek, said the plan is to triple the number of computer science graduates at the university from 30 to 90 and to increase the size of computer science faculty from 13 to 25 in the next three to five years to provide IBM with a steady pipeline of potential employees. This would put LSU among the top 15 universities in the country in terms of the number of computer science degrees awarded annually, Koubek said.
 
Greenway through U. of Florida is unveiled
Connectivity is the key to the University of Florida Campus Greenway, a meandering 2.27-mile shared-use path that will pass major activity and work centers and parking facilities. The $2.8 million Florida Department of Transportation project is the centerpiece of a walking and biking corridor that ultimately will connect the Archer Braid Trail west of Gainesville to the Depot Avenue Trail that connects to the Hawthorne trail, officials said. The UF section of the trail will be a benefit to faculty, students and staff, said Linda Dixon, the associate director of Facilities Planning and Construction at UF. "This will make it better," said Charles Buchan, a UF accountant who said he takes the bus to work in the morning and rides his bicycle home in the afternoon.
 
U. of Florida students give voice to books that were once banned
When someone says you can't read something, it often makes you want to read it even more. About 100 students, faculty and staff members gathered at the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out on Thursday to read and listen to books that some people have sought to ban from libraries. The event was hosted by the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries. Paulette Bane, 29, a graduate assistant with the University Writing Program at UF, was among the 20 people who read aloud from a banned book. "To read literature out loud -- Banned Books Week or not -- is something I love to do," Bane said, "and any opportunity to celebrate that, I'm there."
 
Scott promotes entrepreneurship while honoring Cade as 'Great Floridian'
Gov. Rick Scott visited the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention on Thursday morning to present the Great Floridian Award to the family of the late Dr. Robert Cade, lead inventor of Gatorade, on what would have been his 86th birthday. During a presentation to about 70 local elected officials, educational and business leaders, Scott and University of Florida President Bernie Machen focused on Cade's legacy that paved the way for current entrepreneurial efforts in Gainesville that include the private sector working with the university to create jobs. Robert Cade came to UF in 1961 and spent 38 years in the Division of Renal Medicine. Today, Gatorade is a $5 billion-a-year business. Since 1973, it has generated $240 million in royalties for UF, including $17 million last year, most of which is used for medical research.
 
U. of Tennessee offers Diversity and Inclusion Week
The University of Tennessee College of Communication and Information will host Diversity and Inclusion Week, with the theme: "Does Diversity Really Matter?" The four-day event -- Sept. 30-Oct. 3 -- will feature panel discussions on a range of diversity and inclusion issues. Rickey Hall, UT's vice chancellor for diversity, will deliver the keynote address. "Diversity and Inclusion Week is an all-college event that allows us to come together to celebrate and discuss diverse ideas and concepts across a broad array of issues," said Dean Mike Wirth. "The sessions stress the importance of dialogue, open-mindedness and inclusion as important tools for solving problems and building communities."
 
Search for new A&M president to be kept under wraps
The Texas A&M University System and the company it's hired to find the flagship university's next president are going to release less information to the public than in previous searches. The more low-profile process, which is aimed at protecting the confidentiality of the applicants, has the support of Texas A&M University System administrators and the endorsement of state Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee.
 
Texas A&M University enrollment passes U. of Texas' for first time
Texas A&M University's total enrollment hit a record 58,809, which ranks first in Texas and likely places the university among the five largest institutions of higher education in the nation, according to university officials. This is the first time A&M has surpassed the University of Texas' total enrollment in recent history, said university spokesman Shane Hinckley. University officials said in a press release that the increase is largely due to the return of the Texas A&M Health Sciences Center to the university's administrative structure and to the acquisition of the former Texas Wesleyan University School of Law in Fort Worth. The university also included students at the Galveston and Qatar campuses for the second year.
 
U. of Missouri law school receives $1.57 million gift to endow chair
The University of Missouri School of Law hopes a $1.57 million gift to create a new endowed faculty chair will help recruit and retain top-notch faculty. At the Reynolds Alumni Center on Thursday, Chancellor Brady Deaton announced MU had received a $1.57 million gift from the Nancy and Charles Wall Family Foundation to create the Wall Chair in Corporate Law and Governance, which will be an endowed chair in the School of Law. "It is an inspiring and humbling experience when you see alums like Chuck who want to give back to the university and share their success with the institution that enabled them to achieve," Deaton said.
 
Obama administration: Colleges should seek diversity
The Obama administration is telling colleges and universities they can continue to use admissions to increase diversity among their students, even in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that could potentially open the door to more challenges. "Racially diverse educational environments help to prepare students to succeed in our increasingly diverse nation," the administration said Friday in a letter to the schools. The Supreme Court ruled June 24 that schools should approve the use of race as a factor in admissions only after concluding "that no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity." The 7-1 decision, stemming from a case challenging the University of Texas admission plan, did not question the underpinnings of affirmative action. Civil rights advocates celebrated that the door on affirmative action had not been slammed shut. But at the same time, the decision appeared to embolden challengers who feel they've been discriminated against.
 
EDITORIAL: Secret selection process helps no one
The Clarion-Ledger editorializes: "Just because something can be done in secrecy does not mean it should be done in secrecy. Such is the case with the selection of the state superintendent of education. The Mississippi Board of Education conducted its search for a new leader in complete secrecy, never once acknowledging who the candidates were or allowing the public the opportunity to meet them. As a result, questions now surround their choice, Carey Wright."


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State holds rally for reading
Mississippi State spent its bye week in school – more specifically an elementary school gymnasium. Players from MSU volleyball, softball, men's basketball and baseball joined Dak Prescott and members of the football team at Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary School in Starkville to promote its Bully Book Blitz, a competition revolved around reading. The class that reads the most books receives tickets to either an MSU football or men's basketball game.
 
Skinner thrives under new Mississippi State schemes
Deontae Skinner has been a productive player for Mississippi State during his career. But Skinner is off to his best start for the Bulldogs and the fifth-year senior linebacker credits defensive coordinator Geoff Collins' new schemes as the reason. "I feel like it's a more aggressive defense," Skinner said. "I feel like we're playing faster and playing better. We've got a great understanding. Coach Collins teaches defense well so that's why I think it's better." The Macon native is second on the team with 23 tackles including two for loss. He has also nabbed his first career interception and sack through MSU's first four games.
 
Mississippi State hopes running back LaDarius Perkins gets back to form
Tyler Russell and LaDarius Perkins stood as stalwarts of the Mississippi State offense a month ago. The team traveled to Houston with question marks surrounding the team, including an experienced group of wide receivers. But the duo provided some concrete figures in an offense still molding its identity. Mississippi State practiced through its bye week Thursday with Jameon Lewis -- one of those inexperienced wide receivers -- who has more touchdown passes than Russell and two more rushing touchdowns Perkins. "There's going to be opportunities to get on the field and play," MSU coach Dan Mullen said. "And you've got to take advantage of that opportunity."
 
Bulldogs enter SEC volleyball schedule, host the Gators
Mississippi State coach Jenny Hazelwood let it be known that her team's non-conference schedule was going to prepare them for Southeastern Conference play. Hazelwood and her Bulldogs get to test that theory this weekend. MSU host No. 3 Florida (11-1) at the Newell-Grissom Building. "Each weekend we've gotten better," Hazelwood said. "We've definitely matured as a team through the four weeks. This is the first year since I've been here that we've had four tournament weekends. It was definitely huge for us. I think we accomplished what we hoped to going through our non-conference schedule." The Bulldogs will also host Arkansas (7-4) on 1:30 p.m. on Sunday to conclude the opening SEC weekend. (Subscriber-only content.)
 
Perkinston's Charles Evans inducted into MSU's Sports Hall of Fame
Perkinston native Charles Evans was recently inducted into Mississippi State's Sports Hall of Fame. Evans, who owns a trucking service in Wiggins, was a standout fullback for the Bulldogs in 1953 and 1954. The 82-year-old Evans also played at Perkinston High School and Perkinston Junior College, now known as Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. During his final year at MSU, Evans won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, an award given to the Southeastern Conference's best blocker. In 1954, he was coached by the late Darrell Royal, who later became a Hall of Fame coach at Texas.
 
Block seating resumes at U. of Alabama home games
The University of Alabama Student Government Association has decided to resume block seating for student organizations Saturday during the home football game against Ole Miss. Last week, the SGA announced block seating for student organizations, which includes fraternities and sororities, was suspended for the Crimson Tide's first home game of the season, a 31-6 win over Colorado State University on Sept. 21. SGA Director of Media Relations Leela Foley said the suspension last week was always meant to be temporary. "We believe (block seating) is a positive thing and a great way to reward the student organizations for their contributions," Foley said.
 
EA settlement with athletes portrayed in video games bodes poorly for NCAA
Tens of thousands of current and former college athletes could now be eligible for a cut of the revenue generated through video games and other merchandise that portrays their likeness, after Electronic Arts Inc. and the Collegiate Licensing Company settled in the massive antitrust suit O'Bannon vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association. EA and CLC, which licenses the trademarks of most college logos used in the games, were also targeted in the O'Bannon case, and the settlement, first reported by The Birmingham News, stipulates that it "does not affect Plaintiffs' claims against the National Collegiate Athletic Association."



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