Monday, September 30, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Business announcement Thursday in Starkville
It appears more good economic news is on the horizon in the Golden Triangle. The Golden Triangle Development LINK has scheduled a Thursday press conference in Starkville. In a news release, the group says the announcement will boost technology infrastructure for business and bring new investment and expansion to the area. The announcement will be made at 2:30 p.m. in the Thad Cochran Research Park at Mississippi State University. LINK officials, state and local government officials, and Mississippi State officials will take part in the announcement.
 
Students clean up cemetery
A group of Mississippi State students are working to clean up a Starkville cemetery. About four different Mississippi State student organizations came to Odd Fellows Cemetery Saturday to volunteer. They raked up leaves, cleared out bushes and helped cut down tree limbs. They did all of this to prepare the cemetery for new water fountains and benches that will be added.
 
Clothesline project: Silent messages speak out against gender violence in stirring display
They barely fluttered in a scant breeze Wednesday, as watery sunlight strained to break cloud cover. One thousand T-shirts or more, hanging on clotheslines on Mississippi State's Drill Field. They were of all colors, covered with messages in turn stark, poignant, angry, hopeful, emancipating -- each silent, but powerfully speaking out against violence, especially sexual violence, against women and men. "When you walk up to the Clothesline Project and look at the words written on the shirts, it brings you to what that survivor might have been feeling and thinking when they created it," said Leah Pylate, University Health Services' assistant director of health, education and wellness and sexual assault.
 
People on the Move: MSU
Ashli Brown has been named state chemist and director of the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory, effective Oct. 1, pending formal approval by the Mississippi Senate. She previously served as the lab's director of research and agriculture forensics. She is on the faculty of MSU's Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and is also a scientist in the university's Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.
 
Gardeners Get Advice from Experts
Some North Mississippi residents are turning to the experts for gardening advice. The North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona held its annual Fall Flower and Vegetable Show. Mississippi State University horticultural experts were on hand to lead tours of the flower and vegetable gardens at the facility, as well as answer questions.
 
Tour Shows Off Increasingly Popular Organic Farm Groups
His father was a pioneering hog farmer 50 years ago. And now, he and his wife are on the leading edge of a small but rapidly growing toward organic and natural farming. Black Creek Farm owners Scott and Lydia Enlow opened their Lowndes County operation to a tour Sunday as part of the state's sustainable farm organization. For information about sustainable farming, visit your local MSU Extension Service office.
 
Showcasing agritourism opportunities
A workshop for landowners interested in generating revenue from agritourism s scheduled Wednesday at the Delhi (La.) Civic Center. "This event will cover a wide variety of topics related to agritourism," said Keith Collins, LSU AgCenter county agent in Richland Parish. "We have been working closely with Mississippi State University to organize a comprehensive workshop." The morning program includes a presentation by a representative of Delta Land and Farm Management relating the potential for agritourism and Daryl Jones of Mississippi State University, who will talk about the potential for outdoor recreational enterprises.
 
Millionaire's will involving MSU disputed
Thomas Edward Bradshaw Jr. planned to leave the bulk of his $1.6 million estate to Mississippi State University -- until former Chancery Clerk Murphy Adkins became his conservator. Months after being appointed in late 2009, Adkins drove the elderly man, diagnosed by doctors as suffering from advanced Alzheimer's disease, to an attorney's office, where Bradshaw signed a new will, leaving his entire estate to Adkins. "Mr. Bradshaw executed the 2010 will under suspicious circumstances," wrote MSU's lawyer, Robert F. Walker. "Mr. Adkins is the sole beneficiary of the 2010 will and was in a fiduciary and confidential relationship with Mr. Bradshaw at the time the 2010 will was executed." The attorney general's office investigated the matter and concluded from watching a video of Bradshaw talking with his lawyer that the senior citizen showed "no signs of illness" in discussing the 2010 will. While the video provides some evidence, doctors believe those suffering from advanced Alzheimer's "never have that capacity again," said Matt Steffey, professor at Mississippi College School of Law.
 
Enrollment reports confirm consolidation needs
The process of logistically joining Oktibbeha County's two school systems will be a plan driven by raw numbers and dictated by campus capacity constraints and yet-to-be secured funding for potential construction and renovations. Working ideas include preserving East and West Oktibbeha County elementary schools while moving county high school students to Starkville High. Distance learning initiatives could play a factor, and Mississippi State officials confirmed last month that the university is conducting internal discussions about a possible partnership that will allow its college of education to have a more hands-on approach to teaching and demonstration. David Shaw, MSU's vice president for research and economic development, told fellow consolidation committee members last week that the developing university partnership could utilize a demonstration school or program that would reach middle school students, but MSU cannot simply take on an entire grade by itself.
 
Fire station park improvements soon moving forward
Starkville Main Street Association will soon bid out the first phase of its Starkville Fire Station No. 1 improvement project, a plan which includes infrastructure and accessibility upgrades near the intersection of Lampkin and Montgomery streets, Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO Jennifer Gregory confirmed Thursday. A sidewalk running parallel to the train tracks from University Drive to the Montgomery-Lampkin intersection was originally planned, but Gregory said that feature was adjusted to a boardwalk-styled walkway originating from University and connecting to the park's current walkway. Erosion issues in the park contributed to the plan's shift, she said. The idea originated from a design charrette class comprised of one of Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker's Mississippi State University landscape architecture classes. Other charrette-produced designs could find their way into future project phases, Gregory and Walker said.
 
Final approval sought for medical center's tax abatement
Starkville aldermen are expected to approve a tax abatement request Tuesday that exempts ad valorem property assessments Medical Development properties LLC's Premier Imaging facility up to 2020. This agenda item is one of several small-ticket items up for consideration by the city Tuesday. Aldermen are not scheduled to discuss or vote on major items.
 
New knowledge, new habits, and a way out of poverty
Standing among a crowd recently in rural Oktibbeha County watching youth football games, Sara Moye could have been mistaken for a social worker, sociologist or cultural anthropologist. Moye, 43, a Starkville native, can discuss poverty with a hint of detachment, mentioning hidden rules members of different economic classes follow, the need for impoverished people to have strong support systems of family or friends and misconceptions that many people in poverty have about those in the middle class. Since participating in Starkville Bridges Out of Poverty, a program aimed at helping people in poverty identify strategies and come up with a game plan to transition out, Moye's thoughts about her life situation have changed dramatically. The program is modeled after a national program used to connect people in the middle class and poverty so that they can understand and communicate with each other to better help those in need.
 
West Point, LINK chip in on Yokohama's 'Forever Forest'
As part of its "Grand Design 100" strategy, Yokohama Tire Company has a campaign called Forever Forest, a pledge the corporation has made to plant 500,000 trees around each of its worldwide locations by 2017. The company has started work on their first American-based manufacturing plant in Clay County and plans to continue practicing environmental restoration there. They'll have some help. During Monday's groundbreaking ceremony, West Point Mayor Robbie Robinson and Golden Triangle Development Link CEO Joe Max Higgins announced plans to provide and plant 1,000 trees a year in contribution to the campaign. After conversations with Yokohama executives, they've now agreed to plant 5,000 annually.
 
New highway construction expenditures dipping
The priority for the Mississippi Department of Transportation for the upcoming fiscal year will be preserving existing highways instead of building new ones. "We are taking money that would have gone into construction of new four-lanes and putting it into preservation of the current system," Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall recently told members of the Legislative Budget Committee. Hall has longed maintained that the current 18.4-cent tax on a gallon of motor fuel does not generate enough funds to construct new highways and maintain the current system.
 
State GOP votes against spending bill; congressmen call ACA a 'train wreck'
House Republicans from Mississippi voted early Sunday for a stopgap spending bill that would keep the government running but also would delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which they call a "train wreck." The 231-192 House vote moved the country closer to a likely government shutdown starting Tuesday. The measure returns to the Senate where Democrats have said they will not support efforts to delay or defund the health care law. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the lone Democrat in the Mississippi delegation, voted against it. He said the potential shut down will impact every community and urged Republicans to keep the government running.
 
Threat of federal shutdown is windfall for political fundraisers
Political fundraisers are feeding off Congress' stalemate over healthcare and the budget with urgent social media pleas: Send money. "Demonizing the opposition is central to the process" of raising campaign money in the current environment, said Steven S. Smith, political science professor at Washington University in St. Louis. "The more important the development in Washington, the easier it is to scare potential donors into handing over the cash." Spending deadlines, he said, become "natural targets."
 
Poll: Republicans would get most blame for shutdown
Republicans would get more of the blame for a government shutdown, according to a new CNN/ORC poll released Monday. The survey, conducted Friday through Sunday, found 46 percent would blame Republicans while 36 percent would blame President Barack Obama. Thirteen percent blame both sides. Unless Congress and Obama agree on a spending plan by midnight, parts of the government will begin shutting down. Obama gets some of the blame -- people were split on whether he's acted like a responsible leader or a "spoiled child" during the budget debate. But 69 percent thought Republicans have acted like spoiled children.
 
Danger to economy worries experts weighing potential government shutdown, default
A prolonged government shutdown -- followed by a potential default on the federal debt -- would have economic ripple effects far beyond Washington, upending financial markets, sending the unemployment rate higher and slowing already tepid growth, according to a wide range of economists. A shutdown of a few days might do little damage, but economists, lawmakers and analysts are increasingly bracing for a shutdown that could last a week or more, given the distance between Republicans and Democrats. Such an outcome would suck money out of the economy and spread anxiety among consumers and businesses in a way that is likely to hold back economic activity.
 
News analysis: Public left in dark about Mississippi's new school leader
If you'd like to know a little something about Mississippi's next superintendent of schools, Carey Wright, you should thank Des Moines, Iowa. When Wright interviewed for the superintendent of that local school district in March, she and two other candidates met with members of the community and then gave speeches and brief interviews with the board that were recorded. That 20-minute recording is still online. It gives a much better insight into Wright's background and professional views than the one-paragraph statement she issued through the Mississippi State Board of Education after it voted in a closed meeting last week to name Wright the leader of the Magnolia State's 490,000 students and 148 school districts. Mississippi, like the rest of the Deep South, has a weak culture of informed public participation.
 
Senators: Thorough vetting of state superintendent planned
State Senate leaders say they know little about newly hired Superintendent of Education Carey Wright, but they plan to meet with her before the next legislative session and say the Senate confirmation process on her will be thorough, not a rubber stamp. "It's too early right now," Senate Education Committee Chairman Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, said Friday. "I haven't met the lady, but I look forward to being able to meet with her, talk about her ideas on education. We've got until January, when we go back into session, which will provide plenty of opportunity to sit down and talk with her." The state Board of Education on Wednesday announced Wright's selection. Board members said they didn't know about a nationally reported cheating scandal in the Washington, D.C., district where Wright had been an administrator. But on Friday, the board issued a statement in support of Wright's selection and said she was not involved in the cheating.
 
ATV law may face enforcement push
The law on all-terrain vehicle use in Mississippi has gotten a little tighter over the past three years. Helmets are now required, as are certification courses for underage operators. But many law enforcement officials say the law still lacks teeth because it provides no penalty for driving ATVs on public roads. Each year in Mississippi, an average of 18 people die in ATV accidents, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Mississippi State Department of Health. The state's ATV death rate far exceeds the national average and is particularly high for children under 16. More than half of ATV deaths occur on public roads. Lynn Evans has helped lead the charge for tighter ATV regulation as a lobbyist for the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She said doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians were so tired of seeing the injuries and deaths caused in ATV accidents they decided to push the Legislature to pass something.
 
DuPree wins Hattiesburg mayoral election; Ware won't challenge
It's no longer the longest mayoral election in Hattiesburg history. It's now four more years. The municipal election commission certified Mayor Johnny DuPree's election win Saturday evening, after the affidavit and curbside votes tallied earlier in the day sealed the deal on his victory. Final tally: Democrat DuPree 7,507 votes. Independent challenger Dave Ware 7,305 votes. Game, set and match. Ware explained that the election's enhanced oversight (personnel from the Secretary of State's office and Department of Justice were both on site), combined with his desire not to "bog down" Hattiesburg in another election battle, prompted him not to contest Saturday's outcome.
 
Mississippi resident asks state to recognize out-of-state gay marriage so she can get divorce
A woman is asking the conservative state of Mississippi to recognize her out-of-state gay marriage so that she can get a divorce. Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham married her wife, Dana Ann Melencon, in California, but the couple lived together in Southaven, Miss., until they separated in 2010. Czekala-Chatham filed her divorce petition in DeSoto County Chancery Court on Sept. 11. Her lawyer, J. Wesley Hisaw, said a favorable ruling on the petition would not mean that same-sex couples could get married in Mississippi because that's banned under Mississippi statute. Matt Steffey, a constitutional law professor at Mississippi College in Clinton, said Czekala-Chatham's case is a longshot. "There's no right to terminate a gay marriage in Mississippi any more than there is a right to consummate one," Steffey said.
 
Poverty, family structure imprint Mississippi's education fabric
If Mississippi is to improve its educational system, the socioeconomic challenges of the state and its residents must be carefully considered as part of the solution. Research indicates students from poverty, as well as those born to teenage mothers or to unmarried mothers tend not to perform as well in school as students not in those circumstances. In Mississippi communities whose school districts have an "A" grade from the Mississippi Department of Education, the average median household income is more than $46,000 a year. In those whose district has an "F" grade, the average income is below $25,000, according to a Daily Journal analysis based on 2013 rankings. Andy Mullins, who spent his career trying to reform education in the state, said Mississippi's poverty is its greatest hurdle to overcome. Mullins, who was on former Gov. William Winter's staff when the Education Reform Act was passed in 1982 and later worked in the state Department of Education, retired in June as chief of staff to the University of Mississippi chancellor. "If you are talking about education reform in Mississippi, you have to talk about the effects of poverty, generational poverty, on the children," Mullins said.
 
A new chapter: Independent book sellers see business increase
Independent bookstores may have seen their share of struggles in recent years but, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated. Granted, a demise of independent bookstores may have seemed a natural conclusion at one point. According to the American Booksellers Association, about 1,000 independent bookstores went out of business between 2000 and 2007 as consumers turned to online buying, e-books and national chains. But the independents are fighting back. The ABA reports that since 2009, the number of independent bookstores in the United States has risen 19 percent to 1,971. Also, sales from independent bookstores in 2012 were up 8 percent over 2011. "That may be hard to believe, understanding that all our friends that were in the book-selling business when we first got into it 11 years ago are out of business now," said Jerry Shepherd, co-owner of Main Street Books in Hattiesburg. "But the truth of the matter is -- for us anyway -- that statement is correct."
 
U. of Mississippi Medical Center names new chairman of emergency medicine
Dr. Alan Jones, a professor of emergency medicine, has been named chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Jones earned his undergraduate degree with honors in molecular biology at Millsaps College and his medical degree at UMMC. He completed his residency in emergency medicine. He returned to UMMC in 2011 as a full professor and vice chairman of emergency medicine. He also serves as the department's director of research and its research fellowship program.
 
U. of Mississippi Museum earns Top 20 honors
National recognition recently shone on the University of Mississippi Museum, but its director is more interested in regional attention. The museum was named No. 17 in a Top 20 list of college museums in the nation compiled by Complex Art & Design website. Ole Miss's elite company includes Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Here's the website's take: "At the museum of Ole Miss, you can view Southern folk art next to 19th century scientific instruments, or Greek and Roman antiquities next to artifacts from the Civil War. They balance their dedication to the local community with a commitment to expanding students' world views. Whether you come to see a football game or William Faulkner's house, the cultural campus of Ole Miss is a place like no other." That mixture of attributes helped attract Robert Saarnio, who one year ago took over the job of director of University Museum and Historic Houses.
 
Ex-USM student indicted; defendants answer suit
In July, a former University of Southern Mississippi student filed a lawsuit against the university, Vice President of Student Affairs Joe Paul and Dean of Students Eddie Holloway. The student, Adrel Ryan Tutwiler, alleges Southern Miss violated his rights by expelling him and tampering with his files. According to the lawsuit filed in Forrest County Circuit Court, school records say Tutwiler withdrew from USM. Tutwiler says he never withdrew, but was expelled due to an off-campus incident. Hattiesburg police charged Tutwiler on Aug. 20, 2012, on an aggravated assault charge, alleging he shot his roommate four times. All three defendants filed an answer to the lawsuit on Aug. 28. Denying most of Tutwiler's claims, Southern Miss puts forth several defenses, including immunity from civil liability on the parts of all three defendants.
 
Quidditch takes flight at U. of Southern Mississippi
Once considered a fictional sport, J.K. Rowling's wizarding game of quidditch has become a sporting reality for athletes on college campuses and communities around the world. The University of Southern Mississippi is among them. Southern Miss Quidditch founder Nicolas Kubicki said bringing the multi-faceted sport to the Hattiesburg campus has been a whirlwind of practices as the team -- the only one in Mississippi recognized by the International Quidditch Association -- has found success during its first two seasons. The team's third season recently got underway.
 
MC to Change the University's Name
"I want the best for the college," said Jim Turcotte, vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, on the subject of the possible changing of the university name. Turcotte and President Lee Royce are currently in the process of hiring an outside firm to lead this transition from the school being named Mississippi College to a new, more fitting title for the institution. Though no definite contenders have been decided upon concerning the new name, Dr. Turcotte feels that having 'university' in the name will, "help us catch up to our reputation."
 
East Mississippi Community College 'intensive' registration open
Registration is going on now for the Second Intensive Fall Semester at East Mississippi Community College. What is an intensive semester? For students with the discipline and the desire, it's a way of taking college-credit classes over a shorter period of time, mid-October through mid-December. Financial aid and scholarships are still available. "Intensive 'mini-terms' are a great opportunity for our current students, or students from the local universities, to pick up a class and not fall behind," said EMCC Recruiting Coordinator Michael Black.
 
Board OKs business plan for UF Online
The University of Florida plans to throw open the doors to the nation's first fully online bachelor's degree program in January, nine months after Gov. Rick Scott signed the law authorizing the creation of the online institute. In that time, UF administrators, faculty and staff are expected to have fully developed online curriculum in five majors, with two more majors ready to launch by the summer. On Friday, the Board of Governors unanimously approved the business plan for that ambitious undertaking. UF Online is the result of legislative efforts to create a 13th university that would be completely online from freshman year to graduation.
 
U. of Florida earns 'center of excellence' title for movement disorder research
For many medical experts, Gainesville's renown extends far beyond the Gator Nation. The city is also known as "the dystonia capital of the world," said Dr. Michael Okun, a neurologist and the co-director of the Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration at the University of Florida. UF experts, along with a local organization called Tyler's Hope, named after a child with dystonia, have helped put dystonia on the map, not just locally but throughout the world. On Thursday, they received formal recognition of that reputation with the establishment of a center of excellence for dystonia, thanks to a $1.2 million grant from the New York-based Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation.
 
Accused U. of Georgia fake ID ringleaders re-indicted on felony charges
The two purported ringleaders of an alleged fake ID manufacturing and distribution operation that sold fraudulent driver's licenses to underage students at the University of Georgia and other colleges were recently re-indicted on felony charges in Clarke County Superior Court. The re-indictments, filed Sept. 17, came after attorneys for Tyler Andrew Ruby and William Finley Trosclair last month filed motions arguing that because of the way the indictments were drafted their clients could be prosecuted only for misdemeanor offenses. UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said the investigation spanned several states, and students from Northwestern University, the University of Alabama and the University of Mississippi were among those indicted.
 
U. of South Carolina's McNair aerospace center gets $1 million donation | Education | The State
A television network executive will donate $1 million on Monday to endow scholarships for the University of South Carolina's new aerospace research program named after Challenger astronaut Ronald McNair. Marva Smalls, a Florence native and USC graduate who is an executive vice president at Viacom and Nickelodeon, said the scholarships will go to minority students from the state's Pee Dee region majoring in computer science and engineering. "Hopefully, we are creating the next generation of leaders and scientists," said Smalls, 56. "This was a great chance to give back to my hometown."
 
Texas A&M using license plate scanners to keep track of vehicles in certain lots
Texas A&M has started using license plate readers more often to help enforce parking regulations and is flirting with the idea of employing the newer technology to replace parking tags, a practice other universities are using to save money. Peter Lange, A&M's executive director for transportation services, said the university has used the readers for two years to enforce parking, but started using the white rectangular readers full time at the Student Recreation Center last spring. He said there are no current plans to utilize the readers further, but that A&M officials are always watching the latest trends.
 
Texas A&M farm manager Al Nelson looks back at changes, career
In his 29 years as farm manager, Al Nelson has seen much change take place on the sprawling 1,500-acre farm near College Station that serves as a research and teaching platform for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas A&M AgriLife Research. Perhaps the most drastic change has been drought, which altered irrigation intervals throughout 2012. The farm's permit to draw irrigation water from the Brazos River was temporarily suspended by the Brazos River Authority last year, but lifted in January through May, Nelson said. After that, the farm has purchased water from the Brazos River Authority for irrigation.
 
U. of Missouri names new director for UM Press
The director of product development and project management for the American Heart Association has been named director of the University of Missouri Press. David Rosenbaum was named director yesterday, and he will begin the job Nov. 1. Provost Brian Foster said though he was impressed with all three of the finalists for the position -- the others were Clair Willcox, associate director and editor-in-chief of the UM Press, and Leila Salisbury, director of the University Press of Mississippi -- he thought Rosenbaum's experience in various sectors of the publishing industry set him apart.
 
How a Government Shutdown Would Affect Academe
If Congress fails to reach agreement on a stopgap spending bill and the government shuts down on Tuesday, the impact on colleges, students, and university scientists would be minimal, at least at first. But researchers who depend on government-run archives, libraries, and museums could see their work interrupted, and some university employees whose salaries are paid by the federal government may have to wait for their paychecks.
 
With shutdown looming, the outlook for colleges
As the clock runs down on a Monday night deadline for Congress to reach agreement on a funding measure or else force most of government to close, the Obama administration is providing details on how federal agencies would operate during a shutdown. The new contingency procedures for agencies that most directly affect higher education are largely in line with plans created under the threat of previous government shutdowns. Many observers expect students and colleges and universities to be affected only modestly, at least during a short-term shutdown. The flow of new federal scientific research money would come to halt during a shutdown. The National Science Foundation was set to follow a similar procedure. Individuals may continue work on all current awards "to the extent that doing so will not require federal staff intervention and that funds are available," the agency said. "No payments will be made during the funding hiatus."
 
Longtime U. of South Alabama leader Gordon Moulton dies at 73
Former University of South Alabama president V. Gordon Moulton died Saturday after a long battle with brain cancer. Moulton, who guided the small school from its early days to a major education center in the South, was 73. Moulton, who led the university since 1998, retired in July of 2013, after serving at the school for nearly 50 years. At his retirement, Moulton was the longest serving employee at USA.
 
College students targeted in Nigerian attack
Suspected Islamic extremists attacked an agricultural college in the dead of night, gunning down dozens of students as they slept in dormitories and torching classrooms, the school's provost said, reporting the latest violence in northeastern Nigeria's ongoing Islamic uprising. As many as 50 students may have been killed in the assault that began at about 1 a.m. Sunday in rural Gujba, Provost Molima Idi Mato of Yobe State College of Agriculture, told The Associated Press.
 
OUR OPINION: We must do better by students in poverty
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "Mississippi still deeply feels the effects from the days when the state had a feudal economy and nearly half its population was consigned to field hand or menial labor status. Those days are over now, but the legacy lingers. Nearly two centuries of undervaluing education because it was considered by officialdom to be of little or no use to virtually all black and many white Mississippians is hard to overcome in a few years' or even a few decades' time. Undervaluing education and legally enforced racial discrimination went hand-in-hand. We are still paying the price. But history's burden is no excuse to throw up our hands..."
 
LLOYD GRAY: Behind the data, children | Lloyd Gray (Opinion)
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Lloyd Gray writes: "Mississippi has the highest poverty rate in the nation, the highest percentage of children born to unmarried mothers and is in a virtual tie with Arkansas for the highest rate of births to teenagers. While we've made some progress, Mississippi is also last in most educational performance measures. These dual realities are closely intertwined. Poverty affects educational achievement. Educational achievement is the most effective way to escape poverty, yet teenage pregnancy and births to unmarried mothers help perpetuate a cycle of low educational attainment and, therefore, poverty."
 
BILL CRAWFORD: Starving government alone does not reform it
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "Some of us used to think it would be transformative if Republicans ever gained control of the Legislature. Small government minded leadership surely would eliminate unneeded programs, consolidate duplicative programs, and modernize out of date programs. It's just not happening folks. Instead we have all those same old programs, plus some new ones favored by Republicans. We have duplicative boards of education with the new charter school board plus the old state board education board. Despite studies calling for consolidating back shop operations for schools and agencies, all still have their stand alone shops. Best practices from other states showing show to operate more efficiently, streamline operations, and eliminate cost just seem to pass us by. So, our tax dollars continue to be stretched to pay for the same old bloated, inefficient government plus added retirement costs, added health care insurance costs, growing Medicare costs, and so on."
 
SAM R. HALL: Governor wrong about exchange, and he knows it | Sam R. Hall (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Sam R. Hall writes: "When Gov. Phil Bryant and Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney were going toe-to-toe over whether the state or the federal government should run a health care exchange, the hope of Bryant and several other Republican governors was that forcing the federal government to run the exchange would contribute to the downfall of Obamacare before the law was ever implemented. These same governors were betting on Congressional Republicans to force the defunding of the law and therefore making any debate over an Obamacare-related health care exchange moot. It is therefore ironic that we are now two days from the launch of the exchanges, and the idea of defunding Obamacare is what is threatening a government shutdown and possibly the United States defaulting on its loans."
 
GEOFF PENDER: Fundraisers for Posey seem 'cozy' | Geoff Pender (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "Lobbyists and others with ties to Mississippi Power Co. and its embattled Kemper coal plant are putting on a couple of high-dollar fundraisers for Public Service Commissioner Lynn Posey. It raises the question of whether the spirit, if not the letter, of a law aimed at preventing elected PSC commissioners from being too cozy with the companies they regulate is being followed."


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State preps for LSU showdown
Starkville remained quiet during a weekend that saw LSU clash with Georgia, Alabama roll Ole Miss and Johnny Manziel remain perfect on the road. Dan Mullen and his Mississippi State's coaching staff spent Friday recruiting. On Saturday, they returned to spend the day with their families. "I watched a bunch of the (LSU-Georgia) game. I wouldn't say I got to watch of it," Mullen said. "I spent time with my kids and my wife. But I did get to see a whole bunch of it. The biggest thing I got out of it is LSU is really good." Mississippi State began preparation last week for its game against the Tigers this Saturday at 6 p.m., which will be aired on ESPN.
 
Mississippi State QBs benefited from extra practice time
Practice had ended 30 minutes prior, yet Tyler Russell and Dak Prescott were still discussing routes with their wide receivers. After each toss into the end zone, a wideout returned to the duo, who pointed in the direction that best suited their throws. Mississippi State's game against Troy sat four days away, but neither could say with any certainty who would start at quarterback. A week and a half later, after extra practice-time translated into Prescott throwing, running and catching a touchdown, the Bulldogs again have a starting quarterback -- Tyler Russell. "This week you get a lot of different reps, but that's still the plan," said Mullen, who has repeatedly said Russell will start when he's healthy.
 
Mississippi State's Johnson productive again
Robert Johnson returned to Mississippi State this season as the team's leading receiver. His 21 career catches for 206 yards were pedestrian compared to Chad Bumphis' 922 yards, which led the team last year. Through the first two games a number of Bulldogs passed Johnson in productivity. But the past two weeks, the junior pieced together performances Mississippi State expected to start the year. "Right now we've just been working," Johnson said. "We've been working after practice to get routes down pat and it's working out for us during the game."
 
Bulldogs tackle needs in 2014 recruiting
It may not be making national headlines, but Mississippi State and coach Dan Mullen are quietly putting together another solid recruiting class. The Bulldogs currently have 16 commitments in the 2014 class and are ranked 39th nationally in the team rankings according to Rivals.com. However, that's last among Southeastern Conference programs. "It's a good class and they've done a good job finding guys local who maybe weren't on the national scene or as highly rated as some others that they really felt fit their needs," said Rivals.com recruiting analyst Jason Howell. MSU's 2014 class consists of 10 instate prospects, which is something Mullen has vowed to do each year. Of the 125 players Mullen has signed while in Starkville, 80 have been from programs within the Magnolia State.
 
Bulldogs begin hoops workouts
Excuse Rick Ray if he is more than a little giddy at practice today. It will be the first time the second year head coach at Mississippi State will be able to conduct a 5-on-5 scrimmage without the aid of assistant coaches. Attrition, suspensions and injuries plagued Ray's initial season in Starkville leaving the Bulldogs with as few as six scholarship players available for many games. But Ray's roster options will more than double when practice begins this afternoon. "Obviously it makes a difference because now you get a chance to get some competition in practice," Ray said last week.
 
Richardson looks to be one of 'fabulous' new pieces for Bulldogs
Breanna Richardson tried. She really did. When you're an athlete, you can't help get attached to a number. But Richardson, who wore the No. 21 at Rockdale County (Ga.) High School, encountered a problem when she contemplated what number she would wear at Mississippi State. Junior point guard Jerica James already had claimed No. 21, and even though she tried, Richardson couldn't pry the number away from her new teammate. That's OK, though, because Richardson -- who will wear No. 3 in Maroon and White -- is part of a bigger number -- five -- that hopes to make an impact this season on the MSU women's basketball program.
 
Stratton: New team, new wife, new truck for dad
2012 was a memorable year for former Tupelo High standout Chris Stratton. The right-handed pitcher was a consensus All-American and SEC Pitcher of the Year, leading Mississippi State to a conference tournament title. Stratton was later selected in the first round (20th overall) by the San Francisco Giants receiving a $1.85 million signing bonus. But eight games into his professional career it nearly ended. Stratton was struck in the head by a line drive during batting practice and was hospitalized putting an end to his rookie season. "Without a doubt, that made me appreciate it more," Stratton said. The 6-foot-3, 186-pounder returned to the mound this summer.
 
Ex-Mississippi State star Varnado finding way in NBA
Jarvis Varnado wore a charcoal Miami Heat shirt as he opened the glass door and entered the Mize Pavilion. The long, dark sleeves measured longer than most people's legs. His bright red shorts, dipped slightly below his knees, would suit most people better as a pair of pants. The former Mississippi State basketball standout sat down on a leather bench, diminishing his 6-foot-9 frame. Feet away through another doorway in the Bulldogs' practice facility, a mural super-sizing the already giant Varnado depicts the former MSU big man swatting an opponent's shot. The number "536" sits next to his outstretched arm, signifying his NCAA blocks record. The NBA acknowledged Varnado's niche ability. The Miami Heat drafted the Mississippi State forward in the second round of the 2010 draft.
 
USC fires Lane Kiffin in the middle of the night; Ed Orgeron named interim coach
There was no singular moment. No play call that went awry or ill-advised timeout. No sideline blowup that prompted Athletic Director Pat Haden to fire Lane Kiffin as USC's football coach. Fans had been screaming for the coach's head for weeks and he paid no attention. But when his gut told him the Trojans weren't getting better and it was time to act, Haden didn't hesitate. Early Sunday, less than six hours after a lopsided loss to Arizona State in Tempe, Haden fired Kiffin during a meeting at Los Angeles International Airport. Haden announced that Ed Orgeron, USC's fiery defensive line coach, would serve as interim coach as the school seeks a permanent replacement. Orgeron formerly was head coach at Mississippi, where he had a 10-25 record.



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