Tuesday, January 7, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Construction to close roads at Mississippi State
Students, faculty and staff at Mississippi State University will have to deal with road closures as construction continues on campus. WCBI-TV reports sections of Barr Avenue and George Perry Street will be closed as work proceeds on a new classroom building.
 
Protecting pets from the freezing cold
Just like humans, animals retreat to warmth when temperatures plummet. Temperatures across Mississippi are expected to continue to drop until mid week leaving animal experts concerned about the welfare of outside pets. Kimberly Woodruff, assistant professor of animal shelter medicine at Mississippi State University, said bringing pets indoors is the best option.
 
Sun Belt hopes for rebirth in manufacturing to boost economy, exports
Mississippi, another Sun Belt state, also is undergoing a manufacturing transformation. In the 10 years since Nissan North America Inc. began building cars in Canton, Miss., Toyota Motor North America Inc., PACCAR Inc. and GreenTech Automotive Inc. have joined the market in the state by adding assembly plants. The surge in manufacturing might up the ante for education, not only at the community college or trade-school level but also at the university level. Companies will be looking for skilled workers, as well as people who know how the auto and other industries operate. "That means we have to adjust our higher education to be thinking about that," said Roger King, the director of Mississippi State University's Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems. "Do you offer automotive engineering classes or more robotic classes because so many things are automated out at these assembly lines?"
 
Tennessee wildlife officials to address hog hunting restrictions
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency representatives will meet Tuesday with local officials about requested changes to the state's current wild hog hunting regulations. At least five East Tennessee counties recently passed resolutions that asked the state to reinstate a "dedicated season" for hunting feral hogs in wildlife management areas. But hunting may not always be the most effective way to control wild hogs, according to Mississippi State University's "Wild Pig Info" website. "Though trapping is most efficient means of removing pigs from an area, dog hunting is the effective means of removing trap-shy or 'educated' pigs that have altered their activity patterns based on previous experience with traps," the website states.
 
Public interviews for Starkville CAO candidates begin today
Starkville aldermen will interview the three finalists for the city's vacant chief administrative officer position beginning at 4 p.m. in the City Hall courtroom. Three candidates -- Taylor Adams, Starkville's city clerk and finance director; Michael Anderson, a regional broadband coordinator with Mississippi's Extension Broadband Education and Adoption Team (e-BEAT); and Andrew Ellard, an employee of Hattiesburg's Community Development Division and Department of Federal and State Programs -- emerged as finalists last month for the position formerly held by Lynn Spruill. The interviews are set for 30 minutes each. They are open to the public.
 
Reeves: 2014 session will focus on efficiencies
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves says the state Senate will make a renewed effort during the 2014 session to pass legislation that could reduce office space for some state agencies. During the 2013 session, the Senate passed legislation to develop a centralized policy for the use of state office space, but the proposal died in the House. The first-term lieutenant governor spoke Monday at the Mississippi State University/Capitol press corps luncheon on the eve of the opening of the 2014 legislative session.
 
Reeves rejects gas tax hike; lt. gov., however, softens on bonds
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves will not support raising Mississippi's gas tax but will support a bond bill, on one condition. "It has to be less than $200 million," he said. Reeves was the speaker during Monday's Stennis Capitol Press Corps luncheon in Jackson. Shortly after he said an increased gas tax would be a nonstarter in the Senate, Reeves said maintaining the state's roads and bridges is vital to public safety and economic development. Reeves' stance on bonded indebtedness has softened from 2012, his first session as lieutenant governor, when lawmakers failed to pass a bond bill for the first time in several sessions.
 
Mississippi lawmakers must balance spending and demands
Mississippi lawmakers will start 2014's work at noon today. Even as revenues continue to rise, some leaders are emphasizing holding down new spending and making sure money is spent well. Those were points of emphasis Monday in a speech by Lt. Gov Tate Reeves. And Gov. Phil Bryant, a fellow Republican, issued a report calling for more efforts to make sure spending produces results. Lawmakers will also face demands for more spending from constituents during the 90-day session. Katisha Ray, 27, of Clarksdale, said she wants them to consider creating college scholarships for people with financial need. Ray started studying mass communication at Alcorn State University but said she moved back home to Clarksdale in 2008 after her father suffered a stroke. She has a part-time job and student loan debt. She said she's about a year short of completing her bachelor's degree and wants to finish but doesn't know how she can afford it.
 
Mississippi Municipal League to push for legislators to pass sales tax vote option
The Mississippi Municipal League will once again press state legislators to pass the Citizens for Economic Development Act when they convene today in Jackson for the 2014 legislative session. MML Executive Director Shari Veazey said 34 states currently allow a similar funding mechanism for their municipalities and the act would provide a more efficient way of financing infrastructural projects than a high-interest, long-term bond projects or a millage increase. "Municipalities in Mississippi have very few options as far as generating new revenue," she said.
 
State education superintendent: Stick with Common Core implementation
Calling herself a strong advocate for Common Core, state Superintendent of Education Carey Wright says the state needs to implement the national education standards. "I do believe in it," Wright said of Common Core in a meeting Monday with the Clarion-Ledger. "It has the potential to be a game changer. It's not a curriculum. It's a set of standards. We need to stick with implementation." Tea party leaders and the 10-member Senate Conservative Coalition, formed last year and frequently in opposition to Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and other Senate Republican leaders, has made overturning Common Core a central issue.
 
Opponents set to fight Common Core in 2014 Mississippi Legislature
On Facebook and in public forums, opponents have been trying over the past year to build opposition to the Common Core state education standards in Mississippi. As the Legislature begins its 2014 session Tuesday, they're bringing that opposition to the Capitol. Starting with a rally Tuesday morning on the Capitol steps, those who say the new academic standards pose a threat will demand lawmakers end Mississippi's participation. It's far from certain they will succeed, though, as key lawmakers continue to signal support. The chairmen of the House and Senate education committees are supporting Common Core.
 
State Lawmakers Face Tough Choices on Common Core
State legislators begin their 2014 sessions this month grappling with the best way forward on the Common Core State Standards in a tricky political climate, with a majority of governors and lawmakers up for election in the fall. For many states, this year will be a key juncture for decisions about the standards -- and related exams -- before their full weight is felt in classrooms, district offices, and state education departments in the 2014-15 school year. On the financial front, the outlook is healthier for education after dramatic cuts that began in 2009 and stretched into subsequent budget years in many states.
 
For right, Common Core fight prelude to bigger agenda
National advocacy groups powered by the Koch brothers and other conservative megadonors have found a new cause ripe with political promise: the fight to bring down the Common Core academic standards. The groups are stoking populist anger over the standards -- then working to channel that energy into a bold campaign to undercut public schools, weaken teachers unions and push the federal government out of education policy. Conservative groups say their involvement already has paid dividends in the form of new members and troves of email addresses. But that's just the start.
 
Mississippi 2014 Legislative Session Begins Today
The 2014 legislative session officially begins at noon today at the Capitol in Jackson. Lt. Governor Tate Reeves says lawmakers are not only going to look at how much agencies are spending but how they are spending it. Reeves also hopes to stop the use of one-time money for recurring expenses, and to keep borrowing under $200 million. One proposal that appears to be gathering early bipartisan support is a pay raise for Mississippi teachers, which has been recommended by Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn.
 
Medicaid, education seen as top legislative issues
The Mississippi Legislature will convene in regular session at noon on Tuesday, and the biggest debate will be over Medicaid expansion, say local legislators, but educational funding and the support of Common Core are two other top items pressing lawmakers. Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, is against Medicaid expansion, citing poor administration of the program already in place.
 
Gov. Bryant releases performance-based budgeting plan
Gov. Phil Bryant has released a strategic plan for performance-based budgeting, a type of government budgeting he has supported for years, starting when he was state auditor. A performance-based budgeting system would allocate money to state government agencies and programs based on measures and goals. House Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson, R-Poplarville, also a supporter of performance-based budgeting, has likened it to the baseball movie "Moneyball," where the Oakland As used computers and data to cut through hype and contract the best, often underrated, players on a limited budget.
 
Environmental groups seeking to stop Mississippi offshore drilling rules
Environmental groups want a judge to stop rules setting a framework for offshore gas and oil exploration in parts of the Mississippi Sound. At a hearing Monday, the Sierra Club and the Gulf Restoration Network asked Hinds County Chancery Court Judge William Singletary to order the Mississippi Development Authority to reconsider the rules governing leasing certain tracts. The legal action centers not on whether drilling would be good for the state's environment and economy but on whether MDA properly drew up the rules to allow seismic testing and leasing of parts of the Mississippi Sound by oil and gas companies.
 
Court blocks gay marriage in Utah
The Supreme Court on Monday halted gay marriages in Utah, drawing one step closer to addressing whether there is a constitutional right to such unions. The order from Justice Sonia Sotomayor was only procedural, and gives officials in Utah more time to appeal a federal judge's ruling in late December that struck down the state's same-sex marriage ban. But the intervention by the high court brought into sharp relief the legal battle that has been building since the landmark decision last summer on the Defense of Marriage Act.
 
Senate confirms Yellen, first woman to head Federal Reserve
The Senate confirmed Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve on Monday, making her the first woman to head the world's most powerful central bank and arguably the most important female banker in history. The Senate voted 56-26 to confirm Yellen, who's been the vice chair of the Fed since 2010. Yellen, 67, will take the helm after Chairman Ben Bernanke's second four-year term ends Jan. 31. Though never in serious jeopardy, her nomination proved more controversial than anyone anticipated.
 
In Jobless Youth, U.S. Is Said to Pay High Price
Persistent high unemployment among young people is adding up to $25 billion a year in uncollected taxes and, to a much smaller degree, increased safety net expenditures, a new report says. "The key takeaway here is that it's not just the individuals who are suffering as members of our generation," said Rory O'Sullivan, the policy and research director of the Young Invincibles, a postrecession youth advocacy group, which did the study. "When you have an entire generation of people that are out of work, it's going to create tremendous costs for taxpayers both now and in the future."
 
How frigid 'polar vortex' could be result of global warming
A bitter Arctic blast spanning the central and eastern U.S. has propelled the phrase "polar vortex" from the pages of dense scientific papers to headline status as frigid temperatures and strong winds close schools and businesses and prompt forecasters to warn of "historic and life-threatening" conditions. Paradoxically, the event may be a harbinger of winter outbreaks to come in the northern hemisphere as Earth's climate warms, some researchers say – a result of shrinking Arctic Ocean summer sea ice and the projected changes in wind and snowfall patterns triggered by the ocean's warmth and moisture. It's been dubbed the warm-Arctic, cold-continent effect.
 
Cigna, U. of Mississippi Medical Center hammer out multi-year contract
Cigna and the University of Mississippi Medical Center have entered into a multi-year contract that adds UMMC and its employed physicians to Cigna's network of participating hospitals and doctors. With this new addition to the network, Cigna customers who receive services from UMMC or its employed doctors' group practice, University Physicians, will now be covered at the in-network benefit level, according to the terms of their health care benefits plan.
 
JSU's main campus without power until noon
Jackson State University's main campus will be closed until noon today because of a power outage. Entergy says the cold weather is to blame. The power company's latest numbers show about 1,200 are without power, mostly in northwest Mississippi.
 
William Carey Dean Appointed by Governor to Heath Board
Dr. James "Jim" M. Turner, dean of the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine, was recently invited by Gov. Phil Bryant to serve as a member of the Healthcare Solutions Institute's Board of Directors. The Mississippi Healthcare Solutions Institute, which was formed in 2013, serves as a public-private partnership to champion healthcare growth and development.
 
Obama honors U. of Alabama geologist as up-and-coming researcher
University of Alabama geologist Samantha Hansen got a holiday surprise when she learned a couple of days before Christmas she was among 102 up-and-coming researchers recognized by President Barack Obama's administration for their innovative research and commitment to community service. "I was deliriously happy, surprised and overwhelmed in a good way," she said. Hansen, a UA assistant professor of geological sciences, is among the winners of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers.
 
LSU names Layzell as financial chief
LSU has named Daniel T. Layzell as the university system's new vice president for finance and administration. The hiring is subject to approval of the LSU Board of Supervisors at its Feb. 25 meeting. Layzell has held a similar position at Illinois State University since 2009, according to an LSU news release. In Baton Rouge, Layzell will serve as the chief financial officer for LSU's network of campuses in Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Shreveport and Eunice.
 
Dean of Florida's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to take new position
Less than three years after she became the first female dean of the University of Florida's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Teri Balser is stepping down to take a new role helping shape the undergraduate curriculum for the entire university. "We are very appreciative of Teri's efforts as Dean and look forward to working with her in her future endeavors with the University," Jack Payne, senior vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources at UF, said in a memo circulated Monday. Her focus of late has been in the classroom. She started a new class last fall called "Humanity's 2050 Challenge: Our Uncertain Future," which looks at the world's pressing food needs over the next 35 years as the population grows to 9 billion.
 
U. of Florida survey: Food safety among the biggest concerns for most Floridians
Food safety is a big concern for most Floridians, a recent survey conducted by the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences shows -- third behind the economy and health care. The survey of 510 Floridians by the UF/IFAS Center for Public Interest Education found a wide range of attitudes, perceptions and opinions about food security, food safety, and genetically modified foods. The respondents ranked food safety third out of 15 topics, with 85 percent ranking it as extremely or highly important. "They expect safe food and don't want to have to distrust it," said Doug Archer, associate dean of research for UF/IFAS.
 
Second Legislative Panel to Hear About U. of Arkansas Audit
A legislative committee is to hear from a half-dozen current and former University of Arkansas officials about $4 million in deficit spending by the school's fundraising office. The Performance Review Committee is to convene Tuesday afternoon, when witnesses are to include two campus officials who lost their jobs after the deficit came to light. North Little Rock Republican Sen. Jane English, a co-chair of the Performance Review Committee, says taxpayers want to know how the deficit occurred.
 
'Design thinking' provides a real education for Kentucky school district
A University of Kentucky professor's laboratory for design thinking brings "surprise and delight" to Eminence Independent School and Bryan Station High School. At its most simple, design thinking is about making decisions with empathy, or with the needs of those affected in mind. At Eminence, that meant interviewing every student, teacher and staff member about what they wanted to make school more meaningful.
 
Texas A&M Rec Center set to get $50 million upgrade
The Texas A&M Student Recreation Center is set to get its first major facelift since opening in 1995 -- a $50 million renovation that will increase its space by 25 percent. The university is soliciting bids from companies who will work with San Antonio-based architect Marmon Monk to renovate the center. The request calls for nearly 20,000 square feet of renovated space, nearly 36,000 square feet of natatorium renovation and more than 113,000 square feet of new construction. The design is somewhat flexible and the final list of amenities will be determined by the winning bid. Dennis Corrington, executive director at the department of recreational sports, said the expansion could help meet students' needs and ultimately help with retention rates.
 
U. of Missouri medical school expands program to address rural health disparities
The University of Missouri's School of Medicine wants to train more doctors to provide health care in rural Missouri. The university has expanded its Bryant Scholars Pre-Admissions Program to seven additional colleges in the state. The program encourages future physicians to practice in underserved rural areas by allowing undergraduates interested in rural medicine to earn pre-admission to the medical school. Statewide, most rural counties -- which are home to 37 percent of the state's population -- have health care worker shortages.
 
Potential loosening of parental notification laws for students with mental health problems
Under federal law, administrators cannot notify the parents of a student exhibiting troubling behavior -- say, isolating oneself for weeks due to depression -- unless it's clearly "in connection with a health or safety emergency." Many health experts, and the parents of many students, have criticized the law as needlessly strict -- potentially leaving vulnerable students unable to get the help they need. That could change under new legislation proposed last week, which appears to slightly broaden the circumstances under which disclosure is allowable.
 
EDITORIAL: Let's get behind Common Core
The Clarion-Ledger editorializes: "State Superintendent Carey Wright put it simply enough: the Mississippi Board of Education is moving forward with Common Core, and she doesn't see that changing anytime soon. ...Fear of the unknown is understandable. Sadly, so is political posturing. But the latter has no place in the conversation over Common Core. Mississippi classrooms are moving forward with Common Core. The best thing we can do now is all be active supporters of educators and children. If Common Core succeeds, then we're all the better for it."
 
OUR VIEW: Sales tax bill makes sense for city, county residents alike
The Dispatch editorializes: "As the Legislature begins its 2014 session, city officials around the state will be watching closely the progress on a bill that would allow city residents an opportunity to raise money for infrastructure improvements through a temporary sales tax increase. As is the case with many good ideas, the change always seems late in Mississippi. To date, 34 states have enacted this type of legislation, so this is not some wild-eyed experiment in city funding. Mississippi's version of the bill, promoted by the Mississippi Municipal League, is called the Citizens for Economic Development Act."
 
SID SALTER: Evolution of pot legalization, taxes on a familiar path
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Watching the television coverage of the first day of legal non-medical marijuana sales in Colorado -- which had Denver-area customers standing in long lines for hours waiting to buy legal pot -- I could not help thinking about the changes I've seen in Mississippi. When I was a kid in 1966, Mississippi was the last state in the union to repeal the federal prohibition law. That was some 21 years after the sale of 3.2 percent beer was legalized in the state in 1945 by local option."


SPORTS
 
Bulldogs excited for SEC play
Mississippi State enters Southeastern Conference play in a much better position than a year ago. The Bulldogs were just 5-7 going into their league schedule during Rick Ray's initial season but are 10-3 this year. "We're excited to get ready for SEC play," Ray said. "I think we've had a successful non-conference slate. The fact we've been able to get to 10 wins as a team already when we didn't get to 10 wins until March of last season I think speaks well of the progress this team is making. Now we get a chance to test ourselves against the best." Ray's Bulldogs will begin their SEC slate Wednesday at No. 14 Kentucky at 7 p.m.
 
The dunk is mightier for Mississippi State's Craig Sword
Each practice ends with 200 jumpers for Craig Sword -- 100 inside the 3-point line and 100 more outside. Despite ranking 10th in the Southeastern Conference in shooting, the Mississippi State shooting guard has only begun to see the fruits of that labor. Sword is shooting 57.1 from the field this season, yet 43 of his 72 buckets have been layups or dunks. Only three came from beyond 3-point range. "That's the one thing about it, he hasn't shot the ball very much," MSU coach Rick Ray said. "That's the thing that's helping his field goal percentage more than anything. He's a guy that's found a way to attack the rim and not settle for those jump shots."
 
Auburn's pressure provides lesson for Mississippi State
On paper, Katia May is listed as a senior. In Vic Schaefer years, though, the Mississippi State point guard is only in her second season. When it comes to grasping all of the lessons of "Secretary of Defense" and playing up to that standard and the one set by assistant coach Aqua Franklin, a former point guard, learning can be difficult, especially in the Southeastern Conference.
 
Cohen shares with Rotarians the success of Mississippi State baseball
Success on the field or in the classroom doesn't just happen with a snap of the finger. In the five seasons that John Cohen has been the head coach of the Mississippi State baseball team, the program has developed in both of those areas. Cohen used his annual power point presentation to share the success the Bulldogs enjoyed last season with the Starkville Rotary Club on Monday. The most notable accomplishment for MSU was the second place finish in the nation at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., but Cohen also talked about the high marks academically, the number of first round draft picks coming from the team, and high attendance figures at Dudy Noble Field. (Subscriber-only content.)
 
Oswalt to speak at Mississippi State baseball banquet
Mississippi State will hold its annual First Pitch Banquet on Feb. 1 at 11:30 a.m. in the Palmeiro Center on campus. Roy Oswalt, a 13-year MLB pitching standout Roy Oswalt will be the keynote speaker at the event introducing the 2014 edition of the Bulldogs. Oswalt, a Weir native, was offered a scholarship to MSU following his sophomore season at Holmes Community College but was drafted by the Houston Astros in 1996. Oswalt uses MSU's facilities to train during the offseason.
 
Downtown Auburn sees boost in business thanks to BCS
While temperatures dropped below freezing, the anticipation of the BCS title game drove diners and shoppers to downtown Auburn Monday. "People have been flowing in," said Bizilia's owner Kanwaljeet Gutali. "We've had a good response." Business owners and managers said traffic picked up around 11 a.m. and remained constant throughout the day. At Toomer's Drugs, manager Michael Overstreet said customers were pouring in. He attributed the large crowd downtown to out-of-towners that had traveled to Auburn to be a part of the game day environment. "We are busier today than normal," he added.
 
The No. 1 Team Outlasts the No. 1 Conference
In a rapid-fire finish to what some thought would be a lopsided title game Monday, Florida State beat Auburn 34-31 at the Rose Bowl to win the national championship. The top-ranked Seminoles won it on a two-yard touchdown throw by Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds left. The defeat of No. 2 Auburn ended the Southeastern Conference's run of seven straight national championships. The game also marked the end of the often-controversial Bowl Championship Series era.



The Office of Public Affairs provides the Daily News Digest as a general information resource for Mississippi State University stakeholders.
Web links are subject to change. Submit news, questions or comments to Jim Laird.
Mississippi State University  •  Mississippi State, MS 39762  •  Main Telephone: (662) 325-2323  •   Contact: The Editor  |  The Webmaster  •   Updated: January 7, 2014Facebook Twitter