Thursday, January 23, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State professor to go behind the scenes at Sochi Olympics
A Mississippi State University professor spent a year preparing and will have to travel more than 6,000 miles, but by next week he'll be covering the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Skye Cooley has studied international relations, traveled extensively and, for the last three years, has taught public relations and political communications at MSU. The trip of a lifetime, however, isn't a task for glory. It all began with a girl, or more accurately, his now-wife, Asya, whom he met while in grad school at LSU.
 
Oktibbeha County Museum Remembers 'Old Main' Fire
On Wednesday, the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum commemorated the 55th anniversary of the fire that destroyed Old Main dormitory with a special program. Charles Lowery, former head of Mississippi State University's history department and author of a book about the legendary building, was the featured speaker. Former residents also shared their memories of Old Main and that fateful night. Bricks from Old Main were used to build the Chapel of Memories on the MSU campus.
 
Madison native Smith competes on 'King of the Nerds'
Mississippi State senior Mary Kate Smith of Madison is one of 11 self-proclaimed nerds competing to become the next "King of the Nerds" on the TBS network reality show. The first edition of the hour-long show's second season begins at 9 p.m. on Jan. 23. Smith, an aerospace engineering major at the university, joined the other contestants to compete for the $100,000 grand prize. Smith, a 2008 Madison Central High School graduate, said she's loud and proud about her love for space -- her academic concentration at MSU is in astronautics.
 
Starkville resolution backs gay equality
Starkville became the first city in Mississippi to pass a resolution supporting the LGBT community, a move approved during its Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday night. The resolution states that the city does not condone discrimination of any kind, including any against its citizens for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Mayor Parker Wiseman said it's been a practice of the city to believe all its citizens are equal and should be protected in the workplace. The city leaders had been mulling such a resolution related to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community for the last month or two. "We're a progressive city," said Wiseman. "And we don't mind being the first city to do something when it's the right thing to do."
 
Finalists selected for vacant Oktibbeha County administrator position
Five applicants, including Oktibbeha County's current comptroller and Starkville's former chief administrative officer, will move forward into the next phase of the county's search for a new administrator. Supervisors narrowed the 30-plus candidate pool to five finalists Tuesday after discussing the matter in executive session. The applicants chosen as finalists are: Oktibbeha County Comptroller Emily Garrard, Union County Administrator Terry Johnson, former Starkville Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill, Adcare Healthcare Regional Vice President John Thomas and Ivory Williams, Jackson's former deputy housing and community development director.
 
Alderman lashes out against negative public comments
Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn took exception Tuesday to seven months of negative public comments directed at the Starkville Board of Aldermen by lashing out after a former alderman's criticism and describing such statements as a "disgrace in the sight of God." Starkville's seven sitting aldermen have not been strangers to public criticism since taking over in July. "It hurts me to see that we elected officials have to sit here and take this from the public -- how they sit and talk about us," Vaughn said.
 
Wicker: Long-term changes need for entitlement programs
Roger Wicker is optimistic about cuts approved by the U.S. House and Senate in appropriation spending for 2014. In total, the federal government will appropriate $1.1 trillion this fiscal year. That's $135 billion less than it appropriated last year, $85 billion less than in 2012, $161 billion less than in 2011 and $183 billion less than in 2010, Wicker said. Yet, the national budget still suffers and has reached a deficit of $17 trillion, mostly because of increased federal spending, Wicker told Columbus Kiwanis Club members Wednesday.
 
Budget gives DoD funding for 20 Lakota helicopters this year
Compromise in the nation's capital will lead to more Lakotas being assembled in the Golden Triangle than previously forecasted. Cuts to production of the military aircraft had been included as part of a proposed $50 million in budget reductions to the U.S. Department of Defense. Had that been passed into law, only 10 new UH-72A helicopters would have been built this year. The aircraft has been assembled at American Eurocopter's Columbus plant since 2006. The budget package ultimately passed by Congress, though, provides for production of 20 Lakotas this year. Coupled with an assembly line upgrade announced last September that will boost production of AS350 helicopters, this is good news for employees, said American Eurocopter President and Chief Executive Marc Paganini. U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., credited his Mississippi colleague Thad Cochran for his work to preserve production of the aircraft.
 
Immigrants' group seeks expanded in-state tuition
The Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance is asking lawmakers to approve in-state college tuition for children who graduate from high school in Mississippi after being brought to the U.S. by parents who lack proper immigration documents. It's unclear whether there's a need for any change in state law. The College Board handbook says in-state tuition is available to any minor who graduates from a Mississippi high school and who has lived in the state at least four years. Democratic Rep. Cecil Brown of Jackson, one of the few legislators who attended the MIRA news conference, said providing in-state tuition would help immigrants' children improve their education levels and job skills.
 
Bryant touts merit play, but flexible on raises
Gov. Phil Bryant reiterated his support of a merit-based pay increase for teachers Wednesday during his annual State of the State speech. Bryant, speaking for about 35 minutes to the joint legislative session in the House chamber, said he hopes to accelerate his pilot performance-based pay program. But the governor indicated after the speech he would not shut the door on an across-the-board pay raise during the 2014 session. "I favor merit pay, but they are not mutually exclusive," he said as he left the House chamber. In the Democratic response, Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said too many Mississippians are still falling behind. "We can and we must do better," he said endorsing legislative Democrats' proposals to expand Medicaid and increase education funding among other things.
 
Bryant hits familiar themes in State of State Address
Gov. Phil Bryant in his third State of the State Address said his goals are for every Mississippian to be able to find a job here at home, get a quality education, be born into a "mature two-parent family" and rest easy that their tax dollars are being spent wisely. He wants to outlaw abortion and put "In God We Trust" on the state seal. Bryant lauded the state's economic development success under his watch, promised to work to fight crime and reform the criminal justice system and continue with implementing the education reforms he championed through the Legislature last year. Bryant broke little new ground, as far as policy, sticking to themes he's previously outlined, but he did announce a few new programs, including a website to hook up job seekers and employers and a telemedicine cooperative to help people in the Delta with diabetes.
 
Bryant talks jobs, safety
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said in his State of the State speech Wednesday that he wants to hire more Highway Patrol troopers, focus on job development, improve the budget process and continue trying to reduce the teen pregnancy rate. Bryant also said the University of Mississippi Medical Center, GE Healthcare, North Sunflower Medical Center and C-Spire are launching the Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Initiative. "This groundbreaking pilot program will use telehealth technology to pair resources from the University Medical Center with health care providers and 200 of the most complex diabetes patients in the Mississippi Delta," Bryant said.
 
House panel OKs 12-month-pay 'fix' for teachers
State lawmakers say Mississippi schoolteachers will be getting paid over 12 months despite the change in school start dates this year, but they can't guarantee the same for other school employees. Bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians and others, lawmakers said, may have to shift to a nine-month pay schedule. "Teachers will continue to be paid like they have been," said House Education Chairman John Moore, R-Brandon, as his committee passed a bill to "fix" 2012 legislation to push back the school start date. "The others, school bus drivers and others, there is no fix for that. Nothing we can do, from what I understand. The school districts may can make some changes to deal with it."
 
House panel seeks higher tax break for homeowners
Hours after a House committee passed a costly bill to increase property tax exemptions for homeowners, House leaders killed it. House Bill 36 would have increased homestead exemptions from $300 to $360 each year. It was sent back to die in the Ways and Means Committee on a voice vote. "We just can't afford it," House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, told The Associated Press of the $69 million price tag. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, said approving the bill could endanger one of Gunn's signature 2014 priorities, an across-the-board pay raise for public school teachers. Any significant teacher pay raise would costs tens of millions of dollars.
 
Group calls for vaccine choice; bills allowing options eyed in both chambers
Mississippi Parents for Vaccine Rights says it's time for the state to allow parents to have the legal right to select, delay or opt out of vaccines. About 30 members of the group rallied Wednesday at the state Capitol in an effort to push for a bill this year to allow exceptions to the state's immunization law. Mississippi doesn't allow philosophical or religious exemptions from immunizations. "There are 48 states that allow that right," said Mary Jo Perry of Pelahatchie, co-director of Parents for Vaccine Rights. State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier has said Mississippi's high rates of immunization among schoolchildren have considerably lowered the state's risk for communicable disease outbreaks. "Vaccinating our children is one of the best things we can do for them and for the people around them," Currier has said.
 
Cochran's Tea Party challenger raises $500K in 10 weeks
Sen. Thad Cochran's (R-Miss.) Tea Party challenger is off to a quick fundraising start, raising $500,000 in his first 10 weeks in the race. Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R), who has the backing of many conservative groups including the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and the Senate Conservatives Fund, could be Cochran's toughest foe in decades. The strong haul, likely helped by those groups' national fundraising networks, shows he'll have the funds to make Cochran work hard for reelection. McDaniel has $350,000 in the bank for the race. Cochran hasn't yet released his fundraising figures, but had $800,000 through the end of September.
 
Political, business leaders tout metro's success, potential
Jackson's future is often a point of debate and perhaps consternation among residents and political and business leaders, but Gov. Phil Bryant says he sees great economic potential for the state's capital and the rest of the metro area. A new medical school for the University of Mississippi Medical Center, he said, ultimately will lead to thousands of new jobs and hundreds of homes surrounding the hospital campus, while the opening downtown of the Belhaven Building medical office suites is an important step in Jackson creating a corridor of medical clinics and offices to support its hospitals. But other industries are gaining momentum, too, Bryant said.
 
U.S.-Brazil cotton dispute might ignite all-out trade war
Brazil is threatening to launch a full-blown trade war against the U.S. next month, accusing Congress of ignoring an order by the World Trade Organization to stop subsidizing its domestic cotton growers. It's evolved into an ugly dispute: The impact could sweep through more than a dozen cotton-producing states and, some fear, cost thousands of jobs in other industries. It's another example of the sometimes-confusing complexity that surrounds farm policy. Congress spends billions to subsidize farmers in California, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Kansas and another eight cotton-producing states. But since 2010, the United States has been spending $147 million a year to prop up Brazilian cotton growers, too.
 
Sens. Wicker, Markey want seafood inspected for mislabeling
Fish sold on retail U.S. markets are routinely mislabeled, harming consumers while threatening the livelihoods of American fishermen, Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Democratic Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts said in a letter Wednesday to President Barack Obama. Calling government efforts to combat the problem "woefully inadequate," they appealed to the president to order better coordination among federal agencies, including beefing up inspections of imports, which dominate the market. Although imports account for more than 90 percent of the seafood Americans consume, the foreign catch almost never is inspected for fraud or legality, Wicker and Markey wrote.
 
Should Farmers Give John Deere And Monsanto Their Data?
Starting this year, farmers across the Midwest can sign up for a service that lets big agribusiness collect data from their farms, minute by minute, as they plant and harvest their crops. Monsanto and John Deere are offering competing versions of this service. Both are promising to mine that data for tips that will put more money in farmers' pockets. But a leading farm organization, the American Farm Bureau Federation, is telling farmers to be cautious. These services, it says, could threaten farmers' privacy and give the big companies too much power. The data in question come from detailed maps of farmers' fields.
 
Economic mobility hasn't changed in a half-century in America, economists declare
Children growing up in America today are just as likely -- no more, no less -- to climb the economic ladder as children born more than a half-century ago, a team of economists reported Thursday. Even though social movements have delivered better career opportunities for women and minorities and government grants have made college more accessible, one thing has stayed constant: If you are growing up poor today, you appear to have the same odds of staying poor in adulthood that your grandparents did. The landmark new study, from a group led by Harvard's Raj Chetty, suggests that any advances in opportunity provided by expanded social programs have been offset by other changes in economic conditions. Increased trade and advanced technology, for instance, have closed off traditional sources of middle-income jobs.
 
Engineer accused of trying to send F-35 fighter jet papers to Iran
Customs agents in Long Beach, Calif., were shocked after opening boxes labeled "House Hold Goods" bound for Iran and finding thousands of documents outlining secret information on the military's $392-billion fighter jet program. The treasure trove of technical manuals, specification sheets and other proprietary material was being sent by Mozaffar Khazaee, a former engineer with military jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney, to the city of Hamadan in northwest Iran, authorities said. A federal grand jury indicted Khazaee, 59, Tuesday on two counts of interstate transportation of stolen property. The criminal case casts a pall over foreign-born workers handling sensitive government information, experts said. As an engineer, Khazaee had access to documents that included data restricted for distribution by the Arms Export Control Act, the affidavit said. It is rare for foreign nationals to have access to such information, said Annalisa Weigel, a senior lecturer at MIT.
 
Owens passes IHL gavel to Patterson
Former banker Aubrey Patterson is now the president of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. Bob Owens passed the gavel to Patterson at a recent board meeting held in Jackson. He will officially take office on Feb. 1. "I look forward to continuing to work toward our goal of increasing educational attainment in Mississippi with my fellow Board members, university leaders, elected officials and the business community," said Patterson. Patterson recently retired as chairman and CEO of BancorpSouth Inc. He served as president and COO from 1983 to 1991 and was named chairman and CEO in 1991. Patterson is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and holds a master's degree from Michigan State University.
 
UM's Crosby Hall, other dorms to cut non-freshmen students
Campus housing at the University of Mississippi will be limited to freshmen and a much lower number of non-freshmen starting next fall semester as another record incoming freshman class is anticipated. An estimated 585 non-freshmen students live in campus dorms this year, and all of those beds will be allocated to freshmen or non-freshmen involved in certain campus organizations next year. "Decisions like this are always extremely tough to make, but necessary when the university is growing as Ole Miss is," said Lionel Maten, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and director of student housing. "We have had numerous meetings with many different entities on campus to ensure that this decision was both necessary and planned effectively."
 
Delta State legacies to get branded by the Okra
Young Delta State legacies all over the country will soon be seeing green and white. From Pampers and passies to texting and high school, the hope of the DSU Alumni Association is to brand Delta State legacies from their early years so when the time comes to choose a college, Delta State is on their list. The Delta State University National Alumni Association Legacy Program has begun and information cards are pouring into the alumni house. Jeffrey Farris, alumni director, said he has had this idea for a while and was inspired by Oklahoma State and Nebraska's legacy programs.
 
Lauderdale County working with Meridian Community College on safe room project
Officials are considering moving the location of a new safe room to be constructed in Lauderdale County with federal dollars. Plans were to build the safe room at the Lauderdale County Agri-Center on Highway 19 South, but now college and county officials are hoping to locate it on the Meridian Community College campus. MCC's Board of Trustees on Wednesday voted unanimously to support the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors' efforts to construct the centrally located safe room shelter for area citizens. The approximate $3 million project would be funded through the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency with a minimal in-kind contribution from the county. MCC President Dr. Scott Elliott said that supporting the project is a “no brainer” for the college.
 
Itawamba Community College on Top 150 List
Highlighting the critical importance of improving student success in America's community colleges, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program on Thursday named Itawamba Community College as one of the nation's top 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million in prize funds. "It is a tremendous honor for Itawamba Community College to be selected as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation and the opportunity to compete for the significant Aspen Prize. It is another indication of the success of the College and its exceptional faculty and staff," said President Mike Eaton.
 
Frank Sikora tapped for U. of Alabama nonfiction award
The University of Alabama's department of journalism and College of Communication and Information Sciences have named Alabama writer Frank Sikora the recipient of the 2014 Clarence Cason Award in Nonfiction Writing. Sikora is scheduled to receive the award Feb. 7 during a luncheon at Hotel Capstone, according to a release from UA. The Ohio native and veteran journalist who worked for the Gadsden Times, the Birmingham News and as a freelance writer for Time magazine, was tapped for the award based on his long-form work, much of which deals with the civil rights era.
 
Auburn University experts discuss desegregation
Continuing Auburn University's celebration of 50 years of integration, Dwayne Cox, archivist in the Special Collections library, gave an account Wednesday of the historic process of desegregation at Auburn. Cox's discussion, titled "Segregation, Desegregation and the Vestiges of Segregation," comprised themes he said run throughout Auburn's history. "Together, they illustrate that we cannot escape the past," Cox said. In the late 19th century, Southern universities such as Auburn put emphasis on studies of Latin and Ancient Greek, a reflection, Cox said, of their respect for the Greek and Roman slave-driving empires. Throughout the early 20th century, Southern, white university presidents feared desegregation and the effects they supposed it would have on their schools.
 
Parents of slain Auburn student to file claim against university
The parents of a slain Auburn University student from Cobb County, Ga., have filed an official claim against the school stating their belief that their daughter might still be alive if Auburn had a campus police department. Lauren Burk was kidnapped from the Auburn campus and murdered in March 2008. A jury convicted Courtney Lockhart, a dishonorably discharged solider, and a judge sentenced him to death for the crime. The Burk family believes Auburn might have prevented the crime had they had a campus police department. The school ended their campus police department in the 2000s in an effort to save money and uses Auburn City police to patrol campus. They also believe Auburn failed to follow security recommendations in a federal report released before the murder happened.
 
Steve Forbes to come to Auburn March 21
Steve Forbes, former Republican presidential candidate and chairman of Forbes Magazine, will be coming to Auburn on the first day of spring to speak. On March 21, Auburn Conservatives for Tomorrow and Young America's Foundation will host "An Evening with Steve Forbes," at the Auburn Arena. The event will start at 7:30 p.m. Cody Garten, president of ACT and a junior at Auburn University majoring in political science and economics, said the group had been eyeing to have Forbes speak at their annual s Spring Conservative Conference and partnered with Young America's Foundation to reach him.
 
U. of South Carolina wants at least $10 million from state to freeze tuition
The University of South Carolina system is asking state lawmakers for $10.1 million -- the equivalent of a 3 percent tuition hike -- to freeze students' tuition bills for a year. As part of the offer to keep tuition at current levels, USC also wants the state to cover the cost of any state-ordered salary hikes or increases in health insurance and retirement expenses. Those amounts depend on any changes approved by the General Assembly. In his presentation to a House budget subcommittee Wednesday, USC president Harris Pastides also asked for approval of a one-time, $3.4 million request from the S.C. Commission on Higher Education that would allow students statewide to start using lottery scholarships during summer sessions.
 
Clinic opened at LSU to study childhood obesity
The 40 young women they invite onto campus will spend about three hours a week huffing and puffing along to workout routines disguised as Xbox video games. The girls will do their workouts as part of Pennington's Childhood Obesity and Diabetes Research program at LSU. Researchers involved in the program will do their work in a newly christened pediatric research clinic. LSU System President F. King Alexander said promoting healthy lifestyles in children is "perhaps the most important educational concept that we can instill in our students." He called healthy living an economic issue for everyone.
 
High-ranking officer speaks at U. of Missouri Veterans Clinic opening ceremony
When Shawn Lee was deployed to Baghdad in 2004, his first battalion sergeant major taught him everything he needed to know about true leadership and service. Now a University of Missouri law student, Lee introduced his former sergeant, Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Greca, as the first speaker for the new MU Veterans Clinic. The Wednesday afternoon event celebrated the clinic's opening this month at the Hulston Hall Courtroom. Greca, the highest ranking noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army Forces Command, said the American public is obliged to help the many veterans who struggle when returning to civilian life.
 
Pressure on the Provosts: 2014 Survey of Chief Academic Officers
Some governors and college presidents are hailing the end of the economic downturn that started in 2008. But to provosts -- the people who lead academic operations at their institutions -- the era of cuts and tough choices does not appear over, according to this year's Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers. Only 5 percent strongly agree and another 18 percent agree that the economic downturn is "effectively over" at their institutions. In contrast, 21 percent strongly disagree and another 37 percent disagree. Public institutions were likelier to see the downturn continuing while privates were more likely to see recovery, though only 26 percent of private nonprofit institutions agreed that the recession was over for their colleges and universities. If budget pressures continue, so too do others.
 
Public-University Group Offers Alternative to Obama's College-Rating Plan
Rather than rate colleges, the Obama administration should hold them accountable through expanded disclosures and tightened standards for receiving federal student aid, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities argues in a response to the president's college-affordability plan. In a letter sent on Wednesday to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, M. Peter McPherson, the association's president, writes that public colleges support Mr. Obama's "call for transparency and accountability" but fear that a ratings system "would be extremely difficult to structure in a way that will accomplish the president's goals." Instead, the association suggests, the federal government should judge colleges based on a trio of risk-adjusted outcome measures: retention and graduation rates; employment and continuing-education rates; and loan-repayment and default rates.
 
Obama task force on sexual assault to seek input from colleges
The Obama administration had already been considered unusually tough on campuses that fail to address sexual assault, with the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights opening and settling more Title IX investigations at colleges than ever before. Many college administrators have said that they of course want to protect students -- both victims and alleged perpetrators -- as best they can. But they've also complained that OCR doesn't fully understand the practical and cultural issues involved in addressing sexual assault on campuses. Now, much of that appears poised to change. In a news conference announcing the formation of a White House Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault, Obama vowed to "work with" -- not just dictate to -- campus officials in a new initiative that appears to take federal enforcement another step further.
 
Arizona Fraternity Party Stirs Concerns of Racism
Arizona State University is investigating accusations that members of a fraternity gave a party to commemorate Martin Luther King's Birthday at which nonblack students mocked blacks by donning loose basketball jerseys, flashing gang signs and drinking from hollowed-out watermelons. University officials have suspended the operations of the fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon. The chapter has been on probation since last fall, when some of its members were linked to the beating of a black student on campus. Amid calls for closing the chapter and expelling the students involved, James Rund, senior vice president for educational outreach and student services at Arizona State, said Wednesday that the school was still "gathering details from those who were involved to find out what happened, what made it rise to the level that it did, their intentions."
 
History bill in Tennessee would emphasize interpretations favored by conservatives
State lawmakers are weighing a bill that would mandate how Tennessee students are taught U.S. history, with an emphasis on interpretations favored by conservatives. House Bill 1129 would require school districts to adopt curriculums that stress the "positive difference" the United States has made in the world and "the political and cultural elements that distinguished America." The measure also deletes a current guideline that encourages teaching about diversity and contributions from minorities in history classes. The Tennessee Department of Education opposes the measure, saying curriculum decisions should be left to the State Board of Education and local school boards.
 
WYATT EMMERICH (OPINION): Fiscal responsibility to be focus of upcoming legislative session
Mississippi newspaper publisher and columnist Wyatt Emmerich writes: "Thanks to the Stennis-Capitol Press Forum, I was able to receive a briefing on the current Legislative session from both the leaders of the Mississippi House and the Senate. The Stennis-Capitol Forum meets at the Capital Club on the 19th floor of the Capital Towers Building, 125 South Congress St. The public is invited. ... It is a true blessing to live in a country where all a citizen has to do is show up for lunch, pay $20 and get a report from its top leaders on the latest government initiatives. We have an open, accessible government."
 
BOBBY HARRISON (OPINION): The measure of success is what the Legislature approves
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "Education advocates used the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday earlier this week as an opportunity to rally at the Mississippi Capitol for full funding of education. The hundreds participating in the rally left excited about the enthusiasm and attention the event received. By those standards, the rally would have to be judged a success. But if the measure of success is whether the Legislature finally relents and fully funds public education, the likelihood of success is... not so much."
 
SID SALTER (OPINION): State's press to 'roast' Filbert, uh, Delbert Hosemann Jan. 30
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Far be it for a man whose birth certificate reads 'Sidney Leo' to make fun of anyone's name, but one has to admit that "Delbert Hosemann" is quite the moniker. Despite a stellar career as primarily a tax lawyer and a man with a truly impressive resume of civic and charitable work, Delbert Hosemann wasn't exactly a household name. ...Enter a little lady named Dorothy Deavers sitting on a park bench who over the course of multiple TV commercials called Hosemann Filbert, Wilbert, Engelbert, Dilbert, Gilbert, and Eggbert -- basically anything but Delbert -- and the rest was history. 'Ma'am, it's Delbert' was Hosemann's line and he delivered it repeatedly and well. ...Let's hope Hosemann has held onto his sense of humor. Hosemann will be the main course during the 24th annual Mississippi Press Association Education Foundation Celebrity Roast on Feb. 7 at the Jackson Hilton."


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State reserve Cunningham pivotal in victory over Auburn
Before Mississippi State tipped off against Auburn, Tyson Cunningham had the court to himself. A young fan fed him the ball and Cunningham swished 3-pointer after 3-pointer. The former walk-on had five points Wednesday, but he was pivotal in MSU's 82-74 win over Auburn at Humphrey Coliseum. "I always try to work on my shot as much as possible," Cunningham said. "I kind of felt like I shot it in rhythm (Wednesday)." His work from 3-point range came at an opportune time for the Bulldogs.
 
Mississippi State bullish down stretch
After more than 30 minutes sitting on the bench, Mississippi State's Tyson Cunningham had every reason to come into the game cold and tentative. Instead, the senior guard made three huge plays that helped the Bulldogs hang on for an 82-74 victory over Auburn on Wednesday night. "It speaks volumes about Tyson as a person and being prepared," Mississippi State coach Rick Ray said. "He's the one guy on our team who is always in the gym working on his shot, working on his game. So when you work like that, you're able to come into a pressurized situation and have success."
 
Bulldogs' home dominance of Auburn continues
The home success continues for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs hit 13 free throws in the final two minutes to improve to 3-0 in SEC play inside Humphrey Coliseum with an 82-74 victory over Auburn on Wednesday evening. "I'm happy with the way our team found a way to win this game," said MSU coach Rick Ray. "We had a comedy of errors defensively down the stretch. But even with all the errors that we had on the defensive end, the bottom line was we were able to persevere through that because we made our free throws." The Bulldogs (13-5, 3-2) are 11-1 in Starkville this season and have won 13 of the last 14 against Auburn in Humphrey Coliseum.
 
Cunningham provides huge spark as Mississippi State gets past Auburn
Tyson Cunningham had the most significant two-minute stretch of his college basketball career Wednesday night. The Columbus native scored five straight points and then took a vicious charge to the delight of 7,754 Humphrey Coliseum fans. The instant momentum lift was exactly what Mississippi State needed in its 82-74 victory over Auburn. "Coach is always telling me to be ready no matter what," Cunningham said. "I truly was just in the right spots and at the right time. All I wanted to do was help my team get this win. That's my role."
 
Mississippi State women regroup to face Ole Miss
Coming off one of his team's best efforts of the season Thursday, Vic Schaefer never imagined he would have returned from Texas on Sunday with a "limp." Two days later, the second-year Mississippi State women's basketball coach was still smarting from the emotional and physical battering he, his coaches, and his team took in an 83-35 loss to then-No. 25 Texas A&M. The loss was even more painful to endure because it came on the heels of a 67-63 loss to then-No. 12 Tennessee on Thursday at Humphrey Coliseum.
 
MSU's Thompson to address East Central Community College's First Pitch Dinner
Special recognition of the 2014 East Central Community College baseball team is scheduled Feb, 1 when the annual First Pitch Dinner is held on the Decatur campus. Activities begin at 6:30 p.m. in Mabry Memorial Cafeteria in preparation for the new season. Neal Holliman, now in his eighth year as Diamond Warrior head coach, anticipates another great turnout for the First Pitch Dinner, which again features one of the top baseball coaches in the country. Butch Thompson, associate head baseball coach at Mississippi State University, will serve as this year's speaker. "We are extremely excited to have the best pitching coach in the country speak at our First Pitch Dinner," said Holliman.
 
Texas A&M athletics officials want to upgrade Bright Football Complex
There's still more construction, and money, planned for Texas A&M football. Athletic officials are pursuing a $15 million renovation of the Bright Football Complex, which includes the A&M football locker room, training rooms, meeting rooms and coaches' offices. The renovation is connected to, but not technically part of, the $450 million overhaul of Kyle Field. The upgrade would mean new amenities for the players and 500 square feet of new office space, and new furniture, for the coaches. The Hagner auditorium, used for press conferences, meetings for the entire football team and to host recruits and their families, would be transformed from a classroom-style auditorium to a theater-style environment with larger chairs sporting A&M logos.



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