Tuesday, March 18, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Groundbreaking set for Mill site
Mississippi State University will host a groundbreaking ceremony for The Mill at MSU at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the E.E. Cooley Building. The Mill at MSU is a $40-million development spread over 10.89 acres that will transform the Cooley Building into a conference center and office complex, establish an adjacent hotel and parking garage and develop mixed-use business parcels on the property. David Shaw, vice president for research and economic development at MSU, said the groundbreaking would bring to fruition a process dating back 10 years.
 
Family farmers to gather in Capital City for conference
Dr. Valmadge T. Towner, president of Coahoma Community College and superintendent of the Agricultural High School, Coahoma, Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy-Hyde Smith and Dr. Raygene Paige, retired assistant director for Mississippi State University Extension Service, will serve as keynote speakers for the 23rd annual Small Farmers Conference slated for March 24-26, 2014, at the Jackson Convention Complex. A highlight of the conference will be the observance of the 100th Year Anniversary of the Cooperative Extension System. During the Cooperative Extension Centennial Banquet, the McDonald siblings -- Georgia Wright, 99, Major McDonald, 98, Ozola Eichelberger, 95, and Mildred Bell, 94 -- will be honored for their family's rich farming legacy.
 
Creative curriculum: Teachers learn to integrate arts into lessons
Teacher Cary Haycox is huffing and puffing and doing his best to impersonate a big, bad wolf. The Meridian middle school teacher is participating in a recent training put on by the Mississippi Arts Commission to help teachers learn how to integrate the arts into their classroom instruction. Haycox was among about 30 teachers from around South Mississippi who assembled at Oak Grove Primary School for the training as part of the arts commission's Whole Schools Initiative. In 2011, the arts commission asked Mississippi State University's Stennis Institute to do a study of the Whole Schools Initiative. The study found the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced on the MCT2, the fourth-grade Writing test and the fifth-grade Science test was significantly higher at schools participating in the Whole Schools Initiative.
 
Mississippi native third to die of injuries in SXSW drunken-driving crash
The third victim of a drunken driver who crashed into the crowd at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, died Monday morning. Sandy Le, 26, a native of Pass Christian, had been on life support since the accident early Thursday. Relatives said she died surrounded by family and friends. Le graduated from the Mississippi School for Math and Science in 2006, her brother in law said, and attended both the University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State University.
 
Securities and Exchange Commission Starts Investigation Into KiOR
Troubles for KiOR's alternative fuels plant in Columbus could be mounting. In its end-of-the-year financial report filed Monday, the company reported the Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into the company's reporting of production levels and other matters. The report suggests someone has complained the company may have misreported production levels and quality to influence investors or stock prices. The SEC issued subpoenas for financial and operating information at the end of January.
 
More layoffs at Greenwood Viking plant
Viking Range Corp. has announcement more layoffs in Greenwood. The Greenwood Commonwealth reports that Viking's corporate parent, The Middleby Corp., won't say how many positions were eliminated. In a statement Monday, Middleby says the cuts were in technical services and call centers as well as in marketing and training. Monday's layoffs are the third round of cutbacks at Viking since it was purchased by Elgin, Ill.-based Middleby at the end of 2012.
 
Justice reform likely to become law
A proposal to revamp many aspects of the criminal justice system and to curb growth in the state's prison population overwhelmingly passed both chambers of the Mississippi Legislature on Monday. The legislation, almost certain to become law with Gov. Phil Bryant's signature, was based on recommendations from a criminal justice task force formed by the 2013 Legislature to examine the state's criminal justice and corrections system. House and Senate leaders worked out the differences between how the proposal earlier had passed the two chambers and filed a final agreement, called a conference report, on Friday.
 
Historic tax credit bill dies in committee
Barring a parliamentary miracle, extending the deadline for projects to qualify for state historic tax credits will not be among the concerns conference committees address this week. Legislation House Speaker Philip Gunn authored that would have accomplished that died in the Senate Finance Committee on March 4. A bill dying at the committee deadline usually doesn't create enough of a stir to make folks at the Capitol glance up from their phones. A speaker's bill extending a popular economic development program, passing the House unanimously and dying in a Senate committee without being brought up for a vote, is enough to cause a few phones to hit the Capitol's marble floors. "I don't know," Gunn said when asked why the bill died. "But I am disappointed."
 
Lawmakers gather for Capitol Cook Off
State senators and representatives squared off Monday evening in the third annual Capitol Cook Off, a battle between barbecue and catfish, to raise money for veterans charities. Barbecuers Sens. Tony Smith and Willie Simmons squared off against catfish cooks Reps. William Shirley and Charles Busby. Smith owns Stonewall's BBQ in Picayune, and Simmons owns The Senator's Place in Cleveland. Shirley is the owner of The Family Fish Camp in Quitman. Polk's Sausage, owned by Sen. John Polk, was a major sponsor of the event. Proceeds, expected to total about $25,000, will be donated to Folds of Honor and Hunts for Heroes.
 
Lawsuit over Leflore School District takeover blames inadequate funding
A state representative from Greenwood has sued the state and the Mississippi Department of Education for the dismissal of a superintendent and four school board members and for underfunding the Leflore County School District. Rep. Willie Perkins, D-Greenwood, an attorney, filed the lawsuit Monday in the Southern District of Mississippi on behalf of the former school officials and a parent. It alleges the state has funded the school district $6 million less than required by the Mississippi Adequate Education Program from 2010-14. MAEP is the formula lawmakers use to determine funding for Mississippi's school districts. To go with that claim, the lawsuit alleges the Department of Education violated the due process rights of a former superintendent and four school board members who were ousted as part of a state takeover of the schools last fall.
 
Big bang waves: direct evidence of universe's extraordinary expansion
A vanishingly subtle twist in the orientation of light from the edge of the visible universe has provided the first direct evidence for cosmic inflation -- a fleeting period of exponential growth when the universe was only a tiny fraction of a second old. If the results released Monday are confirmed, as many expect, they will allow researchers to probe "a new regime of physics -- the physics of what happened in the first, unbelievably tiny fraction of a second in the universe," says John Kovac, an astrophysicist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.
 
Study Questions Fat and Heart Disease Link
Many of us have long been told that saturated fat, the type found in meat, butter and cheese, causes heart disease. But a large and exhaustive new analysis by a team of international scientists found no evidence that eating saturated fat increased heart attacks and other cardiac events. The new findings are part of a growing body of research that has challenged the accepted wisdom that saturated fat is inherently bad for you and will continue the debate about what foods are best to eat.
 
Efforts are Underway to Give More Financial Aid to the State's Neediest College Students
About 50 percent of state aid for college tuition in Mississippi currently goes to families making over $70,000 a year. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports on efforts to level the playing field.
 
USM Center for Oral History lauded with Award of Merit
The University of Southern Mississippi Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage was honored March 8 by the Mississippi Historical Society with its prestigious Award of Merit for contributions to museums in Mississippi and the region. Louis Kyriakoudes, professor of history and director of the center, attended the awards ceremony to accept the honor during the MHS's annual meeting in Jackson. Kyriakoudes praised the work of the Center's staff for making the award possible, including sound engineer and researcher Ross Walton, editor and transcriptionist Stephanie Millet-DeArmey and former managing editor Linda Van Zandt.
 
Black Family Summit scheduled at Jackson State University
Jackson State University, the Mississippi NAACP and other groups are sponsoring a two-day meeting to discuss issues related to black families. The meeting takes place Tuesday and Wednesday at JSU's E-Center in Jackson. The theme is "Reclaiming, restoring and preserving the black male presence in Mississippi."
 
Culverhouses donate additional $1 million to U. of Alabama for scholarships
Hugh Culverhouse Jr., after whose father the University of Alabama's business college is named, and his wife have donated an additional $1 million to fund scholarships to help students avoid the burden of student loan debt. The Culverhouses have now donated $2 million to the Culverhouse College of Commerce since August. The university announced the second $1 million on Monday. Culverhouse said he and his wife, Eliza, hope the gift will inspire others to make philanthropic donations.
 
Research parks part of Florida economy's lifeblood
In a lab at the University of Florida Sid Martin Biotech Incubator in Alachua, Tiara King peers into a microscope to study nematodes while her co-workers view Pasteuria spores and conduct quality-control experiments on the microscopic critters. "I came down here for this job specifically," said King, a plant pathologist from Virginia hired 2½ years ago to manage the Pasteuria Bioscience Syngenta Lab at Sid Martin. "I wouldn't be in Florida otherwise." Hundreds of people with advanced degrees in science, engineering and other disciplines --- like King --- have migrated to North Central Florida, lured by the high-tech job magnet in Progress Park, 14 miles north of UF's main campus. Progress Park is one of nine university-affiliated research parks in Florida. Research parks play a huge role in Florida's innovative economy, creating local jobs and bringing new products to market.
 
Federal judge decades ago denied UGA admission because of race might finally get degree
More than 60 years ago, University of Georgia officials turned down an applicant for its law school due to the color of his skin. Now, UGA hopes to make up for that mistake and award distinguished federal judge Horace Ward an honorary degree. After he gave up a seven-year legal battle, Ward eventually enrolled in Northwestern University's law school, one of the nation's best. He then went on to build a distinguished career as a lawyer and judge. Now, UGA officials have requested permission from the state Board of Regents to grant Ward an honorary degree. The request is on the agenda for the Regents' regular monthly meeting today and Wednesday.
 
Officer fulfilling lifelong dream with the University of Georgia Police Department
Senior Police Officer Jason A. Vogt spends most of his time enforcing the law at the University of Georgia and helping to ensure the safety of tens of thousands of students and employees. But like his fellow officers, Vogt frequently springs to action off campus and sometimes assists Athens-Clarke County police with their investigations. Vogt was so eager to become an officer that he was hired by the University of Georgia Police Department six months prior to graduating from college in 2008. He arranged his final class in a way it didn't interfere with attending the police academy or his field training phase with UGAPD.
 
U. of Kentucky appoints new dean at College of Nursing
An associate dean at the University of Virginia has been named dean of the University of Kentucky College of Nursing, officials announced Monday. Janie Heath, who is also the Thomas Saunders III Endowed Professor at the University of Virginia School of Nursing, will take over as dean at UK on Aug. 1, pending approval from the UK Board of Trustees. Recently, Heath has been the principal investigator on a $5 million project to expand a Critical Nurse Leader program. Heath has been awarded more than $12 million for academic and research initiatives and generated more than 150 publications and abstracts while also serving in national leadership organizations.
 
Barney Frank slams Citizens United ruling at Vanderbilt symposium
Judicial activists on the Supreme Court are eroding political equality by allowing corporations and other wealthy donors to spend unlimited sums of money on politics, former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank said Monday. In a speech at Vanderbilt University's Langford auditorium, the Massachusetts Democrat pointed to the court's 2010 Citizens United case as the prime culprit in what he called a "fundamental dilution of political equality." "The decision to allow money freely to flow influencing elections subverts democracy," Frank said. Frank's speech was the first of three at Vanderbilt this week for the university's annual Impact Symposium, now in its 50th year. Former Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine will speak tonight, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell will close on Wednesday.
 
Future of drone programs unclear; U. of Missouri to offer class this spring
Earlier this month, the University of Missouri drone programs had a brief reprieve when a federal judge ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration does not have the power to enforce a blanket ban on commercial drone use. The FAA has since appealed to the National Transportation Safety Board, effectively neutralizing the judge's ruling until the appeal is heard. But it gave MU drone programs enough of a boost to put at least one class on the schedule this spring, though the class will have to abide by current restrictions in place. The class will feature drone flights indoors, where it is legal. Otherwise, acquiring a certificate of authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration takes up to 60 days. The College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources is offering an introductory drone application class after spring break. Students in the 1-credit-hour course will learn to pilot Phantom 1 quadcopters indoors at the Trowbridge Livestock Center at MU, where drone flight is acceptable.
 
States looking at $0 community college tuition
Nothing sparks consumer demand like the word "free," and politicians in some states have proposed the idea of providing that incentive to get young people to attend community college. Amid worries that U.S. youth are losing a global skills race, supporters of a no-tuition policy see expanding access to community college as way to boost educational attainment so the emerging workforces in their states look good to employers. Of course, such plans aren't free for taxpayers, and legislators in Oregon and Tennessee are deciding whether free tuition regardless of family income is the best use of public money. A Mississippi bill passed the state House, but then failed in the Senate. The debate comes in a midterm election year in which income inequality and the burdens of student debt are likely going to be significant issues.
 
Sewanee tries to make its endowment spending more predictable
In an effort to make sure it won't overspend when times are good or starve itself of money when times are bad, the University of the South decided last month to change how it spends its $350 million endowment. The Tennessee liberal arts college, also known as Sewanee, joins a small minority of American colleges that use inflation adjustments to determine how much money to draw each year from their endowments. This, Sewanee's leader said, will allow the university to plan for the future in ways it hadn't been able to. Sewanee Vice-Chancellor John McCardell joins of a group of colleges that have become convinced the usual method is not ideal.
 
OUR VIEW: Empower Holloway as OCSD's conservator now, not next year
The Dispatch editorializes: "While state lawmakers in Jackson guide Starkville-Oktibbeha County school merger legislation, one very important issue is sure to re-emerge, the early appointment of Starkville School District Superintendent Lewis Holloway as Oktibbeha County School District conservator. It's time to settle the issue once and for all, thereby allowing the conversation to turn toward providing the Starkville Consolidated School District's heir apparent, whether in 2014 or 2015, the tools and authority needed to produce excellence. ...It's time for local residents, state lawmakers and MDE to realize empowering Holloway is actually what is best for the children of Oktibbeha County. Maybe then we can turn the conversation to the real question: How do we effectively give the students of the Starkville Consolidated School District the resources and support they need to succeed?"


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State's Mitchell makes strong case for weekend starter
After throwing a complete game in his first start in two years, Mississippi State's Ross Mitchell has convinced coach John Cohen to make him a weekend starter. The junior left-hander was among the nation's best relievers last season, going 13-0 with a 1.53 ERA in a school record-tying 34 appearances for the national runner-up Bulldogs. The plan was for Mitchell to remain in a relief role. But Ben Bracewell and Brandon Woodruff have underperformed, and Cohen wanted to get a look at Mitchell as a starter before the meat of the Southeastern Conference schedule comes. Cohen liked what he saw Saturday. Mitchell allowed one run and four hits in a 6-1 victory that started a doubleheader sweep at Georgia.
 
Cohen goes with veterans to give team lift at Georgia
Following a month of tinkering and experiments, John Cohen went back to old reliable in the Mississippi State baseball team's first Southeastern Conference series. After losing the series opener to Georgia on Friday, MSU's sixth-year coach decided the time for testing theories had passed and that it was time to turn to the players who led MSU to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., last season. "We experimented a lot, but what it really comes down to is we got to put the ball in the hands of the guys that got us to Omaha a year ago," Cohen said Saturday after No. 24 MSU beat Georgia 6-1 and 4-1 at Foley Field to improve to 15-8 and 2-1 in the SEC. "That's what this whole day was about."
 
Bulldogs ready to start spring drills
Dan Mullen continually stresses that college football teams have a shelf life of one year. Therefore, today marks the birth of the 2014 Mississippi State team as they prepare for their first practice of the spring. The 4:30 workout will be the first of 14 practices open to the public culminating with the Maroon-White spring game at noon on April 12. MSU, which won its final three games of last season including a 44-7 victory over Rice in the 2013 Liberty Bowl, returns 17 total starters from the 7-6 squad including junior quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott will have his entire receiving group back and will likely use this time to get comfortable with the style changes from his new position coach.
 
Football Bulldogs return to work
When Mississippi State begins spring practice this afternoon, it will be the first time since Dan Mullen arrived that he will have to break in a new quarterbacks coach. Les Koenning, who had been the Bulldogs' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach since 2009, left to be wide receivers coach at his alma mater, Texas, following the Liberty Bowl. But the guy Mullen hired as his replacement is no stranger. Former Utah quarterback and offensive coordinator Brian Johnson was named QBs coach last month, reuniting with Mullen, who recruited and coached him in Salt Lake City. "I know exactly how he is, what he expects, and what the expectation is for quarterback play," Johnson said. "It's probably identical to what I expect out of my group as well. It's a great opportunity and an experience for me to be around a brilliant offensive mind like coach Mullen."
 
Mississippi State must fill holes at RB, OL as spring practice starts
The last time fans saw Mississippi State, Dan Mullen hoisted the Liberty Bowl trophy in Memphis. Dak Prescott scored a record five times. And the Bulldogs' defense smothered one of the top rushing attacks in the country. They are the lasting images because they were MSU's strength. All return in 2014. Mississippi State kicks off spring practice today.
 
Mississippi State women accept WNIT bid, earn home game with Tulane
The Mississippi State women's basketball team will return to the postseason to face a familiar opponent. This time, the game will count. MSU learned late Monday night it will play host to Tulane out of Conference USA in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament Thursday at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville. A time for the game will be announced today. "We're excited about playing at home," said MSU coach Vic Schaefer, whose program will make its seventh appearance in the event. "We want to give our seniors one more chance to play at home. We appreciate our administration stepping up and giving us an opportunity."
 
Mississippi State, Southern Miss added to WNIT field
Both Mississippi State and Southern Miss have accepted berths in the Women's NIT, it was announced Monday night. MSU will host Tulane in a game on Thursday night. A tipoff time will be announced today. "We're excited to be selected," MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. his team is 19-13. Tulane is 20-10.
 
Mississippi State, Southern Miss score WNIT bids
Mississippi State and Southern Miss were selected to be part of the 64-team field in the Women's National Invitation Tournament on Monday. Mississippi State, which and hosts Tulane on Thursday in the opening round at Humphrey Coliseum, makes its seventh WNIT appearance and its first since the 2007-08 season. It will be the Bulldogs' first time in the field since the tournament expanded to the 64-team format. State's last home WNIT game was against the Green Wave, a contest the Bulldogs won 79-73 in 2007.
 
Freeze 'not happy' with Nkemdiche video
A spring break video featuring Ole Miss linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche that made the rounds on YouTube last week could impact the length of his suspension. The video showed Nkemdiche, a two-time All-SEC linebacker, directing a profanity-laced tirade on the beach at what is believed to be a group of fans from an opposing team. The Rebels practiced Monday for the first time since taking off last week. Nkemdiche was already suspended for an off-season arrest and set to miss the season opener against Boise State in Atlanta. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has met with Nkemdiche about the video, and it's possible Nkemdiche could miss more than one game. Freeze said the video will be "considered" in the big picture of how Nkemdiche progresses in his efforts to regain his status with the team.
 
4 UGA football players arrested, charged with theft by deception
Four Georgia football players, including promising safety Tray Matthews, have been charged with multiple counts of theft by deception and have bonded out of the Clarke County Jail on Monday night after being booked. Also charged are defensive linemen Jonathan Taylor and James DeLoach and wide receiver Uriah LeMay. University of Georgia police allege that the 11 student tuition checks were drawn from the UGA Athletic Association account and were presented for deposit or cashed twice, according to a UGA police incident report. The players were essentially "double-dipping," in the words of UGA police chief Jimmy Williamson.
 
CSS Sports shutting down June 1
The regional sports network CSS is shutting down June 1 after a 15-year-old run. General manager Mark Fuhrman on Monday informed the 20 full-time employees who will be losing their jobs, a source close to the situation said. The primary reason why CSS is going away? The new SEC sports network set to arrive in August in cooperation with ESPN. Without SEC conference games, the CSS will lose a major source of programming, revenue and viewership. CSS reaches 5.5 million homes in 12 states.
 
NCAA Sued by Sports Labor Lawyer Jeffrey Kessler
Another Monday brought another antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA. But this time, prominent sports labor lawyer Jeffrey Kessler is on the suing end. Kessler's claim, which seeks class-action status, alleges that the NCAA illegally caps players' compensation at an athletic scholarship rather than allowing the open market to set the athlete's value. The suit was filed on behalf of current football and basketball players, and it names the NCAA and college sports' five most prominent conferences as defendants. The NCAA declined to comment.



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