Friday, May 9, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Centennial event set for Extension Service
Everyone's invited to a birthday celebration at the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau at noon today. The event is in honor of the 100th anniversary of the federal Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which created cooperative extension to help improve the lives of farmers and their families. "There was so much research going on at colleges and universities. This was a way to get it out to the people who needed it," said Belvia Giachelli, Mississippi State Univeristy/Lee County Extension Service agent. "At that time, you canned beef. You canned pork. That was the only way to preserve things. They taught them how to use fertilizer and how to use pesticides." A bigger celebration had been planned before the April 28 tornado hit Tupelo. Officials decided to keep the event small-scale.
 
Extension Service celebrates 100 years
For the last 100 years, local farmers, small business owners and residents have had a helping hand in the form of the Adams County Extension Service. In that time, the service has undergone many changes. The local office, operated by the Mississippi State University Extension Service, is staffed with experts who provide useful, practical and research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers and others. Approximately 200 Extension Service staff, local residents and professionals gathered Thursday at the services Carthage Point Road office in Natchez for a luncheon to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Extension.
 
Extension Service celebrates 100th anniversary
To celebrate 100 years of the Extension Service in Mississippi, the Mississippi State University Harrison County Extension Office hosted an open house on Thursday. The Smith-Lever Act, signed on May 8, 1914, established the Cooperative Extension Service, the nationwide education system operating through land-grant universities in partnership with federal, state and local governments. "The mission of the extension is to take the research-based information from the university to the people," said Sheran Watkins, extension county coordinator/4H.
 
MSU Extension Service Celebrates 100th Anniversary
Lowndes County celebrated a partnership 100 years in the making. The extension office, located on North Street in Columbus, welcomed the public for an open house and celebration Thursday afternoon. The Smith-Lever Act, signed on May 8, 1914, established the Cooperative Extension Service. Mississippi State has served as this area's teaching center, offering informative programs like 4-H, farming conferences, nutritional help and youth leadership opportunities.
 
FOIA shows Ward 2 Alderman Wynn set board action with private email
A Freedom of Information Act request by The Dispatch shows Ward 2 Alderman Lisa Wynn sent an email from a private account setting up board business, an act that partially ties into a recent Open Meetings Act complaint alleging aldermen tend to city business outside the public's view. The Dispatch issued a FOIA for copies of emails between aldermen last year after Wynn and Ward 3 Alderman David Little stumped for a legislative review of the city's sidewalk and street ordinances. An ethics complaint against Starkville alleges aldermen repeatedly violate the Open Meetings Act by participating in secret meetings and seeks a full state investigation into a pattern that dates to July 1 when the board took office.
 
State to tackle children's mental health issues
Twenty-one percent of children ages 9-17 have a diagnosable mental or addictive disorder according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. That's roughly 90,000 kids in Mississippi alone, based on the most recent census data. "This is an enormous, enormous issue," said state Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds at the Mississippi Children's Mental Health Summit on Thursday at the Hilton Jackson. Without proper help, these children slip through the cracks and become lifelong burdens on the state. Mississippi must do a better job of identifying and helping them before it's too late, Bounds said. Bounds announced a plan to incorporate mental health awareness into every college and university program training future teachers, because they're in constant contact with these children.
 
Storms could leave long-term impact on jobs, economy
The severe thunderstorms that battered Mississippi last week gashed the state's economic base as unequivocally as it did houses, vehicles and trees, in the form of hundreds of jobs at least temporarily gone along with dozens of businesses destroyed or heavily damaged statewide. Gerald Mills estimates an EF-4 tornado that caused most of the storm's deaths stripped Winston County of 500 jobs, at least temporarily. A lot of those were in Louisville's industrial complex. The damage incurred to businesses in the three hardest-hit counties -- Winston, Lee and Rankin -- likely will resonate in future monthly unemployment rates in those counties.
 
Local governments get state storm aid
The state will pay the local governments' costs for debris removal under legislation passed in a Thursday special session where $17 million was transferred to Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to pay for the aftermath of the April 28 tornadoes. Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton, who attended the special session along with five Tupelo City Council members, said the commitment of the state to pay the local match to the federal government for debris removal "is a big deal" that would help the city's financial situation. The Legislature wasted little time passing the proposal Thursday without a dissenting vote in the special session called by Gov. Phil Bryant.
 
Lawmakers approve $17M for tornado recovery
Lawmakers in a special session Thursday quickly approved $17 million in state disaster assistance after last week's deadly tornadoes. Gov. Phil Bryant called lawmakers into special session at 1 p.m. Thursday, and the measure had passed unanimously by 4 p.m. Bryant praised the quick action and said he, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, House Speaker Philip Gunn and legislators are working "shoulder to shoulder" to help the people and local governments affected by the 23 tornadoes that hit the state April 28. Lawmakers also approved the state covering local governments' match of federal spending for debris cleanup and removal.
 
Senator: More money for state highways, bridges
Up to $105 million in additional money could be available in the upcoming fiscal year for highways and bridge repairs in the state, the chairman of the state Senate Highways and Transportation Committee said Thursday. However, state Sen. Willie Simmons said a couple billion of dollars are needed for transportation infrastructure improvements in the state. Simmons said the Legislature didn't tackle raising new revenue for highway and bridge improvements, but he said he was elated that the Senate and House made more money available for state transportation needs.
 
Congressman Nunnelee hospitalized after scan
Congressman Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., was hospitalized on Thursday with a suspicious spot on his brain. The 1st District leader said in a release he began feeling nausea and fatigue on Wednesday afternoon and was sent to the hospital. "After undergoing an MRI scan, doctors found a small abnormality on the right side of my brain," he said. "I am in good spirits, and I hope to be released from the hospital in the next day or two. My family and I appreciate the prayers, support, and well-wishes we have received."
 
GOP contenders state their cases in Long Beach forum
The Republican challengers for U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo's 4th District congressional seat took about as many shots at the federal government as they did at the incumbent during a forum Thursday at the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Park campus. Palazzo's office said he couldn't attend because Congress is in session. The other four candidates -- former Rep. Gene Taylor, Tavish Kelly, Ron Vincent and Tom Carter -- answered questions about the speaker of the House election, American exceptionalism, foreign aid, the greatest threat to the country and other subjects posed by Coast Young Professionals, one of the organizations that put the forum on along with the Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, USM and the Young Americans for Liberty. Most agree the government is the biggest threat.
 
GOP culls weak challengers ahead of midterms
It's too early to say the tea party's over. But with a Senate majority in reach, the Republican Party and its allies are using campaign cash, positions of influence and other levers of power to defuse what they consider challenges by weak conservative candidates before the 2014 midterm elections and the 2016 presidential race. This year, Republicans are within six seats of controlling the Senate. Public opinion suggests that some voters have tired of the tea party's cut-it-or-shut-it approach to governing after years of crises.
 
Whose drone is it? St. Louis high-rise crash heralds age of private drones
St. Louis police are involved in a quirky whodunit involving a drone and a downtown skyscraper -- a high-flying caper that marks how fast America is crashing into the age of private-sector drones and how safety regulators are struggling to keep up. KMOV-TV in St. Louis reported that an office worker at the Metropolitan Square Building found a partly broken DJI Phantom II Quadcopter at about 4 p.m. Wednesday that had crashed onto a 30th-floor balcony of the 593-foot-tall building. The drone pilot, on the ground, apparently skedaddled.
 
MVSU moves commencement inside to dodge rain
Clara T. Reed, CEO of Mid-Delta Home Health and Hospice, will address nearly 500 graduates at Mississippi Valley State University's Saturday commencement ceremonies. The Greenwood Commonwealth reports that the school has moved the event inside to the H.G. Carpenter Auditorium because of possible rain, splitting it into three separate ceremonies. The event was scheduled to be held at Valley's Rice-Totten Stadium,
 
Pearl River Community College's coliseum not ready to host graduation
If Pearl River Community College officials had their way, "Pomp and Circumstance" would be echoing through the brand-new Marvin R. White Coliseum for the school's Wednesday graduation. But that plan has hit a roadblock. Or, more accurately, needs a few more tiles laid, an extra coat of paint and a bucketful of other finishing touches. "It's very frustrating," PRCC President William Lewis said of the delays in construction. "There will be some penalties that will have to be discussed," he added, regarding the contractor. "We'll just have to see how that unfolds."
 
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College celebrates increase in class of 2014 graduates
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College celebrated its 2014 graduation Thursday night at the Coast Coliseum in record style. In all, an estimated 1,000 students from the three branches at Perkinston, Jefferson Davis and Jackson County along with the other six locations attended the graduation. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College has a collective student body of 13,000 at its nine locations and the 2014 graduating class included 2,134 graduates with a total of 3,130 degrees earned. In record fashion, the number of degrees earned by the students marks a 37 percent increase this year, according to Mississippi Gulf Cast Community College president Dr. Mary Graham.
 
U. of Florida's CFO leaving for job at UNC Chapel Hill
Matt Fajack, who helped devise a new budget management system to guide the University of Florida through five difficult years of budget cuts during a statewide recession, will step down as vice president and chief financial officer on June 6. Fajack has accepted a bigger job with more responsibilities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as vice chancellor of finance and administration. Along with the financial responsibilities, Fajack also will oversee the real estate portfolio, the police department and construction among other areas under UNC's new chancellor. "I wasn't looking to leave, but they called me," Fajack said. "I'm nervous. I'll be managing some areas I never managed before."
 
UF researchers protected from public record searches
The Florida Legislature passed a bill this past session of high priority to the University of Florida's research community. The bill exempts from public records the names of UF faculty and staff who conduct research on primates, cats, dogs and other animals. "The university sought this legislation to help prevent ongoing personal harassment of researchers and their families by extremist groups," officials said. One group in particular, in 2012, sued to gain access to UF's animal research records and won. The group used the tactic of trying to publicly identify students and other employees involved in animal research, and pressuring donors to and alumni to speak out against such research.
 
UGA installs first public level 2 electric vehicle charger in Athens area
Automobile owners looking for a place to plug in instead of gas up now have a dedicated electric vehicle charging location on the University of Georgia campus. On Wednesday, the university unveiled a level 2 electric vehicle charger---the first public charger in the Athens area---on the Jackson Street side of its North Campus parking deck. Level 2 chargers are able to fully power a vehicle in two hours, compared to level 1 chargers, which use lower wattage and take at least four times as long. The charger has two plugs and corresponding parking spots. "Of the 21,000 spaces on campus, we chose the best two to represent our commitment to sustainability," said Don Walter, manager of UGA Parking Services.
 
Report: UGA students seek 'hit man' to avoid finals
The cramming. The all-night studying. The caffeine overload. College final exams can be really tough. Tough enough that two University of Georgia students decided they’d rather be hit by a car than take those pesky end-of-semester tests. So they placed an ad on Craigslist seeking someone to do just that. The online ad was first reported by Flagpole, an alternative weekly newspaper based in Athens, and has since been removed. But it had very specific job requirements.
 
Staples leaves convocation crowd with strong sense of pride in A&M, Texas
Before Texas A&M graduates cross the stage to receive their diplomas this weekend, Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples took the opportunity to remind them and their families of the importance of being an Aggie and a Texan. Staples spoke before a crowd of several hundred people during a convocation Thursday evening that kicked off the seven commencement ceremonies that run through Saturday. The commissioner of agriculture, a former rancher and businessman, graduated with honors from A&M in 1984 with a degree in agricultural economics. He addressed the graduating students on the difficulty of the current job market, but reminded those that the economy in Texas is not as bad as those of other states.
 
McKnight named Texas A&M's head of Biology
Texas A&M has a new head of its Department of Biology. The university announced this week that Thomas McKnight, a researcher in both plant molecular and cell biology, will lead the department, which he has worked in for 29 years. McKnight has served as associate head of the department since 2003. McKnight has outlined several priorities for A&M biology, including strengthening faculty mentoring and recognition efforts as well as promoting biology as a vibrant and viable career choice for both current and prospective students.
 
U. of Missouri lays off eight in grants, research offices
University of Missouri administrators laid off six employees in the Office of Grant Writing and Publications this week and two more in the Office of Research, giving them an eight-week warning before they will have to go elsewhere to earn a paycheck. Hank Foley, senior vice chancellor for research and graduate studies, confirmed Thursday that he had to make the cuts for budgetary reasons. "It's the budget, pure and simple," he said. "I had to return $714,000 this year into the pot so we can hire new faculty." Heather Brown, director of grant writing and publication, said that employees found out about the layoff decision Tuesday. "I can confirm everyone is pretty shocked and devastated," she said.
 
Senate Confirms Ted Mitchell as Top U.S. Higher-Education Official
The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed Ted Mitchell, the chief executive of a nonprofit educational-venture fund and a former president of Occidental College, as the Education Department's top higher-education official. President Obama nominated Mr. Mitchell for the job in October 2013. As under secretary of education, Mr. Mitchell will replace Martha J. Kanter, a former community-college chancellor who was named to the post five years ago and who announced in August 2013 that she would step down to return to academe. Although Mr. Mitchell is a former college president, his recent work as the leader of the San Francisco-based NewSchools Venture Fund has focused on reforming elementary and secondary education through charter schools and new technologies.


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State seniors not ready to say goodbye
Six seniors could step onto Dudy Noble Field for the final time this weekend. Mississippi State will host its last home series against Tennessee starting tonight at 6:30 p.m. The Bulldogs are 31-18 overall and enter the weekend one game out of first place in the SEC West at 14-10. Fifth-year senior pitcher and co-captain Ben Bracewell hopes his team can play its way back into contention for a NCAA Regional host site down the stretch. "If anything that is more motivation for guys like me, C.T. Bradford, Alex Detz, Demarcus Henderson, Derrick Armstrong and Brett Pirtle," Bracewell said.
 
Setup Pitch: Mississippi State vs. Tennessee
Mississippi State plays a team inside the RPI top 30 for the first time in nearly a month. The Bulldogs host Tennessee, which has a losing record in the Southeastern Conference at 10-14. Mississippi State (31-18, 14-10) is second in the west, and withstood a roller coaster month of April. MSU started May by sweeping Auburn, and have a chance to create some more momentum against a scrappy UT squad that owns series victories over Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Arizona State this season.
 
MSU baseball team needs more wins
Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen keeps saying his players know what's at stake as they jockey for postseason position in final month of the regular season. "We understand that for this weekend to not be the final games this season at Dudy Noble Field, we've probably got to do something special, like win a lot of games in a row," MSU senior pitcher Ben Bracewell said. No. 21 MSU (31-18, 14-10 Southeastern Conference) will try to extend its three-game winning streak this weekend when it plays host to Tennessee. Game 1 of the three-game series is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday.
 
Dan Mullen, Scott Stricklin Visit Philadelphia
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen and Athletic Director Scott Stricklin brought the university's "Road Dawgs" tour to the Neshoba County Coliseum Thursday evening. The visit was their final stop on a road trip that included visits to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Delta, Huntsville and Memphis. Stricklin said the event gave he and coach Mullen the chance to meet Mississippi State fans and alumni. They even brought "Bully" the Bulldog mascot and the ever-popular Egg Bowl trophy to the Coliseum. The tour also gave away free MSU paraphernalia such as bumper stickers, posters and more.
 
Deep field set to run in Gum Tree 10K
Last year's Gum Tree 10k had an excellent field of elite runners. This year's race shapes up to be better. While former Mississippi State standout Robert Scribner takes aim at becoming the first Tupelo-born winner, the field for Saturday morning's race could include seven others with recent 10k times under 31 minutes. "Last year we had a deep field, but this one could be even deeper," said Dave Branner, who coordinates invitations for elite Gum Tree runners.
 
Ole Miss AD Bjork fires golf, softball coaches
Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork is not messing around, as evidenced by the firing of two coaches Thursday. Softball coach Windy Thees and men's golf coach Ernest Ross were both relieved of their responsibilities, the school announced. Both were for competitive reasons.
 
Battle Over College-Athlete Labor Unions Flares Up at House Hearing
Lawmakers aired starkly contrasting views about what collective bargaining for college athletes would mean at a Congressional hearing on Thursday called in response to Northwestern University football players' bid to unionize. Among many concerns raised at Thursday's hearing were that students who unionized could have to pay taxes on wages, colleges could face major financial burdens, and other colleges in an athletic conference could be harmed if one team's players went on strike. The hearing, titled "Big Labor on College Campuses: Examining the Consequences of Unionizing Student Athletes," was held as lawmakers are paying more attention to how colleges treat their athletes.



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