Wednesday, January 17, 2018  SUBSCRIBE   
Starkville remembers Martin Luther King Jr.
The city of Starkville celebrated and remembered Martin Luther King Jr. through many events, honoring his contributions to civil rights in America. The day began with the 24th annual Unity Breakfast hosted by Mississippi State University. The event began the MLK Day of Service, where members of the community volunteered to help different organizations in the city. The keynote speaker for the Unity Breakfast was retired Mississippi House District 38 Rep. Tyrone Ellis, D-Starkville. Ellis said residents attended to celebrate the life and birthday of MLK, who had the vision to help save America from itself, and the dream to know what is needed to achieve his vision. "Even the cost of his own life," Ellis said. While addressing the crowd, Ellis said his favorite quote from MLK is the idea everyone can be great because everyone can serve.
Two local educators inducted to Unity Park
The Starkville community gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday and to recognize the inclusion of two new honorees at Unity Park. Monday's ceremony saw the inclusion of Rosa Stewart and Sadye Wier on a new plaque at the wall. The honorees were unveiled in the park on Douglas L. Connor Drive after an annual march that drew hundreds of people. The two women are the first of what Unity Park Advisory Committee chair Jeanne Marszalek said the committee hopes will be many local contributors to civil rights progress in Oktibbeha County. She said the committee hopes to add new honorees every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Monday's ceremony at Unity Park was just one of several events in Starkville to honor Martin Luther King Day. Events started Sunday night with a unity service at Trinity Presbyterian Church, and continued into Monday morning with a unity breakfast at the Mill at Mississippi State University, headlined by former District 38 Rep. Tyrone Ellis.
Across the South, It's Snow, Ice and Record-Breaking Cold
The South awoke Wednesday to a two-part Arctic mess. First came a thin blanket of snow and ice, and then came the below-zero wind chills and record-breaking low temperatures in New Orleans and other cities. The snowfall sabotaged morning rush hour before it even began, sending cars crashing into each other on major thoroughfares. Officials urged people to stay off the roads if possible, and to bundle up if they ventured outside. The blast of cold air shattered records early Wednesday in Louisiana and Mississippi. In Mississippi, the temperature in Hattiesburg dipped to 13 degrees (-11 Celsius), breaking the previous record of 14 (-10 Celsius).
Lawmakers: Our superintendents want more information about school formula
As a new education formula rockets through the House, lawmakers say their school officials back home still have a lot of questions about what the legislation does -- but the answers coming from leaders steering the process remain fuzzy. The House Appropriations Committee passed HB 957 on a voice vote Tuesday morning. This, despite a chorus of concern from members of both parties about lack of clarity about details of the legislation. "I'm hearing a lot of concern about what's in the bill and that they haven't had time to go through and vet it," Rep. Scott DeLano, R-Biloxi, said of what he's hearing from superintendents and constituents in his district. He added that he's "pleased with where we are today," but that it is still early in the process.
'Lives changed' after insurers lift cap on autism services
Linda Balfour of Madison had been dreading this Tuesday for years. It's the day her son Michael, who has autism, turns 9. And, as a result, it's also the day their insurer would have cut off coverage for his applied behavioral analysis therapy, the dominant form of treatment for individuals with autism and other developmental disorders. But last week, the state Insurance Department announced that three insurers in the state, including the Balfours' insurer Blue Cross, voluntarily lifted the age cap on this treatment, agreeing to cover anyone who qualifies for the treatment. Although the out of pocket costs of the program are significant, the cost to the insurers is minimal, according to Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, who, along with Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann worked with the insurers to lift the age cap on ABA therapy.
Services for folks with autism to be covered after 8 years old
Ian's giggle radiates through the Capitol. His mom, Jessica McLaurin, gives him a soft "shh" and he responds with a bear hug. Ian is on the autism spectrum and the therapy he's received in last three years has improved his communication skills dramatically. But insurance companies in Mississippi are only required by a state law passed in 2015 to insure for autism services up to age 8, requiring parents to jump through more hoops to prove medical necessity after that. Ian will turn 8 in July. On Tuesday, state officials announced they had come to an agreement with three large insurers, BlueCross BlueShield, Magnolia Health and UnitedHealthcare, to remove that age cap. "That means that when he becomes an adolescent or even 10, we won't have to scramble to find private services," McLaurin said.
State regulators want utilities to pass tax cut savings on to customers
Mississippi residents could soon find out how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will impact their utility bills. The tax overhaul, which became law on Dec. 22, includes a reduction in public utilities' tax rate. Under the previous corporate tax rate, utility companies were expected to pay a 35 percent tax rate. Once the act became law, that rate was lowered to 21 percent. The Mississippi Public Service Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to kick off a 30-day period for any utility it has rate jurisdiction over -- such as Entergy Mississippi, Mississippi Power Co., CenterPoint Energy, C Spire, Atmos Energy and rural telephone companies -- to submit plans on how they will credit those tax deductions and rebates to their customers.
Civil rights veteran Rep. John Lewis being honored in Mississippi
Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia will speak at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, months after refusing to join President Donald Trump there. A private group called Friends of Mississippi Civil Rights Inc. announced Tuesday that it will give awards to Lewis, who helped lead the historic 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama; and Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, who also was active in the civil rights movement. Events are set for Feb. 23 and 24 at the museum, which adjoins the Museum of Mississippi History in downtown Jackson. When Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant invited Trump to the Dec. 9 opening of the two museums as part of the state's bicentennial celebration, Lewis called it an "insult" to people who worked for racial equality.
State lawmaker says he won't run for Congress
Mississippi Representative Andy Gipson has announced he will not be joining the race for Mississippi's Third Congressional District seat. Gipson serves in the Legislature representing Rankin and Simpson counties. Many Republicans had considered Gipson as a possible replacement for current U.S. Representative Gregg Harper. Harper announced earlier this month he was not seeking re-election.
Think Flu Season Is Bad? It Might Get Even Worse
The influenza virus that's sickened millions of Americans this season is already the most widespread outbreak since public health authorities began keeping track more than a dozen years ago. Now, with the threat of more strains emerging, it might get even worse. "Flu is everywhere in the U.S. right now," said Dan Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the national Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "This is the first year we have had the entire continental U.S. be the same color on the graph, meaning there is widespread activity in all of the continental U.S. at this point." The CDC is starting to see infections caused by the H1N1 strain of the virus in states grappling with high levels of the H3N2 strain, the predominant version this season. In addition, Jernigan said, yet another type of flu caused by influenza B viruses is expected to show up later in the season.
U. of Alabama investigates sorority member's racist video
University of Alabama officials said they are investigating after a student recently posted videos on social media where she repeatedly used the n-word and other profanities. Student Harley Barber, who said on the videos that she was a member of Alphi Phi sorority, posted the videos on Instagram, one of them shared on the Monday holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. n a second video, Barber addressed the growing backlash and apparent threats to turn her into her sorority officials. Barber on the video refers to her "Finsta" which is an alternate/fake Instagram account. Efforts to reach Barber for comment were unsuccessful. (Warning: This article contains language some might find offensive.)
Senate to consider confirmation of U. of Alabama trustees
The Alabama Senate will take up the re-appointment of two trustees for the University of Alabama System among the confirmations it will consider this session. Trustees Britt Sexton and Kenneth Vandervoort were re-appointed by the UA System board of trustees to additional six-year terms in September. The system's bylaws allow trustees to begin work immediately after they are elected by the self-appointing board, but the appointments must still go to the Alabama Senate for confirmation.
U. of South Carolina Condemns Racist Fliers Found in African-American Studies Dept.
The University of South Carolina at Columbia released a statement on Tuesday condemning "racist" fliers that were plastered over photos of black historical figures displayed outside the department of African-American studies, The Post and Courier reports. According to the university's statement, an investigation is underway. "These racist messages run contrary to who we are as Gamecocks and have no place at Carolina," the statement continues, quoting a spokesman. "University officials are continuing to investigate the matter." A student, Leland Williams Jr., told the newspaper that the fliers were found at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, and quickly circulated through group messages.
'Disgusting' fliers posted in building housing South Carolina's African-American studies program
Officials are looking into fliers with racial remarks that were posted on a University of South Carolina campus building sign on Tuesday, the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Sophomore Kiara Rious, 19, saw the fliers inside Gambrell Hall as she walked to an 8:30 a.m. class on Tuesday, which was the first day of spring classes at USC. "I don't even know what to say really," Rious, a criminal justice major, told The State. "It's just really disgusting that someone would put that there." The fliers were taped to a display case outside the offices for the university's African-American studies program, she said.
LSU students pass the time with 'Sneaux Day' activities
Trapped in the dorm with nothing to do after LSU cancels classes? No problem. A pair of LSU dorms teamed up to create a list of "Sneaux Day" activities to occupy students until this week's wintry weather cleared and classes resumed. LSU was among numerous area colleges and schools to close because of a wave of wintry weather in south Louisiana. South and West Halls offered board games, card games, movies and more games. And if those didn't appeal to the residents, Wednesday's offerings include a ping pong tournament and a session of coloring & coffee. After the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday Monday and two days of weather cancellations, LSU hoped to get back to normal later in the week.
Associate dean: U. of Missouri partnership needs money to train doctors
Lawmakers need to provide $10 million to make sure clinical training of doctors in Springfield by the University of Missouri School of Medicine can continue, Associate Dean for Rural Health Kathleen Quinn told a legislative committee Tuesday. The program, which has been funded in the past, is operating on university reserves because Gov. Eric Greitens withheld the $5 million approved for the current year's budget, Quinn said. If the program is to continue, training 32 physicians annually, the money needs to come from the state, she said. The program, coupled with the pipeline program intended to identify students in rural communities interested in medical school, will help alleviate the shortage of providers in rural areas, Quinn said.
U. of Missouri's sexual assault training leaves students with Title IX blind spots
Since 2015, first-semester undergraduate, graduate and transfer students at the University of Missouri have been required to take the Not Anymore online training program to raise awareness about rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment. It's a one-time experience for most students, intended to teach them the fundamentals of Title IX. The UM System Title IX offices have acknowledged the #MeToo movement and the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment. "These are issues we are constantly monitoring with the national conversation going on," said Emily Love, the deputy Title IX coordinator for the UM System. Against the national backdrop, which has brought down TV personalities, comedians and politicians, the Missourian staff set out to learn what students at MU retain from that training.
Nine face hazing charges in death of Florida State fraternity pledge
Nine people are facing hazing charges in connection with the November death of Florida State fraternity pledge Andrew Coffey. Announced late Tuesday night in an email from the Tallahassee Police Department, arrest warrants were signed for Luke E. Kluttz, 22, Clayton M. Muehlstein, 22, Brett A. Birmingham, 20, Conner R. Ravelo, Christopher M. Hamlin, 21, Anthony Petagine, 20, Anthony Oppenheimer, 21, John B. Ray, 21 and Kyle J. Bauer, 21. Kluttz, Muehlstein, Petagine, Oppenheimer and Ray all held leadership positions in the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity Coffey was trying to join.
The Biggest Problem for State Higher-Ed Policy? Federal Higher-Ed Policy
The biggest concern for state higher-education policy in 2018 isn't the continuing economic volatility, the questions about affordability for students, the disputes about free speech on campuses, or the difficulties in preventing and punishing campus sexual assaults. Instead, the top issue for states is the uncertainty created by the federal government, according to an annual report from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Policy changes enacted by lawmakers in Washington last year will continue to influence state policy in 2018, the report said, "and new proposals expected to be under consideration in Congress will only add to ambiguity and political division in statehouses." The annual list was written by Thomas Harnisch, the association's director of state relations and policy analysis, and Dylan Opalich, the assistant director.
Study: College students don't have confidence they'll land a job
Few college students feel expressly confident that they have the skills and knowledge to find a job or succeed in a workplace, according to a new study. The report from Gallup and Strada Education Network, the former loan guarantor turned nonprofit, represents one of the most comprehensive compilations of students opinions' on this subject -- and the results are "disappointing," representatives from the organizations say. "Students are not nearly as prepared as they could or should be, and they actually know it while they're in college," said Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup's higher education division. More than 32,500 students from 43 randomly selected four-year institutions, both public and private, responded to the survey last year.
Colleges Brace for Tumult in 2018 as White Supremacists Demand a Stage
Kent Fuchs, the president of the University of Florida, was in the living room of his stately campus residence last fall when he saw the first televised images of a parade of terror unfolding in another college town further north. There were protesters. Counterprotesters. Angry confrontations. The night sky was lit by tiki torches in the grips of young white supremacists marching on the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. And later a car, recklessly roaring toward the crowd, killed a counter-demonstrator named Heather Heyer and injured others. "Oh God, that is headed here," Mr. Fuchs recalls thinking. Charlottesville changed how universities looked at controversial speakers. It changed how they assessed the literal and figurative cost of free speech. It changed how they secured events with a higher potential for violence.
'Preacher' Killen's death closes a shameful chapter in Mississippi's history
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "There was a generation of Mississippians who not only were unapologetic for their involvement in violent institutional racism enforced by fear and mob rule, but were likewise rather proud of their notorious reputations earned in pursuit of those misguided and dangerous goals. That's the cold, ominous persona I remember being projected by a Ku Klux Klansman that I regularly encountered on the streets and in the grocery stores aisles of my hometown of Philadelphia. One of the really fine things about the recent opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson is that the murders of Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney, and Michael Schwerner will never be forgotten."

Mississippi State rolls to 80-62 victory over Vanderbilt
Quinndary Weatherspoon had 19 points and Aric Holman added 18 points and a career-high 14 rebounds to lead Mississippi State to an 80-62 win over Vanderbilt on Tuesday at Humphrey Coliseum. The Bulldogs (14-4, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) also received 10 points from Lamar Peters. "That was a very big win for us to get back to winning ways," said Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland. "We really shared the ball well and we got great minutes from a number of players tonight. Eli Wright gave us a huge lift in the second half and had a couple of big drives and finishes. And Aric Holman had a fantastic game."
Mississippi State snaps skid with strong offensive game vs. Vanderbilt
Ben Howland was so pleased with Eli Wright late in the first half that he didn't stop emphatically pointing at the guard in appreciation until after Wright reached the opposite end of the court. "I was really excited," Howland said. It was no wonder why. After receiving a pass on the wing, Wright looked prepared to take the shot. His head fake was so good that it forced the Vanderbilt defender in front of him to leap in the air. Instead of then shooting, though, Wright quickly dished to Tyson Carter, who was open in the corner a couple of feet away. Carter buried the easier 3-point attempt. That was one of the earlier examples of Mississippi State's sharp ball movement Tuesday night in a 80-62 win against Vanderbilt, and there were several others.
Mississippi State beats Vanderbilt to snap losing streak
The numbers tell you to play zone against the Mississippi State men's basketball team. MSU's 29.7-percent mark from 3-point range entering its game against Vanderbilt on Tuesday was last in the Southeastern Conference and 336th out of 351 teams nationally. Vanderbilt obliged and started the game in a zone. By the final minute of the first half, MSU led by double digits and had forced Vanderbilt to abandon the strategy. After going 3-for-13 from 3-point range in the first half, MSU went 5-for-7 in the second to pull away and beat Vanderbilt 80-62 at Humphrey Coliseum. Quinndary Weatherspoon led MSU (14-4, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) with 19 points, while Aric Holman had 18 points and a career-high 14 rebounds for his fourth double-double. Lamar Peters added 10 points to help the Bulldogs snap a three-game losing streak.
Bulldogs break losing streak with win over Vanderbilt
Snow and ice created hazardous conditions outside the Humphrey Coliseum on Tuesday night. Ironically though, while fans had to watch their footing when arriving to and leaving Mississippi State's game against Vanderbilt, inside the building, MSU finally figured out how to not let a big lead slip away. The Bulldogs never trailed in the contest and ultimately defeated the Commodores 80-62. The MSU victory snapped a three-game losing streak for State in which the Bulldogs blew 13-point leads in two of those affairs. Tuesday, there was no disappointment for MSU. Vanderbilt cut a 12-point halftime deficit down to five, but in the end, the Bulldogs surged and won with ease. "We did a good job of fighting back and not losing our composure in the second half," Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland said.
Bulldogs end losing skid against Vanderbilt
Something simply had to give on Tuesday night. Mississippi State and Vanderbilt each entered Humphrey Coliseum in the midst of three-game losing skids. When the final horn sounded, it was the Bulldogs who had gotten off the schneid with an 80-62 victory. "We needed this one a lot, no one wants to keep going on a miniature losing streak," said MSU forward Aric Holman. "We took it personal and were able to put 40 minutes together tonight." After watching double digit leads evaporate in the second half against Ole Miss and Auburn, the Bulldogs were able to stay out in front of the Commodores the entire game. State led 37-25 at halftime and although Vandy managed to cut the lead to five at the 11:47, the Bulldogs went on a 20-4 run over the next six-plus minutes.
Vanderbilt falls to Mississippi State despite freshman's career night
Vanderbilt basketball's fourth straight loss was worse than the previous three. The Commodores lost 80-62 at Mississippi State Tuesday night, their largest losing margin in an SEC game since falling 72-52 to Missouri on Feb. 11, 2017. Three of their other four SEC losses this season had been by single-digit margins. The silver lining was the play of freshman center Ejike Obinna, who had been limited by an illness and weight loss lately. Obinna scored 14 points and played 22 minutes, both career highs, after playing only 30 minutes total in the previous 11 games. Late in the second half, Mississippi State reeled off a 17-2 run over a seven-minute stretch, pushing its lead from 58-52 to a comfortable 75-54 with 3:03 remaining.
Mississippi State's willingness to share ball key to undefeated start
Four-pass possessions typically don't generate a lot of buzz. But an otherwise ordinary trip early in the then-No. 4 Mississippi State women's basketball team's game against Alabama on Sunday epitomizes how the Bulldogs have become one of the nation's best teams. Leading 3-2, senior point guard Morgan William initiated the offense with a lob pass to the right corner to Blair Schaefer. The pass looked like it was going out of bounds, but Schaefer saved it, gained her footing and then attacked the baseline. Alabama responded by cutting Schaefer off, but she found Roshunda Johnson open on the left wing behind the 3-point arc. The senior passed up a chance to shoot or to create off the dribble and passed the ball back to William, who balanced the court. The action settled only for a second.
Southern Miss baseball hopes to blow past season ticket sales record
Southern Miss baseball is on pace to surpass its season ticket sales record ahead of the 2018 campaign. USM's sales effort is helped by an attractive non-conference slate that includes a season-opening series against Mississippi State and a Golden Eagle squad that's again expected to contend for a Conference USA title. "We are in a very good place right now," said Stephen Pugh, who is USM's associate athletic director for external operations. "We are just over 1,300, which is actually ahead of last year with a month to go. We think we have a very good shot of setting the best mark we've had since 2005. I think we can do all-time high." Season ticket sales hit just short of 1,500 prior to the 2005 campaign, setting the program high.
Mississippi State-Southern Miss baseball tickets are available, but they won't come cheap
The Mississippi State-Southern Miss baseball series is still a month away, but MSU fans are already complaining on social media about the cost of tickets for games in Hattiesburg. USM's single-game tickets won't go on sale until Feb. 1, but season ticket holders have already begun to put some of their seats up for bid on online ticket exchanges such as and If you want to go ahead and secure single-game tickets for the Feb. 16 opener in Hattiesburg via an online ticket exchange, be prepared to open your wallet. There's little question that MSU-USM will serve as the nation's premiere series to open the 2018 college baseball season considering the long-standing rivalry between the schools and the dramatic end to the 2017 campaign. MSU needed to beat the Golden Eagles twice on the final day of the Hattiesburg Regional to advance to the next round. The Bulldogs did just that: 8-1 and 8-6.
ESPN: Music City Bowl officials received harassing phone calls after controversial calls
An ESPN report says that the officiating crew from the Music City Bowl received harassing and threatening phone calls after several controversial calls, including the ejection of running back Benny Snell. The report, citing unnamed sources, said that head official Chris Coyte received a "barrage of threatening calls to his cell and office phones," as did the commercial real estate association he belongs to. The story goes on to say that Coyte and his fellow Pac-12 officials who called the Music City Bowl received an escort leaving the stadium and to the airport, according to the Pac-12. The menacing calls dwindled significantly until a letter from UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart to the Pac-12 director of officials critical of Coyte and his crew was reported by the Herald-Leader late last week.

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