Monday, January 9, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State, Habitat for Humanity dedicate eighth Maroon Edition home
Mississippi State University and Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity officially welcomed Lena and LaShay Evans into their new home Friday. Habitat for Humanity and university officials held a dedication ceremony for the Evans' new house, marking the completion of the eighth MSU Maroon Edition Home. The house was built by volunteers, including MSU students, faculty, staff and retirees. "MSU is glad to partner with Habitat for Humanity to provide a transformative experience for the Evans, as well as the student volunteers that have the opportunity to understand what partnership is, understand what hard work is and investing in something that is important," MSU Director of Student Leadership and Community Engagement Cade Smith said.
 
Blindness research center at Mississippi State earns kudos
The Alabama Governor's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities has recognized Mississippi State University's National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision with an award. The Collaboration Award cited a June program the MSU center organized to provide job search training for blind and visually impaired youth. The effort involved the center, the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, Mobile Works Inc. and Goodwill Easter Seals of the Gulf Coast. The coast training program was made possible through a competitive grant awarded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Several center staff members also have been honored for personal achievements by the Mississippi Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.
 
USDA Announces 2016 Appointments, including Mississippi State's Mark Lawrence
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday announced the seven 2016 appointments to the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board. The Advisory Board's 25 members are appointed for staggered three year terms with each representing a specific category of U.S. Agricultural stakeholders as outlined in the 2008 Food, Energy and Conservation Act. The Board advises the Secretary of Agriculture and land-grant colleges and universities on national priorities and policies for food and agricultural research, education, extension and economics. The Board also performs an annual review of USDA research, education, economics and extension programs. Advisory Board members announced include Dr. Mark Lawrence, Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, Mississippi State University, College of Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi State, Miss.
 
MSU-Meridian registration: It's not too late
Photo: New business student Courtney Stennis of Meridian receives help this week from MSU-Meridian advisor, Candy Adams, to register for classes. Spring semester classes at Mississippi State start Monday, Jan. 9. Registration is open until Jan.13.
 
Nonprofits encourage involvement on MLK Day of Service
Organizations throughout the Golden Triangle are looking for volunteers to work on service projects on Martin Luther King National Day of Service on Jan. 16. Volunteer Starkville and United Way of Lowndes County representatives hope for hundreds of volunteers to complete service projects on a day that not only marks the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy, but calls for people to get engaged with nonprofits in their community. The biggest event is the Unity Breakfast and Community Volunteer Fair in the Mill at MSU Conference Center beginning at 7 a.m. Jan. 16, Volunteer Starkville Executive Director Jamey Bachman said. She and the rest of Volunteer Starkville has partnered with MSU and the Maroon Volunteer Center to organize the event, which will bring volunteers together for a breakfast before sending them out to complete service projects throughout the Golden Triangle.
 
Starkville-MSU Symphony's 'Strings Across the Sea' concert encompasses true cultural exchange
Final details are being put in place for the Starkville-MSU Symphony Association's annual Programs for Children concerts, set for Friday, Jan. 20. This year's presentation includes more details than usual: It features a group of young guest violinists traveling from Nara Prefecture, Japan. The concert series, themed "Strings Across the Sea," will provide three daytime concerts for children and teachers in grades K-5 from Oktibbeha County and an evening performance for the public, all in Lee Hall's Bettersworth Auditorium on the Mississippi State campus. Dr. Barry Kopetz, head of the MSU music department, is conductor of the Starkville-MSU Symphony. Narrator for the concert will be Chieko Iwata, former Japan Outreach Initiative Coordinator at MSU, who serves as translator for the traveling musicians.
 
Developer Mark Nicholas could face fines for unfinished Cotton Mill Marketplace paving
Developer Mark Nicholas could get a bill from Starkville after missing a deadline to complete infrastructure improvements associated with the October acceptance of his Cotton Mill Marketplace plat. Last year, aldermen accepted the plat -- a parcel primarily containing the shopping center located east of Chick-fil-A -- on a condition that Nicholas complete 54 square yards of asphalting by Dec. 31 and 250 linear feet of curb and gutter work within six months of a commencement date established by City Engineer Edward Kemp. On Thursday, Mayor Parker Wiseman said the required asphalting work has not yet been completed. The curb-and-gutter project, he said, is dependent upon development of the adjoining property, on which Nicholas previously pledged to build a hotel. It is not clear if the city will pursue collecting the damages.
 
Threefoot transformation: Rehabilitation of historic Meridian building inches closer
The long-awaited transformation of the Threefoot Building in Meridian could start soon, provided the developer gets the go-ahead from federal officials. John Tampa, president of Ascent Hospitality Management LLC, took possession of the historic building Jan. 6, 2016. Once renovated, the Courtyard by Marriott hotel will have at least 120 rooms. The facility will also have a restaurant that will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a Starbucks coffee shop. Ascent is committed to spending at least $14 million to renovate the 16-story building, according to Tampa. Ascent has applied for federal and state preservation tax credits to offset the cost of the project, according to Mingo Tingle, chief of Technical Preservation Services with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
 
Gee-whiz moments from NASA director's farewell tour at Stennis Space Center
Charles Bolden made his 10th visit to Stennis Space Center in Hancock County on Friday and the last before his eight-year mission as NASA administrator ends with the Obama administration. Bolden showed he's enthralled with the science of going into space as he gave a timetable that will take U.S. astronauts back toward the moon and onward to an asteroid and Mars, envisioning astronauts growing their own food on Mars. The U.S. journey to deep space fires up this year. Individual engine tests will continue in 2017, said Rick Gilbrech, director of Stennis Space Center. Scheduled for December on the B2 test stand are all four rockets whose 2 million pounds of combined thrust will "rattle the windows" in South Mississippi when fired simultaneously. These rockets will power the first Orion unmanned mission into space in 2018.
 
Former Gov. William Winter expected to make full recovery after fall
Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter is expected to make a full recovery after suffering a concussion and "several minor brain bleeds" during a fall Saturday. According to former Mississippi Secretary of State Dick Molpus, Winter went to walk his dog against his wife Elise's request and slipped on ice from Friday's storm on his Jackson driveway. An ambulance took Winter to the University of Mississippi Medical Center where he is expected to spend two more days. Speaking on behalf of the Winter family, Molpus said the 93-year-old will soon be back to "the old William Winter go-get-'em self" and that the Winter family "has been touched by the outpouring of love from people across the state."
 
Lawmakers wrap first week of session
The 132nd regular session of the Mississippi Legislature was gaveled into being on Tuesday, with legislative leaders noting that 2017 marks Mississippi's bicentennial anniversary of statehood. The Legislature has had only 132 sessions because in the early days of statehood it met only every other year. The session is set to run through April 2. Typically, the first day of a session is mostly pomp and ceremony. But Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, sparked debate on the Senate floor Tuesday. He unsuccessfully tried to forgo the committee process and have the full chamber pass a bill to un-do a measure slipped into law last year.
 
Analysis: Mississippi lawmakers face gaps in current budget
Mississippi lawmakers' biggest task every session is writing a state budget for the coming year. A smaller but equally important task is deciding whether to fill budget gaps for the current year. The Legislative Budget Office says agencies have submitted $101.1 million in deficit requests for fiscal 2017, which ends June 30. That is 1.6 percent of the state-funded portion of current budget of just under $6.4 billion. It's not unusual for a few agencies to submit midyear requests for more cash, and that's partly because writing a state budget is a long process based largely on educated guesswork.
 
Lottery odds still long, may be improving
Democratic Rep. Alyce Clarke, who has represented Jackson in the Mississippi Legislature since 1985, is persistent. She has been an author of legislation to create a lottery in Mississippi every session since 2003. This year, as often is the case, she has two bills filed, one to create a lottery after a statewide vote and another to simply enact the lottery after the passage of her legislation. Clarke believes lottery revenue could be used to fund a college scholarship program as it is in other states. "It will help children," said Clarke, whose lottery bills have never made it out of committee. This session, which started Tuesday, Clarke and other lottery proponents might have reason for a little more optimism, albeit, only slightly more optimism.
 
Will budget cuts resume?
Another round of state budget cuts are looming with this week's report that state revenue fell short of projections again last month. Halfway through its fiscal year Mississippi has missed every monthly revenue projection so far -- leaving the state $89 million short as the Legislature begins work on Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations. Gov. Phil Bryant's office did not respond Friday to queries about what steps he might take to address the shortfall. Laura Hipp, spokeswoman for Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, issued this statement on Friday: "The revenue challenges in individual income and sales tax receipts that appear to be occurring this year highlight the necessity of adopting many of the cost savings proposals recommended by the Legislative Budget Recommendation due to the work of the budget working groups this summer."
 
Medicaid needs $75 million to plug big holes in its budget
Just four days into the 2017 session, the Division of Medicaid has asked the Legislature for a $75 million deficit appropriation. Medicaid is hoping to plug the holes left by two massive cuts to its budget this fiscal year. During the last session, the Legislature appropriated $950 million to Medicaid, which is $63 million less than the agency had requested. Then in September, agencies were hit with a series of mid-year cuts to address a $57 million "accounting error" that overestimated expected revenue to the state. Medicaid's cut was $15.4 million. The department is at a loss for how to absorb these cuts, according to Erin Barham, the agency's deputy administrator for communications.
 
Teacher merit pay changes proposed
Mississippi teachers might see merit pay next year under the state's "School Recognition Program," but a proposed House bill would change how such pay is determined. In December, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee endorsed $20.4 million in funding for the program, which would provide up to $100 per student for schools that achieve "A" ratings or improve by a letter grade. Schools rated "B" would stand to get $75 per pupil. The program is part of a teacher pay raise package that Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law in 2014, and would split payments among teachers and employees. It notably excludes administrators such as principals. Instead of individual schools, HB154 -- authored by Rep. Hank Zuber, R-Ocean Springs -- would base merit pay on a district's ratings. Under the proposed legislation, districts that have received the state's top ranking or improved by a letter grade would receive $100 per pupil, and districts rated "B" would get $75 per pupil. The same would apply for charter schools.
 
Local legislators ready to tackle slate of issues
The 132nd regular session of the Mississippi Legislature began last week, and local legislators said they are ready to tackle a list of issues that will be priorities this session. Atop the list of legislative priorities is balancing the state budget. Sen. Bob Dearing, D-Natchez, said the budget would be the dominant issue of the session. "Hopefully we can keep from cutting any more than has already been cut," Dearing said. Rep. Sam Mims, R-McComb, said legislators have already spent a great deal of time in meetings discussing the budgets of various state agencies. "We are going to have to make some very difficult decisions," he said. "We have already been meeting with state agencies and other legislators to look at ways that by the end of the session, we make sure we have a balanced budget." Budget difficulties lawmakers are facing this year, Mims said, are decreased sales tax and income tax receipts.
 
New bill criminalizes doctor-patient sex
A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives on Friday would make it illegal for doctors to have sex with their patients. Doctors found guilty would also lose their license to practice medicine in the state. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, comes on the heels of a national survey in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year ranked Mississippi last among 50 states and the District of Columbia in protecting patients from doctor sexual assault. "I think the Atlanta article just shook a bunch of people up across the United States, us included," said Dr. Charles Miles, president of the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure.
 
Lawmakers to review Chickasaw schools consolidation
The Mississippi Legislature will now decide the details of consolidation to join Houston, Okolona and Houlka schools. A report by the Commission on Chickasaw County School Consolidation has been written and was sent to lawmakers last week and the Legislature could vote this spring on how Chickasaw County's three school districts will become a county school district with one board of trustees and one superintendent. Billed as an administrative consolidation, there are no plans to close any schools, build new schools or do away with teachers, coaches or staff. The issue of consolidation reared its head during the 2016 session when Rep. Brad Mayo (R-Oxford) proposed Houston, Okolona and Houlka do away with three separate central offices, superintendents and school boards and form one united, countywide district.
 
Parole law costing taxpayers millions
Hundreds of Mississippians granted parole each year are forced to spend extra time in prison, costing the taxpayers millions. If those behind bars lack an "approved address" as required under the law, they must stay there, explained Steve Pickett, chairman of the state Parole Board. He said he's "outraged at the idea of keeping someone in prison because they are homeless. My biggest problem beside simple humanity is I do not like to see taxpayers' dollars wasted." Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher said there are currently 191 paroled offenders having to stay in prison because they don't have an "approved address" for a home or a place to go.
 
Red states mull higher taxes
Legislators in some of the nation's most conservative states are considering new ways to boost revenue -- including tax increases -- after years of deep cuts and a global commodity bust that has robbed them of billions of anticipated dollars. With legislators returning to capitals across the country this week, key budget negotiators are considering a range of ways to boost revenue, including higher gas taxes, sales tax on internet purchases, new fees and even lotteries. The debates come as the incoming Trump administration and Republicans in Congress craft proposals for federal tax reform. It is a reversal, in many ways, of recent trends toward deep tax cuts, led by states like Kansas. In Mississippi, gas taxes have been part of negotiations between Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) and state House Speaker Philip Gunn (R), who are working on a comprehensive tax reform package. Reeves and Gunn have said they are also considering taxing internet sales, if Congress allows states to do so, and creating a lottery.
 
Congress to step up its own cybersecurity protections
In the wake of charges that Russian hackers tried to destabilize the U.S. election, Congress will step up efforts to protect itself from cybersecurity attacks, including better training for lawmakers and staffers, said the head of the committee that oversees operations in the House. "One of the biggest threats that we have here would be the security, in particular the cybersecurity threats, that we face," said Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., the new chairman of the House Administration Committee. "Every office, every committee, every part of Capitol Hill is subject for attack by foreign governments, by individuals, people in this county who mean us harm." Harper said addressing cybersecurity threats will be "at the forefront" of the committee's agenda.
 
State election systems to get more federal aid for security
Citing increasingly sophisticated cyber bad actors and an election infrastructure that's "vital to our national interests," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is designating U.S. election systems critical infrastructure, a move that provides more federal help for state and local governments to keep their election systems safe from tampering. "Given the vital role elections play in this country, it is clear that certain systems and assets of election infrastructure meet the definition of critical infrastructure, in fact and in law," Johnson said in a statement Friday. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, who is the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, commended Johnson's action and said, "In the long term, this will put our electoral systems on a more secure footing and maintain public confidence in our elections."
 
Navy, Donald Trump Planning Biggest Fleet Expansion Since Cold War
With President-elect Donald Trump demanding more ships, the Navy is proposing the biggest shipbuilding boom since the end of the Cold War to meet threats from a resurgent Russia and saber-rattling China. The Navy's 355-ship proposal released last month is even larger than what the Republican Trump had promoted on the campaign trail, providing a potential boost to shipyards that have struggled because budget caps that have limited money funding for ships. At Maine's Bath Iron Works, workers worried about the future want to build more ships but wonder where the billions of dollars will come from. The Navy's revised Force Structure Assessment calls for adding another 47 ships including an aircraft carrier built in Virginia, 16 large surface warships built in Maine and Mississippi, and 18 attack submarines built in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Virginia.
 
Trump's Twitter feed traumatizes Washington
Donald Trump's unique, chaos theory of presidential communications is upending Washington, leaving lawmakers, government officials and lobbyists aghast that they are beholden to a single leader's whims, not to mention the uncertainty about his true thoughts and intentions. Unlike more traditional administrations, in which a White House focuses on one big agenda item at a time and mobilizes all resources to galvanize public and congressional support for it, Trump has shown no sign of abandoning his off-the-cuff, scattershot approach to tweeting. And in a town that relies on information flow, Trump's unpredictable style threatens to paralyze Washington's power brokers. Trent Lott, a former Republican senator from Mississippi, now a lobbyist in Washington, said Washington tended to get much more done when people weren't embarrassed. "I prefer to communicate with a wink and nod," Lott continued. "I am an advocate of smoke-filled back rooms -- I was very much an advocate over the years, the old conference committee meetings. That's where I used to tell my colleagues, 'We'll fix it there.'"
 
Jeff Sessions, a Lifelong Outsider, Finds the Inside Track
During nearly two decades in the Senate, Jeff Sessions had never endorsed anyone in a presidential primary. But last January, the Alabama Republican, afraid that his party was floundering, sent a five-point questionnaire to all its presidential contenders to determine who might deserve his support. Just one answered: Donald J. Trump. Mr. Sessions is in many ways Mr. Trump's antithesis: reedy-voiced, diminutive and mild-mannered, a devout Methodist and an Eagle Scout who will soon celebrate a golden wedding anniversary with his college sweetheart. His father ran a country store in the Deep South. And he is widely regarded as rigidly honest and inflexible on issues he considers matters of principle. Mr. Trump has meandered across the political spectrum; Mr. Sessions has been a deeply conservative Republican his entire life. For Mr. Sessions, that alliance has paid off in a fashion that few ever imagined.
 
Potential Trump USDA pick Sid Miller wants to cut free school lunches
If Sid Miller heads to Washington, he's not done with the issue that vaulted him to statewide office in Texas: school lunches. Miller, the Texas agriculture commissioner, said in an interview with McClatchy that he would cut portions of the National School Lunch Program if nominated as President-elect Donald Trump's agriculture secretary. "The free and reduced lunch program needs an overhaul," Miller said. "It's absolutely crazy to give free and reduced lunches to 60 percent of the people that get it. We're just giving them away, and I've got a plan to address that. We can probably save several billion dollars, and I discussed that with the transition team." Miller said he was not opposed to giving free lunches to children who needed them but that he was concerned about wasteful government spending in the program.
 
Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the mend post-fire
It's hard to quantify how damaged the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was by the Nov. 28 fire that started near the summit of the park's Chimney Tops trail on Nov. 23. No park buildings were harmed by the fire. No one was left homeless. No one was injured. No one died. That's unlike what happened in the city of Gatlinburg where more than 2,400 structures were damaged or destroyed and 14 people were killed from the rapid-moving wildfire. While Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters has estimated $500 million in damages to his county, the National Park Service is thinking much smaller. In an emailed response to News Sentinel questions, Clayton Jordan, the park's deputy superintendent, explained how the NPS determined the extent of damage and began estimating the money it will take to repair:
 
Sign up now for MUW Culinary Arts Institute community classes
Looking to beef up on prowess in the kitchen? The Culinary Arts Institute at Mississippi University for Women will offer multiple cooking classes during the spring semester that require no MUW enrollment. Each class is offered individually and does not have to be taken in connection with any others. Participants may sign up for one or all of them: Valentine's Date Night, Specialty Breads, Tamales, Southern Brunch and Cookie Decorating.
 
U. of Mississippi's J.D. Williams Library celebrates state bicentennial
The Department of Archives and Special Collections in the University of Mississippi's J.D. William Library will celebrate a historic anniversary of the state with the exhibit "Mississippi: 200 Years of Statehood." Mississippi was admitted as the 20th state on Dec. 10, 1817. The library will commemorate that recognition with an ongoing exhibit focusing on the history and culture of Mississippi, opening Monday. "The Department of Archives and Special Collections has pulled together some of our rarest items documenting the state's 200-year history," said Jennifer Ford, head of special collections. "Commemorating this bicentennial year has been the focus of the department's faculty and staff for several months."
 
Research dollars go far at UMMC
The University of Mississippi Medical Center outpaces institutions such as Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins University in relative research productivity. UMMC scientists publish 10 peer-reviewed publications for every $1 million they receive from the National Institutes of Health. Meanwhile, the top five U.S. medical schools for research, based on the 2016 rankings from U.S. News and World Report, average five or six. In light of this knowledge, Dr. Wayne Wahls, at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, has a proposition for government funding agencies. "Send my tax dollars to Mississippi," wrote Wahls, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. He published the essay in the October issue of ASBMB Today, the magazine of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
 
U. of Southern Mississippi looks at reorganizing colleges and departments
University of Southern Mississippi officials say they are responding to the influence of outside forces, new trends in scholarship and a decline in state funding with a request that the campus community come forward with plans for academic reorganization. The idea is for faculty and administrators to suggest ways to combine departments, colleges or research clusters to maximize resources and highlight the strengths of the university. "This is the next step in preparing for the next five years, the next 10 years," said Steven Moser, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs. "People get concerned when you talk about changing things around them, but we're just beginning the conversation." The request for proposals drew immediate negative reaction.
 
Dan DeMott Named Technology Manager at USM's Office of Technology Development
Dan DeMott has been named the new technology manager of the University of Southern Mississippi's Office of Technology Development funded through the Department of Defenses (DoD) Office of Economic Adjustment National Security Technology Acceleration and Economic Diversification Efforts for the State of Mississippi initiative. DeMott will be transitioning over from his role as Director of Training and Instructional Design at USM's National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) where he has been since 2014. His new primary responsibility will be managing and triaging technologies and discoveries that emerge or interface with USM's research enterprise, specifically in defense related and dual-use technologies.
 
Reginald Sykes to serve as keynote speaker at Meridian Community College's King celebration
Meridian native Dr. Reginald Sykes, interim president of Bishop State Community College in Mobile, Ala., will be the keynote speaker when Meridian Community College's MLK Commemorative Celebration gets under way Thursday at 1 p.m. The event, hosted by the College's Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration Committee, will be held in the McCain Theater located in Ivy Hall on the MCC campus. Early in his professional career, Sykes served as principal of Southeast Lauderdale Middle School for five years and director of the East Mississippi Center for Educational Development at Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus for one year. He was dean of students at Meridian Community College for seven years, dean of student services at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College-Jefferson Davis Campus for one year and vice president of Jefferson Davis Campus for five years. A graduate of Meridian High School, Sykes earned both his bachelor and master degrees from Jackson State University and his doctorate in school administration from Mississippi State University.
 
Historic Wittel Dormitory could become high-end, boutique hotel
The historic Wittel Dormitory on the corner of Gay Street and Thach Avenue could transform into a high-end boutique hotel, pending action by the Auburn Planning Commission on Thursday. The commission will review a request from MHW, LLC to recommend conditional use approval for a hotel use on the property. They are also seeking an appeal to a denial from the public works department for curb cuts along Gay Street. Wittel Dormitory was built in the early 1900s by Samuel Wittel to house professional women and became the Alabama Polytechnic Institute's first dormitory for women after World War II, according to a historic marker erected by the Auburn Heritage Association. It still serves as a female private dormitory for Auburn University students today.
 
South Carolina lawmakers could borrow to pay for college building projects
South Carolina lawmakers said Thursday they are open to borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars for construction and renovation projects at the state's public colleges and universities. But any borrowing plan would need heavy vetting to ensure taxpayers' money is not wasted on unnecessary projects, some Republicans cautioned. "Another sports complex with weight rooms and Jacuzzis? I'm not so sure," said state Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken. The state's colleges and universities desperately want legislators to pass the state's first bond bill for building projects since 2001. They say they need the money for maintenance and renovation projects that were deferred when the state cut its funding of higher education after the Great Recession and to keep up with the competitors in other states. Those projects make up the bulk of the roughly $1 billion in added money that colleges and technical schools recently requested from the state in next year's budget.
 
U. of Florida graduate Tracy Fanara vies for 'MythBusters' hosting gig
A University of Florida graduate might be TV's next MythBuster. Tracy Fanara, environmental health manager at Sarasota's Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, tests her smarts on "MythBusters: The Search." "It was so out of my comfort zone," Fanara said in an interview. "Now I feel like I can do anything." Fanara earned her bachelor's and master's degrees and doctorate from UF. The show looks for people to host a new "MythBusters," which examines whether myths are scientifically sound and aired its last episode in March. Fanara said producers for "MythBusters: The Search" saw a video she had created for her dissertation but later scrapped and thought she had potential for the show.
 
Texas A&M partnership will turn discoveries into dollars
A partnership recently approved by Texas A&M System leadership is expected to help push research done at the university into the marketplace with help from experts who can commercialize the discoveries. The Center for Translation of Healthcare Technologies recently was created to join researchers from across the A&M System working toward a common goal. Texas A&M University, the Texas A&M Institute of Biosciences and Technology and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station will partner in the center, which is designed to focus on the mission of training, facilitating and commercializing biomedical devices and therapeutics.
 
Two Texas A&M political science professors arrested in downtown Bryan
Two Texas A&M political science professors were released from jail early Saturday after being arrested in Downtown Bryan on a misdemeanor public intoxication charge. Police records show that Guy D. Whitten, co-director of Scientific Political Methodology and director of the department's graduate program, was taken into custody by a Bryan officer. According to authorities, he was hanging out with an associate, Christine S. Lipsmeyer, who also was arrested on the same charge, though she was detained a block or two away near Main Street by the time police arrived on scene. It wasn't known late Saturday what prompted authorities to turn their attention toward either. Lipsmeyer, an associate professor of political science, and Whitten are in the process of co-authoring a book with a third colleague, titled "The Politics of Budgets: Getting a Piece of the Pie."
 
U. of Missouri nuclear reactor gets new license
Federal regulators have renewed the operating license of the University of Missouri's nuclear research reactor. MU said in a news release that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted a 20-year operating license to the University of Missouri Research Reactor Center, known as the MURR. The reactor is used to create radioisotopes for medical use and to analyze artifacts. Construction started on the reactor in 1961, and it began operating in 1966. The university updated the reactor's infrastructure before applying for the operating license, the university said.
 
Trump tweets unnerve Trent Lott
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "'He is very capable of doing a switcheroo really quick, which can be a good thing or it can not be.' This was former Senate Majority Leader and Mississippi Senator Trent Lott talking about president-elect Donald Trump. Switcheroos, as Lott calls them, are becoming a hallmark of Trump's transition to the presidency. He says one thing one day, then changes it the next. His team says one thing, then he says another. In its story quoting Lott, Politico.com found itself unable to decide if the 'mixed messages and shifting realities of Trump world' are a 'byproduct of Trump's unconventional approach to communications or a more systemic dysfunction.' ...Lott told Politico that Trump's incessant tweets unnerve him."
 
Toyota has reasons for building elsewhere
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Dennis Seid writes: "Last week, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that if Toyota goes ahead with plans to build the Corolla sedan at a new factory in Mexico instead of the U.S., it could be hit with a 'big border tax' when the cars are shipped north. But Toyota -- and other automakers -- have their reasons for spreading the wealth when it comes to building cars. The Corolla, as most people in Northeast Mississippi know, is assembled in Blue Springs (as well as in Ontario, Canada). Since October 2011, Toyota Mississippi has built more than 800,000 of the compact cars. Some time late this year, it will hit the 1 million mark. ...Of course, we would love Toyota to double its capacity and employment in Blue Springs, but hopes and dreams don't always align with reality. And in this case, the reality is that Toyota made a business decision to build where it's cheaper to do business."
 
Lottery, internet sales: Lawmakers get creative on revenue
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "When the going gets tough, lawmakers can get creative on financing the state budget. The going has been tough for the last two years, and recent state revenue figures don't portend a major upswing as lawmakers convene in Jackson and work to set a state budget over the next three months. This appears to have many state leaders open to ideas at which they might otherwise scoff, such as a state lottery, or collecting internet sales taxes. It's also likely to have lawmakers looking at raising the cost of scads of small fees, fines, licenses and registrations in lieu of a major tax increase."
 
After Congress repeals ACA, state still confronts public health care realities
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "What is the future of public health care in Mississippi if Congress proceeds with the Republican majority's plan to do away with the Affordable Care Act? Mississippi's sad litany of chronic health problems are now familiar -- diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and the highest infant mortality rate in the nation -- as is the state's status as the poorest U.S. state. ...Mississippi's poverty dictates that demand for public health care in this state is not likely to decrease. Therefore, the wild card then becomes the cost of uncompensated care, which is also subsidized by taxpayers and health insurance ratepayers. ...So the public health care questions in poor states like Mississippi become what is next for public health care and who pays? Mississippi taxpayers -- both state and local -- may well not like the answers."


SPORTS
 
No. 4 Mississippi State tops Lady Vols, stays unbeaten
The latest victory for unbeaten Mississippi State was doubly satisfying for coach Vic Schaefer. Not only did his team beat Tennessee in Knoxville for the first time, his daughter made the shot that put the Bulldogs ahead for good. Blair Schaefer sank a 3-pointer with 2:39 left as No. 4 Mississippi State capitalized on its superior depth to win 74-64 at Tennessee on Sunday and snap the Lady Volunteers' six-game winning streak. Mississippi State (17-0, 3-0 SEC) is one of only three remaining undefeated Division I women's teams, along with No. 1 Connecticut and No. 18 Virginia Tech. The Bulldogs posted their eighth road win to match a school single-season record set in 2008-09.
 
Mississippi State holds off Lady Vols
Mississippi State was too much for Tennessee on Sunday afternoon. Specifically, there were too many Bulldogs. Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick didn't fully appreciate how many until after Mississippi State's 74-64 SEC women's basketball victory before a crowd of 8,553 at Thompson-Boling Arena. While perusing the postgame stat sheet, Warlick said, "It looks like they played a whole army." No. 4 Mississippi State (17-0 3-0 SEC) was an army of 11. The reserves were as important to the outcome as the starters. They all combined to play with too much poise for Tennessee (10-5, 2-1) to overcome.
 
No. 4 Bulldogs claim first win at Tennessee, 74-64
One had to assume when the Mississippi State women's basketball team won for the first time at Thompson-Boling Arena, it was not going to be easy. However, the fourth-ranked Bulldogs were ready to make history Sunday afternoon and did just that. Blair Schaefer hit a critical go-ahead 3-point basket in the final minutes as MSU knocked off Tennessee 74-64 in a marquee Southeastern Conference matchup played before a crowd of 8,553. After beating Tennessee for the first time in program history last season, the Bulldogs made it three straight over the Lady Volunteers Sunday afternoon. The victory was State's first in 16 series meetings in Knoxville. "That was one heck of a basketball game," MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. "We were hoping for a dogfight because that is our mentality. You have to be tough, physical in this league. We had to come out ready to play. We weren't quite ready to open but boy, did we answer."
 
Bigger is better: New lineup produces huge dividends for Mississippi State
Ben Howland switched his starting lineup around prior to Saturday's game to give Mississippi State more size against LSU. A little more length went a long, long way. The Bulldogs dominated LSU in every facet and left the floor of the Maravich Assembly Center with a 95-78 victory, the most points MSU has scored on the road in conference play in 54 years. "This was a great team win and a great performance by our team," Howland said. "We really responded well after a disappointing loss at home against Alabama to open up SEC play. I thought offensively today we were much better in terms of being patient and making the extra pass." The Bulldogs continue their road stretch Tuesday traveling to Arkansas at 8 p.m. on SEC Network.
 
Mississippi State men storm back to rout LSU
Aric Holman scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Mississippi State defeated LSU 95-78 in a Southeastern Conference game Saturday. Holman was one of five players in double figures for the Bulldogs (10-4, 1-1), who took the lead for good around the midway point of the first half. Lamar Peters finished with 15 points, Quinndary Weatherspoon had 14, I.J. Ready 13 and Mario Kegler 11. "That was a great performance by our team," Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. "We responded well after a disappointing loss at home against Alabama. Offensively, we were much better in making the extra pass. To score 95 points on 54 percent shooting was phenomenal."
 
Hot-shooting Mississippi State overwhelms the LSU men for a 95-78 victory
A second consecutive lackluster home performance to start Southeastern Conference play didn't sit well with Johnny Jones. In the aftermath of the LSU men's basketball team's 95-78 setback to visiting Mississippi State, which came nine days after the Tigers gave up 96 points to Vanderbilt in a league-opening loss, Jones indicated changes would be coming. LSU (9-5, 1-2) sputtered and stumbled through the final 30 minutes of Saturday afternoon's game in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, committing many of the same mistakes it made on the same floor a little more than a week earlier. When it did, Mississippi State (10-4, 1-1) happily turned the opportunities into a runaway victory in its first true road game of the season, converting 14 LSU turnovers into 25 points and getting 14 points on the fast break.
 
Mississippi State Notebook: Win in Baton Rouge big on multiple levels
Mississippi State's 17-point victory over LSU on Saturday was significant on several levels. Not only was it the Bulldogs' first win in Baton Rouge since 2011 and ended a four-game skid there but it was also the second-largest margin of victory in conference play under Ben Howland. The 95 points scored by MSU was the most in SEC play since Rick Stansburg's Bulldogs defeated Auburn 105-91 on March 2, 2004. It was the most points scored by Mississippi State on the road in the league since the Bulldogs won 99-64 at LSU on Feb. 23, 1963 when Babe McCarthy was the coach. The 1963 and 1991 MSU teams each went on to win the SEC Championship.
 
Bulldogs play Good Samaritans on road trip
Ben Howland recalls seeing a flash of white dart across Interstate 55 in front of the Mississippi State team bus headed south around 3:55 p.m. Friday. The icy conditions had already forced the Bulldogs to forgo their flight to Baton Rouge and had now caused a Cadillac driven by Carolyn Ashley to cross the median and two lanes of traffic before flipping multiple times. Howland, strength coach David Deets and director of operations Michael Moynihan immediately rushed to the scene of the upended SUV to find Ashley momentarily unconscious. After coming to, Ashley frantically screamed for the three men to help her get out. With the driver's door jammed, Howland was able to open the rear door on the driver's side and Deets and Moynihan pulled Ashley, a nurse from McComb, from the smoking vehicle.
 
Mississippi State men's basketball team helps flipped motorist on way to LSU
While winning will definitely be on the agenda Saturday for the Mississippi State University men's basketball team as they take on the LSU Tigers, the focus on the game did not stop the team from stopping to help someone in need. WCBI reported the team made an unexpected stop near Brookhaven on Friday while traveling from Starkville to Baton Rouge. The team's bus approached a car that had flipped on Interstate 55 in the southbound lanes near mile marker 67, MSU basketball media director Gregg Ellis said on Twitter. Ellis said the roads were "dangerous" due to Friday's winter weather.
 
Mississippi State team helps woman after car accident
A change in travel plans for the Mississippi State basketball team proved to be good fortune for a woman who was pulled out of her vehicle after a one-car accident. The Bulldogs were supposed to fly from Columbus, Mississippi, to Baton Rouge for their Southeastern Conference game Saturday against LSU. However, the deicer on the Mississippi State airplane failed to work, so the team took a bus to Baton Rouge. Around 3:55 p.m. Friday, a car heading north on Interstate 55 went out of control. The car, which was about 200 yards ahead, spun out in front of the southbound-heading Mississippi State bus. The car flipped over. The woman, who was unconscious at the time, was pulled out of her car by three people on the bus. Mississippi State basketball trainer Ryan Dotson evaluated the woman, who was taken into the bus until first responders arrived.
 
Xavian Stapleton provides athletic spark for Bulldogs
Xavian Stapleton rotated his body 180 degrees in the air and dunked on Missouri-Kansas City last month. There was a discussion between media members whether it was a 360- or 180-degree dunk. When Stapleton was asked he said, "I just call those dunks. That's for y'all to decide." Stapleton had two dunks against UMKC and had a reverse dunk against Alabama on Tuesday. Although the Mississippi State sophomore guard has been sidelined for a year and a half, Stapleton's dunks have been electric, but not as electric as he thinks they could be. "I could jump way higher. I don't know if I'll ever get that back or not, but I used to jump way high," Stapleton said. "By me not playing so long, my hand-eye coordination got a little slower so I've got to get that back up, like my ball handling and stuff."
 
Mississippi State's Curtis Thompson on Bowerman Award watch list
Mississippi State's Curtis Thompson, the 2016 javelin national champion, has been nominated for the Bowerman Award, given to the NCAA's top track athlete. Thompson won six of the nine events during the 2016 season, including the national championship in Eugene, Oregon. He also snagged a gold medal during the summer, competing at the NACAC for the United States. During his impressive sophomore season, the two-time All-American also set the MSU record in the javelin with a throw of 265-10. "We are incredibly happy and proud to see Curtis recognized as one of the best athletes in our sport," MSU coach Steve Dudley said in a press release.
 
How Dak Prescott ended up as Cowboys starter: 'Crazy luck'
Dak Prescott doesn't believe in luck. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback, having gotten his chance at all three levels because of injury, calls it opportunity. No matter, the fact is it took many things not happening for Dak Prescott to happen. "It was a perfect storm," Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson said. After the Cowboys went 1-11 with three backup quarterbacks starting last season, owner Jerry Jones declared the team would "try all the ways -- all ways -- to come up with a way to get Tony [Romo] a backup, while at the same time looking toward the future." The Cowboys cast a wide net in their search for Romo's backup: They tried signing a young quarterback in free agency. They tried trading for a young quarterback. They tried drafting a top-rated prospect early in the draft. They finally settled for Prescott in the fourth round with plans to groom him behind Romo and Kellen Moore. Who knew the consolation prize would play this season and prove better than any of the other options the Cowboys explored?
 
Cowboys' Video Tribute Tells Story of Dak Prescott's Strength
The Dallas Cowboys will rely on a rookie quarterback to carry them toward their goal of winning Super Bowl LI. And they couldn't be more confident in him. The team posted a video on Twitter Friday morning that tells Dak Prescott's story of where he derives the strength to bear the pressure of being the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. "This weight I carry isn't a burden if you know my story," he says in the video. Prescott says the message his mother, Peggy, delivered to him before she died of colon cancer in 2013 gives him all the strength he needs. "These words: Fight, finish and faith were her final commands she left for my brothers and I," he says.
 
U. of Missouri to ramp up ticket sales efforts after finalizing deal with outbound sales team
Missouri soon will begin a more aggressive approach to ticket sales to rejuvenate home attendance. Missouri finalized a contract Friday with IMG Learfield Ticket Solutions. Ticket Solutions, a joint venture between IMG College and Learfield Sports, will have a 13-person team that serves as Missouri's outbound ticket sales unit, something MU hasn't had previously. The outbound sales team will work on campus -- calling potential season-ticket buyers -- and likely will begin duties around late February, said Brian White, Missouri's executive associate athletic director for external relations. That outbound sales team will complement Missouri's ticket operations staff, whose existing duties preclude them from focusing on outbound sales. Ticket Solutions also has partnerships with Southeastern Conference schools Auburn, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee, along with numerous other Division I schools.
 
Benefits offset millions Clemson spending on national championship
Competing for a national championship is expensive, but for Clemson University, the benefits outweigh the costs. The university will spend millions of dollars on travel expenses in its quest that will end Monday night in Tampa, Florida, against the University of Alabama. But thanks to the location of this year's game and changes instituted by the College Football Playoff organizers, Clemson is hoping to reduce some of its costs this year, said Graham Neff, the university's deputy director of athletics. The purchase of a unique insurance policy is also expected to yield $1.5 million in savings for Clemson related to the bonuses that head football coach Dabo Swinney and other members of his staff will receive for reaching this year's title game. According to Neff, Clemson spent more than $7 million on travel costs and bonuses during last year's playoff run, which ended in a 45-40 loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship in Glendale, Arizona. Alabama spent more than $9 million on bonuses and travel-related expenses, according to CBS Sports.
 
In College Football, Taking Hits on Twitter Is Part of the Game
Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware is his team's top tackler and a lightning rod for criticism on Twitter. Some of the posts curse him; others he laughs off. But one was way out of line. Boulware's father had to contact the police after one person picked on the linebacker's little sister. "Is it really that serious?" Boulware said. "You have to find my little sister and say something to her? It's football. Sorry that I ruined your day so much, that I tackled your quarterback too hard. It's ridiculous." The bigger the stage, the more fans talk about and taunt college players behind a Twitter handle. It is a fact of life, circa 2017, and Boulware has made it to his sport's biggest stage: the national championship game against Alabama on Monday night. Former players can only marvel at what their successors have to deal with.



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