Monday, January 23, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State names first emergency manager
Mississippi State University has created a new position to help keep students, faculty and staff safe on campus. MSU announced via press release on Thursday that Brent Crocker has been named the university's first emergency manager. Crocker assumed his new position on Jan. 1. "Safety and security is a top priority for Mississippi State University, and our efforts related to emergency management will be tremendously enhanced with the addition of Brent in this role," said MSU Vice President for Student Affairs Regina Hyatt. Hyatt said Crocker's prior experience on campus and with county and regional emergency agencies will be a great benefit to everyone on campus.
 
Black Studies movement trailblazers to speak at Mississippi State
Two trailblazing figures of the 1960s Black Studies movement in higher education are speaking Monday in the Colvard Student Union at Mississippi State University. The African American Studies program, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary at MSU, is sponsoring the presentations by Irene Smalls and Vernon Smith. Smalls, an award-winning author, historian and literacy entrepreneur, will present "(Re)Telling Our Story: Reading and Discussion." Smith, a Natchez native, will give a presentation titled "On Strike Shut It Down: The 1960s Call for Black Studies."
 
'Out of this World' exhibit opens at Mississippi State's Mitchell Memorial Library
Eye-catching astronomical and scientific illustrations will be on display Jan. 24-Feb. 28 at Mississippi State's Mitchell Memorial Library. Free to all, the exhibition in the third-floor John Grisham Room features images by renowned space science artist and educator Edwin Faughn, as well as astrophotographers Fred Howell, Bill Kennedy, Jon Talbot, David Teske and Stephen Winkler. On Tuesday, a 7 p.m. exhibit opening reception and "Reflections of the Universe" presentation by Faughn will be held in the Grisham Room. All are welcome to enjoy complimentary refreshments, view works on display and visit with Faughn.
 
'Metreticious Restraint' exhibit opens in Cullis Wade gallery at Mississippi State
Large scale, mixed media installations and works on paper by a Minnesota artist and educator will be on display through March 31 at Mississippi State's Cullis Wade Depot Art Gallery. Free to all, the second-floor exhibition at the university's Welcome Center features Liz Miller's works that have been featured regionally, nationally and internationally in solo and group exhibitions. Miller currently serves as a professor of installation and drawing at Minnesota State University-Mankato. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting with honors from the Rhode Island School of Design, as well as a Master of Fine Arts in drawing and painting from the University of Minnesota.
 
Mississippi State's Joe MacGown's artwork to be exhibited in Tupelo
The art of Joe MacGown, a scientific illustrator and curatorial assistant in Mississippi State University's Department of Entomology, will be exhibited at the Gumtree Museum of Art in Tupelo. MacGown's art will be featured from Jan. 25 to March 11. The opening reception will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday. MacGown will have 30 to 35 pieces of art displayed in the show. His works have been exhibited in Amsterdam, Russia, Italy, Portugal, the Philippines, as well as in many places in the United States, including Dallas, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. "It's really neat to be in cool shows, and have your art with these really good artists from other countries at these pretty neat venues," MacGown said. "I've been able to exhibit in other countries, here and there, and it has been nice to be able to exhibit my artwork here, as well."
 
Coming attractions: MSU Riley Center announces spring/summer series
A season of shows which have become local audience favorites -- as well as ones with the potential to earn similar status -- will highlight the MSU Riley Center's 2017 Spring/Summer Performing Arts Series. The return of Southern Soul Assembly, Drumline Live! and Shadows of the '60s: Ultimate Tribute to Motown, as well as debuts by Blood Sweat & Tears featuring "American Idol" runner-up Bo Bice and a concert re-enactment of a history-making studio recording by rock and country music titans Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash highlight the season's lineup. "Members of our audience have repeatedly asked us to bring back several of these shows, and we're happy to be able to honor some of their requests in this season's lineup," Riley Center Executive Director Dennis Sankovich said. "And we hope some of our other performances will also become audience favorites."
 
Damion Poe enters Starkville mayoral race as a Democrat
A Democratic Primary for Starkville's mayoral race is now needed after a second resident filed their campaign paperwork Friday at City Hall. Damion Poe, a 26-year-old Starkville native with experience in human resources, will enter the race and challenge former city Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill for the Democratic Party's nomination. Poe currently works as a human resources recruiter at Sitel and served in a HR capacity from 2010-2016 with the Mississippi Army National Guard. "I'm passionate about the growth of Starkville, and I want to see the great things that (Mayor Parker Wiseman) worked on continue. I'm big on education, growth and uniting the community," Poe said.
 
Starkville eyes $500K subsidy for Starkville Police Department headquarters
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman and Dist. 37 Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, both said they're hopeful state lawmakers will help fund two Oktibbeha County-specific projects this legislative term. The city is seeking roughly $500,000 from the state's landmark restoration program to help subsidize ongoing efforts converting Starkville's former administrative home on Lampkin Street into a permanent base of operations for its police department. Additionally, a new Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop G substation could be built in Cornerstone Park as local lawmakers are expected to once again lobby for its funding this term after multiple failed requests. "We're keeping an eye on both requests," Wiseman said. "There are meetings (on both lobbying efforts) coming up in the next couple of weeks, but we won't know much until March or April, when the Legislature begins finalizing the state's overall spending."
 
Tornado kills 4, damages many homes, businesses in Petal, Hattiesburg
Alice Pettigrew was asleep in her Ronie Street home early Saturday morning when her husband, Greg, woke her up to tell her there was a tornado in the area. "When I seen the tree, my big old tree, I could see the tree coming to my window, I dived across my bed," she said. "Then the tree came through my window. My kitchen is gone, my washer and dryer is gone." "Everything is gone," Greg Pettigrew chimed in. "The whole house is gone." Families like the Pettigrews wandered their neighborhoods after a tornado touched down Saturday morning, cutting a wide path through Hattiesburg and Petal. At least four people died in the storm, which according to the National Weather Service's preliminary reports was ranked an EF3.
 
Coast casino revenue is highest since 2008
December was strong for the Coast casinos and pushed 2016 revenues to their highest levels since 2008. Mississippi Department of Revenue reported Thursday that the 12 Coast casinos reported $92.4 million in gross casino revenue in December, a 2 percent increase from a year ago. Annual revenue last year was $1.19 billion, a 34 percent increase and the third year in a row revenue has trended up on the Coast. The river casinos were down 2 percent for the year, but the state finished 2016 with $2.1 billion in gross casino revenue, up 1 percent from 2015.
 
MAEP, EdBuild proposal simple math at core
Both the recommendations made last week by EdBuild and the existing Mississippi Adequate Education Program rely on a formula -- math -- to determine the level of funding for the state's public school districts. For years, some have complained about the complexities of the embattled Adequate Education Program formula. Last week New Jersey-based EdBuild, hired by the legislative leadership to make recommendations on revamping the Adequate Education Program, unveiled its plan. Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, said criticisms about the Adequate Education Program being complicated were unfounded after hearing the complexities of the EdBuild proposal.
 
Big difference between statehouse, real world? Free stuff!
The Mississippi Capitol is not the real world, and that can be easy to forget during a legislative session. Unless there's an alternate universe neatly hidden from most people, the real world doesn't have the plethora of freebies that are readily available at the statehouse. Almost every morning during a 90-day session, groups set up tables in the first floor rotunda near the main public entrance at the center of the building. Universities, mental health advocates, museums, tourism groups -- there's a rotating cast of characters with ideas to pitch and services to promote.
 
Governor would control health, mental health agencies under two new bills
Bills introduced in the House and Senate this week would give the governor the reins of two of the biggest agencies in the state, a move some Democrats say could bring unnecessary political influence to agency business. The Mississippi Health Agency Reorganization Act of 2017 would place the Departments of Health and Mental Health as well as Rehabilitation Services under the policy direction of Gov. Phil Bryant. This would also allow the governor to replace the executive director of each of these departments with his own appointees. "It's one of those cost-cutting deals," said Rep. John Read, R-Gautier, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee. "I can't predict if it'll come to fruition or not, but it's an attempt to look at ways to maybe share services."
 
House passes brain injury facility bill
Mississippi doesn't have a post-acute residential rehabilitation facility for those with brain injuries. However, that could change if House Bill 478 passes in the Legislature. Last week, the House unanimously passed the bill 116-0 to create a post-acute residential brain injury rehabilitation facility. The bill now goes to the Senate. "It would be a home for those with brain injuries to get them back into society," said Rep. Joey Hood, R-Ackerman, who presented the bill on the House floor. Lee Jenkins, executive director of the Mississippi Brain Injury Association, said the organization has been working for years to get such a center. Jenkins estimates between 6,000 and 7,000 people in the state have some type brain injury, and they are only the ones reported.
 
State agencies defend pay hikes
State agencies are defending their decisions to raise employee salaries in the middle of a money crunch that has required rounds of budget cuts. A legislative assistance report, completed by staff members of the Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review at the request of an unnamed state official, shows that 3,396 state workers in 81 different positions got pay bumps totaling $12.4 million between July 1 and Nov. 30, 2016. The report drew rebuke from state leaders, including Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who said many of the agencies that gave out raises have complained about budget cuts. "It is disingenuous for these agency leaders to say they are underfunded when they make spending decisions that cost taxpayers more money," Reeves said.
 
Bills could raise pay of county coroners
A pair of bills before the state legislature could raise the pay of county coroners and set a minimum salary for deputy coroners. Nearly identical bills were introduced last week in both the Mississippi house and senate. Both bills would raise the minimum monthly salary of county coroners from $100 to $300. It would also raise the maximum salary from $900 per month to $1,250 per month. It would also raise the "per call" pay from $125 to $200 for each completed death certificate. The bills would also establish a minimum salary of $300 per month for deputy coroners.
 
Sam Clovis to take 'beachhead' at Agriculture Department
Now that the Agriculture secretary sweepstakes is finally behind President-elect Donald Trump and Inauguration Day has arrived, it's time for his administration to take USDA by storm -- and Sam Clovis is going to lead the charge. Clovis, who was a co-chair and policy adviser for Trump's campaign, is headed to the department today to start laying the groundwork for the president-elect's agenda. There are 250 political posts at USDA, ranging from deputy and undersecretaries to chiefs of staff, spokespersons and state Farm Service Agency administrators -- though most of them don't require a Senate sign-off. Once confirmed, nominee Sonny Perdue, the Republican governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011, is likely to bring in a crop of Ag professionals from his network of connections, and the White House, of course, will also have a role in filling key spots.
 
Locals at inauguration: 'Just wonderful'
Local residents are returning home after what they described as successful trips to President Donald Trump's inauguration in Washington, D.C. Rissa Lawrence, Norma Sanders and Brenda Willis, three members of Lowndes County Republican Women, returned to the Golden Triangle on Saturday after spending much of the week in D.C. Lawrence said the inauguration was "just wonderful" and afforded the women a chance to meet people from California, Michigan, Ohio and other states. Corky Smith, a local attorney, traveled to the nation's capital for the inauguration with his wife, Lindsay. Smith said they enjoyed the trip, which included attending the inauguration ceremony and one of the inaugural balls that evening.
 
Area residents experience political system up close
They came to be near a hinge point of history. They came to celebrate their county and its customs. Some with devotion and some with dismay, they came for a president. Americans traveled distances short and long Friday to see Donald J. Trump inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. Among them were citizens of Northeast Mississippi. A state senator, Chad McMahan drove all night to see the man he believes could usher in a new decade of American prosperity. A sound system and electronics store owner, Vance Perkins brought his family to see America's political system on display, a commitment made before the outcome was known.
 
Trump's inauguration speech: tough and strikingly different
In his inaugural address, Donald Trump used the word "we" right off. In fact, he used the word nine times in his opening paragraphs, striking a note of inclusion that had been absent from his Republican National Convention acceptance speech, where an authoritarian "I" seemed the predominant pronoun. But this did not herald a typical gauzy and uplifting inaugural oration. On a mild, drizzly day in the nation's capital, President Trump depicted an America in decline, its factories rusted, its cities beset by crime, its public schools incompetent, its wealth flowing to other nations. "This American carnage stops right here and stops right now," said Trump.
 
Trump team doubles down on media criticism
Members of Donald Trump's team continued Sunday to blast the media for its coverage of the crowd sizes at the president's inauguration. Trump's top aide and the White House chief of staff took to the Sunday show circuit to defend the president and White House press secretary Sean Spicer, both of whom accused the press of lying about the number of people who attended the inauguration. Trump's team hit the media Sunday for focusing on crowd sizes, and accused members of the press of trying to delegitimize his presidency. Top White House aide Kellyanne Conway told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that Spicer provided "alternative facts" to reporters during his press briefing on Saturday afternoon.
 
The Mail Room: To Obama With Love, and Hate, and Desperation
On a recent October morning in the White House mailroom, on the ground floor of the Executive Office Building just beside a loading dock, 10 interns sat at two long tables, each trying to get through 300 letters. Grab a bundle, sit down and read. It was pretty straightforward: Read. At the beginning of his first term, President Obama said he wanted to read his mail. He said he would like to see 10 letters a day. After that, the 10LADs, as they came to be called, were put in a purple folder and added to the back of the briefing book he took with him to the residence on the second floor of the White House each night. Choosing which letters made it to the president started here in the Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House, in the "hard-mail room," which had the tired, unkempt look of a college study hall during finals.
 
Women from Mississippi march with others from around the world in Washington
A group of about 30 Mississippians who fear for women's equality and America's independence from foreign influence joined the sea of women in pink hats Saturday as they carried signs reading "Stop Bigotry" and "Don't Tell Us to Smile" at the Women's March. The women left Jackson by bus on Friday, picked up two dozen more women in Louisiana, arrived in Washington early Saturday and then headed to the National Mall. In addition to the Women's March in Washington, women in hundreds of cities in the United States and around the world held their own marches aimed at ensuring Trump knows they don't agree with many of his policies, especially social policies. In Mississippi, women marched in Gulfport, Jackson and Oxford.
 
MUW conference to feature six leaders in cardio medicine
Sometimes what you get depends on who you know. There is likely no better example of that than the lineup for this year's II+C (Imagine, Inspire, Challenge) Symposium at the Mississippi University for Women, which is scheduled for Feb. 23-24. Each year, the symposium brings in a nationally recognized scholar, researcher, or practitioner in science, medicine, or a related STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field, as well as distinguished panelists who will highlight the challenges and rewards of pursuing scientific study and careers. This year, the symposium will focus on heart research in under-served communities and will feature a group of experts one might expect to find at a major international health conference held in a major city. "It's quite an honor for us," said Maridith Geuder, director of university relations at The W. "It's a great opportunity for our students, of course, but for everyone in our community."
 
MUW's Honors Forum to feature Peggy Wallace Kennedy this spring
Mississippi University for Women's spring Forum Series presented by the Gordy Honors College will feature civil rights activist Peggy Wallace Kennedy, daughter of Gov. George Wallace, who attended the university in the late 1960s as it was being integrated. Sponsored by the Nell Peel Wolfe Lecture Series, Kennedy's talk on Thursday, April 6 will be the final event in the school's year-long commemoration of the 50th anniversary of its desegregation. All presentations are free and open to the community and begin at 6 p.m. in Nissan Auditorium, with the exception of Payne-Purvis' talk, which will be held in Pope Banquet Room.
 
USM, area prep teams aid tornado cleanup effort
The damage and devastation left in the wake of Saturday's EF3 tornado that swept through the Pine Belt was extensive. It left many wondering how they could lend a hand. Southern Miss and a number of local high school athletic department officials did not waste much time coordinating assistance and lending a hand. On Sunday, more than 200 Southern Miss student-athletes, coaches and staff members made their way out to a neighborhood on Lakeland Drive in Hattiesburg and spent the afternoon clearing debris, cleaning properties and combing the area to pitch in any way they could. Interim athletic director Zac Woodfin, also Southern Miss' head strength and conditioning coach, put out the call for help late Saturday.
 
William Carey's president: 'We have a lot to sort out' after tornado
Nazli Goktepe was studying into the wee hours of Saturday morning inside William Carey University's Medical Arts Building. The Houston, Texas, native was joined by two other first-year medical students when they received a tornado warning on their cellphones. "We were going to try to leave. We live five minutes away," she said. "But that's when everything started shaking." Less than 60 seconds later, Goktepe and her classmates found themselves surrounded by rubble. When they ventured out of the building, the students found the rest of the campus looking much like the destruction they emerged from. Most of the vehicles had shattered windows, major body damage or worse. Not a single structure at WCU was spared from significant damage as a result of Saturday's early-morning tornado that ripped through the heart of the school's Hattiesburg campus, according to President Tommy King.
 
William Carey asks volunteers, students to stay off campus right now
A day after a tornado tore through parts of Hattiesburg and caused severe damage to almost every building on William Carey University's campus, school officials are asking volunteers not to come to campus to help with cleanup at this time. WCU said on Facebook on Sunday that it still is not safe for volunteers to be on campus. The university also asked students to hold off on coming to campus to pick up personal belongings. The Hattiesburg campus is closed until further notice. Some students who live on campus lost their personal belongings to the tornado. Some of the students are international students. There are still other ways to volunteer, though.
 
Coast William Carey student finds blessing in aftermath of tornado
The main campus of William Carey University on Saturday was in disarray after an early-morning tornado ripped through the private Christian school's grounds. The twister ripped roofs from buildings, twisted metal around trees and overturned cars. A statue of Christ remained unharmed, becoming the iconic image of the storm. And for many, the statue was a symbol -- of the hope to move forward and a reminder that no one died on campus from the destructive force of nature that claimed the lives of four people in the surrounding area. Savannah Saucier, 19, was at home in Hancock County when the storm hit early Saturday morning. The William Carey sophomore basketball player and graduate of Hancock High School said she started receiving some troubling texts about 4 a.m.
 
Legislation, remediation, partnerships on community college board agenda
Priorities for the 2017 legislative session, tackling student remediation and building partnerships with local organizations were discussed at Friday's Mississippi Community College Board meeting.Dr. Andrea Mayfield, executive director of the Community College Board, reported that a request for an increase in spending authority of $14.5 million was presented Thursday to the House Appropriations Committee. The board will present the same request to the Senate on Wednesday. Mayfield also reported on her meeting with Dr. Glenn Boyce, commissioner of the Board of Trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, and Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education K-12, to tackle the remediation education issue.
 
Community colleges could garnish tax refunds for student debts
If you owe money to a community college in Mississippi, you might not want to bank on receiving your state tax refund. A tax garnishment bill for individuals who owe tuition debt to community colleges in the state passed the Mississippi House of Representatives this week by a 104 to 14 vote. "Right now, colleges are almost owed an estimate of $98 million from students who previously attended the institution," Kell Smith, a spokesman for the Mississippi Community College Board, said at Friday's board meeting. Smith explained that the community colleges may not take back all that is owed to them, but now they may have the option to begin collecting -- the same option that four-year schools have.
 
Horse riding: Alabama, Auburn have friendly rivalry
Some fans in the bleachers wore red and white, some wore orange and blue. And instead of Bryant-Denny Stadium, this competition between the University of Alabama and Auburn University was held at River Oak Farms, about 15 minutes southwest of UA's Tuscaloosa campus. The longtime rivals held a scrimmage Friday between the two schools' equestrian teams. And while the Alabama-Auburn competition can be fierce at times in other sports, the horse-riding teams embody a spirit of cooperation. According to Diane Harrison, director of equestrian operations at UA, Auburn has greatly contributed to the growth of UA's program, which started as a club sport among students and is still working toward becoming a varsity sport. Auburn University's longer established equestrian program has donated four of UA's 17 horses.
 
UGA study finds barriers limit black households' access to financial services
While black households see value in using financial planning services, most don't pursue it due to barriers to entry including large gaps in income and net worth relative to other ethnic groups, according to a University of Georgia researcher. Black and Hispanic households have significantly fewer financial assets compared to white and Asian households, in addition to lower levels of education, less willingness to take financial risk and a shorter horizon for planning for the future. All of these factors are predictors of the use of financial planning services. Notably, when these variables were controlled, research showed that black households were actually more likely to consult a financial planner, suggesting usage rates might be higher if the playing field were more level.
 
U. of Tennessee: Title IX complaints rise due to reporting changes
The number of Title IX complaints reported at the University of Tennessee has more than doubled in the last year, and has risen more than 100 times what was reported in 2013, according to a recently released report from the State of Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury. The report, released in mid-December, also shows an increase in Title IX complaints under the Tennessee Board of Regents. Officials from both the Board of Regents and the university said the rise in complaints is indicative of an increase in reporting and changes in reporting requirements, as opposed to an increase in actual Title IX violations. "I think it's a good thing," said Jenny Richter, Title IX coordinator for the University of Tennessee Knoxville and associate vice chancellor and director of the Office of Equity and Diversity. "We know these types of complaints are under-reported"
 
More than 400 students, women, community members turn out at U. of Tennessee Sister March
More than 400 students, women and community members from the Knoxville area marched through the University of Tennessee campus Friday afternoon, carrying colorful signs and chanting in support of women's rights just minutes after Donald J. Trump took the oath of office as the 45th President of the United States. The UT Sister March is one of more than 600 planned to coincide with the Women's March on Washington, which takes place Saturday in Washington D.C. According to organizers, UT's march was the first sister march to take place around the world, while most other events will happen Saturday. The purpose of the marches, according to UT organizers and the official website of the Women's March on Washington, is to call attention to women's rights and human rights.
 
Inauguration brings mixed emotions for Tennessee college students
In the hours after Donald Trump became president-elect, April Carroll knew what she had to do. She made it her mission to travel to Washington D.C. to attend his inauguration. She arrived this week along with a busload of Tennesseans eager to witness history on Friday. "This was historic, I think, in so many ways because he was pretty much the underdog," the Middle Tennessee State University student said. "I don't think I could miss this." Carroll is one of several college students who caravanned from campuses like MTSU and the University of Tennessee at Martin to the nation's capital to celebrate the arrival of the new administration. But she acknowledged a large portion of her peers remained staunchly opposed to Trump.
 
Dozens turn out for women's march at Texas A&M
As hundreds of women's marches took place around the globe, about 50 people joined a rally on Texas A&M's campus Saturday. Junior political science major Maddison Ellis organized the event in just a few days. "I was in class the other day, and my professor told us about the Women's March on Washington," Ellis said. "And it surprised me that I hadn't heard more about it through things like social media. I asked her if anyone on College Station had organized a march yet, and she said no. So that's how this took off." With the help of campus staff member Cathie McQuistion, Ellis used social networking to spread the word. While many marching outside the Memorial Student Center were protesting President Donald Trump, Ellis stress that being "anti-Trump" was not the central point of the demonstration. "All I want is to see women succeed," she said.
 
Tens of thousands of college students and professors march in Washington
Hundreds of thousands of people converged on the nation's capital Saturday to show solidarity and support for those who feel their rights may be threatened by the new administration, which began just the day before when Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. Among the sea of pink knit hats and colorful signs were tens of thousands of college students, faculty and administrators who feel that their rights, too, are under attack. Some marched for themselves. Some marched for friends and family members. Some marched with contingents that traveled long hours on buses from campuses far from here. College women marched for reproductive rights and stronger legislation against sexual assault and sexual harassment. Some students said they were marching for the rights of undocumented immigrants, Muslims, members of the LGBT community, people of color and people with disabilities. And university professors marched for freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of inquiry and campus diversity.
 
Trump: American Schools 'Flush With Cash,' But Failing Students
In his first speech to the nation as president, the newly inaugurated Donald Trump painted a dark picture of an America that has left struggling middle-class families behind, including a public school system that spends big while getting poor results for students. "Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves," Trump said in his address from the U.S. Capitol to a packed crowd of onlookers. "But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists. ... An education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge." Jay Greene, a professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas, said while Trump used an "obvious overstatement" to describe the state of America's schools, his views are pretty common.
 
College Republicans split over Trump, but many now pledging to support new president
James Dilmore, chairman of Florida State University College Republicans, traveled to Washington alone last week to attend Donald Trump's inauguration Friday but came with no plans to hobnob with other conservatives throughout the weekend. "That's not who I am. I'm not part of the establishment. I'm not one of those people. That's who I hate. That's why love Donald Trump," he said. "I'm not an aristocrat. I'm not an elitist." Trump's inauguration as the 45th president brought about 250,000 people to the Capitol Friday -- about a quarter the size of the crowd that attended Barack Obama's second inauguration in 2013. The incoming president lags his predecessor in enthusiasm levels among college voters and typical college-age voters, in particular. But Dilmore said there was a positive reaction to Trump's election on the Florida State campus and the experience of being at the inauguration Friday resonated deeply.
 
U. of Virginia president to retire next summer
University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan will retire next summer. Sullivan said Friday in a statement that the university "is strong and positioned for even greater strength in our educational offerings, research programs, and health system." She says that means that the school is "well-positioned for a transition" to a new leader. he Board of Visitors ousted her from the presidency in 2012 over disagreements about administrative costs and online education. But the coup failed, and the board quickly reinstated Sullivan.
 
Two Meridian representatives introduce conflicting bills
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "Meridian Republican Representative Steve Horne has introduced House Bill 305 to abolish party primaries for state and local elections. Meridian Republican Representative Greg Snowden has introduced House Bill 496 to require party primaries for state and local judicial elections. Hmmm. Horne's bill was referred by Speaker of the House Philip Gunn to the Apportionment and Elections Committee. Snowden's bill was referred by Gunn to the Judiciary A Committee. Hmmm."
 
Waiting for Godot: Lawmakers, Trump and infrastructure
The Clarion-Ledger's Sam R. Hall writes: "The latest idea to address Mississippi's desperate need for multimillion-dollar road and bridge upgrades is to wait and see what President Donald Trump unveils in his infrastructure initiative. The Mississippi Economic Council last year launched a major push for a state infrastructure program, calling for an additional $375 million annually for the next 10 years to fund repairs, replacements and ongoing maintenance of roads and bridges in all 82 counties. While MEC did not put forth a proposal of how lawmakers should fund the plan, it did provide a list of tax and fee increases from which lawmakers could choose. ...But need in government often runs counter to political realities."
 
Seldom heard from in education debate: teachers
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "As politicians, administrators, advocates and pundits debate funding and policy for Mississippi's public education, there is one group from which little is ever heard. Teachers. Those rank-and-file educators who toil in the trenches, to whom we entrust our state's future -- we seldom hear their unfettered, un-coerced or unfiltered voices. For starters, they're too busy teaching. Also, it's always appeared to me, they're fearful of reprisal from someone or another in a glass, ivory or granite tower if they speak up too strongly or don't toe the line they are given. But Clarion-Ledger education reporter Bracey Harris has managed to capture some of those unfettered comments from teachers."
 
'Roast' tables to turn on Marshall Ramsey
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "As is usual this time of year, the Mississippi Press Association Education Foundation will be holding a celebrity 'roast' to raise money for journalism scholarships and internships by making fun of someone prominent from the state's political, business, educational or cultural establishment. In most years, one of the staples of the event has been the participation of longtime Clarion-Ledger editorial cartoonist and Mississippi Public Broadcasting host Marshall Ramsey in skewering the honoree. However, on Thursday evening at the Jackson Hilton, the tables will turn as Ramsey gets his night in the barrel as the guest of honor -- and this time, it's mostly the politicians who will have the rhetorical knives."


SPORTS
 
No. 4 Bulldogs challenge No. 5 Gamecocks
Last March, Mississippi State watched South Carolina celebrate winning the SEC Tournament after a 66-52 victory over the Bulldogs. It was the second time the Gamecocks won a conference champion-ship last season and left MSU as the runner up. Those teams renew their budding rivalry tonight as the fourth-ranked Bulldogs travel to No. 5 South Carolina at 6 on ESPN2. "If you're a competitor, you love having these opportunities going against one of the best teams in the country, tremendous coach and coaching staff, but a team that has played well all year long," said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. The Bulldogs (20-0) and Gamecocks (16-1) are both 6-0 in league play. South Carolina has won 29 consecutive SEC games and is 9-0 at Colonial Life Arena while State is also 9-0 on the road this year.
 
Mississippi State, South Carolina compete for SEC, national supremacy
Mississippi State prepared for its most important game within the Magnolia State last Monday. Coach Vic Schaefer emphasized the Egg Bowl rivalry regardless of the event. But even the weight of the in-state rivalry can't compare to that of the matchup facing the Bulldogs a week later. No. 4 Mississippi State's trip to No. 5 South Carolina on Monday (6 p.m., ESPN2) is bigger than Mississippi. It will affect more than the SEC standings. The winner will own an early inside track to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. "If you're a competitor, you love having these opportunities, going against one of the best teams in the country," Schaefer said. "Tremendous coach, tremendous coaching staff. But just a team that's played well all year long. Very similar to us."
 
Johnson, Williams could be key pieces for No. 4 Mississippi State women
Mississippi State's Vic Schaefer also has been fond of saying "the tape doesn't lie." After watching a replay of his team's 67-54 victory against Alabama on Thursday, Schaefer wasn't happy with a lot of what he saw. Outside of a third quarter in which No. 4 MSU outscored Alabama 26-9, the Bulldogs struggled in nearly every facet to extend their record to 6-0 in the SEC and earn their program-best ninth road win of the season. Schaefer knows another effort like the one his team delivered Thursday won't cut it against No. 5 South Carolina (16-1, 6-0) at 6 p.m. Monday (ESPN2) at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina. Roshunda Johnson and Ameshya Williams could provide the Bulldogs with a needed lift off the bench.
 
Mississippi State vs. South Carolina: Will the Gamecocks' crown stay in Columbia?
It's easy to discuss because it wasn't that long ago South Carolina was in Mississippi State's place. Yet, the Gamecocks know exactly how much work went into placing them on their current perch, and while they certainly recognize the Bulldogs' efforts to challenge them, they have a message. Not today. "They're the undefeated team, they're ranked higher than we are," USC coach Dawn Staley said. "It's going to be a game in which the wills are going to be on the line, and we have to impose our will." The No. 5 Gamecocks host the No. 4 Bulldogs on Monday night in a game that gives the winner sole possession of first place in the SEC and likely the biggest step toward claiming the regular-season championship. For Mississippi State, it's a continuation of the best start it's ever had and a notice that perhaps there are new sheriffs in town.
 
Mississippi State's Vic Schaefer getting it done
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's John L. Pitts writes: "Is there a better college coach in the state of Mississippi right now than Vic Schaefer? His Mississippi State women are 20-0, ranked fourth in the country and are headed to the national spotlight of a Monday night showdown at No. 5 South Carolina (16-1). As I wrote last season, he's on a path that reasonably leads the Bulldogs to the Final Four. Maybe this is the year. And whatever the sport, putting yourself in a position to compete for championships is the gold standard."
 
Mississippi State to open 2018 season in Hattiesburg
New Mississippi State baseball coach Andy Cannizaro dropped some news while speaking to the Tupelo Kiwanis Club on Friday afternoon. Cannizaro told the club that the Diamond Dogs would be opening the 2018 season at Southern Miss and would also be playing a number of non-conference road games to begin the year while construction is completed on renovations to Dudy Noble Field. MSU's first home game in 2018 is not expected to be played until the fourth week of the season. The Bulldogs haven't started a season on the road since Ron Polk's final year in 2008. It will also be State's first game in Hattiesburg since 2010. Construction will commence on Dudy Noble Field at the conclusion of this season as part of a $40 million project.
 
Cannizaro: Mississippi State to open 2018 season at Southern Miss
Andy Cannizaro will make his debut as Mississippi State's head baseball coach in four weeks, but on Friday, he was also looking ahead to next season. Cannizaro told the Tupelo Kiwanis Club that the Diamond Dogs will open 2018 with a series at Southern Miss. He said the Diamond Dogs won't play a home game until the fourth week of the 2018 season because of expansion at Dudy Noble Field. "I thought it was really important to find a place where we can go where our fans can get there, and support us and see their team play, and I think it will be a tremendous weekend of baseball," Cannizaro said. "We're not talking about until next year, but certainly it will be a great crowd at Southern Mississippi, and it'll just kind of get our guys used to playing in front of big crowds again."
 
USM baseball to host Mississippi State to open 2018 season
Southern Miss and Mississippi State have a longstanding, running series on the baseball field. The intrastate rivals have met 117 times since first squaring off in 1947. But not since 2010 have the Golden Eagles hosted the Bulldogs at Pete Taylor Park. That is set to soon change. Southern Miss is slated to host Mississippi State in a three-game series to open the 2018 season, according to a deal the two schools have agreed upon. Speaking to the Tupelo Kiwanis Club Friday afternoon, Bulldogs head coach Andy Cannizaro made reference to the agreement. The Hattiesburg American confirmed the agreement with a source, who said the contracts have not yet been finalized. As per the deal, Mississippi State would also host Southern Miss in Starkville for a three-game series at some point during the 2019 season. Southern Miss is 38-79 versus Mississippi State all-time.
 
New Alabama AD Greg Byrne has strong reputation for success
Greg Byrne has been around intercollegiate athletics for nearly his entire life. From riding on his father's shoulders during grass-roots fundraising events to hobnobbing with high-profile boosters and entertainers, Byrne wears who is he with ease. Those who know him best say he is a people person, comfortable enough in his own skin to move easily within social circles, including getting the blessing of the highest-profiled and most powerful college football coach in the country (Nick Saban), interacting with average, blue-collar fans and wining and dining the wealthiest of boosters at black-tie events. Byrne was born to be an athletic director. His mentor, friend and former boss Larry Templeton said knowing Byrne, he can guarantee he did his due diligence about Alabama's inner workings, from both the athletic and academic leadership side.
 
After listening to Texas, LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri is happy where he is
On Friday, the LSU baseball team will report for its first full team practice of the spring season for the 11th time under coach Paul Mainieri. For a brief moment in June, whether Mainieri would be there when that day arrived was a legitimate question. Mainieri was one of several high-profile college baseball coaches whom the University of Texas pursued after it parted ways with Augie Garrido, the sport's all-time winningest coach. The Longhorns needed to replace an icon, so they set their sights on the biggest names in college baseball, Mainieri among them. Their representatives came to Baton Rouge and made their pitch in Mainieri's home, and Mainieri listened. It's hard to say exactly how close Mainieri came to ripping up the roots established over a decade in Baton Rouge to close his career in Austin. What is known is that he decided not to make that call -- and why.
 
Kentucky's new practice facility provides little-discussed recruiting perks
Walk around the new, $45 million practice facility and it's pretty easy to see why it has become Kentucky's top recruiting tool. Big screen televisions on every other wall, shrines to Nike everywhere, a Gatorade bar, a weight room with 15,000 square feet of pristine equipment, a locker room to rival professional teams. But there's another little-discussed benefit of Kentucky's new practice facility and its impact on recruiting. It has become a game-day hub for prospective players, something UK never had before. And while a pretty place isn't necessarily going to sell a recruit, an easy, positive experience goes a long way.



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