Friday, January 27, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Diversity Conference kicks off at Mississippi State
The 2017 Diversity Conference has kicked off on the campus of Mississippi State University. This year's theme is "Our Voices." They are focusing on how to use your voice and be an effective change agent. There's a wide range of topics being discussed on diversity and inclusion. "Despite your ethnicity, despite your background, where you were born, it's to educate us on how to effectively embrace others," said Lakiesha Williams, chair of the President's Commission on the Status of Minorities. The conference continues Friday at The Mill at MSU.
 
Mississippi State Hosts 2017 Diversity Conference
Diversity in higher education is the message as the two-day Diversity Conference kicks of on Mississippi State's campus. MSNBC's Jeff Johnson was the keynote speaker for Thursday's session and he says white supremacy has manifests it's self through both public and private colleges and universities. Johnson says during the conference he hopes to generate a meaningful dialogue on how to use "our voices" to champion diversity in institutions across the country but it starts with the younger generations.
 
Mississippi State, International University of Rabat Honored by Institute of International Education
The Institute of International Education honored Mississippi State University on Monday with an Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education for its partnership with Morocco's International University of Rabat. In 2015, the two universities launched a dual degree program in automotive and aerospace engineering that has since grown to include projects to improve primary and secondary school education and redesign workforce training in the automotive, aerospace, agricultural, and other sectors. "We're very proud to see MSU recognized with the Heiskell Award, recognizing the innovative program that we've developed with the Universite Internationale de Rabat," said MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development David Shaw in a release.
 
Mississippi Secretary of State OKs OCH petition language
The future of the OCH Regional Medical Center may be closer to realization after a petition was validated by state officials that would push the decision to a vote. OCH public relations director Mary Kathryn Kight told the SDN on Thursday that the language of the petition has been validated by the Mississippi Secretary of State's office, which would give locals the opportunity to vote on if the hospital should remain locally-owned, be sold or leased. Kight said 1,500 signatures are required before the issue can be presented to the county and put on the ballot.
 
Arants producing rice 'a little different' from any other
Broken rice is less desirable than whole. But when it's broken intentionally it becomes something else. Grits. That's what the Arant family of Ruleville discovered. And now a lot of other people are discovering it. The fourth-generation farm has made a specialty out of it, which is catching on. David Arant Jr. and his wife, Rebekkah, lived in Jackson, where he worked as a civil engineer after graduating from Mississippi State University. They visited farmers markets in the city and liked the farm-to-market experience. That planted the seed of selling their rice on that scale, he said. When they returned to the Delta, "we kind of wanted to be part of that."
 
Trainer Price Wars: Raytheon Wanted Millions Less Per Plane Than Leonardo
The collapse of the deal between Raytheon and Italy's Leonardo to offer the T-100 jet trainer in the US T-X competition followed Leonardo's inability to cut the price of the aircraft by nearly a third, Italian sources have told Defense News. "Raytheon wanted to drop the price of the plane by 30 percent below Leonardo's idea," said the source, who was knowledgeable of the talks between the two firms. "Leonardo worked towards that but could not achieve it." The partnership was nearly called off in October in a dispute allegedly over control of the program. All appeared to be back on track later the same month when Raytheon announced it would build a final assembly and check out line in Mississippi.
 
Raytheon deal gone, but officials look at positives
Local officials remained positive Thursday, a day after Raytheon and partner Leonardo announced they had withdrawn from the competition to build an Air Force jet trainer at the Meridian airport, as they were reassured they had done all they could to secure the project. Raytheon President of Space and Airborne Systems Rick Yuse was emphatic in saying the decision to withdraw did not reflect on the region's citizens, infrastructure or support for the United States Air Force's Advanced Pilot Training Program, known as T-X. He applauded the effort of all the national, state and local leaders who had a hand in the effort to land the jet trainer. Meridian's LPK Architects did the renderings for the proposed airport facility. LPK Principal Architect Bob Luke said the area gave it a good shot.
 
State's first comprehensive job center opens in Gulfport
Thursday's grand reopening of the Gulfport WIN Job Center gave a look at South Mississippi's first comprehensive job center. Mark Henry, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, said one location now provides a suite of services people on the Coast need. Four agencies now work together, so unemployed people can use the computers to search for a job through MDES. They can get food or other assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services, and additional education or training through the Mississippi Community College Board. The state Department of Rehabilitation will help disabled people find work. There also are programs for seniors, youth and veterans.
 
Golden Triangle arts community meets Senate bill with concern
Local artists and leaders from two area arts councils have met a bill filed in the Mississippi Senate to abolish the Mississippi Arts Commission with confusion and concern. Senate Bill 2611, authored by Sen. Lydia Chassaniol (R-Winona) and co-sponsored by Sen. Gary Jackson (R-Starkville), seeks to dissolve MAC and bring its employees and operations under the purview of the Mississippi Development Authority, which helps drive tourism efforts in the state. Erin Nicholson, spokesperson for the Starkville Area Arts Council, said SAAC members are currently researching the bill to see how it would affect arts programs in Starkville and Oktibbeha County. SAAC received a two-year operating grant from the MAC for $20,000 that will end June of this year. That operating grant helps cover costs for annual events, including the Cotton District Arts Festival, as well as scholarships, children's programs and local community arts projects, Nicholson said.
 
Proposal would use internet tax for roads
The House Ways and Means Committee passed legislation Thursday to not only tax items purchased over the internet, but also to use the revenue to fund infrastructure improvements. The legislation, which now moves to the full House for consideration, attempts to deal with two issues facing the state: What many say is a need of more funds to address subpar roads and bridges throughout the state. And a desire by many to force internet retailers to collect for the state the same 7 percent tax levied on the sale of most retail items from traditional brick-and-mortar stores. The action by the Ways and Means Committee comes two days after the state Department of Revenue announced that Amazon, perhaps the largest internet retailer, would voluntarily collect the 7 percent tax for the state on its transactions.
 
Analysis: EdBuild plan means boost for 80 percent of schools
Lawmakers are considering a school funding proposal that could send more state money to nearly 80 percent of Mississippi's school districts, according to an Associated Press review. For some superintendents, the money sounds like a godsend -- a way to hire more teachers, pay them more, replace rickety buses and leaking roofs, maybe even cut property taxes. But much of the new money would come from requiring property-rich districts to contribute more money to the state formula. The 20 percent of districts that would lose money are gearing up for a fight, saying decreased funding could mean teacher layoffs or higher taxes. EdBuild Executive Director Rebecca Sibilia reviewed AP's calculations and said they are accurate assuming lawmakers make no changes, but cautioned that some changes are almost certain.
 
House panel approves shorter school year, less testing
The House Education Committee on Thursday passed a slew of bills, including two that would reduce the number of days in the school year and the number of days schools can administer tests. Committees are busy working to pass bills ahead of the Jan. 31 deadline for bills to pass out of committee and go to the House floor for a possible vote. House Bill 866 would limit the number of days of state testing to three. Currently, the Mississippi Department of Education requires no more than three days for any required test. It would also limit school districts' benchmark assessments to no more than 20 days. Rep. Jeffrey Guice, R-Ocean Springs, presented the bill to the committee.
 
House education panel votes to reduce school days by 10
Mississippi public school students would have 10 more days of summer under legislation approved via a voice vote Thursday by the House Education Committee. The legislation, which now will go to the full House for consideration, reduces the number of days students are attending school from 180 to 170. "It allows school districts to get closer to that Sept. 1" starting day that parents always request, said House Education Committee Chair John Moore, R-Brandon. But state Superintendent Carey Wright, who attended the meeting, said she opposes reducing the number of required classroom days. She said for many students, the need is for more summer programs and extended days.
 
Governor's power could increase with health consolidation bills
The governor could soon control two of the largest agencies in the state. On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the "Health Agency Reorganization Act of 2017," which would place the Departments of Health, Mental Health and Rehabilitation under the governor's supervision. In the end, the committee voted 12-8 in favor of the legislation, with four senators voting present. One major change under the bill is that Gov. Phil Bryant would be able to replace the executive director of each of these departments with his own appointee. Currently, each agency's board makes these appointments. In his presentation, Sen. Buck Clarke, R-Hollandale, hammered home that the legislation is about restructuring not saving money.
 
Bill would tax fantasy sports, treat it like gambling
Last year, Mississippi lawmakers legalized fantasy sports gaming. This year, they're moving to tax it and regulate it. The House Gaming Committee on Thursday passed House Bill 967, which would have the state Gaming Commission regulate the fantasy sports industry and which would charge operators an 8-percent tax on their Mississippi revenue, same as the state tax on casino revenue. In 2016, a state attorney general ruling declared online fantasy sports games constituted illegal gambling in Mississippi. Fan Duel and Draft Kings -- two of the largest online fantasy sports companies -- halted operations in Mississippi, drawing an outcry from fantasy sports enthusiasts. Lawmakers last year passed a bill legalizing fantasy sports, but also creating a commission to come up with rules, regulations and fees to present lawmakers this year.
 
Bill: Alter Mississippi execution methods to sidestep suits
Mississippi -- facing repeated court challenges to lethal injection and the difficulty of finding drugs -- could start looking at alternative ways to carry out the death penalty. A state House committee on Thursday approved legislation to explicitly legalize the drugs Mississippi currently plans to use to execute death row inmates. The bill also calls for other methods of execution -- including the gas chamber, the firing squad and the electric chair -- as backups, given court challenges of those drugs. Passed by the House Judiciary B Committee, House Bill 638 moves to the House for more debate.
 
Senate passes 'Blue Lives' bill, House eyes alternate plan
A bill that would double penalties for crimes targeting police officers, firefighters and medics passed the Mississippi Senate by a 37-13 vote Thursday, despite impassioned cries against it from African-American senators. Senate Bill 2469 , a "Blue Lives Matter" proposal that moves onto the House, says any crime committed against emergency personnel because of their status as police officers, firefighters or emergency medical technicians would be a hate crime. State law currently doubles penalties for targeting people because of race, ethnicity, religion or gender. Though there have long been enhanced penalties for certain crimes against police and others, the idea that a hate crimes law could cover someone because of their occupation and not because of intrinsic qualities is a new innovation that only sprung up after shootings of police officers last year in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
 
Five bills fiercely challenge abortion access
Five new bills are challenging the legal right to abortion in Mississippi with a level of enthusiasm unseen in recent legislative sessions. Three pieces of legislation revive the "heartbeat" bill that passed the House in 2013. These bills would outlaw abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically by six weeks gestation. Another bill would curb the use of public funds for abortion. And another would ban abortion outright, a move the Mississippi's Legislature hasn't attempted since 2011. While opponents and proponents of the potential laws butt heads when it comes to the issue of abortion, many agree on the reason Republican legislators are tackling this issue with renewed vigor this session: the election of President Donald J. Trump and the potential he has to remake the Supreme Court.
 
State Agencies Could Face One-Year Ban on Buying Vehicles
Mississippi could put the brakes on the purchase of vehicles for most state government agencies for one year. It's one of many ways lawmakers are trying to cut costs as they deal with a tight state budget. The vehicle proposal is in House Bill 938 , which passed the Appropriations Committee on Thursday. It moves to the full House for more debate. A few exceptions would be allowed.
 
New cars, old commissions on the budget chopping block
Legislation intended to further tighten the state budget, including a halt on purchasing vehicles for one year and the elimination of 16 state boards or commissions, passed House and Senate committees Thursday. Appropriations Committee chairmen Rep. John Read, R-Gautier, and Sen. Buck Clarke, R-Hollandale, introduced bills that would implement a moratorium on vehicle purchases and leases. A separate bill from Clarke would abolish 16 boards and commissions. "These 16 boards and commissions have not met in over two years," Clarke said. "There's no employees and no effect on PERS (state retirement system). These boards don't even have a (state) Treasury Department account."
 
Tagging removed from wildlife bill
A substitute for a bill calling for reporting and tagging of deer and turkey harvests has passed the House of Representatives Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks committee. But there's a catch; there is no tagging. Rep. Ken Morgan, R-Morgantown, said issuing physical tags has too many problems. "It was going to be a monstrosity to get tags out to everybody," Morgan said. "It was going to be a rodeo every year just trying to get the tags out." He also pointed out the main purpose of the bill is to collect better data on harvests so biologists can better manage these resources. With that, Morgan deleted all language in House Bill 1028 that made reference to physical tags, leaving a bill that only calls for harvest reporting. Morgan explained the change came after talks with Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
 
Press Room in Capitol Free and Open, for the Moment
The status of media access to parts of the Mississippi Capitol has been unclear so far this legislative session. In November 2016, Republican leaders from both houses of the Legislature sent out a letter to members of the media, explaining that they were no longer going to ask for rent for space in the fourth-floor press room. House Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden, R-Lauderdale, says now that the letter was not indicative of an intention to move the press out of their traditional workspace. "We basically decided that we needed to inform those that were paying rent not to pay any and those that aren't that they are not expected to. That's the long and short of it," Snowden told the Jackson Free Press. But now, with Joint Resolution No. 1, a legislator seeks to turn the press room into a commercialized space for the highest bidder, the text of the legislation explains.
 
State and federal election officials call Trump fraud claim unfounded
Federal and state election officials say President Trump's claims of massive voter fraud are unfounded and could make voters lose faith in the nation's election systems. "Every election is going to have issues, but I don't think that three to five million people voting illegally was one of those issues," said Thomas Hicks, chairman of the federal Election Assistance Commission. Hicks said he would like to meet with the administration to discuss election concerns, including voter fraud. The EAC is a non-partisan agency created by the federal government to help states run their elections. Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., chairman of the House Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal elections, said he welcomes the investigation. "I look forward to the results of any investigation that President Trump may order," he said in a statement. Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said reports from the field show no voter fraud irregularities in Mississippi so investigators can skip his state.
 
Voter fraud probe traced back to ex-Mississippi welfare head
The former Mississippi official whose tweet may have inspired President Trump to order a "major investigation" into voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election says he has been receiving death threats. "There are people who want to kill me," ex-welfare head Gregg Phillips told The Clarion-Ledger. "It's insane." PolitiFact and others have traced the original claim regarding fraud on Election Day to Phillips, who in the past has been accused of profiting from connections he made while serving in government -- something he has denied. Mississippi Sen. John Hohrn, D-Jackson, a critic of Phillips, said he wasn't surprised that the former welfare head was now insisting 3 million non-citizens have voted, saying, "Greg's always been a little loose with the truth."
 
Trump's favorite British politician isn't Theresa May
Reagan loved Thatcher. Clinton was buddies with Blair. President Donald Trump has his own favorite British politician---but it's not Prime Minister Theresa May, who he'll meet at the White House Friday. Instead, Trump's personal special relationship is with former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who played a key role in the surprise success of the Brexit campaign last year and has been a vocal supporter of Trump, first as a candidate and now as president. When Trump was hard-pressed to find endorsements internationally, Farage went out on the campaign trail for Trump. The two were introduced through Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, who said at an inauguration party hosted by Farage at the Hay Adams Hotel last week that Farage will be a "close but unofficial adviser" to Trump, according to the London Telegraph. "I don't want to speak for the president, but I know that the president has a great deal of trust in Nigel Farage, and I think he is going to turn to him as an adviser and there would be none better," Bryant said, according to the British newspaper.
 
Nafta's Net U.S. Impact Is Modest
For all of the debate sparked by the North American Free Trade Agreement, most economists say its concrete impact on the U.S. economy has been modest---a small gain in growth and efficiency, and a small loss in jobs and lower wages for certain factory workers. But as with most free-trade agreements, the gains over 23 years have been diffuse and the pains more concentrated, helping stoke the intense political backlash that powered Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and now his White House move to rip up the agreement. Among the American winners from the deal: soybean farmers, who enjoyed a quintupling of their sales to Mexico from 1993 to 2015. "We're watching the administration's decisions very, very closely, and it's fair to say that we're nervous," said Ron Moore, president of the American Soybean Association.
 
Nurse Anesthesia Program Welcomes New Class to USM College of Nursing
The University of Southern Mississippi's Nurse Anesthesia Program welcomed its newest cohort to the Hattiesburg campus for orientation earlier this month. The new class consists of 20 students, forming the program's fifth group since being established in 2012. "We are thrilled to have admitted such an outstanding cohort," said Dr. Marjorie Everson, Interim Program Director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program. "The admissions process was extremely rigorous, and these students were selected as the top 20 out of over 50 highly-qualified applicants." For the next three years, these students will learn didactic anesthesia principles in the classroom and practice their skills in clinical settings throughout the State of Mississippi.
 
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College hosting art exhibits in February
Two Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College campuses are presenting art exhibits which open Feb. 2 and run through March 2. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College's Jefferson Davis Campus Fine Arts Gallery in Gulfport will host the Mississippi Art Colony traveling exhibit, which will run from Feb. 2 to March 2. "Full House," featuring the paintings of artist Neil Callander and family, will open Feb. 2 at the MGCCC Jackson County Fine Arts Gallery. Knitted works by his wife, Adrienne, and artwork by son Finn and mother-in-law Dale Heath also will be on display. Callander is a painter and assistant professor of art at Mississippi State University.
 
Meridian CC's new Workforce Development Center will expand training opportunities
Nearly 11 years after buying the old Wal-Mart building on Highway 19 North, Meridian Community College has turned the building into the MCC-Riley Workforce Development Center. The newly renovated 65,000-square-foot building, designed by Meridian architect B.B. Archer, will open Monday, said Joseph Knight, MCC dean for Community and Business Development. "We will actually start using the building Monday and transitioning some of our existing classes that are on campus," Knight said. "All of our office personnel plan to be moved in by Friday and be ready to start on Monday morning." MCC President Dr. Scott Elliott said the opening of the center is a major step forward in the community's economic and community development efforts.
 
Louisiana colleges and universities bracing for cuts, shift of costs to students
Public colleges and universities are bracing for yet another cut to their budgets when legislators meet Friday to figure out how to close a $304 million gap in funding. The one bright spot, says Higher Education Commissioner Joe Rallo, is that the actual dollars lost won't be that much -- $22 million to $60 million -- because the state has so often reduced its support over the past eight years. Of greater concern is that the withdrawal of support has shifted the bulk of a college education's cost from state government to individual students. The change endangers higher education's traditional mission of helping lower and middle income students to move up the economic ladder.
 
Swastika-wearer draws U. of Florida protests, has hate symbol stolen
A man stood silently in the heart of Turlington Plaza Thursday morning, his swastika-emblazoned armband clashing against a black jacket. After verbally harassing a rabbi earlier in the day, the campus gathering place was his latest stop. Many protesters made sure it wouldn't be a friendly one. What began as a crowd of 50 soon tripled. By noon, roughly 150 people -- some circling the man, inches from his body -- protested the man's symbol and presence, berating him with chants and handmade signs. After several hours, he eventually requested police officers escort him away, according to University of Florida public affairs coordinator John Hines.
 
Texas A&M University System chancellor to lawmakers: Preserve higher education funding
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp made his case before the Texas Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday afternoon against major funding cuts to higher education currently proposed in the Senate's version of the state budget. With potential to cut more than $1 billion in appropriations for university programs, Sharp said Senate Bill 1 has the potential to have a significant impact on necessary funding for small universities -- including several in the A&M System. "I understand the process that we're going through, and as a taxpayer I frankly think it's healthy," Sharp said. "I think it's good to review special items, some of which have been around since 1909, to see whether or not they should stay there. ... We are confident that we have weeded out those that we thought were a little goofy or wrong, and we think we can justify every single one that we have." He said that roughly 83 percent of the special items funding received by the A&M System is related to academics, with the remainder going to programs associated with system agencies.
 
U. of Missouri says chancellor search committee not subject to Sunshine Law
The University of Missouri Chancellor Search Committee held a public forum Thursday ahead of its first formal meeting, but the university did not publish a meeting notice or post an agenda. That's because the university believes the search committee is not subject to the Sunshine Law, UM System spokesman John Fougere wrote in an email to the Tribune. After several requests, Fougere gave the time and location of the meeting -- 1 p.m. in the T.O. Wright Room of the Reynolds Alumni Center. But as an advisory committee that will not recommend policies or how the university should spend money, it does not fall under the Sunshine Law's definition of a public governmental body, Fougere wrote.
 
Listening, communication skills top wish list for next U. of Missouri chancellor
The University of Missouri's next chancellor should be able to communicate effectively and show a willingness to listen to, and understand, the concerns of faculty, staff and students. Those were key messages to the committee charged with searching for a permanent successor to former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin. The listening session in the Reynolds Alumni Center was for members of the campus community to share what qualities and job experience they think the next chancellor should have. Speakers refrained from drawing direct lines to previous administrators, but the need to do better was a consistent thread. Other topics included the importance of collaborating with industry and the need for the new chancellor to advocate for the campus effectively.
 
Academics consider how to rebuild public trust in higher education
Public trust in colleges and universities is eroding at a time when liberal education is crucial -- and institutions must respond aggressively. That was the current running through several panels Thursday at the annual meeting at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. "A liberal arts education is situated as reserved for those within the ivory tower, reflecting a willful disconnect from the practical matters of everyday life," said Lynn Pasquerella, president of the AAC&U, during a plenary address called "Always on the Fringe: Closed Futures and the Promise of Liberal Education." It's a trend that's been "exacerbated by the recent political jockeying and appeals to people's fears and prejudices, in which rational inquiry built on evidence has all but been abandoned."
 
Feds now have 306 sexual violence investigations at 225 schools, updated report says
More than 200 colleges and universities are under investigation by the federal government for their handling of sexual violence complaints, the Office of Civil Rights in the Education Department announced Thursday. The list has grown by two schools -- the University of Mary Washington and the University of Florida -- since last week, when the department issued its last update during former president Barack Obama's tenure. There are 306 investigations at 225 schools. Some schools have multiple investigations open simultaneously, and inclusion on the list does not indicate that federal law has been violated there.
 
Canada Beckons International Students With a Path to Citizenship
At the College of the North Atlantic in St. John's, Newfoundland, a young Chinese woman stood discussing her future with two fellow students, a Bangladeshi man and a Korean woman, amid a flow of mostly pale Newfoundlanders in down coats and hoodies heading for class. "The environment here is really good, so I think for my health I will stay," said Fei Jie, from China's eastern Shandong Province. The others said they, too, were planning to remain in the country after graduation, eventually becoming Canadian citizens. Their path is no accident. They are three of hundreds of thousands of international students in Canada today as part of a government strategy to reshape Canadian demographics by funneling well-educated, skilled workers through the university system. It is an answer to Canada's aging population and slowing birthrate, and an effort to shore up the nation's tax base.
 
Study finds quality of research and teaching are not related
Skilled researchers and effective teachers are neither substitutes nor complements for each other -- in fact, they have no relationship at all, according to a study by two Northwestern University faculty published by the Brookings Institution Thursday. Their research adds another perspective to a conversation that has troubled research universities for years: whether an emphasis on scholarship comes at a cost to quality instruction. "We are able to estimate with really quite impressive statistical precision that they aren't related," said Morton Schapiro, president and professor of economics at Northwestern and one of the authors of the study. It's unclear how much this study of Northwestern students and faculty can apply to other colleges around the country, Schapiro said, but he encouraged other faculty to compute the data for their own institutions and find out how they compare.
 
New coalition brings colleges and aviation employers together to solve national hiring shortage
Like many sectors of the economy, the $70 billion aviation manufacturing and maintenance industry has a work force problem, with three-quarters of companies reporting a substantial shortage of skilled workers. Colleges aren't producing enough graduates who have the right certification and training, aviation companies say, or who are willing to move across state lines for a job, assuming they even know about openings outside their region. Enter the Talent Solutions Coalition, a newly formed nonprofit that seeks to be an employment broker that bridges the gap between colleges and aviation employers. Experts praise the experiment, saying it could be replicated in other industries if the group is successful.
 
Time to face the music on road repair
Mississippi newspaper publisher and columnist Wyatt Emmerich writes: "State legislative leaders like to look down their noses at Jackson city government, but they are on the verge of replicating the same mistakes by neglecting road maintenance. Over the last two decades, Jackson city leadership has failed to maintain its streets leading to a colossal infrastructure crisis. State leaders are right behind them. ...Imagine not changing the oil in your car. It will keep on going until one day the engine fails. What would have cost a little bit ends up costing a huge amount. Penny wise. Pound foolish. Now our Republican state leadership is about to do the same thing. ...The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Mississippi Economic Council (MEC), and experts from Mississippi State, Southern Mississippi and consulting agencies all agree: We must start spending $350 million more a year on road maintenance. If we don't, the ultimate cost will be four times greater -- like Jackson, an astronomical amount."


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State's Ben Howland talks Crimson Tide
Mississippi State's Ben Howland joined the rest of the league's coaches on the SEC men's basketball teleconference on Thursday to discuss the Bulldogs' upcoming game at Alabama. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal offers a transcript of Howland's time on the call.
 
Coaching hire helps bring Mississippi State's Mario Kegler home
Mario Kegler made the tough decision to leave Mississippi following his sophomore season at Callaway High School. Kegler's first stop was at Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville, Florida as a junior and then on to powerhouse Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia for his final year. The former four-star prospect averaged 18.5 points and helped lead Oak Hill to a national championship in 2016. When it came time to choose a college, Kegler had no shortage of suitors. But when Mississippi State hired Ben Howland as its coach it became apparent which school it would be.
 
Lamar Peters, Quinndary Weatherspoon have hot hands in Mississippi State's win
Lamar Peters watched from the sideline as the Mississippi State men's basketball team struggled on offense in the first half. After starting the game, the freshman point guard suffered a knee injury that forced him to leave the game. Peters sat at the end of the bench and then moved to the exercise bike, waiting for his opportunity to get back on the court. Peter made the most of his chance in the second half, making five-straight 3-pointers as part of a 23-point effort that helped MSU beat Missouri 89-74 Wednesday night at Humphrey Coliseum. Sophomore guard/forward Quinndary Weatherspoon had a career-high 29 points to help MSU (13-6, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) snap a two-game SEC losing streak. "The bottom line is Lamar had a good second half," MSU coach Ben Howland said. "He really got it going there, and we've already seen how he can get that going."
 
Chinwe Okorie's journey from Nigeria to Mississippi State full of sacrifice
Her father's life is the inspiration behind why Chinwe Okorie ended up at Mississippi State in 2013. She is now enjoying her best season as the starting center of the No. 5 Bulldogs (20-1, 6-1 SEC) despite not seeing her family since she left Nigeria on Feb. 11, 2012. Ephraim had been deceased for less than a year when Okorie decided to leave. "It was the hardest decision of my life," she said. To understand why Okorie left home, it is important to know her father's past. Ephraim was the son of a fisherman. He earned an academic scholarship to a school in Hungary and, similar to Okorie, he left Nigeria at 15 to pursue a dream. He returned to Nigeria 14 years later as an economist. These days, there are plenty of signs that suggest Okorie made the right move. Okorie, who is fluent in seven different languages, completed her coursework in business administration and will complete a second degree in marketing in May.
 
Mississippi State's Vic Schaefer moving on from first loss
Video: No. 4 Mississippi State saw its 20-0 record receive its first blemish at the hands of fifth-ranked South Carolina on Monday. Head coach Vic Schaefer and his team have put the loss behind them and are looking ahead to another tough challenge in Texas A&M on Sunday.
 
School-record three Bulldogs invited to 2017 NFL Pro Bowl
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, quarterback Dak Prescott and linebacker K.J. Wright make up a school-record three former Mississippi State players who will compete in the 2017 NFL Pro Bowl at 7 p.m. Sunday live on ESPN. It's the second time that multiple former Bulldogs are in the Pro Bowl. In 1963, halfback Ode Burrell and linebacker Joe Fortunato played in the all-star game. "I'm proud of all three of those guys for what they have accomplished," said Dan Mullen, who coached Cox, Prescott and Wright at MSU. "They are not only great leaders on their teams, they are role models in their communities and have been tremendous ambassadors for our program. To see how they have developed since they first arrived in Starkville is special, and I know they have many great NFL years ahead of them."
 
Dugout Club 'instrumental' for USM's baseball program
Corky Palmer spent 12 seasons as Southern Miss' baseball coach. Under Palmer, the program enjoyed unprecedented success. He led his hometown school to its only College World Series appearance in 2009, and averaged just more than 38 wins a year during his tenure as skipper. With Palmer at the helm, the program advanced to eight of its 13 NCAA Regional appearances. Perhaps, though, the successes Southern Miss saw during the latter part of his tenure and everything it has accomplished since his retirement under current coach Scott Berry might never have happened were it not for Palmer's willingness to break the mold. In 2004, sparked by a suggestion from former Eagle Club director Ben Willoughby, Palmer approached then-athletic director Richard Giannini with an idea. Having recognized college baseball was rapidly evolving thanks to the almighty dollar, Palmer saw the need for an influx of cash in order to keep from being left in the dust by the competition -- both on the field and off. Thus, the Dugout Club was born.
 
Tennessee's next AD will fill an ever-expanding role
Doug Dickey walked off the football field and slid into the athletic director's chair. Mike Hamilton worked his way up through the athletic administration ranks. Dave Hart arrived having already been an athletic director at two other universities. As the University of Tennessee conducts a search for the ninth athletic director in school history, determining the best qualifications of a candidate has become increasingly more complex. Although the core job principles -- hiring coaches and fundraising -- remain just as important, the modern-day athletic director is working in an ever-evolving profession. The finances in college athletics have grown exponentially, conferences have realigned, sexual assault and academic scandals have cast a dark cloud and student-athlete rights and welfare issues have the potential to change the landscape dramatically.
 
Steve Spurrier puts 6,386-square-foot Columbia house up for sale, asking $1.35M
Steve Spurrier has put his house in the prestigious Woodcreek Farms subdivision in Northeast Richland up for sale. The former USC Head Ball Coach is asking $1.35 million for the 6,386-square-foot home "sitting on the largest and most private lot" in The Ridge section, its Zillow listing says. Spurrier purchased the home in 2007 for $1.25 million. "Finally got it listed," Spurrier told The State on Thursday. "It hasn't sold yet, but, hopefully, it will pretty soon." It could be a tough sell. There hasn't been a $1 million home sold in Northeast Richland in more than a year, Spurrier's broker, Bobby Curtis of Coldwell Banker, said. "But when we get his name on it, I expect some interest," said Curtis. Spurrier said he and his wife, Jerri, are building a home in Gainesville, Fla., where the coach is now employed as an "ambassador" for the University of Florida athletics department.



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