Thursday, February 16, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State AD John Cohen talks progress at PRAM meeting
Mississippi State University Director of Athletics John Cohen on Wednesday discussed the goings-on of the athletic department at the monthly meeting of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi. Cohen spoke to the group at Harvey's and touched on new projects currently underway on campus, including the $55-million renovation of Dudy Noble Field, which he said will hopefully pay dividends to the athletic department. He then said once the renovations to the baseball facilities are finished, MSU will generate more income from baseball than any other school in the country -- with all funds being put toward other sports. "It's an incredible project and the glare I get is 'It must be nice,'" he said. The conversation eventually turned to football, with Cohen praising the program's recruiting class and new coaches. He then said the 2017 Egg Bowl would be played on Thanksgiving Day.
 
Starkville prepares for possible wholesale change on Planning and Zoning Commission
Aldermen have begun a process to fill expected and possible Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission vacancies early as the group could have four new members on July 1. Seating planning and zoning commissioners early became a priority after two commissioners -- Ward 1's Jason Camp and Ward 5's Patrick Miller -- qualified to run for aldermen this municipal cycle and term limits prevent Ward 6 Commissioner Ira Loveless and Ward 7 Commissioner John Moore from seeking their third consecutive terms. The city's deadline for letters of interest for the two expiring seats is Feb. 28, and the two terms will run until 2023. Vice Mayor Roy A. Perkins is backing former Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas to represent Ward 6 on the commission, saying the former elected official's wealth of experience and leadership will help the city grow in the future.
 
Public input session held to discuss zoning code
The city held a public input session Wednesday evening to get citizens involved in creating a new zoning code for Starkville. Phil Walker and Bob Barber from Walker Collaborative, the company that has worked alongside the city to create the comprehensive plan, led the meeting. "Many times throughout the process during the last six to eight months, you have heard me use the phrase referring to our comprehensive plan that we are not making law," Mayor Parker Wiseman said. "Well, today we are entering the process that will lead us down the long road of making law." The topic discussed most frequently was a lack of flexibility with design when developing. Another point that was discussed was trying to streamline the development process, where minor developments will be easier to bring into action than major developments. This will require more consideration from the Planning and Zoning Committee and the Board of Aldermen.
 
Joe Max Higgins: More companies show interest in Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle area of North Mississippi is seeing interest from companies across the country. CEO of the Golden Triangle Development LINK Joe Max Higgins spoke about this Wednesday afternoon at the Columbus Kiwanis Club. He says there's been a drastic increase in visitors wanted to locate to the area since 60 Minutes ran an interview with him in December. He says many of these are really good deals that could bring a lot of high paying jobs which he says is more important than the number of positions. "As we're seeing it, the capital investment is going up, the rate of pay is going up, the job counts are going down and what I'd like for all of us to do is start this dialogue talking about how do we incent projects that are high CAPEX (capital expenditure), high pay, with fewer jobs," Higgins said.
 
Stennis update shows the NASA center's importance in the high-tech world
NASA Stennis Space Center is already on a mission to Mars and Infinity Science Center lets visitors build a hurricane -- and the directors at both centers want to do more. And it's happening at Mississippi's front door, where those arriving from the west drive right into an aerospace and technology mecca that brings people from around the globe to Hancock County and South Mississippi. That was the message delivered by four speakers and in video presentations during the Center Director's Annual Briefing Wednesday at Infinity Science Center. Local leaders and Partners for Stennis saw and heard the might of a rocket test at Stennis, got a glimpse of the training at Stennis for Navy Seals and security forces from more than 60 percent of the countries in the world and went on board the USNS Maury, the latest research vehicle built in Pascagoula and used Navy scientists at Stennis to improve weather forecasting and study the oceans.
 
Backing emerges for Speaker Philip Gunn's roads study
The Mississippi Economic Council voiced support Wednesday for House Speaker Philip Gunn's suggestion of an impartial study to develop a long-term plan for addressing the state's road and bridge needs. "Speaker Philip Gunn has offered a public policy route that makes sense. Two lanes running in the same direction at the same time -- and both get us there," MEC president Blake Wilson said in a statement. "Lane 1 is HB 480 -- which puts internet sales tax collections toward fixing roads and bridges -- brings immediate results," Wilson noted. "Lane 2 is an impartial study -- to look at all the work that has been done -- MEC, PEER, the MS Department of Transportation, as well as perhaps some new approaches not yet discovered -- focuses on assuring that the long-range plan is both operationally and fiscally sound," Wilson's statement said.
 
Speaker Philip Gunn touts internet tax for road funding
House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, said recently the only revenue available during the 2017 session to address the state's road and bridge needs comes from a bill that tries to force internet companies to collect for the state the 7 percent tax on retail items. The bill, which has passed the House, diverts 70 percent of the projected revenue to the state for infrastructure maintenance and 15 percent each to the cities and counties for the same purpose. Gunn said it has been estimated if the legislation becomes law, it will generate between $75 million and $125 million in new revenue -- far short of the $400 million cited by the Department of Transportation as needed yearly to address the state's infrastructure needs. It is far from certain that the legislation will pass the Senate.
 
On the chopping block: Mental Health, universities
Several state agencies, including the Department of Mental Health, along with financial aid for the state's universities and junior colleges, sustained cuts in the first round of appropriations bills passed out of the Senate Wednesday. Senate Bill 2976 reduces the Department of Mental Health's general fund budget by $4.8 million. The Senate also voted to reduce financial aid for students at the state's universities and community colleges by 1.37 percent, which comes out to roughly $490,000 less in funding. Senate Appropriations Vice Chairman Briggs Hopson, R-Vicksburg, said after adjournment that he was communicating with the Post Secondary Financial Assistance Office to work through the process.
 
Battle lines drawn as budget process begins
Lawmakers started the long, sometimes confusing process of piecing together a state spending plan Wednesday. The House considered preliminary budgets for 54 state agencies, including the departments of Medicaid, health, education, arts and library commissions. In the Senate, more than three dozen appropriations bills were passed Wednesday. Budget writers included reverse repealers -- language that would cause the legislation to expire before its effective date in case it needs more work -- so most of the bills were taken up as a group and passed. Others were set aside for debate, setting up a preview of likely partisan fights in the weeks to come. Appropriations bills have to pass their original chambers by next Wednesday.
 
Bill would allow smaller cities to vote on beer
A bill currently before the Mississippi Senate would give smaller municipalities like Nettleton and Farmington a chance to vote whether or not they want to legalize beer sales. Under current law, a city needs a population of at least 2,500 before they can have a local option vote on beer. House Bill 1321 reduces the population requirement to 1,500 for cities within three miles of a "wet" city or county. The bill was introduced last year in both the state house and senate by Tate County legislators as a way to give the town of Coldwater an economic incentive to help attract and maintain a grocery store. In its current form, HB 1321 would only affect six Mississippi towns: Ackerman, Coldwater, Decatur, Farmington, Nettleton and Purvis. Voting in alcohol has traditionally been a touchy subject in the Bible belt -- increased sales tax revenues vs. religious opposition.
 
Senate OK's Southaven tourism tax
The Mississippi Senate Wednesday overwhelmingly approved passage of the compromise bill authored by state Sen. David Parker, R-Olive Branch, which extends the repealer on the one-percent tourism tax on restaurant meals for parks, but also allows for the authorization of a public referendum on the issue. The bill was co-authored by state Sen. Kevin Blackwell, R-Olive Branch and Sen. Chris Massey, R-Nesbit. Blackwell, Parker and Massey voted for the bill. Additionally, the repealer for a flat $2 per hotel room, per night user tax on Horn Lake hotels also known as the Horn Lake tourism tax was extended. That bill, like the Southaven tourism tax bill, faces an uncertain future in the House.
 
Senate to Confirm Trump Budget Chief
The Republican-controlled Senate is poised to confirm President Donald Trump's choice to run the White House budget office on Thursday and is on track to give his controversial pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency a vote of confidence as well. Mick Mulvaney, a tea party lawmaker from South Carolina, is set for a narrow confirmation to the budget office on Thursday despite opposition from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain. The Senate on Wednesday voted 52-48 along party lines to advance Mulvaney to a final, up-or-down vote Thursday. Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran of Mississippi is grudgingly supporting Mulvaney after expressing reservations about the congressman Wednesday morning. "He's never been a friend of the Appropriations Committee," Cochran said earlier. "I don't think he's ever (liked) an appropriations bill."
 
Puzder Is First Trump Nominee Spiked by GOP
The withdrawal of Andrew Puzder's nomination to be Labor secretary represents a milestone in the nascent Trump administration: the first time congressional Republicans played a significant part in spiking a Donald Trump Cabinet pick. The nomination of the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which runs the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's chains, had been plagued by scandal, including revelations he had employed an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper and failed to pay taxes on her, as well as the fallout from a 1987 divorce that brought up allegations of domestic violence against him. Reports also started surfacing early this week that as many as four Republicans might oppose him. By the time Puzder pulled the plug, the floor of Republicans was six, and the ceiling was as high as 12.
 
Spies Keep Intelligence From Donald Trump on Leak Concerns
U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter. The officials' decision to keep information from Mr. Trump underscores the deep mistrust that has developed between the intelligence community and the president over his team's contacts with the Russian government, as well as the enmity he has shown toward U.S. spy agencies. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump accused the agencies of leaking information to undermine him. A White House official said: "There is nothing that leads us to believe that this is an accurate account of what is actually happening."
 
Boeing workers maintain South's anti-unionization history
Production workers at Boeing's South Carolina plant voted Wednesday not to join the Machinists, maintaining southern reluctance toward unionization. Vote totals weren't immediately available. Under NLRB rules, workers must wait a year before another union vote. In a statement, Machinists organizer Mike Evans said the union was disappointed with the vote but vowed to stay in close touch with Boeing workers to figure out next steps. If successful, the balloting on whether employees should join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers would have sent a significant message to politicians in the region and Washington that workers here want the same protections and benefits as those in other areas. But this most recent test of Southern acceptance of collective bargaining movements was an uphill battle for the union and its backers.
 
Ole Miss Student Health Center sees decrease after recent flu spike
Ole Miss students are coming off of an unusual flu season high this week. For the past three weeks, the Ole Miss Student Health Center has had more than 200 estimated cases of flu. The first week the increase of flu cases averaged an estimated 125 cases, according to Dr. Travis Yates, the lead physician at the health center. "It was unusually busy," Yates said. Yates said this week there has been an average of 10 to 12 flu cases from Monday to Tuesday. Liz Sharlot, the director of communications at the Mississippi Department of Health, said it is never too late to get vaccinated. "If you do get the flu and you've gotten the flu shot, you will recover much easier in most cases," Sharlot said.
 
Ole Miss history professor awarded prestigious NEH fellowship
Jarod Roll, associate professor of history at the University of Mississippi, has been awarded a coveted fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The yearlong fellowship allows scholars in the humanities to focus solely on their research or writing. Of the 1,298 scholars who applied for the 2017 fellowship, only 86 -- less than 7 percent -- were chosen for the award. Roll, a highly regarded historian of modern America with a focus on labor in U.S. history, joined the faculty in the Arch Dalrymple III Department of History in 2014. The honor also is important because of the role humanities play in understanding and applying arts and sciences in today's world, said Lee Cohen, dean of the UM College of Liberal Arts.
 
U. of Mississippi Police looking for car thieves
The University of Mississippi's Police Department is looking for two people who are wanted in connection to a car theft at an apartment complex. The university reports that around noon on Wednesday, a female resident at Campus Walk Apartments reported that her vehicle had been taken from the complex and was driven off campus by two unidentified black men. One suspect is described as 5 feet, 10 inches, with a reddish beard and was wearing a purple LSU hoodie and dark jeans. The other was around 5 feet, 5 inches, heavy set, wearing a gray hoodie and blue jeans. The victim also reported that around $500 was taken as well.
 
U. of Mississippi receives grant to fund pre-K training
The University of Mississippi will provide educators across the state with specialized early childhood education training thanks to a new three-year, $3 million grant. The funds, provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will be awarded in $1 million increments over the next three years to the North Mississippi Education Consortium, which is housed on the university's campus and will host a variety of training opportunities with faculty support from the UM Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning. Cathy Grace, co-director at the Graduate Center, said describes the initiative as a "bundle of strategies," with the aim of supporting high-quality pre-K classrooms.
 
USM professor: Proposed mental health cuts will be 'devastating'
A University of Southern Mississippi professor said proposed new budget cuts for the State Department of Mental Health will end up costing the state more money in the long run. Susan Hrostowski, an associate professor of social work, said some mental health programs are already suffering from past budget cuts. "I don't think (some legislators) understand mental illness as an illness and they do not understand the consequences of what they're doing, these kinds of cuts," said Hrostowski. "They will be devastating to whole families and whole communities."
 
USM to host immigration, Black History Month forums
The University of Southern Mississippi will host two public forums on immigration and Black History Month. The immigration forum will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 15 in Room 103 of the Liberal Arts Building on the USM campus. The event will discuss the recent presidential immigration ban on seven mostly-Muslim countries. Several speakers, including USM's Michael Lavender will provide an overview, and participants and encouraged to add questions or comments. The Black History Month Forum, titled "Past Struggles: Current Challenges," will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 16 in Room 102 of the Liberal Arts building. The forum will feature talks by Peggy Jean Connor, Raylawni Branch, Bettie Dahmer and Deborah Delgado. Questions and comments are welcome.
 
Jackson State students want innovation, access
Jackson State University students see the selection of a new president as an opportunity to increase innovation on campus. The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning on Wednesday hosted five consecutive "listening sessions" at Jackson State as part of its search for a new president. Dr. Carolyn Myers resigned last October. With interim President Dr. Rod Paige and members of the Campus Advisory Search Committee present, IHL trustee C.D. Smith opened the floor to receive "the millennial perspective." Students, most of whom are campus leaders, spoke about the need for a president who will put them first, "as if you would your own child," said Gabrielle Baker, a sophomore from Memphis.
 
Community service central to Meridian Community College's mission
Some people are under the impression that a community college's mission is restricted to preparing students to matriculate to universities. Meridian Community College President Dr. Scott Elliott says MCC's aspirations for its students are much broader. "We are in the business of developing the future leaders of our community and our state," Elliott said. "That starts in the classroom, but it doesn't end there. Leadership involves more than the acquisition of new knowledge. It's also about developing a culture of community service, and I believe my colleagues at MCC have done an exemplary job of instilling that value among our students." To that end, MCC's students logged about 5,500 hours of community service during the fall semester alone. Their efforts have continued throughout the school year with virtually every campus organization -- from athletic teams to student clubs and honor societies -- engaged in myriad volunteerism activities.
 
UGA president Jere Morehead praises Athens-Clarke moratorium on new bars
Downtown Athens' business mix is too bar-heavy, according to University of Georgia President Jere Morehead. Speaking to reporters in one of his periodic news conferences, the UGA president praised last week's decision by the Athens-Clarke County Commission to impose a moratorium on most new bars in the downtown area. "I applaud what the city has done," he said. The city would benefit from "a more balanced business environment downtown," he said. A downtown shopping area with fewer bars and more retail businesses, restaurants and art galleries "would be a good thing," he said. Morehead also reminded his listeners he's said before that he'd like to see a grocery store downtown. That might help attract more retirees, he said.
 
New U. of Tennessee chancellor talks free speech, diversity, AD search on first day
In her first interview on the University of Tennessee's Knoxville campus, new Chancellor Beverly Davenport said she doesn't think the state needs a law protecting free speech on college campuses and suggested she would work to reinstate funding for UT's Office for Diversity and Inclusion. Davenport, who took office Wednesday as the first female chancellor at UT, also touched on the search for a new athletic director, outsourcing of facilities management jobs and Title IX issues in a wide-ranging discussion with members of the media Wednesday morning. She is inheriting a wide range of issues and said she has "a lot of listening to do" in her first few weeks on campus. Among the most recent is a bill proposed by state lawmakers last week that aims to protect free speech on campus after a Breitbart News editor whose planned speech at the University of California, Berkeley, spurred violent protests that prompted college officials there to cancel the event.
 
U. of Missouri System Review Commission cites lack of stable funding, not leadership, as key shortcoming
It could have been a scathing report on the University of Missouri System's institutional failings. But instead of finding major shortcomings, the UM System Review Commission report found that the system's needs have more to do with a lack of funding than a lack of leadership. The report, released Dec. 31 and presented to the Board of Curators at its Feb. 10 meeting, recommended a host of ways to increase revenue in light of recent state funding cuts. It also included recommendations for monitoring the system's progress toward more diversity. The commission was created by the state legislature as a response to criticism directed at MU during the tumultuous events of fall 2015. It stemmed from a Senate resolution sponsored by then-Sen. Kurt Schaefer to remedy a perceived lack of university leadership.
 
Louisiana-Lafayette expands in-state tuition offer for non-residents
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette says it's now offering in-state tuition to anyone with a parent who has at least an associate's degree from any public or private college or university in the state. Until now, the "Louisiana Legacy Scholarship" has applied to anyone who lives out of state but has a parent who graduated from Louisiana-Lafayette. It's worth $13,728 a year. Vice president for enrollment management DeWayne Bowie says the school hopes to attract students with family ties to Louisiana.
 
Patent Office Upholds Controversial Gene-Editing Ruling
The U.S. patent office has delivered a potentially lucrative victory to bioengineer Feng Zhang of the Broad Institute in Massachusetts, regarding patents for an extraordinarily useful gene-editing tool. CRISPR, a technology that's already worth billions of dollars, is shaping up to play a big role in medicine and medical research because it can edit DNA with unprecedented accuracy. But exactly who has the right to profit from the technology has been up for debate. Wednesday the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said patents issued to the Broad Institute in 2014, and then challenged by the University of California, Berkeley, are in fact valid. "It's a pretty monumental decision here," said Jacob Sherkow, an associate professor at the New York Law School, who has been tracking the dispute closely.
 
Legislation would have blocked tobacco lawsuit
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "Back in the day, then-House Appropriations Chair Charlie Capps, D-Cleveland, was seldom seen without his cigar. Smoking was much more permissible, and even in areas where it was not allowed, it was not uncommon for the snowy-haired Delta lawmaker to be chomping on an unlit cigar. Capps was doing just that in the mid 1990s in a committee hearing when he warned then-Attorney General Mike Moore that he had better not spend any state funds on the cockamamie lawsuit he filed against the tobacco companies to recoup government funds spent treating smoking-related illnesses. Moore, of course, heeded the words of the powerful House Appropriations chair and used private attorneys who were compensated -- at a sizable rate -- when the state won the historic lawsuit."
 
Haley Barbour explains leadership, gridlock
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour -- never known for mincing words or soft-soaping his opinions, especially about partisan politics -- on Monday offered a group of about 400 Mississippi State University students some serious enlightenment about partisan politics and legislative gridlock as it exists today in Washington and in Jackson. Barbour, now 69, remains affable and self-effacing. He still works a room like a politician. He is generous with praise, particularly with students. But age is catching up with the Yazoo City native, and he looks the part of the doting grandfather of six. ...Barbour visited MSU this week as part of the Lamar Conerly Governance Lecture Series, but Barbour has had academic ties to MSU for many years."


SPORTS
 
New-look Mississippi State baseball still aims to win
Andy Cannizaro and some of his Mississippi State baseball players can recite nearly word for word what has been written about the Bulldogs in season previews a year after winning the SEC. "Mississippi State returns Konnor Pilkington on the mound and they're not really sure who else they have," one reads, per Cannizaro. "Mississippi State returns Brent Rooker out in the outfield and All-American Jake Mangum and other than those two guys, we're not really sure what they have," another national publication wrote, per Rooker. MSU is coming off a season that ended with a loss to Arizona in a NCAA super regional at Dudy Noble Field. "I don't think there is a whole lot of people around the country that really know what to expect from this Mississippi State baseball team this year," Cannizaro said. "What I can tell everybody is that this is an extremely talented young baseball team. There are players on this team that are going to be the next stars here at Mississippi State. They just didn't get the opportunity last year to showcase their ability."
 
Mississippi State's Jake Mangum up for Golden Spikes Award
Mississippi State sophomore center fielder Jake Mangum was selected to the Golden Spikes Award watch list on Wednesday. The Golden Spikes Award is presented annually to the top amateur baseball player in the country. Mangum is one of 55 players on the watch list along with 13 from the Southeastern Conference. The Preseason All-SEC and All-American led the SEC in hitting last season batting .408 along with 12 doubles, three triples, a home run, 28 RBIs and six steals. The midseason watch list for the Golden Spikes Award will be announced on April 12, semifinalists on May 31, finalists on June 14 and a winner on June 29.
 
Biloxi's Cody Brown undergoing change of scenery at Mississippi State
Cody Brown has been a mainstay in the outfield for Mississippi State. It appears that may change. Change, as it turns out, has been a big storyline in Starkville this offseason and the redshirt senior from Biloxi looks like he'll be headed to a new position in 2017. Long-time coach John Cohen traded the dugout of Dudy Noble Field for the suites as the Bulldogs' new athletic director. With the move, MSU hired LSU's Andy Cannizaro. Even before the coaching change, Brown had been tinkering with second base. Now, however, he appears to be full-speed ahead as a first baseman. It's a first for the former Indian who grew up as a shortstop before transitioning to the outfield at MSU in 2014. Brown acknowledged it has taken time to get acclimated to the infield once again, but he's feeling more and more comfortable at first base with every passing day.
 
Actions draw ire of Bulldogs' Vic Schaefer
Mississippi State women's coach Vic Schaefer was happy with Sunday's 66-44 victory at Ole Miss, but far from thrilled by some of the things that happened along the way. Schaefer left the Pavilion troubled by some of the extracurricular activities he alleges that Matt Insell's squad engaged in during the game. "There were a lot of non-basketball things going on in that game that concern me," Schaefer said. "I've addressed them with the appropriate people that need to look into that. There's no place in our game for things like that." The play that drew the most attention occurred at the 5:16 mark of the third quarter with MSU leading 47-28. Ole Miss junior guard Shanricka Sessom ran behind the Bulldogs' Teaira McCowan and shoved her in the back with enough force to knock the 6-foot-7 center off her feet and off the court into a row of photographers.
 
Lady Bulldogs coming together in final weeks of regular season
When freshman Stephanie Paul made her first collegiate appearance against South Carolina State in Georgia's season opener in November, the game felt like it was moving pretty quickly. Now, 25 games into the season, Paul is catching up. "The game was moving pretty fast for me in the beginning of the season," Paul said. With just a few games remaining in the regular season, nine players have seen playing time for the Lady Bulldogs (13-12, 5-7 SEC). This season, there were stretches where that inexperienced showed, and Georgia coach Joni Taylor talked occasionally about learning how to prepare. Now, as Georgia heads into the final two weeks of the regular season and a tough meeting with Mississippi State, the Lady Bulldogs have a firmer understanding of what that means. Georgia will play at No. 3 Mississippi State (25-1, 11-1) at 8 p.m. tonight.
 
Amidst tragedy, Mississippi State's Lamar Peters pushes on
Lamar Peters is seated at the edge of a large armchair inside Humphrey Coliseum a few minutes before a recent practice, chewing gum and fielding questions about a dramatic event in his life that occurred two weeks prior. The topic of the conversation is a sensitive one, but there is no hesitation in Peters' delivery when he speaks. The chewing continues. There is little pause between responses while the Mississippi State freshman point guard, known for wearing his emotions on his sleeve on the court, keeps a poker face. The emerging star and fan favorite is in a comfortable environment and, perhaps, that is why he is open on this day, freely discussing an uncomfortable subject. Or maybe his demeanor is as such because he has had time to process the tragedy. Another possibility, and what those close to him will suggest, is this is another sign of Peters maturing afterward.
 
'Last Chance U' star Brittany Wagner leaving East Mississippi for Birmingham job
Brittany Wagner, the breakout star of the Netflix hit "Last Chance U," has left East Mississippi Community College to work in Birmingham. Newk's, a Mississippi-based food chain, announced Tuesday that Wagner had joined its Birmingham franchise as catering sales and marketing director. Wagner confirmed the move in an interview with Cole Cubelic Wednesday morning. Newk's has five Birmingham locations. Wagner will arrive in Birmingham after eight years at the Mississippi junior college. After working with student-athletes behind the scenes anonymously for years, she garnered national attention from "Last Chance U" for her sympathetic approach and strong desire to help her students achieve their dreams.
 
Ole Miss QB draws red flag from NFL teams
Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly was not invited to next month's NFL Scouting Combine, league officials announced Wednesday. Off the field issues, including disorderly conduct in a nightclub incident two years ago, kept Kelly from landing an invite, according to Bleacher Report NFL Draft reporter Matt Miller. Kelly also was kicked off the Clemson team in 2014 after arguing with coaches during the spring game. Kelly, who attended the Senior Bowl last month while rehabbing an injured knee, planned to attend the March 3 through March 7 event.
 
Auburn athletics makes a $15 million profit in 2016 year
For the second year in a row, the Auburn Athletics Department is in the black. According to the NCAA Membership Financial Reports sent by Auburn University on Wednesday afternoon, Auburn's total operating revenues came in at more than $140 million while the operating expenses came in at $124.8 million, putting Auburn roughly at a $15.2 million profit. The report is for the 2016 fiscal year, which runs July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016. In 2015, Auburn finished with a $9 million profit. In 2014, Auburn ran a $13.6 million deficit and hadn't been in the black since the 2012 fiscal year. The $124.8 million total operating expenses is up from 2014-15, when Auburn operated at $115.5 million. However, it's not as high as 2013-14, when Auburn's operating budget was at $127.3 million. The revenue of $140 million is the highest in the past three years. In 2014-15, Auburn brought in $124.6 million and $113.7 million in 2013-14.
 
RIP, Charlie Mars: You've earned it
Sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes for Mississippi Today: "Norman Charles 'Charlie' Mars lived 92 years and two days and did not miss a minute. Mars, who died Feb. 10, was born in New Orleans, grew up in Philadelphia (the one in Neshoba County) and traveled the world. He was a businessman, tennis champion, airplane pilot, storyteller, amateur card shark and golf enthusiast who loved The Masters golf championship in particular. The following story will tell you much about the way Charlie lived his life."



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