Friday, February 24, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Former U.S. Poet Laureate at Mississippi State next week
Former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove, who has earned a Pulitzer Prize and other major accolades, will be at Mississippi State next week to lead the writer-in-residence program of the College of Arts and Sciences' Institute for the Humanities. Highlighting her visit will be a free special presentation at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in McCool Hall's Taylor Auditorium Poet laureate from 1993-95, Dove currently holds the rank of Commonwealth Professor in the University of Virginia's English department. William Anthony Hay, institute director, said Dove's time on campus is designed to introduce new perspectives to MSU students and employees, along with interested community members. "Our writer-in-residence program has been a great success that puts Mississippi State on the map for its engagement with the arts and humanities," Hay said.
For Mississippi State student, Mississippi Light Festival aims to inspire
Mississippi State University student Zac White began his involvement with the first-ever Mississippi Light Festival with the idea that it would be a nice line on his resume. He quickly found the festival's mission, to combine science and art to inspire a new generation of Mississippians, making its impact on his own life. Working in collaboration with England-based artist Polly Lane, White has created a pair of installations that will be among many to light up downtown Jackson Friday for the European-style light festival, a free event that's open to all. "It's about using light as an embodiment of life that a city should have," White said from Jackson's College of Architecture, where he is a fifth-year MSU student. "With all of the aspects of light that I've learned, it's one aspect of architecture that fades into the background, especially here in Jackson, where everyone vacates at night."
Program helps college students who cannot afford food
The MSU Maroon Volunteer Center, the Student Association, and Aramark, the on-campus dining corporation, are partnering together for the Mississippi State Food Security Network. "It's a virtual food bank where we try to help students on campus who are food insecure," said Program Coordinator Delilah Schmidt. Students reach out to the Maroon Volunteer Center and they contact Aramark. Aramark then credits the student's account with 20 meals. The meals can be redeemed at certain on-campus locations.
Local projects receive grants in celebration of Mississippi's bicentennial
In celebration of Mississippi's 200th birthday, 22 different projects across the state have been awarded $111,000 in grants. This is thanks to the partnership between the Mississippi Humanities Council and the Mississippi Development Authority's Visit Mississippi. The local projects include Mississippi State University Libraries, Starkville and North Carrolton, "Mississippi Literature and Land series at Cotesworth Culture and Heritage Center," as well as the Mississippi University for Women, Columbus, "Borderlands: Mississippi and Alabama Statehood in the Bicentennial Year."
MDOT to begin safety improvements on Highway 12 corridor next week
The Mississippi Department of Transportation plans to begin a project next week aimed at increasing safety on Highway 12. Road quality and safety have been hot-button local issues in Oktibbeha County and MDOT plans to address both through an improvement project that will feature a raised median and improved traffic signal technology on the area's busiest state highway. Mississippi Highway Commissioner Mike Tagert, who oversees the northern district, told the SDN about a recent safety audit conducted by MDOT, which shed light on the problems facing Highway 12 in the city of Starkville. Tagert said the audit analyzed accidents on Highway 12 over the last five years, looking at 60 months of crashes along the route. "The safety engineers found Highway 12 in the city has one of the highest accident rates of any state road north of the Jackson metro area," he said. Nearly 500 injuries have been associated with the route during the five-year span, Tagert said.
Don Christy to lead Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Water Management District
Don Christy, a Jackson, Miss., native who has spent much of his career working on water-related issues across the Southeast, has been named the new executive director of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Water Management District. Dr. Christy succeeds Dean Pennington, a former Mississippi State University agronomist who led the Stoneville, Miss.-based YMD Water Management District for 26 years before his retirement in December. The YMD is responsible for conserving water supplies in the Delta region. Before assuming the new post, Dr. Christy was serving as interim director of the Bureau of Plant Industry in the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce. For several years before that, he served as chief of staff for the Region IV Headquarters for the Environmental Protection Agency under another Mississippi native, Jimmy Palmer.
Hosemann: Cat Island set to grow, but prospects dim for Biloxi amusement park
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann on Thursday took members of the Gulfport Rotary Club on a aerial tour of Cat and Deer islands, showing where a sand renourishment project will expand Cat Island this summer. But he later said negotiations have stalled with developers of Margaritaville Resort Biloxi, who want to build an amusement park at Point Cadet. Speaking at Great Southern Club in Gulfport, Hosemann said that on March 8 the Army Corps of Engineers will go out for bids to add sand along the side of Cat Island that the state acquired from BP in November. "It will add 300 acres to Cat Island," he said. Work should begin in a few months and be complete by the end of the year. Hosemann spoke on a variety of topics Thursday, including budget cuts. State budget cuts have reduced the Secretary of State's budget by $700,000, and Hosemann said he expects one more cut to be announced before the end of the fiscal year June 30.
Gov. Phil Bryant wants renewed push for lottery
Gov. Phil Bryant said Thursday that he wants legislators to make a late-session push to enact a lottery that might generate tens of millions of dollars a year in revenue. "When you're looking at some of the challenges that we're having and you see a revenue bill that would generate somewhere between 50 and 60 million dollars -- just an estimate -- I think that's something that needs to be taken seriously by the members of both the House and the Senate," Bryant told The Associated Press during a brief interview at the Capitol. The Republican governor this week had to make his third round of spending cuts since the budget year started July 1 because tax collections continue to fall short of expectations.
Senate panel kills bill to limit powers of attorney general
A bill to limit the powers of Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood is "pretty much dead" after a committee voted to set it aside without making a final decision, the chairman said Thursday. House Bill 555 proposed to limit the attorney general's power to file civil lawsuits, requiring permission from a three-member panel including the governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state for any lawsuit where the state could win more than $250,000. That would force Hood, Mississippi's only statewide elected Democrat, to get permission from three Republicans. The Senate Judiciary A Committee voted Thursday to table the bill. Chairman Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport, said that he had sought some sort of compromise that would impose less strict limits on Hood's ability to sue, but couldn't reach one.
Expansion of dyslexia scholarships moves forward in Legislature
The Senate could soon take up a bill that would expand the state's scholarship program for dyslexic students to allow them to attend special service schools in other states. House Bill 1046 would allow 6th through 12th graders along with students in the younger grades to participate, and would also allow the per-student cost to follow the child to a nonpublic school provided it is located within a 30-mile range of the student's home. The Legislature passed the program in 2012. Previously, the scholarships could be used only at public schools and accredited nonpublic schools in Mississippi. Under the new bill, however, students would be able to attend schools in surrounding states provided there is no appropriate school in Mississippi within 30 miles of their home.
Districts will feel the pinch of school funding cuts
Budget cuts announced this week by Gov. Phil Bryant to the Mississippi Adequate Education Program will be spread out equally over the state's nearly 140 school districts, officials say. Bryant on Tuesday announced the third budget cut this fiscal year, marking the first time a cut would affect the state's base public school funding. Pete Smith, a spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Education, said beyond addressing the MAEP cut, the department will have to work with the Legislature next year to restore approximately $3 million in mid-year cuts Bryant made to Career and Technical Education. Unless the state funds those programs at the same level each year, it will no longer be eligible to receive a $15 million federal grant, he said.
UMMC faces unexpected $35M cut, possible layoffs
Employees at the University of Mississippi Medical Center face possible layoffs after the teaching hospital received an unexpected $35 million reduction in Medicaid funding. That reduction came after state lawmakers had already sliced $8.2 million from the budget of the medical center -- a $1.6 billion operation that employs more than 10,000 people. The $35 million cut to UMMC, the state's largest Medicaid provider, came as a result of a change in a state Medicaid formula to compensate hospitals that serve large numbers of Medicaid and uninsured patients. Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, said the setback could mean layoffs, the elimination of programs and other cuts. "Everything is on the table," she said.
$6M budget for Oxford University Transit approved by city
As the Oxford University Transit system continues to grow, so does the number of buses, the number of routes traveled and the cost of providing the service. The Oxford Board of Aldermen approved a $6 million budget Tuesday for the 2017-2018 fiscal year for the OUT system, which increased from the current budget of $5.3 million. OUT needs to approve its budget early in the year so it can be submitted to the Mississippi Department of Transportation by the end of February to apply for transportation grants that pay 80 percent of capital costs and 50 percent of the operational costs. The University of Mississippi will absorb the costs for the new routes. University students ride the OUT buses for free since the university pays more into the bus service to subsidize the students' fares.
USM Gulf Park evaluating campus living options
The only Mississippi beachfront college campus could be well on its way to providing residential housing for its students, although it could take awhile. The first stage of a comprehensive look into getting residential space on the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Park campus is promising, an 11-member panel devoted to the matter seemed to conclude Thursday night. The panel cited increased enrollment, interest from prospective students and unique courses of study as potential draws for student residency. The panel when pressed with a timeline, though, wouldn't commit any specifics. USM President Rodney D. Bennett said the process is in it's beginning stages and a "long ways off."
Mississippi Academy of Sciences hosting annual meeting at USM
Teachers and students from across the state in all fields of science have gathered at The University of Southern Mississippi for an annual conference. The Mississippi Academy of Sciences' 81st meeting began at the Thad Cochran Center Thursday. It runs through Friday. The conference is featuring both oral and poster presentations and research from various university faculty, as well as from graduate and undergraduate students. "It's a lot of work, but it's always a pleasure to see all the students and faculty come present their research and their work," said Mohamed Elasri, associate dean of the College of Science and Technology at Southern Miss and the director of the IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence.
Students sought for USM leadership program
Southern Miss officials are looking for middle and high school students who want to enhance and refine their leadership skills. The Frances A. Karnes Center for Gifted Studies is holding a one-week residential workshop in June for leadership studies. Karnes interim director Suzanne McKee-Waddell said qualifying students will be in grades 6-11 and have demonstrated leadership ability in their schools. communities or on state and national levels. Experiences could range from academic teams, extracurricular activities, after-school programs, peer tutoring, student government and clubs or organizations. High scoring on standardized tests is not a requirement. "Most people think I have to do good on (tests) to get into Karnes," McKee-Waddell said. "But we have one program that is very diverse in the attributes it targets and that is leadership."
USM Foundation launches crowdfunding platform
The USM Foundation has announced the launch of Eagle Fever - Southern Miss Crowdfunding to provide members of The University of Southern Mississippi community an avenue to raise funds and awareness about specific campus needs and projects. Eagle Fever is an online fundraising tool used to generate support for Southern Miss by connecting the power of social media, peer-to-peer relationships and collective giving. This brand-new platform allows donors the opportunity to support a variety of different projects created by those within the Golden Eagle community. "The impact of peer-to-peer solicitation can be attributed to the increasing use of donor networks and affiliations," said Kelly Ellis, manager of annual giving. "This form of grassroots fundraising will expand our reach exponentially."
Hundreds of students rally at Alabama Statehouse for higher education
More than 1,000 of college students rallied in front of Alabama Statehouse on Thursday to lobby lawmakers for increased higher education funding. Auburn University students and other students from every state public institution shouted and played music while the Legislature was in session. The Higher Education Partnership organized the annual event in Montgomery. Gordon Stone, executive director for the Higher Education Partnership, led students in shouts and chants of "One-third!" "From the mid-1970s to the 1990s, the universities got 33 percent of the education trust fund," Stone said to the students. The Higher Education wants to increase higher education funding back to those levels, which were at 27 percent in the last budget.
'We'll arrest you': Gulf Shores, Orange Beach brace for Spring Break 2017 with 'terse warnings'
While Mardi Gras has a reputation for occasional debauchery, police chiefs and civic leaders in coastal Alabama's beach cities are more concerned about what lies ahead next month. Police in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores issued warning letters to the public this week -- circulating them on Facebook -- in reference to a "zero tolerance" policy of misbehavior during Spring Break. The letters come as police are ramping up patrols in anticipation of the college Spring Break season, which kicks off March 3 and will last through mid-April. The biggest problems last year occurred when a large number of colleges and universities were on break at once. Schools such as Auburn University, the University of Alabama, University of Kentucky, University of Tennessee, University of Mississippi and the University of South Alabama will all be on break from March 11-19.
Red X's at U. of Tennessee bring awareness to human trafficking
Students at the University of Tennessee wore red X's on their hands Thursday to raise awareness about modern day slavery and human trafficking as part of a nationwide "END IT" campaign. "Slavery exists in the United States today," said Turner Matthews, a junior at UT who organized Thursday's "END IT" event to mark Shine a Light on Slavery Day. "Many people when they think about slavery, they think about the Civil War and an issue of the past, but it exists today." END IT is an awareness campaign that launched in 2013 and has been touted by U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., among others. Corker is chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and last week held a hearing to assess progress by the U.S. to end modern slavery and human trafficking internationally.
Diverse panel leads discussion of inter-ethnic alliances at Texas A&M
Around 135 black, brown and white, young and old, male and female faces gathered at Texas A&M on Thursday night to hear a diverse six-member panel discuss the importance of inter-ethnic alliances and recognition of united injustices in responding to crises. "We came on different ships, but we're all in the same boat," said Angelita Alonzo, an immigrants' rights activist who participated in the panel as part of a facilitated discussion titled "Doing 'That Mexican Thing': Cross-Racial Organizing for Immigrant Rights in Trump's America" at the Memorial Student Center. The discussion kicked off the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies' -- or NACCS -- Tejas Foco 2017, an annual conference that's being held at Texas A&M University for the first time in the roughly 30 years the 45-year-old association has been having conferences.
U. of Missouri Faculty Council approves new faculty misconduct standards
The University of Missouri Faculty Council gave initial approval on Thursday to a measure broadening the standards of how to discipline faculty members for general misconduct. The new standards would put administration in charge of bringing the case of complaints made against faculty members, Faculty Council Chairman Ben Trachtenberg said after the meeting. In the past, he said, if someone made a complaint, the burden to bring a case fell to the complainant, forcing them to remain involved throughout the process. The resolution also eliminates the need for a hearing when the circumstances of misconduct aren't serious enough to require one. This would allow department chairs or deans to handle disciplinary matters without going through an often cumbersome hearing process, Trachtenberg said. In a later interview, Trachtenberg cited the process of firing former MU assistant communications professor Melissa Click as an especially cumbersome disciplinary process that would be made simpler under the new standards.
Campus Conservatives Get a Lesson in Activism: When Professors Start Ranting, Start Filming
Are you a student looking to spread your conservative message to the masses? Try capturing the liberal leanings of your professors. The Conservative Political Action Conference kicked off on Tuesday in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., with a series of workshops for conservatives on how best to be politically active. An especially popular workshop, aimed at college conservatives, offered a suggestion for students seeking to take their activism to social media: When professors start ranting, students should start filming. "People are so used to their professors' just constantly ranting and indoctrinating with their liberal values that they don't realize that's not OK," Cabot Phillips, a contributor to the conservative website Campus Reform, told audience members. Mr. Phillips started the "Campus Activism Boot Camp" with a session titled "#Liberal Privilege: Using Social Media to Change College Campuses." One of the most effective ways to do that, he said, is to film ranting professors or out-of-control student protests.
Education secretary criticizes professors as telling students 'what to think'
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos offered few details of her views on higher education during her confirmation hearings. But on Thursday, in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, she sharply criticized faculty members and accused them trying to indoctrinate students. She devoted only a paragraph to higher education in a relatively short speech, but she captured lots of attention. Here's what she said, after asking how many in the audience were college students: "The fight against the education establishment extends to you too. The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think. They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you're a threat to the university community. But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree." The CPAC crowd loved the speech and cheered DeVos on.
Ban on travel to Tennessee affecting U. of Memphis events
A ban on California state-sponsored travel to Tennessee is stopping students and professors from the Golden State from attending a national conference held at the University of Memphis in April. The University of California-Davis confirmed six students and two teachers were supposed to come to Memphis for the Council on Undergraduate Research conference, but "they changed their plans and will not be attending," university spokeswoman Julia Ann Easley said. The L.A. Times reported at least 18 students from three California universities, including UC Davis, lost their funding for the conference. California recently passed a ban on state-funded travel to states with laws that California's attorney general views as discriminatory against the LGBT community. Besides Tennessee, Kansas, North Carolina and Mississippi are also on the no-go list.

Mississippi State baseball looks to bounce back
Andy Cannizaro is staying far away from the panic button. MSU's baseball coach has no plans of making drastic changes to how he uses his personnel after Tuesday's ninth-inning collapse in a 13-8 loss to Morehead State. If anything, he's digging in with the same players expecting their rebound performances as MSU (3-2) hosts Indiana State and Marist this weekend. MSU will play Indiana State at 4 p.m. today, a Saturday twinbill against Marist and Indiana State beginning at 1 p.m. before Sunday's 1 p.m. finale against Marist. "We met as a team before practice and talked about using that as a defining moment for our team and our program going forward," Cannizaro said. "Don't allow what happened on Tuesday night to dictate what's going to happen this weekend. That's over with." According to outfielder Brent Rooker, Cannizaro's message was well-received. "We're still really positive in the locker room. We're going to bounce back well from that," he said.
Five things to watch this weekend for Mississippi State baseball
When asked what he has learned so far after the first five games about his Mississippi State baseball team, first-year coach Andy Cannizaro said the Bulldogs are a resilient team offensively but inexperienced. Several players made their MSU debuts and while the Bulldogs have experienced mixed results, they are 3-2 heading into their second weekend of the season at Dudy Noble Field. MSU will host Indiana State on Friday (4 p.m.). The Bulldogs will play in a doubleheader Saturday with games against Marist (1 p.m.) and Indiana State (40 minutes after the first game). MSU wraps up the weekend Sunday against Marist (1 p.m.). Here are five things to watch this weekend.
Mississippi State's Andy Cannizaro previews Indiana State, Marist
Video: Mississippi State is 3-2 through its first five games under Andy Cannizaro. The first-year head coach reflects back on the Bulldogs' start to the season and previews their upcoming round robin series with Indiana State and Marist this weekend.
Hark the Herard: Prospect has come a long way at Mississippi State
Schnider Herard considers himself fortunate in many ways. Not only did the Mississippi State freshman forward survive a 7.0 earthquake in his native Haiti in 2010 that leveled his hometown of Port-au-Prince, but was also given a way out of the poverty ridden country two years later in the form of basketball. Pierre Valmera, a former professional basketball player from Haiti, discovered the then 6-foot-9 soccer player and arranged for him to come to America for a shot at a better life. "I don't know why I was chosen to be honest, because I wasn't the only tall one," Herard said. "I was just the lucky one." Herard has appeared in all 27 games for the Bulldogs this season and has started the last 15. He is averaging 7.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in conference play including a pair of double-doubles.
Mississippi State's Blair Schaefer selected to SEC Community Service Team
For the second straight year, Blair Schaefer represents Mississippi State on the SEC Community Service team. Not only does Schaefer serve as a women's basketball SAAC representative but is also on the SEC Basketball Student-Athlete Leadership Council as well. Schaefer has donated her time to assisting with the T.K. Martin Fun Run, Camp Jigsaw, Travis Outlaw Day, Bully's Book Blitz, Chick-fil-A Family Night, Starkville School District Breakfast of Champions and Walk to School Day, the Special Olympics, the MSU M-Club bottled water drive, Miss MSU's Colleges Against Cancer 5K, Henderson Elementary Perfect Attendance Party/ Behavior Bash and Step Up for Kids.
Seniors Akhator, Epps lead way as Kentucky upsets Mississippi State
Like her father before her, Makayla Epps walked to center court, leaned down and gently kissed the interlocking "UK." It was the start of a sweet sendoff for the guard, who along with fellow senior Evelyn Akhator helped No. 22 Kentucky upset third-ranked Mississippi State 78-75 in overtime on Thursday night. On their Senior Night, the duo combined for 49 points, 18 rebounds, six assists and four steals. Epps was quick to point out she had just two of those rebounds, but one turned out to be the most important of the game. The senior tracked down a loose ball off a missed three-pointer and put it back in for the go-ahead score with eight seconds left in overtime. "She owns me," Mississippi State Coach Vic Schaefer said of Epps after the Bulldogs' second loss of the season. "She's single-handedly beat me both times here. ...She's a heck of a player and she's just got a real presence about her."
Mississippi State softball set for play in February Freezer
Sometimes second impressions are more important than the first. For the Mississippi State softball team, the second weekend of the 2017 season was vastly different than the opening weekend. It was vastly different in a good way. Now, the Bulldogs are back home for five games in the February Freezer at Nusz Park. MSU (6-3) faces North Florida (7-5) and Eastern Illinois (6-3) today. The four-team tournament also includes Saturday's opponent Southern Illinois (6-4). "So excited to be back home," MSU head coach Vann Stuedeman said. "The first weekend was not what we wanted it to be. The girls are now back with a different mind-set. I am ready to see if that can pay off for some more wins."

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