Tuesday, March 21, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State students get experience with manufacturing company
Some local college students are getting hands on experience working with a manufacturing plant. Students in the industrial technology program at Mississippi State worked Monday with a local business. They got experience building wooden carts to be used at Polo Custom Products in Louisville. "It exposes them to modern industry and they have an insight when they go into industry. It's not just stone cold," Instructor Jerry Mize said. "What it's doing for them, the students, is giving them the real world opportunity to deal with manufacturing settings, working in a safe environment, producing a quality product," said Justin McDonald, an engineer for Polo Custom Products and MSU alumnus.
Mississippi State students, Louisville company collaborate
College students and a local business are working hand in hand to boost productivity. Mississippi State industrial systems and workforce development students are gaining hands on experience from Polo Custom Products manufacturing plant in Louisville. Students are building products for the company, building network connections, and learning the industry's skills. Company representatives are stopping by this week to see students in action and the products they've been working on the last month.
PSC Sam Britton: Kemper plant 'not delivering, performing as promised'
Public-service commissioner Sam Britton said Monday that even though the beleaguered Kemper County energy facility does not appear to be living up to its promises, utility regulators must consider all the information when evaluating the project. Concerns persist among critics regarding the $7 billion-plus Kemper County power plant, especially since last week Mississippi Power Co. announced the plant missed its mid-March deadline and does not have a set deadline and cost estimate at the moment. Britton, who represents the commission's Southern District, acknowledged that the plant is a controversial and emotional topic. "At this point, Kemper is not delivering or performing as promised," Britton said at a press luncheon hosted by the Stennis Institute of Mississippi State University. "And if Kemper does not deliver as promised, the utility company bears the cost."
Key bills pending with 13 days left
The 2017 legislative session enters its 77th day Monday, leaving just 13 days for lawmakers to finalize several key pieces of legislation. Before the session began, Mississippi Today pinpointed eight topics to keep an eye on this session: Tax reform, public education funding, widespread budget cuts, special fund patchwork, BP settlement spending, election reform, roads and bridges funding and the state flag issue. All but one of those -- tax reform -- became a focus for lawmakers, and immigration and women's issues crept into the session. With a few days left, here's an update on each of the issues lawmakers have focused on this session.
Jail bills for Lee, Itawamba yet to move in Senate
Bills to allow Lee and Itawamba counties to construct jails outside the boundaries of their county seats remain pending in the Senate. Both bills -- to allow Lee County to construct a jail outside of Tupelo and to let Itawamba County build a jail outside of Fulton -- passed the House earlier this session. Neither has cleared committee in the Senate. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves has double-referred both bills, and they are under consideration by the Local and Private Committee and the Corrections Committee. Both committees must approve the measures before they can be considered by the full Senate. With the session slated to end by April 2, time is quickly running out for the Senate to take action, though both bills remain alive.
Future Caucus gathers Democrats, Republicans to look for nonpartisan solutions
The state flag provided the first test for the fledgling Future Caucus of the Mississippi Legislature. Jeramey Anderson, D-Moss Point, and Toby Barker, R-Hattiesburg, started the coalition of lawmakers under the age of 40 with the help of the Millennial Action Project, a national organization that is trying to end partisanship and gridlock in legislatures across the country. Anderson and Barker seemed to have one thing in common when they met. Both were the youngest member of the House when they were first elected, Barker at age 25 in 2007 and Anderson at 21 in 2013. Their youth enabled them to bridge the partisan divide, even though they were often on opposite sides of an issue. They had been talking for at least two years about forming a caucus of the youngest members of the Legislature to create a dialogue between the majority Republicans and Democrats. Then the spark for the Future Caucus came from social media.
Rep. Charles Young: Funding source in doubt for Multi-County Community Service Agency
State Rep. Charles Young Jr., D-Meridian, whose district includes Lauderdale County, discussed funding difficulties for Multi-County Community Service Agency during Monday's EMBDC Council of Governments meeting. The Multi-County Community Service Agency assists citizens in need find necessary services to live. The agency serves a nine-county area, which includes Clarke, Jasper, Kemper, Lauderdale, Neshoba, Newton, Scott, Smith and Wayne. Much of its funds are derived from donations. Young said state Rep. William Shirley, whose District 84 includes Clarke, Jasper, Lauderdale and Newton counties, didn't support the bill. "The rep from Clarke County objected to the legislation and the bill was subsequently defeated," Young said. "MCCSA provides in excess of $300,000 in assistance to persons in Clarke and Newton counties." A call to Shirley's office Monday afternoon seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Neil Gorsuch sails on day one, but real test is Tuesday
Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's choice to sit on the Supreme Court, made it through his first day of confirmation hearings without a scratch, but Democrats will have more of a chance to land shots on Tuesday. Senators stayed within party lines Monday as Democrats raised concerns over decisions they said disproportionately favored companies over workers and Republicans praised the federal judge's originalist approach to the law. The real fireworks are set for Tuesday, when every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee will get 30 minutes to grill Gorsuch, a 10-year veteran of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, on his judicial philosophy.
FBI's Russian-influence probe includes a look at far-right news sites
Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation that dramatically widened the reach of news stories -- some fictional -- that favored Donald Trump's presidential bid, two people familiar with the inquiry say. Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as "bots," to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said. The investigation of the bot-engineered traffic, which appears to be in its early stages, is being driven by the FBI's Counterintelligence Division, whose inquiries rarely result in criminal charges and whose main task has been to reconstruct the nature of the Kremlin's cyber attack and determine ways to prevent another.
U.S. Restricts Electronic Devices On Flights From 8 Muslim Countries
Airline passengers coming to the U.S. on direct flights from eight majority-Muslim nations must now place most electronic devices, including laptops, tablets and cameras, in checked baggage under stepped-up security measures, Trump administration officials said. Passengers can still carry smartphones into the plane's cabin, but nothing larger, the officials added. The measures took effect Tuesday morning and cover about 50 incoming flights a day from the eight countries -- Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. All are traditional U.S. allies and none is among the six majority-Muslim nations on President Trump's controversial executive order that seeks to temporarily suspend immigration.
Pulitzer winner Jon Meacham to give UM Commencement address
Pulitzer Prize-winning author, presidential historian and one of America's most prominent public intellectuals Jon Meacham will deliver the University of Mississippi's 164th Commencement address May 13 in the Grove. Meacham, a former editor of Newsweek and a contributor to Time and The New York Times Book Review, speaks to graduates and their families at 9 a.m. Noel Wilkin, UM interim provost and executive vice chancellor, said he looks forward to hearing the respected author and historian speak. "Commencement is a significant event for our students that commemorates their accomplishments and the development that they have experienced while at our institution," Wilkin said. A native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Meacham earned an English literature degree from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society.
Annual Oxford Conference for the Book three-day event set for March 29-31
For those who relish getting lost in a good story, the 24th annual Oxford Conference for the Book is an opportunity to gather with authors, editors and scholars. On March 29-31, the conference at the University of Mississippi, which is free and open to the public, includes readings, panel discussions and lectures by award-winning writers and first-time novelists. Events will take place across the Ole Miss campus and in Oxford. The 2017 Children's Book Festival, held in conjunction with the Oxford Conference for the Book, will be March 31 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts, with more than 1,200 first-graders and fifth-graders from the schools of Lafayette County and Oxford in attendance.
USM College of Nursing Dean Inducted into MNA Hall of Fame
Dr. Katherine Nugent, Dean of the College of Nursing at the University of Southern Mississippi, has added another sparkling honor to her illustrious career with induction in the Mississippi Nurses' Association Hall of Fame. Nugent was recognized during the 11th Nightingale Awards Gala hosted by the Mississippi Nurses' Association and the Mississippi Nurses' Foundation on March 6 in Jackson. Nurses throughout the state were nominated in 18 award categories and four inductions into the distinguished Hall of Fame were announced. Earlier this month the university celebrated the official dedication of Asbury Hall, the College of Nursing's new $31-million home. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the nursing program at Southern Miss.
Auburn University board selects new president
The Auburn University Board of Trustees named Iowa State's Steven Leath as the university's 19th president after a vote during a special meeting at the Student Center on campus Monday. In September, Auburn University began a national search to replace President Jay Gogue, who plans to retire this summer, by putting together a 14-member search committee was led by Auburn Trustee Raymond J. Harbert. Since 2012, Leath has led Iowa State, one of the nation's top research institutions with an international reputation in science and technology. While president, Iowa State achieved its highest student graduation rate, lowered student debt, grew research expenditures, set fundraising records and secured the university's largest private gift for an academic facility. Leath has recently been under fire for his use of university aircraft at Iowa State.
Some Iowa State faculty surprised by President Steven Leath's move to Auburn
Inklings that Iowa State University President Steven Leath would be vacating his post and heading to Auburn University spread throughout both campuses over the weekend. Though some anticipated Leath's appointment on Monday, others discovered the news from a letter Leath released announcing his resignation minutes after the Auburn Board of Trustees unanimously voted Leath as President Jay Gogue's successor. Iowa State Sen. Herman Quirmbach, who doubles as an economics professor at Iowa State, was surprised by the appointment, noting he had no indication Leath was looking at other positions before the weekend. From a faculty standpoint, Jonathan Sturm, president of Iowa State faculty senate and music professor, said Leath led Iowa State with an ideology of shared governance and transparency.
To boost its economy, Tennessee is creating more college grads
Amy Haddock, a 41-year-old stay-at-home mom, may not seem like a mechanically minded tinkerer, but she wants a career. And here she is, living just 18 miles east of Volkswagen's only US manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, where jobs are plentiful. So, after completing her associate's degree in engineering in 2018 at Volkswagen Academy, Ms. Haddock is going to help build cars. Haddock is in the academy's mechatronics program -- a combination of mechanical engineering and electronics. It was developed by the German automaker in partnership with Chattanooga State Community College, where the academy's current class of 72 students is enrolled. The goal of the academy is to cultivate technical workers for some of the 2,800 jobs at Volkswagen's sprawling, nearly 6-year-old manufacturing plant. "I travel all over the world now selling Tennessee," says Gov. Bill Haslam. "Today half of the conversation is about workforce, and about the skill set, and what the state can do to train our workforce."
After inclusion meeting, U. of Florida students hesitant about race relations
University of Florida President Kent Fuchs addressed issues of race relations and inclusion on UF's campus at a town hall meeting Monday evening, but some students said they remain hesitant to believe changes will be made. Fuchs, as well as a panel of three vice presidents of various offices on campus, divulged efforts their offices have made to further efforts of inclusivity of minority students at UF. Zina Evans, vice president of enrollment management, acknowledged the drop in African-American students entering the university, but explained that the office has plans in place to increase African-American attendance at UF, particularly by working with high school students. William Walker, a UF senior studying African-American studies, spoke during the meeting and called out faculty for ignoring insensitive events that happened on campus during Black History Month.
UGA ceremony honors likely slave remains removed from campus construction site
Speakers commemorated the lives of 105 unknown people whose remains were removed from a University of Georgia construction site in a brief ceremony Monday at nearby Oconee Hill Cemetery, where the remains have been reinterred. Music professor Gregory Broughton looked toward heaven as he began to sing "Amazing Grace," and many in the crowd of about 100 people wiped away tears, though no one knows the stories of the people whose remains were unearthed at a renovation and addition project at UGA's Baldwin Hall. The university administration's handling of the episode was controversial in some quarters of Athens' black community, which could include descendants of the African American people whose remains were transferred.
'Today' show's Al Roker to visit U. of Tennessee for world record attempt
The University of Tennessee will be the site of a world record attempt next week during an effort to form the world's largest human letter by forming an enormous Power T in Neyland Stadium. The feat will be broadcast live during NBC's "Today" program, from 7-9 a.m. Wednesday, March 29, with weatherman Al Roker doing his weather reports from the stadium, according to a news release Monday from UT. The event is part of Rokerthon, Roker's annual trek across the country to break world records. UT is attempting to bring out 4,000 students, faculty, staff and alumni to break the record. Guinness representatives will also be on site to certify the record.
Governor says he has not been called to testify in corruption probe; U. of South Carolina has given investigators documents
S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster and his chief of staff, Trey Walker, have not been subpoenaed to testify before the state grand jury investigating State House corruption, the governor's office told The State Monday. Meanwhile, the University of South Carolina has "provided documents" to investigators, a spokesman said. But, he added, no one on the state flagship university's payroll has been called in for questioning by special prosecutor David Pascoe. Asked for more details about those documents, USC had not responded as of Monday night. McMaster, Walker and USC have not been publicly tied to Pascoe's investigation, which has led to the indictments of three powerful GOP lawmakers so far.
Trump budget protected institutional aid for black colleges but not programs that help black college students
The Trump budget proposal released last week promised to maintain institutional support for historically black colleges. But it does so while dealing a blow to grant-based and work-study programs on which black colleges and their students depend. And that's not the vision many leaders of black colleges had when they met (and posed for photos with) President Trump -- and heard him talk about how much of a priority black colleges would be in his administration. More than 55,000 students at those institutions would be affected by the elimination of the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, a federal program serving those with very low income levels, which was zeroed out in the Trump budget blueprint. And 26,000 with work-study jobs would be affected by slashing that program, said United Negro College Fund President and CEO Michael Lomax in a letter last week to Mick Mulvaney, Trump's budget director.

Kelsey Plum sets another scoring record as Washington women advance to Sweet 16
If the sports world was looking for a worthy challenger to prevent Connecticut from winning a fifth straight national championship, then Kelsey Plum and the Huskies stated their case. With Plum smashing NCAA, team and personal records, the No. 3 seed Washington women's basketball team unleashed an offensive flurry on No. 6 Oklahoma that turned Monday's 108-82 victory in the NCAA tournament second round into a raucous send-off for seniors Plum, Chantel Osahor and Katie Collier. For the second straight year, the Huskies return to the Sweet 16, where they'll play No. 2 Mississippi State (31-4) Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
Opposing coaches praise Mississippi State's Vic Schaefer, Starkville
The Mississippi State women are heading to the 'Sweet 16' for the second straight year and third time in program history after a 92-71 win over DePaul at Humphrey Coliseum. It's one thing to be entrusted to lead an established program like John Calipari at Kentucky or Holly Warlick at Tennessee, but Vic Schaefer has built his program and fan base from scratch. To be fair, Sharon Fanning did a fine job getting Mississippi State to respectability after the programs' inauspicious start in 1974, but Schaefer has elevated it to a whole new level. Opposing coaches are noticing the difference. Northern Iowa's Tanya Warren said, "I thought the experience was outstanding. They love women's basketball you can tell that."
Golden Eagles looking to stay hot vs. Mississippi State
Southern Miss will put its seven-game winning streak on the line at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, while Mississippi State hopes to halt its three-game skid. The intrastate rivalry will be renewed at Trustmark Park in Pearl. The Golden Eagles (16-4, 3-0 Conference USA) are coming off a weekend sweep of Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs (12-9, 0-3 SEC) lost three straight to Arkansas last week. Junior right fielder Mason Irby, who earned Conference USA Hitter of the Week honors Monday, is one of Southern Miss' hottest hitters. He's hitting .329 with eight runs batted in this season. But both Taylor Braley and Matt Wallner have hit home runs in each of the last two games for the Golden Eagles. Braley leads the team in batting average (.366), home runs (six) and slugging percentage (.690). Braley will also take the ball for Southern Miss as its starting pitcher versus Mississippi State. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 3.38 earned run average in three starts this season.
Brett Elliott makes smooth return to Mississippi State staff
Brett Elliott spent three seasons at Mississippi State working with Dak Prescott and even a young Nick Fitzgerald from 2012-14 as a graduate assistant and offensive quality control coach. But the time came for Elliott to spread his wings and build his coaching resume outside of Starkville. Elliott spent two years as offensive coordinator at James Madison and Texas State before getting the opportunity to return to MSU as Dan Mullen's quarterbacks coach this spring. "He's always had the knowledge," Mullen said. "But one of the reasons I wanted him to leave was to go get that comfort and experience of running your own room. Fortunately for him, he got to go be a coordinator for two years so he was running the room, meetings, offense, everything. You can just see that in his coaching development."
Former Mississippi State star Hunter Renfroe now slugging for Padres
The San Diego Padres are ready to get an extended look at a former Mississippi State standout as they build toward the future. Hunter Renfroe, one of the stars of the Bulldogs' 2013 College World Series team, made his major league debut last September and is seen as a lock to open the 2017 season with the big league club. He acquitted himself well in his 11 major league games, hitting .371 with four homers in 35 at-bats. "It's easier getting there than staying there," Renfroe said. "Getting there was awesome, had a great time, and now I've got to stay there for as long as possible and work as hard as I can to stay there." Renfroe, considered the team's No. 3 prospect by both Baseball America and MLB.com, is part of a youth movement for the Padres, who do not have a position player on the active roster older than 30.
VCU's Will Wade named LSU basketball's next head coach
The search for a new LSU's men's basketball coach ended Monday night, 10 days after fifth-year coach Johnny Jones was fired. LSU announced that Virginia Commonwealth coach Will Wade, generally regarded as one of the nation's top up-and-coming coaches, will take the reins of the program. The tweet on the LSU basketball team's official Twitter account read: "Sweet dreams Tiger fans. It's official!" It included a photo of Wade holding a basketball with the words, "Welcome Head Coach Will Wade." Citing unnamed sources, ESPN reported the school agreed to a six-year deal with Wade, who coached the past two seasons at VCU. Financial terms were not immediately available. day after a quick Sunday plane trip to Richmond, Virginia, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva reeled in the coach he hopes will get the program on track after a 10-21 season ended with a 27-point loss to Mississippi State in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament March 8.
Cuonzo Martin becomes highest-paid hoops coach in U. of Missouri history
Cuonzo Martin will be the highest-paid Missouri basketball coach in the program's history, and it isn't even close. Missouri released Martin's contract details during his introductory press conference Monday. He will be paid $21 million over seven years, with his total guaranteed pay starting at $2.7 million in Year 1 and going up $100,000 each year of the deal. His base salary for all seven years is $300,000, with the additional funds referred to as "supplemental" income. No MU basketball coach has ever received more than $2 million per year. Frank Haith was previously the program's highest-paid coach after making $1.6 million for three seasons in Columbia. Additionally, Martin could earn up to $605,000 annually in incentives.
The Influencers: Jeff Long of the U. of Arkansas
Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long is a driven man, so it's a bit of a surprise when his voice catches while talking about how much sports mean to him. Sports took Long away from an otherwise factory-destined life in Kettering, Ohio, to the pinnacle of his career field at Arkansas. Long has won national awards for his work as an athletic director, and he was the first chairman of the prestigious College Football Playoff Selection Committee. None of his career would have happened if athletics hadn't given Long a chance at a college education at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio. "I get chills talking about -- I'm a first-generation college graduate," said Long, who pauses to take a drink of water after his voice breaks. "Sports, even at the Division III level, got me to college; otherwise, I would have gone to the General Motors factory and gone to work like my father did. I get emotional talking about it. Sports gave me that access."
Trump Trash Talks Louisville Basketball in Kentucky
Donald Trump appeared to talk trash about the University of Louisville's loss in the NCAA basketball tournament during his Monday night rally in Louisville. Trump bragged about the size of his crowd at the Henry Clay Center in before taunting the crowd about the university's men's basketball team's stunner loss on Sunday. "I mean, I don't want to say this, we could have been watching a good basketball game tonight," he told the crowd. "What happened?" Louisville, which was a number 2 seed in the Midwest Regional, lost to number 7th-seeded University of Michigan in a surprise loss that busted numerous brackets, including the one of Senate Majority Leader and Louisville alum Sen. Mitch McConnell, who was at Trump's rally. McConnell, who went to Louisville for his undergraduate degree and the University of Kentucky for his law degree, picked Louisville to face Kentucky in the Final Four.
Wichita State declines comment on behavior of coach's wife after loss to Kentucky
Wichita State athletic director Darron Boatright declined comment on stories and videos regarding Lynn Marshall, wife of Shocker basketball coach Gregg Marshall, at Sunday's NCAA Tournament game in Indianapolis. Lou Heldman, the university's vice president for strategic communications, referred questions to the athletic department. On Sunday, the Associated Press reported that a security guard asked Lynn Marshall to leave the lower bowl of Bankers Life Fieldhouse after she started loudly cursing shortly after the game. A police officer was eventually called and followed her up the steps. She later was taken back to the playing level on an elevator so she could attend her husband's news conference. According to Pat Forde of Yahoo.com, she complained about fouls not called in the final seconds during the news conference.

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