Monday, March 27, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State students, faculty honored for diversity
Mississippi State University honored two students and two faculty members with diversity awards Thursday. The awards were presented by the MSU President's Commission on the Status of Minorities and winners included Associate Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Scott Willard, Assistant Professor of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations Deborah Jackson, Industrial and Systems Engineering Doctoral candidate Roy Jafari and Senior Sociology major Bailey McDaniel. "This ceremony is intended to recognize individuals who demonstrate a significant commitment to enhancing diversity at Mississippi State University," said Commission Chair Lakiesha Williams. "This year's winners stepped outside of the norm and exhibited a great passion for exploring and promoting diversity."
 
Mississippi State students host informative agricultural event
Heavy rain and thunder forced students and volunteers indoors at the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food event Saturday in Starkville. However, spirits were high as families arrived to meet some of the farm animals and learn how vital they are to the community. "It's a good way to spend a Saturday morning and a good way to provide the kids with some agricultural information," said Tommy Phillips, who brought his wife and three of his four children. "Weather didn't cooperate, but luckily we are indoors here." The Animal and Dairy Sciences department at MSU partnered with the Greater Starkville Development Partnership to host the event at the Bearden Dairy Research Center. Students split up into different groups to teach visitors about different areas of the farming industry, focusing primarily on what products come from the animals and how that process works.
 
Mississippi State students hold community farm day
Animal and Dairy Science majors at Mississippi State University held the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" event Saturday. People who came were able to connect the dots between the food they eat everyday and where it comes from. It was held at the Bearden Dairy Research Center, just off campus. "We are completely open with our products and with our animals," said Hannah Miller, a student at MSU. "It is very important that the community and the public understands what they are getting from the store." "A lot of times, farmers are kind of this figure that we see in a cartoon book, or we think about specifically road crop production. But a lot of times we don't think about the animal production system and what that looks like," said Jessica Graves.
 
Mississippi State to hold 27th annual International Fiesta April 1
Mississippi State University's annual International Fiesta is set for April 1 on the historic Drill Field. Sponsored by the World Neighbors Association and the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, the event celebrates diversity and features global cuisines, cultural performances and various showcases from around the world. The event is free and open to all from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. "The International Fiesta also provides opportunities to interact with people of different nationalities and backgrounds to develop a broader understanding of various cultures and today's globalizing world," said Kei Mamiya, program coordinator for the Holmes Cultural Diversity Center.
 
MSU-Meridian helping address critical need for teachers in Mississippi
Mississippi State University in Meridian is connecting graduating student teachers with job opportunities in local school districts. "I am excited to look and see what each school has to offer me, that way I can build a foundation to be able to branch out into my career," explained Cierra Williams, an elementary education job seeker. For the past 15 years the MSU Career Center has been hosting this fair to help seniors find job placement. "It is very successful and 80% of our students find their job based on this fair and the networking that they could do with the school district," explained Edie Irvin with the MSU Career Center. There were 30 school districts at the fair showcasing what their district has to offer upcoming teachers. "There is a critical shortage of teachers, so school districts are excited to have this opportunity to connect with the graduates to get the new teachers into the system," said Irvin.
 
Pulitzer finalist Lee Martin to deliver reading Thursday at Mississippi State
Pulitzer Prize finalist Lee Martin will deliver a public reading Thursday at Mississippi State. Free to all, Martin's presentation begins at 7:30 p.m. in Colvard Student Union's third-floor Fowlkes Auditorium. A public reception and book signing will follow. Martin also will visit classes and interact with students during his campus visit, which is sponsored by the MSU Department of English's Price Caldwell Visiting Writers Series. Established through an endowment from widow Alice Carol Caldwell and family, the literary series serves as a memorial to Tutweiler native Price Caldwell (1940-2015), who served for more than 20 years as an associate professor of English at MSU. He also founded and directed the university's creative writing program, along with serving as president and vice president for the Southern Literary Festival organization.
 
Mississippi wheat: Struggle to find positive news
Despite almost everything working against this year's winter wheat, benefits remain on the fields growers managed to plant after last fall's drought. Brian Williams, an agricultural economist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the 2016-17 season makes four consecutive years of reduced wheat acres. "The state's farmers planted about 60,000 acres of wheat late last fall, which was about 5,000 fewer acres than the previous year," Williams said. Williams said the market outlook remains bleak with little hope for much improvement. Extension corn and wheat specialist Erick Larson said wheat offers growers an opportunity to generate profit early in the summer and to diversify crops and seasonal risks. Growers also can keep the land inactive and make land improvements during the late summer. However, acreage is strongly influenced by commodity markets.
 
'Black Women, History and Social Justice' lecture Tuesday at Mississippi State
A speaker with her hand on history will headline an event this week on the Mississippi State University campus. Rhonda Y. Williams, the first African-American to earn tenure and achieve full professor status in the history department at Case Western Reserve University, will speak Tuesday at a program marking both a celebration of Women's History Month and the 10th anniversary of MSU's African-American Studies program. "Your Silence Will Not Protect You: Black Women, History and Social Justice" will feature Williams at 4 p.m. in the university's Simrall Electrical Engineering Building auditorium. She is founder and director of Case Western's Social Justice Institute, as well as the university's African-American studies postdoctoral fellowship.
 
Students compete in regional underwater robotics competition at Mississippi State
The regional SEA Perch Underwater Robotics Competition was held Saturday at Mississippi State University. Over 200 students from 26 teams built robots and tested their underwater capabilities by going through an obstacle course. It took students anywhere from a couple of days to about a month to construct their pieces. Schools and students represented different parts of Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana. "These kids are getting to experience the aspect of competition, building something that actually works and does tasks underwater in a very harsh environment," said Mark Livingston.
 
Row between aldermen over Starkville Police Department incident intensifies
A row between two aldermen highlights the board's recent division over its decision to forward investigatory materials from an incident involving a former Starkville Police Department officer to the district attorney's office for criminal review. After aldermen spent almost an hour in executive session Tuesday reviewing a February incident in which former Officer William Thrasher's patrol car allegedly struck a pedestrian, the board split down racial lines in voting 3-2 to transfer the potential case to Scott Colom's office. Thrasher does not currently face any criminal charges, but the officer resigned his post on March 6. On Friday, Ward 3 Alderman David Little called move a gross overreach of government after saying SPD Chief Frank Nichols, not the governing body, should be the sole determining factor in the potential case's progress. Two days later, Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins, who supported Tuesday's executive session action, fired back at Little and demanded the first-term alderman provide proof of his allegation.
 
Mississippi, Georgia couples named outstanding young farmers
Couples from Mississippi and Georgia are among four couples who have been recognized as among the nation's best young farmers. Brad and Molly Judson of West Point, Mississippi; and Ben and Julie Anna Boyd of Sylvania, Georgia, took home the awards from the National Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Congress last month in Greenville, South Carolina. A National Agriculture Week news release from the MSU Extension Service says the Judsons are unique because they work mostly on land they lease rather than inherited land.
 
Scott Waller ready to take reins of Mississippi Economic Council
There have been only three directors of the Mississippi Economic Council in its 68 years. Soon there will be a fourth. Nothing is official, but Scott Waller, an 11-year veteran of the MEC, the state chamber of commerce, in February was named interim president and chief executive effective May 1. The same day, the MEC announced that Blake Wilson, who took the MEC reins in 1998, plans to retire June 16. Waller and Wilson, 63, are both reluctant to make any assumptions about what's next, or, rather, who's next. Waller's career at the MEC has been a steady upward movement.
 
Balke Wilson leaving MEC for next director to build on foundation
Blake Wilson has continued to make the Mississippi Economic Council a statewide organization. As the third chief executive of the MEC, he said he has built on the foundation established by M.B. Swayze, who led the organization after it was established in 1949. "He went around the state. He had an old Valiant. Everybody told me about Mr. Swayze and his old Valiant." "He went to all these town meetings." "I kind of went back to that model, and it worked." In 1997, there were 478 organization members, and membership has grown to 1,067, Wilson said. Wilson will retire on June 16 after 19 years as president and chief executive officer of the MEC.
 
Gov. Phil Bryant orders fourth mid-year budget cut
Gov. Phil Bryant on Friday ordered a fourth mid-year budget cut this fiscal year as tax revenues continue to fall below projections. The $20.5 million cut will trim most state agencies' budgets by about 0.5 percent. A list of agencies excluded from the cuts was not immediately available, but the Division of Medicaid was excluded. Bryant also ordered a transfer of $39 million from the Rainy Day Fund, the state's largest reserve fund, meaning he has now pulled the statutory maximum $50 million from the Rainy Day Fund for this fiscal year. The state's revenue collection woes are not new. In the past 18 months, the state has met revenue projections just twice: May 2016 and August 2015. Tax revenues feed the state's general fund, which finances state agencies and their daily operations.
 
Work continues on passing budget
The budget proposal agreed to by Republican legislative leadership late Saturday night and that the full Legislature is in the process of passing is about $326.1 million less than what was appropriated by the 2016 Legislature. The Legislature faces a deadline of midnight Monday to pass the proposal that will result in cuts of near double digits or more for most state agencies when comparing it to the level of the appropriation during the 2016 session. But in reality the impact will not be as dramatic for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning July 1, only because most state agencies already are having to deal with similar cuts in the current fiscal year. Gov Phil Bryant already has cut $170 million from what the Legislature appropriated in 2016 for the current fiscal year because revenue projections are not meeting projections. The governor also has transferred $50 million from reserve funds in lieu of making deeper cuts.
 
Mississippi legislator calls budget 'deliberate wreckage'
The Mississippi legislature inched toward a budget Sunday, after a contentious process the day before. Most major bills have yet to be hammered out in conference. The bills, known as "dummy bills" because they don't have real dollar amounts attached to them, will theoretically be finalized by the time the legislature reconvenes Monday. It isn't clear whether this means that there will be any major changes in funding. "We won't know until the bitter end," said David Baria, a Democrat from Bay St. Louis and chairman of the legislature's Democratic Caucus. Mississippi's budget faces major reductions this year, between the legislature's failure to come up with a bond bill -- meaning the state can't borrow money --- and a $170 million cut from the governor.
 
Legislature starts slicing FY 2018 budgets
Legislative leaders on Sunday released a first and likely final draft of next year's general fund budget -- a $6 billion budget plan that is $329 million less than the current fiscal year budget. Cuts for the next fiscal year affect a vast majority of state agencies and departments. "I'm proud of the work our committee does," Sen. Buck Clarke, R-Hollandale, chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee, said Sunday night. "The discussion for why we have this revenue amount is a discussion for another day. We basically said, 'This is how much we have, so let's discuss how much we have to appropriate.' That's what we did." "It's going to be a very challenging budget this year for virtually every state agency," Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said on Friday.
 
Budget agreement called 'ugly'
The budget agreement reached late Saturday will force nearly every state agency to absorb cuts for the upcoming fiscal year on top of the four rounds of cuts Gov. Phil Bryant already has made for the current fiscal year. "It is mighty ugly," said House Pro Tem Greg Snowden, R-Meridian. "We are doing the best we can with the available revenue. I truly don't know what else to say." Final numbers were not available Saturday night for the $6 billion state support budget, but legislative leaders conceded that most agencies would receive significant cuts. Other programs suffered even larger cuts -- percentage wise. For instance, the Institutions of Higher Learning were cut 9 percent or $68 million from what the universities were appropriated during the 2016 legislative session. Community colleges, public health and mental health also suffered sizable cuts.
 
Gunn vs. Reeves spat means no road money
Sniping between the top Republican leaders in the House and Senate resulted in the failure of a plan for funding Mississippi's ailing roads and bridges. This comes in addition to nearly across the board cuts to nearly every agency, lawmakers said Saturday, the deadline to submit the first draft of the state budget. Officials did not provide reporters with detailed budget information. The House had put forth a bond package that would have provided some funding for infrastructure repairs plus money for building projects at universities, colleges and community colleges. To help pay for it, House leaders proposed using proceeds from taxpayers who voluntarily pay about $40 million a year in sales tax for online shopping. The Senate has long been frosty to the idea of collecting more in Internet sales taxes or taking money out of the treasury for infrastructure. The legislative leaders talked to reporters late Saturday.
 
Mississippi lawmaker Steve Holland discloses dementia diagnosis from floor
A colorful Mississippi state lawmaker who is an undertaker by trade drew a standing ovation from colleagues Friday after announcing from the House floor that he has dementia, vowing to live out his days with "the gusto of a hound dog." "As a professional undertaker, I have looked death in the face for over 40 years now," said 61-year-old state Rep. Steve Holland, as his colleagues sat mutely. "Remember, I'm a tough old bird." Holland said he learned only last week of the diagnosis and discussed keeping it private with his wife but decided to go public to raise awareness of the condition. While Holland's passionate floor speeches are legendary, his voice hitched as he made his announcement. He vowed to try to serve out his term.
 
Mississippi governor touts Trump connection
Mississippi's governor, after serving as a campaign surrogate for Donald Trump, continues to provide high-profile support for the new president. Republican Phil Bryant is voicing support for plans to overhaul federal health care funding and to restrict immigration, and has touted his connections to the new leadership. Last week, for example, Bryant recounted his most recent visit to the White House to radio host Paul Gallo, saying he met with Chief of Staff Reince Preibus, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. "It was a rare opportunity for the governor of Mississippi to be able to talk one-on-one with the president of the United States," Bryant said, saying it was the first time he'd been in the Oval Office since George W. Bush was president.
 
GOP Controls Federal Government but Struggles to Govern
The Republican Party of "no" for Democrat Barack Obama's eight years is having a hard time getting to "yes" in the early Donald Trump era. The unmitigated failure of the GOP bill to replace Obamacare underscored that Republicans are a party of upstart firebrands, old-guard conservatives and moderates in Democratic-leaning districts. Despite the GOP monopoly on Washington, they are pitted against one another and struggling for a way to govern. former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour cast the GOP as an expansive party with multiple factions. But the former Mississippi governor said Republicans must produce something for the electorate because they "have told the American people from Day One" they would.
 
Women's History Month: The W to recognize Swain's contributions
Mississippi University for Women's Fant Memorial Library and the Department of History, Political Science, and Geography (HPG) will celebrate Women's History Month by honoring the lifelong work of Dr. Martha Swain, a renowned southern women's historian. The event will take place Friday, March 31 from 1-2:30 p.m. in the Fant Memorial Library located on the MUW campus. Amanda Clay Powers, dean of library services, and Dr. Erin Kempker, associate professor of history and chair of HPG, will present their remarks at the event on "New Directions for the MUW Special Collections: Collecting Mississippi Women's History" and "An Extraordinary Example: What is Possible in the Life of a Teacher-Scholar" respectively with a reception to follow. Archivist Derek Webb also will speak about the new space for archives and special collections being built.
 
Jackson State returns to faith-based roots for financial help
Faced with dwindling cash reserves, Jackson State University is returning to its roots to help bolster its finances. JSU, which was founded in 1877 as Natchez Seminary, is turning to the church community to raise money in a 5-year campaign that began Sunday at the JSU Day Celebration at St. Luther Missionary Baptist Church. JSU interim President Rod Paige, who said when he assumed the position that getting the school's finances right-side up would be his priority, said he has been to churches all over the state and has heard from parishioners everywhere about their love for the school. "It's hard to go anywhere in our churches without running across someone who has been influenced by JSU. Jackson, Mississippi, and Mississippi as a state loves this university. It has a bright, bright future," Paige said. "We ran into a little setback, but it's one we can overcome, and I tell you why. We have an outstanding faculty and a set of skilled administrators."
 
Jackson State senior is little lady with big voice
"I was always classified as the little lady with a big voice," says Hillary Watkins, a senior music vocal performance major at Jackson State University. It is a fitting description for the 5-foot-1-inch Watkins, who spent part of summer 2016 in Viterbo, Italy, performing the lead role in Mozart's opera "Die Zauberflote," also known as "The Magic Flute." While in Italy, Watkins received vocal coaching from Metropolitan-signed opera singer Elizabeth Stevens. "I want to be signed to the Metropolitan Opera," Watkins says. "My goal is to become a big house name like Kathleen Battle, or Leontyne Price from Laurel." As a child, Watkins would sing songs from the musical "Annie" around her Jackson home. Although she did stints in her middle school choir, it was her freshman year at Jim Hill High School that would lead the soprano to a full-tuition music scholarship at JSU.
 
U. of Alabama study: State, county to grow
Tuscaloosa County's population is projected to grow by about 50,000 people by 2040, while outlying counties in West Alabama are expected to lose population, according researchers at the University of Alabama's Center for Business and Economic Research in the Culverhouse College of Commerce. Overall, the state's population is forecast to grow by 11.3 percent, or nearly 500,000 people, by 2040, driven by expected economic development and population migration trends, according to the latest projections by the center. The state population is expected to grow at 3-4 percent per decade. Growing student enrollment and university expansions are also among the major factors influencing population growth in Tuscaloosa and Lee counties, according to the CBER. Lee County, home to Auburn University, is expected to add almost 70,800 new residents.
 
Search firm exec: Key strengths made Steven Leath 'perfect' choice for Auburn president
Key strengths that made Iowa State President Steven Leath the choice for Auburn University's next president were his commitment to shared governance, a strong fundraising track record, and an understanding of both the land-grant mission and NCAA Division I athletics, according an executive of the firm handling the search. Bill Funk, president of the executive search firm R. William Funk and Associates, which was hired to conduct the Auburn University president search, said his firm has conducted more than 400 president and chancellor searches in its 35-year history. Funk directed the Opelika-Auburn News to an interview he gave to Hunt Scanlon Media, a publication that covers the talent acquisition field, citing time issues.
 
U. of Kentucky faculty gather to highlight importance of immigration
A group of University of Kentucky faculty and staff from other countries gathered on Friday to show the importance of immigration to higher education and the broader community in the wake of recent travel bans proposed by the Trump administration. "The basic idea was to show how much immigration contributes to the community and higher education," said Christina Alcalde, a professor in the gender and women's studies department who organized the event. Alcalde was born in Peru. "Immigration affects all of us because we contribute so much to learning and innovation, and we help reflect the reality of the United States." About 50 UK employees, most of them faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences, gathered for a photo in order to capture that "reality," Alcalde said. A second photo included first generation Americans, whose parents immigrated to the U.S.
 
Controversial U. of Kentucky mural uncovered, this time with context
More than a year after a controversial mural at the University of Kentucky was shrouded, its cover was removed Thursday night revealing a new sign that provides context for the painting. President Eli Capilouto ordered the cover in November 2015 after a group of black students told him the mural was demeaning because of scenes of black workers --- possibly slaves --- planting tobacco, black musicians playing for white dancers, and a Native American with a tomahawk. The entire mural, which covers one wall of the lobby of Memorial Hall, depicts the history of Kentucky, including explorers on the frontier, horse racing and scenes of downtown Lexington. The black student group also discussed larger concerns about the racial climate on campus. The mural was created in 1934 by artist Ann Rice O'Hanlon as part of the Public Works of Art Project.
 
Student disqualified from Texas A&M student body president election hires lawyer to look into matter
The Texas A&M student who was disqualified from the recent student body president election has hired a lawyer to seek depositions from three people involved in the matter. The removal of Robert McIntosh over campaign expenses led Bobby Brooks, an openly gay A&M student, to win. McIntosh received more votes than Brooks. The election made national headlines when Rick Perry, the secretary of energy, former Texas governor and a 1972 A&M graduate, wrote a column Wednesday in the Houston Chronicle, protesting McIntosh's disqualification and speculating that it resulted from a "quest for 'diversity.'" College Station lawyer Gaines West filed the petition Thursday with Brazos County, seeking depositions by student body president adviser Amy Loyd, election commissioner Rachel Keathley and former speaker of the student senate Aaron Mitchell. Amy B. Smith, A&M's senior vice president, chief marketing and communications officer, disagreed with Perry's assessment in a statement made on Wednesday, and had no comment on the legal developments Friday afternoon.
 
U. of Missouri System announces new service for prospective students
Prospective students applying to the University of Missouri's four campuses will be able to do so through an online service that allows multiple applications to be submitted to institutions from the same basic data. The Common Application, or Common App, is a not-for-profit organization currently used by 850,000 students annually to apply to more than 700 institutions in the United States, Canada, China and Europe, according to a news release from the UM System. The online system alerts applicants and guidance counselors to important deadlines and monitors the progress of applications. "By becoming a member institution of this innovative program, we will increase the visibility of the UM System campuses across the nation and world," President Mun Choi said in the release.
 
Repeal of Obama's higher education regulations won't be swift process for GOP
GOP lawmakers have been clear since November's election about plans to dismantle several Obama administration higher education regulations, including two major rules aimed at the for-profit college sector. U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, said shortly after Donald Trump's election, "You'll see us do everything we can to roll back" those regulations. As chairwoman of the House education committee, Foxx is well placed to oversee those efforts. But the number of regulations targeted for repeal through the little-known Congressional Review Act has been modest so far. And GOP members now are saying a CRA resolution is off the table for borrower defense, the rule issued last year to clarify how defrauded borrowers can seek discharges of their student loans. What that likely means, observers said, is another round of negotiated rule making for the regulation as well as for the gainful-employment rule, which was designed to crack down on vocational programs that graduate students with poor prospects of paying down student loan debt.
 
Memphis scientists worry Trump cuts could stifle research
Michael Dyer, chairman of the Developmental Neurobiology Department at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, described how federal dollars for biomedical research helped the Memphis cancer center begin saving the eyes and vision of children with cancer. Left untreated, a rare eye cancer called retinoblastoma is virtually always fatal if left untreated and when detected early enough still led to vision loss. Ten years of basic research funded by the National Cancer Institute and St. Jude led to a new drug combination and a recently completed clinical trial, Dyer said. At the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, a 4,000-employee education and research campus in Memphis, Vice Chancellor for Research Steven Goodman said an 18.3 percent cut in the NIH budget as proposed by the Trump administration would have a profound impact on the nation's biomedical research. However, Goodman doubts Congress, which controls U.S. government spending, will enact Trump's proposed cuts.
 
Guilty Verdict Puts a Dark Coda on Spanier's Fall at Penn State
Graham B. Spanier, the former president of Pennsylvania State University, endangered children whom he should have protected. After more than 12 hours of deliberations over two days, a jury on Friday found Mr. Spanier guilty of one misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of children. He was found not guilty on two other charges, including criminal conspiracy and an additional count of child endangerment. Friday's verdict placed a dark coda on a nationally significant case that, at its heart, functioned as an indictment of the leadership and judgment of a highly respected former college administrator who prosecutors argued had been blinded by hubris and an unyielding desire to protect his reputation at the expense of young boys.
 
Automotive industry driving job creation in Mississippi
Glenn McCullough, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority and a Mississippi State University alumnus, writes in The Clarion-Ledger: "A little more than a decade ago, Mississippi had never produced a commercial vehicle. Today, about 4 million vehicles assembled in the state are on the road around the world, and production is showing no signs of slowing down. For Mississippians, more significant than production milestones are the contributions Toyota and Nissan have made to the state and local economy. These automotive manufacturers are responsible for the creation of thousands of careers and the investment of billions of dollars in the state. ...Mississippi State University's National Strategic Planning & Analysis Research center also recently published a study highlighting Nissan's contribution to the state's economy. NSPARC estimates the presence of Nissan in Mississippi contributes $2.9 billion to the annual state gross domestic product."
 
Legislators' inaction adds to plight of local retailers
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "JCPenney announced it will close five stores in Mississippi communities -- Columbus, Corinth, Greenville, Meridian, and Oxford. Earlier Sears announced three closures in Columbus, Jackson, and McComb, with more to come. Even Walmart has closed stores, in Belmont, Mantachie, Sardis, Walnut, Derma and Nettleton. ... Guess what all these brick-and-mortar Mississippi stores have in common? They all charge and collect sales taxes. While their closing reduces state sales tax collections, it really impacts tax revenues in affected municipalities...especially when you add in lost property taxes. Local communities could at least recoup taxes lost to Internet sales if the state collected taxes on sales from online vendors and shared them with communities. They do in Alabama. ...As this session of the Legislature winds down, Mississippi communities still can't count on any similar legislation to help them out."
 
State's hospitals facing uncertain times
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "A healthier Mississippi with more medical services, specifically for the underserved, was a hallmark of Gov. Phil Bryant's stump speech when he was running for office. It continued as a theme in Bryant's first State of the State address, now more than five years ago: 'We must be mindful of the increasing demand for health care, realizing that collaboration of all health care providers is the only way to achieve success. We must heal together, research together and find better ways to serve our citizens together,' he said. Bryant painted a picture of a vibrant medical corridor in the state capital, rivaling those in Houston and Memphis, and talked about medical zones across the rest of the state with tax incentives to add doctors in rural areas. It hasn't happened. Instead, hospitals large and small are sitting in a bowl of financial spaghetti created by the whims of lawmakers and regulators in Jackson and Washington."
 
Economic development would suffer from cuts
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Dennis Seid writes: "President Donald Trump's proposed budget includes the elimination of key economic development agencies, including the Appalachian Regional Commission, which has played a vital part in many projects in Mississippi. While there is no doubt that government can be leaner and more efficient, the work of the ARC cannot be overlooked. ...From October 2015 to January of this year, ARC spent nearly $176 million on 662 projects in the 13 states, creating or retaining more than 23,000 jobs and training and educating more than 49,000 students and workers. Closer to home over the same period, ARC funding, in partnership with the Mississippi Development Authority, has supported 60 projects in the state totaling $16.6 million. That money was matched by $7.2 million, which will attract another $73 million in private investment."
 
2017 session: No social wars, knock down, drag out
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "The 2017 Mississippi legislative session is now almost in the books, and it may well be remembered more for what lawmakers didn't do than what they did. Compared to lists from early prognostications -- and pending no surprise moves in the final days of the session -- lawmakers did not do many things that had been promised or expected. ...Notably -- several lawmakers have proudly pointed this out -- this session also was sans any overarching religious or 'culture war' bill that kept everybody all tore up. I know I run the risk of a jinx with several days left in the session. But Mississippi lawmakers didn't spend hour after hour debating morality, religious beliefs, sexuality or who can use which bathrooms. ...Legislative leaders early on said they had a tacit agreement to avoid such spectacle this session. Apparently, it held."
 
Taxpayers will always pay for indigent care
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Perhaps the most frustrating fallout from the ongoing national struggle over 'repealing and replacing' the Affordable Care Act has been the suggestion that any outcome is going to somehow relieve taxpayers of the responsibility for funding indigent and/or uncompensated health care. Wrong. So much of the bile being spewed on social media is couched in the language of 'us' or 'them' and cheers the notion that there is an outcome on Capitol Hill that makes the issue of health care for the poor and those who can't take care of themselves magically go away. There is no such outcome. Much in the vein of the biblical admonition that 'the poor will always be with us,' it's equally certain that the provision of health care for the poor, the elderly, the disabled and children will continue and that in some form, taxpayers will pick up most of the tab."


SPORTS
 
Sturdy defensive effort lifts Bulldogs to Final Four
It might be difficult to imagine defense being a key in a game in which 179 points are scored. But the second-seeded Mississippi State women's basketball team's defense against Kalani Brown and the rest of top-seeded Baylor's post players Sunday night played a huge role in its 94-85 overtime victory before a crowd of 3,128 in the championship game of the NCAA tournament's Oklahoma City Regional at Chesapeake Energy Arena. MSU (33-4) also forced Baylor (33-4) into 17 turnovers and turned those mistakes into a 20-4 edge in points off turnovers. "We didn't get the ball to the bigs enough," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "Credit Mississippi State's defense for creating turnovers. It was ridiculous. I mean, guys, it was just one turnover after another after another after another after another. What do you do?"
 
Morgan William stands tall, shoots Bulldogs into first Final Four
Morgan William may have been the shortest player on the court Sunday night, but no one played any bigger. The point guard listed generously at 5-foot-5 scored a career-high 41 points to help Mississippi State punch its first ever ticket to the Final Four with a 94-85 victory over Baylor in overtime. "My point guard was as good as they get today," MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. "She put us on her back and led us. She was obviously feeling it. I ran a couple of different things for us and just had to keep going back to it because they were having a hard time dealing with it. She wanted the ball."
 
Mississippi State advances to Final Four
With the microphone still in one hand, Vic Schaefer wiped away tears with the other. He watched his team gather around a ladder near the basket to cut down the net, after he shouted to a crowd full of Mississippi State fans that the Bulldogs were headed to Dallas. The best season in program history for the Mississippi State women's basketball team will continue with the Bulldogs' first trip to the Final Four. Mississippi State will travel to Dallas after beating perennial power Baylor 94-85 Sunday night in overtime of an Elite Eight matchup at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Bulldogs (33-4) will play the UConn-Oregon winner in a Final Four semifinal Friday. UConn beat MSU last season in the Sweet 16.
 
Mississippi State earns first-ever women's Final Four berth
Morgan William scored 41 points as Mississippi State beat Baylor 94-85 in overtime on Sunday to reach its first-ever Women's Final Four berth. The Bulldogs (33-4) will face the winner of UConn and Oregon in the Final Four on Friday night in Dallas. "How bout them Dawgs!" MSU coach Vic Schaefer told ESPN's Kaylee Hartung after the game. MSU needed a big game from All-SEC performer Victoria Vivians and the junior delivered. She finished with 24 points, six rebounds, six assists. Teaira McCowan finished with 10 points. MSU led 21-19 after one quarter and 43-40 at halftime. Each time Baylor made a run, the Bulldogs answered with clutch shooting from William and Vivians. The game had 24 lead changes.
 
Mississippi State women head to the Final Four for the first time
Morgan William scored a career-high 41 points, and No. 2 seed Mississippi State upset top-seeded Baylor 94-85 in overtime Sunday to reach the Final Four for the first time. William, a 5-foot-5 guard, was chosen Most Outstanding Player of the regional. She set a school record for most points in an NCAA tournament game. Victoria Vivians scored 24 points and Teaira McCowan added 10 for Mississippi State (33-4). William made a 3-pointer to give Mississippi State a 73-68 lead in regulation, but Baylor responded with a 7-0 run, and Brown's basket put the Lady Bears ahead by two. William's layup with 22 seconds remaining tied the game at 75 and forced overtime.
 
Doing it for Dad: MSU point guard dedicates career performance to stepfather's memory
Morgan William's 41-point performance Sunday night ranked eighth all-time in NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament history and best ever among female Southeastern Conference players in the Big Dance. More than that, the junior point guard's scoring explosion led second-seeded Mississippi State to a 94-85 victory over top-seeded Baylor in tournament's Oklahoma City Regional final at Chesapeake Energy Arena, earning the Bulldogs (33-4) their first trip to the Final Four. "I was feeling it. Coach let me make (the shots)," William said. "It opened shots for my teammates, too. When I was open, I knew I could knock down the shot. That really helped us from inside-out. It was just tough to guard us." Her stepfather, if he could have been there, would have been proud.
 
Mississippi State Notebook: 'Secretary of Defense' knows some offense too
Vic Schaefer better watch out or he is going to earn a new nickname. Long known as the "Secretary of Defense" for his love for shutting down opponents, Schaefer has blossomed into a coach who has surprised some of his peers in running so many sets on offense. While Schaefer has said it helps to have talented players, his scheme on offense is working pretty well. Buoyed by a game- and career-high 41 points from junior point guard Morgan William, the second-seeded Mississippi State women's basketball team beat top-seeded Baylor 94-85 in overtime Sunday night in the championship game of the NCAA tournament's Oklahoma City Regional at Chesapeake Energy Arena. "I thought or kids were unflappable," Schaefer said. "I thought they were resilient. They showed tremendous toughness, a lot of character, and their heart. You have no idea what's inside their breastplate, but you saw it today displayed firsthand. They played with a tremendous amount of poise."
 
MSU Notebook: Who else? Morgan William named regional MVP
Morgan William left little doubt as to who the most outstanding player of the Oklahoma City Regional was. The MSU point guard poured in a career-high 41 points in the Bulldogs' 94-85 victory over Baylor in the Elite Eight. William also scored five in MSU's Sweet 16 win against Washington and combined for 13 assists and only one turnover in both games. Joining William on the All-Region team from the Bulldogs were Teaira McCowan and Victoria Vivians. McCowan averaged 18 points and 8.5 rebounds, while Vivians contributed an 18.5 point average.
 
Morgan William scores 41 points to lead Mississippi State to its first Final Four
In a game that featured two players that were 6 feet, 7 inches, it was the smallest kid on the court who stole the show. Mississippi State junior point guard Morgan William -- listed generously at 5-5 -- led the No. 2 seed Bulldogs to an 94-85 upset of No. 1 seed Baylor in overtime Sunday in the Oklahoma City Regional final. William scored 41 points -- going 6 of 8 from 3-point range -- and also had seven assists as she became her program's all-time assist leader. Immediately after the game, William broke down in tears during an interview alongside coach Vic Schaefer, who said Saturday marked the three-year anniversary of her dad's passing. "This is for my dad," said William, who lost her stepfather, Donnie Rory, at the age of 44 on March 25, 2014.
 
Mississippi State's success all about conditioning
When Anthony Harvey was introduced to players before the season as Mississippi State's first strength and conditioning coach solely for the women's basketball team, he told the Bulldogs they would never be able to figure him out. Harvey's credentials were reiterated as well -- "They already had the notion in mind that I was going to be a hard-(expletive)," he said -- and it was noted he had a military background with experience as a strength coach for the Pistons and Magic at different times in the NBA. It took one workout, which started at 6 a.m., for Harvey to show the team what he meant by them never being able to know his plans for the Bulldogs. After a dynamic warmup that Harvey directed and did not participate in, he surprisingly joined the Bulldogs on a two-lap warmup run. After sprints, he rejoined the group in an Indian run and instructed the Bulldogs to never allow him to get in front of them. The Bulldogs were pushed from the start, elite conditioning followed and all of that translated to impressive depth.
 
Bulldogs' bats complete sweep of Volunteers
Seventeen hits is all Mississippi State had to show for its first weekend of Southeastern Conference baseball, doing so in 93 at-bats to end the weekend at Arkansas with a .183 batting average. It also had no conference wins. Just a week after being swept by a SEC opponent, the Bulldogs returned the favor. With Sunday's 7-4 win over Tennessee, MSU (15-10, 3-3 SEC) continued its offensive revival, ending the weekend with 43 hits in 106 at-bats for a .406 batting average. With 12 extra-base hits throughout, three of them leaving the park, the Bulldogs slugged .604 compared to Tennessee's .361. The only difference between the two, as they see it, is the experience gained in losing the first three. "I think the biggest thing is comfort level of knowing what the SEC is about," MSU coach Andy Cannizaro said. "You can't look ahead, you have to bring it every inning, and we have young players that had to learn that last weekend on the road."
 
Diamond Dogs complete sweep of Tennessee
Mississippi State continued its offensive assault, pounding out another 13 hits to beat Tennessee 7-4 in Southeastern Conference baseball action Sunday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field. The Bulldogs completed a three-game weekend sweep of the Volunteers. MSU improved to 15-10 overall and 3-3 in league play, while Tennessee fell to 13-8 and 0-6. "I am proud of our guys for this effort," head coach Andy Cannizaro said. "We fought hard for 27 innings. We defended the field well, pitched it well and had some really good timely hitting. This was a tremendous weekend for us. I am fired up about this weekend. I love the direction this team is headed."
 
Mississippi State sweeps Tennessee
Mississippi State continued its offensive assault pounding out another 13 hits to beat Tennessee 7-4 in SEC baseball action Sunday at Dudy Noble Field. The Bulldogs completed a three-game weekend sweep of the Volunteers. MSU improved to 15-10 overall and 3-3 in league play, while Tennessee fell to 13-8 and 0-6. "I am proud of our guys for this effort," head coach Andy Cannizaro said. "We fought hard for 27 innings. We defended the field well, pitched it well and had some really good timely hitting. This was a tremendous weekend for us. I am fired up about this weekend. I love the direction this team is headed." MSU collected 46 hits in the series. The Bulldogs trailed just twice in the series.
 
MSU spring practice: Linebackers help make Todd Grantham's system go
Todd Grantham's defense revolves around the pursuit of, as he so boldly put it in February, "make (quarterbacks) play bad." If his prior defenses are any indication of what he'll do at Mississippi State, he's going to lean most on linebackers to make that happen. In Grantham's first spring at MSU, linebackers have been soaking yet another new system and an abundance of playmaking opportunities. Junior linebacker Gerri Green remembers his first experience with Grantham, in which he outlined a fast, physical and aggressive defense filled with blitzes. He called it, "music to your ears." For his linebackers, Grantham's system has been more than music: it's turned into money.



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