Thursday, April 13, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State Organizations Raise Money and Awareness for Rare Disease
Two groups at Mississippi State are making great strides in helping a Starkville boy battling a rare disease. The Montgomery Leadership Program and the Army ROTC Battalion sponsored a 5K run Wednesday on the MSU campus. Over 400 people showed up for the event to support Gabe Valentine, a third grader at Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary. Eight-year-old Gabe suffers from a skin disease called Epidermolysis Bullosa, or EB. The event raised over $10,000.00. That money will go to the EB Research Partnership.
 
Starkville native Mary Elizabeth Stringer selected as Mississippi's Cherry Blossom Princess
Starkville native Mary Elizabeth Stringer was selected as Mississippi's Cherry Blossom Princess to participate in the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in Washington, D.C. Stringer is a senior kinesiology major at Mississippi State University, and recently served as a fall intern for Senator Thad Cochran. She was a senator in the Student Association for the College of Education and served on the executive committee of Phi Mu sorority. Stringer has served as Mississippi's goodwill ambassador and is the reigning Mississippi Miss Hospitality 2016. U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi, posted a picture of himself and Stringer on March 8 as she represented Mississippi at the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in Washington, D.C.
 
USDA Finds 'High Quality' in Economic Development Plan
The Eastern Indiana Regional Planning Commission has achieved the "High Quality Plan" designation from a national panel of experts for their regional economic development plan. This "High Quality Plan" qualifies EIRPC to receive a $5,000 grant from the Southern Rural Development Center located at Mississippi State University. This funding and their newly approved plan will help them as they dive deeper into the Stronger Economies Together program. "SET provides a pathway for local residents and organizational leaders to give of their time and talents to build and put into action a high quality regional plan," stated Bo Beaulieu, director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development. "It is the local buy-in that has made SET such a success in regions across the U.S."
 
Alderman Roy Perkins wants to change board appointment rules
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins wants to amend the ordinance involving Starkville Board of Adjustment and Appeals appointments to allow his ward's representative to serve a second consecutive term. The vice mayor confirmed Tuesday he will request fellow board members next week set two public hearings in May on the ordinance adjustment. Ward 6 SBOAA member Bill Webb's current term expires June 30. Per the current ordinance, SBOAA members serve four-year terms and can only be reappointed to the board after a one-year absence. The ordinance creating the advisory board was adopted 10 years ago, and Perkins, who is the only elected official from that time still in office, said the rule guiding its appointment process appears to have been written as a way to enforce term limits in a roundabout way, even though former members can rejoin the board after the expressed timeframe.
 
Christy Maulding picked as new SOCSD assistant superintendent
Hinds Community College Work-Based Learning and Internship Coordinator Christy Maulding will join the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District this summer and replace outgoing Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Education Jody Woodrum. School board trustees hired Maulding Tuesday and set her annual salary at $125,000. Her first day was not announced but is expected to be July 1, one day after Woodrum's announced departure. Maulding worked in the Rankin County School District for 14 years as a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent. RCSD achieved and maintained an A school accountability rating from the Mississippi Department of Education during her tenure. Maulding holds an associate degree from HCC, bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Mississippi College and a Ph.D. in education administration from Mississippi State University.
 
Marty Stuart's proposed venue would be boon to local economy
Marty Stuart's proposed venue downtown next to the Ellis Theater that would enshrine American country music with a museum full of memorabilia from the likes of Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline is expected not only to draw tourists from all over the world, but to create a need for more services, more restaurants, retail shops and lodging, community leaders said last week. While an exterior rendering was unveiled last week, neither a cost for construction nor a revenue source for operations were attached to the venue that would consume half a city block between Byrd Avenue and Range along Main Street and be owned by Neshoba County, according to officials. Industrial Development Authority Chairman Stanley Salter compared the proposed Marty Stuart Congress of Country Music to the opening of Pearl River Resort over two decades ago and the boost that's given the local economy. Neshoba County native Sid Salter, a member of the original Stuart center committee, said the project has the potential to bring a new kind of tourism to Philadelphia and Neshoba County.
 
Buffett Foundation to Unveil Plan to Help Girls of Color
A foundation run by the youngest son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett is announcing its strategy for distributing $90 million to help improve the lives of young women and girls of color in the United States. The foundation will create the first regional hub in the Southeast because of how much the area has been neglected by philanthropy, officials said, especially in terms of supporting work focused on girls of color. That's welcome news, according to Kameisha Smith, who works with girls in Durant, Mississippi, and throughout the Mississippi Delta through the Nollie Jenkins Family Center. She said she appreciated the foundation's process, which saw NoVo officials being taken around rural communities in her area.
 
Governor inks law requiring all to wear seat belts
Legislation was quietly signed into law earlier this month by Gov. Phil Bryant requiring all passengers, those in the front and back seats, to wear a seat belt. When the new law goes into effect on July 1, Mississippi will become the 19th state, plus the District of Columbia, where seat belt use is required in the front and back seats, and law enforcement will be able to pull over a vehicle where the law is not being followed and issue a traffic citation. The new law is known as Harlie's Law in honor of Harlie Ann Brooke Oswalt, 15, of Potts Camp, who was killed in a traffic accident on Nov. 21 in Marshall County.
 
State auditor's office tight lipped on school-issued computer findings
After reporting that pornography and other explicit materials were found during an audit of student-issued laptops, the state auditor's office is denying The Clarion-Ledger's request for information on the districts reviewed, saying the investigation is ongoing. And it also has not contacted the districts reviewed or state education officials. Nor has it clarified the scope of the alleged misuse. The state auditor's office in a report issued last week said nine districts failed to enforce policies for filtering software required by federal law to prevent students from accessing explicit or harmful material on their school-issued computers. But Clinton Public Schools, which acknowledged it was one of the districts audited, has two filtering systems in place, said district spokeswoman Sandi Beason, adding that if further discussions are needed about safeguard measures, they would take place.
 
Ethics commission says Diamondhead meeting with state auditor 'illegal'
Four city council members violated state law when they met behind closed doors with State Auditor Stacey Pickering earlier this year, according to a preliminary ruling issued by the Mississippi Ethics Commission on Friday. Ethics Commission Hearing Officer Chris Graham issued the ruling, finding the Diamondhead City Council "violated" the Open Meetings Act when four of the five council members met with Pickering on Jan. 31 and "discussed a matter over which the city council has authority without providing public access, providing notice, or recording minutes." The Commission gigged the council on a fundamental rule of the Open Meetings Act -- a meeting becomes official and public as soon as a quorum is established. Pickering responded to inquiries from the Sun Herald shortly after that meeting and said the Open Meetings Act did not apply to him. His office has not responded to requests for comment on the Ethics Commission's ruling.
 
George W. Bush Calls Foreign Aid A Moral And Security Imperative
President Trump's budget blueprint is all about "hard power" -- increasing the country's military might by slashing foreign aid. The proposed cuts are in contrast to the dramatic boost to foreign aid under President George W. Bush. Bush dedicated billions to combating HIV/AIDS in Africa with a program called PEPFAR that still exists today. So far, it has been spared from cuts. He highlighted the program's work and that of his post-presidency initiative to combat AIDS and cervical cancer during a recent trip to Africa. "I think the most meaningful moment for me was going to a maternity ward in Namibia," he told NPR at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. "Seeing a roomful of ladies, most of whom -- if not all -- had the AIDS virus, and every one of their babies was born without AIDS. Mother-to-child transmission efforts of PEPFAR have been unbelievably successful."
 
State's College Students Face Financial Aid Crunch
Allen Coon will lose one of his state scholarships, thanks to the Mississippi Legislature cutting over $1 million from state financial aid during the session that ended last month. Now a junior public policy leadership and African American studies double-major at the University of Mississippi, Coon grew up in Petal, Miss., and is the oldest of two. He did well enough in high school to qualify for the Mississippi Scholars grant (which requires a 3.5 minimum grade point average), as well as the Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant. Together, they provided up to $3,500 of tuition help in his junior year. Next year, Coon will lose $1,000. Starting this fall, students will not be able to "stack" state aid grants and will only receive the grant worth the most money. The change affects approximately 3,400 students, Mississippi's financial aid office estimates, and Coon will lose his tuition assistance grant.
 
Attorney General Jim Hood talks at Ole Miss about Legislature
State Attorney General Jim Hood visited the Overby Center Tuesday on the Ole Miss campus to discuss an array of topics from the state of politics in Jackson to mental health care in Mississippi. Hood, a Democrat who has been the state's attorney general since 2004 and rumored to be a candidate for governor, opened his talk by saying, "he normally doesn't give political speeches." "The Legislature is acting like Congress," Hood said. "The partisan divide is worse than I recall having seen in my lifetime. They're doing things that don't make logical sense. When they say, 'we're doing this,' it's usually about the money. Campaign contributions underlie so much of politics today. People are concerned more about politics than policy." When opining about the state's current economic situation, Hood said that, "when working people are working, that's when you lift the economy."
 
USM summit to bring community partners together
A local bank may have employees who want to volunteer in Hattiesburg, but they don't know where to go. Or a non-profit group may need volunteers, but officials don't know whom to ask. Those are the type of dilemmas the second President's Summit on Community Engagement hopes to solve. The April 18 event at the University of Southern Mississippi invites nonprofit organizations, businesses and civic groups to work together toward change. Christy Arrazattee, director of the Center for Community and Civic Engagement at Southern Miss, said the summit is a way for groups to connect. "We'll talk about the big challenges facing our community, and then we'll talk about how to address those," she said. "I hope people leave the event with new contacts and ideas on how to work with people to address the challenges in their community and then, next year, we can report on the results."
 
Brown bag lunch held for USM students in new national security course
Nearly three dozen University of Southern Mississippi students will spend the summer helping the government solve complex technology problems. They'll be taking a course called, Hacking For Defense. It's being offered for the first time at USM. Students will work in groups to create solutions for the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, as well as the intelligence community. Wednesday, USM hosted a brown bag lunch at the Chain Technology Center for current and prospective students. "The course is designed to have teams of four come together with real world problems that are faced on the battlefield for the war fighter, to come and solve those problems with a minimum viable product within 10 to 16 weeks," said Dan DeMott, course co-instructor.
 
Mississippi's HBCUs Work with Non-Profit for a Tobacco Free Campus
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report nearly 30 percent of African American adults say they use tobacco. The CDC says tobacco use contributes to heart disease, cancer and stroke, which are the three leading causes of death for black adults. Tougaloo College is among six HBCUs in Mississippi to partner with Truth Initiative. Kristen Terzakian works with Truth. At a kick-off event at Tougaloo she says tobacco companies disproportionately target black communities. She says it's important to not only stop tobacco use on campus but also help students to quit. "We want to clear the air of second hand smoke have the campuses be clean from tobacco litter and create an environment where smoking is not the norm and to promote an environment to help people quit." All six HBCUs in Mississippi are receiving a grant from Truth that will help them promote a tobacco free campus with signs, shirts and events.
 
Northeast Mississippi Community College expecting record turnout for job fair
More employers will be recruiting workers Tuesday at Northeast Mississippi Community College's annual Spring Job Fair. After having a record 450 attendees last year, officials expect a larger turnout at next week's event, which again will be held at NEMCC's Bonner Arnold Coliseum. "We're still signing up employers and will do so until the day of the job fair," said Northeast career technical counselor Carrie Cobb. "We've got 55-60 now, but we could have 70. We'd love to have that many, if not more." While previous Spring Job Fairs were open to only Northeast students and alumni, the 2016 version of the Spring Job Fair opened its doors to the public. It will be open to the public again this year.
 
Meridian Community College program exposes young men to careers in healthcare
Dummies can talk. They have a pulse. They can even have babies. That was the take-away for Meridian High School freshman Brett Rutledge, who took part in Wednesday's camp, "Experience the O.N.E.: Hospital Stay." Rutledge was one of 40 Meridian and Lauderdale County ninth grade boys taking a part in the opportunity. Meridian Community College hosted the day-long camp, in which students explored health professions by spending the morning on the MCC campus in health programs with students and in the afternoon with professionals at Anderson Regional Medical Center and Rush Foundation Hospital. The one-day session, Experience the O.N.E. (Occupations Not usually Explored by Men): Hospital Stay, is funded through a grant from the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges.
 
White nationalist group prompts backlash at Auburn University
A white nationalist group that initially claimed affiliation with Auburn University has prompted condemnation from officials there. The controversy surrounding the Auburn White Student Union represents the continued rise of white supremacist activities on university campuses, intensified by the contemporary political landscape. Per its website, the group subscribes to the "alt-right" movement -- a right-wing following that often espouses white supremacist and racist views. News reports have linked the group with the recent emergence of anti-Semitic flyers on the Alabama campus. These materials spurred social media outrage, and the university Twitter account spent part of Tuesday sending the same statement to people: "This group isn't an Auburn student org, and we find the views expressed in their materials reprehensible and unrepresentative of the university." Not everyone felt satisfied by the university's response.
 
Students ask Auburn University for stronger stance against 'White Student Union'
An Auburn University student organization wants the institution to take a stronger stance against white supremacy after a group claiming to be the "Auburn White Student Union" distributed flyers expressing anti-Semitic messages on campus last week. The group, which identifies as alt-right, said it was created in response to political and racial tension across the nation. AU said in a statement through the Office of Communications and Marketing on Tuesday afternoon it had plans to look into any copyright violations for using the slogan. "This group isn't an Auburn student organization, and we find the views expressed in their materials reprehensible and unrepresentative of those of the university," the university said. "Auburn University supports the constitutional right to free speech and encourages the campus community to practice that right in a constructive atmosphere with respect to others. Auburn also encourages the campus community to respond to speech they find objectionable with their own views in the spirit of robust exploration of ideas."
 
Auburn: White supremacist Richard Spencer 'was not invited,' 'paying to use' campus space
Auburn University spokesman Mike Clardy told AL.com Wednesday afternoon via email that Richard Spencer "was not invited or sponsored by any campus group. He is paying to use the space." Cole Davis, president of the Auburn College Republicans student group -- which hosted alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in October -- confirmed to AL.com Wednesday afternoon that the organization did not invite Spencer to visit the university. "I absolutely support the right of anyone to come and speak and engage in debate about politics, government and whatever else," Davis said via phone. "I don't know if I'm going to go or not, but if so, I'll go and see what he has to say, and if I or anyone else disagrees with what he says then we should engage in debate about that."
 
U. of Florida institute to foster research in Internet of Things
The future of things is in the Internet of Things, showcased Wednesday at the University of Florida's College of Engineering. In celebrating the launch of the Warren B. Nelms Institute for the Connected World, dozens of students shared their research in smart technology to better the world. William Eisenstadt, a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering, led students in developing a device that would monitor and record weather data in Haiti, where sustaining agriculture can be difficult in erratic weather zones. The researchers' weather station is easy for farmers to maintain, Eisenstadt said. The institute is to be a connecting agent for engineers, developers and other researchers to work together on projects, said Cammy Abernathy, dean of the engineering college.
 
UGA engineering students show off senior projects
Fourth-year students in the University of Georgia's College of Engineering showed off their senior projects Wednesday --- so many of them that they spilled over from the Georgia Center for Continuing Education's Mahler Hall into the public area outside the large meeting hall. This year's senior design competition was the largest for the fast-growing college, which launched just five years ago and counted more than 1,800 majors this year. Two big new groups swelled the entries from about 40 to 45 last year to 65 this year, seniors in electrical and mechanical engineering majors that began four years ago in 2013. "What's really exciting," said College of Engineering Dean Donald Leo, was how many of the student teams worked with actual partners or sponsors on their specific projects, some of which might actually come to fruition.
 
Court backs ex-U. of Tennessee football players on social media bid in rape case
A state appellate court ruled Wednesday that former University of Tennessee star linebacker A.J. Johnson and a former teammate have the right to go after the social media history of the woman who accuses them of rape and her friends in their bid to prove they are wrongfully accused. The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals sided with lead defense attorneys Stephen Ross Johnson and David Eldridge on behalf of A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams, respectively, in a ruling that not only may bolster their claim of innocence but now opens the door for defense attorneys in criminal cases to directly seek from witnesses social media history without relying on prosecutors or police to do so.
 
House committee considers future of Texas A&M pharmacy school among college topics
Members of the Texas House of Representatives' Committee on Higher Education met for nearly five hours in Austin on Wednesday to discuss several proposed bills. Although much of the conversation surrounded potential changes to the tuition and fee benefits offered to Texas veterans at state higher education institutions, members of the committee also heard about and discussed topics including the Texas A&M University System's Irma Rangel College of Pharmacy, assistance and information about the transfer of credit hours between institutions, proposed requirements to include serious policy infractions -- such as sexual assault -- on student transcripts and more.
 
Texas A&M vet school helps test portable ultrasound technology for pets
Dogs get ultrasounds, too. On Wednesday morning, four veterinary professionals gathered around a 14-year-old male mixed-breed Scottish terrier at Texas A&M University's Small Animal Hospital. They shaved a rectangle into the dog's stomach, removing a small portion of his black and gray spotted fur, before using new ultrasound technology to monitor the spread of his cancer. Thanks to their collaboration with health technology company Philips, the College of Veterinary Medicine tried out the Philips Lumify mobile ultrasound technology on about 15 dogs Wednesday. The collaboration is a "part of the Texas A&M 'One Health' commitment, which links approaches in medical, veterinary and environmental sciences for the advancement of all three areas," according to Kerrie DeMarco, director of Texas A&M's Center for Global Health & Innovation.
 
U. of Missouri professor wins Southeastern Conference honor
James Birchler, a curators' distinguished professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri, was named by the Southeastern Conference as its Professor of the Year for 2017. The award is given annually to a professor with a "record of teaching, research and scholarship that distinguishes them in higher education," according to the website of The Academic Initiative of the SEC. Winners are selected by the Southeastern Conference Provosts from the conference's 14 universities. Birchler will receive a $20,000 honorarium and will be recognized at the Southeastern Conference Awards Dinner in June. During his career, he has mentored 41 undergraduate research students, three master's students, 20 Ph.D. students and 35 postdoctoral fellows. He teaches classes in general genetics and advanced plant genetics. Birchler's research focuses on the structure and function of cells.
 
New faculty athletics representative appointed at U. of Missouri
Longtime University of Missouri faculty member Pamela Hinton has been appointed by Interim Chancellor Hank Foley as the new faculty athletics representative starting May 14. The former faculty athletics representative, Christina Wells, had resigned in February to "devote herself more fully to her teaching and scholarship," according to an MU news release. The change in leadership comes during an ongoing investigation by MU's Athletics Department into alleged NCAA academic rules violations. Allegations of academic fraud prompted the investigation in November when Yolanda Kumar, a former tutor who worked for the Athletics Department's Total Person Program, said in a Facebook post and in interviews that she took online tests for student athletes. MU hired Mike Glazier, an Overland Park, Kansas, attorney with expertise in NCAA compliance matters, to lead the investigation.
 
Department of Education makes first official senior hires
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the hiring of nine senior staff members Wednesday, including an acting under secretary with significant experience working on student aid and postsecondary issues. The hiring of most of the individuals in the announcement had previously been discussed publicly, but it was the first official announcement from DeVos about who would fill key staff positions. Like other federal agencies in the Trump administration, the Department of Education has gone nearly three months without naming appointees to a number of political positions. The appointment of Candice Jackson as deputy assistant secretary in the Office for Civil Rights has stirred concerns among advocates for victims of sexual assault.
 
What Is the Future of College Marketing?
The world of college admissions is bound by traditions: the calendar of deadlines throughout the fall and spring, the college fairs and campus tours, and the academic measures used to admit students, such as high-school grades and SAT and ACT scores. If anything has changed, it is the increasing role of technology. It has allowed students to easily and quickly apply online to multiple colleges, as well as take virtual tours of campuses from the comfort of their living rooms. For colleges, technology has been a double-edged sword. While they reach more prospective students than ever before, the deluge of applications that have come as a result has taxed admissions offices and made it difficult to distinguish the serious from the casual applicants.
 
Trump shouldn't gut the program that helped rescue my state
Haley Barbour, founding partner of the BGR Group and a former governor of Mississippi and a former chairman of the Republican Governors Association and of the Republican National Committee, writes in the Washington Post: "In the era of skinny budgets, it's easy for congressional appropriators to lump national service programs in with longtime conservative targets for elimination. In a time of belt-tightening, it would be easy to think of them merely as an outgrowth of big government. But the easy approach isn't always the right one -- in fact, it often isn't. That's why I urge my Republican colleagues to consider carefully before swinging the budget ax toward national service programs, as President Trump has proposed. These programs are crucial when it comes to disaster response. Having governed Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in our nation's history, I know all too well."
 
Mississippi not alone in budget woes
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "A report by the nonpartisan but decidedly liberal think tank the Center on Budget and Public Priorities documents that Mississippi is far from alone in the current fiscal year's revenue shortfall and subsequent budget cuts. The CBPP reports shows that 33 states including Mississippi faced revenue shortfalls in Fiscal Year 2017 and will face them again in Fiscal Year 2018. In the southern region, Louisiana tracks Mississippi in facing shortfalls in 2017 and 2018 while Alabama avoided a FY 2017 shortfall but faces one in FY 2018. ...How does the CBPP explain the revenue shortfalls? The organization offers a blanket explanation, which I'll share with you verbatim... So does this explanation track Mississippi’s revenue woes? Yes, to a strong degree, but not completely."


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