Wednesday, May 17, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State breaks ground today for new partnership school
A groundbreaking for the Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Partnership School at Mississippi State University will be held Wednesday on the MSU campus in Starkville. The new school will serve all sixth and seventh graders in Oktibbeha County while also providing experience for student teachers in MSU's College of Education. "The purpose for the new school is education, a site for student-teacher education, research and teaching practices collaborative of the schools," said Dr. Devon Brenner, the assistant to the vice president for education initiatives at MSU.
AD John Cohen updates Starkville Rotarians about Mississippi State
Self-deprecation wasn't in the job description for John Cohen's new role as Mississippi State director of athletics, but he mastered it anyway. Cohen has shown that knack in the last few weeks as he has toured the state for speaking engagements, which included a stop Monday at the Starkville Rotary Club. In between playful jabs at himself, Cohen updated the Rotary Club on developments in the athletic department. After the meeting, Cohen told The Dispatch that MSU is close to finalizing the 2019 football schedule. MSU needs one more non-conference game to complete a schedule that already includes home games against Kansas State and Abilene Christian and a game against Louisiana at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Mississippi State AD John Cohen visits Rotary Monday
The Rotary Club held its weekly meeting at the Starkville Country Club on Monday and featured guest speaker John Cohen, Mississippi State's athletic director, Cohen started off the meeting by expressing how valuable the Rotary Club's involvement is to Starkville and Mississippi State University. Future projects include renovations of Dudy Noble Field, Davis Wade Stadium and Humphrey Coliseum. New sound systems are planned for Davis Wade and Humphrey Coliseum, along with an expanded fueling station at Shira and new field turf at the Palmeiro Center. Cohen said construction should begin soon.
Summer changes revealed for SMART routes
Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit (SMART) recently announced modifications and closings of several routes during the summer months when the student population is at its lowest. The Central Loop, South Loop and Greek Loop will have limited service from May 8 through May 15 and will be suspended with no service from May 16-Aug. 14. The Sportsplex Express will service the Wise Center and Forest Products from May 15 to Aug. 14. The Sportsplex Express will only operate with one shuttle during this time and service times will be delayed. From May 15 to Aug. 14, the Research Loop will also service Montgomery Hall and hub with the Sportsplex Express and Highway 12 Express. All routes will be suspended Aug. 10 through Aug. 11 for training. The Boardtown North, Boardtown South, Highway 12 Express, Old Main Express and GTRA Express will continue to operate under normal hours during the summer. All routes will resume regular service on Aug. 15.
Outstanding Teacher Intern Awards at MSU-Meridian
Photo: Three education majors were recently recognized with Outstanding Teacher Intern awards at MSU-Meridian. The interns received the recognition based on their resourcefulness, initiative and effectiveness throughout their teacher internships in area schools during the spring 2017 semester. From left, Alyson Mitchell of Bailey, elementary education; Andrew Black of Toomsuba, secondary education-social studies; and Chelsea McCain of Collinsville, elementary education.
Starkville's mayor's race too close to call; Ben Carver moves on in Ward 1
Affidavits will presumably decide a tight Starkville mayor's race following Tuesday's Democratic primary runoff. Former city Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill leads local attorney Johnny Moore 1,866-1,854 after walk-in votes and absentee ballots were counted Tuesday evening. City Clerk Lesa Hardin did not give an exact number of affidavits that will be considered Wednesday, but she said there were more than the race's 12-vote margin. Spruill slightly outpaced Moore in a three-candidate primary on May 2 to force Tuesday's runoff. Since no Republican is running, the Democratic primary runoff will decide who will serve as mayor beginning July 1. In the Ward 1 alderman race, incumbent Ben Carver defeated challenger Jason Camp for the Republican nomination.
Ben Carver wins Ward 1 GOP runoff, will face Christine Williams in June
Republican incumbent Ben Carver defeated political newcomer Jason Camp on Tuesday in the Republican Primary Runoff for the Ward 1 seat on the Starkville Board of Aldermen. Carver won by a total of 147 to 124, with three affidavit ballots left. Despite turnout barely cracking 200 votes on Primary Day earlier this month, the runoff saw a much better turnout, with nearly 300 votes cast in the Ward 1 Republican Primary. Carver -- who is seeking his third term on the Board -- said he felt refreshed following the victory, which came on the heels of a contentious primary that saw two different results in favor of both Republican candidates before being sent to a runoff. "Traditionally, the person that carried this primary has carried the Ward and I saw that in my first race," Carver said. "People know my character and understand I've been their voice for Ward 1 for the last 8 years. Carver then thanked Camp for running a clean and fair race.
OCH petition crosses required threshold for referendum
A referendum on the future of OCH Regional Medical Center is all but scheduled after the Oktibbeha County Circuit Clerk's office verified more than 1,500 signatories of a petition calling for an election on the matter came from qualified county voters. Supervisors took the petition under advisement Monday and took no further action after Deputy Election Commissioner Cheryl Elmore confirmed more than 1,600 qualified residents had signed the petition, which eclipses the 1,500 threshold to force an election by state statute. Supervisors have long expected a referendum to decide whether the county should continue exploring a sale or lease of its publicly owned health care facility and previously suggested it could be held as late as November, when voters will decide who will formally assume former Chancery Clerk Monica Banks' position.
Debate over Starkville hospital sale headed toward ballot box
Oktibbeha County voters are a step closer to deciding if they should stay in the hospital business. The Oktibbeha County Circuit Clerk's office certified more than 1,800 signatures on a petition asking for a county referendum on plans to sell OCH Regional Medical Center. As the petition was being finalizing, the OCH Regional Board of Trustees told the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors it couldn't meet the timeline to gather information for the due diligence report and would delay releasing confidential information until after an anticipated election. Former Starkville Alderman Frank Davis led the petition drive, working with about a dozen other volunteers to gather signatures since February. Most people signing the petition expressed satisfaction with the hospital, Davis said. "If it's sold or leased and 10 years down the road you find it's no good, there's no way to go back," Davis said.
Chuck Espy wins Clarksdale mayor's race; Canton too close to call
In Tuesday's runoff, Clarksdale voters ousted their mayor while the battle in Canton between an incumbent mayor and a former mayor was too close to call. After a sleepless night Monday, Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett said Tuesday afternoon he'd been thinking about how to describe the 2017 mayor's race. "One word I've used is 'horrific,'" Luckett said, recounting the rhetoric used throughout the election, mostly spread on social media, painting him as racist. "The other is 'incredulous.'" Similarly, Luckett's opponent, former state representative Chuck Espy, criticized the mayor, who is white, for characterizing his supporters as "rowdy operatives." Espy's father, Henry Espy, was the city's first black mayor who served nearly three decades prior to Luckett's administration.
Biloxi seeks $600,000 from state for Point Cadet funds
City of Biloxi officials are seeking more than $600,000 they say the state owes them and are asking a judge to strike down a 2016 law that swept $79 million of special funds into a state reserve. A court motion, filed by the city in Harrison County Chancery Court on May 5, says several state officials knowingly violated a 2002 settlement between the Secretary of State's office and the city of Biloxi by sweeping a special fund that was designed to send monthly rent payments from the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino to the city. Because that special fund, held by the Secretary of State, was swept into the state's multi-million dollar Capital Expense Fund through 2016's House Bill 878, the city said it has not received $606,000 in payments agreed upon in the 2002 settlement.
Trump's Russia problem grows, leaving Washington breathless, stunned
The scope of the Russia-gate story has become so great that reporters in Washington have taken to repeating the names of the players to each other in an attempt not to forget any. As Tuesday's development makes clear, it's getting a bit more overwhelming with every passing day. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell caught that spirit in an interview aired Tuesday on Bloomberg TV. "I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House," he said. And that was before Tuesday's New York Times report revealing that Comey had written memos detailing Trump's efforts to quash his investigation. As The Times story broke, senators filed into the chamber for votes just after 5 p.m. They were met by legions of reporters who began telling them about the report. Most senators did not have an immediate response. A reporter showed his cell phone displaying the story to South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. Graham briefly surveyed the story, then silently shook his head.
NSA officials worried about the day its potent hacking tool would get loose, and then it did
When the National Security Agency began using a new hacking tool called EternalBlue, those entrusted with deploying it marveled at both its uncommon power and the widespread havoc it could wreak if it ever got loose. Some officials even discussed whether the flaw was so dangerous they should reveal it to Microsoft, the company whose software the government was exploiting, according to former NSA employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue. But for more than five years, the NSA kept using it --- through a time period that has seen several serious security breaches -- and now the officials' worst fears have been realized. The failure to keep EternalBlue out of the hands of criminals and other adversaries casts the NSA's decisions in a harsh new light, prompting critics to question anew whether the agency can be trusted to develop and protect such potent hacking tools.
Universities will get bonds despite no agreement in 2017 session
Even though the 2017 legislative session ended with no bond bill to finance long-term construction work during the next fiscal year, some bonds still are scheduled to be issued for building projects on university campuses. In the 2016 session, the Legislature took the unusual step of issuing two years of bond projects for the institutions of higher learning. Legislation in the 2016 session had $61.8 million in bonds for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2016, and $33.5 million for the upcoming fiscal year that begins this July 1. f the governor does not expand the agenda to include bonds, the only ones that will be authorized to be issued during the upcoming fiscal year, beginning July 1, are for the university projects that were approved during the 2016 session. IHL officials were requesting an additional $47.4 million in bonds during the 2017 session.
New U. of Alabama dorm scheduled to be completed by August 2018
A new residence hall at the University of Alabama remains on pace for completion next year near Lakeside Dining on the north side of campus. The 166,989-square-foot, $51.2 million project is still scheduled to be completed by August 2018, said Tim Leopard, associate vice president for Construction Administration. Work is under way at the site, which is at the former location of Palmer and Somerville halls. The 494-bed dorm will be co-ed with men and women on separate floors. The floors include common areas, laundries and meeting rooms. The double occupancy rooms feature private bathrooms. The new hall near Lakeside Dining will also feature a multi-purpose venue and storm shelter capable of protecting 1,600 people. The campus now has 35 residence halls housing about 8,400 residents.
UGA to spend $13.9 million on Georgia Center upgrade
The University of Georgia will spend nearly $14 million to renovate the older part of its Center for Continuing Education and Hotel. The building at the corner of Carlton and Lumpkin streets is one of the largest and most successful facilities of its kind in the country, according to information UGA submitted to the state Board of Regents. UGA proposes to pay for the project with reserve funds from its auxiliary operations. The project won't enlarge the footprint of the center, built in 1957 with a $2.44 million Kellogg Foundation grant and $1.9 million in state money. The center has 200 hotel rooms and suites and 38,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space, according to the center's website. The building also houses two restaurants and other facilities.
Decision on new U. of Missouri chancellor coming soon
The University of Missouri will have a new permanent chancellor soon, but it won't be interim Chancellor and Provost Garnett Stokes. During a forum on campus budget issues Tuesday, Stokes said she expects a new chancellor will be named within the next two weeks. Asked afterward if she is a candidate for the job, Stokes said no. Stokes took over as interim chancellor on May 3, the day former interim Chancellor Hank Foley departed to become president of New York Institute of Technology. Foley had said several times since taking the interim post in November 2015 that he wanted the job on a permanent basis. Stokes did not say she has not sought the job, but said she is not currently a candidate. The cuts for the coming year are not the only changes coming to MU. Stokes said she is close to completing the roster of committees studying enrollment, finances and program offerings.
Bipartisan Push on Career Education
Bipartisan support for career and technical education is building, with Virginia Foxx and the Center for American Progress finding rare agreement Tuesday by calling for more of a policy focus on job training that doesn't require a four-year degree. U.S. Representative Foxx, a North Carolina Republican who leads the House education committee, was speaking at the American Enterprise Institute on the eve of her committee's planned markup of a bill that would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, the primary federal law that oversees career education programs. Many employers are desperate to hire workers who lack four-year degrees but are qualified to work in technical fields, Foxx said. "What are we going to do to fill the jobs that are currently open and those that are coming open?" Yet a stigma persists about career education, she said. That has led to a two-tiered education system, said Foxx, where the four-year degree comes first.

Thirty-six Bulldogs receive degrees during spring
Spring commencement ceremonies at Mississippi State University included 36 Bulldog student-athletes who received their degrees May 5-6. The list of MSU's student-athlete graduates also included four who received master's degrees: Blaise Carabello (women's golf), Chelsea Duhs (volleyball), Devon Desper (football) and Ffion Price (track and field). Ceremonies were held at Humphrey Coliseum, with Dr. LouAnn Woodward, University of Mississippi Medical Center vice chancellor for health affairs and UM School of Medicine dean, delivering the commencement address. State had 85 student-athletes earn Dean's Scholar or President's Scholar for the spring semester. MSU also had 178 student-athletes named to the Bulldog Honor Roll for posting a 3.0 or higher grade-point average, and 29 earned Top Dawg honors by wrapping the semester with a 4.0.
Mississippi State scores late to beat Troy in final non-conference game
Andy Cannizaro has been eyeing a lineup change for a couple of weeks now. The only thing keeping him from pulling the trigger was Jake Mangum's broken hand. Entering Tuesday, the only two times Mangum did not bat in the leadoff spot for Mississippi State baseball this season were the two games he missed. The norm had come to be Brent Rooker behind him and Ryan Gridley hitting third. Cannizaro wanted to switch Mangum and Gridley, but didn't want to do so while Mangum was battling a broken hand. As Mangum's hand turned a metaphorical corner last weekend against Georgia, Cannizaro thought the timing was right. One game into the experiment, Gridley and Mangum both proved him correct. Gridley hit safely twice and Mangum drove in three runs on three hits Tuesday night as the Bulldogs (34-19) won in comeback fashion, beating Troy (30-22) 10-8.
Mississippi State's 'Maverick' takes down Troy
Jake Mangum admits to having never seen a certain 1986 blockbuster starring Tom Cruise. But the Mississippi State center fielder played the role of "Maverick" during the eight-ranked Bulldogs' comeback win over Troy Tuesday on "Top Gun" night at Dudy Noble Field. Mangum drove in three runs including the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth for a 10-8 victory. He finished the game 3 for 5 with three singles batting in the three hole for the first time since high school. "When Jake Mangum is healthy, he has the best hand-eye coordination of anybody in America," said MSU skipper Andy Cannizaro. "He gets hits. It doesn't matter if it's right-handed, left-handed, side-armers -- it doesn't matter. So when they pitch around Brent Rooker, they're going to have to face him." Cannizaro plans to continue to use Mangum in that role while leading off with Ryan Gridley moving forward.
Mississippi State rallies to beat Troy
Mississippi State snapped its two-game skid and won its final non-conference game of the season Tuesday night. The Bulldogs beat Troy, 10-8, at Dudy Noble Field. MSU (34-19, 17-10 SEC) plays LSU in a three-game series starting Thursday needing to sweep the Tigers (36-17, 18-9) in order to have a chance at finishing tied atop the SEC. Kentucky must also win two out of three against Florida, to force a three-way tie of MSU, UK and Florida. Mississippi State didn't gain much from winning on Tuesday in terms of RPI because Troy (30-22) entered the game ranked No. 111, but it was also one the Bulldogs wouldn't want to lose because of that reason, too.
Mississippi State's Brent Rooker finalist for Ferriss Trophy
Mississippi State redshirt junior Brent Rooker was selected Monday as a finalist for the C Spire Ferriss Trophy, which is awarded annually to the top college baseball player in Mississippi. Rooker has led the Southeastern Conference in several offensive categories for much of the season. His 20 home runs are first in the SEC and in top five nationally. He also leads the SEC in batting average, RBIs, doubles, slugging percentage, on base percentage, and total bases. He has been named SEC Player of the Week three times this season. A panel of Major League Baseball scouts that covers Mississippi and college baseball coaches in Mississippi chose the finalists. The award will be presented May 22 at a ceremony at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson.
Will Tucker Day solve Mississippi State's kicking woes?
Tucker Day watched Mississippi State's spring game on April 8 inside his home in Brentwood, Tenn., with his father Stewart and saw Bulldogs kicker Jace Christmann miss a 26-yard field goal early in the first quarter. Day then saw Brad Wall miss a 41-yard kick as time expired in the first. Like many others who watched the game, one thing quickly became obviously clear to Stewart. "They needed a kicker and a punter," Stewart told Day, "and you just got to be ready for your time -- because it's coming." Day is set to enroll at Mississippi State in a few weeks. When Day signed with the Bulldogs in February, Dan Mullen said the Army All-American punter will have the opportunity to also be the team's kicker. What separates Day from anyone else from Mississippi State's 2017 signing class is how much he will be counted on this fall.
NAACP: Move tourney from Mississippi because of rebel flag
A civil rights group is asking the NCAA to move a regional softball tournament out of Mississippi because the state flag contains the Confederate battle emblem. Mississippi is the last state with a flag that includes the Confederate emblem --- a red field topped by a blue tilted X dotted by white stars. Mississippi NAACP president Derrick Johnson calls it a "racial hate symbol." The University of Mississippi in Oxford is hosting an NCAA regional tournament Friday through Sunday, based on the team's performance. "Championships where student-athletes earn the opportunity to play a championship on their own campus are not covered in the Confederate flag policy," NCAA spokeswoman Gail Dent said Tuesday. "This distinction is consistent with the NCAA's commitment to student-athletes."
Change the flag, but punishing athletics will not change anything
The Clarion-Ledger's Hugh Kellenberger writes: "Ole Miss will host a softball regional this weekend, a terrific accomplishment for a program that until a year ago had never managed to score a run in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. If the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP had its way though, Ole Miss would be on the road this weekend. And Mississippi State and Southern Miss baseball would also be away from Dudy Noble Field and Pete Taylor Park, respectively, next month. Why? The chapter's president asked in a tersely-written press release Monday, if the presence of the confederate flag on the state flag of Mississippi prevents us from hosting a golf regional at Mossy Oak or a women's basketball regional at Mississippi Coliseum then why does that not extend to 'earned' postseason host bids? ...the NAACP is right: the flag should have been removed years ago. But athletics is not the venue in which to fight this out. They're unwilling bystanders who have made its statement on the matter already, and it wouldn't change much of anything anyways."
Alabama AD Greg Byrne on facilities and idea of hiring Nick Saban's replacement
Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne hasn't been on the job that long, but two questions he continues to field regard facilities and coach Nick Saban. It doesn't seem that long ago when it was announced that Alabama installed a waterfall in new hydrotherapy room. That was so 2013. Most recently, Clemson opened a new football facility in January. The complex includes a 24-seat HD theater, an indoor golf simulator, a barber shop, arcade, bowling alley and laser tag. Byrne was asked Tuesday, in the ever-evolving facilities arms race, what's next? "We have a facility master plan we are looking at right now in trying to decide what our next steps and projects will be," Byrne told me on The Opening Kickoff on WNSP-FM 105.5 in Mobile, Alabama. "We're going to do a dining hall that we are going to get started on pretty soon and actually update our swimming pool as well."
AD Jim Sterk calls MU athletics a 'cash cow' at second budget forum
Intercollegiate athletics pays about $16 million annually to the University of Missouri for tuition, utilities and other expenses and receives no general revenue funds, Athletics Director Jim Sterk said Tuesday during a campus budget forum. "From a business standpoint, we are kind of a cash cow," Sterk said. Sterk was responding to a question asking why his department doesn't turn over surpluses to the campus for academics and other operations. He was also asked to justify salaries that pay top coaches up to $3 million annually. As a member of the Southeastern Conference, Sterk said, MU is in the most competitive athletic conference in the nation. Coaches' salaries at MU are about mid-scale for the conference, he said. "It is market driven and it is a blessing and a curse," Sterk said.
UGA plans an increase of $4 million for fiscal year 2018 athletics budget
Georgia is planning an athletic budget of $127.6 million for fiscal year 2018, an increase of $4 million. The UGA Athletic Association's finance committee Tuesday afternoon endorsed sending along the budget to next week's full board spring meeting in St. Simons during a meeting of less than 10 minutes in the UGA Administration Building. Georgia budgets the same number for both revenue and expenses, said Ryan Nesbit, UGA's vice president of finance and administration who serves as the athletic association's treasurer. The revenue for the fiscal year that starts on July 1 is impacted by having only six home football games. Georgia's athletic operating reserves entering this past fiscal year were $60 million with $22 million going to facility projects, Nesbit said after the meeting. During the finance committee meeting, it was disclosed that $43 million has been invested in the UGA Foundation, the nonprofit corporation with about $1 billion in assets that benefit the university.
UGA coaches' suspensions come amid police investigating mishandling of prescription medication
Georgia's tennis teams are hosting the NCAA championships this week with both programs under the cloud of a police investigation involving prescription medication. Men's tennis associate coach Bo Hodge and women's associate head coach Drake Bernstein are suspended amid the ongoing investigation. University of Georgia police were contacted by men's head tennis coach Manuel Diaz on 5 p.m. on May 7 to report "the possible theft and mishandling of prescription medication involving a number of individuals within the tennis program," according to a police incident report obtained Tuesday morning by the Athens Banner-Herald. Hodge and Bernstein were serving suspension already during early round matches last weekend in Athens. Police are investigating possible theft of drugs valued up to $1,500 and possession of a schedule I or II substance, which is a felony.
Gators hire executive associate AD from Kansas State
Laird Veatch, who played a key role in the continued growth and development of the Kansas State athletics program in his role as Deputy Athletics Director, was named Executive Associate Athletics Director for Internal Affairs at the University of Florida, UF Athletic Director Scott Stricklin announced Tuesday. Veatch brings 23-plus years of experience in intercollegiate athletics to Gainesville, including the past seven as Deputy Athletics Director (2016-Present), Executive Associate Athletics Director (2013-15), Senior Associate Athletics Director for Strategic Initiatives (2012-13) and Associate Athletics Director for Capital Support at his alma mater, Kansas State University. He will succeed Chip Howard, who has been at Florida since 1989 and announced last month he is leaving this summer to become chief operating officer of Tailgate Guys.
Vanderbilt's Derek Mason gets raise, contract extension
Vanderbilt football coach Derek Mason has signed a three-year contract extension with a raise and increased recruiting budget, athletics director David Williams confirmed Tuesday. Per Mason's request, multiple assistant coaches also received contract extensions and raises, including offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. After coaching three seasons, Mason's contract was extended back to its original terms of five years with an option of a sixth. Williams did not provide Mason's specific pay, but he said it was a raise above his previous compensation, which included a base salary of about $2.5 million in 2015, according to the most recently available tax records.
ESPN Is Betting on Big Personalities to Restore Its Fortunes
Just weeks after ESPN laid off about 100 journalists and on-air commentators, the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" unveiled a new programming slate on Tuesday filled with big personalities but short on the kind of highlight shows that for many years were the foundation of the network. The revamped lineup underscores just how much the changing media landscape has unsettled even the world's most powerful sports company. Once the undisputed king of sports programming, ESPN must now contend with companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter, which not only offer statistics and highlights at the click of a button but are also increasingly offering the games themselves. So ESPN is shaking things up. The theme was a bet on the power of the network's personalities.

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