Thursday, May 25, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Tawny Crazy Ant Terrorizing Mississippi's Gulf Coast
An insect that can cause major damage inside your home is terrorizing the Gulf Coast and entomologists are trying to keep it from spreading to the rest of Mississippi. The "tawny crazy ant" has not been around for long, but the pest is already living up to its name. The ants are called "crazy" for a reason. Moving at a high rate of speed, they swarm in the thousands, crawling into anywhere and everywhere. "During my entomological career I've never worked with an insect that can be this numerous," Mississippi State University Extension entomology specialist, Dr. Blake Layton said. He spoke with WJTV over the telephone about how the creatures are wreaking havoc in Hancock, Jackson and Harrison counties.
Hotel approval still in limbo after meeting fails to produce quorum
An attempt to provide developer Mark Nicholas with a new public financing option for his anticipated boutique hotel project failed Tuesday as a special-called meeting lacked a quorum of aldermen, but Ward 2 Alderman Lisa Wynn says she'll call for another gathering before June 6's regularly scheduled board meeting, which also coincides with election day. Although Nicholas revealed few details about the boutique hotel project Tuesday, he said he's hopeful it will break ground in July or August. Previously, Nicholas said he planned to develop a Holiday Inn on the parcel between his Cotton Mill Market Place development and the Mill at MSU. The planned hotel is now part of a different national brand, but he did not confirm the moniker.
The Greater Good Collective aims to connect Starkville
The streets of Starkville will be flooded with artists, musicians, thinkers and doers this Sunday, May 27, at the first Sunday Funday. The event will take place on the Rue de Grand Fromage, in between Two Brother's and Commodore Bob's from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event, created by The Greater Good Collective, is to take place every fourth Sunday of the month. Blair Edwards, co-director of The Greater Good Collective, said the event aims to involve as many people as possible in the community, no matter who they are. "Everyone is on the same plane," Edwards said. He said the event goes back to the idea of when people went to church on Sunday and then met in the center of town where they all knew one another.
State of the Region brings innovation into focus
Innovation was the name of the game at this year's State of the Region meeting on Wednesday morning. The annual meeting, put on by the Commission on the Future of Northeast Mississippi and the CREATE Foundation, featured speakers who encouraged thinking outside of the box both in schools and communities. Lee Childress, superintendent of the Corinth School District, talked about the district's implementation of its "Districts of Innovation" plan. Legislation passed several years ago allows public school districts to submit plans for making innovative changes in their schools, often outside of the regulations set by the Mississippi Department of Education. In the years to come, Childress believes schools must be more technology-focused and teach skills like collaboration and problem solving to prepare students for the real world.
Former MDOC commissioner Chris Epps sentenced to almost 20 years
It was said Chris Epps could sell ice to Eskimos and for years had lawmakers and governors eating out of his hand with his folksy, straight-shooting style and deep knowledge of the state prison system he ran. He rose through the ranks from prison guard to the longest serving corrections commissioner in Mississippi's history. But Wednesday, a shackled Epps with graying hair, looking nothing like the man who wore expensive suits and drove a Mercedes, was sentenced by federal judge Henry Wingate to almost 20 years in prison and fined $100,000 for running one of the largest and longest criminal conspiracies in the state's history. "This is not a simple crime," Wingate said in sentencing Epps. "This is the largest graft operation in the state of Mississippi, definitely the largest I have seen. Mr. Epps betrayed the state of Mississippi."
Palazzo Discusses Budget Priorities with Secretary of Agriculture
Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) on Wednesday met with the Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, during the House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee hearing to review budget priorities for the Department of Agriculture. During the hearing Congressman Palazzo asked Secretary Perdue about the provision in the President's budget that would reverse the food safety inspection measure that was approved by Congress. The inspection program was first created by Congress in the 2008 farm law and is championed by lawmakers from catfish-producing states, including Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. The law took safety oversight of catfish and other ray-finned fish away from the Food and Drug Administration and gave that authority to the Agriculture Department, which does more frequent inspections. USDA delayed putting the program in place for several years, but inspections started in March 2016.
Mulvaney returns to Congress to defend Trump budget -- and gets a grilling
Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who until months ago was embraced by conservatives for his relentless budget-slashing advocacy, returned to Capitol Hill on Wednesday as the White House's chief spending-cut champion – and found both Republicans and Democrats challenging him. Mulvaney, a tea party favorite who until February represented South Carolina in the House of Representatives, got an earful not only from Democrats but also fellow Republicans over the size of the reductions President Donald Trump proposed in his $4.1 trillion 2018 budget. Rep. Bill Johnson, a Republican whose district encompasses eastern and southeastern Ohio, challenged Mulvaney on the wisdom of the budget's call to eliminate the Appalachian Regional Commission. That 50-year-old federal-state partnership has brought improved highways, education and job-training opportunities to Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Missouri, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and other Appalachian states that Trump carried in the presidential election.
U.S. special operations forces face growing demands and increased risks
Five of the six members of the U.S. military killed by hostile fire this year were from one of the special operations ground forces: Navy SEALs, Army Delta Force or 75th Ranger Regiment. So were more than half the 33 U.S. combat fatalities since 2015. Yet the 8,600 special operators overseas are only a tiny fraction of the nearly 200,000 U.S. troops deployed abroad. The danger was highlighted again this week when three Navy SEALs were wounded in an assault on a militant stronghold in Marib in western Yemen. When a firefight broke out, the U.S. commandos called in airstrikes from an AC-130 gunship. With special operations forces now posted in more than 80 countries, the ever-increasing set of missions and uptick in casualties give pause even to some military experts and veterans who support the expanding role.
Food: A path to understanding where we come from for MUW students
Since the beginning of humankind, food has been a marker of cultures. So why not, thought Kristi DiClemente, use food to bring ancient civilizations alive for history students at Mississippi University for Women? That's what the visiting assistant professor did by debuting a new class this spring called History of European Food. How much more vivid could learning be if students could actually make foods people of bygone eras enjoyed? Through the ages, food has played a critical role in everything from religion to trade. "We need to know where we came from, and many of us in the U.S. came from a European background," said DiClemente. "Understanding how we culturally ended up where we are today is important, and by using food you can really dig into the everyday lives of people and how they lived."
Jones County student goes from homelessness to graduating from Barnard
Kiana Davis wrote one of her final papers at Barnard College on why her life was the way that it was. The 2013 South Jones High School alumna graduated from Barnard on Wednesday after a series of trials and tribulations on the way to her cap and gown. Davis, 22, certainly knows about adversity. She attended three high schools in four years, all the while dealing with a tumultuous home life. Her mother was a drug addict and the family ended up living in a hotel room and then a car for the better part of a year while Davis was in high school. Davis eventually landed with relatives while attending South Jones High School during her senior year.
U. of Tennessee diversity funding coming back, but no plans on how to spend it
The University of Tennessee Knoxville is deciding how to spend $445,882 representing a sum that in the past was used to fund an Office for Diversity and Inclusion but last year was diverted to minority engineering scholarships at the hand of the Tennessee legislature. It's been just over one year since the passage of the bill allowing for the one-time move of the $445,882 in annual funding for the office, which supported racial and cultural diversity on campus. The plan expires June 30, which means the university will see the diversity funding come back starting July 1 and officials will have to decide how to spend it. It's one of the first major decisions new UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport will have to make on campus and one that state lawmakers, many of whom have voiced opposition to the diversity office in the past, will closely be watching.
U. of Missouri welcomes Alexander Cartwright as new chancellor
Alexander Cartwright said Wednesday after being introduced as the new MU chancellor that higher education has a special place in his heart. "I am forever indebted to the people who took the time to help a young person who wanted desperately to attain a degree, because he realized it was the way, the American way, to prosper," Cartwright said, reflecting on the people who influenced his education. "I have to admit that I never would've dreamed that I'd have the opportunity to lead such a prestigious institution when I was growing up in the Bahamas, when my math education essentially ended in the seventh grade for various circumstances," Cartwright said. "In fact I never would've thought that I'd have the opportunity to attend college, much less become a faculty member at an AAU institution." University of Missouri System President Mun Choi introduced Cartwright as MU's chancellor-designate to a packed house Wednesday afternoon in the Great Room of the Reynolds Alumni Center.
Gov. Eric Greitens: U. of Missouri needs strong leadership
On the day the University of Missouri announced a new chancellor for the Columbia campus, Gov. Eric Greitens said it's time to fix what has become a crisis at the university. In response, President Mun Choi and Chancellor-designate Alexander Cartwright asked the governor for a chance to get to work. The Republican governor issued a statement that called the anticipated decline in fall enrollment at MU "the worst performance of any flagship university in the country" since 2015, adding it "cannot continue." "The University of Missouri has lacked strong leadership for far too long," Greitens said in the prepared statement. "That leadership vacuum has created a crisis." In his statement, Greitens said he wanted to work with Choi and Cartwright and called for "a new, bold approach for our flagship university and the entire UM System that creates excellence and puts the needs of Missouri citizens first."
DeVos says Education Department will provide relief to students promised loan discharge
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told lawmakers Wednesday that her department will follow through on promises to provide loan forgiveness to borrowers who attended for-profit colleges found to have defrauded students. "Those to whom we've made commitments, we are going to make good on that commitment and that is in process," DeVos said at a House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee hearing on the department's budget proposal. In a hearing in which members of Congress mostly quizzed the secretary about large proposed cuts to programs for students across the department in the White House budget, Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark pressed DeVos to affirm that the department would move forward with promised loan forgiveness.
Vision to Learn: Giving the gift of vision to Mississippi students
Haley Barbour and Gayle Wicker write in The Clarion-Ledger: "Mississippi is the proud birthplace of many American literary giants from William Faulkner and Eudora Welty to Natasha Trethewey. The state's public schools are helping nurture the next generation of great minds. Every morning when students go to school, they carry important supplies in their backpack -- books, pencils, notepads. But, unfortunately, as many as 50,000 children in Mississippi go to school without something simple that is critical to their success -- a pair of glasses. Vision To Learn, founded by Austin Beutner, was created to solve this issue."
Delta dispatches: Attempting to understand the people and the place
Jackson-based consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "Most folks who enjoy reading books about Mississippi have already consumed Richard Grant's 2015 'Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta.' I've heard Grant speak and read from his Delta chronicle, and the native-Englishman turned Mississippian deserves the accolades he has received for his humorous and curious examination of a fish-out-of-water life in the Delta. I've only just read it myself. He covers wildlife, the Blues, race, farming, working, shopping, hunting, funerals, weddings, eating and drinking and the other necessities of life. For purposes of space and so not to repeat what others have written about this book, this is not a review. But in his joyous celebration of the Delta, two depressing stories of deterioration jumped off the page at me."

Konnor Pilkington pitches Mississippi State into second round
Konnor Pilkington extended No. 19 Mississippi State's stay at the SEC Tournament by at least two days after pitching eight shutout innings on Wednesday. The sophomore southpaw baffled Georgia batters all morning long in the 3-0 victory and sent MSU into the second round. "We just want to continue to make as much noise as we possibly can in this tournament," said MSU skipper Andy Cannizaro. "That's why I'm so jacked with the way they played today. Now we're into the double elimination part, and anything can happen." Fifth-seed State will take on fourth-seeded Arkansas today at 9:30 a.m. on the SEC Network.
Mississippi State advances in SEC Tournament over Georgia
Andy Cannizaro figured he would get five innings from Konnor Pilkington on Wednesday. That made sense, considering the Mississippi State southpaw started on short rest. Pilkington's expectations were different, though. At the end of every top-half of every inning early on, Pilkington met Cannizaro near the top step of the dugout. Some of those times, Pilkington told Cannizaro to "Send me back out there." Other times, he simply relayed, "I'm good." Regardless, it was clear Pilkington was going to pitch more than five innings. "At some point, I just quit asking," Cannizaro said. Pilkington threw eight scoreless innings, Riley Self earned the save and Brent Rooker belted a two-run homer to lead Mississippi State over Georgia, 3-0, in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
Konnor Pilkington, Mississippi State blank Georgia in SEC Tournament
Mississippi State's Brent Rooker was chosen SEC Player of the Year for baseball earlier this week. Wednesday afternoon at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, Rooker began putting his stamp on the league's postseason tournament. Rooker hit a two-run first-inning home run and had three hits overall as No. 5 seed MSU finished the first round of the tournament with a 3-0 win over No. 12 seed Georgia. MSU (35-22) will advance to play No. 4 seed Arkansas (39-15) at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in second round of the event. While Rooker had a starring role in Wednesday's victory, Konnor Pilkington did his part as well. The sophomore left-hander from Hurley threw eight innings of shutout ball, allowing five hits with six strikeouts on 100 pitches.
Georgia ends season with loss to Mississippi State in SEC Tournament
Sophomore Konnor Pilkington carried a shutout to the ninth to lead 19th-ranked Mississippi State to a 3-0 win over Georgia at the SEC Tournament Wednesday at the Hoover Met. MSU junior first baseman Brent Rooker, the SEC Player of the Year, provided a 2-0 lead when he smashed his league-leading 21st home run in the first inning off junior Chase Adkins. In the third, State loaded the bases with one out and only managed a sacrifice fly from Hunter Vansau to make it 3-0. State improves to 35-22 while Pilkington is now 7-5.
Rafael Palmeiro rooting for Brent Rooker to capture Triple Crown
From his home in Colleyville, Texas, Rafael Palmeiro watched a Mississippi State baseball game earlier this season. He saw Brent Rooker's statistics flash on the screen. He heard an analyst mention 1984. Then a thought occurred to Palmeiro. "'Wouldn't it be awesome,' I said to either my kids or my wife," Palmeiro told The Clarion-Ledger by phone Tuesday, "'if he were to win the Triple Crown as a guy at Mississippi State?'" Palmeiro was the last player to capture the SEC Triple Crown. The former big-leaguer with more than 3,020 career hits and 569 home runs pulled off the rare feat in 1984 while playing at Mississippi State. Palmeiro hit .415 with 29 home runs and 94 RBIs that season. Now, 33 years later, another Mississippi State slugger has a significant chance at joining Palmeiro in the exclusive club.
Ace in hold: Arkansas' Blaine Knight regains form, waiting in wings
Blaine Knight got his mojo back last week, right on time for the No. 13 Arkansas Razorbacks to start their postseason run. "I feel good," said Knight, who is scheduled to pitch Arkansas' third game at the SEC Tournament if the Razorbacks are still alive. "I went out there and did what I was supposed to do. Knight's best outing in six weeks gives the Razorbacks a pair of healthy aces at the top of their rotation entering the postseason. Trevor Stephan (5-3, 3.24 ERA) will start today's 9:30 a.m. game against Mississippi State, while Knight (7-4, 3.23) will either throw Friday or get his first postseason start at an NCAA regional next week. Knight's struggles late in the year, when he took three losses and a no decision in a four-start span, were surprising given his five-start stretch to open SEC play.
Alabama AD Greg Byrne addresses firing of Greg Goff
Greg Goff was fired as University of Alabama head baseball coach Wednesday after leading the program for just one year. Director of Athletics Greg Byrne formally announced the decision in a news conference. The Tuscaloosa News first reported his dismissal earlier in the day. The Tuscaloosa News reported on Tuesday night that Goff had attempted to reduce or revoke the scholarships of up to 10 players in violation of NCAA bylaws during their exit interviews on Monday. Byrne said in the news conference that all scholarships would be honored for 2018 if players wish to return. Since scholarships are renewed each year on July 1 and Goff's intentions were not carried about, no NCAA violations occurred. "There were no rules violations," Byrne said.
Nation's top athletes in Lexington this week for NCAA track preliminary championships
The University of Kentucky's track and field team is set to host the NCAA East Preliminary Championships this weekend, starting on Thursday and ending on Saturday. The East Preliminary Championships are essentially the first qualifying rounds for the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., on June 7-10. Similarly, there is the West Preliminary Championships being held in Austin, Texas this weekend. Each regional preliminary will send the top 12 athletes from each event to the NCAA Championships. However, in the decathlon and the heptathlon, the top 24 declared athletes have already received their entry into the NCAA Championships. The action will take place at UK's Outdoor Track and Field Complex on campus.

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