Friday, May 26, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State coastal researchers get to throw out their muddy boots in favor of drone
Gray Turnage is looking forward to the day when he no longer has to trudge through mud to do coastal wetland research. Turnage is an invasive species expert with Mississippi State University and was recently part of a team that used a drone to map a species of wetland plant. The drone allowed researchers to get better images than from a satellite, cut down on the cost of plotting the plants by hand and spend less time in the mud. "For me, I think it gives us as resource managers a new tool to do our jobs," Turnage said. "If I never have to hike into a marsh again that would be nice." Using a drone for coastal wetland research has implications beyond the Mississippi State team's project.
MSU Psychology Clinic offering behavior program for preschoolers
Parents having issues with their preschooler's behavior may be able to get some help through a new program at the Mississippi State University Psychology Clinic. Since January, the clinic has offered a brief behavioral intervention program for children between two and six years old. The program lasts between six and eight one-hour sessions at a cost of $10 a session, although a sliding scale fee is available to families who qualify. "We are covering three big concepts," said Clinic Supervisor and MSU Assistant professor of Psychology Torri M. Jones. "We're addressing tantrums, whining, that kind of thing, aggressive behavior and non-compliance." Jones said help with bathroom and sleep issues would also be available, depending on the child's needs. Jones said six families had been through the program so far, with more slots available.
SMART summer changes should have little biz impact
Starkville sees a decrease in population during Mississippi State University's summer months and one way to track the expected economic impact is through attendance on the city's public transit system. Director of Parking and Transit services at MSU Jeremiah Dumas said ridership for Starkville-MSU Area Rapid Transit (SMART) is at its highest during the spring and fall semesters. Many of Starkville's businesses, such as Walmart, downtown businesses and restaurants, the hospital, and the Sportsplex, are along those routes. Those businesses still see a steady flow of visitors from the SMART routes during the summer months. "Our city routes also see a slight reduction in ridership because students also use those routes to move around Starkville and to get to campus," Dumas said. "But it has been encouraging over the last couple of years to watch our city ridership grow in numbers with people who are not affiliated with the university."
Unemployment rates continue to fall across the board
The April unemployment data, released Wednesday by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, showed steady improvement on the local, state and national levels. More Mississippians are at work than at any time in the past 16 years, while nationally the seasonally-adjusted unemployment is at its lowest rate in a decade. In the Golden Triangle, unemployment rates ranged from a low of 3.9 percent in Oktibbeha County to 5.8 percent in Noxubee County, following both state and national trends. While Mississippi's seasonally-adjusted rate of 5.0 percent remains seventh highest in the nation, it is lower than the rates in neighboring Louisiana (5.4 percent) and Alabama (5.8 percent).
Starkville admits inadvertent error with untimely FOIA production
The city of Starkville admits in a recent ethics defense it failed to provide former George M. Bryan Airport fixed-based operator Kenneth Aasand documents in a timely manner and attributed the error to a "lack of communication and follow-up." Aasand, who filed the claim after failing to receive minutes from the Starkville Airport Board's December, January and February meetings within the city's seven-day window for producing public records, confirmed to The Dispatch he filed a fourth ethics complaint against Starkville that alleges the city again failed to provide him documents in a timely fashion related to an aviation fuel dispute lingering since aldermen canceled his business' contract in 2016.
Lottery committee begins work of gathering information
Richard Bennett said the task of a newly formed lottery study committee he chairs is not to make a recommendation on whether Mississippi should enact a lottery, but "if it happens, we want it to be done right." The nine-member committee, formed by House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, hosted its first public meeting Thursday. The meeting, which lasted about 30 minutes, attracted a large crowd of lobbyists and others to the state Capitol. In the coming months, Bennett, R-Long Beach, said committee members will visit neighboring Arkansas and Louisiana, which have lotteries, to gather information. He said the panel, which includes five House members, will gather information on operational issues, social issues and economic issues. "The intent of this group is not to make recommendations, but to gather facts," said Bennett, who normally chairs the House Gaming Committee.
'Lottery 101': Panel digs into pros, cons of Mississippi lottery
A special House committee took a "lottery 101" course on Thursday, as it begins studying the pros and cons of enacting a Mississippi lottery, which has been a source of political, moral and economic debate since statehood 200 years ago. "The intent of this group is not to make recommendations, but present facts," said House Gaming Chairman Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach. He is also chairman of the new Mississippi House Lottery Study Working Group, which held its first meeting Thursday at the Capitol. Some state leaders -- including Gov. Phil Bryant -- and many citizens have been advocating the creation of a Mississippi lottery to help with anemic revenue and ameliorate lost dollars from residents buying tickets in surrounding states. But others, including House Speaker Philip Gunn, oppose a lottery on religious, moral or socioeconomic grounds.
Lottery study committee: 'No outcome in mind'
For the first time since the early 1990s, lawmakers are officially studying the merits of bringing a state lottery to Mississippi. The House committee, formed by House Speaker Philip Gunn, met publicly for the first time Thursday at the Capitol. Rep. Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach and House Gaming chairman, highlighted that the committee's purpose is to present relevant data and lottery practices of other states to the committee and to be "as objective and independent as possible." "We are not looking for any particular outcome," Bennett said. "No one, Speaker Gunn or no one, has asked me or this committee to move in a certain direction whatsoever. It's very important you don't jump out here and go into it blind. If it happens, we want it to be done right."
NOAA predicts above-normal Atlantic hurricane season
Warm ocean waters could fuel an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, while storm-suppressing El Nino conditions are expected to be scarce, U.S. government forecasters said Thursday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast calls for 11 to 17 named storms, with five to nine hurricanes. Two to four hurricanes are expected to be "major" with sustained winds of at least 111 mph. While climate models show considerable uncertainty, "there's a potential for a lot of Atlantic storm activity this year," said Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator.
Woman charged after accidental shooting at UMMC medical clinic
A woman was charged after the accidental discharge of her gun inside a medical clinic on the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus Thursday. One person was struck in the leg when Debra Romedy McQuillen dropped her purse and the gun inside it went off at Lakeland Family Medicine Center. The wounded person was transported to UMMC emergency room by ambulance. The injuries are not believed to be life threatening. McQuillen, 58, was charged by UMMC campus police and booked into the Hinds County Detention Center.
UGA administrators on implementing 'campus carry' for tailgating
University of Georgia administrators are preparing for the reality that the state's "campus carry" legislation that goes into effect July 1 will permit guns to be carried at football tailgating. There are still uncertainties with the law such as if guns would be permitted inside the football locker room in the Butts-Mehre building. "I haven't had that question answered yet so I wouldn't want to speak for our system or general counsel," UGA president Jere Morehead said Thursday after the Athletic Association's spring meeting. "I can't imagine why that would be." Added athletic director Greg McGarity: "We have to define in our building what areas are or are not. We're not there yet." Morehead said he wants to move forward and not get "bogged down with what if questions" on the law but to operate the university "in a very careful and thoughtful way."
Vanderbilt graduate traveling globe to study fatherhood
Nigel Walker wants to be a good dad. And because he grew up without one, he's traveling to all seven continents in a year to understand the role fathers play across cultures and families. Along the way, he'll log video interviews and blog entries that could serve as guideposts when he starts a family of his own. His work will be supported by Vanderbilt University's Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellowship, which sends one or two graduating seniors on a year of global study. Each project is rooted in one question: What are you passionate about? For Walker, the answer was immediate -- and deeply personal. The Atlanta native's father was "out of the picture" by the time he was born, and died when he was 10. Walker earned his degree in engineering science, and he ultimately wants to apply his academic experience in the business world.
Texas A&M names new vice president for enrollment and academic services
Texas A&M University named Joseph Pettibon II as its new vice president for enrollment and academic services Thursday. A graduate of A&M, Pettibon currently serves as associate vice president for academic services. He has worked for the university for more than two decades. "Today's announcement merely elevates this important position to the level of vice president and formally joins the President's Cabinet," said Karan L. Watson, provost and executive vice president. "Joe's diligence, steadfast management and effective leadership of some of the university's most critical academic services warrants his promotion and the elevation of Enrollment and Academic Services to the University Cabinet level."
Texas A&M professor: NAFTA benefits not as widely discussed
Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University professor Raymond Robertson has been studying the North American Free Trade Agreement since its origins nearly 25 years ago and says the negative effects have been more widely discussed recently than its benefits. President Donald Trump's administration has announced an intention to renegotiate the deal, which has brought NAFTA back into the public spotlight. While Robertson said there are certainly Americans who have been negatively impacted by the deal since its implementation -- and are "rightfully" upset about it -- he added there are many people who don't even realize the positives it has afforded the average citizen. "Trade can be really complicated and people are busy," Robertson said. "It's really difficult to sit down and make the time to deeply understand these issues... So people often end up relying on places where you might not be getting the whole story, and that's been a big part of the problem with NAFTA. There are no cheerleaders out there listing the benefits."
Appeals court rejects revised version of Trump's travel ban
A federal appeals court on Thursday declined to lift an injunction on President Trump's ban on travel to the United States from six majority-Muslim nations. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in a 10-to-3 ruling, found that the Trump policies amounted to religious discrimination, in violation of the Constitution. Further, the appeals court found that while the president of the United States has broad powers related to entry to the country, those powers are not absolute. The case is expected to go to the U.S. Supreme Court. More than 15,000 students and more than 2,000 visiting scholars came to U.S. universities from the six nations named in the current version of the ban in 2015-16, according to data from the Institute of International Education.
NIH Probe by House Panel Expands
The National Institutes of Health is in hot water again with the House Energy and Commerce Committee over a scandal that occurred nearly two years ago at one of the agency's main research institutions. On Thursday, the panel broadened its probe into safety and compliance issues at the NIH Clinical Center, a research hospital located on the agency's campus in Bethesda, Maryland. In a letter sent to Director Francis Collins and obtained by Roll Call, the committee requested a larger swath of documents not yet provided by the agency. The inquiry -- which stems in part from new information uncovered by the committee -- resurfaces a scandal the NIH has tried vigorously to move past. But despite assuring congressional leaders that immediate corrective action was taken, the agency has yet to implement several of the key recommendations included in a report issued over a year ago.

Bulldogs produce 22nd comeback win
It seemed like it was just going to be one of those days for No. 19 Mississippi State on Thursday. The Bulldogs had stranded eight runners in scoring position through the first eight innings and trailed 13th-ranked Arkansas 3-2 heading into their final at bat. But just as it has done so many times this season, MSU mounted a comeback. The Diamond Dogs plated two runs in the top of the ninth to down the Razorbacks 4-3 and advance to the third round of the SEC Tournament. "This victory today just optimizes what our team is about," said MSU skipper Andy Cannizaro. "It was our 22nd come-from-behind victory this season. Our guys don't quit. They keep fighting, keep throwing punches. They do it for however long it takes to win a ballgame." Mississippi State moves on to face top-seeded Florida (41-15) at 11 a.m. Friday on the SEC Network. The Bulldogs will start sophomore right-hander Cole Gordon (2-2, 5.14) on the mound.
Mississippi State rallies to beat Arkansas in SEC Tournament
Mississippi State's starting pitcher lasted only four innings. The Bulldogs trailed late in the game. MSU still won the game. What, you were expecting things to change in the SEC Tournament after the Bulldogs racked up 21 come-from-behind wins in the regular season? If Mississippi State is going to make a deep run in this tournament and another serious one in the NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs are likely going to have to do it the way they have since February: by defying odds and not quitting. That's what Mississippi State did when it rallied to beat Arkansas 4-3 in the second round of the SEC Tournament. Mississippi State is likely headed to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed regardless of what happens in the SEC Tournament, unless, perhaps, the Bulldogs win the whole thing.
Mississippi State rallies to best Arkansas in SEC Tournament
Patience paid off for the Mississippi State baseball team Thursday morning. After missing out on several scoring opportunities early, No. 5 seed MSU scored twice in the ninth inning to defeat No. 4 seed Arkansas 4-3 in the final game of the second round of the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. The win was the Bulldogs' 22nd in come-from-behind fashion. MSU advances to face top-seeded Florida at 11 a.m. Friday. In the MSU ninth inning, Ryan Gridley singled and Brent Rooker doubled to bring home the game-tying run. Jake Mangum singled back to the pitcher on a bunt attempt. Hunter Stovall reached as a hit batsman. Former Biloxi standout Cody Brown then drew a bases-loaded walk to force in the go-ahead run. "There is no quit in this team," Rooker said.
Ninth-inning rally lifts Bulldogs past Hogs
For the 22nd time this season, the Mississippi State baseball team came from behind to win a game. This time it waited until the last inning to do it. For the first time this season, MSU (36-22) won a game after trailing after eight innings. The Bulldogs scored two runs in the top of the ninth to beat Arkansas (39-16) 4-3. MSU will play top-seeded Florida at 11 a.m. Friday. If the Bulldogs win, they will go straight to the semifinals, but a loss would put them in an elimination game where the winner goes to the semifinal. MSU needed just two at-bats in the ninth-inning rally to tie the game. Shortstop Ryan Gridley led off with a single and first baseman Brent Rooker followed with an RBI double to tie the game. MSU scored the winning run on a walk.
Bulldogs rally, send Hogs into survival mode
The SEC player of the year made sure Mississippi State wouldn't remember its early game at the SEC Tournament on Thursday as a blizzard of blown scoring chances. Brent Rooker drove a 1-1 slider from Cannon Chadwick into the gap in left-center field for a game-tying double in the ninth inning, then scored the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk to propel No. 19 Mississippi State past No. 13 Arkansas by a final score of 4-3 at the Hoover Met. The Bulldogs (36-22) got their first victory against the Razorbacks (39-16) this season, improved to 2-4 against Arkansas at the SEC Tournament and advanced to a winner's bracket game at 11 a.m. Friday against No. 5 Florida. "There were certainly some pressure-filled situations and moments there where you kept thinking that you were only going to get so many opportunities against a really good Arkansas team," Mississippi State Coach Andy Cannizaro said.
Game notes: Brent Rooker delivers again for Mississippi State
Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn saw the looming danger of Brent Rooker coming from innings away. "We knew a couple of innings earlier we had to go three up, three down in the eighth and three up, three down in the ninth so we wouldn't have to get to him," he said. Ryan Gridley's leadoff single just made the regrettable situation even worse. It brought Rooker to the plate with no outs and the tying run on first base. Rooker delivered, hitting an RBI double that scored Gridley and tied the game. After moving to third on a bunt single and a hit batsman, Rooker went on to score the go-ahead run on Cody Brown's bases-loaded walk. It was the decisive run as MSU (36-22) completed the comeback victory in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, beating Georgia (39-16) 4-3. No. 18 MSU, as the 5 seed, will face top-seeded and No. 4 Florida at 11 a.m. Friday with the winner going to the semifinals.
U. of Florida faces Mississippi State challenge
Top-seeded Florida, the SEC regular-season champs, gets its first look at Mississippi State and SEC Player of the Year Brent Rooker starting at noon today in the third round of the league tournament. The Gators (41-15) defeated Auburn 5-4 in a second-round game late Wednesday. Florida jumped ahead 4-0, but Auburn responded with four runs in the top of the seventh inning to pull even. Florida went ahead for good when Christian Hicks walked with the bases loaded, scoring JJ Schwarz. UF and MSU did not play during the regular season. The Gators will face one of the nation's top players in Rooker, who led the SEC in several offensive categories, including batting average (.415), hits (85), RBI (73), home runs (20), doubles (28), slugging percentage (.873) and total bases (179) during the regular season.
SEC's No. 1 99: Mississippi State linebacker Johnie Cooks
Middle linebacker Johnie Cooks piled up tackles and accolades in four seasons at Mississippi State, but he also helped the Bulldogs pile up victories in a way they hadn't for decades. MSU's 17 victories in his junior and senior seasons were the most in consecutive seasons for the school in 40 years. The most memorable victory for Cooks' Bulldogs came on Nov. 1, 1980, when MSU upended No. 1 Alabama 6-3 in Jackson before 50,891 spectators, the largest crowd to attend a sports event in Mississippi at that time. Mississippi State's victory ended the Crimson Tide's 28-game winning streak and MSU's 22-game losing streak to Alabama. Already a second-team All-SEC pick as a freshman, Cooks was a first-team All-SEC selection in 1980. The next season, he raised that to first-team All-American on The Associated Press' team. UPI chose him as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 1981, too.
Attorney for Houston Nutt says legal action against Ole Miss is a possibility
Ole Miss is expected next week to make public its response to the NCAA on a second round of allegations that the school released in late February. Thursday the attorney for former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, in a report, said he would consider legal action for damage done to Nutt's reputation in what the attorney called a "smear campaign." Attorney Thomas Mars said the university, in early public statements, intentionally tried to portray that Nutt and his staff were a bigger part of the NCAA investigation than they actually were. Ole Miss spokesman Kyle Campbell directed Yahoo to the athletics department's initial public statement acknowledging that both former and current staffs were named in the NCAA's notice of allegations. Campbell told the Daily Journal he is unfamiliar with specific conversations between Mars and the school's legal counsel and could not verify if a lawsuit had been threatened.
Houston Nutt seeking apology from Ole Miss after NCAA violation reaction: 'It devastates you'
Columnist Pat Forde writes for Yahoo Sports: "In late January 2016, Houston Nutt suddenly started getting questions about NCAA violations at his last coaching job, at the University of Mississippi. Questions from colleagues at CBS Sports, where Nutt was working as an analyst. Questions from coaching friends within the sport. Even questions from his mother. Emogene Nutt read the latest news back home in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and called her son asking, 'What did you do?' 'It hurts you,' Nutt said to Yahoo Sports this week. 'It devastates you.' This was the residual effect of an Ole Miss damage-control strategy in the wake of revelations about NCAA violations -- a strategy that seemed like an attempt to divert scrutiny from current coach Hugh Freeze and staff to Nutt, who was the Rebels' head coach from 2008-11. That has left Nutt feeling wronged and seeking recourse -- a public apology from the university, and an acknowledgement that Mississippi tried to portray him as a bigger part of its problem than he actually was."
Auburn gets no-hit and run-ruled as it is eliminated from SEC Baseball Tournament
No player in the 40-year history of the SEC Tournament had ever hit three home runs or driven in seven runs in a single game. No team in had ever been no-hit in any of the 510 games played. Both things happened in a Thursday night contest between No. 8-seed Auburn and No. 4-seed Arkansas. The Tigers came out on the wrong side of history on both counts. Chad Spanberger provided the offensive fireworks and three pitchers held Auburn hitless in the seven-inning contest as Arkansas cruised to a 12-0 run-rule victory. The win extends the Razorbacks' stay in Hoover for at least one more day and sends the Tigers home after two consecutive losses. It marks the first time in program history -- which dates back to 1933 -- that Auburn has been no-hit in a game.
Never seen a day like this: 3 HRs from Razorback first baseman, first no-hitter in tourney history
There wasn't room for Arkansas Razorbacks first baseman Chad Spanberger on the All-SEC teams this week. There wasn't room for Spanberger inside the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium on Thursday night, either. On a night when three Razorback pitchers combined for the first no-hitter in SEC Tournament history and Jax Biggers tied a school record with two triples, Spanberger was the standout. Spanberger belted three home runs, including a grand slam, and drove in seven runs to power No. 13 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville to a 12-0 mercy-rule rout of No. 23 Auburn in an elimination game. Arkansas (40-16) advanced to tonight's late game to face the loser of Florida vs. Mississippi State in an elimination game.
Baseball coach Scott Stricklin returning next season to UGA
Georgia baseball coach Scott Stricklin is returning for a fifth season. he Bulldogs ended this past season with a 25-32 record and lost in their first game in the SEC tournament Wednesday, raising questions about his future. Athletic director Greg McGarity declined to comment on Thursday at the Athletic Association's spring board of directors meeting but Stricklin confirmed to the Athens Banner-Herald he is being retained. No announcement about Stricklin is expected because he has two years remaining on his contract. There will be staff changes, with pitching coach Fred Corral who has been with Stricklin for all four seasons at Georgia not expected to be back.

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