Wednesday, June 14, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
David Perkes, Gulf Coast Community Design Studio have winning entry in Knight Cities Challenge
After three years of trying, David Perkes and the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio have one of the 33 winning entries in the $5 million Knight Cities Challenge. More than 4,500 ideas were submitted to make the 26 communities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work. Biloxi/Gulfport is one of those locations because Knight-Ridder previously published the Sun Herald. "It's great to have a winner here in Biloxi," said Perkes. Gulf Coast Community Design Studio is an outreach program of Mississippi State University's College of Architecture, Art and Design, and Perkes is a professor and licensed architect who directs the efforts of the group out of its office at Vieux Marche in Biloxi.
Starkville K-12 teachers travel to Israel, Jordan with Mississippi State program
Four Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District teachers, as well as Mississippi State University students and professors, are traveling in the Middle East for an educational archeology trip offered through the Fulbright-Hays grant awarded last year. Kate McClellan, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures at MSU, most recently worked in the Middle East in 2014 and is leading this tour through Jordan for two weeks. "This group has done some background reading on Middle Eastern history, culture, society and politics as part of the program, and they will hear a number of scholarly lectures throughout the trip," McClellan said. James Hardin, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures at MSU, will lead the tour through Israel for 2 1/2 weeks.
Sen. Cochran welcomes Secretary Perdue's readiness to 'right-size' FY2018 ag budget
U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), on Tuesday welcomed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue's readiness to work with Congress to set appropriate funding levels for agriculture research and other programs. Perdue testified at a Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the administration's FY2018 budget request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Cochran is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a veteran member of the agriculture subcommittee. Responding to Cochran, Perdue praised agriculture research conducted in Mississippi and pledged to "work to right-size the budget." "You and I were just at the Delta Council at the Stoneville research facility, which in my opinion is one of the best examples of the collaboration between our land grant universities in this case Mississippi State University, and our ARS of the USDA. It was a seamless operation, and I don't think those people even knew whether they had a Mississippi State shirt on, extension agent or ARS, the way they were working together collaboratively," Perdue said.
George King to serve as 83rd Delta Council president
George King, a row crop producer from Chatham, Miss., has been elected to serve as the 83rd president of the Delta Council, the Delta region's farm policy, conservation, health care, education and chamber of commerce organization. King, a 30-year partner in Nelson-King Farms, which is located in the Glen Allen area of the south Delta, was introduced as the new president at the organization's annual meeting on the Delta State University Campus in Cleveland, Miss. King was born in Leland, Miss., and earned a bachelor of science degree from Mississippi State University before becoming a partner in Nelson-King Farms.
Starkville-Oktibbeha district facing budget cuts in 2018
Most of the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District's departments will see funding cuts, following a budget work session at the school board meeting Tuesday. The board held a public budget work session for the 2018 fiscal year, including the main operating funds of the district. Funds covered included the District Maintenance Fund, Local Special Education Fund, Alternative School Fund and Vocational Fund These are funded by MAEP (Mississippi Adequate Education Program) and local ad valorem taxes. Chief Financial Officer Tammie McGarr said she would not be completely sure of the ad valorem taxes until Oktibbeha County released its tax projections in mid-July. However, McGarr said she did not expect any change from the previous fiscal year. Total expenditures in the budget are listed at $42,405,904, 1.15 percent less than fiscal year 2017.
Johnny Moore seeks judicial review of mayoral runoff
Starkville attorney Johnny Moore asked a judge to mediate his contest of the May 16 Democratic primary runoff one day before his counsel was set to argue election issues before Oktibbeha County Democratic Party executives. Filed Monday, Moore's petition for judicial review restates numerous alleged irregularities his Columbus-based attorney, William Starks, previously said influenced his client's six-vote loss to Mayor-elect Lynn Spruill and calls for rejected ballots to be accepted and accepted ballots to be rejected, or for a third mayoral election. The Moore campaign is challenging more than 60 of the 287 absentee votes Starkville received in the runoff. Specifically, the petition states eight of the 18 absentees rejected were valid, while 53 accepted ballots "do not comply with Mississippi law."
Lisa Wynn to become lobbyist after close Ward 2 race
Outgoing Ward 2 Alderman Lisa Wynn will not be on the Board of Alderman in the coming term, but she is not giving her up career in politics. Wynn told the SDN on Tuesday she has accepted a lobbyist position with the Jackson-based Octagon Group -- a nonprofit group that lobbies for municipalities, government agencies and businesses in both the public and private sector. "I look forward to using my municipal knowledge and networking skills in many areas, especially economic development," Wynn said. "I am grateful for this opportunity to work with Mr. Quincy Mukoro, President, and his team at The Octagon Group." Wynn said her time serving on the Mississippi Municipal League Legislative Committee has prepared her for the new role.
Coastal lawmaker praises campaign finance reform measures
He waited 13 years to see it happen, but when your side is right, the long-run perspective is your friend -- at least that's the way state Rep. Henry Zuber sees it. Zuber, of Oceans Springs, represents a coastal district in the Mississippi House of Representatives but spent part of Monday evening far inland with the Lee County Republican Club and recounted for his listeners the long slog to win approval for campaign finance reform. Zuber said this slog began more than a decade ago when he began to file bills seeking to tighten up Mississippi's lax regulation of campaign cash. Those efforts finally saw fruition this most recent legislative session with the enactment of a bill that bars politicians from using campaign funds for personal use. "We never gave up, we never faltered, we never tired," Zuber said. "It was a team effort. It wasn't easy but it was the right thing to do."
DPS, ad agency at odds over $700,000 advertising bill
The owner of a local ad agency says she's been left holding the bag on nearly $700,000 in bills for Department of Public Safety buckle-up and anti-drunk driving ads run by dozens of media outlets statewide around Christmastime. DPS officials said they are simply following terms of the contract with the agency and federal regulations, and will reimburse the ad agency only after it pays all the media bills. But the agency says DPS has for years paid the media bills as a "flow-through," not as reimbursement to the ad agency, and also points to the contract. DPS spokesman Warren Strain said: "We are waiting for the proper documentation (from Mann). It is federal money, subject to requirements by the federal government, and it says plainly in the contract that the contractee is to pay the fees up front and be reimbursed."
GOP baseball shooting: Lawmaker Steve Scalise wounded, one person in custody
A gunman opened fire Wednesday morning on a baseball practice at a park in Alexandria involving Republican members of Congress, injuring several people including at least one lawmaker, Steve Scalise, the majority whip, according to police and a congressman. The wounded also included at least one Capitol Police officer and the suspected shooter, according to one law enforcement official and witness accounts. Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown said two of his officers engaged in "gunfire and return fire." Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) tweeted that a "shooter attacked a GOP baseball practice. Rifle. 50+ shots fired. 5 hit including Steve Scalise. I am not shot." Scalise, 51, a representative from Louisiana, is the third-highest ranking House Republican and has a round-the-clock Capitol Police detail.
Congressmen Palazzo, Harper safe after shots fired at GOP baseball practice
Congressman Steven Palazzo and Congressman Gregg Harper are safe after shots were fired at a GOP baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. Police responded to reports of shots fired at or near a field where Republican Capitol Hill lawmakers were having baseball practice, according to reports. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-LA, was among those injured. Palazzo posted on Facebook around 7:30 a.m. announcing that he was safe, and offered his prayers to his colleagues. Harper tweeted that he was safe, and extended his prayers to Scalise. Alexandria police tweeted that there is a suspect in custody in connection to the shooting.
Mississippi congressmen OK after GOP baseball practice shooting
The Mississippi delegation to the U.S.. House of Representatives are all reported to be safe after a shooting at a Republican baseball team practice. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., and others were wounded when a gunman opened fire at a Alexandria, Va. park, authorities said. Mississippi 1st District Rep. Trent Kelly was at the scene of the shooting but was not injured, according to his office. 4th District Rep. Steven Palazzo would have normally been at practice but had a previously scheduled phone interview with SuperTalk radio. He told host Paul Gallo that he was shaken by the incident.
AG Jeff Sessions forcefully denies impropriety on Russia, Comey at Senate hearing
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions forcefully denied having conversations with the Russians about the 2016 election while also refusing to testify about private talks he had with the president during a contentious hearing Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Some Democrats on the committee claimed Sessions was obstructing their investigation by not talking about his conversations with Trump. The attorney general cited "Justice Department policy" for his reasoning, adding that Trump did not invoke executive privilege. But when grilled by the committee he could not cite the exact DOJ policy.
Free market meets net neutrality
In a Capitol Hilton ballroom last week, Chip Pickering, CEO of the telecommunications trade group Incompas and a former GOP congressman from Mississippi, argued on an economic conference panel that Republicans deserve credit for the competitive nature of the tech world. "If you look historically -- 1984, who broke up AT&T? It was Ronald Reagan," Pickering said. "If you look at the current open internet policy that was just adopted by the last [Federal Communications Commission] chairman -- who gave him the blueprint to do so? [Supreme Court] Justice [Antonin] Scalia." These days, it's uncommon to see a Republican arguing in favor of the FCC's open internet rules, more commonly known as net neutrality, a set of regulations passed during the Obama administration that are now on the chopping block in the new Republican-controlled FCC. Pickering, who still considers himself a fiscal conservative, sees net neutrality as the "last great battle" in competition policy.
US Cybersecurity in Need of Rapid Repair, Senators Told
Cybersecurity in the United States is in a severe state of disrepair, leaving the country vulnerable to attack from hacking groups backed by its opponents, two witnesses testified in a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday. The witnesses told the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy that they believe a massive cyberattack is imminent unless the U.S. ratchets up its efforts to protect against and deter offensives from countries such as Russia, China, and North Korea. Eric Rosenbach, who was chief of staff to former Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, told lawmakers he believes a large-scale attack by North Korea against the United States "is likely to happen within the next year, if current trends continue."
Mississippi Community College Costs Up 13 Percent After Cuts
Tuition and fees at Mississippi's 15 community and junior colleges will rise by 13 percent this fall, with the average annual price exceeding $3,000 for the first time as schools try to offset state budget cuts. That's bad news for students like Temeria Payton of Canton, who is studying liberal arts and foreign languages at Holmes Community College in Ridgeland. "That's the only problem we have, is the tuition," Payton said Tuesday, describing cost as her primary obstacle to getting a college degree. The 13.5 percent increase at Holmes is in line with what's happening statewide. Figures from the state Community College Board show average tuition and fees will rise to $3,104 annually, up from $2,748 this year. The tuition increases are part a wave of impacts across state agencies caused by budget cuts. Mississippi's eight public universities are raising tuition by 6.6 percent in the fall.
New parking policy enforced this July at U. of Mississippi
New parking software will mean new parking habits for some this summer. Eventually, it will eliminate the need for individual parking decals. The Department of Parking and Transportation sent out an email Monday afternoon announcing a new parking policy that would go into affect July 1. The email stated that, "backing into or pulling through a parking space will no longer be allowed." The new policy is being enacted in preparation for LPR-License Plate Recognition software. Shortly after the email was sent out, ASB Special Interest Senator Hunter Story started a petition titled “Help NOT make Ole Miss parking any worse.” Students are not the only ones upset with the change.
Dramatic cuts at JSU 'shouldn't come as a surprise,' but to some they did
Students, faculty and alumni of Jackson State University's Department of Speech Communication and Theater -- one of several departments being merged with others as a cost-saving measure -- are angry about the decision and apprehensive about the outcome. The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning will vote Thursday whether to approve this move and other recommendations that are a budget reduction and recovery plan for Jackson State proposed by interim President Dr. Rod Paige and his administration. The plan addresses the current financial crisis at JSU. "What you're seeing is the end result of the process. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. It had to happen," said Danny Blanton, Jackson State University spokesperson.
Farm to Fork Program feeds residents, reveals pressing needs
Whenever Rosie Jones eats fresh fruits and vegetables, she notices a deep difference in the way that she feels. "You feel better," said Jones, of Meridian. "It's fresh -- it's not preserved." Jones was among dozens of residents who came to the Multi-County Community Service Agency Tuesday afternoon to pick up a bag stuffed with squash, zucchini, bell peppers, onions sweet potatoes and various greens -- all part of the Farm to Fork Program conducted by UnitedHealthcare and the Alcorn State University Extension Program. John Coleman, extension educator for the Alcorn State University Extension Program, said members of UnitedHealthcare approached the program several years ago to see if they could find ways to bring excess produce to clients who need it.
U. of Alabama names first chief diversity officer
A former Purdue University official will be the first chief diversity officer at the University of Alabama. The university announced G. Christine Taylor as the new vice president and associate provost for diversity, equity and inclusion on Tuesday. Taylor will start Aug. 1, pending approval by the University of Alabama System board of trustees. "This role is critical to supporting the University's strategic goal for an inclusive and diverse community," Provost Kevin Whitaker said in comments released by UA. Taylor reports to Whitaker and UA President Stuart R. Bell, who announced plans to add a diversity officer to the administration last year. The new vice president will be tasked with establishing the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Gov. John Bel Edwards taps oil and gas executive Mary Werner for LSU board
Mary Werner, an oil and gas executive, was named Tuesday by Gov. John Bel Edwards to the LSU Board of Supervisors. She is daughter of former congressman Buddy Leach, who also once headed the state Democratic Party, and Laura Leach, who served on the LSU board for 18 years under four governors. "They're a little bit excited," Werner said of her parents reaction. "There are a lot of challenges ahead, trying to do more with less." Werner will fill the remainder of the term of Scott Angelle, the former Public Service Commission member who recently was hired by the Trump Administration. The term representing the 3rd Congressional District ends in June 2018. Werner went to Brenau Women's College in Georgia.
Dispute about sociology quiz question on slave families ends in U. of Tennessee lecturer's termination
It started with a question on a quiz: "Historical research on African-American families during slavery shows that..." A student took exception to what her instructor said was the correct answer, an email exchange ensued and things escalated. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville allegedly terminated the instructor, and the student is now celebrating on social media, saying she "got a racist professor fired midsemester after she tried to sabotage me." What exactly happened? Tennessee's sociology chair declined to comment on the matter, saying that would violate federal student privacy laws. Karen Ann Simsen, a university spokeswoman, said she couldn't address Parker's comments for the same reason.
U. of South Carolina gets OK to borrow millions for old law school renovation
The University of South Carolina Tuesday got the state's permission to borrow up to $45 million to renovate its former law school building on Main Street. The downtown Columbia school plans to revamp the 45-year-old, 194,000-square-foot building to make room for modern classrooms and science labs, according to documents filed with the state. Those labs are in "significant demand" with USC's growing enrollment in science, technology and engineering majors, the documents state. USC says it needs the money, plus $3.5 million already pledged by S.C. lawmakers, to remove asbestos and lead-based paint, replace the heating and air system and take care of other structural and maintenance needs. Construction is expected to begin in September, with the renovations complete by summer of 2019.
U. of Missouri reduces hours of student center, recreation center and unions
During the semester, rising University of Missouri sophomore Brett Young liked to work out in the evenings on weekends and late at night during the week.vThat's likely to change. Young, 19, was surprised to learn Tuesday that the MU Student Recreation Complex was one of several facilities that will reduce their hours of operation this fall in a money-saving move by the MU Division of Student Affairs. The MU rec complex will be open eight fewer hours per week when school starts up again. MU and the entire UM System face substantial financial challenges for the coming year. The university has laid off multiple employees and cut programs to lower costs.
Survey of more than 1,100 U.S. colleges looks at state of internationalization efforts
New results from a survey on the state of internationalization at U.S. colleges conducted every five years paint a picture of institutional priorities and progress. More than 1,100 American colleges and universities responded to the survey, which was conducted in 2016, for a response rate of 39.5 percent. The survey by the American Council on Education's Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement asked institutions about a broad array of indicators of "comprehensive internationalization," including indicators that relate to the flow of American students abroad and of international students to the U.S., administrative structures and staffing, incentives for faculty involvement, international partnerships, and the curriculum.
White House apprenticeship push will include funding and focus on alternative providers
Trump administration's apprenticeship push will include call for up to $200 million in new funding, a less balky federal registration process and more participation by noncollege education providers. The kickoff of President Trump's apprenticeship push is slated for today with a policy speech observers said will include a call for new money, a less balky federal approach to registered apprenticeships and more openness to noncollege providers handling the educational side of those programs. During a speech today at the U.S. Department of Labor, Trump is expected to announce a grant program of up to $200 million to expand apprenticeships, with an increased emphasis on growth industries like information technology and health care as well as manufacturing. However, the announcement follows a White House proposed budget that calls for deep cuts to existing work force programs.
House special session gambit ends in failure
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "At the end of the 2017 legislative session, House Transportation Chair Charles Busby, R-Pascagoula, boldly went to the well of the chamber to proclaim, 'There is a lot of give and take in politics. Some people seem more intent on doing the taking and never doing any giving. We are going to take a little back.' Busby, then made the surprise motion to reject the Department of Transportation budget bills that had been agreed to by key House and Senate negotiators, including himself. The full House, in near unanimity, followed his lead. The result of rejecting the conference report was a special session, which is what Busby, Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, and other members of the House leadership said they wanted to force the Senate leadership 'to the table' to consider options to provide more funds for transportation needs. ...The tactic of forcing a special session to garner a concession or a different result is not new in the Mississippi Legislature."

Mississippi State's Ben Howland optimistic about 2017-18 season
Ben Howland saw his men's basketball programs at Northern Arizona, Pittsburgh, and UCLA gain national relevance in his third season as head coach. Howland hopes the same holds true at Mississippi State. The veteran coach is beaming with optimism as he begins his 35th season -- and third with the Bulldogs -- as a coach. "You have to have players that are self-driven," Howland said Monday at the weekly meeting of the Starkville Rotary Club. "I have coached so many NBA players and those players all had the same pedigree. You have to be motivated. You have to take the court knowing you have outworked everyone of your opponents." Howland spoke highly of new strength and conditioning coach Collin Crane, who comes to MSU from Chattanooga. Howland said Crane's contributions are critical since the strength and conditioning coach gets 75 percent of the time players have with coaches during the eight-week summer program.
Former ECS star Brent Rooker picked by Twins in first round of MLB Draft
Former Evangelical Christian School standout Brent Rooker was selected in the first round (35th overall pick) by the Minnesota Twins on Monday in the MLB Draft. Rooker was a former three-sport star at ECS. The Mississippi State outfielder led the Bulldogs in virtually every offensive category this season including average (.387), hits (96), runs scored (60), doubles (30), home runs (23), RBIs (82) and was tied in triples (three). Rooker is a finalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award. "The season that we had was worth every second of coming back," said Rooker in a press release. "All of the hours I've put in grinding in the cage and on the field just to improve my game and improve myself as a player and a leader has paid off now."
Twins get a steal, taking State's Brent Rooker as 35th pick
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: "So Major League baseball held the first day of its annual draft Monday and 34 players were chosen before the Minnesota Twins picked Brent Rooker out of Mississippi State with the next to last pick of the first round. Color me surprised. I just don't believe there were 34 amateur baseball players in all the world who are potentially better Major League ballplayers than Rooker. ...One theory (mine), is that Major League baseball scouts and front office people haven't adjusted their evaluations of Rooker's game as much as he has adjusted his own game. He has been a walking, talking, baseball-bashing definition of a late bloomer."
Wheeler, Mississippi State standout Brandon Woodruff called up
Brandon Woodruff finally got the call he's been waiting on. The Milwaukee Brewers brought up the former Wheeler and Mississippi State standout and was scheduled to start on the mound Game 1 of a doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday but was scratched due to tightness in his right hamstring. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander is the 58th MSU player to reach the big leagues and seventh off the Bulldogs' College World Series team in 2013.
Canada's mountain running champ: Meggan Franks triumphed despite not having any serious hills to train on
On a cool Saturday morning in Canmore, Alta., the 2017 Canadian Mountain Running Championships, hosted by 5 Peaks and coupled with its sport/enduro/kids' races, let loose sixty-some athletes into the provincial park. Women's overall winner, Meggan Franks, described the course as a "roller coaster" and an excellent example of the sort of course runners would see on international routes. Alberta-born Franks now lives in Mississippi, where she works at a university and coaches some high school students throughout the state. Her husband is both the coach of the Mississippi State University track and field team and her own coach. The downside of being a mountain runner who lives in Mississippi is that her landscape is, um, pretty lacking in mountainous terrain. The lack of real-life hills didn't hinder this second-time national champion from dominating the race.
Alabama AD Greg Byrne is the new prototype
The evolution of the athletic director is on display for Greg Byrne every day as he walks to his office. The walls on his way to the office include displays detailing the careers of the University of Alabama ADs before him. The early days, just over 100 years ago, include men like J.W.H. Pollard and D.V. Graves, who coached football and other sports at UA while also serving as directors of athletics. Football came to dominate athletic departments later, and coaches like Wallace Wade, Hank Crisp and Paul W. "Bear" Bryant all worked as athletic directors as well. More recently, UA's director of athletics has taken a combination of administrative and coaching experience.
Auburn's Jay Jacobs honored as AD of Year by group of college athletics administrators
Auburn University athletic director Jay Jacobs was honored as an Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year Tuesday at the convention for the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. NACDA created the award program, now in its 19th year, to honor intercollegiate directors of athletics for their commitment and administrative excellence. Jacobs, Auburn's Director of Athletics since 2004, was selected from the organization's largest candidate pool in the past five years. "This award is a credit to the entire university, the Auburn Athletics Department staff, our coaches and our student-athletes," Jacobs said.
State asks high court to hear U. of Tennessee rape case
Make legal history. Stand up for victims' rights. That's the bait the state attorney general's office is dangling before a conservative-leaning Tennessee Supreme Court to persuade justices to use the case of a star football player whose sports career was waylaid by rape allegations to block the accused from perusing the text messages and social media chatter of accusers and witnesses. The AG's office this week filed a brief asking the state's high court to strike down a ruling earlier this year by the Court of Criminal Appeals in the case of former star University of Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson and ex-teammate Michael Williams. The case against the pair is on hold until the high court decides whether to hear the state's appeal. It could be weeks, even months, before justices make that decision.
Nearly four years since rape at Vanderbilt, third football player to stand trial
The day after one of his former Vanderbilt Commodores teammates walked into a Tennessee prison to start a 17-year sentence, Brandon E. Banks jogged onto a football field. Banks, now 23, has largely been out of the public eye as two of his former football teammates went to trial -- and were convicted -- in the June 2013 gang rape of an unconscious female student. Instead, while his own charges in the case were pending, the Maryland native moved to Jackson, Tenn., where he played two seasons as a defensive back for the Lane College Dragons. Now, a Nashville jury will decide whether Banks returns to the field for his senior season. Banks' trial on aggravated rape and other charges begins Monday, nearly four years to the day after the rape that rocked Vanderbilt University.

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