Friday, June 23, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Lincoln collection lands at Mississippi State
Sitting at his desk, all former Rhode Island Chief Justice Frank Williams can see are the empty shelves and cases surrounding him. The same shelves used to be lined with materials and items from one of the most extensive Abraham Lincoln collections in the U.S., and although it is bittersweet, Williams said, he knows the long journey his collection will soon be taking to Mississippi State University's Mitchell Memorial Library will benefit many more people. "You know, it was like getting rid of 50,000 children," Williams said. "But it was the right time, the right decision and the right place to go." MSU President Mark Keenum announced Tuesday the generous donation of Williams' private Lincoln and Civil War Collection, and said the gift will transform MSU into one of the nation's leading destinations for scholars and students studying the American Civil War.
Mississippi State receives grant for veterans business resources
Veterans will soon have more resources for starting a business, thanks to a five-year Small Business Administration grant of roughly $4 million. The grant will allow Mississippi State University, in partnership with the Office of Veterans Business Development to deliver Boots to Business instruction through a new online training course. Boots to Business is a program to help transitioning veterans and their families develop business models and vision. The funding is awarded based on an initial $824,100 project period plus four option years. MSU College of Business Dean Sharon Oswald said a representative from the business school was currently in Washington, D.C., at the kickoff event for the grant. "We're in the startup phase right now, and we hope to be starting this in July," Oswald said.
Jason Krutz to lead Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute
L. Jason Krutz is the new director of the Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute, a statewide water resources institute led by Mississippi State University. Most recently, Krutz served as irrigation specialist at the Delta Research and Extension Center at Stoneville and as executive director of the H2O Initiative. Krutz conceived and directed the Row-crop Irrigation Science Extension and Research (RISER) Program, which increased adoption of profitable irrigation best management practices for cotton, corn, soybeans, rice and peanuts across the state. MWRRI provides a coordinated research and development program to find solutions to water and water-related land use problems in the state and region.
Laura Lee Lewis' reign comes to an end
It's time for Brookhaven's Laura Lee Lewis to let someone else be Miss Mississippi so she can fulfill her dream of becoming a school principal. Lewis, 24, will crown the pageant's winner Saturday night in Vicksburg in the 83rd annual scholarship pageant. Now that her reign is almost over, Lewis, the daughter of Mark and Lorin Lewis of Madison, will finish her studies at Mississippi State University. She has one more semester to go for her degree in education with an emphasis in math and science. Then she'll do her student teaching. Because of her success in the Miss Mississippi and Miss America pageants, she'll be able to continue her education and seek her master's degree in educational administration.
Blood drive to honor Mississippi State's Sid Salter
Mississippi Blood Services has coordinated with Community Bank in Brandon to give donors the opportunity to give blood in honor of Mississippi State University Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter. Salter was diagnosed with lymphoma earlier this year and is currently undergoing treatment. MBS Public Relations and Communications Manager Merle Eldridge said a representative from Community Bank recently reached out to MBS about donating blood in his honor. MBS is now in the process of organizing blood drives specifically in Salter's honor. A code -- "DO79" -- has already been created by MBS to donate blood in his honor.
Wet weather brings out tiny, dangerous hitchhikers
Your mother warned you about hitchhikers. It's the eight-legged variety that is out in force in forests, meadows and backyards this summer, and they can bring some nasty baggage. "People need to be aware ticks can transmit a variety of diseases," said Jerome Goddard, Mississippi State University Extension professor of medical entomology. "The more bites you get, the more chance you have of getting sick." It's hard to say if this will be a record summer for ticks because local populations are highly variable, Goddard said. But it may feel like there's a bumper crop of the pests compared to last summer and fall, when drought conditions cut into their numbers.
Unemployment continues to drop in Golden Triangle
School is out... and it shows. While Mississippi's jobless rate in May reached a landmark low by one measure, the jobless rates jumped significantly by another, influenced by the end of the school year. Data from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security showed the unemployment rates of all four Golden Triangle counties spiked by more than a percentage point in May when compared to the previous month as high schools and colleges ended their school year and job-seeking students moved into the workforce. Despite that surge in unemployment -- anywhere from 1.2 percent in Lowndes County to 1.6 percent in Noxubee County -- the jobless rates for May were appreciably lower when compared to May 2016. And when that unemployment rate is seasonally-adjusted to account for the end of the school year, Mississippi's jobless rate of 4.9 percent is the lowest rate since seasonally-adjusted rates were first introduced in 1976.
Parker Wiseman sees future park space for Rolling Hills
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman says he's optimistic the incoming mayor and board of aldermen will continue his efforts to obtain a small portion of Ward 6 land and convert the space into a public park for the Rolling Hills subdivision. The city is working to collect signatures from property owners adjacent to a 2-acre area off Garrard Road after nearby residents complained about the structural integrity of a pond located on the parcel. Wiseman wanted to bring a finalized warranty deed to Tuesday's board meeting, but the city had only collected three of the estimated 11 signatures needed before a property transfer could be initiated. "Ideally, we'd like to have everybody in the city within walking distance to a park. This would go a long way toward achieving that goal because it will provide park space adjacent to one of the largest residential neighborhoods in Starkville," he said.
Supervisors move to attract fiber internet providers to Oktibbeha County
Living in rural areas outside the city limits can have its advantages, but a major disadvantage for thousands living in Oktibbeha County is a lack of high-speed internet service. The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a letter to be sent out to fiber internet providers requesting they expand their service to the scores of people in the county that currently do not have access to high-speed internet. District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller told the SDN many in the county have voiced their need for expanded service, which inspired the supervisors to act and take a proactive approach reaching out the companies that could make this possible. "There are a lot of people that work from home that live in the county," Miller said. "There are services available out there through cell type services, but many people would like the fast services."
Appeals court re-instates Mississippi's religious freedom law
Mississippi's Republican leadership praised Thursday's ruling by a three-judge panel of the United States' 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstating the state's controversial 2016 legislation that opponents said would lead to discrimination against gays and other groups on religious grounds. The Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act was struck down hours before it was slated to be enacted on July 1, 2016, by U.S. Judge Carlton Reeves of the Southern District of Mississippi. But upon appeal by Gov. Phil Bryant, the three-judge panel overturned Reeves' decision, saying the federal courts could not rule on the law until someone suffered actual harm, such as discrimination, because of the law.
Controversial HB 1523 now Mississippi's law of land
Mississippi's controversial religious objection bill, which has drawn harsh criticism from the LGBT community and others, is now in effect, thanks to an appeals court. A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that ministers, LGBT activists and others bringing the lawsuit lacked the standing to bring the litigation challenging House Bill 1523. House Bill 1523 is one bill in a wave of similar legislation proposed or adopted across the country in the last few years. Opponents argue these measures would legalize discrimination against the LGBT community. Mississippi civil rights attorney Robert McDuff, the Mississippi Center for Justice and Lambda Legal brought the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs and say they plan to appeal.
Court clears Mississippi LGBT objections law; appeal likely
A federal appeals court said Thursday that Mississippi can enforce a law that allows merchants and government employees cite religious beliefs to deny services to same-sex couples, but opponents of the law immediately pledged to appeal. A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a judge's decision that had blocked the law. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves had ruled that the law unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs and creates unequal treatment for LGBT people. His ruling prevented the law from taking effect last July. The law does not take effect immediately. Plaintiffs are allowed time to appeal.
Federal Court Lifts Injunction on Mississippi Anti-Gay Law
A federal appeals court on Thursday lifted an injunction on a Mississippi law that grants private individuals and government workers far-reaching abilities to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on religious grounds, though lawyers said the law was likely to remain blocked for the time being during the appeals process. Thursday's decision, issued by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, is part of a legal drama being closely watched by gay-rights advocates and religious conservatives. The state law, titled the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, was signed by Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, on April 5, 2016. It is considered the most aggressive of several state-level conservative responses to the United States Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015.
'Religious freedom' law likely to spark appeals, more lawsuits
Legal strategists are hunkering down for a prolonged fight over Mississippi's 'religious-objections' law. On June 22, a federal appeals court reversed a lower federal court's decision to strike down House Bill 1523, which the Legislature passed in 2016. Supporters of the law have said it is designed to protect the following beliefs: that marriage is between one man and one woman; that people should not have sex outside such marriages; and that a person's gender is set at birth. Mississippi's political leadership, including Republican Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, lauded Thursday's ruling. Meanwhile, LGBT legal advocates began formulating strategies to again beat back the law.
Gov. Phil Bryant tours Lauderdale County courthouse, states concern
Gov. Phil Bryant on Thursday called the condition of the Lauderdale County Courthouse "concerning" after a brief tour of the building. The governor stopped by the courthouse after participating in a local business' ribbon cutting earlier in the day. "You've got judges who are trying to hold trials and plaster falling," Bryant said. "It obviously is in desperate need of repair. The occupancy has certainly outgrown it...People of Lauderdale County need to understand we're going to have to as a state and as a county support Meridian in their downtown effort. But this courthouse is a symbol to the people that serve and live here in Lauderdale County, and I hope we can find a way to help them." The governor said some funding could come from the Mississipi Department of Archives and History or the U.S. Department of Justice.
U.N. Says World's Population Will Reach 9.8 Billion By 2050
The world's population growth is slowing, according to a new United Nations report, but the number of people living on Earth will still approach 10 billion by the year 2050. The document tallies the current population at 7.6 billion people, up from 7.4 billion just two years ago. This year's count means the world added roughly 1 billion people over the last dozen years. It will take 13 years to add the next billion, according to the report. The planet is expected to have 8.6 billion people in 2030, and 9.8 billion by 2050. The projection that an extra 1 billion people will inhabit the Earth in 13 years raises questions about the ability of global resources to keep up. Already, roughly 800 million people go to bed hungry, according to this 2015 U.N. report. It says a full one-third of the world's food is wasted every year. If just a quarter of it could be recovered, it would be enough to feed 870 million people.
USDA bans fresh Brazil beef imports over 'recurring' safety concerns
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) halted imports of fresh beef from Brazil on Thursday over recurring safety concerns about the products. Since March, USDA officials increased testing to cover "100% of all meat products" coming from Brazil, and turned away 11% of the country's fresh beef products, the USDA said in a statement. In total, the health officials have turned away 1.9 million pounds of Brazilian beef products over health concerns, sanitary conditions and animal health issues. According to the USDA, the rejected products never made it to grocery store shelves. The ban could come as a blow to Brazil, which is one of the world's top exporters of beef and poultry.
U. of South Carolina plans largest tuition hike in six years
Students should brace themselves to pay roughly $400 more in tuition to attend the University of South Carolina this coming school year, according to two sources close to the school. USC's trustees are expected to consider a tuition hike Friday in the neighborhood of 3.4 percent, the sources said. If approved, the tuition hike would cost in-state students about $400 more and out-of-state students about $1,000 more, starting this fall. USC did not announce the size of the proposed increase before Friday's trustees meeting. However, a 3.4 percent hike would be the largest in six years. The state's flagship university has increased its prices every year since 1987. Already this summer, the Citadel, Coastal Carolina, the College of Charleston and S.C. State University have approved tuition hikes -- most in the range of 3 percent to 3.25 percent. For almost as long, the state's leaders -- Republicans -- have criticized those price hikes.
LSU Board moves forward on medical marijuana contract; CEO: 'We are not a pot company'
Though some board members wanted more answers, the LSU Board of Supervisors gave President F. King Alexander authority Thursday to work out the details of a $3.4 million contract with a Las Vegas company to grow marijuana for medical purposes in Louisiana. But the Board of Supervisors, which sets policy at LSU, still will have an opportunity to question GB Sciences Inc. before the final deal is penned. The board's target date to do so is August. Under the general outline of the contract, GB Sciences would pay the LSU AgCenter $3.4 million or, if greater, a commission of 10 percent of gross receipts for an initial five-year term. The contract could be renewed for additional terms. The state named the agriculture centers at LSU and Southern University as the only legal growers of marijuana plants, from which medicines can be extracted.
Costs growing higher for LSU students
Louisiana State University is boosting charges on students at its main campus by 5 percent in the next school year, to raise $14 million for pay raises and other expenses, under a plan approved Thursday. The fee hike -- backed by the LSU System's governing board with little discussion and no objections -- comes as higher education escaped state budget cuts for the first time in nearly a decade in the just-ended legislative session. All students at the Baton Rouge campus will pay $270 more per semester for the 2017-18 school year. And those who receive free tuition from the state's TOPS program won't be immune. TOPS doesn't cover the fee increase. LSU is using authority recently approved by lawmakers.
U. of Florida at top of class for performance funding
The University of Florida finished first among the 11 universities eligible for state performance funding in the upcoming budget year, garnering $55 million of the $245 million total. UF netted $7 million in new performance funding, up from $48 million in the current year, in a list approved Thursday by the state university system's Board of Governors, during its meeting at the University of South Florida. The annual list is based on 10 measurements of performance by each of the institutions, including a six-year graduation rate, salaries of recent graduates, retention of students and student costs. Florida Polytechnic University, the state's newest school, is not eligible yet. While UF was at the top, dramatic performance-funding shifts, both positive and negative, impacted a half-dozen other schools.
U. of Tennessee president hopes to hire Title IX coordinator by year's end
There's no firm timeline for when the University of Tennessee will have in place some of the recommendations of a new report critiquing its Title IX policies, President Joe DiPietro said Thursday. But he hopes to hire a systemwide coordinator by the end of the year. "Some of them are easier and others are more long-term," DiPietro said following a UT board of trustees meeting in Knoxville five days after the report was released. "We've been training, but everybody needs to have training programs that are uniform and effective. That will take some time." The 28-page report is the result of work done by a Title IX commission DiPietro hired last fall in the aftermath of a federal lawsuit accusing the university of fostering a "hostile environment" in response to complaints of sexual violence. UT settled the lawsuit for $2.48 million last July though the university admitted no fault.
Texas A&M pride on display as Aggies march in Houston LGBT event for first time
For the first time, Texas A&M University representatives will participate in the Pride Houston parade that celebrates the LGBT community. Those representing A&M at the Saturday event include Karan Watson, outgoing provost and executive vice president, Student Body President Bobby Brooks and members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center. The initiative for A&M's presence at the event started with Chad Mandala, the program coordinator of the resource center, when he came to A&M in March 2016. A&M participated in the festival portion at last year's event. After the positive feedback, Mandala said he went to administrators in the Division of Student Affairs hoping to expand A&M's presence. The result was A&M registering to march in the 2017 parade. Daniel J. Pugh Sr., vice president for student affairs, said he is happy with the resource center's efforts.
U. of Missouri application figures reveal depth of enrollment problems
Almost 5,000 fewer students applied to the University of Missouri's Columbia campus for the coming year, the Board of Curators were told Thursday as administrators revealed figures behind enrollment problems for the first time. Pelema Morrice, vice provost for enrollment management, gave a presentation on the current issues and how MU is trying to rebound from what is expected to be the lowest total campus enrollment since 2008. In the past, the university was growing so fast it didn't have to seek out students, Morrice said. "For the last 10 years, our mantra and our primary method of success was growing the first-year freshman class," Morrice said. The loss of enrollment is one of the major forces pushing the university to cut budgets and lay off employees.
Education Department's 'regulatory relief' panel offers early look at its work
The U.S. Department of Education on Thursday offered a first glimpse at how it is carrying out the Trump administration's push to ease federal regulations -- and asked for advice on what rules it should eliminate. In February President Trump signed an executive order "seeking to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people" by calling for federal agencies, including the Education Department, to create "regulatory reform" task forces. Those committees will evaluate existing regulations and then make recommendations about which ones to repeal, replace or modify. The order gives priority to curbing regulations that are seen as outdated, unnecessary, ineffective, costly, inconsistent or that inhibit job creation. The department's task force issued its first progress report Thursday.
Professors' Growing Risk: Harassment for Things They Never Really Said
College faculty members can find it challenging enough to deal with the backlash over a controversial remark. In recent months, however, several have ended up facing a barrage of harassment and death threats in response to statements that they deny ever actually making. The nation's college faculty members have long been coming under fire not for statements they actually made, but for views ascribed to them by others, says Hans-Joerg Tiede, a senior program officer in the American Association of University Professors' department of academic freedom, tenure, and governance. The emergence of the internet and social media made it easier to quickly spread word of such accusations and orchestrate campaigns demanding that faculty members be disciplined. What's new about the latest controversies, Mr. Tiede says, is the extent to which instructors and their employers are being deluged with threats of various forms of violence, including sexual assault.
Appalachian College Association charts new course
The Appalachian College Association could have disbanded. The 35-member group of private liberal arts colleges and universities was providing a set of cornerstone services to its members -- professional development for faculty and staff members as well as a central library overseeing digital collections and group purchasing, databases and a reciprocal use program. But there was a sense that the association, traditionally focused on improving its members' academic quality through programs like faculty fellowships and research grants, was drifting. On Monday, the association's Board of Directors -- made up of its member presidents -- approved a new mission statement and strategic plan. The move was geared toward having the association focus on serving home communities. The new plan calls for the association to focus on improving education at all levels in the area and to convince students that private higher education is within their reach.

Trysten Barlow breaks in with the Bulldogs
Before Trysten Barlow ever stepped foot on the mound at Mississippi State, he had already worked under three different pitching coaches. Barlow redshirted in 2016 under the tutelage of Butch Thompson and Wes Johnson and began getting instruction from Gary Henderson last fall. "They've all had different philosophies," Barlow said. "I've loved every one of them. When I was working with them, I picked up everything they were saying and have used it to my advantage." Barlow benefited from his first year on campus and getting acclimated for when his time finally came to pitch. "I loved the redshirt year," Barlow said. "I got to work with coach (Brian) Neal and get stronger. I got to watch the game without playing and when I came back this year I pretty much knew how everything worked."
U. of Missouri to rent residence hall rooms on football weekends
The University of Missouri will rent dorm rooms to football weekend visitors this fall as it seeks to recoup some of the $5 million it will spend to keep seven residence halls idle. Dropping enrollment means only about 4,000 incoming freshmen are expected to enroll in August, down from 6,419 in the fall of 2015. The university has closed seven residence halls with 1,461 beds. During the UM Board of Curators meeting Thursday, MU Vice Chancellor for Operations Gary Ward said a website is available for people to reserve two-bedroom, four-bed suites for $120 a night. Parking is extra. The university has other ideas for using the dorms, including guest housing during conferences and the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse and opening earlier in August so students can move in before the school year starts. The cost of keeping an idle building includes utilities and maintenance personnel for landscaping and other needs.
Ray Tanner brings in first South Carolina baseball job candidate
South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner is back from Omaha and getting to work on the USC baseball coaching search. USF head coach Mark Kingston interviewed for the vacant head coaching job and toured Founders Park Thursday night, as first reported by The Big Spur. A source confirmed the meeting to The State. Kingston has been the head coach at South Florida since 2015 and the Bulls have made the NCAA tournament two of the three years. Kingston's coaching career began in 1997. He spent time as an assistant at Purdue, Illinois State, Miami, Tulane and another stint at Illinois State before becoming the head coach of Illinois State in 2010.
Tyler Summitt living 'other life' after mother's death, his resignation
Regardless of the familiar setting, Tyler Summitt makes his way through life these days in a different place. He's back in Knoxville, where he grew up as the son of Tennessee women's basketball coaching legend Pat Summitt. And he's attending graduate school at Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 2012. Yet he considers himself and his surroundings and concludes, "It's like a whole other life." His world was changed forever by what happened last year. His mother died on June 28 after a five-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. In April, he resigned as Louisiana Tech's women's basketball coach after admitting to an inappropriate relationship. The two seismic-like occurrences gathered up the 26-year-old like a tsunami and deposited him in a new reality.

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