Monday, June 26, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Construction continues throughout Mississippi State's campus
The wheels of progress keep turning on the campus of Mississippi State University. Currently, there is approximately $300 million worth of construction underway on campus, including buildings, roads and other infrastructure. MSU Director of Planning, Design and Construction Administration Michael T. Muzzi gave the SDN a rundown of the current projects. "Every year a list of projects, requesting state funding, is submitted to the Institutions of Higher Learning, our governing board, for approval," Muzzi said. "This list of projects is reviewed by our president and senior leadership and if approved by our governing board is submitted to the state of Mississippi as a funding request." Muzzi added that many projects are aimed for completion dates in August and January, due to the school year cycle.
 
Mississippi State student named Miss Mississippi 2017
Mississippi State University student and Vicksburg native Anne Elizabeth Buys was named Miss Mississippi for 2017. Representing her hometown as Miss Vicksburg, Buys was one of 44 women participating in the 2017 Miss Mississippi Scholarship Pageant in Vicksburg. Buys is a communications/public relations/broadcasting major at MSU. As Miss Mississippi, Buys received a $10,000 scholarship from Ameristar Casinos. Throughout the preliminaries this week, Buys was awarded an additional $4,000 in scholarships. During the talent portion of Saturday night's competition in Vicksburg, Buys performed ballet en pointe to "Viva." Second runner up was Starkville native and Miss Meridian Tanner Fant. Other MSU students making the Top 10 include: Miss MSU Molly May, Miss Neshoba County Fair Miriam Seale and Miss New South Callie Brown.
 
Mississippi State student wins Miss Mississippi pageant
Many awaited for the final moments of the Miss Mississippi pageant on Saturday night to see who took the crown. Mississippi State University student Anne Elizabeth Buys won it all. She finished first runner up last year -- and now has the big title. Buys won the lifestyle and swimsuit rounds earlier this week. She will now go on to compete in the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
 
Miss Mississippi finds inspiration in family, faith
A few weeks ago when she was Miss Vicksburg, Anne Elizabeth Buys took out the evening gown and swimsuit her mother wore when she was fourth runner-up in the Miss Mississippi Pageant years ago. "It was just so much fun and so surreal to be in the clothes that she wore then, and they're still so beautiful," she said. Now she has her own evening gown and swimsuit to save, maybe for a future daughter to try on one day along with the crown she will wear for the next year as Miss Mississippi 2017. The 21-year-old Mississippi State University student, who was crowned Saturday night during the pageant finale in Vicksburg, hopes to be in sports broadcasting one day.
 
Mississippi State aids in program to help rural students take AP classes
Mississippi State University is helping facilitate a program that will allow students in rural Mississippi school districts to take Advanced Placement courses. Beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, the Mississippi Public School Consortium for Educational Access is implementing a pilot program to teach Advanced Placement subject matter in select rural and low-income school districts which currently do not offer the courses. As part of the program, more than 20 students from seven participating school districts are taking part in a two-week preparatory summer academy for AP physics at MSU. Students were selected by the participating school districts, which include Aberdeen, Booneville, Coahoma County, Holmes County, Pontotoc County, Quitman County and Scott County.
 
Mississippi State design studio lands challenge grant
From among 4,500 applicants, Mississippi State University's Gulf Coast Community Design Studio is among 33 to receive a $100,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. MSU's project, titled "Witnessing the Beach," seeks to increase community engagement at the city of Biloxi's primary recreation space. David Perkes, MSU professor and founding director of the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, said in a news release that the primary objective of the proposed "Witnessing the Beach" project is to create a culture of engagement on Biloxi's once segregated beaches.
 
Mississippi State's Adkerson School of Accountancy reaccredited
Mississippi State University's Richard C. Adkerson School of Accountancy has been reaccredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The distinction will last for five years and MSU is one of 186 institutions from around the world that hold the accreditation, MSU said in a media release. School of Accountancy Director Shawn Mauldin said separate AACSB accounting accreditation confirms the school's commitment to a continuous improvement process through an extremely rigorous peer review process. "The externally validated hallmark of excellence in accounting ensures that we are providing high-quality undergraduate and graduate accounting programs," Mauldin said.
 
Clinical psychology doctoral program at Mississippi State earns national accreditation
Now in its third year, Mississippi State's clinical psychology doctoral program has been granted a five-year term of accreditation from the American Psychological Association's Commission on Accreditation. Graduation from an accredited program is required by some states for licensure. It also is mandatory for all federal jobs, including those within the Veterans Affairs Health Care System.
 
Mississippi State fashion design, merchandising programs again in U.S. Top 50
Photo: For the second consecutive year, a popular fashion website is ranking Mississippi State among the nation's Top 50 fashion design and merchandising programs. According to a report from www.fashion-schools.org, the university's fashion design program is 34th overall and fifth in the South. For fashion merchandising, MSU is 37th nationally; 9th in the South. Pictured in the university's Moore Hall studio classroom are Charles Freeman (center), MSU assistant professor of fashion design and merchandising, and former students Jesse Newton and Laura Richardson.
 
More Quick Bites: Free MSU Extension Service Sessions for July
Once again, Mississippi State University Extension Service will soon offer up an assortment of timely topics for the public in condensed midday doses. In July, Quick Bites programs will range from florals in art, to drought-tolerant plants and eradicating garden diseases. Three sessions will be available via interactive video from noon to 1 p.m. on designated Thursdays at area county Extension offices. Interested individuals must contact their county office in order to participate in any interactive video program.
 
Financial scams target trusting Mississippians
King Solomon wrote thousands of years ago that there is nothing new under the sun, a truth played out daily by unscrupulous people putting modern spins on the age-old practice of fraud. The Federal Trade Commission reported 20,588 Mississippians fell victim to some type of consumer fraud in 2016. Another 2,378 were victims of identity theft. Susan Cosgrove, family resource management area agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service in Newton County, said Mississippians' trusting nature is partly to blame for the number of fraud victims. "A lot of people committing scams target the elderly, knowing they probably have assets they have accumulated and regular income, and knowing they are trusting and polite," Cosgrove said. "Mississippi is known as the hospitality state, but we have to learn that we can't be so nice all the time, especially when it comes to our finances and personal security."
 
July hearing set for Lynn Spruill's request to dismiss Johnny Moore's election challenge
Former 1st District Circuit Judge Barry W. Ford will hear Mayor-elect Lynn Spruill's motion to dismiss Johnny Moore's mayoral election challenge 10 a.m. July 11 at the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court Annex. The motion, filed by attorneys Jim Mozingo and Lydia Quarles, claims Moore effectively abandoned his challenge when his counsel, William Starks, failed to present any evidence to substantiate the campaign's claim of numerous election irregularities during a June 13 Starkville Democratic Election Committee hearing. The July court hearing will come eight days after Spruill and the incoming Starkville Board of Aldermen are set to be sworn into office. "We believe we have good legal and factual grounds to have the contest dismissed, but that is a decision for the judge," Mozingo said.
 
Shank Phelps retiring from OCEMA, constable positions
Oktibbeha County Emergency Management Agency Director and District 1 Constable Shank Phelps is retiring from his two positions effective July 1. Phelps must step away from both of his jobs to draw state retirement from his combined 26 years of service as constable, OCEMA director and sheriff's deputy, which means supervisors will likely name an interim constable and add the position to November's special election for chancery clerk and the countywide referendum on a potential OCH Regional Medical Center transaction. His absence from the constable position could be temporary, as Phelps confirmed he will run for his part-time position.
 
LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins enlists ghostwriter to work on book project
It has been six months since the CBS News program "60 Minutes" told the Joe Max Higgins story of how the colorful, homespun economic development CEO brought manufacturing jobs to the Golden Triangle at a time when the industry was stagnant at best. The residue of that program is still in evidence today. Higgins has been re-telling this story all over the country in speaking engagements ranging from industry-specific conferences to even a college commencement, appearances Higgins believes benefit his efforts as the Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO. "After that show, we started getting all kinds of calls," Higgins said. "I was even approached about a TV reality show, which just wouldn't work in my line of work. Somehow, I don't think these companies would like the idea of having TV cameras around while we're sitting at the table." But there was one idea that kept cropping up that Higgins found intriguing. "I had three book agents contact me, asking me if I would be interested in writing a book," Higgins said.
 
PROFILE: John C. Stennis Space Center
John C. Stennis Space Center, north of Interstate 10 in South Mississippi, is a 14,000-acre secure complex surrounded by a unique 125,000-acre heavily wooded buffer zone. It's where some of the most powerful rocket engines in the world have been tested, including 27 first- and second-stage boosters for the Saturn V. In 2008 the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics named SSC a historic aerospace site. Today SSC, which has more than $2 billion in assets, provides test services for NASA, the Department of Defense and the commercial sector. It's home to NASA's Rocket Propulsion Test Program, which manages all the agency's propulsion test facilities. It’s also the location of several university cooperative programs.
 
Lottery panel visits neighboring states to gather information
Trips to neighboring states to observe their lottery operations have shed light on the types of decisions that must be made should Mississippi opt to enact a lottery, two Northeast Mississippi legislators recently said. Reps. Mac Huddleston, R-Pontotoc, and Nick Bain, D-Corinth, made trips to Little Rock last week as members of a task force created by House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, to study the issues surrounding the lottery. Other members of the committee made a similar trip to Baton Rouge to garner information. "They were very cooperative," Huddleston said of the lottery officials in Arkansas. "I don't feel like there was any border jealously there."
 
Secret tape: Parchman prison head accused of impeding criminal probe
The FBI is once again investigating allegations that corrections officers assaulted an inmate at the State Penitentiary at Parchman -- this time with the claim that Superintendent Earnest Lee hindered his prison's own investigation. In an audio recording obtained by The Clarion-Ledger, investigators for the Criminal Investigations Division repeatedly asked Lee to stop interfering with their Nov. 21 investigation of corrections officer Steven Tyler, who was a criminal suspect. Lee refused, saying, "I guess I'm a criminal, too." Lee, who took over the top job in 2012, has defended his actions, saying he was told that investigators had assaulted Tyler, who was accused of beating an inmate.
 
Mississippi seeks estimated $155M in abandoned savings bonds
Mississippi officials are trying to force the U.S. Treasury to hand over an estimated $155 million in proceeds from abandoned savings bonds. State Treasurer Lynn Fitch sued the federal government last year seeking the payment, joining Kansas and other states with similar lawsuits. Nationwide, $20 billion in savings bonds are unredeemed. The state contends that abandoned bonds revert to Mississippi under state law and that, in November 2015, Mississippi perfected its legal title to abandoned bonds. The next month, the Treasury changed rules to say states had to possess actual bonds to redeem them. federal judge heard arguments last week in the Kansas case. Mississippi's case is frozen pending a decision in the Kansas case.
 
Sen. Roger Wicker urges Congress to increase number of Navy ships
With increasing threats around the world, including China and Russia, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said the U.S. should increase the number of ships in the Navy by nearly 80 to a fleet of 355. "We have a serious threat situation that we haven't faced in the previous decades," Wicker, chairman of the Senate Armed Services' Seapower subcommittee, told reporters Thursday. "We're not doing this to be fanciful. We're doing this to meet an expanding threat -- a situation we didn't see a few years ago." Wicker and Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., introduced a bipartisan measure earlier this month they called a "statement of purpose." The "Securing the Homeland by Increasing our Power on the Seas" or SHIPS would "state the policy of the United States on the minimum number of available battle force ships," the bill reads.
 
Supreme Court Rules Religious School Can Use Taxpayer Funds For Playground
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that taxpayer-funded grants for playgrounds available to nonprofits under a state program could not be denied to a school run by a church. "The consequence is, in all likelihood, a few extra scraped knees. But the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand," Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, "If this separation means anything, it means that the government cannot, or at the very least need not, tax its citizens and turn that money over to houses of worship. The Court today blinds itself to the outcome this history requires and leads us instead to a place where separation of church and state is a constitutional slogan, not a constitutional commitment."
 
Mississippi companies await fallout from Trump position on Cuban trade
A number of Mississippi companies and investors are interested in doing business in Cuba. President Donald Trump is not so keen on trade with the communist nation -- much less, it seems, than his immediate predecessor. The Mississippi Development Authority led a group to Cuba in February. Rose Boxx, director of the MDA's International Trade Division, told the Mississippi Business Journal in March that "we speak and meet one-on-one-regularly with companies interested in Cuba." "We are also in regular communication with our trade contacts at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C. in order to stay informed and continue to enhance Mississippi's trade with Cuba." Now the state's lead economic development agency is taking a wait-and-see approach.
 
Supreme Court reinstates Trump's travel ban, but only for some immigrants
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to let President Trump's immigration travel ban go into effect for some travelers, reversing the actions of lower federal courts that had put the controversial policy completely on hold. The court also agreed to hear the case in the early fall, leaving open the chance that it could reverse Monday's verdict if challengers can prove the ban is illegal or unconstitutional. The justices' action gives Trump a partial victory following a string of defeats from coast to coast. Some courts struck down the travel ban as a form of religious discrimination against Muslims. Others said it showed bias based on nationality and exceeded the president's authority without a firm national security justification. The court's action was written without an author, but with a partial dissent from Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, who would have allowed the ban to apply to all travelers.
 
House Appropriations releases defense funding draft
The House Appropriations Committee released a draft of the fiscal 2018 Defense Appropriations bill on Sunday. The legislation would provide $658.1 billion for the Department of Defense, $18.4 billion more than President Trump laid out in his non-binding budget blueprint. The Appropriations draft was released ahead of any Budget Committee text, though that committee is supposed to set the DOD funding level. The House Appropriations Committee released a draft of the fiscal 2018 Defense Appropriations bill on Sunday. The draft includes $584.2 billion in discretionary funding. It also provides $282 million for cancer research and $125 million for traumatic brain injury and psychological health research.
 
Annual Faulkner Conference to explore 'Faulkner and Money'
"Faulkner and Money: The Economies of Yoknapatawpha and Beyond" is the theme for the University of Mississippi's 44th annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference, set for July 23-27. Five days of lectures, panels, tours, exhibits and other presentations will explore the multifaceted economies of Yoknapatawpha County, the Faulkner oeuvre and the literary profession. Besides three keynote lectures, the conference program will include panel presentations, guided daylong tours of north Mississippi and the Delta, and sessions on "Teaching Faulkner."
 
Hinds Community College plans budget cuts, tuition hikes and salary freezes
Budget cuts, staff reductions, a tuition increase and other belt-tightening moves are coming to the state's largest community college. On Friday, Dr. Clyde Muse, president of Hinds Community College in Raymond, the school's Board of Trustees and its administrative team rolled out budget reduction plans ahead of the start of the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. "In the last couple of years, our expenses have increased while our enrollment and state appropriations have declined, which has resulted in a decrease in our unrestricted fund balance or our savings account," Muse said. The announcement of the new cuts comes on the heels of Hinds Community College being placed on "warning" notice by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges committee. This warning resulted from compliance with SACSCOC standards related to financial stability and institutional effectiveness.
 
Mississippi's largest community college warned by accreditor
Mississippi's largest community college has been put on warning by its accrediting body, which cited financial problems and other issues. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, in a statement Friday, said that Hinds Community College was sanctioned because it's violating accrediting rules related to a sound financial base and stability, as well as the effectiveness of its educational programs. Academic accreditation is supposed to be a guarantee of basic quality, and it's required for students to receive federal financial aid. A warning is the lowest public level of sanction. Hinds has a year until its next review to demonstrate improvements, and remains accredited in the meantime.
 
Job losses, tuition increases, budget reductions: JCJC , PRCC cope with state cuts
Jesse Smith, Jones County Junior College president, will take on a new role when school starts in August. Like other administrators and master's degree'd employees, he will become an academic coach to about 15 students. "My purpose as a coach is to make sure (the students) are progressing in their courses, they are paying their bills, they are learning the soft skills needed to be employed," he said. "It's to put the finishing touches on the students so they can be a valuable worker." Smith is putting the new academic coaching service in place in response to the college's tuition increase of $240 a semester due to state budget cuts. "I can understand wanting to cut taxes to stimulate the economy and I agree on the concept," Smith said. "But the magnitude of those cuts and the timing of those cuts -- the negative impacts are not going to be overcome." Students at Pearl River Community College are feeling those negative impacts. President William Lewis raised tuition to $1,625 a semester -- an increase of $200.
 
Auburn University's new president: 'Lots to do, lots to see, lots to learn' in first week
Steven Leath hit the ground running during his first official week as Auburn University's president, meeting with students and staff and touring campus facilities. Leath's first meeting Monday morning was with student leaders who represented a variety of organizations, including student media, athletics, veterans affairs and the International Student Organization, among others. After talking to student leaders, Leath met with members of the university senate, staff council, administrative and professional assembly and the American Association of University Professors, Brian Keeter, Auburn's director of public affairs, said. But the new president's day on campus was cut short, as he had to fly to the nation's capital for a conference at the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities on Monday afternoon. He was back on campus Tuesday evening.
 
'Everyone has a story': University celebrating 125 years of Auburn women
What do Academy-Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, NASA astronauts Kathryn Thornton and Jan Davis, and former WMBA athlete Chantel Tremitiere have in common? They're all Auburn women. In 2017, Auburn University is celebrating the female students who have walked its halls during the past 125 years. As the alumni association's website states, "This is the year of Auburn women." The school's alumni affairs office has spearheaded a campus-wide campaign recognizing notable Auburn women this year. Auburn grads from any class year are encouraged to share photos, stories and memories from their time on campus all throughout 2017 as part of the project. Jessica King, an Auburn alumna and director of communications for the office of alumni affairs, could barely contain her excitement when she talked about submissions the office has received during the first half of the year.
 
Students will pay hundreds more in U. of South Carolina tuition next year
University of South Carolina trustees Friday approved a 3.46 percent tuition hike and then vowed to lobby S.C. legislators harder for more taxpayer money in the next state budget. The hike, which USC officials blamed on insufficient state money, means S.C. students will pay $410 more -- and $12,264 overall -- to attend the downtown Columbia school next school year. The sticker price for out-of-state tuition will rise $1,082 next year, or $32,364 overall. "We will continue to fight for more support of and investment in higher education," USC president Harris Pastides said in a statement after the board's vote. "We will continue to fight for the interests of South Carolina's students. An educated and competitive population is the key to our state's economic and overall well-being."
 
Texas A&M joins US Department of Energy, India in energy access initiative
Researchers from the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station Smart Grid Center will participate in a joint initiative between the U.S. Department of Energy and India's Ministry of Science and Technology to develop more reliable and affordable access to energy in the Asian country. To help support the U.S.-India Collaborative for Smart Distribution System with Storage initiative, the Department of Energy will award a $7.5 million grant for the five-year project, bringing its total funding to $30 million, along with the financial contributions from its Indian partners. The announcement came this week, just ahead of Monday's state visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mladen Kezunovic, director of the Smart Grid Center and Regents professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering, said it is significant for the university to participate in the project for a number of reasons.
 
U. of Missouri parking tickets about to get more costly
University of Missouri campus parking citations are going to become substantially more expensive starting Aug. 1. At the moment, after accumulating five parking tickets, a $15 excessive violation fee is added onto each subsequent ticket, and it goes up to $50 for each one after the 11th ticket. The new fees are going up to $25 after three violations and $75 after the seventh. Violations are tallied per academic semester and add to the count whether or not the ticket is paid. An hour of enforcement for metered parking, lots and garages has already been added. It's now 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. MU garages are also getting new signs to identify pay stations. Some garages will be getting a "pay-by-plate" system with new kiosks that will give automated parking permissions instead of printing a receipt.
 
College lawyers hear discussion about tension between free speech and inclusivity
Greg Lukianoff has spent much of his career making life miserable for college and university lawyers. So some members of the National Association of College and University Attorneys might have been surprised to hear the head of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education suggest that students -- not campus officials -- are increasingly the people he worries most about in campus free speech debates. "For most of my career, we were usually running up against administrative overreach" -- campus leaders "doing things that were a bad idea, or were sometimes well intentioned" but still flawed, Lukianoff said during a panel discussion about the tension between free speech and inclusivity on campuses at the association's annual conference in Chicago. Much of the conversation was spent wrestling with how evolving student expectations are changing the landscape facing college lawyers and other administrators.
 
Profs often political lightning rods but now facing new threats over their views, particularly on race
Professors have long been political targets. But a spate of recent threats against scholars -- including two that have led to campus closures -- is raising fresh concerns about safety and academic freedom. The American Associations of University Professors "is definitely concerned about this trend, which I think is a fair description of what is happening," said Hans-Joerg Tiede, senior program officer for academic freedom and tenure at AAUP. "We will continue to monitor it and consider what other actions we can take." Institutions, meanwhile, have had mixed responses to threats against scholars.
 
Education: No longer one size fits all
Angela Farmer, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Mississippi State, writes: "The typical school year is approximately 180 days long with days that span 7 hours. There is time dedicated to reading, mathematics, history, science and a variety of special topics like foreign language, athletics and the arts. This schedule is institutionally set in stone with bells signaling when children are to transfer classes and go to break. This works both simplistically and consistently, until it doesn't. There are always exceptions to the rule and the protocol. Each year in most every school across the nation there are students for whom the traditional timelines of the school day do not work. Many of these students have experienced an injury or an illness which necessitates that they have an alternate instructional delivery and/or setting. While this may not be ideal for either the child or the institution, alternations must be made, both morally and legally, to ensure that students receive supplemental instruction during their time out of school to continue to expand their content knowledge and academic prowess."
 
What makes a good mayor?
Jackson-based consultant and columnist Phil Hardwick writes: "Now that municipal elections in Mississippi are over it's time for the winning candidates to consider their new roles. Those who are assuming office for the first time will discover that being a mayor or board/council member is quite different from being a candidate. Being a mayor in particular is one of the toughest jobs going. A mayor does not have the influence and authority of a business CEO. Many new mayors are shocked to find that it oftentimes takes more persuasion skills than decision skills to run a city. Some mayors will find that they ran for office on some great issue only to find that it's much about barking dogs and drainage complaints."
 
Amazon move could disrupt yet another industry
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Dennis Seid writes: "Twenty-three years ago, a business that originally was going to be called Cadabra (as in 'Abracadabra') came into being. The business' premise was simple: become the world's biggest bookseller. And it got started from the garage of founder Jeff Bezos. Brad Stone's 2013 book, 'The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon,' (which of course can be purchased on Amazon for your Kindle reader), said the Cadabra name didn't click with everybody, and Bezos decided 'Amazon' was a better name. The rest, as the saying goes, is history. ...So what should we make of Amazon's $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods?"
 
Consensus perspective needed on Medicaid
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "Perspectives, hmmm. 'It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time,' wrote Isaac Asimov. 'People say "It's as plain as the nose on your face." But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?' A conservative Republican legislator, speaking about Medicaid cuts, shared this perspective with Mississippi Hospital Association members, 'some don't think government should be involved in health care at all.' ...Other conservative mirrors, however, reflect a different perspective. As C. S. Lewis wrote, 'For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.' ...While most may join with Reagan and Wicker in seeing an active role for government in health care, our state and nation are far from a consensus perspective, especially regarding Medicaid."
 
Parent struggles with mental health services for child
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "Ramona Russum's stepdaughter has spent most of the last four years institutionalized in someplace or another, including three stays in the Forrest County jail -- once for 19 days. The girl is 12 years old. We'll call her Suzy. Suzy didn't commit any crime. She needs help, treatment Russum says she really never has received during her family's years-long journey through Mississippi's mental health system. It's a system that repeatedly has been criticized -- even sued -- over accusations of substandard care and of treating children with mental issues by putting them in costly institutions instead of with home and community-based care as recommended by law, state-budget math and common sense."


SPORTS
 
West Point standout Aeris Williams carries confidence into junior year at Mississippi State
Aeris Williams is not one that lacks in confidence. As part of a 2016 Mississippi State running back corps with two seniors, he still led the group with 137 carries, 720 yards and four rushing touchdowns -- all as a sophomore. He also said that's just the beginning. "They haven't seen half of what I'm about to do, I promise you that," he said. Williams is poised to back up those words after what was, by all accounts, a productive spring capped with the Maroon & White Game in which he averaged over 6 yards per carry. When MSU's preseason camp opens July 25, Williams will be battling for the top spot in the rotation alongside Nick Gibson, Dontavian Lee, Alec Murphy and incoming freshman Kylin Hill.
 
Brent Rooker breaks out with first big pro game
It didn't take long for Brent Rooker to flash the skills that made him everybody's All-American this season at Mississippi State. The first-round draft pick hit his first pro home run on Saturday as part of a 4 for 5 night as Elizabethton (Tenn.) rallied to beat Danville 8-7 in a rookie-level Appalachian League game. It was Rooker's third game with the Minnesota Twins farm club. On Sunday, he launched a two-run homer. "I'm just trying to enjoy it and soak it up, stay relaxed and have a lot of fun," Rooker, the 35th overall draft pick, told MILB.com. "The hard work went in this past season at school, trying to get drafted, trying to prove myself, and I feel like I did that. Now I'm just trying to get a little bit better every single day and enjoy the process."
 
Former Bulldogs Cody Brown, Josh Lovelady set for pro ball
Josh Lovelady never minced words in the final weeks of his Mississippi State baseball career. Lovelady never was afraid to use the words "last time" because he appeared certain his final game in a MSU uniform also would be the last time he played organized, competitive baseball. Lovelady's baseball career didn't end in the NCAA tournament's Baton Rouge Super Regional. On June 17, Lovelady, who wasn't selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft earlier this month, signed a free-agent deal with MLB's Kansas City Royals. Lovelady's signing came days after MSU teammate Cody Brown signed with the New York Yankees. As of Thursday night, both players were awaiting assignment. "He played his heart out every single day," Brown said of Lovelady. "For him to get an opportunity like that, he was ecstatic. He's one of the hardest workers I've ever shared a field with. He was very deserving of the opportunity."
 
Ally McDonald finishes tied for 48th in Arkansas
Fulton's Ally McDonald finished tied for 48th at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. The former Mississippi State Bulldog finished 5-under and earned $6,903. McDonald has made 9 of 11 cuts, and has earned $51,469 this on the LPGA Tour in 2017. So Yeon Ryu became the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this season, taking the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday with a tournament-record 18-under 195 total.
 
MUW joins United States Collegiate Athletic Association
The Mississippi University for Women announced Friday it has been accepted into the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. The move is another step in The W's progress toward the return of intercollegiate athletics to its Columbus campus. "This gives our student-athletes the chance to recognized locally and nationally as we go through the NCAA process," The W Director of Athletics Jason Trufant said. "It allows us to do special things." The USCAA, which is based in Norfolk, Virginia, is a national organization of more than 80 small colleges, community colleges, and junior colleges. It provides opportunities for athletic competition and recognition at the regional and national levels. "This is a great testament to the hard work our athletic staff has done in building a new program at The W, and it is an honor to be a member of a national organization whose emphasis, like ours, is on the development of the whole student," The W President Jim Borsig said.
 
CWS: LSU and Florida, familiar foes - even friends? - meet with everything on the line
A day before their teams were to meet for the first game of the College World Series finals, LSU coach Paul Mainieri and Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan stood side-by-side and smiled for the cameras. On the dais between them sat the NCAA national championship trophy -- a relatively plain-looking tower of lucite and wood they have nevertheless spent the past several months working and yearning for. The photo-op dragged on, their smiles remained. A reporter interrupted. This feels awkward, the guy said. "It's not awkward," Mainieri said. "We like each other." Friends indeed, for at least this day. Distant cousins, in a way. The two coaches know plenty about each other, as do their teams. Monday night, the LSU Tigers and the Florida Gators, both proud members of the Southeastern Conference, face off the first of three games. That part sounds normal. Now the abnormal part: It will decide a national champion.
 
College baseball: Florida, LSU ensure bragging rights for SEC
The matchup for the College World Series finals certainly bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the Southeastern Conference. To get to the best-of-three finals starting Monday night, LSU (52-18) beat Oregon State, which had the highest winning percentage of any program in four decades, twice in two days. Florida (50-19) became the fourth team in CWS history to shut out an opponent twice with a pair of 3-0 wins over TCU wrapped around a 9-2 loss to the Horned Frogs. So, here they are, the teams that shared the SEC regular-season championship playing for the national title in Omaha. This will be the third all-SEC final. South Carolina beat Florida in 2011, and LSU won over Alabama in 1997.
 
University of Missouri finds hot market for rental dorm rooms for football weekends
The offer of dorm rooms for football games has proved wildly popular with the public but area hotel operators are grumbling. After reporters attending the University of Missouri Board of Curators meeting tweeted that 4-bed residence hall suites were available for $120 a night on football weekends, it took only a day to sell out for Homecoming and Family Weekend. In all, by the close of business Friday, 280 rooms had been requested, MU spokesman Christian Basi said. Dale Griessel of Columbia booked four rooms in Respect Hall for the night before the Sept. 16 contest with Purdue, the Family Weekend game. Every year, a group of friends who graduated in 1952 from William Chrisman High School in Independence attend a game, he said. As MU is offering dorm rooms for overnight stays, three new hotels are in various stages of completion in Columbia.
 
Holly Warlick deletes account over tweet after Diamond DeShields' departure from Lady Vols
Tennessee women's basketball coach Holly Warlick shut down her Twitter account -- @HollyWarlick -- after a tweet following the departure of Diamond DeShields on Thursday. At 5:12 p.m. ET, Warlick announced that DeShields was not returning to the Tennessee women's basketball program for her final year of eligibility. Fifty-two minutes later, Warlick sent a tweet. A tweet with one emoji. The tweet was about as short and sweet as Warlick's statement in the release sent by the school: "Diamond has opted to forego her final collegiate season. She earned a degree from UT and now has a chance to play professionally." Warlick clarified her tweet to USA Today-Tennessee. Warlick later confirmed she shut down her account but declined to comment further.
 
California's Texas travel ban creates confusion for college sports
The politicians running Texas and California continue to prove that they want nothing to do with each other. But athletes in the two states are inextricably linked. As a result, the latest salvo in the Texas v. California culture wars has created widespread confusion in the college sports world. A lot is at stake for sports fans --- from the championship dreams of California teams to the future of championship matches in Texas. Still, many government officials, university leaders and business groups contacted by the Tribune on Friday said they had no idea how the decision would play out. "It's too early to know the direct impact," said Mike Rosen, a University of Houston spokesman. At Texas A&M, officials are also unsure. University spokeswoman Amy Smith said Texas A&M is looking into what effect the ban will have on the university and its athletic department but declined to offer specifics Friday evening.
 
Alabama game to go on against Fresno State
A university spokeswoman says the University of Alabama football game against Fresno State will go on as scheduled despite California announcing a ban on state travel to the state because of LGBT discrimination. University spokesman Kellee Reinhart said Friday the game will go on as scheduled in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 9 under a long-standing contract. California lawmakers last year banned non-essential travel to states with laws that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The law exempts contractual obligations entered into before 2017. The contract for the game was signed in 2015.



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