Friday, July 28, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
MSU Riley Center announces Fall/Winter series
Willie Nelson headlines an array of talent at the MSU Riley Center during its 2017-2018 Fall/Winter Performing Arts Series, the Riley Center announced in a statement on Thursday. The 12-show series will also feature the country-music duo Brothers Osborne, storyteller Garrison Keillor, singer-songwriter Amos Lee, "Empress of Soul" Gladys Knight and a joint appearance by vocal harmony groups The Manhattan Transfer and Take 6. Current season-ticket holders must renew by Aug. 16 to retain the same seats. New season-ticket buyers can purchase full-season packages starting Aug. 21. A smaller "build your own package" option, which includes a discount and early seating, is available starting Aug. 28, for those who wish to purchase tickets to three or more shows. Tickets for individual shows go on sale Wednesday, Sept. 6.
2017-2018 Fall-Winter Series announced for MSU Riley Center
Many popular and talented acts will be coming to the MSU Riley Center this fall and winter. The season lineup for the next season was announced Thursday. Some of the headlining acts include Willie Nelson and Family performing on October 10th, and Gladys Knight, who will come to Meridian on January 16th. "We're hoping that people come downtown and enjoy the Riley Center. It's a wonderful place. It's the best place in Mississippi to see a performing arts event. We hope people come down and enjoy the wonderful season," said Dennis Sankovich, the executive director of the MSU Riley Center.
Blood drive to honor Sid Salter set for July 31 at Clarion-Ledger
The Clarion-Ledger is hosting a blood drive Monday, July 31, in honor of one of the state's most respected columnists. Mississippi Blood Services will have its donor bus at the newspaper in downtown Jackson as part of a statewide blood drive in honor of former Clarion-Ledger Perspectives Editor and longtime columnist Sid Salter. Community Bank is sponsoring the drive, which will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. "Leilani and I are happy to join our Community Bank family in supporting this worthy cause," Salter said. "In my own fight with lymphoma/leukemia, I have already needed blood platelets. That need exists daily for countless fellow Mississippians. Please give blood and thank you all for your prayers. With God's help, this is a fight I mean to win." After a long career in journalism, Salter crossed over to the public relations side of the communications divide, returning to his alma mater, Mississippi State University, as chief communications officer and director of public affairs.
Candidates revealed for SOCSD board seat
Three Mississippi State University employees are in the running to fill the vacant seat on the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Board of Trustees. Sumner Davis, Lisa Lyn Long and Debra Lindsey Prince have all filed the necessary paperwork and will be interviewed by the Starkville Board of Aldermen. The aldermen will then vote to select the most qualified candidate. The selected candidate will fill the seat left empty after the resignation of Anne Stricklin on June 28. The seat is one of three appointed by the aldermen, with the remaining two elected by residents of Oktibbeha County.
City, county move to issue $7M in bonds for industrial park
"Now is the time," Ward 3 Alderman David Little said while making a motion for the Starkville Board of Aldermen and the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors to issue $7 million in bonds for the proposed Golden Triangle Development LINK-backed industrial park. The city passed its motion with a vote of 4-2. Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk and Ward 5 Alderman Patrick Miller voted against the motion. Vice Mayor and Ward 6 Alderman Roy Perkins was not present. The county passed its motion unanimously. Miller voiced his concern, saying a decision did not have to made Thursday night. Miller said with the amount of information the board was provided, more time should be spent on important decisions such as the one at hand.
Mississippi governor: Nissan workers should reject union
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said Thursday that employees at the Nissan Motor Co. plant in Mississippi should reject unionization because he believes labor unions have hurt the automotive industry in Detroit and other places. Workers at the manufacturing plant in Canton will vote Aug. 3 and 4 on whether to affiliate with the United Auto Workers. The union is trying to win its first vote at an entire plant in the South. Bryant spoke to several hundred people Thursday at the Neshoba County Fair, an annual event known as "Mississippi's Giant Houseparty." He said the Nissan plant in Canton, which opened 14 years ago, is making some of the most advanced vehicles in the world.
State Leaders: Unionizing Nissan will not help Mississippi
Since the Nissan plant in Canton opened in 2003, talk among workers about joining the United Auto Workers Union has gained steam. Now, 14 years later, they're preparing for an election August 3 and 4. Governor Phil Bryant doesn't support the move. "You have to go no further than Detroit. Once the world's automotive center, now almost, it is part of the Rust Belt. If you want to take away your job, if you want to end manufacturing as we know it in Mississippi, just start expanding unions," said Bryant. Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn says unionizing the plant goes against Mississippi's status as a right to work state.
Governor calls for more school choice at Neshoba County Fair
More charter schools and school choice as well as improving education for children in daycare will be a major focus of his agenda for the remainder of his term, Gov. Phil Bryant told an enthusiastic crowd Thursday at the Neshoba County Fair. "It's seems so simple to me to move an education component into daycare," Bryant said. He said community colleges will help train daycare workers. "Workforce of the future is daycare of today," Bryant said. Bryant said the state can use temporary assistance to needy families funding to help with the training. He said the goal will be to use a partnership of state, federal and private monies. Also, Bryant said he will support more school choice, using taxpayers money to give parents more education choices for their children.
Gov. Phil Bryant touts early childhood education initiative
Gov. Phil Bryant told Neshoba County fairgoers Thursday of plans to improve early childhood education across the state by training day care workers. The second-term Republican governor provided few details of the plan Thursday, other than to say he hopes to use federal funds and state funds for the effort. The state's 15 community colleges will provide the training at no charge to the workers. "I have two and one-half years left" as governor, Bryant said. "I am going to finish strong." The tin-roofed, wood chipped-floored Founders Square pavilion with its wood benches provided at least a little relief from the hot and humid day and attracted a large crowd for a non-election year.
Gov. Phil Bryant touts accomplishments in Neshoba speech
As most other public officials focused on policy and hinted of future election bids at the Neshoba County Fair this week, Gov. Phil Bryant --- who has two and a half years left in office -- instead focused on his accomplishments during his two terms as governor. In his speech Thursday, Bryant touted several honors: his chairmanship of the Education Commission of the States, Mississippi's high online and magazine rankings for workforce training and community college system, improved marks on basic third-grade reading standards, even hoisting overhead a gold-plated shovel from a national organization for the state's economic development work. "I'm always enthusiastic, I'm always encouraged, I'm always excited to hear what's going on in Mississippi," Bryant told the crowd, which responded with applause several times.
Speakers talk specifics at Neshoba County Fair
House Speaker Philip Gunn pledged Thursday that Republican government leaders in Jackson will show continued commitment to conservative values. "We will not back down," from a commitment to smaller government, the Clinton Republican told fair-goers here. "Just because a problem exists doesn't mean that government should fix it." Gunn listed a variety of ways in which the GOP state leadership has worked to reduce the size of government and provide more freedom for state residents. Gunn's speech followed a series of state and local officials who cited strides they see in maintaining conservative ideals. Several officials delved into more specific aspects of their positions.
Sen. Cochran seeks to reactivate federal monitoring of illegal activities involving shrimp exports to U.S.
U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) on Thursday took action in an appropriations bill to reactivate federal monitoring of illegal activities involving shrimp exports to the United States. Cochran is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which has approved the FY2018 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The bill includes a Cochran-added provision that directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to lift a stay imposed by the Obama administration that excludes shrimp from the Seafood Import Monitoring Program. The program tracks unlawful activities related to shrimp and seafood imports. "This provision sends a signal that the Senate is serious about protecting consumers, while leveling the playing field for our domestic shrimpers harmed by illegal and unfair foreign competition," Cochran said. "Imported shrimp should be included in the enforcement of U.S. trade laws, particularly since violations of those laws are well-documented."
Senate ObamaCare repeal bill falls in shocking vote
The Senate rejected a scaled-back ObamaCare repeal bill in the early hours of Friday in a shocking vote that marks a major defeat for GOP leaders and the seven-year effort to repeal the health law. The Senate voted 49-51 against the "skinny" bill, which would have repealed ObamaCare's individual and employer mandates and defunded Planned Parenthood. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) provided the crucial vote against the bill, alongside GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska). A succession of Republicans attempted to appeal to McCain, as well as Murkowski, on the Senate floor while the preceding vote was held open long after it usually would have closed. With the bill's failure, some expressed hope about bipartisanship.
U.S. economy rebounds in the second quarter
The U.S. economy rebounded strongly between April and June, government data showed Friday morning, driven by a pickup in spending from the federal government and consumers. The country's gross domestic product, a broad measure of economic activity, grew 2.6 percent at an annualized pace in the second quarter of 2017, the Commerce Department said. Economists had expected growth to rebound from a weaker reading in the first quarter, which is typically dragged down due to seasonal problems with measurement. GDP grew at an annual rate of 1.2 percent in the first quarter, compared with 1.8 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2016. Less spending by state and local governments, as well as lower investment in housing and company inventories, dragged on growth in the second quarter. But those effects were offset by an increase in other types of investment, consumer spending and stronger exports.
Farmers sue Monsanto, other producers over drifting herbicide
After wading into waist-high soybeans that on the surface appear healthy, Mark Baioni reaches deep into the plants to show their true condition. "Here's the cupping," he said, holding some leaves that look puckered and withered. Baioni, 60, who farms 2,500 acres near Marion, Arkansas, is among a group of East Arkansas farmers suing the makers of a herbicide that they say has drifted from the fields where it was sprayed and settled onto their crops, causing major damage. In their suit, the farmers say Monsanto Co., along with BASF Corp. and DuPont, placed greed ahead of responsibility in persuading growers to spray their fields with dicamba, a product known to be highly volatile and prone to drift. Filed in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, the suit represents a new phase of a controversy that has roiled the rural Mid-South, spawning hundreds of farmer complaints, prompting emergency state restrictions and even precipitating a fatal shooting.
Warming to worsen dead zones, algae blooms choking US waters
Projected increases in rain from global warming could further choke U.S. waterways with fertilizer runoff that trigger dead zones and massive algae blooms, a new study said. If greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, more and heavier rain will increase nitrogen flowing into lakes, rivers and bays by about 19 percent by the end of the century, according to a study in Thursday's journal Science. While that may not sound like much, many coastal areas are already heavily loaded with nitrogen. Researchers calculated that an extra 860,000 tons of nitrogen yearly will wash into American waterways by century's end. "The results are incredibly interesting and compelling," said Samantha Joye, a University of Georgia marine sciences professor who wasn't part of the team.
New roundabout on Ole Miss campus nearly complete
The construction work to build a new roundabout where Hill Drive and Hathorn Road meet is almost complete. Work is expected to finish on Aug. 11 according to project lead, Dave LaBanc. During construction, which began May 18, the Chucky Mullins entrance to the Ole Miss campus has been closed. "We are very happy with our contractor, Xcavators, Inc., and their progress on this important project," LaBanc said in an email. "We will open the roundabout after lunch on Friday, Aug. 11, as planned." Back in May, Ian Banner, the University of Mississippi director of facilities planner and university architect, said the roundabout, "will allow the traffic to flow more freely at this intersection." According to Mike Harris, the Director of Parking and Transportation at Ole Miss, is another project that Oxonians should be aware of if they're driving on campus.
Budget cuts, tuition hikes mean fewer in training classes at community colleges
Community colleges across the state are taking a hit as Mississippi legislators make budget cuts in all sectors. To compensate for the budget cuts, all 15 junior colleges in Mississippi recently announced that tuition will be increased by an average of 13 percent this fall. Hinds Community College in Jackson increased its tuition rates this year in order to balance the Fiscal 2018 budget, said Russell Shaw, Hinds vice president for business services. "The Mississippi state appropriations were drastically cut during the last two fiscal years," Shaw said. "Hinds Community College just implemented a 6 percent expense reduction to the FY2018 budget. The tuition increase was a 9 percent increase year over year, and in conjunction with the expense reduction was needed to have a balanced budget."
College Public Relations Association of Mississippi selects Board of Directors
Photo: The College Public Relations Association of Mississippi (CPRAM) recently elected its board of directors for 2017-2018. They are, front row, from left: Steve Diffey of Holmes Community College, scholarship chair; Tracy Duncan of Hinds Community College, junior institutions representative; Mary Margaret Busby of Holmes, president; LaJuan Tallo of Northwest Mississippi Community College, secretary; Maxine Greenleaf of Mississippi Valley State University, vice president; Jenny Tate of the University of Southern Mississippi, past president. Back row: Kathy McAdams of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, junior institutions representative; Donna Thomas of Itawamba Community College, treasurer; Maria McLeod of East Central Community College, hospitality chair; Phillip Smith of Mississippi State University, senior institutions representative and Barin von Foregger of Holmes, junior institutions representative. Not pictured: Caron Blanton, APR, of Institutions of Higher Learning, government agencies representative; Kell Smith of Mississippi Community College Board, government agencies representative; Melissa Love of Delta State University, senior institutions representative and Sophie Wolf of Millsaps College, senior institutions representative.
Rondini attorneys amend lawsuit to add U. of Alabama
Attorneys for Megan Rondini's family have added the University of Alabama and President Stuart Bell to the wrongful death lawsuit that claims her suicide resulted from the school's failure to assist her after she reported that she was raped. Rondini hanged herself in February 2016, almost eight months after she reported to police that T.J. Bunn Jr. raped her in his home in Cottondale. She was a UA student at the time of the alleged assault. Investigators and prosecutors ultimately claimed they didn't have enough evidence to charge Bunn, who has denied the allegation through his attorney. Rondini's family believes that the Bunn family's connections to the university and Tuscaloosa community influenced the lack of prosecution and support she was offered.
Eclipse, risky behavior lead U. of South Carolina to cut days between move-in, start of classes
A solar eclipse and an effort to curb risky behavior will shorten the time that University of South Carolina students normally get between move-in day and their first day of class. Most USC freshmen will begin moving into their dorms on Tuesday, Aug. 22 -- a day after an Aug. 21 total solar eclipse that officials expect will draw some 600,000 tourists to Columbia. USC students will start class two days later on Thursday, after the shortest adjustment-to-college period in recent years. The state's flagship university says it had two reasons to tighten the class-free period, which offers new students a chance to make friends, join clubs, pick up textbooks, find their classrooms and, in some cases, get into trouble.
Four new tenants announced for Century Square development on the Texas A&M campus
Sweet Paris Creperie and Runaway Seven, along with Galleria Day Spa and Breakaway Ministries, are the latest tenants opening up shop at Century Square on University Drive in College Station. Midway developers told the media and invited guests this morning that the national brands -- Runway Seven, a women's clothing boutique, and Sweet Paris Creperie, a restaurant that specializes in crepes of all kinds -- will fit in well with the tenants committed so far, including Berryhill Baja Grill, Blaze Pizza, Hey Sugar, Hopdoddy, Merge, Mo's Irish Pub, Neighbors Emergency Center, Orangetheory Fitness, Piada Italian Street Food, Star Cinema Grill, Sub Zero, Tiff's Treats and Zoes Kitchen. Century Square is a public-private partnership between the Texas A&M University System and Houston-based Midway real estate investment and development firm. A&M is leasing the land to the company, which rents commercial, office, living and retail space.
Mizzou K-12 Online recruits tigers from around the world
MU High School, and its Mizzou K-12 Online program, turns international, high school-age students from around the world into Missouri Tigers. "We feel like we are at home," Luciana Calixto, the coordinator of Mizzou K-12 Online programs at two Brazilian schools, said about being with her students in Columbia. Students in 135 countries participate in MU's online high school program, Mizzou K-12 Online, run by the College of Education. Other American universities offer online high school programs, but MU's program is unusual because it is conducted through the education college. The students aren't just taking advantage of the program offered by MU --- they consider themselves personally connected with the school, said Zac March, director of Mizzou K-12 Online.
Survey finds campus business officers increasingly considering more painful options
The reality of higher education's financial challenges is sinking in among college and university business officers. Now the question is what they're doing about it -- and whether they're willing to do enough. Chief business officers increasingly agree that higher education is in the midst of a financial crisis, according to the 2017 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Business Officers. Some are also starting to lose faith in the idea that they can overcome revenue shortfalls using the often-cited strategy of increasing enrollment. The emerging picture is decidedly less optimistic than that of previous years. This year, 71 percent of chief business officers agreed with the statement that media reports saying higher education is in the midst of a financial crisis are accurate. That is up from 63 percent in 2016 and 56 percent in 2015.

Simmons hopes to be leader for Mississippi State defense
Jeffery Simmons occupied a corner of the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex's media room Monday. With a sea of television cameras and recorders in front of him, the former Noxubee County High School standout talked about the expectations he and the Mississippi State football team face for the 2017 season. "He's done everything we've asked him to academically and athletically," MSU defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. "We see him as a guy that can showcase his talents." Simmons may have certain expectations for academic performance given to him by the program, but his own aspirations are almost certainly higher. Simmons was on the Southeastern Conference's academic honor roll last year, an honor he takes more pride in than his seeing playing time as a true freshman. He has verbalized a bigger goal: Academic All-American.
Improvement for Mississippi State's defense starts with change for the d-line
When Brian Baker said on Wednesday after Mississippi State's second practice that his expectations are more "realistic" than they were last year, he wasn't necessarily referring strictly to results. For MSU's second-year defensive line coach, Baker's teaching process and style of leading his unit is different than it was in 2016, when the Bulldogs finished near the bottom of the SEC in several defensive statistics. Allow the former longtime NFL assistant coach to explain.
Basketball Bulldogs building team bond
Mississippi State football isn't the only team hard at work on campus right now. Although the official start of practice is still weeks away, the men's basketball team is getting after it in an attempt to give the Bulldogs their first winning season since 2011-12. MSU has seen a lot of turnover the last two years transitioning head coaches from Rick Ray to Ben Howland but has started to build a bond together. "The team chemistry is getting a lot better," said forward Aric Holman. "We joke around a lot more. Those things take time with new guys coming in each year but we're building a very good program and a good team. We feel really good about ourselves." Part of the Bulldogs' growing confidence lies in a pair of incoming freshmen.
Trevor Fitts added to Mississippi State baseball staff
Trevor Fitts is returning to Mississippi State in a new role. Fitts, who pitched for the Diamond Dogs from 2012-15, was hired by Andy Cannizaro as the new coordinator of baseball operations. The Pelham, Alabama native returns to Starkville after earning his master's degree from South Alabama, where he served as a graduate assistant this past season. Fitts was also the pitching coach at Daphne High School during the spring. Fitts replaces Lee VanHorn who was promoted to assistant athletic director for administration and equipment by John Cohen earlier this month.
Cannizaro adds Trevor Fitts, A.J. Gaura to Diamond Dawgs staff
Just the second first-year coach in program history to lead the Diamond Dawgs to a 40-win season and NCAA Tournament appearance, Mississippi State head coach Andy Cannizaro has bolstered his staff. Former Diamond Dawg Trevor Fitts returns to Starkville and will serve as the coordinator of baseball operations, after having recently served as the pitching coach at Daphne High School in the spring of 2017. In addition to having spent the last three summers as a head coach within the East Coast Sox organization, Fitts earned his master's in education in physical education in May 2017 from South Alabama where he served as the baseball graduate assistant. The Diamond Dawgs also welcome A.J. Gaura as MSU's coordinator of player development, as Gaura spent the 2016-17 season as the graduate assistant video coordinator for the Diamond Dawgs.
Coaching swaps sparked by scandal have led to sorry seasons
Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigned instead of being fired last Thursday for what Ole Miss called a pattern of personal misconduct. Preseason practice is set to open in Oxford in a week. The Rebels are a little less than a month and a half away from starting the season against South Alabama. This is no time for a coaching change, but offensive line coach Matt Luke is being thrown into an interim position. He will try to save a season that already had been scarred by a self-imposed bowl ban for NCAA violations that Ole Miss said had nothing to do with Freeze being forced out. These types of scandal-driven offseason coaching changes have become somewhat common in college football. History shows teams that endure unusual upheaval do not fare well. Here are some notable changes and how those seasons turned out.
Gamecocks add live DJ to Williams-Brice experience
South Carolina head football coach Will Muschamp believes Gamecocks fans will see a more exciting product in their seven trips into Williams-Brice Stadium this fall. USC marketing director Eric Nichols believes they'll hear a more exciting sound, too. That's thanks to the live disc jockey the school will hire and place in the stadium for pregame and in-game entertainment this season. "Our music wasn't where it needed to be. It just wasn't resonating with any segment of the fan base. It needed a refresh. The new D.J. will provide that refresh," Nichols, the school's senior associate athletic director for marketing and branding, told The State. "Everyone's pulling the same direction that recruiting is our No. 1 focus. With that being the direction, it's a natural fit." The school also is trying to upgrade its game day experience in other ways.

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