Thursday, August 3, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
New St. Jude Grad School Welcomes Inaugural Class
Following years of planning, development of curriculum and recruitment of staff and faculty, the first class of a dozen students has begun studies at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's new Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Students in the school's inaugural class hail from all across the U.S., including Memphian Alex Hughes. "Growing up in Memphis, I've heard about St. Jude my entire life. It's a really great place that produces great science," said Hughes, who attended Mississippi State University and majored in biomedical engineering. Working as an undergrad at Mississippi State got Hughes involved in a biophysical chemistry lab and he became interested in doing more research.
Mississippi Collision Repair Association Partners with MSU CAVS Event
The Mississippi Collision Repair Association is excited to announce its first-ever partnership event with Mississippi State University's Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems. On Saturday, August 26, CAVS will host collision repair industry professionals at its facility in Starkville, MS, for a full day of training and education for shop owners and their employees, titled, "The Future of Autonomous Cars: They're here. What is our role as repair professionals?" Based on a financial report conducted by KPMG on the effects of autonomous vehicles on car insurance, the $137 billion industry can expect a 71 percent reduction by 2050. John Morgan Hughes, Executive Director of MSCRA, asks, "How would this affect your business?"
Chris Latimer returning as Starkville's board attorney
Chris Latimer will return as Starkville's board attorney this term after a new contract for his legal services was approved Tuesday. Latimer was the only person to submit an offer after aldermen requested proposals for counsel last month. The new contract, which was approved on consent Tuesday and will run through 2021, removes the $100,000 annual cap on non-litigated matters present in his previous deal and increases hourly rates for services. Specifically, the agreement will charge $140 per hour for work completed by shareholders and $125 per hour for associates of his Mitchell, McNutt and Sams firm -- up from $125 per hour for attorneys' fees -- and $70 per hour for work completed by paralegals. In the old deal, paralegal work was charged at $55-per-hour rate.
Aldermen discuss hiring interim processing clerk
The Starkville Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a motion for Mayor Lynn Spruill and the Community Development Department to discuss the current full-time positions until a new interim processing clerk can be determined at Tuesday's meeting at City Hall. The original proposal on the agenda was the consideration of adopting the job description for the processing clerk and authorizing to advertise to fill the position. Community Development Director Buddy Sanders told the board the new job description would ultimately combine the two current full-time roles into one. Sanders said the processing clerk would serve code enforcement, process applications, answer public questions and file documents. Sanders said the department is implementing new software that will help alleviate the paperwork, providing a reason to combine the roles.
Zyterrious Gandy charged in June officer-involved shooting in Starkville
Zyterrious L. Gandy, the 19-year-old Starkville resident injured during an officer-involved shooting in June, will make his initial appearance in municipal court Thursday after he was recently released from medical care. Starkville Police Department served Gandy with four warrants Wednesday -- three for aggravated assault and one for failing to stop a motor vehicle when signaled by an officer -- and his bond was set at $35,000. Gandy was taken into custody June 3 after an alleged shoplifting incident morphed into a vehicle pursuit with at least one round of gunfire from a SPD officer. Law enforcement agents were dispatched to the Highway 12-South Montgomery Street Sprint Mart about 4:30 a.m. and began pursuing a vehicle driven by Gandy, who led a chase down South Montgomery Street to South Wedgewood Road.
Attorney in Cotton District sexual assault case requests to withdraw
Halfway through the first day of witnesses in a trial of a man accused of sexual assault in the Cotton District, the defense attorney made a motion to withdraw from the case because of multiple threats her client had made against her. Starkville attorney Stephanie Mallette, who represents West Point resident Terry Hill, made the motion in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court when the jury was out of the room. "I'm afraid of him and scared of him and I have no longer any desire to (represent) him," she said of Hill. But District Attorney Scott Colom argued Hill's behavior was an attempt to get rid of Mallette as his lawyer and continue the case and that "we can't reward bad behavior."
Nissan workers in Mississippi begin voting on union
It's now up to workers at Nissan's Mississippi assembly plant to decide if they will be represented by the United Auto Workers union. Voting began inside the plant at 2 a.m. Thursday in the election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. Ballots can be cast until 7 p.m. Friday. Outside analysts assume the union is an underdog, since the UAW has never fully organized a foreign-owned auto plant in the southern United States. But no one knows for sure. As Senate Majority Leader, Mississippi Republican Trent Lott promised that Nissan would "revolutionize" the state's economy, and Mississippi's business and political leaders still mostly line up against the union. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant calls UAW supporters "socialists."
AG Jim Hood continues to tout lottery as viable revenue source; others less certain
For the second year in a row, Attorney General Jim Hood of Houston, viewed as the leading Democratic contender for governor in 2019, touted a lottery as an option to raise additional revenue for the state's beleaguered general fund. "I'm a Baptist. You know us Baptists don't believe in gambling. We don't believe in drinking or dancing, not in public anyway," Hood quipped last week to the Neshoba County Fair crowd at the annual political speakings. "But I have to be a realist. The Legislature is not passing any revenue (tax increase.) That (lottery revenue) is money available for education -- should be spent on education." Hood, Mississippi's only statewide elected Democrat, also was the only officeholder who spoke at the fair to tout a lottery. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, facing questions from reporters after his speech, expressed the same reservations he has voiced before about enacting a lottery in Mississippi, but concluded, he was "willing to consider it."
Gov. Phil Bryant says opioid task force findings could justify increased state spending
Gov. Phil Bryant agrees with a set of recommendations that include increased funding to combat the opioid epidemic in Mississippi. But just how the state will pay for this amid declining revenues remains unclear. On Wednesday, the Governor's Opioid and Heroin Study Task Force met with Bryant to review their first set of recommendations for combating opioid abuse in the state, a project more than six months in the making. The task force made a total of 41 recommendations. But some of these suggestions come with a hefty price tag. In a conversation with Mississippi Today after the meeting, Bryant said that he thinks the findings of the task force could compel the Legislature to set aside extra funds to combat the epidemic.
Report: Mississippi needs more policies to fight cancer
The state that led the fight against "Big Tobacco" in the nineties has no state-wide law guaranteeing smoke-free restaurants, bars and workplaces. That's just one reason Mississippi ranks near the bottom in a report released Thursday by the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network about nationwide cancer-reducing policy and legislation. Out of nine benchmarks examined in the report -- including legislation on tobacco and indoor tanning, funding for breast and cervical screening and access to care through Medicaid -- Mississippi met zero. Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, a nurse, points to recent attempts in Congress to repeal ACA as justification for not having expanded Medicaid coverage. "We have no idea what's coming from that, but if for a couple of years we had given more tax dollars to Medicaid and then had to take it away, it would have been more hard on people than not doing it at all," she said.
Utility regulators seek to boost work for state companies
The state's Public Service Commission has enacted new regulations intended to help Mississippi-based companies earn more work on utility projects. On Tuesday, the three-member Public Service Commission unanimously voted to approve a "Hire Mississippi" rule previously proposed in May by Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley. A Democrat, Presley has touted the rule as a way to aid the state's economy and boost work for local people. "I am sick and tired of seeing out of state vehicles on construction sites in my Mississippi when I know that Mississippians are footing the bill for those projects," Presley said in a written statement. "It's past time to put Mississippi first."
New bipartisan Obamacare push faces steep climb
There's never been a major bipartisan Obamacare bill, and the path to passing one now -- after the death of Senate Republicans' repeal effort -- is steep. Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and ranking Democrat Patty Murray of Washington are up against both time and history in their race to stabilize the shaky Obamacare markets and solidify their status as the chamber's top dealmakers. The pair has just a few weeks before a self-imposed deadline to bridge deep partisan divisions over the health care law and pass a bill by the end of September, when insurance companies make their final decisions on 2018 Obamacare plans. "Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray shepherded a bill through -- [the update to] No Child Left Behind -- that made the school-choice people happy and made the teachers unions happy, so stranger things have happened," said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Defense to Get Historically High Share of Research Budget
The Pentagon and other security agencies' outsize consumption of federal research money would grow further under Republican plans, while nondefense research spending would drop, sometimes dramatically, a new congressional report shows. The Defense Department's research and development budget would consume 56 percent of the federal R&D total in President Donald Trump's fiscal 2018 budget proposal, according to the Congressional Research Service report. That's an 18 percent increase above the fiscal 2016 enacted level. When military research at the National Nuclear Security Administration and other agencies is included, the defense share of the federal research budget is closer to 61 percent.
Maridith Geuder to retire from The W
Maridith Geuder has always been a book-lover. "I can't stop buying them," she said Tuesday. Soon, she'll actually get a chance to read them. Geuder will step down from her position as executive director for university relations at Mississippi University for Women. Geuder's retirement, which brings to an end a 31-year career in higher education, was announced via a press release Tuesday. Geuder will serve through the end of September. MUW President Dr. Jim Borsig said an interim director will be named "soon," and a national search for a permanent director will begin by the end of year. Short-term, Geuder said she'll enjoy spending more time with her family, including her husband, Rod, and four siblings, as well as her volunteer work at First Presbyterian USA in Columbus. And, of course, she has all that reading to catch up on. "I have a big stack of books I'm going to dive into," she said.
Participants say UM's STEM camp for girls rocks
Programming robots and studying physics were among the activities enjoyed by 16 junior high students attending a girls-only science, technology, engineering and mathematics camp this summer at the University of Mississippi. Sponsored by the Center for Science and Mathematics Education through the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education, the camp included girls from Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee. This year's theme was the science of sports. "My goal is to inspire young women to go into STEM fields," said Tiffany Gray, camp coordinator and project manager for pre-college programs in the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education. "To do this, I have created a weeklong camp of fun, hands-on ac
William Carey turns tornado tragedy into unprecedented progress
Recovering from a tornado in January that damaged almost every building on the William Carey University campus -- at a cost of $73 million -- has been a monumental challenge. But rebuilding a better campus also is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, says university President Tommy King. On Wednesday, William Carey broke ground to reconstruct Tatum Court, which was the oldest building on campus and a total loss after the EF-3 tornado tore through the area last winter. Throughout the summer, repairs have been made on many campus buildings, and construction begun on others, as students prepare to return on Aug. 28. After the January storm, the University of Southern Mississippi opened its doors to William Carey students for residences and classrooms. William Carey's medical school will continue to function on the USM campus in Hattiesburg. Several local churches provided space for classes as well.
Auburn study: Workplace stress related to diet, sleep
What's the best defense against workplace stress or unhealthy eating? An Auburn University study suggests it may be a good night's sleep. Jaclyn Koopman, an assistant professor of management in Auburn's Harbert College of Business, spent two-and-a-half years working on the study. Researchers with Michigan State, the University of Illinois, the University of Florida and Sun Yat-sen University in China also worked on the project, which resulted in a paper in the Journal of Applied Psychology. "Eating your Feelings? Testing a Model of Employees' Work-Related Stressors, Sleep Quality, and Unhealthy Eating" is believed to be the first study to examine the links between sleep, work experiences and eating habits.
Eye access? LSU's new 'iris code' scanners grant entry with a single look
Almost gone are the days when an LSU student would swipe his or her school ID and walk into the university's recreation center. The rec center and Tiger Stadium weight room are two places on campus experimenting with eye-scanning technology as a way to allow access, according to LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard. Here's how the process works, for example, at the rec: Students can still swipe their IDs cards. Or, they have the option to have their eyes scanned. An iris code -- a series of numbers, not an actual image of a person's eyes -- is created and "stored locally on a secure database that even UREC cannot access," Ballard said. When a student's eyes are scanned, that information is used to verify the student's identity. "This is not storage of any biomedical information," Ballard said.
Rick Cartwright Named Director of U. of Arkansas Extension Service
Rick Cartwright has been named director of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, part of the university system's Division of Agriculture. His appointment is effective Aug. 1. He had been serving as interim associate vice president since Sept. 1, following the departure of then-director Tony Windham. Since joining the Division of Agriculture in 1992, Cartwright has held numerous roles on both the Extension and Agricultural Experiment Station sides. He has earned international recognition as a rice pathologist. He was raised on a farm in Stone County. Cartwright earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and a doctorate in plant pathology at the University of California-Davis.
Texas A&M libraries install bike desks to keep with changing times
After 55 miles, three textbook chapters and five quizzes, it's safe to say senior Caroline Garcia made the most of her time studying on one of the Texas A&M library's new bike desks. The communications major, who was studying in Sterling C. Evans Library on Wednesday, said not only was she happy with her productivity, but she even found the FitDesk Bike Desk to be more comfortable than its counterparts at the university's student recreation center. The six stationary bike desks were installed and open for use Tuesday in three locations across the campus: Evans Library, the West Campus Library and the Medical Sciences Library. The adjustable units include an attached desk space, a water bottle holder and a ride computer to track the time, distance and calories burned during each session. Jared Hoppenfeld, interim director of the West Campus Library, said at about $300 per unit, he is confident the bikes will be a good investment.
Trump May Find No Easy Targets if He Attacks Race in Admissions
The nation's long fight over affirmative action at colleges has flared back up with a report this week that the Trump administration's Justice Department plans to go after race-conscious admissions policies. While colleges have good reason to be concerned about such news, the fears it has aroused in them may be exaggerated and somewhat misplaced. Why? For starters, whether the administration actually plans to broadly attack such policies remains unclear. The Justice Department has called inaccurate the idea, first publicized Tuesday in a New York Times article, that it is preparing to investigate, and possibly sue, multiple colleges over race-conscious admissions practices.
AG Jeff Sessions's move to take on affirmative action energizes Trump's base
Attorney General Jeff Sessions's internal announcement indicating that the Justice Department is seeking to curb affirmative action in a university admissions case has roused President Trump's conservative base by seizing on a longtime grievance of the right at a moment when the administration is struggling to fulfill core Republican promises. Sessions's apparent intention to prohibit "intentional race-based discrimination" is also a window into the direction he is pulling the department's Civil Rights Division in his effort to reverse Obama administration policies on a range of issues, including criminal justice, policing and voting rights. For a Republican Party still searching for consensus in the Trump era, Sessions's moves signal that the administration is embracing the base during a time of turbulence and tension, with heavy attention being paid to the concerns of the white voters who lifted Trump into the presidency.
Trump-backed bill would halve legal immigration, create system privileging educational attainment
A bill backed by President Trump and announced Wednesday aims to reduce overall legal immigration by half while putting in place a new points-based system for applicants for employment-based green cards that would privilege graduates of American universities. Some higher education groups say that while they want to see changes to America's immigration system, these aren't the changes they want to see. The Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy, or RAISE, Act would drastically slash legal immigration by eliminating existing preferences for extended family members of U.S. residents, while keeping in place preferences for spouses and minor children; capping the number of refugees offered permanent residency at 50,000 per year; and ending the diversity visa lottery program. Jill Welch, the deputy executive director for public policy at NAFSA: Association of International Educators, described the legislation as a step backward.
Legislative leadership's rhetoric on state revenue not all of story
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "It might be time to acknowledge that the nearly 50 tax cuts passed in the past five years are helping to achieve the goal of cutting government. After all, those tax cuts have removed more than $300 million from the general fund revenue stream with about $435 million more set to be removed (in today's dollars) in the next 10 years. The legislative leadership would argue that in the long run the tax cuts will help grow the state's economy and thus revenue stream. Time will tell."
Ellie can sell with the best
Mississippi newspaper publisher and columnist Joel McNeece writes: "Summer is over, although the calendar and thermometer disagree. Summer always ends for us when we return home from the Neshoba County Fair because it marks our last summer get-away, and the fact that high school football practice starts up the Monday after. ...Kyle Steward, an old friend from his days as a congressional aide to both Sonny Montgomery and Roger Wicker, is now executive director of external affairs at Mississippi State. He and MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum eat lunch with us every year at the Fair. Kyle and I were reminiscing when Dr. Keenum decided he too would patronize Ellie. I didn't have time to warn him. There were chuckles all around this time when she announced the price, but Dr. Keenum gladly handed over the $5. 'You're guaranteeing me another trip to the midway,' I joked with him. 'Quite the entrepreneur,' he laughed."

Mississippi State true freshman linebacker Willie Gay impressing Todd Grantham early on
When asked Tuesday about how his linebackers are performing so far, Mississippi State defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said he was pleased about how his unit is improving in recognizing plays like misdirections and understanding how to play fast. Then, within that answer, he dropped one name: Willie Gay. "I think Willie has done a really good job of catching up and being on par with the other guys that have been here since spring," Grantham said. "So we'll have some good competition moving forward." That's solid praise for a true freshman linebacker expected to see the field this season. But it's important to point out how early it is.
Mississippi State's Christian Roberson ready to play after redshirt
Christian Roberson is simply ready to play football. The tight end graduated from high school early and arrived at Mississippi State in January of 2016 but redshirted last fall and is still awaiting the chance to make his collegiate debut. "I'm so ready, I can't even tell you how much," Roberson said. However, Roberson's first year and a half with the Bulldogs was far from wasted. As he adjusted to life as a college athlete and learned his playbook, the 6-foot-5 native of Atlanta also went from 218 up to 242 pounds as well as increasing his bench press by 50 pounds. "I loved it and it was probably the best decision I could've made," Roberson said. "It helped me grow as a player."
Mississippi State to play in Duel in the Desert
Mississippi State's women's basketball team will travel to Las Vegas during its non-conference slate to take part in the Duel in the Desert. The Bulldogs will battle host UNLV on Dec. 20 at 4:30 p.m. as well as 2016 national runner-up Syracuse 24 hours later. MSU is 0-2 all-time against the Lady Rebels last losing 62-51 on Dec. 28, 2003 in Las Vegas. The Bulldogs have never met Syracuse in women's basketball. Also competing at the event held at the Cox Pavilion will be Texas A&M, Hawaii and Oregon.
Ole Miss' Ken Webster, Detric Bing-Dukes arrested for shoplifting
Two players who figured to be contributors to Ole Miss' defense were arrested Tuesday night. Corner Ken Webster and linebacker Detric Bing-Dukes were arrested and charged with shoplifting, according to the Lafayette County Detention Center booking docket. "We are gathering facts on the matter," Matt Luke said through a university spokesman. The arrests occurred at 6:55 p.m. Tuesday and were made by the Oxford Police Department. Webster and Bing-Dukes were released at 8 p.m. through Al Williams Bail Bonds.
ESPN's College Gameday is headed to Atlanta
ESPN's College Gameday will broadcast Sept. 2 from the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the site of the University of Alabama's football opener, the network said Wednesday. The sports network's college football preview show, hosted by Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso, will air live from 8 a.m.-noon. The show's set will be at International Plaza outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Alabama's game against Florida State will kick off at 7 p.m., with ABC televising the game to a national audience. The UA-FSU game is one of five games the ESPN/ABC networks will show Labor Day weekend to kick off the 2017 college football season.
Former Auburn coach Pat Dye rescues Japanese maple
Former Auburn coach Pat Dye once famously said it would take "60 minutes" to beat Alabama. Rescuing a decades-old Japanese maple Wednesday required a bit more time -- and also included an excavator, a lowboy trailer, police escort, garden hose and a few shovel-wielding workers. Beautiful and tall with a trunk measuring 12 inches in diameter, the maple previously stood on the site of Wittel Dormitory, a historic, private women's dorm located off campus on the corner of Gay Street and Thach Avenue. As preparations to renovate and convert the building into a 40-room boutique hotel progress, Kim Wirth, who will co-own and operate the incoming Collegiate Hotel with her husband, Brian, was afraid the tree wouldn't survive as the parking lot undergoes construction. Things seemed bleak, Wirth said, until a mutual friend shared between the Wirths and Dye became acquainted with the tree and alerted the coach. As a result, Dye arrived Wednesday morning and hauled the maple to his Quail Hollow Gardens property, which serves as a nursery for Japanese maples that are sold on his farm in Notasulga.
First Golfer: Donald Trump's relationship with golf has never been more complicated
Playing golf with the 45th President of the United States offers a revealing character study of him. Donald Trump's private clubs are where he feels most comfortable, and holding court with members and guests and employees is an important part of the ritual -- in the pro shop, at the driving range and especially on the 1st tee, where Trump traditionally announces the teams for a friendly wager and will typically take the best player available for his partner. Some earnest person in the group will typically keep score, though the terms of the match are usually unstated and Trump's interest in the ebb and flow of the match is modest at best. Yet he somehow knows when his putt is meaningful, and he attempts those putts with a certain amount of fanfare. For all the questions and complications that come with the President's golf empire, he still finds respite on the course and at his properties.

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