Thursday, August 31, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Community rallies for Harvey victims
Starkville residents are coming together in multiple ways to help those affected by deadly flooding in Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey. The MSU College of Forest Resources Dean's Student Council along with the College of Agriculture and Life Science's Agricultural and Environmental Economics Club created a GoFundMe to raise money for the Houston Food Bank. Each dollar donated to the Houston Food Bank provides three meals. "The number one thing that stands out to me among my fellow students is their willingness to give the shirts off their backs to those in need," College of Forest Resources Dean's Council President Chandler Guy said. "Our fellow Americans are now in need, and I am confident that the College of Forest Resources' student body and its partners will answer that call."
Mississippi Bicentennial ad blitz to start, a tad late
The Mississippi Bicentennial Commission on Wednesday voted to start the process on a $2.8 million ad campaign to bring in tourists for the state's 200th birthday and opening of the Mississippi History and Civil Rights museums in downtown Jackson. The ad campaign, funded by the Legislature, rivals the state's entire annual tourism marketing budget, which at less than $3 million is the lowest in the Southeast. State officials hope the extra bicentennial ad spending will be a shot in the arm for tourism statewide. But the ad campaign comes a little late in the game, near the end of the bicentennial year and with the museums slated to open Dec. 9, coinciding with the third and final large bicentennial celebration.
Congress aware of Philadelphia bypass situation
Congress is now aware of the need for a $130 million bypass that could bring jobs to Weyerhaeuser, state Sen. Jenifer Branning says she wants to assure Neshoba countians. Local leaders have said they plan to pursue more aggressively federal funding along with other options for the bypass, which was shelved by MDOT earlier this month because of the lack of funding. Neshoba County's state legislative delegation and other leaders have said that despite the decision to halt the bypass, they have no intentions of giving up on identifying funding sources. The bypass is key to any future expansion at Philadelphia's Weyerhaeuser mill, officials have said, which just underwent a $57.3 million modernization. Branning, a Republican, said she has been in touch personally with "our federal delegation which seems open and willing to assist the community. They know what our needs are and we are making them aware of our issues. They are open and willing to help us as we find a solution."
Medicaid stands by $2B contract award; hospital group cries foul
The Mississippi Division of Medicaid acted appropriately in giving two incumbent companies and a third California-based company a $2 billion managed care contract, the agency argued Tuesday. Two losing bidders, Mississippi True and Amerigroup, protested the award and claimed the agency's scoring criteria were biased against them, that their scores were unfairly low and that the Medicaid director had a conflict of interest with one of the winners. "The agency affirms its initial MississippiCAN contract award decisions," Medicaid Director David Dzielak said in an agency response. Mississippi True and Amerigroup not only filed protests with the agency, they sued in Hinds County Chancery Court. The lawsuit, a combined complaint on which the three winning companies have intervened, has stalled while Medicaid completes its administrative review of the protests.
State flag case rockets to the national stage
Action this week at the U.S. Supreme Court makes clear that debate over the Mississippi state flag has reached national proportions never seen before. After many years of debating the state flag in Mississippi, two national civil rights groups filed briefs in support of a lawsuit Grenada attorney Carlos Moore filed. In addition, the nation's highest court has requested more information from Gov. Phil Bryant, who named as a plaintiff in the suit, which questions whether the state of Mississippi should fly its current flag -- the last in the nation containing the Confederate battle emblem. The request comes as the nationwide debate over Confederate symbols -- including flags, building names and monuments -- rages. Cliff Johnson, a professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law and director of the MacArthur Justice Center, said it's difficult to read too far into the high court's request.
Book tours are testing ground for 2020 race
Former Vice President Joe Biden will release a new book this fall that could also serve as a test for whether the country is interested in seeing him run for president. Longtime advisers to Biden see his memoir, "Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose" as the ultimate test for whether or not he'll wade into a potentially crowded 2020 field. He's just the latest potential 2020 candidate to come out with a new book. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) have also released books this year, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) came out with a book this month aimed at young readers: Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution." Political books can personalize a politician, and bring their ideas to a wider audience. It's also an excuse to do the talk show circuit, from cable news to the late-night entertainment gab fests. And then there's the tour, which can put a politician in front of crowds around the country in what can look like a surrogate campaign.
With Harvey, Imperfect Engineering Meets a Perfect Storm
Addicks and Barker Reservoirs are swaths of placid Texas prairie, wetland, and forest straddling I-10 where it hits Highway 6, about 20 miles west of downtown Houston. But that's not how nature sees them. To nature, those two open spaces are the top of a hydrological basin that drains through the city and into the Houston Ship Channel. Most of the time the reservoirs don't reserve any water. But when it rains and rains and rains, they fill up, letting water burble through their gates into Buffalo Bayou and out toward the sea, to control flooding. Today, after five days of rain thanks to Hurricane Harvey, Addicks and Barker Reservoirs are as full as full can be. Houses both upstream and down are sitting in feet of water. Believe it or not, that's how things are supposed to work. The question is whether Houstonians and the Corps are seeing the edge of the dams' design envelope. Don't worry, for a moment, about 100-year storms and 500-year storms. Dam builders worry about a different standard: the Probable Maximum Flood.
UM Greek life retreat ends abruptly with bias concerns
This weekend, leaders from Ole Miss Greek life convened upon Camp Hopewell in Lafayette County for a three-day retreat designed to build leaders and bring campus closer together. The retreat was cut short Saturday night, however, after three black students found a banana peel in a tree in front of one of the camp's cabins. The students shared what they found with National Pan-Hellenic Council leaders, sparking a day's worth of camp-wide conversation surrounding symbolism, intended or not. In the midst of the open and sometimes heated discussion, senior accounting major Ryan Swanson said he put the banana peel in the tree when he could not find a trashcan nearby. Alexa Lee Arndt, interim director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said she was one of the only university staff members acting in an administrative capacity at the weekend retreat. Monday afternoon, she sent a letter to all campus chapter presidents, council officers and chapter advisers, confirming the incident and outlining the university's plans.
In the tech world, opportunities are infinite; in Mississippi, access is not
During a discussion Wednesday about recent advancements in technology and infinite opportunities for more growth came a sobering reminder. The Federal Communications Commission reported in 2016 that 34 percent of Mississippi residents had no option for fixed, high speed broadband. In rural parts of the state, the percentage jumped to about 60 percent of residents without access. "That's the highest percentage of any state in the country," said Nicholas Degani, senior counsel for the Federal Communications Commission. Leaders from across the nation gathered for the second University of Mississippi Technology Summit to discuss challenges the state faces and prospects for growth within the technology industry.
Holocaust survivor speaks on UM campus
Since 1979, Marion Blumenthal Lazan has been traveling the world sharing her personal story of surviving the Holocaust. In Paris Yates Chapel Tuesday night, University of Mississippi students and community members crammed into the pews, dozens were left standing and sitting on the floor, excited at the opportunity to hear from someone who survived the worst of what humanity has to offer. Lazan shared her story from the beginning. She talked about being a young girl in Germany when antisemitic behavior and eventually legislation began to rise with the mainstream. She said that her family never thought anything would come from the bigoted opinion of a few. But soon the few became the many.
UM student union food services open
All food service locations in the new portion of the Ole Miss Student Union -- including Chick-fil-A, Panda Express, Qdoba, Which Wich and McAlister's Deli -- opened Wednesday to the University of Mississippi students, faculty and staff. The opening is an important milestone for the project, which, when complete, will expand the facility from 97,000 square feet to 173,000 square feet, said Larry Sparks, UM vice chancellor for administration and finance. The additional dining locations have created nearly 250 jobs for students and local community members, said Clay Jones, assistant vice chancellor for administration and human resources.
Teen arrested after shooting near Northeast Mississippi Community College
Police in Booneville have arrested a teenager accused of shooting at a passing car near Northeast Mississippi Community College. Chief Michael Ramey says officers were called to the College View Apartments on North College Street around 5 p.m. Wednesday. "There had actually been five or six shots fired here from an individual on foot in the direction of a car that had left here from College View and went north on North College," said Chief Ramey. The suspect, a 16-year-old male, was later found in one of the apartments and taken into custody. Chief Ramey said he believes the suspect was staying with his sister. At this time, it is not clear why he was firing at the car.
Jackson Academy names new head of school
Jackson Academy President Cliff Kling has accepted the position as president and chief executive officer of the Gulliver Schools effective January 1, according to chair of the Jackson Academy Board of Trustees Gregory M. Johnston. Jack F. Milne has been unanimously selected by the board of trustees to succeed Kling and lead Jackson Academy as Head of School effective January 1. Milne joined JA June 1 as vice president and dean of the school, the senior administrator overseeing academics, arts, athletics, and student life. Milne came to JA after serving as a teacher, middle school head, and associate head at the Bolles School in Jacksonville, where he served for 17 years. He holds a bachelor's degree in history from Vanderbilt University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Florida College of Law.
Successful procedure at Auburn returns Chester the Duck to normal lake-living lifestyle
It is not every day that surgeons and clinicians perform a medical procedure on a pet duck at Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine, but in the case of Chester, a 1-year-old white domestic neighborhood duck from Newnan, Georgia, their work successfully returned the web-footed wonder to a normal lake-living lifestyle. Known as "Chester Schulz" in his medical records, the injured duck was brought to the college's avian veterinarian when concerned residents near a 300-acre lake where Chester lives noticed an apparent wound at the base of his neck. "I looked at Chester, who is named for the old 'Gunsmoke' western TV series character, and noticed the wound," said Bob Schulz, the neighborhood resident who brought Chester in for treatment." Chester was examined by Dr. Seth Oster, an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and the college's avian veterinarian in the Wilford and Kate Bailey Small Animal Teaching Hospital.
White nationalists still plan on coming to U. of Florida
White nationalist Richard Spencer intends to come to Gainesville, whether he has a permit or not. "I can confirm we are coming to the University of Florida, regardless," said Cameron Padgett, who organizes speaking events for Spencer. "Hopefully it's in a controlled environment, like the Phillips Center." Earlier this month, the University of Florida denied a permit, filed by Padgett, for Spencer and others aligned with Spencer's National Policy Institute to speak at the Phillips Center on Sept. 12. City officials and local police said they have been preparing as if the group plans to speak, though there hasn't been confirmation. Padgett said he has hired an attorney to review UF's cancellation to see whether it violates their right to speak. If efforts to use the Phillips Center fail, he intends to show up to speak, somewhere else on campus.
UGA student robbed while studying on front porch
A 21-year-old University of Georgia student reported she was robbed late Tuesday night as she was doing school work on the front porch of her home just west of UGA's Main Campus, Athens-Clarke County police said. The student was on the porch of her home in the 2000 block of Bloomfield Street at about 11:29 p.m., using her laptop to type a paper for school when a young black male with a green bandana covering his face raced up to the porch from the side of the residence and behaved as though he had a gun in the waistband of his pants, police said. According to police, the victim believed the robber was a juvenile, based on his demeanor. The victim also noted to police that prior to the robbery, an older, "beat up" car had been parked near her home and she never saw anyone get in or out of the vehicle, which drove away immediately after the robbery.
Texas A&M offers support to students on campus and those still stranded
Despite fall classes at Texas A&M kicking off Wednesday after a two-day delay, some students who have been affected by Harvey are still unable to make it to the campus. Senior communication major Kassy Ortiz, a native of southeast Houston suburb Pasadena, said she is among the many residents in the region still unable to travel because of flooded and storm-damaged roads. Ortiz, who spent the summer in Pasadena, said outside of some flooding and water making it into her car, she was fortunate to have stayed safe during the "nerve-racking" experience of Hurricane Harvey. Once she realized she would not be making it back to College Station in time for the start of classes, Ortiz said she reached out to the university's Student Assistance Services to make sure they knew she wasn't just skipping out. Though a seemingly simple conversation, Ortiz said the kindness and support of the university worker she spoke with was moving.
Texas A&M set to break ground on new $42.5 million music center next week
Texas A&M University is set to break ground on its new $42.5 million music activities center located on the south side of campus next week. Named the John D. White '70 -- Robert L. Walker '58 Music Activities Center, the new facilities will be located near the corner of George Bush Drive and Coke Street. The 70,000-square-foot center will be the new home to more than 1,300 Aggie musicians who participate in 14 groups, including the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band. "The center will allow us to bring together all the bands, choirs and orchestras under one roof to learn and grow musically, in addition to academically," said Texas A&M Director of Bands and Music Activities Timothy Rhea in a statement. "Music is an important part of both our human and our university experiences, and the new center will be like everything Texas A&M does -- first class."
U. of Missouri seeks to help students affected by Harvey flooding
The University of Missouri is reminding parents and students with families affected by Hurricane Harvey that there are on-campus services, including temporary housing, available. Chancellor Alexander Cartwright and Provost Garnett Stokes wrote in the message sent to students that they can speak with professors to balance academic work with family needs. The Wellness Resource Center, the Counseling Center and the Student Health Center can all provide services for students who have mental health issues related to the storm. The Law School is also pitching in to help students living in the flooded areas continue their education. Dean Lyrissa Lidsky tweeted Tuesday that law students from Texas displaced because their school is closed may study in Columbia at no cost until their school re-opens.
U. of North Carolina Is the Latest to Deny Event Space to White Nationalist
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has denied a request by the white supremacist Richard Spencer to speak on its campus, Chancellor Carol L. Folt said on Wednesday in a statement. The decision was made based on the safety risks that a visit by Mr. Spencer could present, Ms. Folt said in the statement. UNC-Chapel Hill joins Michigan State University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Florida, and Texas A&M University at College Station in denying requests from Mr. Spencer following a violent protest this month by white supremacists at the University of Virginia, and the death of a counterprotester the next day in Charlottesville, Va.
Indiana University's 'grand challenge' on practical solutions to environmental change in the state
Higher education's image problems include skepticism about the value of research conducted at public universities. And research on climate change often is viewed through a partisan lens, with many Republicans questioning the underlying science and even the problem's existence. Against this backdrop, Indiana University has taken an unusual approach with a new $55 million research project on environmental change in the state. The idea, leaders of the effort said, is to connect research in the natural and social sciences to the lives and work of people in Indiana, with a focus on proactive and practical ways to cope with climate disruption and related problems. "We have not always done the full job of explaining what a research university does," said Fred Cate, the university's vice president for research. Often unanswered, he said, are questions such as: "Why is research important? Why is it expensive? Why is failure part of it?"
Mississippians have more time to buy guns tax free than sneakers
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "Mississippians have the opportunity to shop during two sales tax free weekends each summer -- the first in July for back to school clothing and the second in August on guns, ammunition and other hunting items. People have a longer period of time to buy guns and ammo tax free than they do to purchase back-to-school clothing. State law mandates that the back-to-school tax free holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on the last Friday in July and ends at midnight the following Saturday. The Mississippi Sportsman Weekend, often called the Second Amendment sales tax holiday, begins at 12:01 a.m. on the last Friday in August and ends at midnight the following Sunday. Legislators, in their infinite wisdom, decided it was OK to purchase guns and ammunition on Sunday, but not blue jeans and sneakers. Not sure about that logic, but can a person ever be sure about the logic of Mississippi legislators?"

Mississippi State defense preparing for Charleston Southern's triple option
Mississippi State defensive coordinator Todd Grantham coached against Georgia Tech's triple-option attack four times while he held the same position at Georgia. MSU saw the attack in the 2014 Orange Bowl. Still, MSU doesn't have much to work with as it finalizes preparations for Charleston Southern's take on the system at 3 p.m. Saturday (SEC Network) in the season opener for both teams at Davis Wade Stadium. MSU will try to find a way to stop an offense based out of the shotgun that has a two-back triple option and presents more challenges than the traditional option system. "Three-back options teams -- traditional wishbone, double slot teams -- there are a variety of formations, but there are some limitations to it if you want to maintain three-back or two-back principles," Charleston Southern coach Mark Tucker told The Dispatch.
Mississippi State's Jamal Peters now comfortable at corner
With their cornerback depth depleted due to injury last year, Mississippi State's coaches decided to move Jamal Peters from safety late in fall camp. Peters was up and down last season as he learned his new position but feels at home at corner with a year of experience under his belt. "Right now I'm way more comfortable than I used to be," Peters said. "I think I'm settling in there very well. My teammates and coaches believe in me at corner to make plays. I think it's a great move that they did. Even though they threw me in there last year, I think I held up very well." Peters played in 12 games last year and earned a pair of starts against Kentucky and Ole Miss. He finished his sophomore season with 18 tackles, one for loss, two forced fumbles, two pass breakups and a pair of interceptions.
It still isn't clear who Mississippi State's kicker will be for 2017 season
Don't expect to learn who will kick Mississippi State's first field goal attempt until the Bulldogs line up for one. The candidates are Tucker Day, Jordan Lawless, Dan Mills and Jace Christmann. The job is one of the few mysteries left regarding what the Bulldogs will look like. Dan Mullen said he doesn't plan on announcing who the team's place-kicker is prior to the Bulldogs' season opener Saturday against visiting Charleston Southern (3 p.m., SEC Network). And while that may sound concerning because of MSU's struggles last season, it's actually OK. That is, if Mullen was being truthful during training camp when he consistently said none of MSU's kickers were separating themselves because they were all performing well.
LSU sells out its 25,000 allotted tickets for BYU game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome
LSU has sold all 25,000 of its allotted tickets for Saturday's AdvoCare Texas Kickoff game vs. BYU in New Orleans, said Stephen Perry, the president of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. Perry joined New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and several other city officials at a Wednesday afternoon news conference. The game was originally scheduled to be played at Houston's NRG Stadium, but it was moved to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans after Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas. Landrieu, Superdome and hospitality officials pointed out the role reversal from 12 years ago, when Houston welcomed New Orleans residents "with open arms" after Hurricane Katrina. "This is an opportunity for us to repay the favor," said Doug Thornton, senior vice president of SMG, which manages the Superdome.
Florida to wear Hurricane Harvey helmet decal
Fans looking to support rescue and recovery efforts related to Hurricane Harvey are encouraged to go through the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The UAA has collaborated with the Michigan athletic department and game organizers from the Advocare Classic, the Cotton Bowl and the Dallas Cowboys to encourage fans to donate to the Salvation Army to aid in relief efforts. "We are very mindful of the damage and destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey and are hopeful that Gators and Wolverines can come together to provide assistance to those who are in need," UF athletic director Scott Stricklin said. In order to help bring awareness to the plight of the thousands of families impacted by Hurricane Harvey, the Florida football team will wear a special helmet decal when the Gators take on Michigan in their season opener Saturday.
Golf cart shuttle service to launch in Auburn on Saturday
An Auburn businessman who has been organizing a golf cart shuttle service for downtown will launch the business Saturday. Grab-a-Cart will consist of 15 street-legal golf carts that can pick up football fans from various locations in downtown Auburn and drop them off at Jordan-Hare Stadium, owner Mathan Holt said this week. "We have gotten all our credentials now, all our licenses and insurance and paid all our fees, and we are ready to operate," he said. With a top speed of about 25 miles per hour, the carts will operate in a restricted service area downtown, on and around the Auburn University campus. On game day, fans who do not park immediately in the vicinity of the football stadium can hitch a ride on one of the low-speed vehicles to Jordan-Hare and back to their vehicles after the game.

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