Friday, September 1, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Hail State Boulevard opening in time for first home game
The $18 million South Entrance Road Project is complete and will open on schedule today. The new road runs 3.5 miles from Poorhouse Road to Blackjack Road at the intersection of Blackjack Road and Stone Boulevard at the south entrance to the Mississippi State University campus. Construction was paid for with funds from both the Mississippi Department of Transportation and MSU. The road will be known as Hail State Boulevard, and will officially be opened at a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony at the intersection of Stone Boulevard and Hail State Boulevard. The road is expected to provide for better traffic flow and easier access to the south entrance of the MSU campus.
Give these bucks a pass, Mississippi State researchers say
A study aimed at tracking buck movement once hunters enter the woods is scheduled to begin this fall and meetings will be held this month to update those who hunt in the study area and answer any questions. Preparations for the study began last fall when 55 bucks were outfitted with ear tags and bright orange transmitter collars by Mississippi State University Deer Lab students and Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks employees. Since that time, some of the deer lost their collars while others died. According to Ashley Jones, an MSU graduate student who is heading the field work, efforts are currently being made to capture more bucks and outfit them with the recovered collars. The MSU Deer Lab is also asking hunters to refrain from shooting any of the tagged and collared bucks.
Mississippi State students face Harvey aftermath: 'all of my memories are sitting underwater'
Over 500 miles away from Starkville, Hurricane Harvey dumped a record-breaking amount of rain on parts of Texas, leaving devastation and heartache in its wake. Once the storm made landfall, Harvey ripped apart home after home. For Mississippi residents, it was a tragic spectacle to watch unfold, but for several MSU students, it became their reality. Countless videos showed water lapping the sides of buildings and residents riding on rescue boats. Amid the chaos, senior communications major Claire Bonham saw her neighbors, her elementary school and other places she grew up. "That's my home," Bonham said. "All of my memories are sitting underwater." For Bonham, the severity of the disaster didn't occur to her until she received numerous phone calls and messages from friends asking if her family was safe and after she saw the news of widespread flooding as it developed.
Golden Triangle Development LINK: Infinity site best spot in state for car plant
With Mississippi purportedly in the running for landing a major vehicle plant, Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins claims Lowndes County has the ideal spot to put one. The recently formed 1,444-acre Infinity Megasite, located in the Golden Triangle Industrial Aerospace Park on Highway 82 west of Columbus, Higgins said, is the readiest site in the state to accommodate a major car manufacturer. "We believe that if Mississippi's putting its best foot forward, we're probably the first pick," Higgins said. Toyota and Mazda announced in early August they're looking across the United States to build a joint plant. Officially, he said, the LINK can't talk about projects it may be pursuing, but if Toyota were to show interest in Infinity Megasite the LINK would be "all ears and welcome them with open arms." The Infinity Megasite's close proximity to Mississippi State University, which is home to the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, is also a benefit, Higgins said.
No tax increase expected for Starkville residents
Oktibbeha County and Starkville property owners' expected tax rates are becoming clearer as the city's tentative Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget does not call for a millage increase for operational expenses. Advertisements ahead of Tuesday's budget hearing state Starkville will continue to operate on its 25.58-mill levy in the upcoming fiscal year, which is expected to bring in about $6 million. Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District's local ask of 64.98 mills and an almost-3 mill increase to 58.59 mills for county government operations and debt service means outlying Oktibbeha County property owners are expected to pay a combined 123.57-mill rate from the two local taxing sources. Starkville's upcoming budget balances $21.98 million between various streams of revenue and expenses.
John Lee Hooker exhibit opens at Grammy Museum Mississippi
An exhibit celebrating the centennial of Clarksdale blues legend John Lee Hooker opened on his birthday at the Grammy Museum Mississippi. The John Lee Hooker: King of the Boogie Exhibit includes memorabilia, such as several guitars, gold records, Grammy Awards and photos with musicians Carlos Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Miles Davis, from the legend's long career. "He's a true treasure to blues music. He defined and helped to really bring a genre to the forefront that is still being played today," said Nwaka Onwusa, curator at the Grammy Museum in Los Angles. Hooker's daughter Diane Hooker Roan and nephew Archie Lee Hooker were at the grand opening of the exhibit. Roan said she is happy to know that the museum is honoring her father because the state is the place of his birth. The museum in Cleveland is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily and Sunday noon-5:30 p.m.
'Chitlin Circuit' subject of upcoming B.B. King Symposium
The third annual B.B. King Symposium takes place Wednesday and Thursday, with a series of panels and talks during the day at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena and a star-studded jam session Thursday evening at the historic Club Ebony in Indianola. This year's theme is the "Chitlin' Circuit," the historical network of African American musical venues, with featured panelists including veteran musicians Syl Johnson, Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater, Bobby Rush, and Jackson R&B singer Dorothy Moore. The event is presided over by Alphonso Sanders, the Chair of Fine Arts at MVSU and the director of the school's B.B. King Recording Studio, which is co-hosting the symposium with the B.B. King Museum.
US awards contracts for prototypes of concrete border wall, including Yates
The Trump administration has taken another step toward building a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, even as funding for the project remains in question. U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Thursday it will award contracts to four companies to build four concrete prototypes for the wall. The four companies announced Thursday are Caddell Construction Co. of Montgomery, Alabama; Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. of Tempe, Arizona; Texas Sterling Construction Co. of Houston; and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co. of Philadelphia, Mississippi.
Choctaws to vote soon on new casino near Carthage
The Choctaw tribe is expected to vote soon on whether to build a new casino in the Red Water community. If approved, it would mark the tribe's fourth casino. Two casinos, Silver Star and Golden Moon, are in Choctaw in Neshoba County and a third is in Bok Homa in Jones County, 13 miles north of Laurel. Red Water is in Leake County, about six miles south of Carthage. The 10,000-member tribe reopened the Golden Moon Casino full time in 2015, following a $70 million-plus renovation.
Governor names Supreme Court replacement for Jess Dickinson
Gov. Phil Bryant has named Court of Appeals Judge David M. Ishee to replace Supreme Court Justice Jess H. Dickinson, who is leaving the high court to run the state's Child Protection Services. "Judge Ishee's extensive experience in presiding over cases for more than two decades in Mississippi will serve him well on our state's highest court," Bryant said in a statement. Ishee in a written statement said he has aspired to be a Supreme Court justice for most of his career "and I greatly appreciate the governor's confidence in me." Ishee is a native of Gulfport, born in 1963, and has served on the Court of Appeals for more than 13 years. He has a bachelor of science degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, attended the University of London, and received his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law.
Gulfport judge who made history is the newest member of state's Supreme Court
A judge from Gulfport is the newest member of the Mississippi Supreme Court, Gov. Phil Bryant announced Thursday. Bryant appointed David Ishee to replace Supreme Court Justice Jess H. Dickinson, who is leaving to become the commissioner of Mississippi Child Protection Services. Ishee's appointment is effective Sept. 18. Ishee began his career as a judge in 1993 when he was just 29 years old, Bryant said in a press release, when he was appointed municipal court judge for the City of Pascagoula. That made Ishee the youngest municipal court judge in Mississippi history. Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. said he looks forward to Ishee joining the court.
Emails, alleged job offers at center of Medicaid managed care conflict
Among the most combustible claims made by Mississippi True, a coalition of state hospitals formed to try to garner a portion of multi-billion dollar managed care contracts from the Division of Medicaid, is that Medicaid Executive Director David Dzielak had a conflict of interest in awarding the contracts. Mississippi True is composed of more than 60 state hospitals. In an August public forum in Tupelo, Bruce Toppin, vice president and general counsel, said North Mississippi Health Services didn't join Mississippi True because it was involved in a dispute with United Healthcare at the time and wanted to avoid accusations that the Tupelo-based medical center was seeking a competitive advantage over United Healthcare as the insurer was seeking to renew its managed care contract with the Division of Medicaid.
Mississippi Superintendent of Education is highest paid in nation
Mississippi Superintendent of Education Carey Wright is the highest paid state schools chief in the country, according to an analysis by Education Week. With a salary of $300,000, Wright, who was appointed in 2013, ranked first in the trade publication's review of state superintendent salaries. Education Week reported on average state superintendents are paid $174,000. In a state with one of the nation's lowest per-pupil spending rates, Wright's salary stands out as somewhat of an outlier. The analysis also found that board-appointed state chiefs on average make $223,000. That's $108,000 more than the average state-elected chiefs make. And $65,000 more than the average governor-appointed state chiefs make.
State Education Chiefs Have New Duties, But Does Their Pay Match Up?
The stakes are higher than ever for state education chiefs under the Every Student Succeeds Act, but whether they're being compensated any better is a much murkier picture, an Education Week salary review shows. State schools superintendents today lead often-emaciated departments tasked with lengthy federal and state to-do lists. They're also directly in charge of designing and implementing state accountability systems and improving their states' worst-performing schools under the new federal K-12 law that kicks into high gear this school year. Despite that, state chiefs are paid, on average, $174,000---about $60,000 less than the average pay for the superintendent leading their state's largest district. There are some big outliers along the way. Mississippi, for example, which has the nation's 46th lowest per-pupil spending rates, pays its state chief, Carey Wright, $300,000 -- the highest salary of any state superintendent.
Speedy internet delivery for rural DeSoto County
With much fanfare, State President of AT&T Mississippi Mayo Flint, along with U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, unveiled plans for AT&T's Fixed Wireless Internet, making it available for rural and underserved locations in parts of DeSoto County. They were joined by Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, District 4 Supervisor Lee Caldwell and a host of officials who gathered in a muddy bean field, near an AT&T telecommunications tower off Old Miss. Hwy. 304 near Eudora. "The future growth of Mississippi's economy relies on innovation and investment like we are seeing announced today with AT&T's Fixed Wireless Internet Technology," Wicker said. "High-speed internet service from AT&T in this part of DeSoto County and other designated areas across Mississippi provides a great example of the innovative thinking necessary to help close the remaining connectivity gap in rural areas across the state."
U.S. job growth slumps in August
The U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in August as unemployment ticked up slightly to 4.4 percent, federal economists reported Friday. Average hourly wages rose 3 cents last month to $26.39, up 2.5 percent from a year ago. The growth missed expectations, as analysts had expected economists would report approximately 200,000 new jobs in August. "Growth was slower in August, but that's because there were fewer gains in growing industries, not because we're seeing more losses in shrinking industries," said Jed Kolko, chief economist at "We're actually at a point of unusual stability." The report does not include any impact from Hurricane Harvey and the devastation it unleashed in Texas, as the collection of the data used for the report was completed before the storm struck.
US Navy leader considers unmanned vehicles to increase power
President Donald Trump and Navy leaders say the nation needs about 350 ships, roughly 75 more ships than the fleet has today. But there isn't money in the defense budget to buy a lot of new ships at once, and they take years to build. Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, says they could get closer to the target faster by counting unmanned vessels with capabilities similar to a manned ship--- a new twist on the definition of a ship. Unmanned undersea vehicles currently used by the Navy aren't at the point now where they could replace manned platforms. While they can complete a task to support a mission, they can't complete an entire mission on their own, and none are weaponized, according to the Navy. Richardson brought senior officers to Newport, Rhode Island, this month to talk about accelerating their development.
Area schools pitch in to help Harvey victims
Collecting money, supplies and other items, Northeast Mississippi schools are encouraging students and teachers to do their part to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Efforts are underway at the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University as well. At UM, the Rebel Relief Disaster Fund is accepting donations. The University of Mississippi Foundation administers the fund, which provides support for students who have been affected by recent, unforeseen circumstances such as natural disasters or other significant events. MSU's College of Forest Resources, Dean's Student Council and the Agricultural and Environmental Economics Club, have launched a fundraising campaign to collect contributions that will be donated to the Houston Food Bank.
Provost interviews continue at UM with second candidate
Current interim provost Noel Wilkin spoke with University of Mississippi faculty and students on campus Thursday at the second of four planned provost candidate open forums. Wilkin's presentation focused on the interplay between the role of provost and the university's mission, and how the mission's ultimate goal is to change society. "The role of the provost is to maximize our collective capacity to pursue our mission," Wilkin said. "Making a difference in society is a function of the effectiveness of our faculty and staff. That's where the magic happens – when we make a difference in the lives of our students." Wilkin is familiar with the university. In addition to serving as the interim provost and the executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, he also is a professor of pharmacy administration and research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Auburn University chosen for Astronaut Scholarship Program
Auburn University will join 35 other top research universities nationwide, including MIT and Georgia Tech, as the newest participant in the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's merit-based scholarship worth $10,000 each to college juniors and seniors and partially supported by living astronauts of America's storied space programs. Established in 1984 by six surviving members of Project Mercury astronauts who partook in the first human spaceflight program of the United States from 1958 through 1963, the scholarships intend to reward top college students with majors in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields. Auburn was one of five universities that were added to the program in August due to the significant research opportunities available for undergraduate students. The other universities are the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Massachusetts, Colorado State University and Mississippi State University.
Descendant of Titanic survivors teaches class at U. of Tennessee on ship disaster
A University of Tennessee professor whose own relatives were passengers on the ship Titanic is delving into her family's history to explore one of the most infamous disasters of the 20th century -- the sinking of the Titanic -- and share that information with students. Shelley Binder's great-grandmother and great-uncle were passengers on the ship and while she grew up with stories about their ordeal, mysteries remain about exactly how they were able to survive and get safe passage to the United States. This fall, Binder, an associate professor of flute, will teach a first-year studies class on the Titanic. She'll bring to the classroom her firsthand experience and is hoping students will help her unlock some of the mysteries of her family's past. "I think people are really fascinated by the questions of heroism and villainism that the Titanic raises," said Binder.
U. of Missouri appoints Andrea Hayes as interim assistant vice chancellor for Civil Rights & Title IX
Andrea Hayes, former Boone County assistant prosecuting attorney, was appointed Thursday as the University of Missouri's interim assistant vice chancellor for Civil Rights & Title IX. Hayes will take office on Sept. 1. Hayes will ensure MU's compliance with Title IX laws, monitor policies related to Title IX, oversee grievance and equity resolution and provide training for the campus, according to a news release. She has worked at EdCounsel, a law firm that represents public school districts in Missouri and Kansas, since January 2016. Hayes will replace departing Assistant Vice Chancellor Ellen Eardley, who announced her resignation in July. Eardley was the first leader of the Title IX Office, created in late 2015 and transformed to the Office for Civil Rights & Title IX during her term. She will return to private practice after leaving the office. The national search for the permanent leader of the office will be thorough and will not be limited by a timeline, said MU spokesman Christian Basi.
New approach to Education Department oversight focuses on risk assessment and outreach
After taking heavy criticism over the selection of a new head for the Education Department's enforcement unit, Secretary Betsy DeVos insisted Thursday that student protections are a top priority for her agency. In a news release announcing the hiring of several key employees at the Office of Federal Student Aid, which is responsible for administering financial aid programs, DeVos and the department outlined -- with few details -- a new oversight approach focused on risk management and communication with top officials at institutions themselves. That message was attacked by advocates for strong enforcement who said it promised more cooperation with bad actors. The announcement was short on details involving that new oversight beyond two major themes -- identifying risky behavior by colleges and communicating with top campus officials.
Faculty Members Organize to Fight 'Fascist' Interlopers on Campuses
Rallies for far-right speakers, misrepresentation of professors' statements, and racist or Islamophobic signs are popping up on campuses across the country. Some faculty members think that trend is more than just a conservative backlash against perceived liberal bias; it's fascism. In an effort to push back, Bill Mullen, an English professor at Purdue University, last spring formed a coalition of scholars called the Campus Anti-Fascist Network. Since a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that started on the University of Virginia's campus turned deadly in August, Mr. Mullen said the network had grown from 40 to 400 members. including faculty, staff, and students. "This is a very, very bad turn in higher education," Mr. Mullen said. "We invite people from diverse political perspectives to join this network as long as they oppose fascism."

New staff makes Charleston Southern a tough scout for Bulldogs
Mississippi State hasn't had much to go on as far as scouting for its season-opening opponent Charleston Southern. The Buccaneers have won back-to-back Big South championships but are breaking in a new head coach in Mark Tucker this season. Tucker had served as CSU's quarterbacks coach the previous four years and has eight new assistant coaches on his staff. "It's a tough challenge with the team we have coming in," said MSU coach Dan Mullen. "We're going to a great college venue with a lot of excitement in the seats," Tucker said. "It's a SEC environment and I've heard those cowbells before. It was loud pretty loud when I went there last in 1998, so we're preparing and we'll see how we function. It's going to be a lot of fun."
Mississippi State needs consistency from Nick Fitzgerald in 2017
Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has already shown a knack for the spectacular. Now the Bulldogs hope their emerging star can bring a little more consistency to the offense. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Fitzgerald was one of the breakout stars in the Southeastern Conference last season and is one of just three returning quarterbacks in the nation who had at least 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in 2016. One of the others: Louisville's Heisman Trophy-winner Lamar Jackson. But among all of Fitzgerald's great runs and throws was a problem: Some of the routine plays weren't always very routine.
Last chance for Gabe Myles to makeup for childhood mistake
Gabe Myles can vividly remember as a child taking one of his father's game balls and writing all over it with his own name and made up statistics. Myles' father, Eddie, played cornerback at Mississippi State from 1987-90 and was none too pleased with his son's imagination at the time. "He was mad but he still has that ball," Myles said. "I was real young but I still remember it because he was real mad." Myles may offer his own game ball to his father as a peace offering and has one final season as a senior wide receiver with the Bulldogs to earn one this fall. After all, it was his father who inspired him to follow in his footsteps at MSU at an early age. "This has been my dream since Day 1, since before I really even knew what football was," Myles said.
Harvey Childers named interim AD at Blue Mountain College
Mississippi basketball coaching legend Harvey Childers will serve as interim athletic director at Blue Mountain College, the school announced Thursday. Will Kollmeyer, hired in October, began his new job as director of marketing and community relations at Northeast Mississippi Community College Thursday. "I'm really excited and look forward to the opportunity," Childers said in a statement. Childers earned 1,013 career wins in a 39-year career, including 192 in a seven-year stint at NEMCC, leading the men's program to an NJCAA national championship runner-up in 1989. He won high school state titles at New Albany in 1977 and 1985.
How do Alabama schools build their non-conference football schedules?
In the state of Alabama, each of the five FBS schools handles its non-conference scheduling a little differently. It should be obvious that what Alabama needs compared to Troy is quite different, but even within the two groups (Power 5 and Group of 5) there are significant strategic differences. Alabama's non-conference scheduling preferences are well established. "It's worked really well for us," says Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne. "For the foreseeable future, we'll continue that model." That model includes not playing any of the state's FBS schools not named Auburn. Auburn has been more open to the idea of playing in-state schools -- AD Jay Jacobs told in June he'd love to play UAB again -- but hasn't scheduled any through 2020. Auburn utilizes a similar strategy as its in-state SEC rival but has been more willing to schedule big home-and-home series.
UGA fans to experience some changes at Sanford Stadium
With the 2017 Georgia football season kicking off Saturday evening, Josh Brooks will be wearing two heavy hats. The executive associate athletic director will concern himself with game day operations at Sanford Stadium while also keeping in mind the $63 million construction project the west end of the stadium is undergoing. "You essentially live in two different worlds where you're making sure everything is operational and good to go for Saturday while there's also a project you've got to keep going at the same time," said Brooks on Wednesday afternoon. And while Brooks will have a lot on his mind as the clock ticks down to Saturday's 6:15 p.m. kickoff against Appalachian State, there are only a few major items Bulldog fans will have to remember as they arrive at the game. First and foremost, the construction project -- which will eventually encompass a new dressing room for the team, a new video board, a hospitality lounge for recruits and a 11,500-square-foot plaza next to the Sanford Street bridge, among other improvements -- will change the way fans enter the stadium in the west end zone.
Texas A&M offers free tickets to Hurricane Harvey victims, first-responders and volunteers
The Texas A&M Department of Athletics along with the 12th Man Foundation is offering free tickets to its first two 2017 home games to anyone affected by Hurricane Harvey, including victims, first-responders, volunteers and other people that have offered aid in the ongoing Gulf Coast tragedy. "Texas A&M University has always stood ready to help when called upon, and the events in Texas and the Gulf Coast present another opportunity for us to lend a hand," Texas A&M Director of Athletics Scott Woodward said. Game dates and kickoff times are set for the two games. A&M hosts Nicholls State on Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. and Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 16 at 11 a.m.
AD Jeff Long says this isn't it for Razorback games in Little Rock
Arkansas Razorbacks Athletic Director Jeff Long said Thursday night that UA plans to play a game in Little Rock next season, which will fulfill its contract with War Memorial Stadium. There has been speculation the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville might offer a buyout to not play in Little Rock. "Just to be very clear, you know we have the contract through the game in 2018," Long said in a pregame interview with Arkansas radio play-by-play announcer Chuck Barrett. "Never have there been any discussions about not playing and fulfilling that contract." Long said he has studied games at Little Rock during his 10 years as athletic director. "What it means to our program. What it means to the state," Long said. "We're in a time period now where the chancellor [Joe Steinmetz] and I will need to be making some decisions about the future."
Auburn AD Jay Jacobs issues statement regarding softball program
Athletics director Jay Jacobs made his first comments concerning allegations regarding the Auburn softball program and its former coaching staff in a prepared statement released to media late Thursday night. "As you may be aware, there has been a lot of important information in the news about our softball program recently," the beginning of Jacobs' statement read. "I take it seriously and I want you to know what took place. It is concerning that recent reporting about our softball program has incorrectly suggested that Auburn University and Auburn Athletics either didn't know about or didn't act on matters of concern in an expeditious manner. Allegations surfaced Saturday in a report from ESPN in which former player Alexa Nemeth claimed abusive treatment from the coaching staff, sexual harassment and an attempt at a cover-up by the school.
Inside look at the 'blessed' life of LSU football first lady Kelly Orgeron
Ed and Kelly Orgeron and their three sons are a football family. Ed Orgeron is, of course, LSU's new head football coach, and son Tyler is a student assistant for the LSU football team. Twins Cody, a quarterback, and Parker, a wide receiver, play for McNeese State University in Lake Charles. But for Kelly Orgeron, 52, it's the family part that comes first. "Family time is so valuable in the coaching world. Ed tries to give the staff as much time to be with their families as he can because you have such limited time together," she says. "You learn to protect that family time, but I can't imagine any other life." The Orgerons have been married for 20 years. She met the Larose native on a blind date. Now, with 20 years as a coach's wife and countless games for her sons under her belt, Kelly Orgeron knows what to do as the new season starts. "I just take it one day at a time," she says.
The LSU Tigers' New Tiger Makes His Debut
There's a new big man on campus at Louisiana State University -- and he's a cat. It's Mike the Tiger, the LSU Tigers' live mascot. The 11-month-old Siberian-Bengal mix officially replaced Mike VI late last month -- just in time for the start of school and football season. LSU plays its first game against Brigham Young University on Saturday. The previous Mike passed away from cancer last October. Since LSU has kept a live tiger on campus since 1934, the search for the new Mike began almost immediately, says David Baker, the mascot's primary veterinarian. Baker, who has overseen the care of Mike V, VI and now VII, says he received dozens of notices from the public, the tiger sanctuary community as well as the state and federal government about tigers that might be a good fit to be the next Mike. But there are restrictions.

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