Monday, May 30, 2016  SUBSCRIBE   
No objections against partnership school bond emerge
The Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District is set to issue up to $16 million in bonds to renovate existing facilities and construct a partnership school with Mississippi State University, which will help solve post-consolidation overcrowding issues and establish a rural education center. School board trustees unanimously voted to move forward with the issuance during a meeting Friday after no challenges emerged against the tax-neutral move. SOCSD Board of Trustees President Jenny Turner said Friday's step forward was "a historic day, not just for us but for the whole state."
Partnership school funding clears final hurdle
With the approval of a $16 million local bond resolution Friday, all funds needed for a new sixth and seventh grade school on the Mississippi State University campus have been pledged. The Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved the bond issue, which gives the final piece needed to fund the estimated $30 million school. It has an anticipated opening date of August 2018. School district officials said the bonds will not cause a net tax increase from current rates because 2.9 mills are scheduled to come off the district's rates this year. They do not expect it to take over 2.9 mills to service the debt. "As far as I know, there was no opposition in the community at all," Holloway said. "I think there would have been if we raised taxes, but the taxes stay level. It's a great day."
Nashville couple supports Mississippi State with communication scholarship
A Mississippi State graduate and her husband are establishing a scholarship to benefit future majors in one of the College of Arts and Sciences' largest departments. Anna Minor Grizzle is a 1994 communication department graduate. In endowing the academic award, she and husband Steven have designated that enrolling out-of-state students be given priority in the selection process. As a member of the department's advisory board, Anna Grizzle has maintained close ties with her alma mater. She said the inspiration for providing financial support to MSU came, in part, from a continuing appreciation for Bill Foster, her faculty mentor. Now retired in Starkville, Foster was the longtime assistant vice president in the Division of Student Affairs.
Mississippi veggie growers make it possible to eat local
Van and Dorothy Killen deal with the impact of the weather on a daily basis, battle garden pests and fight off plant diseases. Owners of Two Dog Farms in Flora, the 30-year-old couple is among Mississippi vegetable growers who make it possible for consumers and restaurant chefs to buy local produce. Growing such a large variety is no small feat, given Mississippi's weather. "The challenge is Mississippi can be a difficult place to grow vegetables because of its warm, wet weather," said Bill Evans, associate research professor at the Mississippi State University Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs.
International cotton group honors Mississippi's Jack McCarty
It's a long, long way from a Clarke County, Miss., farm to the on-stage spotlight of the World Cotton Research Conference in Brazil, but that's where, in early May, before an audience of distinguished researchers from around the world, Dr. Jack C. McCarty, Jr., was honored as the International Cotton Advisory Committee's Researcher of the Year. McCarty, who grew up on the family's dairy and row crop farm near Pachuta, Miss. (pop. about 200), has spent four decades-plus as research agronomist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service Crop Science Research Laboratory at Mississippi State University, working to unlock the secrets of the cotton plant to make it more productive, help it fend off pests and diseases, and improve its fiber.
Public wants inclusion in Starkville's comprehensive planning process
Starkville leaders say they'll lean on public input as a guidepost for its upcoming comprehensive plan after numerous residents said Thursday they feel like they were left out of the process. Many of the almost 30 attendees present at the first of Thursday's two public input sessions criticized the second draft of the plan authored by the Walker Collaborative, saying property owners were not alerted to the city's planning efforts. Residents also expressed concerns about future development in the west, possible annexation attempts to the east and how property values would be affected if zoning changes are implemented.
Budgeting law brings layers of questions
Multiple state officials say they are still working to determine how the far-reaching Budget Transparency and Simplification Act will impact the new fiscal year, starting July 1. Clay Chandler, a spokesman for Gov. Phil Bryant, said, "I can confirm that the governor is working, and will continue to work through issues that may arise with the legislation." Attorney General Jim Hood said several state agencies have requested official opinions from his office on how to deal with the bill that was passed by the recently completed 2016 Legislature and signed into law by Bryant.
Legislators act late on education funding
The legislative leaders, coming off a year where they often were in conflict with Mississippi school superintendents, quietly passed during the recently completed session language to prevent superintendents from using public funds to pay for their professional association. House Appropriations Chair Herb Frierson, R-Poplarville, said the language was added because "if they need more money for instruction, they don't need to be spending it on their association." Various education entities, including the superintendents association, have been at odds in recent years with legislators over funding for local school districts. The conflict intensified this past year as the education groups, including superintendents, tried unsuccessfully to amend the state Constitution through the citizen-sponsored Initiative 42 to enhance Mississippi's commitment to public education.
Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, makes spirited case for education at Columbus Exchange Club
On Nov. 4, Jay Hughes, a Democrat from Oxford, upset incumbent Brad Mayo, a Republican, in the election for the District 12 House of Representatives seat. Hughes ran on the campaign motto, "It all starts with education." The same day Hughes won the seat, Initiative 42 -- a proposed constitutional amendment that would have required the Legislature to fully fund K-12 education -- was not voted in by Mississippi voters. On Thursday, Hughes spoke at the Columbus Exchange Club's regular meeting at Lion Hills Center, hammering home his unrelenting message of "education first" and presenting a sobering account of his first legislative session, which failed again to increase K-12 funding while passing a massive tax cut that he says cannot be justified.
Carey Wright's time as state superintendent at a crossroads
Carey Wright wanted to be a superintendent pretty badly, but sometimes you have to wonder if she knew what she was getting into when she took the job leading Mississippi's public schools. Two and a half years into Wright's term, history suggests that her time at the helm of Mississippi's schools may be more than half done. Since Richard Boyd became Mississippi's first appointed superintendent in 1984, the median length of service in the office is four years. It's a tough, bruising job, with less power than some observers might realize. The typical superintendent is caught between an imperious Legislature that doesn't hesitate to dictate the details of how it thinks schools ought to be managed, and local superintendents, who can always opt to voice agreement with new state policies while waiting for the latest fad to pass.
Cochran: Mississippi's national security role emphasized with committee passage of 2 appropriations bills
U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, on Friday praised committee passage of two appropriations measures that emphasize Mississippi's role in ensuring national security. The Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday approved the FY2017 Defense Appropriations Bill and the FY2017 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, setting up both pieces of legislation for debate before the full Senate. Both measures include provisions of interest to Mississippi. "Mississippi plays an outsize role in keeping our country safe," Cochran said. "I'm pleased that these appropriations bills reflect our state's important contributions to national security." Cochran serves as chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and as a senior member on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.
Even in victory, Donald Trump can't stop airing his grievances
Donald Trump could have taken a victory lap last week. Instead, he went on a grudge tour. During his first big campaign swing since locking up the Republican presidential nomination, Trump went after an odd and seemingly random group of people -- Democrats and Republicans, famous and obscure. There seemed little to gain politically from the attacks, and his targets were linked by just one thing: Trump felt they had all done him wrong. Trump's cutting insults and simplistic attacks have been a hallmark of his candidacy, viewed by supporters as proof that he is fearless and willing to attack institutions from the Republican Party to the Vatican. But with the nomination ap­parently secured, last week's fusillade of digs seemed counter­productive.
The reinvention of the American South
As quietly as if a church mouse did it, the Georgia state holiday known for decades as Robert E. Lee Day this year became the decidedly more generic "State Holiday." In a state where the "Dukes of Hazzard" once careered around in a Confederate flag-emblazoned Charger named the General Lee, the decision by Gov. Nathan Deal (R) to scratch the Southern war hero from the official celebration list should have elicited at least a few rebel yells, surely. Instead... nothing. Clearly, this shift is a product of the backlash against the shooting of nine black church members by a white supremacist in Charleston, S.C., last year. But even so, the rapidity with which Confederate symbols are being erased after 150 years of deep cultural poignancy is astonishing. And it is not only the Confederate flag.
Tennessee's Marsha Blackburn stands by abortion probe as Democrats attack
U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn insists there's no partisan agenda behind the investigation she's leading into the medical procedures and business practices of abortion providers. But the investigation has been roiled with partisan warfare for weeks, with Democrats charging that Blackburn and Republicans on the panel conducting the probe are abusing their authority and putting lives at risk. Democrats ramped up their attacks last week when they sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan asking him to disband the panel. Blackburn defended the investigation and fired back at her Democratic critics.
CrossingPoints students arrive at U. of Alabama
The University of Alabama's CrossingPoints launched a new semester-long program on Sunday that will help students with mild to moderate disabilities learn skills necessary to pursue college educations. "We are giving the student the opportunity to experience it at a time when there is quiet -- a time when there isn't as much hustle and bustle," said coordinator Amy Williamson. Sunday began the transition to college life for 10 students with intellectual disabilities who moved into the Lakeside East dorms and will take college courses during the nine-week program, said CrossingPoints associate Heather English.
Auburn student housing: Five major projects remain after new city zoning rules adopted
After the dust cleared and the city of Auburn adopted new zoning rules in March that prohibited purpose-built student housing in the downtown area, five projects remain grandfathered in. Those projects include two buildings that will stand about the 65-foot height limit now in place for the Urban Core zone, and a project that was temporarily halted by the city, then allowed to continue after the city reached a settlement with the developer. All five developments will feature retail space on the ground floor.
Louisiana higher ed leaders to legislators: give us funding or give us tuition autonomy
As Louisiana lawmakers spar over the $600 million shortfall in next year's budget, leaders of the state's colleges and universities are bracing for what is likely to be higher ed's 16th cut in nine years. The most recent version of the budget, passed by the Louisiana House, cuts higher education systems by about 12 percent from the previous year -- a number that doesn't include TOPS funding. "If we're not going to fund performance, then let us out of the corral," LSU President F. King Alexander recently pled with the Senate Finance committee. "Let us charge what we know the markets will bear."
Man accused of knifepoint robbery on Texas A&M campus
A man was arrested in the Texas A&M Student Center on Friday after police said he robbed someone at knifepoint. According to University police, officers were called around 1 p.m. Friday regarding a man with a knife. When police arrived, they found the man displaying a knife and discharging a fire extinguisher. He was taken into custody. Authorities have not yet released his name.
Gary Myers to step down as U. of Missouri Law School dean
Gary Myers, dean of the MU School of Law, will resign his position Aug. 14 to join the Law School's faculty. Myers has been the school's dean since 2012. Before coming to MU, he was an associate dean and professor at the University of Mississippi. Myers said in an email to faculty on Friday that he will work on two book projects and interdisciplinary initiatives in the next academic year. Myers was recently named a defendant in a lawsuit filed by former state lawmaker Rep. Kevin Elmer. Elmer sued Myers, the UM System Board of Curators, UM Custodian of Records Paula Barrett and associate law professor Josh Hawley, who is running for attorney general.
Animal rights organization files complaint against U. of Missouri
An animal rights group this week filed a complaint against the University of Missouri with the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeking penalties for the deaths of several lab animals. The organization Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! filed a complaint with the USDA alleging violations of the Animal Welfare Act this week related to two incidents involving laboratory dogs in 2015 and an incident with a boar that happened in March. The complaint seeks a fine of $10,000 per infraction, per animal. MU spokesman Christian Basi said the university does not dispute that the incidents occurred. Basi said officials took the proper steps to remedy the issues and prevent problems from happening.
For Enrollment Managers, a New College Try
Every year, college enrollment managers play a numbers game. The goal is to sign up enough freshmen for the fall semester, but hitting the mark requires schools to court an outsize number of prospects, knowing that only a fraction will enroll. "It becomes a competition," said Kent Rinehart, dean of admissions at Marist College, a private liberal-arts school in New York. "We have to accept more than we can accommodate." Enrollment managers call it the admissions funnel. At the top is a huge pool of prospects. At the bottom is the handful of students who enroll. And in between are inquiries, applications and admissions. The funnel isn't new, but several developments in recent years have made it more difficult to hit the enrollment target.
Maintaining, improving infrastructure a no-brainer
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Dennis Seid writes: "When I was a freshman going to college nearly 30 years ago, the drive from Vicksburg to Starkville took just under three hours. That was going on I-20, taking I-55 north to Lakeland Drive in Jackson, then staying on it until it became Highway 25 to Louisville and on to Starkville. It was during this time that the AHEAD program began -- the great four-laning project for Mississippi. The I-20 stretch from Vicksburg to Edwards was a constant work in progress, having to switch lanes on a regular basis it seemed. And back then Lakeland Drive moved only a fraction of the traffic it does now. I remember vast stretches along Lakeland/Highway 25 where there was little to see. My, how things have changed. But again, it has been 30 years."
We owe those under the crosses and stars
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "I do my best every Memorial Day weekend to reflect on the more than 1.35 million rough Americans who stood ready to do violence on my behalf -- to borrow a phrase attributed to multiple people -- so that I can sleep peacefully in my bed at night. That's an estimate of the number of our total war deaths since the American Revolution -- a staggering figure that, unfortunately, continues to grow. It's just too easy to forget their sacrifice or ponder it only on such a holiday -- even for someone like me, who owes his very livelihood to them. I write a political column in this space that often angers powerful people. I don't think King George III, Adolph Hitler or Hirohito had a system of governance in mind for us that would have allowed me such freedom."
McCain continues battle against U.S. catfish
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Politics is about nothing if not timing, and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, saw his opportunity and seized upon it while President Barack Obama was on a state visit to Vietnam in recent days. McCain used the president's visit to Vietnam and Japan as a springboard to undo Mississippi U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's 2015 victory when Cochran was finally successful in forcing federal officials to implement new rules for catfish suppliers, requiring on-site inspections of catfish farms and processing plants for both domestic and foreign producers, mostly from Vietnam, to ensure they meet the same standards that have long been required in the U.S. ...McCain and Cochran have battled tooth-and-nail over the catfish issue for almost 20 years -- with Cochran and later Wicker fighting to defend the interests of U.S. catfish producers and consumers and McCain fighting just as hard to open U.S. markets to Asian producers of imported Siluriformes fish and fish products."

It's a first: Both Starkville, Oxford will host
Both Starkville and Oxford are among 16 host sites for the NCAA regional baseball tournament which begins on Friday. The sites were announced by the NCAA on Sunday. It is the first time both Mississippi State and Ole Miss will host a regional in the same season. "To be chosen to host amongst a great field of participants is a huge honor," said MSU coach John Cohen. "It's also a tremendous responsibility for our athletic department, and it's something I think we've done very well in the past. We look forward to this opportunity and to seeing all of our great fans at the Carnegie Hall of college baseball this weekend."
Mississippi State, Ole Miss hosting in same year for first time
The road to the College World Series begins at home for Mississippi State and Ole Miss. The NCAA announced the 16 host sites for next weekend's college baseball tournament which included the Bulldogs and the Rebels for the first time in the same year. MSU will host a regional for the first time since 2013, when it advanced to the College World Series. Ole Miss hosted the next season in 2014 and also advanced to Omaha, Nebraska as well. Southern Miss wasn't named as a regional host. The Golden Eagles were projected as a host team as late as the second to last week of the season, but lost three straight to end the season to Florida International. This year marks the 13th time MSU has hosted. The Rebel have now hosted a regional seven times.
Mississippi State, Ole Miss will host NCAA Baseball Regionals
Second-ranked Mississippi State and 10th ranked Ole Miss headline a record seven SEC teams to host NCAA Baseball Regionals. The 16 home sites were announced Sunday night. For the 13th time in program history, the NCAA has selected Mississippi State as a host of an NCAA Baseball Championship Regional, the selection committee announced tonight. The regional is set to begin Friday, with a pair of opening round games. Saturday and Sunday will also feature two games each, with an if-necessary game to be played June 5. All times will be decided during Monday's NCAA Selection Show at 11 a.m. on ESPNU.
Mississippi State fans travel in large numbers to SEC tourney
Tom and Sharon Monaghan have never needed extra incentive to attend the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament. However, the Starkville couple continues to find more and more each year. They were in their customary seats Thursday night at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. For the Monaghans, baseball runs in the family. "Baseball has always been a love in our family," Tom Monaghan said. "Our son (Mark) played in high school (at Starkville High School) and in college (at the University of New Orleans). He is the coach at DeSoto Central High School right now. So we grew up taking him to games. Dudy Noble Field is a place you can fall in love with rather quickly." MSU and LSU have traditionally been the best SEC tournament-drawing teams in the league. "This is like a mini-College World Series," Tom Monaghan said.
Roses and thorns, 5/29/16: A rose to Mississippi State baseball
The Dispatch gives a rose to Mississippi State's baseball team: " A rose to Mississippi State's baseball team on what is already a historic season with games still yet to play. MSU bowed out of the Southeastern Conference Tournament Friday, but that hardly dampens the excitement the Bulldogs have created this season. Last weekend, MSU achieved what had never been done previously in the SEC -- going from dead last in the regular season to out-right first in consecutive seasons. In doing so, the Bulldogs captured their first SEC baseball championship in 29 years and 11th overall for the proud MSU program."
Stratton becomes 54th Mississippi State player to receive call to majors
Former Mississippi State baseball pitcher Chris Stratton was called up by the San Francisco Giants Saturday. He was called up from Triple-A Sacramento after Matt Cain was placed on the disabled list. The right-hander was drafted in the first round of the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. The Tupelo native was the 2012 Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year after going 11-2 with a 2.38 ERA and 127 strikeouts as a junior. He played for the Bulldogs from 2010-12. Stratton becomes the 54th MSU player to be called to the major-leagues. Stratton is the second Bulldog this season to be called up, joining former MSU lefty Chad Girodo, who was called up to Toronto on April 22.
Mississippi State names company official provider of cowbells
Mississippi State Athletics and Learfield's MSU Bulldog Sports Properties have announced they have entered into a new partnership with Year of the Cowbell naming the company the "Official Cowbell of MSU Athletics" for the next three years. "We're excited to be partnering with Year of the Cowbell as they are becoming a known and well trusted name in the industry," MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin said. "We are confident they will provide our fans with the best quality products that will further continue the MSU traditions throughout our athletic venues."

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