Friday, May 24, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State clears first Phi Beta Kappa hurdle
Mississippi State University has become a finalist for a chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society, clearing the first segment of a three-year selection process. Only about 10 percent of U.S. institutions of higher learning have Phi Beta Kappa chapters. [Subscriber-only content.]
Termites swarm across South Mississippi
Formosan termites had their annual coming-out party Wednesday night across South Mississippi. "That was something last night -- they were all over the place," said Tim Arquette, a research associate with the Mississippi State Coastal Research and Extension Station. "They've been coming out in a trickle since Sunday, but last night they really came out in force," he said.
Here is the next farm program, and here’s how you work it
Coincidence, possibly. But the timing is perfect. Economists from the USDA’s Economics Research Service and Mississippi State University evaluated one of the primary safety net programs under consideration by Congress in its deliberations on the 2014 Farm Bill. Whether the Congress pays any attention to the evaluation is hard to predict, but their analysis will play an important part in farmers’ decisions when it comes time to sign up for a farm program, should the alternative become part of the new safety net. And it likely will.
DeSoto County agrees for survey to compare local salaries with other areas
DeSoto County will pay $12,400 for a study on salaries of local employees. The Commercial Appeals reports that Board of Supervisors President Mark Gardner says officials have discussed the study for some time. Gardner says officials need to know how the county's pay "stacks up with other county governments of comparable size and with private business." Officials say Mississippi State University's John C. Stennis Institute of Government will complete the survey of county salaries and makes recommendations. The Stennis Institute has been doing such studies for years, most recently for the city of Starkville.
Link moves to create shovel-ready sites in Oktibbeha
Golden Triangle developers confirm Yokohama Tire Corporation considered locating in both Oktibbeha and Lowndes counties, but massive infrastructure needs took both counties out of the running. Joey Deason, Oktibbeha County's representative with the Golden Triangle Development Link, said developers are working together to formulate a plan which will take land, improve its infrastructure access and make it shovel-ready for larger development projects in the future. Currently, three main development sites exist in Oktibbeha County: the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park, the Starkville Industrial Park and Cornerstone Park.
Yokohama contractor to be named at end of month
Plans remain on track for workers to break ground in September on the first phase of Clay County's Yokohama tire manufacturing plant, Golden Triangle Development Link CEO Joe Max Higgins told the Link's board of directors Wednesday. Higgins added company representatives are selecting a general contractor by the end of this month. The first part of the four-phase project is slated to begin operations in 2015 and the plant is expected to be running at full capacity by 2023. More than 500 jobs are expected to be created in the project's first phase and more than 1,500 additional jobs are expected to be created once all phases are complete. Yokohama will invest $1.2 billion -- $300 million for each phase.
Oktibbeha unemployment rate shows improvement
Oktibbeha County unemployment numbers continued improving, with April statistics showing a drop from 8.4 percent in March to 7.8 percent in April. That's an estimated 1,660 people seeking employment. But despite the improvement, unemployment rates are expected to trend upward again over the next three months as they have in previous years, partly due to college students having limited success finding summer jobs, said Mary Willoughby, chief of labor market information for the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. "May rates go up because students are getting out of school, and if they're not working but looking for employment, that's considered unemployed," Willoughby said.
Shafer leaving Greater Starkville Development Partnership for BankFirst
Austin Shafer, Greater Starkville Development Partnership's vice president for membership and the chamber of commerce, will leave the Partnership at the end of the month and assume a new role with BankFirst Financial Services' local branch. His last day with GSDP will be May 30, CEO Jennifer Gregory confirmed. The Partnership will begin a search process in June to replace the exiting chamber leader, she said, and will hopefully have a new vice president in place by August. A Starkville native, Shafer returned to the community in 2011 after serving as a Livingston Furniture territory manager in Houston, Texas. He is also a graduate of Mississippi State University.
Crop insurance debate grows in Senate
Direct payments are dead. Long live King Crop Insurance. If there’s a single theme to the farm debate before Congress, it’s this transition from cash subsidies to an ever-expanding risk-management system that requires producers to put some skin in the game but can still cost taxpayers dearly. “The farmer gets a bill, not a check,” is the way Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) puts it. But on average, the government absorbs 62 percent of the premium cost and, in the case of one new product for the cotton industry, that subsidy rate will be as high as 80 percent.
Hudson expects special session on Medicaid; Republican senator says he would vote to expand program
Sen. Billy Hudson said he expects Gov. Phil Bryant to call a legislative special session on June 28 to address Medicaid. Hudson, R-Purvis, shared the information during the Forrest County Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Thursday. Hudson said he feels the governor will call the session so late to avoid a drawn-out impasse over the program, but Bryant’s spokesman Mick Bullock said the senator’s statement on a special session to address Medicaid is speculative. Hudson said he intends to vote to reauthorize and expand Medicaid to avoid large cuts to payments made to hospitals.
Health officials support Medicaid expansion
Medicaid expansion was the topic of discussion Thursday when hospital executives and health care experts met at Forrest General. Under the new federal health care reform legislation -- otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act -- states will not face penalties for choosing not to participate in Medicaid expansion. “This fiscal year -- which will finish up on Sept. 30 -- we will give out approximately $150 million in uncompensated care in our five-hospital system,” Forrest General CEO Evan Dillard said. “What’s important to all the hospitals in Mississippi is that conversations take place at the state level to increase access to health care for Mississippians.”
NOAA expects ‘above normal’ hurricane season
Expect another busy Atlantic hurricane season, government forecasters said Thursday. Hurricane season officially begins June 1, and the early forecast predicts an “above normal, and possibly an extremely active” hurricane season, said Kathryn Sullivan, the acting administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The forecast was issued from the new NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in College Park, Md., instead of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. NOAA wanted to highlight its new building; also, the forecasters who produce the annual hurricane predictions work from it. “Basically it’s one of the nerve centers for the entire National Weather Service,” said Louis Uccellini, director of the agency.
Boy Scouts allow gay scouts, but leave ban on gay leaders in place
The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to approve the admission of openly gay youth members but left in place a ban on homosexual adult scout leaders, raising the prospect of gay scouts having to leave the group when they become adults. The decision was backed by key religious groups, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the Anglican Church of North America. Nearly 70 percent of the Boy Scouts' 116,000 local chapters are in churches or other faith-based organizations. But critics worried that the decision was sending a mixed message and that the new policy, intended to bring some modicum of steadiness to an organization in transition, will fail to settle the issue.
MUW Nursing Program Now State’s Largest
As The W this year commemorates the 40th anniversary of its charter nursing class, numbers recently released by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning show its nursing program has grown into the state’s largest. Among both public and private institutions teaching nursing, The W enrolls the largest number, with 635 students. The next-highest is the University of Southern Mississippi. “We are very proud of the strength of our programs, the success of our graduates and the reputation that a W nursing education has in the Mississippi health community,” said Dr. Sheila Adams, dean of the College of Nursing and Speech-Language Pathology.
JSU ready to begin classes in Madison; 300 expected to enroll in 16 courses
Jackson State University opens for classes in Madison Wednesday, offering 16 classes for undergraduate and graduate students this summer. What the location at 382 Galleria Parkway also offers is convenience, said James Renick, the university’s provost. “Being located out here makes it more accessible for those working and going to school,” he said. “This responds to IHL Commissioner (Hank) Bounds and (JSU) President (Carolyn) Myers’ leadership in providing more education for more Mississippians and making it more accessible. Four months after receiving the state College Board’s approval to expand to Madison, the 8,600 square feet of space — decorated JSU blue — in a leased office building will be ready for the estimated 300 students this summer and 500 in the fall, JSU officials say.
Special Report: They Make How Much?
After going through hundreds of pages of state documents revealing the salaries of thousands of state employees, WJTV-TV finds that college football coaches rank at the top. "I would be dishonest if I didn't say it was troubling of what's happening across the country now with head coaches' salaries," says Commissioner of Higher Education Hank Bounds. Bounds says he believes it would be an enormous mistake for lawmakers to pass legislation limiting coaches' salaries. "The pros are that they bring in 50,000 people on a Saturday afternoon. And, those folks are more likely to give money to athletics," he says. But, he fully supports giving teachers, a boost in pay.
Auburn named one of 15 fastest-growing large cities in U.S.
If there is one thing that the city of Auburn has over other places in the state, it’s a rising population. According to recent figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Auburn is 14th on a list of the 15 fastest-growing large cities in the United States with at least 50,000 residents. Mayor Bill Ham said there are many factors that make Auburn an attractive place to live, listing the quality of life, proximity to Auburn University, public school system and opportunities for business.
Design unveiled for new $26-million U. of South Carolina alumni building
The University of South Carolina alumni association unveiled the design for its new $26.4 million alumni center in the Vista this week. Work on the 65,000-square-foot building at the corner of Senate and Lincoln Streets should begin by year’s end, alumni association executive director Jack Claypool said. The center is scheduled to open in May 2015. The center will include 13 meeting rooms and a 10,000-square-foot ballroom that can fit up to 1,000 people. The association is using private donations to pay for the project, Claypool said. The building design is influenced by architecture seen in buildings on the school’s Horseshoe, or quad, and in the surrounding Vista.
Email: Fired UT judicial affairs director claimed 'hostile work environment,' 'discrimination' before dismissal
Less than a week before she was fired amid an investigation into whether she had inappropriate relationships with student-athletes, a University of Tennessee judicial affairs director sent a letter to her boss saying she faced a “hostile work environment” and “discrimination.” Jenny Wright, 32, wrote to Tim Rogers, vice chancellor for student life, on May 7 to ask for a meeting with him to get an update on the accusations, according to records UT released to the News Sentinel Thursday.
Support businesses discovering U. of Florida's Innovation Square
Innovation Square is drawing more than high-tech businesses. With software and medical companies filling in the University of Florida Innovation Hub and the former Ayers Medical Plaza -- and more buildings to come -- businesses that provide services to other businesses are moving in to take advantage of the opportunities, both new and anticipated. Ed Poppell of the University of Florida Development Corporation said he is working with developers who hope to bring a hotel, grocery store and apartments to the Square.
Former U. of Kentucky researcher accused of misconduct allowed to keep teaching license
A Bourbon County chemistry teacher can remain in the classroom even though he violated state law by not disclosing previous misconduct investigations against him at the University of Kentucky, a state board has ruled. Eric Smart of Versailles was investigated by the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board after the Herald-Leader published articles in December detailing his departure from UK. As a university researcher, Smart was put on probation for a year in 2009 because of sexual harassment allegations. In 2012, multiple investigations found that he fabricated data; the federal Office of Research Integrity finished its investigation in October and barred Smart from conducting federally funded research for the next seven years.
Many students studying wrong things, University System of Georgia chancellor says
University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby likely was the most celebrated man in Georgia on Thursday. By proclamation of Gov. Nathan Deal, it was Hank Huckaby Day across the state. Addressing the University System’s role in developing the state’s workforce, Huckaby noted that large numbers of Georgia jobs are going unfilled “because students are studying the wrong things.” “If you can’t get a job, and you majored in drama, there’s probably a reason,” said Huckaby, who oversees the state’s public colleges and universities with the guidance of the regents. Sounding a similar note, Huckaby said Thursday that not every student should attend the state’s top-tier universities, and that the state’s other institutions of higher education have much to offer.
Jo Bonner resigns to accept U. of Alabama System job | Mobile Republican will become vice chancellor
U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, on Thursday said he will resign from Congress to accept a post with the University of Alabama System. Robert Witt, chancellor of the three-campus UA System, said Bonner will begin his new duties as vice chancellor for government relations and economic development on Aug. 16, the day after his resignation from Congress takes effect. “Jo's extensive government experience and outstanding economic development record make him ideally suited for this important new position,” Witt said in a statement released Thursday by the UA system. The vice chancellor job is a newly created position in the UA system.
Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) resignation stuns constituents, sparks candidates
U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, announced Thursday that, effective Aug. 15, he will resign from the congressional seat that he’s held since 2003 for a new job at the University of Alabama System. Bonner, 53, will fill the newly created position of vice chancellor of government relations and economic development, reporting directly to system Chancellor Robert Witt. The move is a homecoming of sorts for Bonner. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1982 from the University of Alabama, and is also a graduate of its law school. UA’s College of Communications named him an Outstanding Alumnus in 2000. His older sister, Judy Bonner, was named president of the University of Alabama main campus in Tuscaloosa in November. It is one of the three campuses in the system.
U. of Arkansas, Arkansas State Boards Approve Tuition Hikes
Two of the state's biggest universities on Thursday approved tuition increases for their flagship campuses. The University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees approved a 3.5 percent increase in tuition and fees for its Fayetteville campus beginning with the fall 2013 semester. Meeting on the same day, Arkansas State University's board approved a 3.3 percent increase for its main campus in Jonesboro. At UA, the move brings the average price of undergraduate in-state tuition and fees to $7,818 for two full semesters (30 credit hours). The UA calls the increase the "second smallest percentage hike in at least 18 years" and said it represents an average increase of $246 per student. At ASU, the increase represents an average increase of $165.
U. of Arkansas, Arkansas State Vote to Opt Out of Campus Gun Law
Arkansas' two largest university systems are opting out of a new state law allowing faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns on campus. The University of Arkansas and Arkansas State University boards on Thursday voted unanimously to continue banning concealed firearms on campus. The bans will apply to UA's 11 campuses and ASU's four campuses. Arkansas Tech University's board was also voting on its policy regarding the gun law. Most colleges and universities around the state have opted out of the new law, citing recommendations from campus leaders and security officials. The law requires public colleges and universities to revisit the policy annually if they opt out.
U. of Missouri says thanks to staffers
Music, laughter and the smell of hot dogs filled the air around Lowry Mall on Wednesday as University of Missouri staff members cut loose and mingled during an activity day included for the first time as part of the annual Staff Recognition Week. Becky Stafford, MU Staff Advisory Council chairwoman, said the council knows those working in the campus' offices and facilities still have jobs to do, so activity day was created to try to include everyone while keeping those operations going.
U. of Missouri's Jesse, Swallow and Pickard halls to close for renovations
Three of the University of Missouri's oldest buildings, including Jesse Hall, will close for renovations beginning next fall, sending hundreds of staff and faculty to different buildings on and off the main campus. The university is planning a $22.85 million project to make significant changes to Jesse Hall, Swallow Hall and Pickard Hall, subject to approval by the UM Board of Curators. The project, called "Renew Mizzou," will be funded by refinancing debt, redirecting the deferred maintenance budget and using money from the university's one-time savings account, said MU spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken.
LSU hospitals privatization cost more than budget
The total operating expense associated with the privatization of nine LSU hospitals will hit $1 billion during the new fiscal year, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said Thursday. That’s more than is in the current year’s budget -- $955 million -- for the state to operate the charity hospitals. And more than the $626 million Gov. Bobby Jindal proposed for private companies to operate the public hospitals in the fiscal year that begins July 1. The sudden reduction in federal funding in the current budget year prompted the administration’s expedited push to privatize LSU hospitals, hoping to reduce state expenses associated with hospital operations.
House Passes Student Loan Bill, Setting Up Showdown
The House on Thursday passed legislation to head off a doubling of student loan interest rates on July 1, instead tying rates to prevailing market trends and ending federal subsidies. The bill, approved largely along party lines, 221 to 198, kicks off what is sure to be the next showdown involving House Republicans, Senate Democrats and President Obama, with a hard deadline looming in little more than a month. Republicans said they had come up with a long-term plan that would get the government out of the business of setting interest rates. Democrats jumped on the issue to say that House leaders are intent on raising the cost of already-onerous student debt. They quickly signaled that the brewing fight would become a major political rallying cry.
More Young Adults Hold Degrees, a Boost in the Job Market, U.S. Says
The educational attainment of young Americans has increased over the past two decades, and those who have completed more education earn more money, on average, and are more likely to be employed. That's just one corner of the picture painted by "The Condition of Education 2013," the annual treasure-trove of data from the U.S. Department of Education, released on Thursday. The report holds few surprises for close observers of American education, but rather offers a comprehensive overview of enrollment and attainment from early education through graduate school, as well as information on how students pay for higher education and how they fare later in the job market.
Move to Common Core requires adjustments
A Daily Journal editorial asserts: "Mississippi’s move into implementation of the public schools’ Common Core State Standards requires a full refocusing of accountability methods and testing, a time-consuming, complex task necessitating pragmatic, temporary adjustments. Moving efficiently into Common Core, a system of assessment proposed and pushed forward by the National Governors Association with the full backing of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, prompted the Mississippi Department of Education to place a hold on state A-F rankings, beginning with this fall’s, until the Common Core goes on line in 2014-2015."

Mississippi State advances past Texas A&M
Adam Frazier is having another stellar SEC Tournament, and he just might carry Mississippi State to a second consecutive title here. The junior shortstop had four hits and scored twice as the 16th-ranked Bulldogs topped Texas A&M, 6-4, at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium on Thursday night. The win sent fifth-seeded MSU (43-16) to Saturday’s semifinals to play the winner of today’s Vanderbilt-Texas A&M game. Frazier, who was named tournament MVP last year, is 9 of 18 with six runs scored in the first three games this week. “This is the Adam Frazier in tournament play you expect. He’s a special player,” MSU coach John Cohen said.
Perfect Mississippi State heads to semis at SEC Tournament
After a 17-inning marathon and a game decided in the ninth, Mississippi State took care of business a little earlier on Thursday. For their efforts, the Bulldogs won’t play again until Saturday after a 6-4 win against Texas A&M on the third day of the SEC Tournament. “We didn’t mess it up this year like we did last year,” Mississippi State junior Adam Frazier said. “We lost on the day that we had our chance to have an off day. During the off day MSU can watch its potential Saturday opponent. The Bulldogs face the winner of today’s Texas A&M-Vanderbilt game at a time to be determined.
Mississippi State stays unbeaten in SEC baseball tournament
Mississippi State defeated Texas A&M 6-4 in Thursday's late game at the Southeastern Conference Tournament. The Bulldog win gives Mississippi State a day off until Saturday. Mississippi State used a 10-hit attack to stay unbeaten in the tourney. Ole Miss was eliminated on Thursday morning when Mikey White hit a two-run single in the 10th inning to give Alabama a 7-5 victory.
Aggies let one slip by, lose 6-4 to Mississippi State
If Texas A&M wants to keep its run in the Southeastern Conference alive it will have to beat the No. 1 team in the nation for a second time in three days. A&M’s jaunt through the winners’ bracket ended late Thursday at Metropolitan Stadium with a 6-4 loss to No. 10 Mississippi State. A&M (32-16) must now beat No. 1 Vanderbilt on Friday for another shot at the Bulldogs (43-16) in the single-elimination semifinals. MSU's relievers have thrown 43 2/3 consecutive innings of shutout ball at the SEC Tournament.
The late, late, late SEC show | Brad Locke (Opinion)
The Daily Journal's Brad Locke writes: "The Deadline Monkey loves the SEC Tournament. I was reminded of this as I left the press box at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Mississippi State had just finished up a 17-inning game with Missouri in the first round, capping a very long day at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. And I was left to forage Hoover’s main drag for food. What I learned is that there are more cops loitering roadside in their cruisers than there are 24-hour fast-food joints in this town. It’s been that kind of week for me and the other Mississippi State beat reporters. I haven’t eaten a breakfast here, unless you count Arby’s at 3 a.m. as breakfast."
Mississippi State golfer Ally McDonald tied for 2nd at NCAAs
Mississippi State’s Ally McDonald will get an early start on her rivals for the NCAA women’s golf championship today. The sophomore from Fulton, who’s tied for second and two strokes out of the lead, tees off the final round at 8:09 a.m. today on the University of Georgia Golf Course. The rest of the leaders tee off in the afternoon, McDonald (70-69-70–209) played under par for a third day in a row. “I’m in position to try to make something happen,” she told on Thursday. “Really, that’s all you can hope for.” MSU, making its first team appearance, was in 18th place.
UGA Athletic Association approves $93M budget, including $1.25M for Sanford Stadium
Outgoing University of Georgia president Michael Adams is presiding over his last Athletic Association Board of Directors meeting this week. Most of the business of the three-day meeting took place on Thursday morning at the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort. As usual, Georgia expects to end the fiscal year adding to its reserve funds, with more than $930,000 in revenue. Adams said the thing he is the most proud of in athletics during his time as president is the financial health of the department. The board approved a fiscal year 2014 budget of $93.2 million and $2.18 million for facility improvements, including to Sanford Stadium.
Paul Finebaum talks Nick Saban, Auburn football and the SEC culture in his official debut on ESPN
Paul Finebaum made his official ESPN debut Thursday morning, appearing on "SportsCenter" to talk about what he knows best -- Alabama, Auburn and SEC football. "SportsCenter" host Bram Weinstein introduced Finebaum as the cable sports network's newest college football analyst. "You'll be hearing a lot from him as we get set for the next college football season," Weinstein said. "Welcome to the ESPN family." Finebaum, who had been on the radio in Birmingham since 1985, agreed to a five-year radio and TV deal with ESPN earlier this week, and his radio show will move to Charlotte starting Aug. 1.
Olympic sports upping fund raising game as team cuts continue
As budget cuts prompt elimination of more non-revenue teams nationwide, strategic fund-raising for those Olympic sports becomes a matter of survival. Many Olympic sports are revving up their efforts and becoming more strategic to create a buffer for institutional budget shortages. Compounding the concern for some is the looming class action lawsuit that could require the National Collegiate Athletic Association and its member institutions to compensate athletes for profits earned off their image.

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