Tuesday, June 4, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
PSC member Brandon Presley slams Mississippi Power
Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley on Monday blasted Mississippi Power's embattled and over-budget Kemper County coal plant, but noted the $4.3 billion project is "past the point of no return" and "too big to fail." "The decision has been made, and the train is on the track," Northern District Commissioner Presley said. "I feel for those 185,000 customers on the Coast that are going to have to pay for this. Let's hope it works." Presley spoke at the Stennis Institute of Government's monthly press luncheon on Monday.
Oktibbeha conservator gives update on schools
During Monday's school board meeting, Oktibbeha County Schools Conservator Dr. Margie Pulley gave an update on the school system since the state took control of it last year. Pulley came on board in January as conservator and says in the last five months there have been good steps made in getting the school system in line with state standards. Pulley said, "You have to train your teachers. We brought people in to train our teachers. I think that's going to make a difference in what we did. Also Mississippi State has embraced Oktibbeha County." County, city and state officials meet later this week in Starkville to discuss consolidation issues.
Balsam Dam Repairs: Mississippi State Students Search for Artifacts
Heavy spring rains are interfering with repairs to a dam at a North Carolina mountain lake. Balsam Lake in Jackson County remains essentially dry due to a leak at the bottom of the dam. Crews tried to replace defective splashboards at the base of the spillway two weeks ago. But steady rain is sending too much water through the creek in the middle of the lake, blocking access. Crews will get back to work as soon as the water retreats. Until it does, visiting anthropology students from Mississippi State University are taking advantage and searching and finding Cherokee artifacts buried in the lake bed.
Grants to community health centers option to Medicaid expansion, governor says
Gov. Phil Bryant's alternative proposal to increase health care coverage in the state is to provide additional grant money to federally qualified community health centers to provide services to low-income residents and the uninsured. Bryant's staff said the governor remains opposed to Medicaid expansion but considers grants a viable option because they wouldn't place any long-term obligation on the state.. "It's not locking us into anything," said Bryant spokesman Mick Bullock. Bullock said the governor is exploring a number of ways to continue providing health care access to those who need it.
Hurricane season: What can you do to be ready?
With the most active hurricane season predicted in the last 60 years, officials say Mississippians should start preparing now. The hurricane season began Saturday and goes to Nov. 30. The National Hurricane Center is predicting 13 to 20 named storms with three to six becoming major hurricanes -- Category 3, 4 or 5. "The more prepared you are in advance of a storm, the more it helps save lives and property and can prevent unpleasant insurance surprises should a storm take aim at the state," state Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said.
Dutschke indicted in ricin-letter scheme
James Everett Dutschke of Tupelo stands officially accused of a scheme to mail poison letters to President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland. He's also accused of trying to blame someone else for it. The five-count indictment returned Friday by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of Mississippi was made public Monday.
Gov. Bryant heads to Washington, New York this week
Gov. Phil Bryant is heading to Washington and New York this week to speak at Arlington National Cemetery during a memorial service honoring a slain Mississippi civil rights leader and also appearing at the New York Mississippi Picnic in Central Park, among other appearances. The governor's office says Bryant will appear Tuesday at 9 a.m. at the headquarters of the Washington Post as a speaker at the newspaper's "LIVE Forum - Reading Milestones: States Target 3rd Grade Literacy." The event is going to be streamed live on the Post's website.
Nissan sets May sales record, Toyota's jump slightly
Nissan North America set a sales record in May, with 114,457 deliveries. That's a 24.7 percent increase over May 2012. The global Nissan division also set a record, with 106,558 deliveries, up 31.2 percent over last year. In North America, sales of the Altima, Pathfinder, Sentra and Rogue led the charge. The Altima and Sentra are made in Nissan's Canton facility, which marked 10 years of production last month. The Canton facility, using $100 million in bonds issued by the Madison County Economic Development Authority, is expanding its supplier park. Leases of the new buildings would pay the debt service. Lawmakers approved the bond package last legislative session. Also on Monday, Toyota announced that its May sales were up 2.5 percent, with deliveries totaling 207,952.
BancorpSouth: 227 take early retirement
More than half of the BancorpSouth employees who were eligible to take part in a voluntary early retirement program did so, officials said Monday. In early May, the Tupelo-based financial holding company announced the program, which it said was part of its efforts to cut costs and improve efficiency. With banking, insurance, mortgage and trust offices in eight states, BancorpSouth employs some 4,000 people in nearly 300 locations. The early retirement program is BancorpSouth's second major cost cutting and efficiency improvement plan in two years. In May 2011, it shuttered 22 banking offices in six states. The move affected about 100 employees, and the company said it expected to save about $4 million a year with the closures.
Governor announces restart of CertainTeed plant in Meridian
Monday morning Gov. Phil Bryant led a contingent of state, county and local officials in announcing the restarting of the CertainTeed plant in the Southern Industrial Park located on Highway 11 South across from Meridian Regional Airport. Bryant said CertainTeed is investing $24 million in the next two years in preparing for reopening the manufacturing division of the plant that shut down in 2009 amid the nation's economic woes. Bryant said the state is contributing about $1.7 million to the project.
Ingalls announces $3.3B contract for destroyers
Huntington Ingalls has been awarded a $3.3 billion multi-year contract with the Naval Sea Systems Command for the construction of five ships from 2013-2017. More than 56 percent of the work on the Arleigh Burke-class DDG 51 destroyer ships will be done in Pascagoula. The multi-year, multi-ship contract will allow Ingalls to buy bulk material and move workers from ship to ship, creating more efficiency in the shipbuilding process, according to a press release from Ingalls Monday afternoon. It will also ensure industry jobs will be in Pascagoula for the next several years. Ingalls already planned to hire about 2,400 people this year, officials said last week.
Department of Marine Resources hires Sun Herald reporter as PIO
More changes are on the way at the Department of Marine Resources. Several people have left since Jamie Miller was hired to head up the DMR less than two months ago. The new director is continuing to put his own stamp on the agency, which is under state and federal investigation. Miller confirmed Monday that a new public information officer has been hired. She is Melissa Scallan, who is currently a reporter for the Sun Herald newspaper. The position pays just under $49,000 a year.
Democrats see farm bill, rural voters as key to 2014 election
Senate Democrats hope to pass a five-year farm bill this week and bolster their appeal with rural voters, who they see as crucial to retaining their majority in 2014. Democrats have stepped up their outreach to rural constituencies this year as they head into a daunting midterm election year with a slew of seats in conservative-leaning rural states to defend. Dan Glickman, who served as secretary of Agriculture under former President Clinton, said Democrats need to show voters that government can have a positive impact on their lives. Passing the farm bill would be an important step, he said.
Reince Priebus hails college GOP report
Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus on Monday praised a new, highly critical report from leading young Republicans as a "great" step toward strengthening the GOP's standing with that demographic. The College Republican National Committee's "deep dive into what politically motivates Millennials, just like our Growth and Opportunity Project, are great steps for our party to engage with more voters and win more elections," Priebus told POLITICO in a statement. The new document argues that the GOP brand is damaged in the eyes of young people, and outlines how the party should repair that reputation --- by accepting diverse viewpoints on gay marriage and immigration, for example, and unpacking how that age group is directly affected by key economic debates.
Baby boomers are killing themselves at an alarming rate, raising question: Why?
Last spring, Frank Turkaly tried to kill himself. A retiree in a Pittsburgh suburb living on disability checks, he was estranged from friends and family, mired in credit card debt and taking medication for depression, cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure. It was not the life he had envisioned as a young man in the 1960s and '70s, when "people were more in tune with each other, people were more prone to help each other," said Turkaly, 63, who owned a camera shop and later worked at Sears. "There was not this big segregation between the poor and the rich. ...I thought it was going to continue the same, I didn't think it was going to change." Turkaly said he regrets his attempt to overdose on tranquilizers, which he attributes to social isolation. But in one grim respect he is far from alone: He is part of an alarming trend among baby boomers, whose suicide rates shot up precipitously between 1999 and 2010.
Vegetarians Live Longer Than Meat-Eaters, Study Finds
Vegetarians live longer than meat-eaters, according to a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, a Journal of the American Medical Association. The authors tracked 73,308 members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for almost six years. The church is known for promoting a vegetarian diet, though not all of its followers adhere to that teaching. Researchers found out what type of diet participants ate, then followed up to find out how many of those participants had died and how. Vegetarians in the study experienced 12% fewer deaths over the period. Dietary choices appeared to play a big role in protecting the participants from heart disease, from which vegetarians were 19% less likely to die than meat-eaters. Caloric intake didn't seem to matter.
USM receives gift from 'Sweeney Todd' author Stephen Sondheim
A cast of students at the University of Southern Mississippi was rehearing for the play "Sweeney Todd" when a tornado hit the campus in February. The play's cast rushed to a basement and they were not injured, but they lost their set and the campus performing center was in no condition to house the play. Mike Lopinto, event coordinator at USM, wrote a letter to play author Stephen Sondheim, describing the story of the cast's misfortune. Lopinto had heard that Sondheim often answered fan mail. The university says in a news release that the Tony Award winner responded with a $500 donation. "So many wonderful people have done so many wonderful things for the School of Music during our time of crisis. I am grateful for them all, fame or not," said Lopinto. "However, to have an iconic figure in musical theatre not only write us, but also donate to help, was beyond my wildest dreams."
East Mississippi Community College Says It Must Grow or 'Die'
Growing demand work force training demands plus as many as five thousand potential trainees from a new tire plant starting as soon as two years are putting big demands on East Mississippi Community College. EMCC President Dr. Rick Young says the school has maxed out its capacity and must either expand both its Mayhew and Scooba campuses to grow or start to die. At Mayhew, a $17-million multipurpose building is the biggest need to provide 12 additional classroom and training space as well as a full-service student union. School leaders would like to take bids this fall and have it open in 2015. But that'll require an additional financial commitment from Lowndes Clay, Oktibbeha, Noxubee, Lauderdale and Kemper counties.
Lee supervisors name Itawamba County Community College trustee
The Lee County Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed Prentiss Turner to the Itawamba County Community College Board of Trustees, filling the remainder of Bill Williams' term. Turner, a community development manager for Farmers & Merchants Bank in Tupelo, will serve just more than a year left in the term of Williams, Saltillo's outgoing mayor, who is moving to Huntsville, Ala. Turner has previously served more than 20 years on the ICC board.
College fee hike bill nears final vote in Louisiana
Louisiana college and university students could end up paying a new fee for maintenance of campus buildings under a bill that neared final legislative passage Monday. If the House concurs in Senate changes, the legislation goes to the governor for signing into law. The Louisiana Senate voted 36-3 for the House-passed measure, which would allow colleges to levy up to a $48 per semester charge among other new fees as campuses struggle to meet needs with dwindling state support. Colleges have a $1.7 billion deferred maintenance backlog and are also looking for ways to cover costs of expensive new programs. The legislation includes the ability to charge LSU digital media students up to $2,500 per semester. The fee hikes would begin in the fall.
$1.5 million funds chemistry chair at U. of Florida
Alan Katritzky was persuaded to move from Norwich, England, to Gainesville in 1980 after he became a distinguished visiting professor in the University of Florida chemistry department in 1976 and impressed colleagues with his campus lectures. More than three decades later, and after spending more than 60 years in research, Katritzky has donated $1.5 million to the UF chemistry department to create the Katritzky Chair of Heterocyclic Chemistry. His expertise in heterocyclic compounds -- which form the basis of many anti-cancer and anti-viral pharmaceuticals, as well as antibiotics and vitamins -- has led Katritzky over the years to publish more than 2,000 articles. He has also edited about 200 book volumes.
U. of Georgia names inaugural Athletic Association Professor
University of Georgia geography professor and research meteorologist J. Marshall Shepherd has been appointed as UGA's inaugural Athletic Association Professor in the Social Sciences, according to a Monday announcement from the university. The special appointment was made by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents at their recent May meeting. Director of the UGA Atmospheric Sciences Program, Shepherd joined the university faculty in 2006 after 12 years as a research meteorologist in the Earth-Sun Exploration Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. At UGA, he conducts research on weather and climate systems using advanced satellites, experimental aircraft, radars and computer models.
WUKY reporter sued by U. of Kentucky leaves station to work for mayor
Brenna Angel, a reporter for the University of Kentucky's public radio station who is being sued by the school, has left the station to work in the office of Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. Angel started work Monday as the assistant communications director, specializing in social media and the city's website. She said it was not a job that she had pursued, but she was pleasantly surprised to be approached about it. Angel made headlines herself earlier this year when the state Attorney General's Office ruled that UK violated state open-records laws by denying her request for certain information regarding the pediatric cardiothoracic program at Kentucky Children's Hospital, which has been suspended pending an internal review. The university then sued Angel, a UK employee at the time, saying turning over the records would violate federal health care privacy laws.
A year later, U. of Missouri Press working on recovery
It has been just more than a year since University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe announced plans to close the University of Missouri Press, and although the press has remained open, it is still working to regain its reputation. "Frankly, a year ago, after the president's announcement, I couldn't envision this happening," said Clair Willcox, editor-in-chief and associate director of the press. "We're now at the point where we're picking up momentum." The press was targeted for closure by Wolfe as a way to save money. However, word of the closure sparked widespread backlash -- including authors threatening to sue for their book rights. The decision was reversed in August, and the press was moved from the control of the UM System to the University of Missouri campus.
Testimony: Ex-U. of Tennessee Foundation officer admits to molesting boys
After molesting at least five boys, a former University of Tennessee Foundation chief devised a new plan to satisfy his urges -- look but don't touch, testimony Monday showed. Knoxville Police Department Investigator Tom Evans testified in U.S. District Court Monday that former UT Foundation Chief Operating Office Bruce O. Downsbrough turned to child pornography as a means of sexual gratification after he was charged in Boulder, Colo., in 1986, with molesting two boys and got away with molesting three others. Downsbrough, 60, was indicted last week on three charges of receiving child pornography through the mail and over the Internet and one count of being in possession of more than 20,000 images and several videotapes of child pornography. The UT Foundation fired Downsbrough a day after his arrest at his foundation office.
U. of Tennessee unveils colorful new energy-efficient buses
The University of Tennessee has taken on the mantra of "Big Orange, Big Ideas" and on Monday, the ideas became a reality. The university unveiled a fleet of 20 new, energy-efficient buses that immediately will go into service as the primary transportation on campus. The new buses will boast a GPS tracking system that tracks each bus in real-time and gives an estimated time of arrival to each stop as well as onboard USB charging stations for a quick boost for students' mobile electronic devices with dying batteries. "This is something that students have asked for years," said Mark Hairr, the director of Parking and Transit Services at UT.
U. of Arkansas at Little Rock: Analytics Center to Help Business Sift 'Big Data'
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock on Monday announced plans to establish the UALR George W. Donaghey Emerging Analytics Center. The center, located on the fourth floor of UALR's Engineering and Information Technology building, features data visualization systems that the university said "are among the first of their kind in the world." The new center was made possible by a grant of more than $5 million from the George W. Donaghey Foundation. The center will be led by Mary Good, a nationally recognized scientist who serves as special advisor on economic development to UALR and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. A news release calls the announcement a "game changer" for the state. Good said "big data" provides the next frontier in discovery, business and society, as more data is produced, stored and analyzed.
Appropriations increases and tuition freezes reshape state funding picture
While there are some signs that state budgets are improving, and that such a change could help hold down both sticker prices and the net price students pay after aid at public colleges and universities, higher education finance researchers say it's too soon to say whether the recent announcements portend a broader national trend this year or in the near future. National data won't be available for some time. It's unlikely that the increases in state appropriations and the emphasis on lower tuition are signs that the higher education financial model is returning to some pre-recession "normal." Despite the increases, most states are still not spending nearly as much on higher education as they were before the recession, particularly on a per-student basis.
Don't toss high school papers into the trash | Charlie Mitchell (Opinion)
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "At most Mississippi high schools today, the only cars out front are the principal's and the secretary's. Maybe a counselor or two came to work. The coaches' pickups are over by the field house, where the coaches are inside, rocked back in their chairs, feet on desks, pondering strategy for fall. It's summer. Time to rest, recoup, plan. It's a long shot, but maybe adding a school newspaper will occur these folks. A real newspaper. Ink on paper. Everything. ...The world will not instantly become perfect if every high school invests whatever it takes to create and perpetuate a superior high school newspaper. To focus on 'book learning' at the exclusion of activities -- including sports -- that build character is a step in the wrong direction. And you can print that."

Super Night: Mississippi State Bulldogs advance with victory in regional home finale
Mississippi State got the best of Central Arkansas when it counted most. In the final game of 2013 at Dudy Noble Field, the No. 14-ranked Bulldogs jumped ahead early and stayed there in a 6-1 win over the Bears in the NCAA Starkville Regional title game on Monday night. MSU (46-18) will head to Charlottesville, Va., to take on Virginia in the super regional round this weekend. "We just weren't going to let this one get away from us," MSU designated hitter Alex Detz said. "We just felt like we were better team than them."
Super bound: Mississippi State's regional victory its first since 2011
In his final appearance at Dudy Noble Field, senior reliever Chad Girodo carried Mississippi State to its first Super Regional appearance since 2011. Girodo (7-1) struck out a career-high 12, including three in the ninth inning, in the final 6 2⁄3 innings of the Bulldogs' 6-1 victory over Central Arkansas (42-22) on Monday to win the Starkville Regional. "It was a great feeling I just wanted it for my teammates, me being a senior added to it" Girodo said. "But I just wanted to do it for my teammates." It will be Mississippi State's first Super Regional since 2011, and its second under coach John Cohen
Mississippi State whips Central Arkansas to advance to baseball Super Regionals
Hunter Renfroe had three hits and two RBIs, Alex Detz and Adam Frazier each added two hits and Mississippi State easily beat Central Arkansas 6-1 on Monday night to win an NCAA regional championship. Mississippi State (46-18) scored in four of the first six innings thanks to timely hitting and three errors by Central Arkansas (42-22). "We got the timely hits -- the two-out hits," Mississippi State coach John Cohen said. "That seems to be our trademark. It's something that we've excelled at when we're going good this season." It's the second time in three seasons Mississippi State has advanced to the super regional round. The Bulldogs will travel to face No. 6 national seed Virginia.
Tensions mark Mississippi State-Central Arkansas matchup
The sixth round of Mississippi State and Central Arkansas at Dudy Noble Field ignited some tension between the two teams. It began in the second inning of the Bulldogs' 6-1 victory with a Sam Frost groundball to first. Bears first baseman Scott Zimmerle booted the easy play, then ran over Frost as he pursued the ball, leaving Frost crawling to first base. MSU coach John Cohen came out to argue the situation. Both Frost and Zimmerle remained in the game. "Total accident," said Cohen. "Just two kids who got crossed up." The extracurricular activities continued later.
Notebook: DH Detz earns top honors
The only job Alex Detz had all weekend was as designated hitter, and he did the job quite well. The Mississippi State junior was named the most outstanding player of the Starkville Regional, going 8 for 13 at the plate over four games. He had two hits in MSU's regional-clinching 6-1 win over Central Arkansas on Monday night. Detz has played a good bit of third base this year, but sliding into the DH role was no trouble. "Once the at-bat's going, nothing else is really going through your head except the at-bat," Detz said.
Holder provides relief at Mississippi State
Jonathan Holder has emerged as one of the nation's top relief pitchers at Mississippi State. The sophomore from Gulfport was recently named All-American by Baseball America and made the All-SEC team. Entering the Starkville Regional, Holder had recorded 17 saves, a 1.00 ERA and 79 strikeouts. Holder admits the road to becoming a solid reliever was originally a difficult transition. "Going from a starter to reliever was tough," Holder said. "At Gulfport, we didn't many SEC players. In the SEC, everybody's good. I had never been a relief pitcher."
U. of Georgia announces hiring of Kent State's Stricklin as new baseball coach
Georgia made it official on Monday. Scott Stricklin is the new head coach for the Bulldogs' baseball team after spending the last nine seasons at Kent State, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity announced. Stricklin was a Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt assistant before moving back to his alma mater at Kent State and now replaces David Perno, who resigned last month. Stricklin will be formally introduced at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. Georgia comes off of a 21-32 season and went 7-20 in the SEC.

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