Tuesday, July 2, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Watermelon crop tardy but in time for July 4th celebration
Mississippians love Fourth of July watermelons, and the 2013 melon crop should be worth the wait after weather delays. David Nagel, horticulturist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the biggest challenge has been the slow growth rate that caused some concern that the first melons might miss the holiday celebrations. The good news is that clear, sunny days with plenty of rain along the way have combined to produce large, tasty melons. "Mississippi growers encountered a cooler spring this year, and that delayed watermelons one to three weeks, depending on where farms are located," he said. "The greatest delays are in northern counties." Nagel said the state's commercial acreage has not changed much in recent years, but small plots grown for local farmers markets and roadside stands are becoming more common.
Blind Student Seeks Master's Degree
Sandra Bullins has been totally blind for 13 years. After receiving her degree in sociology and psychology in Tennessee, Sandra decided she wanted to further her education by pursuing a master's so she can counsel others who have been in her shoes. She isn't the only one who's found her home at Mississippi State. The university specializes in accommodating the visually impaired through a mentoring program that provides work experience for blind students. "The disability services -- absolutely wonderful people up there. They understand. And everyone I've talked to has been so helpful and so kind. And willing to go out of their way," she said.
MSU Alums Take New Offices
New members of the Mississippi State University Alumni Association's national board of directors are beginning one-year terms after being appointed in February. Officially taking office today [July 1], the team includes President Tommy R. Roberson of Memphis, Tenn., Ronald E. Black of Meridian, first vice president; Jackson resident Brad M. Reeves, second vice president; and Jodi White Turner of Montgomery, Ala., will continue her role as treasurer. Camille Scales Young, of Madison, continues on the board as immediate former national president.
MSU Foundation names Asya Besova Cooley annual giving director
Asya Besova Cooley, a professional staff member in the Mississippi State University Foundation, is the university's new annual giving director. In that role, she will direct fundraising efforts that typically focus on gifts made to any MSU area on a continuing basis. Cooley also will be responsible for securing annual gifts for the institution and its academic colleges through direct marketing efforts. Since 2011, she has served as assistant director of annual giving and coordinator of the MSU Foundation's telefunding program.
For late Mississippi soybean crop: Work to protect yield potential
Scout, scout, scout --- that's Trent Irby's advice to Mississippi soybean growers, most of whom are faced with a late-planted crop that could be more subject to insect and disease damage. "This could be a tough year, with a lot of potential for insects and diseases," he said at the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation's joint soybean, corn, wheat, and feed grains advisory committee meeting at Grenada. Irby, assistant Extension professor of plant and soil sciences at Mississippi State University, says, "We need to keep an eye on this crop, try to stay ahead of the curve, and do everything we can to protect the yield potential we have."
Mississippi Trucking Association names new chairman
Patrick McCabe, CEO of Evergreen Industries in Liberty was elected chairman of the board of directors of the Mississippi Trucking Association at the Association's annual meeting in San Destin, Fla. McCabe is a native of Amite County and grew up working on a beef cattle and row crop farm. He earned a BS in forest resources from Mississippi State University and worked in the timber industry for 12 years before going into his father's trucking business.
Parvin's bail revoked after mental health concerns
Appeals attorneys seek psychiatric help for a formerly convicted Monroe County man after concerns raised about his mental state. Circuit Judge Paul Funderburk last Wednesday revoked bond for Dr. David Parvin, a retired Mississippi State University economics professor, after his release from two years in state prison for the 2007 shooting death of his wife, Joyce, at their Aberdeen marina home. Parvin, now almost 74, gained his freedom June 25 after the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial. But after he was escorted back home, his legal team reportedly raised alarms about his mental condition.
Key city, board positions up for appointment Tuesday
Many of Starkville's primary department heads are up for reappointment Tuesday as the incoming board of aldermen takes control of local governance. Those positions up for reappointment include jobs held by Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill, City Clerk/Director of Finance Taylor Adams, Starkville Police Chief David Lindley, Starkville Fire Chief Rodger Mann, Personnel Officer Randy Boyd, Municipal Judge Rodney Faver, newly hired prosecutor Caroline Moore, Information Technology Director Joel Clements, sanitation director Emma Gibson-Gandy, Public Services Director Doug Devlin, community developer William Snowden, Court Administrator Tony Rook, Starkville Electric Department General Manager Terry Kemp and city attorney Chris Latimer.
Belle Foods files for bankruptcy
Belle Foods filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today, citing difficulties paying creditors with the revenues from its 57 stores in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi. In June 2012, Birmingham-based Belle Foods purchased the stores from Southern Family Markets, a company that took control of a number of Bruno's and Food World stores after the bankruptcy of what was a Birmingham grocery titan for much of the last century. Belle has been in the process of rebranding all of its stores -- which have operated as Bruno's, Food World, Piggly Wiggly and Southern Family markets.
Mississippi tax receipts approach $5 billion in fiscal year 2013
Mississippi's tax revenues have recovered from the recession, approaching the $5 billion mark for the first time. State Department of Revenue figures show tax receipts grew 5 percent in the 2013 budget year, which ended Sunday. That's a state record, and the first time revenues have exceeded their 2008 total of $4.83 billion since the recession began. The strong finish to the budget year means more than $400 million could be waiting in the bank in January, when lawmakers begin setting the 2015 budget.
Court orders quick reply in open-carry gun case
Plaintiffs who want to block Mississippi's open-carry gun law won a quick order overturning it. Now they have to act quickly to save that order. Presiding Supreme Justice Michael Randolph ordered Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith and the other plaintiffs to answer by 5 p.m. Monday a request from Attorney General Jim Hood to throw out a lower court ruling. The law clarifies that people in Mississippi don't need any kind of state-issued permit to carry a gun that's not concealed.
State's high court asked to rule on gun law
Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, says the firearms bill he authored and was passed during the 2013 session does not create any new rights for Mississippi gun owners, but only "affirms" the right that always has been in the state Constitution. That is the right to carry a firearm in the open, Gipson said Monday. Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood backed up Gipson's claim in a motion where the attorney general is asking the state Supreme Court to allow the "open carry" law to go into effect. The law was supposed to be in effect Monday, but it was blocked late Friday by a Hinds County Circuit Court judge after Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler, Sheriff Tyrone Lewis and others filed a lawsuit to block the law's enactment.
Department of Marine Resources audit finds 'widespread conflicts of interest'
After more than a year of investigation and negotiation, the federal government still isn't satisfied with the Department of Marine Resource's handling of the Coast Impact Assistance Program. DMR Director Jamie Miller said he's just glad to finally see where DMR stands. An audit released Monday describes "widespread conflicts of interest" involving land purchases the DMR oversaw, deficient land appraisals, splitting of contracts that circumvented state bid laws, grant awards that failed to meet CIAP criteria and improper charges to CIAP grants.
Jackson in top 10 most dangerous U.S. cities
The Federal Bureau of Investigation released preliminary crime data stating that violent crime in the United States rose for the first time in six years during 2012. When the top 25 most dangerous cities in America were named, Jackson fell among the most violent. According to the online article, Jackson ranks No. 8 when it comes to violent crimes in cities across the U.S. The article explains Jackson suffers 36 murders, 77 forcible rapes and 454 robberies per 100,000 people. Racial tension is one of the top reasons for the violence, according to Businessinsider.com.
Mississippi Power says more overruns likely at Kemper
Mississippi Power Co. warned Monday that costs are still increasing at the power plant it's building in Kemper County. The unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. told stockholders that an ongoing review of costs at the coal-fired plant has initially identified at least another $160 million in cost increases. Mississippi Power spokeswoman Amoi Geter said Southern Co. shareholders would absorb any cost increases. The overruns could push the cost of the plant, adjoining lignite mine and associated pipelines to $4.45 billion. Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley, a consistent opponent of the plant, said the additional cost overruns are "very disturbing."
Farm Bill Split Won't Appease Club for Growth
Splitting up the farm bill into two pieces won't be enough to appease the Club for Growth, one of the conservative interest groups that claimed credit for the farm bill's surprise defeat on the House floor last month. "Splitting up the Farm Bill is a good first step, but just splitting a bad bill into two pieces doesn't suddenly make either piece better," said Barney Keller, a spokesman for the Club for Growth, in an email statement to CQ Roll Call on Monday afternoon. "Instead, Republicans should put farm subsidies on a path to elimination and devolve food stamps to the states, where they belong."
As loan interest doubles, students face tough decisions
While Mississippi University for Women psychology major Kayla Tate finishes her coursework, she mulls what her next step will be. Graduate school is the front runner of her many options. While she hasn't had to rely on student loans so far, it seems likely she would need a loan to continue her education. As of Monday, the cost of a student loan has doubled. MUW Director of Financial Aid Nicole Patrick said students should consider taking out loans as a last result after reviewing other opportunities for aid, including scholarships and work studies.
Northeast Mississippi Community College transfers boast highest GPA
Students from Northeast Mississippi Community College had the highest grade-point average of any of the state's community colleges after transferring to a state university. A report on Program Performance Indicators and Measures recently released by the Mississippi Community College Board shows Northeast transfer students in the 2012 academic year had an average GPA of 3.22, tops among student transfers from Mississippi's 15 community and junior colleges and above the overall university average of 3.08.
U. of Alabama names Brewbaker law school's acting dean
A University of Alabama law professor will serve as acting the dean of the UA School of Law following the retirement of Dean Ken Randall last week. William S. Brewbaker III will lead the law school until an interim dean is chosen, said Cathy Andreen, UA director of media relations. UA President Judy Bonner said last week that an interim dean would be named in the next few weeks and that the university would conduct a national search to find a replacement for Randall, who led the school since 1993. Randall is retiring to pursue opportunities in the private sector.
Morehead explains priorities as he assumes U. of Georgia presidency Monday
Jere Morehead's first day as University of Georgia president was more about introductions than ceremony, but there was plenty of symbolism in the appointments on his calendar Monday, Morehead started off his day with an 8 a.m. breakfast in the Tate Student Center with student leaders. From there, he went to the UGA administration building, where his staff had scheduled a reception. The office staff gathered to greet him and applauded as he walked in. "I've been doing this a long, long time. It feels a little different this morning," Morehead told his staff.
UGA Foundation allocates $3.3 million surplus
The University of Georgia Foundation says it will be offering an additional $3.3 million for scholarships, faculty support and other initiatives in the next fiscal year. The foundation made the announcement in a press release Monday, saying the surplus funds were the result of strong returns on investments as well as budget management. The foundation provides more than $40 million annually to the university.
UGA grads win grant to film China's Silk Road
University of Georgia graduates Galen Burke and Lee Moore won a $10,000 Adventure Grant from Outside Magazine. The duo will use the funds to hitchhike the Silk Road in northwest China and explore each national park along the route, learn how the fast growth of China is affecting the country's natural spaces and interview residents to get their perspectives on nature and the outdoors.
Texas A&M faculty group recommends deal to put courses online
A Texas A&M faculty committee has recommended partnering with a nonprofit group to offer free online courses. The committee released a nine-page report Monday that urges university officials to join EdX -- a nonprofit organization started by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that offers the massive open online courses, or MOOCs. Provost Karan Watson, for whom the report was prepared, said she was initially supportive of the recommendations, but wanted to gather more faculty input before making her own proposal to Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin.
2,400 summer Gators descend on campus
Jacob Greenberg spent his first day at the University of Florida running around in the rain on a guided tour, courtesy of the College of Engineering's Step-up program. The incoming freshman was glad to have someone to show him around because, frankly, the UF campus was a bit overwhelming. About 2,400 freshmen began their classes Monday at UF with the start of the Summer B session, getting a six-week jump on the other 4,000 freshmen due to start in the fall. UF has been admitting freshmen during Summer B for years, when it is easier for students with lower grades to get in. Greenberg said that's why he enrolled.
Four wine-related courses drawing students' interest at U. of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky will offer four new courses in the coming year with hopes of providing more skilled workers for the state's growing wine industry. A wine appreciation course offered by the College of Agriculture this fall will introduce students to the history, science and pleasure of wine. The class, restricted to students who are 21 and older, is the first on campus to include wine tasting. "I've been overwhelmed with the interest that students have expressed," said professor Michael Barrett, who will teach the class.
Fayette County school district's new STEAM Academy to open in the fall
Fayette County Public Schools and the University of Kentucky hope to move secondary education forward in Lexington by building up a full head of STEAM. The new STEAM Academy -- a partnership of the school district and UK -- will get on track when the new school year starts in August, stressing science, technology, engineering, arts and math. One hint of just how different STEAM might be is the two-week preparatory math camp that some of the incoming freshmen attended last month at Johnson. It was taught by R. Michael Sheetz, a staffer from UK's Center for Computational Sciences, who has a PhD in biochemistry, a master's in applied physics, and a master's in economics and econometrics. It's not the kind of academic background ninth-graders typically get.
Vanderbilt-Tennessee rivalry strengthens with help from brothers
When Garry Christopher was hired as the Vanderbilt men's basketball strength and conditioning coach last month, he got a phone call from his brother, Nicodemus. He congratulated Garry on getting the job, but Nicodemus, who holds the same job at Tennessee, also wanted to talk a little smack. "There was a little trash talking going on back and forth, of course," Garry Christopher said. "I told him my boys would definitely be the stronger end of the court. And of course he asserted himself, telling me the same."
Vanderbilt police say campus is safer than most
As an investigation into the alleged sexual assault involving four Vanderbilt University football players gained momentum Monday, a national expert cautioned that sex crimes on campus are often under-reported. Statistics show that one of every five women on a college campus will be the victim of a rape or attempted rape, said Abigail Boyer, director of communications and outreach at the Pennsylvania-based Clery Center for Security on Campus. While Vanderbilt police asserted their campus is much safer than those national statistics indicate, Boyer said sexual assault victims frequently decide not to report the crime because they know their assailant or fear how the incident will look to others.
Survey finds decline in the number of female chief information technology officers
Fewer women have the top technology job at colleges and universities, according to a new survey of higher education chief information officers. The findings, as well as past surveys, suggest some reversal of the headway female CIOs have made over the past three decades. According to annual surveys by the Center for Higher Education Chief Information Officer Studies, the number of female CIOs has gradually fallen from 26 percent in 2008 to 21 percent today. Wayne Brown, the center's founder, called the decline puzzling, particularly because an increasing number of women hold college technology jobs that report directly to the CIO and would presumably be prime candidates to become chief.
Court's decision might cause races to talk to each other
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "It's 2013. What do we have in Mississippi? Almost all political districts at all levels in Mississippi belong to either white people or they belong to black people. White officials still don't have any motivation to consider the needs or interests of black Mississippians. But black officials don't have any motivation to consider the needs or interests of white people, either. All either race has to do is keep its people happy. The U.S. Supreme Court didn't mention this when deciding to strike down Section 4 last week."

Cohen named Coach of the Year finalist
Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen has been named a finalist for the CollegeBaseballInsider.com 2013 National Coach of the Year Award after guiding MSU to its highest national finish. The winner will be announced by the online publication on Wednesday. Cohen, who won the award in 2006 after guiding Kentucky to the SEC title and an NCAA postseason berth, directed Mississippi State to a 51-20 record and to national runner-up honors, the school's highest national finish in athletics.
Mississippi State junior Evan Mitchell will sign with Cincinnati Reds
Evan Mitchell will forego his final season with the Mississippi State University baseball program to sign a professional contract with the Cincinnati Reds organization. The junior right-hander began the 2013 season in the Bulldogs' weekend rotation, but the coaches removed him because of his inability to find the strike zone on a consistent basis. "Big thanks to everyone for the love shown to me the past 3 years at MSU," Mitchell tweeted on his Twitter account, @E_Mitchell51, "Now it's on to chase my dream w/ the Reds!" Mitchell was 0-1 with a 3.74 ERA this season. He had 26 walks in 21 2/3 innings. The 21-year-old also struck out 27 thanks in part to a 94 mph fastball and a devastating slider.
Ole Miss: No recruiting violations in emails; 31 messages not released
Ole Miss didn't find any evidence of NCAA violations in the 85 emails sent to the school's compliance department this year after football coach Hugh Freeze encouraged critics to send in their proof of any wrongdoing. Freeze, sick of hearing critics saying the school was improperly recruiting this past cycle, tweeted in February, "If you have facts about a violation, email compliance@olemiss.edu. If not, please don't slander the young men." He would later delete the tweet, but not before generating press for his strong defense of the program's integrity. The compliance department received 85 emails after Freeze's tweet, but the school announced Monday, following The Clarion-Ledger's public records request, that none were substantiated.
USM Eagle Club Announces Record-Breaking Year for Donations
The Southern Miss Department of Athletics announced Monday that the Eagle Club has produced another record-breaking year, thanks to the generous donations from its supporters of the program. This past fiscal year, which ended June 30, marked the first time the Eagle Club eclipsed the $2 million mark, which directly goes to support Southern Miss student-athlete scholarships.
Reports detail fight said to involve Texas A&M football players
Texas A&M Athletic Department officials are investigating an April off-campus fight that led to the arrest of two football players Monday, along with their suspension from the team. Alan Cannon, director of sports information for the A&M Athletic Department, released a statement Monday afternoon saying the student-athletes were suspended from all team activities pending further investigation into the situation. The measure follows department policy, Cannon said. Court documents state that the two football players were among a group of about 10 men who pulled two men out of a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe and "attacked" them in the parking lot of an apartment complex.
Aaron Hernandez Saw Trouble at Florida in 2007
As prosecutors prepare to try former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez on murder and gun charges, new details have emerged about a 2007 bar fight at the University of Florida that suggest the incident was far from trivial. According to a 2007 police report obtained Monday by The Wall Street Journal, Hernandez had a brush with the law at Florida before he'd even played a down.
15 is enough for the ACC for now
The Atlantic Coast Conference is now a 15-team league -- and it might just stay that way for a while. After Commissioner John Swofford welcomed Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame to the ACC at a news conference at the NASDAQ stock exchange in Manhattan, he said that further expansion isn't on the agenda. "It's not a topic of conversation for us right now," he said. "I would not anticipate it being in the future, but we'll see. I don't predict the future much anymore, I've learned better. But it's not something that's on the table for discussion in our league right now."
Brandon's Sarah Thomas could become NFL's first permanent female ref
It's not about the recognition for Sarah Thomas of Brandon, although she's getting plenty of it. She's on track to become the NFL's first permanent female official, possibly as early as 2014. A finalist in the NFL's scouting program, Thomas recently finished officiating at the Indianapolis Colts mini-camp. The uniform's bold black and white stripes and black cap make her indistinguishable from colleagues on the field. "I tuck my hair, and I don't wear makeup like I do on my 8-to-5 job," said Thomas, 39, who also works as a pharmaceutical sales representative.

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