Wednesday, July 3, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi public universities plan tuition increases
Tuition at Mississippi's eight public universities will increase by an average of more than 6 percent this fall, an amount universities say is needed to make up for the lingering effects of state aid cuts during the recession. The College Board voted in spring 2012 on a two-year tuition plan and didn't vote on the subject this year. Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds said schools were given the option to change plans this spring, but none chose to. Both Ole Miss and MSU gave raises to employees at the start of the budget year. At MSU, the school set aside a pool worth 1.5 percent. Spokesman Sid Salter said individual departments were allowed to chip in other funds, meaning the average raise was closer to 2 percent.
Miss MSU makes local appearance before leaving for statewide pageant
Danielle Smith sees in Jasmine Murray the same spirit of perseverance that took her to the Miss Mississippi pageant four times. Smith, now assistant coordinator of marketing in the athletics department at Mississippi State University, said the closest she came to the Miss Mississippi title was first runner-up. That's exactly where Murray placed last year, as Miss Spirit of the South 2012. Now, Smith believes Murray has a chance to take the Miss Mississippi title, competing again as Miss MSU.
Lawsuit challenges Richland's pit bull ban
A pet owner has filed a federal lawsuit challenging a central Mississippi city's ban on pit bull dogs. The city of Richland, a Jackson suburb of about 7,000 residents, passed an ordinance in April 2006 that bans American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and mixed-breed offspring of those animals. Some experts argue that responsible pet ownership is the key and that blanket statements suggesting that entire breeds are dangerous go too far. "It seems to me that certain individual dogs are bad, rather than certain breeds," said Dr. Joey Burt, director of the Animal Health Center at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. A 2011 study published in the Annals of Surgery said attacks by "pit bulls are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs."
Board votes to oust city administrator, mayor plans to veto
The new Starkville Board of Aldermen made its first major change in city government Tuesday evening when it moved to dismiss Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill from the ranks of city employment.
Starkville woman gets national award
The President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition has selected Heather Carson to receive a 2013 PCFSN Community Leadership Award. The award is given annually to individuals or organizations who improve the lives of others within their community by providing or enhancing opportunities to engage in sports, physical activities, fitness or nutrition-related programs. "Heather Carson is a remarkable person," said Dr. Lewis Holloway, Starkville School District Superintendent. "She wrote grants, solicited donations, developed a plan, organized construction and generated hundreds of volunteers to complete these projects. It was Heather's creativeness and inspiration that helped Starkville put these playgrounds in place. Because of her efforts, Starkville is a better place to live."
First death from West Nile case reported for 2013
The Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting the state's first death from West Nile virus for 2013. The death was reported in Montgomery County. So far this year, six cases have been reported in Mississippi. They were in Madison, Forrest, Wayne, Lowndes and Montgomery counties. The Health Department only reports laboratory-confirmed cases to the public. Officials say Mississippians should take precautions to protect themselves from mosquitoes.
Mississippi has strong year for revenue
The Mississippi Legislature will begin the 2014 session with a substantial financial cushion thanks to a record-setting year for state revenue collections. Preliminary numbers indicate the state is ending the fiscal year with $295 million more than the estimate that was used by the 2012 Legislature to construct the budget for the just-completed fiscal year. Much of that surplus will be available for the 2014 Legislature to appropriate, though final numbers on the amount available for the 2014 session were still being compiled Tuesday by the staff of the Legislative Budget Committee. The just completed fiscal year will mark the first time the state has exceeded $5 billion in revenue collections.
Mississippi Supreme Court denies AG Jim Hood's request to undo block on gun law
The Mississippi Supreme Court on Tuesday said it won't undo a circuit judge's order that's blocking an open-carry gun law from taking effect. A panel of three justices said they made their decision for procedural reasons, and "the panel expresses no opinion respecting the merits of the matters pending before the circuit court." Their ruling means that Hinds County Circuit Judge Winston Kidd can hold a July 8 hearing he had already set, to decide whether to extend the injunction he handed down this past Friday.
Rep. Aldridge, parents face charges
State Rep. Brian Aldridge and his parents face indictment on criminal embezzlement charges associated with a relative's estate. Aldridge, a Republican, has represented House District 17 in Lee County since 2004. He reportedly was on a trip out of state Tuesday but was expected to turn himself in today. Specifics of the charges against him will not be available until his arrest. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's Public Integrity Division brought the charges to a Lee County grand jury for indictments dated June 28. The charges stem from a 2008 lawsuit filed by Florence Aldridge, the widow of Louis' brother. In 2005, she came to Tupelo after her husband's death when Louis and Janice promised to care for her while she suffered deep depression complicated by bipolar disorder.
Legislator Brian Aldridge indicted for embezzlement
State Rep. Brian Aldridge, R-Tupelo, was indicted for embezzlement in a case brought by the Mississippi Attorney General's Office. Aldridge was out of the country on a mission trip and couldn't be served his warrant. When reached by phone, the lawmaker referred comments to his attorney, TK Moffett. "Brian's done nothing wrong," Moffett said. "The only person who had power of attorney was Brian's father. ... I'm shocked." Moffett suggested that state Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, is on a witch hunt against Republicans. Hood's spokeswoman, Jan Schaefer, said that statement isn't worthy of a response.
Crucial Rule Is Delayed a Year for Obama's Health Law
In a significant setback for President Obama's signature domestic initiative, the administration on Tuesday abruptly announced a one-year delay, until 2015, in his health care law's mandate that larger employers provide coverage for their workers or pay penalties. The decision postpones the effective date beyond next year's midterm elections. While the postponement technically does not affect other central provisions of the law -- in particular those establishing health insurance marketplaces in the states, known as exchanges, where uninsured Americans can shop for policies -- it threatens to throw into disarray the administration's effort to put those provisions into effect by Jan. 1.
Farm lobbyists strike back against push to split House farm bill
Farm lobbyists are pushing back heavily against a conservative drive to split off the food stamp and farm subsidy portions of the trillion-dollar farm bill. The farm bill failed spectacularly on the House floor late last month because it contained too few food stamp cuts for conservatives and too many for liberals. On Tuesday, K street fired off a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) opposing that effort. It was signed by 532 national and regional organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, and major commodity groups such as the National Cotton Council and Southern Peanut Farmers Federation to the National Milk Producers Federation and American Soybean Association.
GOP's Lucas says conservative activist groups are 'coming after' him for farm bill
The conservative schism that has all but paralyzed the U.S. House of Representatives and contributed to the defeat of one long-time Oklahoma Republican congressman showed itself Monday at the town hall meeting of another veteran GOP congressman who is catching heat from the right. Taking their cue from the Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups, a half-dozen or so people in a crowd of about 25 at Skiatook's First Baptist Church urged 3rd District Rep. Frank Lucas to cut even more from the farm bill than the $40 billion he and the Agriculture Committee he leads propose. "I'm under attack by those people," said Lucas. "They're coming after me. They are all special interest groups that exist to sell subscriptions, to collect seminar fees and to perpetuate their goals."
Wicker adoption resolution passes at international meeting
In January, a new law in Russia barred Americans from adopting orphans, affecting around 700 children who had already bonded with prospective families. But last week, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker introduced a resolution to protect families and children stuck in limbo. The first of its kind, the resolution was presented at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to overwhelming support.
Hints surface that NSA building massive, pervasive surveillance capability
Despite U.S. intelligence officials' repeated denials that the National Security Agency is collecting the content of domestic emails and phone calls, evidence is mounting that the agency's vast surveillance network can and may already be preserving billions of those communications in powerful digital databases. A McClatchy review of public records, statements by Obama administration officials and interviews with cyber and telecom security experts lends credence to assertions that the capability for such surveillance exists.
Neshoba County Fair to require parking permits on Thursday, July 25 after 6 p.m.
Vehicles without parking permits will not be allowed inside the Fairgrounds after 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 25, following action by the Board of Directors of the Neshoba County Fair Association. In addition, Fair Manager Doug Johnson said temporary passes would not be available for vehicles without parking permits to unload items in the Fairgrounds after 6 p.m. that same day. With so many people moving into cabins and campers, Johnson expects extremely heavy traffic the day before the Fair officially starts on Friday, July 26. "We are doing this because of the traffic congestion," he said. "This will hopefully ease the traffic inside the Fairgrounds. Security will be on hand on that Thursday."
Ole Miss Turns Scary Racial Incident Into Teachable Moment
At new-student orientation this summer, University of Mississippi students are learning about the usual: meal plans and financial aid. But they're also hearing something else: a seminar born out of an incident on election night last November. On Nov. 6, right after President Obama won the election, a small group of students staged a Mitt Romney rally. But it soon turned racial. White students played "Dixie" on car stereos, chanted "the South will rise again" and burned Obama campaign signs. Black students felt threatened. And the crowd grew from 40 students to 400 curious onlookers. "And that's when the tweets just started flying," says Adam Ganucheau, a senior and editor-in-chief of The Daily Mississippian. But the social media reports were not true.
UM health program helps combat childhood obesity
University of Mississippi faculty, staff and students are working to help prevent and reduce childhood obesity in the Mississippi Delta, supported by a $275,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The WKKF grant provides funding to expand the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management's "Eating Good ...and Moving Like We Should" program, which increases accessibility of health education resources such as learning gardens, greenhouses, fitness facilities and nutrition education for school children and their teachers.
UM fraternity wins national step shows title
The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Nu Upsilon chapter at the University of Mississippi stepped its way to national honors this past weekend. The group participated in the National Collegiate Step Show at the fraternity's 92nd annual General Convention in Austin, Texas, and brought home the national championship. This was the chapter's first time to advance to the national competition, which showcased the fraternity's top four best step show teams.
Southern Miss to host Minority Business Expo
The University of Southern Mississippi will hold a Minority Business Expo from 8-11 a.m. Tuesday in Ballroom 1 of the Cochran Center on the USM campus. The fair is part of a program launched by the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning called the Mississippi Public University Minority Economic Opportunity Initiative. Through the initiative, minority businesses will use to ensure companies owned by ethnic minorities have more opportunities to submit quotes on goods and services to the state's eight public universities, the University Medical Center and IHL office.
Meridian Community College's Multi-Purpose Building Also for Community
Meridian Community College is celebrating its new multi-purpose building. A ribbon was cut Tuesday for the renovated facility on Highway 19 North. The event was also the first official appearance by new Mayor Percy Bland and new city council members. MCC president, Dr. Scott Elliott, says the 25,000-square foot building can accommodate groups of up to 400 people. He says the idea is for it to be used by both the college and the community.
Foundation says U. of Alabama policy violates students' First Amendment rights
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has intervened on behalf of a University of Alabama abortion rights student group who say police ordered them to stop distributing flyers on campus during the spring semester. In a letter sent to UA President Judy Bonner on May 22, FIRE requested that the university reassure its community that "expressive activity on campus" would not be censored. FIRE requested a response to the letter by June 12. A FIRE official said UA has not responded to the letter as of July 1.
Auburn VP of student affairs to join U. of South Carolina
Auburn University announced Tuesday that Ainsley Carry, vice president for student affairs, will join the University of South Carolina beginning Aug. 1. Carry joined Auburn in June 2009 and will serve as vice provost for student affairs at USC. USC has about 37,000 students, and its Division of Student Affairs includes a health center, counseling services, a career center, services for international students, residential education, programs for parents, and cultural and community programs.
Auburn University vet: Pay special attention to pet safety during summer months
While celebrating July 4 with food, fireworks and outdoor activities, pet owners should be mindful of keeping their pets safe during the holiday festivities and throughout the summer. Auburn University veterinarian Dr. Sara-Louise Newcomer, one of two veterinarians who provide wellness care in the College of Veterinary Medicine's Community Practice Clinic, said pet owners should take the same care with pets as they do with children around grills and fireworks and in hot weather.
Victor Wilson returns to U. of Georgia as executive VP
Victor K. Wilson, executive vice president for student affairs at the College of Charleston, has been named vice president for student affairs at the University of Georgia effective Aug. 1. As vice president for student affairs, Wilson will report to interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Libby V. Morris. Wilson succeeds Rodney Bennett, who in April took office as president of the University of Southern Mississippi.
U. of Georgia receives Gates Foundation grant
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given the University of Georgia Research Foundation a $3.4 million grant to help fight a debilitating tropical disease. UGA officials said Tuesday the award will be used to expand research on how to eliminate schistosomiasis, a disease caused by worms and contracted when people come in contact with contaminated water. Experts say the worms are not found in the U.S., but more than 200 million people worldwide are infected. Dan Colley is the director of UGA's Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. He says in a statement that the project has had success in reducing infections and hopes to move closer to disease elimination.
U. of Missouri System to launch accelerated search for Deaton's successor
The University of Missouri System is beginning an accelerated search for Chancellor Brady Deaton's successor and aims to fill the position before Deaton steps down Nov. 15. The Faculty Council Executive Committee met with UM System President Tim Wolfe on Monday to review a timeline for the search process, Faculty Council Chairman Harry Tyrer said. UM is accelerating its search to compete with several other universities that are looking for new leaders. Other Association of American Universities members with vacancies to fill include California Institute of Technology, University of Michigan and Ohio State.
Startup funded by U. of Missouri System program ready to go global
One of the first companies to receive startup capital from the University of Missouri System's Enterprise Investment Program announced Tuesday morning it has reached a funding milestone and will enter into a commercialization phase. In February 2012, EternoGen LLC, a medical company that focuses on designing and manufacturing collagen replenishment therapies for soft-tissue therapeutic applications, received $200,000 from UM's Enterprise Investment Program. Today, the Columbia-based company has attracted nearly $1.5 million from additional investors and plans to step into the commercial arena in Europe.
How will colleges respond to extra year on health insurance requirement?
The surprising announcement Tuesday that the Obama administration is delaying for one year -- until 2015 -- a key requirement of the landmark health care law could reopen discussions of the limits many colleges have been placing on adjunct hours. A key provision in the Affordable Care Act -- which had been scheduled to take effect at the start of 2014 -- would have required large employers (a group into which almost all colleges fall) to provide health coverage for those who work at least 30 hours a week, or else to pay fines. Starting in the fall of 2012, colleges started to limit the hours of adjuncts (many of whom aren't covered by institutions' health plans) to avoid having to provide coverage to them. College officials have said that it would be too expensive to do so.
History will determine Medicaid victors | Bobby Harrison (Opinion)
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "More parliamentary maneuvering was going on in last week's two-day special session on Medicaid than there is anticipation by Ole Miss fans about their upcoming football season. The difference is that it is easy to measure success or failure on the athletic field at Ole Miss' Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Sometimes it is much more difficult to measure success in the Mississippi Capitol. Games are played out over months, years, decades and even centuries – especially in Mississippi where sometimes old ways and old beliefs do not go silently into the night or end when the final whistle blows -- like at Vaught-Hemingway. It is easy to say Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves was a winner..."
Mississippi plans ahead for the zombie apocalypse
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "After more than 30 years of reading think tank 'white paper' analyses of so many indices of economic or social progress where Mississippi lags at or near last place among the states, here's one category where the Magnolia State leads the pack. We're No. 1! Mississippi ranks dead last (get it, 'dead' last!) in the U.S. rate of cremation. A recent Time magazine piece on the rising popularity of cremation over traditional burials or entombments pointed out that while Nevada had a cremation rate of a whopping 74 percent, the Deep South has been exceedingly slow to 'warm up' (sorry) to cremation. ...Given the turn pop culture has taken, perhaps being last in cremation has some advantages."

Mississippi State basketball team hits weight room
It's barely July, usually a dormant month at Humphrey Coliseum. But on Tuesday, as darkness shrouded Mississippi State's home court, the grunts of players lifting weights to the screams of strength coach Richard Akins echoed through the arena. There's little time off for the Bulldogs as they recover from one of the worst seasons in school history. “You have to have a goal in your mind. You have to see where you want to go as a person," senior Colin Borchert said. "That's the biggest thing for me. I've only got one more year. I've only got nine months left and I have to use all this nine months to my advantage."
Depth, experience a new luxury for Bulldogs
In Rick Ray's first season at the helm, Mississippi State struggled through injuries and inexperience. And that's an understatement. The Bulldogs encountered three season-ending knee injuries along with suspensions and finished with a 10-22 record and 4-14 SEC mark. But this summer in offseason workouts, the attitude is more upbeat and the roster is deeper as well.
East Mississippi Community College adds two coaches to men's hoops
East Mississippi Community College men's basketball coach Mark White has hired Utah native Shelby Lindley and former Mississippi State University hoops staffer Drew Bernd to the Lions' coaching staff. The hirings have been approved by EMCC President Dr. Rick Young and EMCC Vice President/Director of Athletics Mickey Stokes. Bernd's stint of international experience was preceded by a six-year association within the Southeastern Conference ranks at Mississippi State.
Auburn's commitment to baseball reflected in difference between coaches' contracts
When Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs fired John Pawlowski in May, he set the expectation level for the Tigers baseball program at winning championships. Immediately, it was clear Auburn would have to commit more resources to the program to make it a realistic goal. First up was securing a top-level head coach. Auburn did that in June when it hired former Oklahoma head coach Sunny Golloway. Now we know how much more of a financial commit Jacobs provided. One major difference is total salary. Golloway will be paid $650,000 annually for the next five years, while Pawlowski was paid $300,000 when he was hired (and $315,000 after his 2010 raise). But there are more differences than the bottom line.

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