Monday, July 15, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Tuitions continue to rise at state's public universities
Despite the rising price of college tuition, local universities insist the rewards exceed the cost. The eight public universities across the state of Mississippi will increase tuition rates by an average of 6.4 percent to $6,329 per school year. MSU President Mark Keenum said even with the rising cost of tuition, universities still have to do more with less. "We are doing a lot more with a lot less and continue to look for ways to operate more efficiently, but rising higher education costs are a fact of life," Keenum said. MSU's Sid Salter said he doesn't see the increase as a deterrent for high school students entering college for the first time, citing scholarship opportunities. "Very few students pay sticker price when pursuing their higher educations," Salter said.
MSU-Meridian offers opportunity for Marengo students
High School students in Marengo County looking to further their education have a new option that is close to home. Mississippi State University-Meridian has recently taken advantage of a new Mississippi law allowing colleges and universities to waive out-of-state tuition for select areas of other states, and a six-county area in west Alabama can benefit from this opportunity. Dr. Steven Brown, campus dean of MSU-Meridian, spoke to the Demopolis Kiwanis Club on Tuesday about what his campus has to offer for Marengo County students. "We are also considered a 'research intensive institution,' due to Mississippi State in Starkville being a major research university," he said.
Higher Education Briefs: Environmental program honored
A Mississippi State University program for elementary students has been recognized for teaching environmental and natural sciences. The Youth Environmental Science program received the third-place Gulf Guardian Award in the Environmental Justice and Cultural Diversity category. The Gulf of Mexico Program, a consortium sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency, gives the award annually. Leslie Burger and Jessica Tegt, MSU Extension Service faculty, created the program two years ago.
Weather continuous challenge for corn growers
If Mississippi's corn growers thought planting season was a wild ride, they better fasten their seatbelts for harvest time. Erick Larson, corn specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the spring's wet fields and cooler temperatures resulted in less-than-desirable corn stands, and these conditions often delayed or prevented growers from planting their intended corn acreage.
Palmer Home Partners with Mississippi State University
Palmer Home for Children in Columbus has been helping children in need since 1895. For the first time this week, 15 Palmer Home teens participated in a summer Leadership Camp hosted by the Leader State program at Mississippi State University. "The students start out the week by doing an envisioning activity called Visual Explore. They look at about 300 iconic images and are asked to pick out the image that best captures their life dream," says Dr. Cade Smith. While at the week-long camp, the teens are taught leadership and life skills.
MSU grad student recognized for work in U.S., native India
Aparna Krishnavajhala has spent a large portion of her time as a Mississippi State University College Veterinary Medicine graduate student injecting tiny zebrafish with even smaller amounts of bacteria. Her research, part of a study conducted by Lora Petrie-Hanson, an associate professor, has implications for human health. Krishnavajhala's concern for humanity is evident in areas outside of her research at MSU. She has spent the last few years working here and in her native India to leave a contribution to the greater good.
Managing Deer Population
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks worked with the MSU Extension Service to host an annual workshop last week. "Deer hunting in Mississippi is a billion dollar industry annually. If you have too many there's a lot of crop damage, forest damage. And on the hunter's side we like to teach them how to manage herds, keeping them in balance with their habitat," said professor of wildlife management Bronson Strickland.
Muslim Americans Observe Ramadan in Starkville
Millions of Muslims around the world began Ramadan this week, a month-long fast that honors the origins of the holy Qu'ran. Shann Moore of the Muslim Student Association at Mississippi State University started Thursday's afternoon prayer this Ramadan with a traditional Islamic call-to-worship song. "Ramadan is the 9th month of the lunar calendar and it's commemorated because it is thought that the Qu'ran was first revealed during this month or the first verses were revealed during this month," says Dr. Rani Sullivan, faculty advisor for the Muslim Student Association at MSU.
Childcare Teachers Being Taught
There is a national push to equip every young child with skills and the education needed to put him on a path to eventually landing a good job. That's why high-quality childcare education is so important. Already in place at Mississippi State University, a child care center, one in a 17 satellite network system instructing loving individuals who have a passion to educate students age zero to five.
Diagnosing Plant Problems
Ever wonder why your plants keep dying? What are you doing wrong? You can now diagnose the problem. You might be giving your plant too much water or too much light. Clarissa Balbalian has been diagnosing plant problems for more than a dozen years. Mississippi's hot and humid climate can be challenging. You can get your plant diagnosed at the Mississippi State University Extension Service or log on to for more information.
MSU Student's Research Earns Recognition
Groundbreaking research by a Mississippi State University student has garnered prestigious recognition from the Southeastern Microscopy Society. For biomedical engineering doctoral candidate Sourav Patnaik, winning the 2013 Ruska Award is additional confirmation to move forward with his work examining a reproductive disorder affecting hundreds of thousands of women around the world.
Singers and songwriters bring tour to Meridian
It's one thing to hear world-class singers and songwriters perform their hits. It's another altogether to also hear them discuss the meanings behind their hit songs. "The Heart Behind the Music" tour will treat the audience to both, bringing some of the industry's best to the MSU Riley Center in downtown Meridian on Tuesday.
Mitchell Companies picks Anne Grace Ward
Mitchell Companies recently named Anna Grace Ward of Meridian as the new communications manager. Ward graduated from Mississippi State University in 2011 with a bachelor of arts degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in marketing. She worked as the corporate business specialist at Vital Care Inc. before moving to Mitchell Companies. Ward also has past experience in positions at the United Way of East Mississippi, the Greater Starkville Development Partnership and the MSU Career Center.
Tax officials receive certification training
Tax assessors and appraisers from throughout Mississippi recently participated in the Certified Appraiser School at Mississippi State University. The May 13-17 and June 3-7 training sessions were conducted by the Mississippi Department of Revenue and coordinated by the MSU Extension Service's Center for Government and Community Development. Ten days of intensive training are held during two five-day sessions each year in May and June on the MSU campus. GCD governmental training specialist and Janet Baird and GCD project manager Jason Camp facilitated the 2013 sessions.
Teacher's conference
Four educators from Lauderdale County traveled to Washington, D.C., for a June 24-26 national conference devoted to using the arts as a teaching tool. The Lauderdale County School District and Meridian Public School District are members of the Kennedy Center Partners in Education Program with the MSU Riley Center. For more information about the conference or about arts integration in education, contact Charlotte B. Tabereaux, Ph.D., Education Director for the MSU Riley Center, at 601-696-2204.
Co-Lin's Ross earns state, region Golf Coach of Year
Copiah-Lincoln Community College golf coach Ronny Ross has been named the 2013 NJCAA Division II Central Region Coach of the Year by Eaton Golf Pride. He was also named the 2013 Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) Junior College Golf Coach of the Year. Ross was recognized during the annual MAC Hall of Fame Banquet on June 28 at the Hilton Hotel in Jackson. He had earlier been named the 2013 MACJC Coach of the Year. Ross is a graduate of Mississippi State University with a B.S. in marketing/professional golf management.
Reports: Spruill received high internal marks for job performance
Starkville aldermen dismissed Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill last week despite receiving consistently high performance marks from her elected bosses in 2010 and 2012, internal city documents show. The city's two performance appraisals averaged the participating aldermen's and mayor's assessment of Spruill and other department heads on a 1-5-point score for nine criteria and an overall rating. She earned an overall designation of "above average" in both studies and never earned below the same ranking for all nine criteria. Specifically, the report graded her for management qualities, goal orientation, communication, expertise, loyalty, initiative, cost consciousness, responsiveness and relationships. The Dispatch approached Spruill Thursday and asked to view her evaluation reports. She consented. The Dispatch did not seek, nor was given access to any other department heads' or city employees' job performance or personnel records.
Three arrested for Starkville car wash murder
Three people have been arrested and charged with capital murder in connection with the Friday morning shooting death of a Starkville man. Phillip Thomas Mason, 24, Milton Jamal Brown, 25, both of 1606 Rockhill Road, and Charleka Shanay Brooks, 24, of 182 Pecan Acres were arrested Saturday morning for their alleged role in the shooting death of Ellis Wade Bishop, who is also known as "June Bug." Mason, Brooks and Brown were arrested Saturday after a joint investigation by the Starkville Police Department, the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Office, the Mississippi State University Police Department and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations.
Yokohama chooses Georgia firm to build first phase
Officials from Yokohama Tire Company confirmed Thursday the selection of Athens, Ga.-based Kajima Associates/Architects & Engineers to design and build the first phase of its Clay County manufacturing plant location scheduled to begin operation in October 2015. Golden Triangle Development Link CEO Joe Max Higgins, whose economic development team played a lead role in luring the global tire manufacturer to the Golden Triangle, said Thursday the announcement marks the next step in the construction process.
Clay County establishing economic development district
To date, Clay County has not had an economic development district. That will change Monday when a seven-member Clay County Economic Development District board will hold its first meeting at 9 a.m. Monday at the Clay County Courthouse. The first item of business for the new entity will be to authorize the purchase of property worth approximately $10 million for the Yokohama tire plant, Golden Triangle Development Link CEO Joe Max Higgins said.
Meat plants often cited; records show food safety violations
In the past decade, more than two dozen Mississippi slaughterhouses and meat-poultry processing plants have violated federal laws intended to protect consumers, and several have done so repeatedly. Some breached sanitation guidelines. Some violated food safety standards. Most had a combination of both. The one with the highest number of violations responded by saying they take all rules and regulations seriously and, when infractions do occur, they work quickly to correct them. The Clarion-Ledger analyzed 10 years of records from the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service database of enforcement action against federally inspected facilities. Mississippi has 50 such facilities owned by 35 companies. Among them, they have racked up 69 violations resulting in 31 enforcement actions.
Hinds judge blocks open carry law
The enactment of a law that supporters say only "clarifies" the rights of Mississippians to openly carry a weapon has been blocked by Hinds County Circuit Judge Winston Kidd. Kidd extended an earlier ruling Friday, saying the law "is unconstitutionally vague and shall not take effect until such time as the Mississippi Legislature reviews, amends or clarifies" it.
AP analysis: U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Voting Rights Act alters Mississippi election dynamic
Because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Mississippi and other states with a history of racial discrimination no longer need federal preclearance to change their own voting laws. Now, it's time for Mississippi to prove what many of its politicians have been saying: That the state has matured, and that people won't try to disenfranchise their fellow citizens. "We're not the same old Mississippi that our fathers' fathers were," Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, declared hours after the Supreme Court handed down its June 25 decision in a case from Shelby County, Ala. However, some Mississippi voting-rights experts still see evidence of racially divided politics.
Editors share stories of Mississippians who left home and returned
"Mississippi isn't a state, it's a club," the late Willie Morris once wrote. The Yazoo City native and author of such classics as "North Toward Home" and "My Dog Skip" is just one of the many Mississippians featured in the new book "Coming Home to Mississippi" edited by Charline McCord and Judy Tucker and available through University Press. The 230-page anthology with its rustic front porch cover art by Clinton painter Wyatt Waters, is a perfect sequel of sorts to McCord and Tucker's 2008 work "Growing Up in Mississippi." "Coming Home" is a collection of thoughts and vignettes about Mississippi from Mississippians who have left the state for love or loss, for a career or just to chase a dream.
Names already popping as possible Janet Napolitano replacements
TSA chief John Pistole, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and a host of names from the Hill are popping up in the initial round of possible replacements for outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Hill names in the rumor mill include House Homeland Security ranking member Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). He got an endorsement from Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), a member of the panel, although Thompson has blasted TSA in recent years over concerns about racial profiling, a lack of minority contracts and privacy-invading body-scanner machines. Thompson "would bring diversity to that position, who has incredible, really in-depth knowledge. He understands the ports system, where we're seeing some of our biggest threats," Sanchez told Politico.
Glenn Greenwald: Edward Snowden has NSA 'blueprints'
Edward Snowden has very sensitive "blueprints" detailing how the National Security Agency operates that would allow someone who read them to evade or even duplicate NSA surveillance, a journalist close to the intelligence leaker said Sunday. Glenn Greenwald, a columnist with The Guardian newspaper who closely communicates with Snowden and first reported on his intelligence leaks, told The Associated Press that the former NSA systems analyst has "literally thousands of documents" that constitute "basically the instruction manual for how the NSA is built."
Zimmerman not-guilty verdict unlikely to be the end of Trayvon Martin saga in court
It's over. But it's not really done. The not-guilty verdict that sounded so final, so utterly unequivocal, in Courtroom 5D of the Seminole County courthouse Saturday night has quickly given way to a kaleidoscope of demonstrations across the country, debate about wrongful-death lawsuits and Web-site-crashing demands for the filing of federal civil rights charges. On Saturday night, George Zimmerman was able to shed the GPS device that had monitored his movements before he was acquitted of manslaughter and second-degree murder charges in the death of teenager Trayvon Martin. But the drama over the case persists, and it promises to go on and on.
IHL Changes Formula Model
The Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees has changed the way that funding will be allocated to eight public state universities that puts more emphasis on positive outcomes, not just enrollment. How will the new funding formula impact the universities in the Delta? Commissioner of Higher Education Hank M. Bounds says as population shifts continue to impact the Delta, universities in that region must work harder to attract students from a wider region. Greg Redlin, vice president for finance and administration, Delta State University, says the new formula is an improvement over a previous formula.
MUW working to update school archives
Mississippi University for Women will store its archives in another building until library renovations are completed. When the work is completed, the archives will be moved to the second floor of the library. MUW archivist Derek Webb says in a news release that volunteers will go folder by folder making sure the papers are free of contaminants before moving them. He says a new project this fall will let students intern in the archives.
USM professor working to preserve underwater forest in Gulf of Mexico
Divers have discovered an underwater forest in the Gulf of Mexico about 10 miles off the coast of Mobile, Ala. It's called the Bald Cyprus Forest. It was buried in 60 feet of water under ocean sediments and protected in an oxygen free environment for more than 50,000 years, until Hurricane Katrina and hurricanes following. This underwater world has drawn the attention of researchers, including an assistant professor at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.
Teach for America growing in Mississippi
Janee Ford is one of hundreds of aspiring educators wrapping up a five-week course at Delta State University, part of the Teach for America program. This fall, she'll step to the front of a Mississippi classroom for the first time as a teacher. "Of course I'm scared," she said. "It'll feel like the first day of school for me all over again." About 200 members TFA members will do the same across Mississippi this fall. Another 200 or so will start the second year of their two year commitment to the state's students.
U. of Alabama's tuition mid-range among similar universities
The cost of attending the University of Alabama remains in the middle of the pack compared to similar flagship institutions in the Southeast, even as undergraduate tuition at UA has more than doubled during the past decade. The average annual tuition and fees for undergraduates at UA has increased from $4,134 for Alabama residents in 2003 to $9,450 beginning this fall. The average tuition for undergraduates from out of state has increased from $11,294 to $23,950. In state, UA's tuition rates for the fall remain cheaper than Auburn University, whose board of trustees voted this year to increase annual tuition for undergraduates to $9,852 for residents and $26,364 for non-residents.
U. of Alabama start-up advances to Alabama Launchpad finals
A team led by an University of Alabama MBA student has advanced to the final stage of a statewide start-up competition. Sloan McCrary and his start-up, e-Electricity, have a shot at $100,000 in prize money when the finals of the 2013 Alabama Launchpad Start-Up Competition are held in September. The company, which is developing technology that will allow portable electronic devices to be charged wirelessly, will compete with two teams from Birmingham and two teams from Auburn, whittled down from the original 27-team competition.
Summer enrollment down at U. of Georgia, lowest since 1990s
Summer enrollment is down at the University of Georgia for the third straight year and is now at its lowest in 14 years. Final figures show a summer semester student count of 13,562 at UGA's Athens and extended campuses, said Tracy Giese, public relations coordinator in the UGA Office of the Vice President for Instruction. That's down 2.1 percent from last year, a smaller decrease than in the previous two years. This summer's 13,562 students is the lowest summer enrollment at UGA since 1999.
South Carolina colleges lead the league -- in their high tuition costs
South Carolina public colleges are among the country's most expensive state-backed schools. S.C. college officials blame their high tuitions and fees, in part, on the small amount of money that they get from the state, compared to public schools in other states. But top S.C. politicians say the state's public colleges should do a better job of finding savings so that they can keep students' costs down. The cost of attending South Carolina's public colleges is expected to be an issue in the gubernatorial campaign next year. State funding for S.C. four-year colleges dropped 40 percent, or $167 million, between 2002 and 2011, according to the state Commission on Higher Education records.
U. of Florida hires surgeon involved in controversy at U. Kentucky
University of Florida officials said they are confident in the skills of incoming cardiothoracic surgeon Mark Plunkett, whose surgery program at the University of Kentucky has been suspended since late last year for reasons that have not yet been publicly disclosed. Dr. Plunkett will resign from the University of Kentucky Aug. 14; UF officials said he will start at UF in the coming months. "There was a team of people involved in recruiting Dr. Plunkett. We are very aware of the situation in Kentucky," said Tim Goldfarb, CEO of Shands HealthCare. "We are very comfortable with Dr. Plunkett about his competence as a surgeon."
National designation for U. of Kentucky's Markey Cancer Center could boost economy
Gaining a National Cancer Institute designation will transform more than just the University of Kentucky's Markey Cancer Center, according to officials with some of the 67 other medical centers with the prestigious designation. "There's definitely a multiplier effect," said Dr. George Wilding, director of the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center. "You end up with thousands of jobs and millions and millions of dollars." UK's Markey Cancer Center employs 550 people. The NCI designation will undoubtedly bring more jobs and help spawn new businesses, said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK's executive vice president for health affairs.
Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin to step down, will stay on as professor
Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin, who oversaw the school's athletics move to the Southeastern Conference, multimillion budget cuts and the largest outsourcing contract by a public university, announced Friday that he plans to vacate the job in six months. Loftin, 64, said in a press release that he will step down as president on Jan. 13, one month shy of his four-year anniversary in the role, and resume teaching. The Navasota native was named the 24th president of A&M in February 2010. Loftin, an A&M graduate in the class of 1970, also plans to establish an institute at A&M to focus on simulation in human behavioral modeling in terrorist organizations and the spread of diseases among human and animal populations.
Transition to teaching not uncommon for university presidents
In the tradition of "once an Aggie, always an Aggie," the end of R. Bowen Loftin's time as president does not signal the end of his time at the university. In his resignation announcement, Loftin said he will be returning as a tenured professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and will help establish an institute that will focus on "advanced, state-of-the-art modeling and simulation in human behavioral modeling in terrorist organizations and the spread of diseases among human and animal populations." This follows an A&M trend of retaining former presidents after their time as the university's top administrator.
U. of Missouri seeks input on chancellor
The University of Missouri will have two public forums this month to gather input on what to seek in the next chancellor of the Columbia campus. MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said last month that he will retire in November. A search committee to find his replacement is expected to be announced soon. The forums are being sponsored by the MU Faculty Council, Staff Advisory Council, Missouri Students Association and Graduate Professional Council.
Radium game: The life and legacy of U. of Missouri researcher Herman Schlundt
In its early days as a chemistry building, Pickard Hall was home to a man whose ambition blinded him to the risks he posed to himself and students who trusted him. Almost 80 years after his death, the university is still cleaning up after him. Herman Schlundt was an MU researcher who made significant contributions to science by extracting and refining radioactive metals from low-grade ore and industrial waste. The reckless way he conducted his work reflected ignorance of the dangers of radiation in the early 1900s. Two campus buildings and an endowed professorship in chemistry still bear his name. In his 35 years at MU, he influenced hundreds of careers. He also left a big mess.
Many States Increased Student Aid Despite Recession, Data Show
Even as state spending on higher education was being propped up with federal stimulus money, states increased their amount of student financial aid by nearly 2 percent during the 2011 fiscal year, and used a larger share of that money for need-based aid than they had since 2003, according to an annual survey released on Monday. While the total increase is relatively small, after adjusting for inflation, the survey reveals that many states shifted financial-aid dollars away from merit-based aid and nongrant aid, such as loan forgiveness and work-study, in order to spend more on grants based on financial need. And the data indicate that many states focused their financial aid on the neediest students, with 60 percent of the dollars going to families with incomes less than $40,000 annually.
Outsourcing and new revenue are dominant themes at annual business officers' meeting
Looking at the schedules and programs of the annual meeting of the National Association of College and University Business Officers is a peek into the zeitgeist of the financial side of the house. A major theme of this year's meeting, which began in Indianapolis Sunday, is rebuilding. After years of budget cuts, efficiency measures and right-sizing, the business sides of many colleges and universities are starting to think about how they can find capital and reinvest money in the programs on which they want to bet their futures. And for some of them, that means getting out of some of the areas they've been in for decades.
Who Ruined the Humanities? | Lee Siegel (Opinion)
Author Lee Siegel writes in The Wall Street Journal: "You've probably heard the baleful reports. The number of college students majoring in the humanities is plummeting, according to a big study released last month by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. The news has provoked a flood of high-minded essays deploring the development as a symptom and portent of American decline. But there is another way to look at this supposed revelation (the number of humanities majors has actually been falling since the 1970s)."
BP is just having buyer's remorse on spill settlement | Jim Hood (Opinion)
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood writes for The Times-Picayune: "Along the Gulf Coast, we are all too familiar with BP's disingenuous advertisements. Since the Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 20, 2010, we've been subjected to BP's protestations that it is trying to 'make things right.' Three years and thousands of ads later, nothing could be further from the truth. While the oil was still encroaching on our shores, BP spent millions to paint a rosy (albeit false) picture of what was taking place in our backyard in an effort to convince investors on Wall Street that it was a responsible corporate citizen. ...Every step of this long, drawn-out process, I held out hope that BP would do the right thing. Every ad and public statement from BP mentions its 'commitment to the Gulf.' Sadly, BP has broken its 'commitment' when it comes to compensating victims through a legal process it helped create."
Is your favorite tax break safe?
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "Have you asked your Senators to save your favorite tax break? Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, have given senators until July 26th to tell them what tax breaks need to be saved as they begin writing tax reform legislation. In a letter to colleagues late last month, the two senators announced they would begin a 'blank slate' approach to tax reform..."
Our view: No excuses, fund education
The Dispatch editorializes: "Again this year, Mississippi's eight public universities will raise tuition. Mississippi State's tuition will jump the most, an 8.1 percent increase. Since 2004, tuition has skyrocketed by 57 percent, mainly because the state has not kept its commitment to education. Those costs are passed on to students and parents. Our state leaders talk a lot about the importance of education. They say an educated population is essential to the state's future. Virtually every ill that afflicts our state -- poverty, unemployment, poor health, crime -- are a direct reflection of the state's unwillingness to invest in education."
Don't expect to halt a pipeline in this deregulated environment | Michael Newsom (Opinion)
The Sun Herald's Michael Newsom writes: "Unless you've been living under a boulder this past week, you've probably heard about this little ol' oil pipeline running from Semmes, Ala., crossing under the Escatawpa River to Chevron's Pascagoula refinery. There wasn't much discussion while it was being developed, and now it's under construction. Last week, all sorts of questions came up about the state's role in regulating the plan after South Mississippians began to hear about the project through news reports."
State needs more men like Jim Bean | Roger Wicker and Ronnie Musgrove (Opinion)
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove remember former lawmaker Jim Bean of Hattiesburg: "Jim Bean was once a mentor to both of us as freshmen state senators. Jim was a personal friend as well as a colleague. As soon as we learned of his recent death, we got in touch with each other by phone. What follows is a short version of our reminiscing."
Choctaw Books, the Smith family's gift to Mississippi, closing its doors
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Given our relatively small population, Mississippi is fortunate to have a number of really great book stores --- established places like Oxford's Square Books, Lemuria in Jackson and Reed's Gum Tree in Tupelo and emerging new stores like Turnrow Book Company in Greenwood. But as I learned while selling and signing my own book, those great stores don't become great without the people who own and operate them -- the bookmen. People like Richard Howorth, John Evans, the Reed clan and many others. There are also some wonderful book women in the business as well. Yet if a Mississippian has a love of old and rare books -- and a particular affinity for Mississippi literature, history and culture -- they have had no better friends than the Smith family at Jackson's venerable Choctaw Books at 926 North St. in Jackson. The store specializes in the history of Mississippi, the South and the Civil War, along with Mississippi literature. Sadly, Choctaw Books will close its doors Sept. 30."

One fan's perseverance helped Mississippi State to overcome obstacles
Two days before Kendall Graveman threw the first pitch of Mississippi State's postseason run, he sat in the third base dugout at Dudy Noble Field wiping tears from his eyes. Instead of the month-long journey ahead of him, one that would end in Mississippi State's first appearance in the College World Series finals, he focused on three seconds that had transpired nearly 60 years ago. Three seconds that changed Graveman's future, the baseball program and forever the life of Donnie 'Doc' Prisock.
Mississippi State's Russell enjoys chance to work Manning passing camp
While growing up his entire life in the state of Mississippi, Tyler Russell has learned a valuable lesson. When Archie Manning calls you, answer the phone. Russell's result from taking that phone call allowed him to be one of the few participants in the nationally recognized 18th annual Manning Passing Academy this past week at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux. "I am honored to be asked by the Manning family to participate in the Manning Passing Academy," Russell said Wednesday. "I look forward to working with knowledgeable NFL coaches and elite NFL quarterbacks, and applying what I learn toward a successful senior season back in Starkville."
Mississippi College does not make cut for Division II
You can choose Division II. But that doesn't mean Division II will choose you. Mississippi College was not on the list of schools accepted into Division II's provisional membership status, according to an NCAA release this week. A Division II member in the 1990s, Mississippi College was forced to vacate the 1989 Division II football national title. They were not one of the two schools to make the cut into the first year of provisional membership. Two schools in Alabama, Auburn-Montgomery and Spring Hill were accepted.
Out of the locker: Gay athletes at U. of Georgia mostly silent, but support grows
Seven years before NBA player Jason Collins made news as the first active male professional athlete in a major team sport to reveal publicly he was gay, Joey Fisher's teammates learned about his sexual orientation. The goalie on Georgia's club ice hockey team first told a couple of members of the squad personally and then made an update on his Facebook page that indicated he was gay. Then he went to talk to his coach about it. It turned out the Georgia Ice Dogs were "100 percent supportive, which I was really kind of shocked about because the world of athletics is probably a little behind the gay rights movement." There are 650 student-athletes at Georgia. None are out publicly, including in the most visible sports, but there are some that are open about their sexual orientation within their team.
Aggies may get cool advantage on the sidelines: High-tech benches
Every single advantage helps in the ultra-competitive Southeastern Conference. Texas A&M athletic officials seek to implement a new form of chilling technology on the sidelines of Kyle Field this fall, and it's not just going to refresh players running head coach Kevin Sumlin's high-octane offense or soothe the fiery passion of superstar quarterback Johnny Manziel. Officials said cooling benches will help keep players safer and more rejuvenated and hopefully even give them an edge on the football field. The bench essentially creates a bubble of cool air that is said to be like walking into an air-conditioned room -- a far cry from the normal Texas temperatures that can crack triple digits.
Johnny Manziel leaves Mannings' camp early
Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel left the Manning Passing Academy football camp a day early after missing some of his assignments as a counselor and coach. "After missing and being late for some practice assignments, Johnny explained that he had been feeling ill. Consequently, we agreed that it was in everyone's best interest for him to go home a day early," read a statement emailed Sunday by a camp spokesman. The camp, held at Nicholls State, is run by former Saints quarterback Archie Manning and his sons, the Broncos' Peyton and the Giants' Eli. It began Thursday and ended Sunday.
Texas A&M looking for 'models' to immortalize in Kyle Field monument
Hundreds of Texas A&M students are quite literally competing for the chance to become enshrined in Aggie lore. University officials are soliciting the help of 12 Texas A&M students to model for a life-sized statue honoring the 12th Man that will be built outside of the east entrance when Kyle Field gets its $450 million makeover. The War Hymn Monument will depict the students "sawing varsity's horns off" -- an Aggie tradition in which fans hold onto each other and sway side-to-side. University officials said the statue won't be an exact likeness of the students and that their names will not make it onto the monument. Instead, the artist will use the students' bodies, clothes and poses as inspiration. Still, the chance to be enshrined on hallowed ground has many students fired up.

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