Thursday, August 1, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Sidewalk rehabilitation underway
The city has begun the second and final phase of a project designed to make the trek from downtown Starkville to Mississippi State University a little easier for pedestrians. Construction to renovate sections of the sidewalk along University Drive from Fellowship Drive to the Highway 12 bridge at the edge of city limits meeting the university began Tuesday, and City Engineer Edward Kemp said work should be complete within two weeks. Improvements made to the walkway included leveling off portions of the sidewalk that have "bucked up" over time, as well as improving handicap accessibility for areas that meet an intersection and curb.
Literacy effort has novel approach: Rivals Ole Miss, MSU to partner in contest
Under a new state law, third graders in Mississippi must read at grade level or risk being held back. This year, the Mississippi Association of Educators and two of Mississippi's biggest football rivals are teaming-up to tackle illiteracy. The MAE, along with Ole Miss and Mississippi State University, will kick off the "Be a Champion and Read Contest" later this week. The competition is only for Mississippi public school students in grades K-8. Students must read six reading-level appropriate books to enter a drawing. Two winners (an MSU fan and an Ole Miss supporter), along with two of their guests, will score the free game tickets. Additionally, they'll get the MVP treatment, like visiting the field during pregame activities.
Mississippi State helps Oktibbeha County School District boost academics
When students struggle in school, the programs in place that help them are often called "intervention." Last year, the Oktibbeha County School District faced significant struggles that resulted in significant intervention.
MSU Send-Off Party
School is just around the corner, that is for some soon to be freshmen at Mississippi State. The Lowndes County Chapter of the Mississippi State University Alumni invited alumni, friends, current students and incoming students and their parents to this years a send-off party. Students gave speeches and introduced themselves to newcomers. The event was sponsored by the MSU Alumni Association and the Office of Admissions and Scholarships.
Ellis in ICU after suffering stroke
State representative Tyrone Ellis is in ICU at Baptist Medical Center in Jackson after suffering a stroke, hospital officials confirmed Wednesday morning. Fellow House of Representatives members were notified of Ellis' hospitalization on Tuesday via email. Ellis reportedly suffered the stroke Monday night. Ellis is a Democrat from Starkville and represents House District 38.
Ole Miss chancellor at Fair: Refocus on education
University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones told Neshoba County Fairgoers Wednesday that the country and state are struggling because "the focus" on public education has been lost. Jones spoke Wednesday on the first of two days of political speeches under the tin-roofed pavilion on Founders' Square in the middle of the historic fairgrounds. Fair organizers took the unprecedented step of inviting university presidents to speak on what is a slow year at the Fair because no elections are scheduled. "We fell behind as we lost our focus on the importance of public education giving everyone the opportunity for the great American dream," said Jones. His counterpart at Mississippi State University, President Mark Keenum, will speak today.
'Tater Tots' fill seats at Neshoba County Fair speeches
Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves said if you believe in education reform, the Second Amendment, fighting Obamacare and a tight state budget, you might be a "Tater Tot." He introduced his theme saying some people call his daughter "Tater Tots" -- a play on his name -- and have even begun referring to his Senate leadership team as "Tater Tots." He said he finds that offensive because, "my daughters are a hell of a lot cuter than [Senator] Terry Brown." Playing off the Jeff Foxworthy line "you might be a redneck if...", Reeves carried the line throughout the speech and turned the "Tater Top" pejorative used toward him and his supporters instead as a descriptor for generally accepted conservative positions: "You just might be a Tater Tot, too, if you support fighting the status quo and pushing for better opportunities for our children," he said. As an off-election year, the crowd was sparse Wednesday morning for speeches with most of the political hobnobbing going on around the edges of the Pavilion.
Political speaking begins at Neshoba County Fair
Mississippi politicians are sticking to familiar themes during this non-election year at the Neshoba County Fair. Wednesday was the first of two days for speeches. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said he has fought to reduce the state's long-term debt and has pushed for charter schools and gun rights. Attorney General Jim Hood said his office has collected more than $700 million the past 9 1/2 years from "corporations that have cheated the state." Hood, the only Democrat in statewide office, said that for the past 20 years, states across the nation have drawn congressional districts with super majorities of either black residents or white residents. He said such districts have created a sharp partisan divide in Washington.
On the stump: Neshoba speeches reveal plans
The crowd was light, and a little low-keyed for political stump speaking at the 124th Neshoba County Fair on Wednesday. Nobody even got heckled. State Sen. Tony Smith of Picayune didn't speak, but he was attending his first Neshoba Fair, and trying to figure out how to explain it to fellow coastians who've never been. Maybe-sorta like Mardi Gras, he pontificated, but then again, not really. "I couldn't even explain it to my wife, when I got here last night and called her," Smith said. "It's just different. It's neat."
Mild speeches kick off this summer's 'house party'
When then-presidential candidate Ronald Reagan spoke at the Neshoba County Fair roughly 33 years ago, he said, "Nancy and I have never seen anything like this, because there isn't anything like this any place on earth." Reagan, who went on to become this country's 40th president in 1981, was probably right back then and the late president would probably still be right today: There is nothing that compares to the Neshoba County Fair. On Wednesday and today, the fair known as Mississippi's Giant House Party revved up with what it is known for: political speeches.
Meridian Day at the Fair
Wednesday is Meridian Day at the Neshoba County Fair. Organizations, businesses, and city leaders try to show off all that Meridian has to offer its neighbors. Meridian Community College, Mississippi State University, Meridian tourism, the Navy and the hospitals had the biggest setups in Founders Square Wednesday morning. They handed out door prizes and other freebies all day.
Mistrial in Mississippi Case Over Mayoral Election
Two months ago, the voters of Hattiesburg, Miss., tried to pick a mayor, but the outcome became the subject of a court battle that resulted in a mistrial on Tuesday. For now, the incumbent, Johnny L. DuPree, remains in office, while the political stalemate continues. "It's just awful," said Andy Taggart, a former gubernatorial aide who is the co-author of a book about Mississippi politics and one of Mr. Ware's supporters. "Everybody on both sides would agree with that premise. The angst of not knowing is a bad situation." The clash has rekindled discussions about racial discrimination in Mississippi, which has tried in recent years to distance itself from its Jim Crow legacy.
What's next in Hattiesburg mayoral contest?
Mayor Johnny DuPree isn't celebrating victory just yet, and the Dave Ware campaign isn't conceding defeat. Meanwhile, some Hattiesburg residents are fuming over the stunning mistrial that occurred Tuesday in the Forrest County Courthouse. "Through the various smoke screens utilized in this trial, it became clear that Hattiesburg is in dire need of transparency in its government," said Tara Fulton, a Ware supporter. The Ware camp remained tight-lipped Wednesday, with campaign manager David Morris stating the legal team was undergoing its "analysis" of the trial.
Milestone Claimed in Creating Energy From Waste
After months of frustrating delays, a chemical company announced Wednesday that it had produced commercial quantities of ethanol from wood waste and other nonfood vegetative matter, a long-sought goal that, if it can expanded economically, has major implications for providing vehicle fuel and limiting greenhouse gas emissions. The company, INEOS Bio, a subsidiary of the European oil and chemical company INEOS, said it had produced the fuel at its $130 million Indian River BioEnergy Center in Vero Beach, Fla., which it had hoped to open by the end of last year. The company said it was the first commercial-scale production of ethanol from cellulosic feedstock, but it did not say how much it had produced. Shipments will begin in August, the company said.
Alabama economic development chief: State 'on precipice of great things'
Armed with a new state branding campaign, coming off Alabama's most successful year for economic development in seven years and still flying high from landing Airbus a year ago, Greg Canfield couldn't hide his enthusiasm at the annual summer gathering of the state's economic development community. "I found it difficult to concentrate on a few things," Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, confided as he took the podium of the Economic Development Association of Alabama's summer conference. "I think the State of Alabama is on the precipice of great things." It's easy to find fuel for Canfield's optimism. The Department of Commerce and local economic developers in 2012 recruited 82 companies to the state that invested $2.8 billion and created or committed to create 6,663 jobs. The same year, they assisted 351 companies with expansions, investing $2.7 billion and creating or pledging to create 14,186 jobs.
Is President Obama helping Amazon take over the universe?
Amazon has often been in the news -- from President Obama's praise this week for the firm's job creation to the lament that it is putting independent bookstores out of business. Now, it is trying to report the news. On Wednesday, the retailer conducted a sit-down interview with Mr. Obama, which it will feature in its new Kindle Singles Corner. Last month, it did its first interview for the Singles Corner, with Israeli President Shimon Peres. Media trends make such an expansion inevitable, experts say. With its Kindle tablet, Amazon has a product it wants to sell, and one of the best ways is to create exclusive content for it. But by dipping a toe into journalistic waters, Amazon could be contributing to the trend of offering newsmakers more and more "soft" outlets where they can get out their message without hard questions.
NSA chief asks a skeptical crowd of hackers to help agency do its job
It doesn't get much stranger than this, even in Vegas. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, stood in front of a standing-room-only crowd Wednesday, selling the idea of government surveillance programs. His audience? More than 3,000 cybersecurity specialists, including some of the world's best hackers, an unruly community known for its support of civil liberties and skepticism of the government's three-letter agencies. Alexander praised the group as one of the brightest collections of technical minds in the world. He asked them to help the NSA fulfill its mission of protecting the country, while also protecting privacy. Some in the crowd weren't buying, and one hacker hurled an expletive back at him. "I'm saying I don't trust you!" a voice shouted. This is Black Hat, the annual hacker conference.
Letting pride soar: Golden Eagle statutes going up on USM campuses
A major landscape project underway on the University of Southern Mississippi campus here will be accentuated by a towering golden eagle statue commissioned and donated by alumnus Chuck Scianna. "Southern Miss plays an important role in preparing young people to go out into the world and the idea was to have something on campus that would welcome them back to the nest, so to speak," said Scianna, owner of a Texas oil industry supply company and major donor to the construction of USM's new business school building.
Delta State leads in health model
Delta State University's Healthy Campus/Community Initiative is working to inspire the rest of Mississippi to "have fun and get fit." DSU partnered with the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation and created the Healthy Campus/Community Initiative which has now led Blue Cross & Blue Shield to partner with Mississippi's eight publicly-funded schools in order to implement a University and College Health and Wellness Model. "Support from and partnership with the Blue Cross &Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation has enabled Delta State University and the surrounding community to evolve into a flagship campus for health and wellness in Mississippi," said Dr. Leslie Griffin, dean of College of Education.
Itawamba Community College health building opens today
Itawamba Community College's new health building is ready for visitors. The school will host an open house in the new facility on its Tupelo campus today from 3 to 7 p.m. The public is invited to visit, and staff members will be available to show them around the $20 million building. Although some classes were held there this summer, it will receive its first full load of students when classes begin Aug. 19. "We are extremely proud," said ICC President Mike Eaton. The Health Science Education Building will cluster eight health programs under one roof and locate them in Tupelo, near North Mississippi Medical Center, where students do most of their clinical rotations.
Meridian Community College tweaking summer commencement programs
Meridian Community College will be putting a couple of new twists on its summer commencement programs this Friday, according to MCC Dean of Student Services Soraya Welden. "Having two separate commencement programs will enable us to return graduation to campus, at least for the summer," Welden explained. MCC holds three commencement ceremonies each school year in December, May and August. In the aggregate, this year MCC has produced one of the largest number of graduates in the 75-year history of the institution.
A Classic High Achiever, Minus Money for a College Consultant
Travis Reginal and Justin Porter were friends back in Jackson, Miss. They attended William B. Murrah High School, which is 97 percent African-American and 67 percent low income. Murrah is no Ivy feeder. Low-income students rarely apply to the nation's best colleges. But Mr. Porter just completed a first year at Harvard, Mr. Reginal at Yale. Below, Mr. Porter writes about his journey.
Group to study student housing in Tuscaloosa
A task force formed to examine the student housing market will hold its first meeting next week at Tuscaloosa City Hall. "Our goal is to get a finding of the facts, understand the market conditions and use those facts as a basis of policy moving forward," said Maddox, who formed the task force in June with an executive order. "As I've reviewed the various (task force members) ... they all bring a lot of knowledge to the table and, hopefully, some very sound advice for city leaders." The chairman of the city's Planning and Zoning Commission has compiled data that shows the University of Alabama has, since 2002, added about 13,000 students for a total student population of about 33,500.
U. of Alabama nursing school receives federal grant
The University of Alabama's Capstone College of Nursing received a three-year federal grant to implement a team-based approach to working with rural patients with chronic health conditions. The college received the $997,173 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to implement the program, which is a collaboration between UA's colleges of Nursing, Community Health Sciences, Human Environmental Sciences and the School of Social Work and community partners Baptist Health Systems of Alabama and the University Medical Center.
Departing professor: Cuts have 'massacred' U. of Florida psychology department
Before Clive Wynne packed up his office belongings for his move to Tempe, Ariz., the former University of Florida professor sent an impassioned four-page letter to Tigert Hall decrying the "massacre" of the Department of Psychology. Wynne, a psychology professor who accepted a position at Arizona State University, says he enjoyed his 11 years at UF and the relationships he forged with his colleagues, crediting his time here with reviving his career after an unhappy experience in his first faculty job at a different university. "However, during that time, the Department of Psychology has not just been decimated, it has been massacred," Wynne wrote.
U. of Georgia lab tech charged in sexual assault
A University of Georgia lab technician was booked on Tuesday into the Clarke County Jail on charges he sexually assaulted a woman two weeks ago in north Athens. Athens-Clarke police said that on July 17 Harold Beal Garner accosted a 23-year-old woman at a business on Barber Street, where he touched her inappropriately, exposed himself and blocked her from getting to her car. Garner was listed in the police incident report as a UGA employee. In the school's directory, he is said to be an administrative assistant in the Department of Cellular Biology and he calls himself a lab tech on his LinkedIn profile.
At U. of Missouri, Gov. Nixon criticizes tax-cut bill's effect on higher education
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon continued to decry the impact that tax cuts in a bill passed by the General Assembly would have on institutions like the UM System that rely on state funding if his veto is overridden in September. Speaking Wednesday in front of the University of Missouri Columns at Francis Quadrangle, Nixon cited data recently released by the Department of Higher Education, which estimated that almost $67 million a year would be cut from state spending for higher education as a result of the bill. For the UM System, the reduction would be more than $31 million, according to the estimates. MU Chancellor Brady Deaton, who attended the news conference, said the Columbia campus has in the past received "close to half" of the state funding allocated to the system.
Author James Patterson Funds U. of Arkansas Scholarship
Bestselling author James Patterson has given $48,000 to establish a scholarship fund for University of Arkansas students majoring in elementary or secondary education. Chancellor G. David Gearhart says he was contacted by Patterson to discuss the possibility of the scholarship fund. Patterson has funded similar scholarships at Vanderbilt, Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin, Howard University and Appalachian State University. Patterson says he hopes the students who receive the scholarships "will make substantial contributions in the lives of their students and their communities."
Bill Setting New Student-Loan Interest Rates Clears Congress
A month after interest rates doubled on federally subsidized student loans, the U.S. House of Representatives has given final approval to a bill that ties borrowing rates to the financial markets, lowering the rates---at least temporarily. Under the bill, HR 1911, which President Obama has said he will sign into law, undergraduates would be able to borrow at a 3.9-percent rate this fall, rather than the current rate of 6.8 percent. Graduate students would face a 5.4-percent interest rate, down from 6.8 percent, and parents would pay 6.4 percent, rather than 7.9 percent. The Senate passed its version of the bill last week.
Scientists applaud Ball State president's position on intelligent design
In what First Amendment watchdogs called a victory, Ball State University's president on Wednesday spoke out against intelligent design as a viable scientific theory. At the same time, the university announced that a professor accused of proselytizing remained part of the faculty but was working with administrators to ensure his courses aligned with Ball State's view that science instruction should be about science and not religion. "Intelligent design is overwhelmingly deemed by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory," President Jo Ann Gora said. "Therefore, intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses. The gravity of this issue and the level of concern among scientists are demonstrated by more than 80 national and state scientific societies' independent statements that intelligent design and creation science do not qualify as science." The question is not one of academic freedom, but one of academic integrity, she added.
France Córdova, Former President of Purdue U., Is Named to Lead NSF
President Obama announced on Wednesday his nomination of France A. Córdova, a former president of Purdue University, to serve as the new director of the National Science Foundation. Ms. Córdova, an astrophysicist, is now chair of the Smithsonian Regents, the governing board of the Smithsonian Institution. She was appointed to that post in January, six months after ending a five-year term as Purdue's president as she neared the mandatory retirement age of 65. Ms. Córdova turns 66 on Monday. The NSF, which has an annual budget of about $7-billion, finances about 20 percent of all federally supported basic research at American universities. Ms. Córdova's nomination extends a series of top-level connections between the NSF and Purdue, which has been regularly ranked in the top 50 universities nationwide in total federal spending on research and development.
Northwestern University to Pay $3 Million in Fraud Settlement
Northwestern University agreed to pay nearly $3 million to settle claims that a former cancer researcher fraudulently used federal grant money for personal expenses, including food, hotels and airfare for family trips between 2003 and 2010. Northwestern, which is in Evanston, Ill., cooperated with the investigators and didn't admit to any wrongdoing, according to a statement by the university. "Allowing researchers to use federal grant money to pay for personal travel, hotels, and meals and to hire unqualified friends and relatives as 'consultants' violates the public trust and federal law," U.S. Attorney Gary S. Shapiro said in a statement.
Informal 'White Student Union' started at Georgia State
Fall semester won't start for several weeks, but Georgia State University has already received a handful of complaints about a new student club -- the White Student Union. Freshman Patrick Sharp said he started the club so that students of European and Euro-American descent can celebrate their shared history and culture and discuss issues that affect white people, such as immigration and affirmative action. Sharp, who is from Birmingham, Ala., enrolled this summer. Six students complained to the university after seeing his fliers around campus, said Doug Covey, vice president for student affairs. Covey said he responded to each by explaining he group is within its right to exist and that speech is protected even if offensive to someone.

Top 10 players to watch this year for Mississippi State
Mississippi State begins preseason camp today, with a 5 p.m. practice that's open to the media and general public. As the Bulldogs work toward their Aug. 31 opener versus Oklahoma State, several players will be worth watching throughout camp. The Daily Journal has come up with the 10 most intriguing players on this year's MSU squad. These players might be expected to have a big impact, or they might be stepping into a new or larger role, or they might just be a bit of an unknown commodity.
Bulldogs open practice today
The long dog days of summer see many people in the south longing for the new college football season. For Mississippi State fans, the wait is almost over, at least for practice. The Bulldogs hit the field today for the first fall practice of the 2013 campaign. "I'm very excited about this year coming back," MSU head coach Dan Mullen said in July at Southeastern Conference Media Days.
West Point's Williams picks Mississippi State
West Point High School running back Aeris Williams announced his decision to play football for Mississippi State on Wednesday afternoon inside the Green Wave athlete complex with family, coaches and teammates by his side. The 6-foot-1 and 205-pound Williams became MSU's 14th commitment for the Class of 2014. He is rated a four-star prospect (94 rating) by 247Sports and listed as the nation's ninth-best running back by 247Sports. Williams said that at the Big Dawg Camp on July 19th is when he had a good feeling about the Bulldogs. "I told Coach Mullen at the Big Dawg Camp that I just had to go home that night and talk to my mom," he said. "I told him then that I would be getting back up with him and felt good about it."
Dandy Dozen RB Aeris Williams chooses Mississippi State
On a day that Mississippi State football players arrived in Starkville for the commitment of a five-month football season, one name appeared early. Aeris Williams' friends and family crammed inside the West Point High School athletics office to hear the senior running back utter two words, "Mississippi State." The four-star prospect eliminated two schools and verbally committed to MSU about 20 miles southwest of where he stood Wednesday afternoon.
Ole Miss holds disaster exercise at Vaught-Hemingway
Emergency management and Ole Miss officials were pleased with what they learned in a first-of-its-kind emergency preparedness drill at the school's football stadium Wednesday. Roughly 60 actors, that many or more emergency responders and many more volunteers performed their tasks after a simulated explosion at 60,580-seat Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The event combined the efforts of university, city and county response teams and included actors covered with blood, a mock press conference and victims transported to Baptist Hospital. "I think it went really well," said Joe Swingle, the school's associate athletics director for facilities and game operation. "If an incident happens we have to have a unified command and make sure we're all working together." University Police Chief Calvin Sellers said his department and Oxford police often work together but that the addition of other agencies was a good test of coordinating abilities.
New plaintiffs file suit against 12th Man Foundation over re-seating process at Texas A&M
Lawsuits against the Texas A&M University 12th Man Foundation have been filed in two more Texas counties. The litigation spread across four counties has now grown to include 18 plaintiffs who are upset with the foundation's plan to re-seat longtime donors after Kyle Field's $450 million makeover. Foundation President Skip Wagner, who could not be reached for comment, has refused to directly comment on the litigation, but has maintained that the vast majority of endowed ticket holders are happy with the changes and only a handful are upset.
Appeals Court Says Ex-College Stars Can Sue Videogame Maker Electronic Arts
A federal appeals court on Wednesday cleared the way for a group of college athletes to sue Electronic Arts Inc. EA +0.19% for allegedly stealing their likenesses for its videogames. The ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco advanced a claim by former Nebraska and Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller and other ex-athletes, who allege EA used their attributes in its NCAA football and basketball games. A spokesman for EA said the company was disappointed by the ruling and would seek "further court review." EA could ask the Ninth Circuit to rehear the case or petition the U.S. Supreme Court. If the courts decline, the suit would go to trial. The ruling was the second this year in which a federal appeals court said the company couldn't use the First Amendment as a shield against legal claims.

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