Monday, August 12, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State students move into residence halls for fall semester
Mississippi State University welcomed new and returning students to campus Aug. 10 as they moved into campus residence halls. According to Director of Housing and Residence Life Ann Bailey, nearly 3,000 students were checked in by noon. The 8th annual Movin' You to MSU was held this year and marks the opening of all residence hall for thousands of students. "I am exhausted, but I'm so excited," said incoming freshman Samuel Hansen.
New Students Move Onto Mississippi State University Campus
Thousands of new and returning students are taking over the Mississippi State University campus to get ready for the fall semester. Saturday was the 8th annual "Movin' You to MSU" Day, where each residence hall is back open for the semester. The university says more than 500 of their volunteers are helping incoming freshmen move onto campus for the first time.
Students return to Mississippi State University campus
Saturday marked the beginning of a new chapter for thousands of Mississippi State University students.
Record Freshman Class at Mississippi State University
Mississippi State University in Starkville is expecting a record freshmen class this year. President Mark Keenum tells Newscenter 11 that 3,000 freshmen are expected there this fall. That's the first time ever in the school's history. Keenum says overall enrollment will be more than 20,000 students. Classes begin on August 19th.
Mississippi State University Alumni Host Meridian Fundraiser
The Lauderdale County Chapter of the Mississippi State University Alumni Association hosted an alumni golf tournament Friday at Briarwood Country Club. The purpose was to raise money for scholarships at the university. MSU president, Dr. Mark Keenum, attended the event. He says the alumni can help spread positive things about the university. "When I talk to our alumni, I tell them you are the best ambassadors we have for our university for prospective students and parents of prospective students to see the success of Mississippi State graduates, and I want my son or daughter to be like them," Keenum said.
UM, MSU set game-day changes
Football fans at the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University campuses for games this fall will see significant changes in parking and a few in tailgating. Mississippi State has temporarily lost about 700 parking spaces due to ongoing construction to expand Davis-Wade Stadium. "It's going to be a challenging season for us, but the athletic department and the university proper have spent a great deal of manpower and time into making changes work," said Sid Salter, MSU's director of university relations. "We'll be ready to welcome people onto campus for a great game-day experience."
Mississippi State's Davis Wade Stadium expansion on schedule
One year ago this month, a $75 million construction contract was awarded to Harrell Contracting Group of Jackson following a sealed bid process. Bobby Tomlinson, associate athletic director of facility management and construction, spent some time last week talking about the expansion's progress. Because the 2012 season was just getting underway when the contract was signed, only minor infrastructure work could be done until November 2012, when the season ended. At that point, things sped up. Progress has been steady. "We're on schedule," Tomlinson said Thursday. "In fact, they are putting the restroom stalls in right now as we speak." The restrooms are part of the west side renovation at Davis Wade. That part of the expansion will be ready for this season's home opener against Alcorn State University on Sept. 7.
Pannell holds rugby tournament's fate over mayor's head
Mississippi State University rugby coach Randy Pannell told city officials Tuesday he's willing to pass on a proposed tournament and its projected $451,000 in economic stimulation if mayor Parker Wiseman continues to make negative comments to the media about Starkville Parks Commission Chairman Dan Moreland. Pannell's speech highlights a growing wedge between political ideologies in Starkville. During the mayoral campaign season, then-GOP candidate Moreland crafted a succinct platform: He was pro-business, while the former administration, led by Wiseman, crafted numerous pieces of legislation that prevented job and business growth. Now Pannell, who openly supported Moreland's work with Starkville Parks, said he was willing to take business out of town if Wiseman, via the Dispatch specifically, again criticized the former mayoral candidate.
MSU distances itself from Pannell after outburst
Mississippi State University distanced itself from Randy Pannell, a Ward 6 resident who sharply criticized Mayor Parker Wiseman during Tuesday's board of aldermen meeting for perceived dust-ups with Starkville Parks Commission Chairman Dan Moreland. Pannell, whose name was originally given to the Dispatch as Randy Pounds by the city, railed on Wiseman Tuesday and threatened to pull out of a potential rugby tournament between Southeastern Conference clubs if the mayor continued to criticize Starkville Parks Commission Chairman Dan Moreland through the Dispatch. Pannell identified himself as MSU's rugby coach, but MSU University Relations Director Sid Salter said Pannell is actually listed in the university's system as an advisor for the club. Pannell, Salter said, is not an MSU employee and is not authorized to speak for the university.
JCJC, Mississippi State develop partnership that helps poultry science students, industry
Jones County Junior College's poultry science students will enjoy more of a seamless transition when they head to Mississippi State University, thanks to a two-plus-two agreement. JCJC President, Dr. Jesse Smith and MSU President, Dr. Mark Keenum announced the agreement would affect students beginning this fall, allowing specific courses in JCJC's curricula to transfer to MSU's poultry science program. The state's poultry industry annually generates $2.47 billion, representing 33 percent of the state's total agricultural value. "This collaboration between our university and JCJC is a win-win for both institutions and for the state of Mississippi as we prepare well qualified professionals to work in a field that is of tremendous importance to our economy," Keenum said.
Michael Galaty heading MSU anthropology department
Award-winning survey archaeologist Michael Galaty is the new head of Mississippi State University's Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures. Before officially assuming his duties, Galaty was an anthropology professor and chair of the sociology and anthropology department at Millsaps College in Jackson. His current research interests include the archaeology of the Balkans, archaeological survey, ceramic petrology, and the formation of states. Currently, he is directing the Shala Valley Project, an international, interdisciplinary effort aimed at surveying a high-altitude, northern Albanian valley.
Mississippi State engineer takes national post
Robert Green has been elected president of the National Society of Professional Engineers. Green is a research engineer and undergraduate coordinator for the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University. Green was installed as president of the organization during its recent national conference in Minneapolis. He is the second Mississippi State University engineer to serve as the organization's president. In 1970-71, Harry Simrall, the university's dean of engineering, served as the national leader.
People in the News: Mississippi State University
Melissa Tenhet is the new director of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at MSU after serving as the center's interim director for three months. She will also be a part-time instructor of human development and family studies in the School of Human Sciences. She has a bachelor's degree in human development and family studies with an emphasis in child development and a master's degree in counseling with an emphasis in child development, both from MSU.
Fire officials offer home inspections
As students reconvene for the fall semester at Mississippi State University, rental properties flood with additional tenants, and more tenants can mean an increase in potential fire hazards.
Sorority breaks ground
It's been about 25 years since Alpha Delta Pi last closed its chapter at Mississippi State University -- long enough ago to have happened before many of the chapter's current members were born.
Mississippi State, tribe bringing school-based farms to fruition
A partnership between two Mississippi State University alumni and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is bearing fruit under three hoop houses next to Conehatta Elementary School. For 10 years, Dick Hoy, Class of 1976, and Jim McAdory, Class of 1998 and an MSU Extension agent for the tribe, have been exchanging tips on agriculture and greenhouse operations. This year, they broke ground on the first of at least three school-based farms designed to teach students about gardening and healthier eating.
Pastures and forages face new battles across Mississippi
Forage producers and their livestock are not the only ones admiring the plentiful bermudagrass fields and pastures across the state this year. Another invasive insect has arrived in Mississippi, this time to take a bite out of potentially strong hay yields. Blake Layton, entomologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said stem maggots probably arrived in 2011, one year after they were first detected in Georgia. Rocky Lemus, Extension forage specialist, said some fertility research in Starkville shows more stem maggot damage on plots that received higher nitrogen amounts compared with lower rates or no applications.
Invasive stem maggots threaten state's pasturelands
Forage producers and their livestock are not the only ones admiring the plentiful bermudagrass fields and pastures across the state this year. Another invasive insect has arrived in Mississippi, this time to take a bite out of potentially strong hay yields. Stem maggots are joining the list of invasive species in the state that includes fire ants, fall armyworms, kudzu bugs, and once upon a time, boll weevils. Blake Layton, entomologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said stem maggots probably arrived in 2011, one year after they were first detected in Georgia.
Mississippi State sweet potato field day set for Aug. 22
Sweet potato growers, crop consultants and other agricultural professionals can learn about recent weed, insect and disease control research during an upcoming field day. Researchers and specialists with Mississippi State University's Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment station will host the event Aug. 22 at the Pontotoc Ridge-Flatwooda Branch Experiment Station located at 8320 Highway 15 South.
Ex-mayor's embezzlement trial rescheduled again
Former Southaven Mayor Greg Davis' trial on charges of embezzlement and false pretense has been rescheduled for a second time. DeSoto County District Attorney John Champion tells The Commercial Appeal Davis' trial was scheduled for Aug. 19 but has been continued until Dec. 9. Davis, 47, was indicted by a DeSoto County grand jury on the felony charges in December. One of the charges is false pretense involving a $1,000 check Davis received from the city for a donation intended for the Bully Bloc, a political action committee at his alma mater, Mississippi State University. Investigators say the PAC never received the donation.
DA won't pursue felony charges against daycare worker
District Attorney Forrest Allgood will not pursue felony charges against a Starkville daycare worker who admitted to giving two children a powerful muscle relaxer that sent them to the emergency room almost a year ago, The Dispatch has learned. Allgood did not respond to calls, but according to assistant district attorney Lindsay Clemons, who helped with research on the case, the district attorney's office cannot pursue felony charges against Diana Covin, 52, because the evidence from the medical records fails to prove serious bodily injury, which was required under Mississippi Code Section 97-5-39. "The problem is with the way the statute was drafted," Clemons said. "You have to have the injury, not just the potential of injury." Covin was arrested by the Starkville Police Department on June 6, 2012. During questioning, authorities say she admitted to giving the children Tizanidine, a powerful muscle relaxer.
KiOR reports second-quarter loss
KiOR on Thursday reported a second quarter 2013 net loss of $38.5 million, or 36 cents per share. This is a 7.2 million increase in net loss from the year's first quarter. The second quarter ended July 30. The Texas-based alternative fuel company, which has a plant in Columbus, reported a net loss of $31.3 million, or 30 cents per share, during this year's first quarter. KiOR's plant in Columbus is a Biomass Fluid Catalytic Cracking unit. The plant converts biomass into renewable crude oil to produce vehicle oil that can be used in cars while reducing greenhouse emissions by 80 percent when compared to fossil fuels, according to the company's president and CEO Fred Cannon. Cannon said the Columbus plant has made "significant operational progress."
State vehicles may be more cost effective
Mississippi spends millions of dollars a year on the purchase, upkeep and fuel for its fleet of about 7,500 state government vehicles. But it also spends millions of dollars a year in reimbursement for employees to travel in their personal vehicles. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves notes a one-year moratorium he successfully pushed through the Legislature in 2012, plus a mandate that agencies reduce their fleets by 2 percent over five years saved the state $12 million in just one year. He said the moratorium didn't include law enforcement and emergency vehicles, "those with lights on top of the vehicle." But Gov. Phil Bryant and others say the state in many cases could be saving money by giving an employee a state car instead of reimbursing for mileage.
Analysis: Bryant may not get jobless rate blame
Is Mississippi's high unemployment rate a threat to Gov. Phil Bryant's popularity? It's hard to tell, but the governor might think so. Mississippi is saddled with the nation's third-highest jobless rate, at 9 percent in June. While the nation's unemployment rate has slowly improved, the jobless rate in the Magnolia State has remained stuck at 9 percent or above in every month except one since the Republican took office in January 2012.
State travel spending: Up, up and away -- on your dime
Mississippi government agencies and boards have faced budget cuts in recent lean years, but unlike the private sector, most haven't scrimped on travel. State travel spending -- reimbursing officials for mileage, meals, hotels and other expenses -- was up from $37 million in 2012 to more than $40 million for fiscal 2013. Out of state or out of country travel to conferences was also up, from $6.9 million to $7.3 million. In many cases, taxpayers are footing the bill for state officials to go mingle and party with the people and businesses they regulate or oversee, or who want legislation or regulation changes.
State in minority on texting/driving
Mississippi is now one of only nine states not to ban all drivers from text-messaging, according to Distraction.Gov, a U.S. Department of Transportation website. In Mississippi, teens with a beginner license are banned from texting while driving. The Mississippi Senate Transportation Committee recently held a hearing on whether the law should be expanded during the 2014 session to cover all drivers or even expanded to ban all handheld cellphone use. "We are trying to find some common ground on what we need to do," said Senate Transportation Chairman Willie Simmons, D-Cleveland. Simmons conceded the issue is a tough one for the Mississippi Legislature to tackle because of members who say they oppose laws that infringe on their "individual rights."
Amid probe, car company's plans haven't panned out
Four years ago, a startup car company announced with great fanfare big plans for the Mississippi Delta: Using money from foreign investors and other sources, it would build a massive auto plant to churn out a new line of energy-efficient cars and bring thousands of jobs to the area. It seemed like a win for everyone involved. The foreign investors who plunked down at least $500,000 for the venture would get the opportunity to stay in the United States and a path to citizenship, an impoverished area of Mississippi would get some desperately needed jobs, the state would generate tax revenues, and the political leaders involved would be able to tout job-creation prowess. Today, the place where the plant was to be remains mostly vacant except for a temporary construction trailer. The company -- GreenTech Automotive Inc. -- is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the probe is reverberating well beyond Mississippi's borders.
White: Telling the Mississippi Story
Mississippi has a rich history, and we need to be the ones telling it. That's the message Mississippi Tourism Director Malcolm White delivered to the crowd Friday morning at Koinonia Coffee House. White, the 62-year-old owner of popular Jackson restaurant and bar Hal & Mal's, is in his first year with the Mississippi Development Authority. He said he is in the business of selling Mississippi---and business is good. Most visitors to the Magnolia State, White said, come with a specific purpose---whether it's to visit family members, play golf or gamble. The trick is to sell them on our history so they will go out and see something they didn't expect.
The new age of algorithms: How it affects the way we live
They work a few hundred yards from one of the Library of Congress's most prized possessions: a vellum copy of the Bible printed in 1455 by Johann Gutenberg, inventor of movable type. But almost six centuries later, Jane Mandelbaum and Thomas Youkel have a task that would confound Gutenberg. The researchers are leading a team that is archiving almost every tweet sent out since Twitter began in 2006. A half-billion tweets stream into library computers each day. Their question: How can they store the tweets so they become a meaningful tool for researchers -- a sort of digital transcript providing insights into the daily flow of history?Tthese researchers form part of the new world of Big Data -- a phenomenon that may, for better or worse, revolutionize every facet of life, culture, and, well, even the planet. From curbing urban crime to calculating the effectiveness of a tennis player's backhand, people are now gathering and analyzing vast amounts of data to predict human behaviors, solve problems, identify shopping habits and thwart terrorists.
UMMC taps Kevin Cook as CEO for adult hospitals
Kevin Cook has been named chief executive officer of the University of Mississippi Medical Center's adult hospitals, effective July 8. "Mr. Cook is a highly qualified executive with an impressive record of leadership in health care, and his skills are a good match for our organization as we work toward our vision for the growth and development of the UMMC clinical enterprise," said Dr. James Keeton, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs.
USM grad 'Jambalaya Girl' visits Hattiesburg
Kristen Preau, a Southern Miss grad, would help her dad cook his special dish at her older brother's football and baseball games as a kid, but it was in 2005 when Preau was working for the University of New Orleans when the area was struck by Katrina. She was displaced with her family, so they found a way to raise money for the University of New Orleans community. Preau and her dad traveled to universities across the Southeast to serve jambalaya in return donations. "You want some jambalaya?!" asked Preau, in her "Jambalaya Girl" apron and fork shaped earrings. She recently landed a deal to sell her family's special "Cook me Somethin' Mister" recipe. She returned to Sam's Club in Hattiesburg on Friday to cook and to share her adventures in the cooking world.
Co-Lin Community College adds culinary arts program
The fall semester at Copiah-Lincoln Community College's Natchez campus will see a new program among its long-standing traditions of career-technical programs. With fall classes beginning Aug. 19, the culinary arts technology program will have its inaugural semester. Susanna Johnson-Sharp, who studied at Co-Lin and received her bachelor's degree from Mississippi University for Women, will teach the program.
Record number of graduates at William Carey's August graduation
Hundreds of William Carey University students walked across the stage Saturday. Thanks to William Carey's trimester system, approximately 500 undergraduate and graduate students from New Orleans, Hattiesburg and Tradition campuses received their degrees Friday and Saturday. The Smith Auditorium was packed all day with many residents, friends and family members due to the 3 out of 4 ceremonies that were held there. President of William Carey Dr. Tommy King said this August graduation is one unlike the rest.
U. of Tennessee Police get first police dogs to sniff out explosives
The University of Tennessee's police department has bought two dogs which are trained to detect explosives. In a news release Monday, the university said the Belgian Malinois dogs are trained to sniff out several types of explosives and will be used at many special events on the Knoxville campus. UT Police Chief Troy Lane said the university wants as many tools as possible to protect the campus community. The department recently sent two officers for several weeks of training with their two new canine partners.
UF Health makes up most of top salaries at U. of Florida
The top paid administrator at the University of Florida is not President Bernie Machen but Dr. Mark Bleiweis, director and chief cardiothoracic surgeon at the UF Health Congenital Heart Center. At $972,160, Bleiweis is the highest paid of the 27,000 employees of UF. As a matter of fact, UF Health administrators, doctors and professors pull down the most impressive salaries of all -- 158 of the top 200 salaries are in the UF Health system. Machen's salary is $500,158, not including bonuses. Provost Joe Glover's annual salary is $350,000. According to payroll information provided by the Human Resources Department, UF has a payroll of $1.35 billion, or about a third of the university's $4 billion budget.
Lots of foot stomping, Gator chomping for U. of Florida graduation
Roughly 2,000 participated in University of Florida commencement ceremonies Saturday. A total of 2,250 students applied to graduate. The rumble of clapping hands, foot stomps and Gator chomps filled the O'Connell Center as family and friends leaned over the metal railings and folding blue seats with their iPhones and cameras, waving frantically at the future Gator graduates below. Bundles of red and pink roses were evident in the crowd. Bernard Mair, associate provost for undergraduate affairs, presented the candidates for undergraduate degrees. One by one the graduates walked onto the stage to accept their diplomas. Three flat-screen monitors projected the graduates on-stage; some flexed, Gator chomped or did a little dance during their shining moment.
U. of Florida med students show respect, almost reverence, for donated cadavers
University of Florida anatomy professor Kyle Rarey began class Monday with something that in any other class on campus might be considered eerie: He handed each student a document titled "Instructions to Persons Interested in Donating their Bodies." The forms hold the key to the heart of what medical students learn in order to become physicians. Book learning, lectures and computerized models will teach students only so much -- it's the hands-on learning that enables them to take your pulse in the right place or locate an arrhythmia. Six people had signed the forms granting students the right to dissect their bodies.
UGA scientist: We need to predict climate-related disease changes
Global disease patterns are changing as the world heats up, and scientists need to build models that can predict future shifts, according to a University of Georgia ecologist and other scientists. "It's not enough just to say things are changing. You want to be able to predict when and where, so you can manage (new disease problems),"said Sonia Altizer, a professor in UGA's Odum School of Ecology. Altizer was lead author calling for the new modeling research published in the journal Science, co-written with Richard Ostfeld of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Susan Kutz of the University of Calgary and the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre, Pieter Johnson of the University of Colorado and Drew Harvell of Cornell University. Changes in disease patterns could have important consequences not only for human health, but for agriculture, wild animals and plants, she said.
Texas A&M System officials exploring opportunities for revenue
It's not just all about cutting and trimming within the Texas A&M University System. Top administrators are also looking at new ways to make money that are traditionally considered to be outside the realm of higher education; namely, multimillion dollar developments with apartments, restaurants, retail components and a high-end hotel. Outsourcing and audits within the $3.8 billion-system have attracted most of the attention, and scrutiny, of the efforts led by Chancellor John Sharp. But Phillip Ray, chief business development officer, said there are two sides of the same coin -- cutting costs and increasing revenues -- and that A&M is doing both.
U. of Missouri expects smaller freshman class this fall
The University of Missouri is expecting fewer freshmen on campus compared to last year, but this year's entering class still will be comparable to recent record classes. A memo from Ann Korschgen, MU vice provost for enrollment management, and Barbara Rupp, director of admissions, estimates freshman enrollment at 6,165 based on current deposits. Korschgen said in an email that the university has "long anticipated" a drop in freshmen as the number of high school students in Missouri and the Midwest declines. "We are not surprised that there is a decline for this fall in our enrollment deposits from first-time college students," she said. In spite of the decline in freshmen, Korschgen said the university's total enrollment is up.
Thousands come to U. of Missouri campus for early check-in
Incoming MU freshman Ashlie Elver, 17, of Overland Park, Kan., stood in the shade of a tree in front of her new home, Jones Hall, and surveyed the belongings that lay scattered around her. "I'm really not wanting to take all this stuff up six flights of stairs," she said, eying the bulky, boxed futon at her feet. Elver was one of about 2,000 students who arrived on campus Sunday for early check-in, a day filled with emotion, both hopeful and bittersweet, and tempered with a healthy dose of organized confusion. The desire to join a sorority was the reason most of these young women chose Sunday to move in. Indeed, about 85 percent of students moving in Sunday were planning to join a sorority, Frankie D. Minor, director of the Department of Residential Life, said. The remainder of the students included those from music groups, ROTC and athletic teams.
As maintenance backlog grows, Campus Facilities stretched thin at U. of Missouri
Curtis Hall at the University of Missouri has some issues. MU built it in 1940 and hasn't renovated it since. Cracks are spreading through drywall and bricks, in offices and hallways. Besides the cracks, Campus Facilities has plenty of other items on the building's repair list. Campus Facilities estimates it would cost less to build another Curtis from scratch than to fix all of the problems piece by piece. Curtis is in worse shape than any other academic building on campus, though Campus Facilities keeps a list of 30 buildings it says are in critical need of repair. As MU's facilities age and its maintenance budget stays flat, the list of problems grows. MU's buildings are older, its facilities budgets are lower, and its maintenance staff is spread thinner than most of the universities it competes with for students.
U. of Kentucky Healthcare releases death rates for troubled children's heart surgery program
After months of refusing to release mortality rates for its troubled pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program, the University of Kentucky reversed course Friday and issued a statement disclosing the numbers. UK Healthcare CEO Michael Karpf said the program had an overall mortality rate of 5.8 percent from 2008 to 2012. During that period, annual mortality rates ranged from 4.5 percent in 2008 to 7.1 percent in 2012. After months of refusing to release mortality rates for its troubled pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program, the University of Kentucky reversed course Friday and issued a statement disclosing the numbers. More than 500 people had signed an online petition in the past week urging UK to release information about how many children died after undergoing heart surgery at Kentucky Children's Hospital.
Tech Savvy Is Essential to Student Affairs, Survey Finds
People who work in student affairs say that using modern media -- including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube -- has become a big part of their jobs, according to the results of a new survey. That is not, of course, an earth-shattering insight. But the extent to which those and other technological tools play a role in the working lives of student-affairs professionals surprised Kevin Valliere, a graduate student in student-affairs administration at Texas A&M University at College Station, who conducted the survey.
Study suggests two distinct impacts have emerged for students who borrow
Student loan debt is much in the news of late, with a steady stream of articles about how borrowing decisions may limit graduates' ability to take certain jobs, live in certain areas, or even own a home. But what about the impact of borrowing during the college years? A study released Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association suggests that students who borrow are likely to have notably different experiences while in college from those who are able to enroll debt-free. And there are two distinct patterns for student borrowers, one with many more negative associations.
Obama signs student loan deal
It took nearly an entire summer of wrangling, but students heading to college this fall won't see dramatic student loan interest rate hikes now that President Obama signed a bill on the matter into law Friday. About 11 million college students are expected to benefit from the legislation, which brings interest rates near what they were before a temporary extension expired in June.
BILL CRAWFORD: Bryant turns manufacturing trend around
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "The peak in manufacturing jobs over the past 20 years in Mississippi occurred during the third year of Gov. Kirk Fordice's administration. In 1994, jobs in manufacturing industries averaged 261,000, according to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. Since then, average annual jobs in manufacturing have trended down, with two rare exceptions. ...Gov. Phil Bryant and his economic development team are on the verge of achieving another rare uptick in manufacturing jobs. Last year, jobs in manufacturing averaged the same as the prior year, 135,200. Not losing manufacturing jobs was a good accomplishment. Even better is recent manufacturing job growth. Through June, average jobs in manufacturing totaled 136,300, up a total of 1,100."
GEOFF PENDER: All expenses paid? Some lawmakers request reimbursement for lobbyist-funded treks | Geoff Pender (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "When the 19 Mississippi lawmakers arrived at the Sandestin Hilton in Florida last summer, they were given hotel cards to charge expenses. Lobbyists picked up a tab of more than $26,000 for the three-day junket, which included hotel, meals, deep sea fishing, golfing, several cocktail parties and very little business for lawmakers to tend to beyond sitting on a panel. ...Although some lawmakers who went described the event as all expenses paid, four House members also filed for reimbursement totalling more than $2,300 on their state expense accounts for mileage, meals and incidentals. Yet lobbying reports show lobbyists paid a total of $5,600 for the four."
MICHAEL NEWSOM: Bentz's replacement will be in a tough spot at Mississippi PSC | Michael Newsom (Opinion)
The Sun Herald's Michael Newsom writes: "Now that ol' Leonard Bentz has been hired as director of the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District, there's a big vacancy on the Public Service Commission, but it may not turn out to be such a great job. ...Gov. Phil Bryant, who has supported the Kemper County plant, will appoint Bentz's successor to the $78,000 per year job. Names of state legislators from South Mississippi have been circulating as possible replacements. They are Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula; Rep. Casey Eure, R-Biloxi; Rep. Scott DeLano, R-Biloxi; and Rep. Mark Formby, R-Picayune, all of whom are close to Bryant. Some will likely speculate that new Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes, a former long-serving state senator and close ally of Bryant's, could be considered for the appointment. But you have to wonder why on earth Hewes would want the PSC post. Actually, I'm wondering why anyone would, especially if they have some desire for a long career in politics."
SAM R. HALL: Whom might gov. tap for PSC post? | Sam R. Hall (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Sam R. Hall writes: "Gov. Phil Bryant has a big political appointment to make, and the rumor mill is already churning as to whom he will tap for public service commissioner in the Southern District once Leonard Bentz steps down to take over as director of the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District. ...The most obvious problem for whoever takes the position is how to handle upcoming votes on the Kemper County coal plant being built by Mississippi Power Co. There would be significant pressure to support any adjustments to the current agreement sought by Mississippi Power -- such as increasing the cap on how much Mississippi Power can generate in revenues from rate increases to current customers."
SID SALTER: Danger, low pay go with turf for law officers, prison guards
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Back in May, President Obama honored the nation's 143 fallen law enforcement officers at the National Peace Officers Memorial Service, an annual ceremony commemorating law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty the previous year. The president said all the right things... But in truth, the nation too often leaves lawmen to languish in a high-stress job that offers low pay and high danger. That's true here in Mississippi as well. ...As Mississippi's economy begins to recover and local governments get on firmer footing, the state's law enforcement community deserves some consideration from county and municipal governments in terms of compensation. They do a thankless job and for the most part, these officers do their jobs well."

Think different: Mississippi State loses paper for iPad playbooks
Jameon Lewis carried his iPad, tucked inside a black leather cover, to the third floor of the Leo W. Seal football complex last week. The tablet accompanies the Mississippi State wide receiver all over. It's the last thing he puts down before he falls asleep. It wakes him in the morning. "When you ain't doing nothing and football ain't on your mind, you got your iPad," Lewis said. "You just click on (the app) and learn and get better at the game when you're not doing nothing." Mississippi State purchased 100 iPads directly through Apple for its football players this spring. The university also bought 13 for the coaching staff. The cost of the players' iPads, along with AppleCare for each one, totaled $65,800 --- or $658 per tablet. "I'm hoping in two years, we saved the difference in cost," director of football operations Jon Clark said.
Bulldogs work on substitution patterns for season opener
Substitutions in the game of football might arguably be the most chaotic element a coach has to handle. In every other team sport offered at Mississippi State University, the officials stop the clock and allow substitutions to occur before both teams are set to resume action. Not in football and not in the new-school, high-tempo offense football that more schools are adapting in this new era of the game. Thanks to the high-tempo spread offenses being introduced to college football, defensive coaches have seconds to replace fatigued players and get their bodies lined up properly before the referee places the ball down for play.
Young Mississippi State linebackers get comfortable with mental side of football
Geoff Collins likes the physical attributes his linebackers bring to the table, but what's really got him excited during preseason camp is the progress he's seen from them in the cerebral part of the game. Collins, Mississippi State's defensive coordinator, pointed to sophomore weakside linebacker Matthew Wells as a prime example. "Matt Wells, the last two years he's just relied on his athleticism, which is ridiculous, how athletic he is," Collins said Saturday. "But now you see him anticipating things. The offense will send a guy in motion, he'll be telling everybody on the defense where that kid's about to go. He's not thinking about his assignment any more. He's just out there playing football, and it's really fun to watch."
Former Bulldog Womack back at MSU as coach
Pork Chop is back at Mississippi State University. After spending a decade in the NFL, Floyd Womack, or "Pork Chop" as he's affectionately known by to MSU fans, has returned to his alma mater to work as an assistant coach on Dan Mullen's staff. Womack, 34, has worked as a graduate assistant offensive line coach in the first two weeks of the football team's training camp. He has had a boyish grin every minute. "I love the smell of the grass and love football," Womack said Wednesday. "I never thought I would do this, but now it seems like it was a calling for me."
Womack enjoys return to Mississippi State
Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack is back in Starkville, where he starred as an offensive lineman for Mississippi State from 1997 to 2000. He then went on to enjoy a productive 10-year NFL career with the Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns. Womack is back at MSU as a graduate assistant coach, helping with the offensive line. He's enrolled in the Workforce Educational Leadership program (WEL). Last week, Womack sat down with a handful of media members to talk about his return.
Holmes makes most of position change with Bulldogs
In a practice setting Mississippi State University junior tight end Christian Holmes embodies the title of man without a country. To a majority of his football teams in the Bulldogs program, he is a 220-pound tight end hybrid player learning a new position so he can participate in games and help contribute to wins. On occasion to his linebacker teammates, who he sat in a positional meeting with for three years, he is the opposition, the enemy. And those linebackers remind him of that fact. "We will still talk some trash with him in practice to let him know he shouldn't have switched sides but after we're done with practice, we're so happy he's immediately helping the team," MSU senior linebacker Deontae Skinner said Saturday.
Ocean Springs' Joe Morrow takes leadership role at Mississippi State
Wide receiver Joe Morrow is embracing a new role for Mississippi State this season. With the departure of four senior receivers, including Chad Bumphis and Chris Smith, Morrow has developed a leadership role in the offense. The former Ocean Springs High standout was a highly-touted receiver and chose MSU over SEC rivals Alabama, Auburn and LSU. The sophomore knows he made the right choice. "I got more mature, learning more about the program, buying in and everything, and right now I'm all the way in," Morrow laughed. "It took me two years to get that, but it's been the right decision for me."
MSU tight end Johnson out for a week with injury
Mississippi State tight end Malcolm Johnson is out for about a week due to an injury, coach Dan Mullen said Sunday. Mullen said Johnson "probably won't be back until the start of school," which is Aug. 19. He also said backup tight end Gus Walley could be out for the season because of recent Tommy John surgery, and another tight end, Rufus Warren, is questionable for the next couple of days with a sprained ankle.
Chappelle's show: Confident Mississippi State WR ready to make mark
He begins each practice with, "Let's start the show." There's no banjo or emcee introduction in front of a studio audience. Instead, Jeremey Chappelle, emulating the Comedy Central television show that shares his last name, just whispers it to himself. "I joke around with the DBs," Chappelle said. "You ready for the show? Stuff like that." In 20 days the spotlight will glow on Chappelle and rest of the Mississippi State wide receivers in Houston's Reliant Stadium, which holds more than 71,000 people.
NCAA questions Mississippi State's Chris Jones on Ole Miss recruitment
The NCAA has interviewed Mississippi State freshman Chris Jones concerning Ole Miss' recruitment of the five-star defensive end, a source with direct knowledge of the process told The specific nature of the interview is unknown. Ole Miss and Mississippi State are the only campuses Jones visited during the recruiting process, according to several national recruiting sites. Mississippi State directed Jones to Starkville-based attorney John F. Perry for consultation on the matter. left phone messages for Perry on Sunday. The NCAA recently requested to speak with Jones through Mississippi State, but MSU did not participate in the interview, according to the source. Ole Miss declined to comment Sunday.
Prize recruit Ndoye will be available for Mississippi State's 2014-15 season
Mississippi State University will be without a four-star center for this upcoming men's basketball season. The NCAA Eligibility ruled Friday 6-foot-11 center Fallou Ndoye as a partial qualifier after the native of Senegal completed the initial-eligibility waiver. Ndoye, who starred at the nationally-recognized Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., isn't eligible to compete until the 2014-15 campaign but is allowed to receive his athletic scholarship for MSU and participate in all practices and workouts this year as a redshirt player.
MSU's Wendell Lewis out until December
Mississippi State basketball senior Wendell Lewis will be out until at least December because of a second knee surgery. The 6-foot-9 center, who missed most of last season with a fractured right knee, had surgery last week after the knee began hurting and swelling. The fracture had reopened, so new pins were inserted, and as an extra precaution, Lewis received a bone graft from his hip to keep the knee fused together. Lewis originally injured the knee early last season, limiting him to eight games. The SEC granted him an extra season of eligibility via a medical hardship request.
Mississippi State's Huddleston knows Mississippi heat, humidity
The heat and humidity of the Mississippi summer can be hard on an athlete. When it comes to kicking around a soccer ball, Tiffany Huddleston has been doing that for most of her life in the hottest part of the year. Huddleston has had to deals with temperatures in the 90s and heat index values over 100, while competing with the Starkville Academy Lady Volunteers and Mississippi Fire. Now she is back at it as a member of the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
McDonald's late miscue costs her; Miss. State junior bounced at Amateur after losing 3-up lead
Ally McDonald stood 30 feet out with a chance to wrap her Round of 32 match in the women's U.S. Amateur Open. The Mississippi State junior held a 3-up lead with four holes remaining on Thursday afternoon. All she had to do was halve No. 17 at the Country Club of Charleston in Charleston, S.C. Before McDonald swung her putter, Maria Fassi buried her 35-foot birdie putt to stay alive. Fassi forced a playoff on No. 18 and won the match on the 19th. "If I made mine, it's over," McDonald said. "And then we get to 18, and really my only bad swing of the round."
JOHN ARCHIBALD: U. of Alabama spending choices put students on the bench | John Archibald (Opinion)
Columnist John Archibald writes for The Birmingham News and "What does it say about priorities at the University of Alabama? About academics? About students? About what is important? The University can build a $9 million weight room with a would-be-waterfall and an anti-gravity treadmill, but when graduate student tutors of athletes work so much they would qualify for benefits, they got the boot. Roll Tide, guys. But back to the books with you. A change in policy at the University has capped work hours for many graduate students -- including athletic department tutors -- at 20 hours. Since most grad students spend 20 hours in teaching posts, and close to 10 hours on second jobs such as tutoring, they were told last month their athletic department gigs are up."
Vanderbilt fans still loyal despite rape case controversy
A Vanderbilt football team cloaked in controversy remains a team supported by thousands. On Sunday, even as details of the rape case involving four former Vanderbilt University football players continued to unfold, an estimated 5,000 people attended Dore Jam, the annual fan day activity for Vanderbilt's football team. Gold- and black-clad supporters stood for hours in the sultry sun, holding team posters, waving pompons and seeking autographs of the 2013 football squad. The absent few -- former players Brandon Vandenburg, 20, from California; Brandon Eric Banks, 19, from Maryland; JaBorian "Tip" McKenzie, 18, from Mississippi; and Cory Batey, 19, of Nashville -- were in jail or out on bond after being charged on Friday with five counts each of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery.
Q&A with U. of Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden
July 1 marked the end of a difficult first year for Missouri, at least competitively, as a member of the Southeastern Conference. By the end of the month, the Tigers will kick off their second football season. MU Athletic Director Mike Alden sat down this week with Tribune sportswriter Steve Walentik to discuss the state of the Missouri athletic department and some of the changes needed to be made to make the Tigers more competitive across the board in what he doesn't hesitate to call the "toughest conference in the country." Alden also shared opinions on things he believes must change to improve morale within the NCAA, which has been flooded with controversy over the past few years.
Jason Dufner receives hero's welcome home after PGA Championship
He cradled the Wanamaker Trophy on his right hip Sunday night, holding all 27 pounds like a small child. A few fans waited for autographs in the dim light at Auburn University Regional Airport, his college coach was beaming off to the side, shouts of "war eagle" filled the air. For Jason Dufner, this was a first. He had never received the hero's welcome that comes with winning a major tournament. But the 2013 PGA Championship winner had thought about this moment many times. Former Auburn coach Mike Griffin, who told story after story of Dufner as he awaited his plane, didn't flinch when asked what his star pupil could accomplish next. "Anything," Griffin said. "Literally. Anybody that can ball-strike like that, he can do anything. Sheesh almighty, I could putt for him and we'd win tournaments."
New Muscle Drugs Could Be The Next Big Thing In Sports Doping
Research intended to help people with muscle-wasting diseases could be about to launch a new era in performance-enhancing drugs. The research has produced several muscle-building drugs now being tested in people with medical problems, including muscular dystrophy, cancer and kidney disease. The drugs all work by blocking a substance called that the body normally produces to keep muscles from getting too big. "When the myostatin inhibitors come along, they'll be abused," says a bodybuilder and a physician in Greenwich, Conn., who works with professional athletes. "There's no question in my mind." If myostatin inhibitors do catch on as performance-enhancing drugs, they will become part of a larger trend in sports doping. A decade ago, performance-enhancing drugs often came from rogue chemists in unregulated labs. These days, athletes are using FDA-approved products from major pharmaceutical companies.

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