Thursday, August 22, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
MSU Announces Traffic Changes
As Mississippi State begins the fall semester, university officials are encouraging students, employees and community members to be mindful of the high traffic volume, along with road closures and new directional changes due to construction. "We're encouraging students and all others to take some time to familiarize themselves with the current layout of the campus," said Dan Whatley, MSU construction administrator. "We also want employees and those from the local communities to be aware of updates and changes that have been made during the summer." Mike Harris, director of parking services, said his office is encouraging commuting students to take time to plan their campus routes based on the assigned parking zones.
College freshmen face challenges with studies
As dean of Mississippi State University's College of Arts and Sciences, Greg Dunaway knows a recurring narrative in the lives of college freshmen all too well. When students attend high school, Dunaway said, they are used to daily homework and quizzes, occasional tests and papers, and a curriculum that takes up eight hours per day, five days a week. In college, classes take less time out of each day, and Dunaway said that could deceive freshmen.
MSU Library Opens 'Think Tank'
A new meeting room on the third floor of Mitchell Memorial Library now is open to provide faculty and students with a technology-filled space designed to enhance collaborative learning and research. Presentation Room 3060 -- also known as "The Think Tank" -- will accommodate up to eight individuals. It is designed specifically for small-group meetings, Blackboard Collaborate and other web-based conference activities, group training, search committee meetings requiring Skype, and presentation practices. Presentation Room 3060 is available to university faculty, staff and students by reservation on a first-come basis.
On the rise: A sea-faring stint was the starter for this bread-maker
Troy DeRego of Starkville had never given much serious thought to how bread ends up on the table -- until he was responsible for getting it there. Oddly enough, the story begins at sea, during the New Hampshire native's college years. While pursuing a degree in fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design, DeRego spent six weeks on the ocean with the Sea Education Association, based out of Woods Hole, Mass. This summer, DeRego and his wife -- Becky Hagenston, an award-winning author and Mississippi State professor of English and creative writing -- fanned the culinary pastime into a flourishing trade at the Starkville Community Market. DeRego's Bread's hearth-baked, slowly fermented and naturally leavened baguettes, whole wheat sourdough, signature "Starkville sourdough," Portuguese biscuits and other specialties proved a hit at the weekly farmers' market. So much so, that DeRego is exploring options for expanding to a permanent storefront.
Engineers society elects Robert Green
Robert Green, a Mississippi State University veteran research engineer and undergraduate coordinator for the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering, is the new president of the National Society of Professional Engineers. Green, who has been active in the NSPE for more than 25 years, earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and a master's degree in mechanical engineering, both from Mississippi State. He also has a master's in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College. He is working toward completion of a doctoral degree in public policy and administration at MSU.
MSU's Sam Chang named fellow
Sam Chang, head of the Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion at Mississippi State University, has been named a fellow in the American Chemical Society's Agricultural and Food Chemistry Division. Chang began his career at MSU in June 2012. Earlier this year, he was named a certified food scientist by the Institute of Food Technologists. He is also a fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists and serves on the advisory board of the American Council on Science and Health. Chang is internationally renowned for his work with legumes.
Choctaw Books closes its doors after three decades of book business
Choctaw Books owner Fred Smith is emphatic that customers understand why all of his books are marked down 30 percent. "It's a store closing sale. I'm not going out of business," Smith says from behind a desk piled high with books and appraisal orders. "Its not like I'm dying." It's been a busy month for the Jackson book dealer. His fourth grandchild was born last week and he's in the middle of tracking down books for the Grant Presidential Library at Mississippi State University. Smith is also counting down the days until Choctaw's Sept. 30 closure when he will check the aisles, turn out the lights and lock the doors one last time at his little book shop on North Street in Jackson.
MSU Back In Session
The Meridian Star features the first day of classes at MSU-Meridian in photos, including: Dr. Toby Bates, Assistant Professor of History at MSU-Meridian had a full house in his 9:30 am U S History Since 1945 class. Monday, August 19 was the first day of class at MSU-Meridian. And also, Bethany Mercer, left, and Winnie Jones hang out before their 2nd class of the day at MSU-Meridian. Both girls transferred from MCC and are one of 116 elementary education majors at the university.
Crosby Arboretum to hold annual Mushroom Walk on Saturday
The Crosby Arboretum will hold its annual Mushroom Walk from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday. The University of South Alabama's Associate Professor in Biology Dr. Juan Mata will return this summer to lead the guided mushroom walk of the Arboretum grounds. Bring your own basket to collect species while learning about fungi’s ecology, taxonomy and relationship to mankind. To sign up, call the Arboretum office at 799-2311 or contact Richelle Stafne at
School consolidation committee to meet Thursday
Starkville's chapter of Parents for Public Schools and the Starkville Foundation for Public Education launched a 10-point pledge Tuesday to improve county-wide education and promote one of the area's top issues in hopes of re-sparking awareness before Thursday's first public hearing on consolidation is held. Thursday's 6 p.m. meeting at the Greensboro Center marks the first official public hearing scheduled by the consolidation committee. Parents are expected to address the seven-person board with numerous concerns, including specific input on whether one or a combination of the county's four schools should be joined with neighboring county school districts. The two school systems within Oktibbeha County educate about 5,250 students combined. Fewer than 1,000 schoolchildren attend OCSD.
Starkville board support holds for 2.78-mill tax increase
A majority of Starkville aldermen Tuesday approved advertising a 2.78-mill tax hike, even though one alderman who previously supported the notice last week opposed the matter this week. The board motion passed 4-3, with Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver, Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn casting "Nay" votes. Last week, Carver voted with the majority to proceed with the process to increase taxes. Public hearings are required before the board can proceed with the tax increase. The city faces a mid-September deadline to set its budget. Starkville aldermen proposed the tax increase on Aug. 13 in order for the city to tend to increasing expenditures, including a long-overdue pay raise for its employees, departmental requests, outside contributions and its plan to construct a new City Hall and renovate Starkville Police Department's home.
Mississippi increases graduation rate, test scores continue improvement
More students scored proficient and advanced at every grade level on the Mississippi Curriculum Test, Second Edition (MCT2) and on the Subject Area Testing Program, Second Edition (SATP2), according to test scores released Thursday by the Mississippi Department of Education. Districts also showed a four-year graduation rate of 75.5 percent, the highest rate since re-calculations were done in 2007, and a four-year dropout rate of 13.9 percent, a nearly 3 percent drop from 2012.
Mississippi insurance commissioner says he has a flood insurance solution
State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said Wednesday he'll announce a plan within 10 days to stop indefinitely the "draconian" increases in flood insurance rates that will hit in the next few years. "Other commissioners and I have grave concerns about the effects on consumers," Chaney said of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which could raise rates thousands of dollar. "I have a plan I'll initiate in the next seven to 10 days to stop the rate increases until all the studies are done. And I hope it can be done without any legal action by our department." Chaney said he couldn't give any more details of the plan until he was ready to announce it.
KiOR facing lawsuit alleging company violated federal securities laws, misled investors
Alternative fuel company KiOR faces a class action lawsuit filed by a law firm alleging the company violated federal securities laws and misled investors about the timing of production and the production capabilities of its Mississippi facility. The lawsuit alleges that -- along with not being able to keep a timetable for production it had previously given investors -- the company was not honest about its ability to produce a promised amount of volume at its first commissioned plant in Columbus. KiOR spokesperson Kate Perez said Wednesday that the company had notified its insurance carrier of the claims. "We believe that we have strong defenses to these claims, and we intend to defend them vigorously," Perez said.
Mississippi Development Authority Ponies Up $1 Million for 'One Lake'
Two years ago, after John McGowan's flood-control plan known as "Two Lakes" went down in flames, the longtime oil magnate and sometimes developer retooled his dream for a waterfront development that would hopefully protect Jackson from floods and provide an economic boon for the city. As an added bonus for the members of the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District, aka the Levee Board, which manages the Pearl's levees in those two counties and was fiercely divided over Two Lakes, McGowan offered to foot the bill for a feasibility study on the revised plan. Now it appears that Mississippi taxpayers do have skin in Jackson's flood-control game. In May, without so much as a press release announcing it, the Mississippi Development Authority gave the Levee Board a $1 million grant for the flood-control study that McGowan-backed nonprofit Pearl River Vision Foundation is putting together. Kathy Gelston, MDA's chief financial officer, said Gov. Phil Bryant, who oversees MDA, talked to the top legislative Republicans, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn, and the men agreed to the grant.
No credit card for new Southaven mayor
As a result of the scrutiny by the Mississippi State Auditor on the former administration of ex-mayor Greg Davis, newly-elected Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite will not have a city issued credit card. "I will not have a credit card," Musselwhite announced during Tuesday night's city board meeting. "Future mayors will not have a credit card. If I go to Dale's and pick up the tab, I will record that and be reimbursed. I've been in business for 21 years. I know what the IRS wants." Musselwhite said he wants to strenuously avoid any appearance of impropriety after the controversy and scandal of the past year.
Australian's slaying stirs speculation in Oklahoma
Even before his name became known worldwide -- before authorities said he and two other boys killed an Australian college student because they were "bored" -- the boy known as "Bug" had changed. His sister saw it; so did family friends: His American Eagle clothes and sweet demeanor were replaced about six months ago by drooping pants, the do-rags, and a vile stream of braggadocio, sexism and racism the 15-year-old unleashed over his social media accounts. In an Oklahoma town of about 23,000 that was 82% white, Bug, who is black, sometimes tweeted things like "90% of white ppl are nasty. #HATE THEM." A female member of Faith Church in Duncan recalled later that he'd told her, "I can't go to your church anymore because my god is black." Authorities have not tied race to the killing of Christopher Lane, a strapping young athlete from Melbourne attending East Central University in Ada, Okla., about 80 miles away. Lane was out for a jog Friday when he was shot once in the back by a gunman in a passing car.
Arkansas State University Among 3 Collaborating on Delta Leadership Institute
Arkansas State University will partner with the University of Mississippi and the University of Louisiana at Monroe to run the Delta Leadership Institute, a comprehensive regional leadership program from the Delta Regional Authority that focuses on issues affecting the Delta region. The University of Mississippi's McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement will be the administrative lead for the collaboration and will partner with ASU's Delta Center for Economic Development and ULM for program delivery, according to a news release.
A lot's different as U. of Florida classes begin
A vibrant energy filled the University of Florida campus as about 50,000 students arrived for the first day of fall classes, including about 6,400 incoming freshmen and 7,600 dorm residents. They swarmed Turlington Plaza, lined up for course materials at the UF Bookstore and hung out at the Reitz Union food court between classes, enjoying mostly sunny weather and ducking for cover during the occasional brief rain shower. Incoming freshmen had to adjust to the shock of larger class sizes than they were used to in high school, navigating a large campus, and doing things for themselves. This year marks a different experience for the UF community in a lot of ways. It is the first time in five years the university entered the academic year without facing budget and program cuts.
Regents chairman chides Louisiana lawmakers
One of the state's top higher education leaders said Wednesday Louisiana's historical ambivalence toward higher education has a lot to do with the current doldrums colleges and universities are facing where many institutions are finding it hard to recruit and retain top-notch professors, pay current faculty competitive wages and keep up with growing maintenance backlogs. Louisiana Board of Regents Chairman W. Clinton "Bubba" Rasberry also told a packed Rotary Club of Baton Rouge meeting that some state leaders say they value higher education, but their actions don't reflect that. "There are certain people in our Legislature that are inappropriately advised," he said. During his speech Rasberry said part of the state's current problems is that Louisiana has been slow to move away from the attitude that all that's required for success "is a strong back and a good work ethic."
Texas A&M University Gig 'Em Week welcomes freshmen
Gig 'Em Week has arrived at the Texas A&M University campus, with newly arrived or returning students being welcomed to A&M with daily events sponsored by campus organizations to help educate and introduce students to all Texas A&M has to offer. Beginning Monday and lasting until Sunday, Gig 'Em Week offers a range of activities for students and parents. Wednesday morning started out with the Chi Phi Car Bash to benefit St. Joseph hospital in Bryan.
Easterwood airport director Happ announces retirement amid A&M outsourcing efforts
Longtime Easterwood airport director John Happ recently announced his retirement amid ongoing outsourcing efforts by Texas A&M University. Happ was a 17-year veteran of the airport and had served as director since 2000. The 68-year-old said his Aug. 8 retirement was effective immediately. A move to outsource the management of Easterwood contributed to his decision, he said. "A decision has not been made regarding an interim director for aviation services and the university is reviewing all options," said university spokesman Shane Hinckley. "In the meantime, our existing personnel continue to operate the airport in a highly safe manner." A&M President R. Bowen Loftin and Rodney McClendon, vice president for administration, did not return requests for comment.
Aggie astronaut encourages students to be persistent
Upon arriving at the International Space Station on his first mission to space, Mike Fossum was tasked with taking pictures of a fuel tank before it drifted away. Hurrying to unstrap himself, grab a camera and position himself at a window, Fossum focused in on Earth. "What I could see was the North Atlantic with a dappling of clouds over the blue ocean and a black sky up above and this curved horizon with a thin band that is atmosphere," said the 55-year-old astronaut. Texas A&M's Dwight Look College of Engineering will welcome an incoming class of approximately 2,300 students when classes start Aug. 26. Before breaking into their books, however, more than 50 students got some advice from the Aggie astronaut, who has logged more than 194 days in space, during Wednesday's Engineering New Student Welcome. Fossum, a 1980 mechanical engineering graduate, encouraged students to work hard to fulfill their dreams "because a dream by itself, it's just fleeting. It has no substance."
KFD: Car fire in U. of Tennessee parking lot deliberately set
Knoxville Fire Department arson investigators say that a Wednesday morning fire that destroyed one car and damaged another in a University of Tennessee campus parking lot was arson. The destroyed vehicle, a 1999 or 2000 Lexus, was owned by an out-of-state student, KFD Capt. D.J. Corcoran said. The other car, a Ford Taurus, sustained minor damage. "It was definitely a set fire," Corcoran said. "At this point in the investigation, it does not appear to have been an act of retaliation against the owner, but more like a crime of opportunity for someone who just wanted to set a fire." The fire occurred around 2 a.m.
Clemson University concerned by megachurch building plans
Clemson University isn't happy with plans by Anderson-based megachurch NewSpring to build a 1,400-seat church next to the university's International Center for Automotive Research along Interstate 85 in Greenville. But the owner of the 30-acre site where the church plans to build, Miami developer Cliff Rosen, said it seems like a perfect fit to him. Clemson spokesman Cathy Sams said the university has many partners and investors in ICAR, including the city of Greenville and the state of South Carolina, "who expect the site to focus on education, research-driven economic development and job creation. While we certainly support NewSpring's expansion in Greenville, it seems that this location might not be the best fit."
Obama to unveil college rating system to lower higher education costs
President Obama on Thursday will unveil a new system to rate colleges on their affordability as he pushes proposals to help keep down the cost of higher education. The rating system which is slated to go into effect before the 2015 school year would rank colleges on criteria including cost of tuition, graduation rates, student debt and graduate earnings, according to a White House fact sheet explaining the proposal. Obama's plan would also ask Congress to tie federal financial aid grants to a school's rankings, to encourage students to attend high-performing colleges.
State funding upturn: familiar pattern or newfound importance for higher ed
Invest in higher education in good times, drain it (and expect students and families to make up the difference) when the economy sours. State governments have embraced that pattern for decades, even as many analysts deride it as flawed if not foolish. As most states set their budgets for the 2014 fiscal year this spring and early summer, public higher education fared better than it has in several years. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities reported last month that 37 of the 48 states for which it had received information showed year-over-year increases in operating support for public colleges and universities, with an average gain of 3.1 percent over 2012. Legislators in many states purposefully accompanied those increases with frozen (or severely constrained) tuition, a clear response to the political and public pressure about the rising price of college.
China's College Grads Face A New Reality: Fewer Jobs
It's been about two months since college graduation and more than 3 million graduates from this year and last still don't have jobs, according to government officials. That's not in the U.S., but in China. China is home to the world's fastest-growing major economy. But with nearly 7 million college graduates this year, a record number, finding work is tough and a worry for the ruling Communist Party.
Most Americans Unaware of Common Core, PDK/Gallup Poll Finds
Nearly two out of three Americans have never heard of the Common Core State Standards, and among those who have, fewer than half believe the new, more rigorous academic goals in English/language arts and mathematics adopted by all but four states so far will make the United States more competitive in the world, according to a new poll from Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup. Sixty-two percent of respondents in PDK/Gallup's annual national survey on public education hadn't heard of the common core. Those findings come at a particularly turbulent time in public education as the new standards and the tests being designed to measure how well students are mastering them have become the latest focus of battles over the future direction of American public schooling.
Wicker may have no use for Medicaid, but his constituents certainly do
Longtime political observer and columnist Bill Minor writes: "United States senators are supposed to come home in August to impart wisdom about congressional accomplishments to make life better for their constituents and then seek information from the home folks about how federal programs already in place are helping. Our Roger Wicker, in his obligatory interview on Mississippi Public Broadcasting last week, did neither. He of course couldn't brag about Congress' accomplishments because there weren't any, unless gridlock counts as an accomplishment. And rather than asking how federal programs are working for Mississippians, Republican Wicker proceeds to pontificate that Medicaid, a real biggie in this economically struggling state, is a failure. Medicaid, he said, 'has been a very unsuccessful program in Mississippi.' Say what? Try telling that to the 600,000 needy Mississippians who depend on Medicaid as their sole health care insurance."
Perspective by Haley Barbour; former governor of Mississippi reflects on race relations in the South
Haley Barbour writes in USA Today: "Fifty years ago, the civil rights movement was at full pitch, and it would be only one year before the passage of the Civil Rights Act, followed by the Voting Rights Act a year later. I've been asked to write on the changes in race relations that have taken place in the South and, in particular, my home state of Mississippi as a result. While most of the change has occurred incrementally, it has been enormous."

Bulldogs' Robinson responds to OSU player's comment that SEC teams aren't well conditioned
At least one Oklahoma State player believes Mississippi State will have trouble keeping up with his team's offense. The Bulldogs respectfully disagree. Parker Graham, a senior right guard, told in a story published Wednesday that SEC defenses "lose their breath" against the Cowboys' high-tempo offense. He added, "They have big guys, but they aren't very well-conditioned." Oklahoma State and MSU open the season Aug. 31 in Houston. MSU tailback Josh Robinson said the team saw what Graham said, and everyone has taken it to heart. "Well, shoot, we're just going to have to prove them wrong. That's why we're pushing our boys in practice, and we're going to show them what we're about," Robinson said following Wednesday's practice.
Jackson, Day headline Mississippi State offensive line
The only stats belonging to an offensive lineman in a box score are negative. No explanation appears next to the number of sacks. The blame falls on the offensive line, regardless of whether good coverage created the sack or the quarterback held the ball for an eternity. But there was little explanation needed for the Mississippi State offensive line. Why? The unit limited opponents to 19 sacks a year ago. It was the first time Mississippi State had allowed fewer than 20 since 2001, when Mississippi State began keeping that statistic.
Wiggins' Dee Arrington learns role to earn starting role
When Dee Arrington arrived to Mississippi State University in the fall of 2011, he wasn't quite sure what to expect. After a strong senior season at Stone County High School and earning All-American honors, Arrington landed at MSU and was listed as a defensive back. But when time came to step on the field in the Maroon and White, Arrington quickly learned he had a long way to go before starting for the Bulldogs. "I knew I had to just come up here and learn from all the older guys ahead of me," Arrington recalled of his first year. Now entering his third preseason, MSU safeties coach Tony Hughes said Arrington is having a breakout fall camp, and developing intangible skills necessary to play a secondary defense position.
Mississippi State secondary adjusting to life with out stars
Mississippi State's secondary is missing much of the star power that made it so good for three seasons. Safety Jay Hughes says that might not be such a bad thing. Hughes said cornerbacks Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay -- who are both now in the NFL -- were terrific players, but the Bulldogs might have become too reliant on their playmaking abilities as the team lost five of six games to end last season. The new secondary will get a difficult test in the opener against No. 13 Oklahoma State on Aug. 30 at Reliant Stadium in Houston. The Cowboys averaged about 45 points and 331 passing yards per game last season.
Mississippi State's special teams focused on the details
Baker Swedenburg's focus hasn't been on one major thing. Rather the senior Mississippi State punter has been focused on small details on the football field. To explain what he has been concentrating on, the Heritage Academy graduate began to talk about golf. "Obviously you are not going to be perfect playing golf, but you still want to make a hole-in-one when you're on a par-3," Swedenburg said. "It's little things, like on my pooch punts, I want to make the ball roll left or come back. That's just an inch difference in your drop. It's little details like that, that I try to improve on. On the outside, you may not see, but I know. If I do it right, I'll get satisfaction."
Mississippi State unveils 2014 slate
The start of Mississippi State's 2013 season crept to under 10 days today. The news out of the football program on Wednesday pertained to 2014. Mississippi State released its 2014 football schedule on Wednesday. For the ninth time in school history the program hosts seven home games. Unlike this season, every one of Mississippi State's games in 2014 is on a Saturday. MSU opens 2014 in what should be newly finished Davis Wade Stadium against Southern Miss on Aug. 30.
New SEC schedule shows no Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving in 2014
The SEC released its football schedule for the 2014 season on Wednesday. The biggest news is the Egg Bowl contest between Mississippi State and Ole Miss won't be played on Thanksgiving night. Texas A&M and LSU will play Thanksgiving night. Mississippi State plays host to Southern Miss on Aug. 28 in a newly renovated and expanded Davis Wade Stadium.
Egg Bowl returns to Saturday kickoff in 2014
Ole Miss and Mississippi State will return to a Saturday in 2014, it was learned Wednesday when the SEC released next season's football schedule. The game was played on Thanksgiving between 1998-2003, and in April it was announced that ESPN would once again televise a holiday Egg Bowl. No commitment was made beyond this season. MSU begins and ends SEC play on the road with a Sept. 20 date at LSU and Nov. 29 trip to Ole Miss. The Bulldogs have home games Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas and Vanderbilt and have open dates before their remaining two road games, visits to Kentucky and Alabama. Three of MSU's league home dates come in a span of four games between Oct. 4 and Nov. 1.
In wake of Manziel saga, U. of Tennessee rewrites autograph policy
A long line of patient Tennessee fans waited outside Thompson-Boling Arena on Wednesday night. Some grasped mini footballs, replica UT helmets and pictures of their favorite players. Inside the arena, the Knoxville Region UTK Alumni Chapter's annual Welcome Back Barbecue awaited. The menu included pulled barbecue, roasted chicken pieces, baked beans and, of course, autographs. But this year's event was unlike any of the past, where freewheeling fans had unfiltered access to players for autographs. Thanks to the highly publicized saga of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel's alleged pay-for-autographs misdoings, Tennessee, like other programs as of late, implemented a new, restrictive autograph policy for the event. "It's a new day," UT athletic director Dave Hart told the News Sentinel, tucked in a tunnel leading to the Thompson-Boling Arena floor filled with approximately 1,600 fans. "The landscape has shifted and we're assessing events just like this because of that landscape shift. We'll find ways for people to interact, but not necessarily with the players."

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