Thursday, September 26, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Ag secretary says Mississippi State research on target
Mississippi State University officials gave U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack a tour around campus Wednesday in a rare opportunity to brief a sitting Cabinet member on significant research projects. Vilsack spent an afternoon with MSU researchers and students, learning about ongoing projects and answering questions. "Mississippi State is targeted right where it needs to be," Vilsack said. "It's important to this country that we continue to have a vital economy, and to do that, we have to have production agriculture, and we need to continue to expand production agriculture, and particularly export opportunities." MSU President Mark Keenum, a past under secretary of agriculture, welcomed Vilsack's interest in MSU research. "The USDA touches everyone in our country, and one-fourth of income in Mississippi comes from agriculture," Keenum said.
Agriculture secretary visits Mississippi State
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack described multiple Mississippi State University research projects as assets to America's economic recovery after a tour of MSU Wednesday, but he warned that failure to renew the U.S. Farm Bill by Oct. 1 could stymie the promise of such research. (Subscriber-only content.)
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tours MSU
Mississippi State is one of the country's leading agriculture research universities, and on Wednesday, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack paid a visit to the campus. Vilsack was at MSU touring the major research projects funded by the USDA. The tour began at the Soil-Plant-Atmosphere Research center. This SPAR facility is one of only two in the entire country. Scientists are able to control the temperature, water supply and the fertilization of crops for research projects.
Second Fun Run to raise funds for T.K. Martin Center
Saturday morning, the T.K. Martin Center will be filled with Disney princesses, Scooby Doo and many super heroes cheering on participants in the T.K. Martin Fun Run. But despite the iconic figures, the biggest stars of the day will be the children associated with Project IMPACT. The fun run is a fundraiser for Project IMPACT, an early intervention preschool that serves 40 children with special needs. The one-mile run will begin and end at the T.K. Martin Center with cheer stations surrounding the path. The cheer stations have lists of participants in the fun run where people will cheer them on by name. Elizabeth Williams, a special education teacher at Project IMPACT, said there were more than 300 people participating in the cheer stations.
Poet Laureate Appreciates Mississippi Roots
Mississippi made her, and no matter where she goes, U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey never forgets her heritage. Close to 300 people attended her Tuesday poetry reading at Mississippi State University, and Trethewey, a Gulfport native, explained how growing up in the Magnolia State impacted her art. MSU's creative writing co-director Catherine Pierce, associate professor of English, introduced Trethewey and led a Q-and-A session with the poet.
Game day: Tailgaters share a few favorite recipes for an easy-going outing
When it comes to tailgates, the SEC has a reputation for doing it right. Whether you're in the Junction, the Grove, USM's District, Alabama's Quad or any other university's tailgating epicenter, it's all about fans, good food, fellowship and tradition. That's all well and good, but if you happen to be one of those cooks who has risen with the gameday dawn to prepare, pack up and load a complicated menu and elaborate decorations in the car, you know the pressure can build if you're not careful. One group in Starkville likes to keep it laid back. With a nucleus of six couples (and 12 children), these friends put the emphasis on kid-friendly and low stress when the Mississippi State Bulldogs take to the field.
Tips for keeping tailgate foods safe
A successful tailgate party requires a winning game plan for the food, not just for the football game that follows. Food safety experts say one in six people gets a food-borne illness each year. While most of these incidents do not require hospitalization and are even blamed on a stomach bug or 24-hour virus, these illnesses are avoidable. Brent Fountain, a registered dietitian and nutrition specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said time and temperature abuse are the most common mistakes people make at tailgates, picnics and other outdoor events involving food. "The longer you leave food in the temperature danger zone, which is between 40 and 140 degrees, the greater the chance that bacteria will grow," Fountain said.
Bolivar County officials tour Mississippi Horse Park
The Bolivar County Board of Supervisors and county administrator visited the Mississippi Horse Park Wednesday to learn how they could make their agricultural center thrive again. "We're looking at a long-term strategic plan for our agricultural center," said Bolivar County Administrator Will Hooker. "It's been evaluated to be very underutilized, from the perspective of (how it was used) back in its heyday. It's making us do an evaluation of ourselves in terms of what we can do better so it can be a commodity to the community." (Subscriber-only content.)
Starkville vying to become C Spire's first gigabit city
Starkville was one of the first Mississippi cities Tuesday to put their name in the hat to become C Spire's first recipient of ultra-fast Internet access. C Spire officials launched Fiber to the Home, a substantial investment that will develop fiber optic Internet capabilities in the state. A company spokesperson could not identify Tuesday how many cities submitted intentions to join the program, but Starkville officials filed paperwork shortly after the morning's announcement. Mayor Parker Wiseman and Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO Jennifer Gregory both confirmed they will soon file more documentation detailing numerous community aspects, including city infrastructure and potential impact.
Oktibbeha unemployment drops nearly one percent
Oktibbeha County's unemployment rate in August was nearly 1 percent lower than July's estimate of 9.7. August's rate came in at 8.8 percent. That percentage represents an estimated 1,760 people actively looking for a job, according to statistics from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. In August 2012, the rate was 9.1 percent. It's slightly above the statewide average of 8.4. The national unemployment rate is 7.3 percent.
Mississippi Republicans Wait for Cochran's Decision
To fund or not to fund? That is the question among Republican pols in Mississippi. The Deep South represents fertile territory for the tea party, which has advocated for stringent spending cuts on Capitol Hill. But Mississippi is different from its Southern neighbors: It tops national poverty rankings and has long depended on federal funds. So the most urgent question in Mississippi politics is whether Sen. Thad Cochran will retire in 2014. (He's hasn't said yet.) For decades, the six-term Republican has leveraged his seniority to bring home federal dollars. As a result, some Mississippi Republicans dread a delegation without Cochran's clout -- while others want him to get out so they can move up. But some conservatives are not waiting for Cochran to retire. A small draft movement has formed around state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is aligned with the tea party, to challenge Cochran if he runs for re-election in 2014. McDaniel confirmed his interest in challenging Cochran in a Wednesday phone interview with CQ Roll Call. He said "no firm decision has been made one way or the other." Some Republican insiders said Cochran would clobber McDaniel if he challenged him.
KiOR unveils Columbus II that will double production
Texas-based KiOR Inc. has announced that it will double the production capacity at its biofuels production facility in Columbus. KiOR said in a news release yesterday from its Pasadena, Texas, headquarters that it will build a second cellulosic fuels facility in Columbus. KiOR estimates the project -- called Columbus II -- will cost about $225 million. Fred Cannon, KiOR's President and CEO, says the company plans to break ground within 90 days after it raises sufficient equity and debt capital to commence the project. Cannon says work and startup will take about 18 months to construct and start up.
Mississippi premiums among highest in health exchange
Mississippi is one of the poorest and unhealthiest states in the nation, and its residents will face some of the highest premiums under a health insurance exchange, an online marketplace that will be run by the federal government. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released information Wednesday showing the estimated cost of a mid-range plan will be $448 a month in Mississippi. That compares to an average of $328 in 47 states and the District of Columbia. Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, who has no role in running the exchange, said the state's rates are high because there's no competition in the exchange in most parts of the state and because residents have a litany of health concerns.
Superintendents outline legislative priorities
Mississippi school chiefs are asking lawmakers to increase funding, raise teacher salaries and allow local districts to set their own start dates. The leader of the state's superintendent association outlined the organization's legislative goals on Wednesday during a meeting with school district superintendents from Northeast Mississippi. Those include the full funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, the formula established by state law to determine how much state money each district should receive. Since 2008, it has been underfunded by $1.3 billion. "We are in a situation now where we have been cut so drastically," said Sam Bounds, executive director of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents. "That has caused our superintendents to make some very hard decisions that has harmed the education of our kids."
Maryland educator to head state schools
The Mississippi Board of Education chose a Maryland educator as the next leader of the state's school system. Carey Wright, whose selection was announced Wednesday, becomes the first female chosen as Mississippi's permanent state superintendent of education. She spent three years as chief academic officer of the Washington, D.C., public school system, where she worked in the Michelle Rhee administration. Rhee is known for her combative style, hard-line school reform stances and teacher-accountability programs that have drawn her praise from some circles and criticism from others. Wright recently was a finalist for local superintendent jobs in Omaha, Neb., and Des Moines, Iowa. She was quoted by the Omaha World-Herald in December as saying she has a different style than Rhee but the same focus on students.
First woman chosen as Mississippi's permanent education chief
The first woman chosen as Mississippi's permanent state superintendent of education in March left an urban district sullied by an investigation that revealed some teachers cheated to raise students' test scores. But members of the Mississippi Board of Education who this week interviewed Carey Wright before naming her the state's superintendent, didn't know about the cheating scandal, the board's vice chairman who headed the search said. The consulting firm that advised them, Ray and Associates, knew but didn't tell them. Wright has not been connected to or implicated in the testing scandal. Gary Ray, president of Ray and Associates, said his firm didn't tell the Board of Education about the scandal because its investigation showed Wright had nothing to do with it.
Mississippi selects D.C. educator as education superintendent
Mississippi's state Board of Education has chosen former Washington, D.C., schools administrator Carey Wright as superintendent of education. Wright was among five finalists who interviewed Tuesday in Jackson with members of the state Board of Education. She will start work in Mississippi on Nov. 1, state officials said. She became chief academic officer of the District of Columbia Public Schools, serving under Michelle Rhee, whose aggressive style was strongly criticized. Rhee left in 2010, with Wright staying until earlier this year.
Courageous leadership a must for ed superintendent if changes to occur, stakeholders say
It takes courage to fix a school system that ranks at the bottom nationally when Mississippi children must compete globally, advocates and parents agreed. "We need bold leadership," Parents Campaign Executive Director Nancy Loome said. "She's going to have to have a lot of courage." Carey Wright accepted an offer Wednesday from the state Board of Education to become the state superintendent, the state's top education job. If approved by the state Senate, she begins Nov. 1. Loome, whose nonprofit group advocates for public education, hopes Wright is willing to say things lawmakers and others involved in Mississippi education might not want to hear. "I think it starts with being frank and unapologetic about what it is going to take to get to the level that legislators (and the) whole community are demanding," she said.
State senator's invitations create a fuss
State Sen. Will Longwitz listed state Rep. Bill Denny and former state Sen. Walter Michel as "special guests" for a fundraiser he held this week, apparently without getting permission from either. "I didn't hear from anybody with the campaign about my name being on the invitation," said Michel, who held the Senate District 25 seat for 12 years before Longwitz took office in 2012. "And I didn't receive an invitation." Denny confirmed his name appeared on the invite without his knowledge but wouldn't comment further. The political blog JacksonJambalaya dubbed the situation a "NE Jackson Food Fight," and quoted Denny making angry comments about learning his name was on the invite only after it was mailed.
Simmons hears hopes of state agencies
Mississippi legislators are currently getting together requests made by agencies for the coming year's state budget. "The economy is growing better than that of the nation as a whole," said Sen. Willie Simmons, who is on the budget committee and the appropriations committee. "The agencies came in with a large request this year," said Simmons. He said that his main focus would be on the school systems and ensuring an adequate education program.
FBI director visits Mississippi, talks budget cuts
Mississippi FBI employees could face layoffs and furloughs come Oct. 1 if newly appointed FBI Director James B. Comey can't otherwise shave 10 percent of his budget. Speaking at the state's FBI field office in Jackson on Wednesday, Comey told reporters he's facing a $700 million shortfall in his $8 billion annual budget due to sequestration cuts. He worries employees will bear the brunt of that gap. "It could profoundly affect Mississippi," Comey said. "A huge part of the FBI is people. If you slash the funding, you slash the people." Nearly 36,000 agents and other professionals work for the FBI nationwide, but the Mississippi field office would not release its state employment figures, citing confidentiality.
Mississippi marker would honor cotton field workers
A group promoting the heritage of the Mississippi Delta says it has commissioned sculptor Ed Dwight to work on a monument to the cotton industry, sharecropping and cotton field workers. Khafre Inc., a nonprofit group based in Indianola, wants the monument to be part of a sharecroppers interpretive center in Bolivar County along U.S. 61. "We want to protect the legacy of former cotton pickers and sharecroppers and we must do whatever we can do to tell their story. We are the beneficiaries of all the labor and sweat that was put into this country," C. Sade Turpinseed, the executive director of Khafre, told the Bolivar Commercial newspaper.
Action on Cybersecurity Likely Delayed Until 2014
Congress almost certainly won't pass any kind of major cybersecurity legislation in 2013, according to industry officials, lobbyists and others who track the issue. Protecting the nation's cyber infrastructure has been a top priority for the White House and many lawmakers, but the legislative effort has been done in by fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden's leaks, a crowded congressional agenda, differing views over the role of the Department of Homeland Security and affiliated organizations, and a wait-and-see approach to an executive branch cybersecurity initiative that won't be wrapped up until next year. Lawmakers are still likely to keep discussing cybersecurity, and the legislative push could get revived in 2014.
George H.W. Bush serves as witness at same-sex wedding
Former President George H.W. Bush was an official witness at the same-sex wedding of two longtime friends, his spokesman said. Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush, attended the ceremony joining Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen as private citizens and friends on Saturday, said spokesman Jim McGrath. The 41st president has deep ties to the area and owns a compound in Kennebunkport, a small coastal town. Thorgalsen and Clement own a general store in neighboring Kennebunk. They were honeymooning overseas and didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment Wednesday. Gay marriage became legal in Maine in December.
New USM president calls Gulf Park campus the university's 'secret weapon'
Southern Miss President Rodney Bennett has called the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach his "secret weapon" in moving the university forward and making sure it remains a "major player in higher education across the country." "There aren't many places you'd rather be in the world on a day like today than the Mississippi Gulf Coast," Bennett said in a meeting Wednesday with the Sun Herald. "I think we can really package that experience and get momentum from the high-achieving students who can graduate in four years and stay in this area to have an impact on economic development in South Mississippi."
$252,000 Grant Kicks Off MUW Health Initiative
A community-wide health initiative targeting lifestyle choices related to diet, physical activity and stress management was launched on The W's campus today. The program, sponsored by The W and in partnership with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation and area schools, targets residents of Columbus and Lowndes County, including students, faculty and staff of The W. It also includes Franklin Academy, Joe Cook Elementary and Annunciation Catholic School. "Connecting campus to community to deliver services will better utilize the current resources available and identify possible gaps in services," said Kate Brown, director for the Center for Creative Learning located on campus. "This will be accomplished through events held quarterly on campus, in local schools and out in the community, utilizing the expertise of W faculty and community practitioners."
Youth to participate in special challenge at DSU's Pig Pickin' festivities
Things may get a little down and dirty during Delta State University's 28th Annual Pig Pickin' festivities on Saturday. Delta Down and Dirty Youth Obstacle & Challenge Run is to make its first time debut during Pig Pickin' at Statesman Park. Vicious valley climbing, tire carrying, dark tunnels, mud crawling, and extreme balance beams are just a few challenges, among many, that youth will face on Saturday. The HPER Recreation Leadership Program in Delta State University's College of Education and Human Sciences is hosting the event. According to race developer and director Todd Davis, this is the only obstacle course of its kind in the state of Mississippi.
New dorm approved for JSU
Big changes could be coming for student housing at Jackson State University. The city has approved a plan to build a new dormitory. The building is expected to provide 600 to 800 beds, and with record enrollment, the university needs it. There are 9,134 students enrolled at JSU, which is 300 more than last fall and the most in history.
Jones County Junior College Breaks Ground on Clarke County Center
Over the past 18 months, Jones County Junior College and the Clarke County Board of Supervisors have worked tirelessly to bring the county's first college campus to Stonewall, and Wednesday morning that became a reality as they broke ground on the new Jones County Junior College Clarke County Learning Center. JCJC President, Dr. Jesse Smith, says this is their fourth learning center.
Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan to speak at U. of Alabama law school event
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan is scheduled to deliver the Albritton Lecture at the University of Alabama School of Law on Oct. 4. The free event is open to the public and will begin at 10 a.m. in the McMillian Lecture Hall, Room 287/288, according to a release from the university. Registration is unnecessary, but seating is limited. Kagan was appointed to the high court by President Barack Obama in 2010 to replace retiring Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. The lecture is named for Judge William Harold Albritton III, a 1960 UA School of Law graduate and U.S. District Court Judge for the Middle District of Alabama nominated by President George H.W. Bush. Albritton told the Associated Press in 2012 that Tuscaloosa's mix of Southern hospitality and small-town pace help lure the justices.
Louisiana higher ed leaders rethinking fight over tuition control
Almost every top higher education administrator in the state says it's a good idea for the Louisiana Legislature to hand over its tight grip on tuition-setting authority and put that control in the hands of the schools. With the realization sinking in that the idea is a political loser, some of the state's leading academics said Wednesday that Louisiana's higher education community should put that fight on hold and move in another direction. University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley said she would prefer for schools to have some control over tuition, but pursuing that strategy in the existing political climate "doesn't seem like a wise use of our time." The consensus of university system leaders during Wednesday's Board of Regents meeting was that colleges and universities need stable funding from the state more than they need to control how much tuition they charge students.
U. of Georgia fundraiser's retirement won't slow capital campaign, Morehead says
The University of Georgia's top development officer will retire next June, but that won't slow down a $1 billion UGA fundraising campaign, UGA president Jere Morehead said Wednesday. "We don't have time to wait on raising money for the University of Georgia," he said. Landrum, UGA's vice president for development and alumni relations since 2007, announced last month he would retire June 30. Morehead said the campaign, now in the so-called silent phase before it's officially announced, would aim to raise at least $1 billion within seven or eight years.
Open house scheduled for Thursday on hiking/biking trail through U. of Florida
The Florida Department of Transportation is holding an open house from 4-6 p.m. Thursday at the Doyle Connor Auditorium, 1911 SW 34th St., to review plans for a new $2.5 million hiking and biking trail through the University of Florida campus. State transportation officials and consultants will be on hand to discuss plans for the proposed 2-mile-plus "UF Campus Greenway," which will be built with federal "transportation alternative" funds and begin in early 2015, said Gina Busscher, spokeswoman for the DOT. Transportation alternative funds are used for sidewalks and other improvements to encourage people to park their cars and walk or ride their bikes, Busscher said. Because so little money is available each year, applications for the money are competitive, she added.
Vets at U. of Florida learn how to sniff out animal crimes
The veterinarian squatted down on the forest floor, carefully sweeping away a pile of dirt to get a better look at the animal remains. Decked out in trousers, a work shirt and bandana, Dr. Laura Niestat seemed a long way from her New York City practice as she swatted bugs and endured the muggy Florida weather earlier this month. But Niestat ignored the elements, concentrating instead on the task before her, mapping out and detailing a possible crime scene. The vet, from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Animal Hospital in New York, was among the participants in an animal forensics workshop Sept. 11-13 hosted by the University of Florida's William R. Maples Center for Forensic Medicine and the ASPCA.
Firm agrees to finance dorms on Texas A&M's west campus
The Texas A&M University System has selected a company to construct its west campus housing project. Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions, a developer specializing in projects for colleges and universities, announced Wednesday that it would finance the $200-plus million project. Balfour Beatty Construction will build it. The 4,000-bed West Campus Housing Project will be built on 46 acres along University Drive where the Howdy Farm is currently located. Balfour Beatty will construct the project, but the university will retain control of room rates, assignments and programming elements for the residential complex. The private company will recoup its costs through the rent it charges students. The partnership takes advantage of a ground lease recently approved by the board of regents and made possible by the Texas Legislature.
U. of Missouri adding two new tools to disseminate emergency alerts
After switching to a new alert notification system this fall, the University of Missouri is adding some new features to help notify people on campus in case of an emergency. This fall, the university will be employing a beacon alert system to help relay messages to people across campus as well as software that will allow the university to override computer screens to project an alert. Both systems are provided by Alertus Technologies and send messages created through the university's mass alert provider, BlackBoard Connect. The University of Missouri System switched to Blackboard Connect this summer, said Terry Robb, director of information technology at MU. MU spokesman Christian Basi said the university will be adding approximately 225 beacons to campus.
Missouri House oversight panel pushes higher education officials to defend spending
University of Missouri System and Missouri Department of Higher Education officials addressed questions from a House oversight committee Wednesday, defending internal accountability of spending and explaining a new policy aimed at reducing remediation rates. The Interim Committee on Improving Government Responsiveness and Efficiency heard testimony from David Russell, commissioner of higher education, and Thomas Richards, UM System interim vice president of finance, and pushed them to explain how state dollars are being used at publicly funded schools.
U. of Arkansas Report: Northwest Arkansas Economy Outgrows Peer Regions
The northwest Arkansas economy outgrew similar regions in 2011 and 2012, according to a report released Wednesday by the University of Arkansas. The 2013 State of the Northwest Arkansas Region Report from the Center for Business and Economic Research at the Sam Walton College of Business was released in partnership with the Northwest Arkansas Council. UA economist Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research, thinks the region's economic development focus should be on "improving establishment growth, adult educational attainment and the acquisition of federal research dollars."
Higher education braces for a government shutdown and more fiscal fights
The impending shutdown of the federal government is expected to affect higher education only modestly, at least in the short term, but the debate has already kicked off several months of unpredictable fiscal fights that threaten to further cut funding for some financial aid programs and scientific research. The federal government will shut down on October 1 unless Congress agrees in the next five days to a stopgap spending measure to keep it open. A lapse in funding would mean that most normal day-to-day operations of the federal government would come to a halt, though it's not clear exactly which programs relating to higher education might continue.
Most Students Are Unprepared for College, SAT Results Show
Less than half of the students who took the SAT in 2013 are ready to succeed in postsecondary education, according to a report released on Thursday by the College Board, which owns the SAT. Only 43 percent of the test takers this year met or exceeded the benchmark score of 1550 out of a possible 2400, the same proportion as last year. Those who reach that number, according to the College Board, have a greater chance of attaining a B-minus average or higher during their first year of college and persisting to graduation. The mean score for 2013 was 1498. In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, College Board officials said the number of students reaching the benchmark score had remained virtually unchanged over the last five years.
OUR OPINION: Wright accepts unique Mississippi challenges
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "Mississippi's public school trustees have unanimously nominated Carey Wright, a longtime Maryland educator and consultant, to become the next state superintendent of education, the first woman named to the top leadership position. Wright must be confirmed by the Mississippi Senate by the end of the 2014 session. ...The selection of a woman to lead Mississippi's schools other than as an interim is arguably overdue. A strong majority of the state's public school teachers are women, and some other states and city systems long ago broke the gender barrier. The unanimous vote she received suggests all the trustees voting found her strengths compelling -- the right fit for Mississippi."
BOBBY HARRISON: Cuts will be difficult under any leader | Bobby Harrison (Opinion)
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves sent the clear message recently that legislative leaders are looking for ways to cut budgets -- much more so than providing additional funds for programs that are working. Reeves made his point during a meeting of the 14-member Legislative Budget Committee with Max Arinder, director of the Legislature's Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Committee. Reeves and the Budget Committee are tasking Arinder and his staff with developing policies and procedures to revitalize the state's performance budgeting model that was created in the early 1990s but that many say has been little more than window dressing in the annual budgeting process."
SID SALTER: State's poverty numbers increase despite development successes
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Listening to Gov. Phil Bryant and Mississippi Development Authority director Brent Christensen of late, it's hard not to be impressed with Mississippi's economic development efforts. ...Perhaps the crown jewel in northeast Mississippi in recent months has been the Yokohama Tire Company plant in West Point. The first phase of the project represents a $300 million investment by Yokohama and will create 500 new jobs. Potential future expansions are projected to increase the company's investment to more than $1 billion and to raise employment from 500 to 2,000 jobs. But at the same time as these very positive economic development numbers in the state are being cited, the Pew Charitable Trusts just released their analysis of data from the Census Bureau which shows that Mississippi's poverty rate in FY 2012 was a highest-in-the-nation 24.2 percent and that during the same year Mississippi's median household income was a lowest-in-the-nation $37,095."

At Campuses Across the Country, More Reasons Than Ever to Skip the Game
The scene at home football games in Athens at the University of Georgia is almost perfect. The tailgate lots open at 7 a.m. Locals brag of the bar-per-capita rate. The only commodities in greater abundance than beer are the pro-Bulldogs buttons that sorority girls wear. There's just one problem: Some students can't be bothered to come to the games. Declining student attendance is an illness that has been spreading for years nationwide. But now it has hit the Southeastern Conference, home to college football's best teams and supposedly its most fervent fans, giving athletics officials reason to fret about future ticket sales and fundraising. To study this shift in behavior, the SEC recently hired Now What, a New York market-research firm that will spend this season traveling to SEC stadiums, visiting fans watching at home to gather their opinions before presenting its findings after the regular season. "We can't afford to lose a generation," said Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin, a member of the SEC's committee on the game-day experience.
Mississippi State defense ups intensity
The loudest voice at practice belonged to Geoff Collins. The starters had already departed from the field behind Mississippi State's football complex to study film Wednesday night, but as the third and fourth teamers resumed 11-on-11 drills, the Bulldogs' defensive coordinator barked at his unit. "We gotta get it!" Collins said. "We gotta get it!" Collins, in his first year as defensive coordinator, brought that intensity for the start of fall practices on Aug. 1. Fifty-six days later, the decibel level hasn't dropped. It's brought a different attitude, which has translated into an improved defense.
Mississippi State kicking battle quietly ongoing
With all eyes focused on which quarterback will start for Mississippi State against LSU next week, another position battle could be evolving with the Bulldogs' kickers. Sophomore Devon Bell made 25-yard field goal but missed a 30-yard attempt in the third quarter during MSU's blowout win over Troy. Bell is now 6 of 13 in his career on kicks within 30-39 yards. In all other attempts, he is 11 of 14. "Like any position, we evaluate through the week of practice who's had the best week of practice," MSU coach Dan Mullen said. "At that point we look statistically who's going to give us the best opportunity in the game from what they've done in the practice. That's how we've always done things."
Bulldogs enter heart of challenging SEC soccer schedule
Annebel ten Broeke knew she had an adjustment to make when she left her home in the Netherlands to play soccer in the United States. At 5-foot-11, ten Broeke didn't fully grasp the physicality of the women's college game in the U.S. until she first trained with her new teammates. Those initial sessions convinced ten Broeke she needed to work on her game if she was going to be able to contribute to the Mississippi State women's soccer team. Although ten Broeke said the transition is still taking place, she has made an impact on the program in her first eight games. MSU (3-5) lost to Missouri 3-1 last Friday in its Southeastern Conference opener. It will travel this weekend to play Texas A&M (Friday) and LSU (Sunday). It will return home to play host to Kentucky at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4.
Kent Hull Award: Sessums' art featured in trophy
If you know Dr. Kim Sessums through his office, you know of a caring professional physician with your best health in mind. But, Sessums has a whole other life as a renowned Mississippi artist sought out for his incredible ability to create life in motion out of clay and bronze. His latest sculpture of standout Mississippi football player Kent Hull was commissioned by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum and is the fourth sculpture of athletic greats from Mississippi that Sessums has completed. The sculpture depicts the Greenwood native and honors him as a star football player for Mississippi State and a player in the NFL for 11 seasons as a Buffalo Bills great.
Hits to the Head Don't Differ With Age, Research Indicates
Football players as young as 7 sustain hits to the head comparable in magnitude to those absorbed by high school and adult players, and most of the hits are sustained in practices, not games, according to research to be released Wednesday. The findings, which may influence how youth football organizations handle training methods and rules, were included in four studies published by researchers at the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. The research, though limited, is considered by experts to be a step in the effort to address the relatively shallow understanding of the potential long-term effects of head trauma on young players.
Car to be in UA homecoming parade has ties to Alabama, JFK
A bright, apricot-colored car centerpieced at the upcoming University of Alabama homecoming parade might seem like an odd choice for Bama fans with an ingrained dislike of the color that symbolizes several rival schools. But the 1962 Lincoln Continental convertible should revive memories of the 1963 Orange Bowl, when legendary linebacker Lee Roy Jordan led the Tide in a 17-0 shutout against the Oklahoma Sooners. The car was specially made for the Orange Bowl parade, held on New Year's Eve 1962. President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline were the grand marshals and among the 72,880 fans in attendance the following day. A photo that ran in the Miami Herald that week shows the first lady standing in the back seat of the car while the president greeted Cuban exile leaders.
Texas A&M selling bricks from G. Rollie White Coliseum
Alumni and fans can now own their very own piece of Texas A&M's former landmark, G. Rollie White Coliseum. The Texas A&M Athletics Department has posted bricks from the coliseum for sale online at $36 each plus tax. The price includes shipping and handling for the 7.75 by 3.75 by 2.375 inch mementos. The demolition of the 59-year-old gymnasium that housed A&M volleyball and the A&M Letterman's Association began late August. The destruction marked the kickoff of the $450 million Kyle Field redevelopment project.
JOHN CLAY: Recent actions show NCAA is running scared | John Clay (Opinion)
Columnist John Clay writes in the Lexington Herald-Leader: " Mark Emmert might not have an athletic bone in the body beneath his well-coiffed head, but the NCAA president is honing the technique of a football defensive back. He's in full backpedal. If we didn't know that before --- and we did --- we know that for certain now, at least as of Tuesday, when the NCAA announced that it has re-examined its harsh penalties and decided to cut Penn State's football program a little slack. ...If out of the blue the NCAA came to its senses, admitting that it overstepped its bounds, that would be one thing. Instead, here's the real thing: The NCAA is running scared."

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