Wednesday, January 8, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Cold temperatures rupture pipes at Mississippi State residence halls
Mississippi State University officials said record cold temperatures on Tuesday ruptured water pipes that caused substantial damage to three campus residence halls. The damage is still being assessed, but as many as 450 students could be affected, MSU spokesman Sid Salter said in a news release Tuesday. "The university has already implemented a comprehensive effort to secure the affected buildings and protect the property of our students," the statement said. Joanne Culin, a meteorologist with the Jackson office of the National Weather Service, said numerous parts of the state broke daily low temperature records Tuesday morning and freezing temperatures were expected to persist through the night. Culin said that all the reporting cites in her office's coverage area in central Mississippi broke daily records, with the lowest temperature recorded in the area being 4 degrees in Eupora.
Learfield Sports' Mocs Sports Properties At UTC Announces Account Executive
Learfield Sports has named Kristin Long account executive for its Mocs Sports Properties entity, the athletics multimedia rights holder for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Long joins MSP with expertise gained from two other Learfield Sports' properties. Most recently, she was sponsorship coordinator for Wildcat Sports Properties at the University of New Hampshire, and before that, was the marketing and promotions intern for Bulldog Sports Properties at Mississippi State, her alma mater. Additionally, she brings sports marketing, promotions and communications experience to UTC from internships held with the Mississippi State University Athletic Department and the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.
Starkville Selects New Chief Administrative Officer
Starkville Board of Alderman have chosen a new chief administrative officer. At Tuesday night's board meeting, Taylor Adams was unanimously voted in as Starkville's next CAO. Adams is currently Starkville's finance director and will continue to run the City Clerk's office until that position is filled. Adams will earn $80,850 in his new position. The board set out to find a new CAO in July after Lynn Spruill was fired.
Lawmakers back in session
Mississippi lawmakers gaveled their 2014 session to order at noon Tuesday. They have a busy three months ahead, but they're getting off to a slow start. "We'll meet and greet today and fight tomorrow," joked Rep. Preston Sullivan, D-Okolona. Lawmakers face an early April deadline to finish a state budget, and the new fiscal year starts July 1. "Since we have a bit more money than we've had the past few years, you'll have a lot of people with their hands out," Sen. Dean Kirby, R-Pearl, said Tuesday. "We just need to make sure we fund what's needed and no more."
Criminal justice on lawmakers' early agenda
The Mississippi Legislature, which convened Tuesday, will begin work today on what Gov. Phil Bryant has said he wants to make the focus of the 2014 session -- changes to the criminal justice system. The House Judiciary B and Corrections committees will hold a joint hearing today to be updated on the recommendations of a task force that met for much of last year to look at possible changes to the state's criminal justice system. House Judiciary B Chair Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, said the purpose of the joint hearing will be to discuss the task force's recommendations and "welcome input from both committees."
Protest targets Common Core
Conservative Republicans and others are urging the state Legislature to put a stop to Common Core education standards in Mississippi public schools. After a Tuesday morning rally at the Farmers' Market on the state Fairgrounds, the group -- with several members carrying signs saying "Stop Common Core" -- conducted a news conference at the state Capitol. The 10-member Senate Conservative Coalition, formed last year and frequently in opposition to Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and other Senate leaders, has made overturning Common Core a central issue.
Hog problem among issues for local legislators
Problems with feral hogs, among other issues, will be the focus of local legislators during the upcoming legislative session which began on Tuesday. Republican District 44 Rep. C. Scott Bounds of Philadelphia said there were many issues to be looked at during the 2014 session including those associated with hogs. "We'll focus on public safety, the Highway Patrol and conservation," he said. "The budget will be a major issue along with education." Bounds and Republican District 18 Sen. Giles Ward of Louisville said feral hogs were a major problem statewide. Bounds and Ward are the chairs of the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committees for the House and Senate, respectively.
Mississippi Trade Mart will become Mississippi Coast for a day
The room at the Mississippi Trade Mart in Jackson is starting out with all the ambiance of a warehouse. By Wednesday evening it will be like a night under the stars on the Mississippi Coast. Tuesday, there were two women -- Angie Molyneaux, a retired interior decorator, and Alicia Cool-Lick, an event designer and owner of Imagine That in Bay St. Louis -- directing the placement of tents, lighting and decorations. But they are a small part of the group that puts on the annual Gulf Coast Legislative Reception, which is sponsored by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce with the backing of countless restaurants and businesses.
Cochran primary foe calls waterboarding 'fairly humane'
Sen. Thad Cochran's (R-Miss.) primary challenger suggested hip-hop causes an increase in gun violence and characterized waterboarding as a "fairly humane form of torture" during his time as a conservative radio talk show host. State Sen. Chris McDaniel, who's launched a conservative challenge against the senator, made the comments during his time hosting a syndicated radio show from 2004 to 2007. They were first reported on local political blog Dark Horse Mississippi. McDaniel's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Ex-leader to leave Mississippi Department of Education job
Lynn House, who led the Mississippi Department of Education for more than a year as interim superintendent, is leaving the department. House will join the International Center for Leadership in Education, based in Rexford, N.Y. The group helps schools improve their curriculum, teaching and testing, as well as to advocate for educational improvements. House agreed to stay on temporarily when Carey Wright was named Mississippi's new superintendent in September to help Wright with the handover of leadership. She held a variety of earlier positions, including at the Mississippi College Board and the Louisiana Board of Regents. She was dean of education at Delta State University from 2003 to 2006.
PSC approves higher rates for Mississippi Power, Entergy
Power bills will be going up in February for customers of Entergy Mississippi and Mississippi Power Co. The Public Service Commission voted 2-1 Tuesday to allow each company to raise rates to recover higher natural gas costs from 2013 and higher projected costs in 2014. State law allows utilities to recover fuel costs without collecting any profit. Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley, a Democrat, opposed the increases, saying customers shouldn't have bills raised in advance to cover projected fuel prices. "It shouldn't be a cash advance," he said. "It should be a reimbursement."
Debbie Stabenow 'feeling very good' about farm bill
Old farm bill tensions over dairy policy broke back into the open Tuesday even as Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow pushed for a quick wrap-up of the five-year plan, which has been largely been resolved already in House-Senate negotiations. "We're just tying up loose ends. Feeling very good about things" said the Michigan Democrat, who predicted a meeting of the full farm bill conference would be called before the end of the week. The meeting this week, expected Thursday or Friday, appears designed to allow the full conference to weigh in on several outstanding issues. But most are minor next to the political implications of dairy.
Farm Bill Nearing Home Stretch
The long-delayed farm bill may finally be on a glide path to passage, after months of partisan wrangling raised doubts over whether such a day would ever come. House and Senate conferees are tentatively scheduled to meet Thursday to begin the final process of approving a bill that can be voted on by both chambers, senators and aides said. Leadership aides in both chambers indicated that the long-stalled legislation, which faltered in the House last session, could be sent to the president's desk by the Martin Luther King Jr. Day recess.
Arctic Blast Proves Unwelcome Novelty, Especially Across South
The fountains turned into crystal still-lifes in Savannah, Ga. Ducks walked forlornly on iced-over swimming holes in southern Arkansas. School bus doors froze open in Beaufort, S.C. And pipes froze all over as Southerners, who are not born or made for temperatures in the Minnesota digits, had to consider things they typically take for granted. While continuing to leave a lethal chill over the Midwest, the polar vortex took the jet stream for a turn in the South on Monday and Tuesday, bringing freezing temperatures as far south as Florida and arctic misery to a part of the country that is accustomed to shorts at Christmas and sent into a general panic by a slight snow dusting. Tuesday was beginning to warm up in many places, and by the end of the week, said David Cox, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, Miss., the temperature in some areas is expected to return to the 60s, which in much of the South is considered civilized winter weather.
Northeast Mississippi Community College adopts four-day calendar
Northeast Mississippi Community College will not hold classes on Fridays next school year. The college's Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a four-day-per-week instructional calendar for the 2014-15 academic year at its monthly meeting Dec. 17. The school announced the change in a press release on Tuesday morning. Four other Mississippi community colleges use some form of a four-day week, according to Northeast. Those are Meridian Community College, East Mississippi, Holmes and Mississippi Delta. Northeast President Johnny Allen said he and his staff looked carefully at the effect the change would have on students.
USM president tells Jones County Junior College honors students how to get 'to the top'
While in college, his future plans were very different from what actually happened, acknowledged Dr. Rodney Bennett. The tenth president of the University of Southern Mississippi was speaking to Jones County Junior College's Honors Institute students when he shared his original career goal was to make film documentaries. Being a college president was not in his plans. "I was the most unlikely person to be named president," Bennett said. "My fraternity brothers were shocked!"
Court asked to reject U. of Alabama's houndstooth suit
The Georgia company facing a trademark infringement and unfair competition lawsuit by the University of Alabama board of trustees and its President Pro Tem Paul W. Bryant Jr. over its houndstooth logo is asking the federal judge presiding in the case to dismiss the claims. In a response filed Monday, Houndstooth Mafia Enterprises LLC. and founders William Pitts Jr. of Salem and Christopher Blackburn of Columbus, Ga., asked the court to dismiss UA's lawsuit and affirm the findings of a July opinion by the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in the company's favor and not to interfere with efforts to register the Houndstooth Mafia marks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The arguments by Bryant Jr. and the university are based on claims they have existing trademark rights to the houndstooth pattern.
Former U. of Arkansas Executives Testify That David Gearhart Generated 'Hostile Climate'
Legislators on Tuesday criticized how the University of Arkansas managed the budget of its fundraising division and said they're still not clear how it built a $4.2 million deficit. Two former executives at the Fayetteville campus testified that Chancellor David Gearhart created an oppressive atmosphere after the shortfall became known and tried to conceal budget information from the media and public, something Gearhart denied Tuesday. No charges have been filed in the case.
In wake of court ruling, U. of Florida will not ban guns in cars on campus
Students, faculty and other people coming onto the University of Florida can keep firearms securely locked in their cars while parking on campus, following a recent appellate court decision. The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled in December that Florida colleges and universities cannot ban people from storing guns in their cars while on campus. They still can ban firearms on campus and at university events under state law. UF's gun regulation doesn't address guns in vehicles, but University Police Department policy bans people from keeping any type of firearm in vehicles on property owned, occupied or controlled by UF or at university events.
UF preparing to upgrade 30-year-old student records system
The University of Florida is about to embark on upgrading its 30-year-old student recordkeeping system -- part of the invisible infrastructure that handles the hundreds of thousands of records generated by students each year. The multimillion-dollar modernization will take as long as four years, Provost Joe Glover said. "The current system has outlived its life cycle," Glover said. A consultant recommended that UF replace the outmoded technology and increase the system's flexibility and functionality with PeopleSoft's Campus Solutions.
U. of Kentucky seeking more than $200 million from lawmakers for building projects
University of Kentucky officials will ask the General Assembly this year for more than $200 million in state aid for new construction on campus, including a law school renovation and a new science research building. But as UK President Eli Capilouto said in a campus-wide email Tuesday, they're realistic about the current budget situation. UK officials are most hopeful they can get the legislative nod to start projects with agency bonds, which the school issues and pays back itself. That still requires approval from the General Assembly, but so far legislators have said yes to similarly funded projects, such as the $110 million Commonwealth Stadium renovation currently under way.
U. of Kentucky College of Law dean a semi-finalist for president of Florida Atlantic
David A. Brennen, dean of the University of Kentucky College of Law, is one of 10 semi-finalists for the presidency of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla., according to a news release. Brennen, who received his undergraduate degree from FAU, joined UK in 2009 from the University of Georgia School of Law where he was a professor since 2006. He received his law degree from the University of Florida in 1991.
Tennessee community college transfers to receive help getting degrees
In an effort to boost college graduation rates, Tennessee universities have rolled out a new plan to help students who transfer out of community colleges get the associate degrees they may still lack. Under a "reverse transfer" program unveiled today, Tennessee community college students who transfer to four-year colleges in this state without completing their degree will next year have a chance to finish what they started. The state currently lacks a system for students who transfer from community colleges to receive an associate degree after they arrive at their new four-year school. The new program, though, would allow students to collect that degree credential when requirements are met in pursuit of a bachelor's degree.
U. of Missouri communications leader Chris Koukola to retire
Chris Koukola hasn't been bored in 28 years. Koukola's job can change by the hour. One hour, she could be meeting with the university affairs staff and attending a chancellor's meeting. The next hour could be spent talking with alumni, and the next hour she could be discussing the University of Missouri's next television commercial with the marketing team. But soon, all of that will come to an end. Koukola will retire Jan. 31, having served as MU's assistant to the chancellor for university affairs since 1986. Mary Jo Banken, executive director of the MU News Bureau, will fill the position in the interim.
Higher ed lobbyist retires after four decades
In an era when most people in Washington have been in their jobs for about 20 minutes, it doesn't seem that far off when Becky Timmons jokes in an interview about having started her higher education lobbying career "in the Pleistocene era." The occasion of the interview, after all, is the announcement late Tuesday that Timmons will retire from the American Council on Education this month after 40 years. ("Forty years -- that's completely ridiculous, isn't it?" she says.) She spent many of those years as the lead federal lobbyist for the main association of colleges and universities, a job in which she encountered no shortage of critics attacking higher education, endless lines in Congressional hallways awaiting hearings, and snooty young Hill aides.
BRIAN PERRY: Judicial elections 2014 in Mississippi
Consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "Two seats on the Mississippi Court of Appeals as well as all circuit, chancery and county court judges will be up for election in 2014. No seats on the staggered election calendar of the Mississippi Supreme Court will be up for election this year. Some judicial candidates have already filed for election and the qualifying deadline is May 9. Judicial candidates in Mississippi are non-partisan although political parties may endorse candidates. The election is November 4 with any run-offs taking place on November 25. ...While the U.S. Senate campaign will rightfully receive much of the political attention this year, in many ways the work of local judges impacts communities more than a statewide office. Voters should be involved in participating in judicial elections in their counties and districts."

Mississippi State gets biggest test vs. Kentucky
Mississippi State opens SEC play on a high-note. When it travels to Lexington to play Kentucky at 7 p.m. today, the Bulldogs bring as many wins as it totaled all of last season. "I'm proud of the fact that we've gotten to 10 wins already," MSU coach Rick Ray said. Meanwhile, the Wildcats are baby-faced team once again and boast four talented freshmen in their starting lineup. The influx of youth forced Kentucky coach John Calipari to erase his transition gameplan and create a new one that works for this year's team.
Rebuilding vs. Reloading: Mississippi State, Kentucky take different paths
Rebuilding versus reloading. That is the philosophical difference between what Rick Ray is doing with the Mississippi State men's basketball program and what Kentucky is doing under coach John Calipari. Ray is building a foundation with sophomore guards Craig Sword and Fred Thomas and sophomore forward Gavin Ware. The second-year coach believes player development is the key to build MSU (10-3) into a contender in the Southeastern Conference. At Kentucky, Calipari is able to reload his roster with nationally recognized freshmen every season. While some in the coaching fraternity roll their eyes at Calipari's use of the one-and-done rule, where players attend Kentucky for one season and then declare for the NBA draft, Ray isn't one of them.
Mississippi State has huge test in SEC opener
Mississippi State travels to the Bluegrass State to begin Southeastern Conference play at No. 14 Kentucky tonight at 7 p.m. on MyMS-TV. Mississippi State enters tonight's contest at 10-3 which matches its win total from last season. The Bulldogs are coming off a 77-63 victory over Maryland Eastern Shore last Thursday behind a career-high 22 points from senior forward Colin Borchert. MSU is shooting 46.1 percent from the field and averaging 70.8 points per game. The Bulldogs are hitting 30.2 percent from 3-point range and 64 percent from the charity stripe. They lead the SEC and are 10th nationally with 9.6 steals an outing.
Mississippi State has to find way to handle Kentucky's Randle
The Mississippi State men's basketball team is searching for a way to keep Kentucky freshman forward Julius Randle off the free throw line. MSU coach Rick Ray's team opens Southeastern Conference play Wednesday against Randle and No. 14 Kentucky at 7 p.m. (CW) at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. On Monday, Ray said the Bulldogs (10-3) will face a challenge in containing Randle, who is backing up claims he would be one of the top players in the 2013 recruiting class by averaging 18.1 points and 10.6 rebounds a game for the Wildcats (10-3). "He's a lottery pick," Ray said. "Everybody knows he's that good."
Kentucky players eager to show what they've been learning
Kentucky basketball's latest mantra: If you have the ball, look to pass. If you don't have the ball, look to score. UK Coach John Calipari would like to see this bedrock principle -- which at first reading might seem counter-intuitive -- on display the rest of the season beginning with Wednesday night's Southeastern Conference opener against Mississippi State. "Let's see what steps we've taken," Calipari said of the game against State as a measuring stick. The Cats will be eager to play.
Mullen doubts McKinney will enter NFL draft
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen isn't putting much stock into online reports sophomore linebacker Benardrick McKinney will enter the NFL draft. In a text message New Year's Day to the The Dispatch, Mullen said he "had serious doubts" McKinney has made that decision. A few online publications, citing unnamed sources, reported on Twitter the sophomore linebacker would leave school early and declare himself eligible for the draft. College underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to declare for the draft. "The NFL is a dream of mine, and that sounds good and all, but I really think I need to improve as a football player," McKinney said Dec. 29.
Oswalt will be speaker for Mississippi State's First Pitch Banquet
Three-time Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher Roy Oswalt will be the guest speaker for the Mississippi State baseball team's First Pitch Banquet, MSU coach John Cohen announced Monday. The event will be at 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 1 at the Palmeiro Center. MSU, which is ranked No. 2 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll, will begin its 124th season at 4 p.m. on Feb. 14 against Hofstra at Dudy Noble Field.
Louisville Boy Gets A Surprise Visit From A Mississippi State Athlete
We've introduced you to Quinn Gregory, a 7-year old boy who is battling a rare disease. While spreading awareness about his illness, the Winston County boy caught the attention of a Mississippi State athlete. The seven year old got the surprise of his life when starting quarterback Tyler Russell gave him a jersey, the day after winning the Liberty Bowl. "That just really shows more about Tyler's character than anything and what great guy he is. He could be out doing whatever on that day and he chose to come see us," says Suzanne Gregory.
Clinton High hosts legendary Mississippi State baseball coach Ron Polk
The Clinton High School baseball team's First Pitch Event will feature longtime Mississippi State University baseball coach Ron Polk. The fundraiser will start at 6 p.m. on Jan. 20 in the Clinton High Auditorium. "It is a huge honor to have coach Polk visit CHS," said Arrows baseball coach Eddie Lofton. "He is a legend in baseball, and an inspiration to coaches and players everywhere." Polk led his teams to eight College World Series appearances, five SEC championships and 23 Regional appearances. Polk retired from MSU in 2008.
ESPN's Rovell reports Manziel leaning toward leaving
It looks more and more as if Johnny Manziel will declare for the NFL draft. ESPN business writer Darren Rovell reported Tuesday that Manziel has picked Select Sports Group of Houston to be his contract agent for the NFL and LRMR to do his marketing. LRMR is the firm run by LeBron James' business partner Maverick Carter. reported that Manziel will make his intentions known Wednesday. "Johnny Manziel has not declared his intentions regarding next season," said Jason Cook, A&M senior associate athletics director, late Tuesday afternoon in a text.
Columbia big enough for two baseball teams, study finds
Minor league baseball at a new stadium on the former site of the S.C. State Hospital on Bull Street wouldn't adversely impact the two-time national champion University of South Carolina Gamecocks baseball team, experts who conducted a feasibility study for the city told council Tuesday. The study noted that Columbia is the second-largest market in the continental United States without a professional sports franchise, behind Baton Rouge, La., which is home to the powerful Louisiana State University Tigers baseball program.
Highlighting Berkeley, paper explores academic damage of expanding, independent athletics program
When describing the approach that administrators at the University of California at Berkeley took to the university's sports program, John Cummins consistently uses a somewhat unexpected term: ambivalent. Unexpected, says Cummins, a former associate chancellor at the university, because Berkeley, like all other big-time football programs in the major athletic conferences, is in a "spending race." The problem, Cummins and a graduate student and athlete, Kirsten Hextrum, argue in a white paper published by Berkeley's Center for Studies in Higher Education and presented to the university's Athletic Study Center Advisory Committee, is that Berkeley has never really figured out -- much less articulated -- the role of athletics within the university. There are no clear values guiding decision-making.
RICK CLEVELAND: Cook's client list grows with additions of Clowney and Ebron
Syndicated sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: "So, how was your first week of 2014? Ask Hattiesburg-based lawyer and sports agent Bus Cook that question and he will answer: 'I've had worse.' Truth is, few agents have had better weeks. Cook tends to understate. In this case, his understatement is off the charts."

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