Thursday, February 27, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Higher education bond bills OK'd; money to benefit public universities
The House and Senate have cleared bond bills for capital improvements at Mississippi's institutions of higher learning. The House version, which passed Tuesday, authorizes $92.4 million in bonds, allocating money to all eight Mississippi public universities. At Mississippi State and Mississippi University for Women, the bonds will fund renovations and expansions to each school's library. Alcorn State would use $9 million to build a new academic technology center. The largest single expenditure is $30.5 million for the new School of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Sens. Chris McDaniel, Melanie Sojourner and Michael Watson, all south Mississippi Republicans, were the lone three to vote against the bond bill's passage.
Mississippi State to present Civil Rights era play
Mississippi State University will present a production of "...And the Rain Came to Mayfield" at 7:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday at the McComas Hall main stage. The drama is set in Mississippi in 1962, and is part of MSU's Black History Month celebration. Tickets are $10 for mature audiences only, as it contains themes and language typical of the time period.
Three charities vying for Starkville Restaurant Week donations
The Homeward Bound Project of Mississippi, Starkville Pregnancy Care Center and Mississippi State University's T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability will compete for a combined $6,500 in donations during this year's Starkville Restaurant Week, the Greater Starkville Development Partnership announced Tuesday. Members of the Starkville Convention and Visitors Bureau picked the three finalists last week for the second annual Restaurant Week's charity aspect out of about 500 unique nominations that collectively backed about 35 charities, GSDP CEO Jennifer Gregory said.
Glow Run, banquet at Mississippi State to benefit Batson
Two student-led initiatives at Mississippi State University are aiming to raise funds for Mississippi's only children's hospital. Tonight, the Mississippi State University Student Association will host its 2014 Glow Run 5K to raise money for the Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital in Jackson. Friday evening, Mississippi State students Anna Langford and Gineca Garriga will host a benefit dinner to raise money for the hospital.
Mississippi State Alumni Meet in Meridian
The Lauderdale County Chapter of the Mississippi State Alumni Association hosted its annual winter luncheon Wednesday. It invited Jeff Davis, executive director of the MSU Alumni Association, to be its special guest. The Lauderdale County Chapter also presented a $10,000 check to Davis, the first installment of an endowment to help local students attend Mississippi State. "We're so thankful for their efforts to help support education for students and send them to Mississippi State," said Davis. Davis also brought along the coveted Egg Bowl Trophy, signifying State's win over Ole Miss in 2013.
Organization promoting women in agriculture still growing
The lead organization promoting women in agriculture in Mississippi continues to grow. Dozens of women came together for a late February conference at Mississippi State University. The 75-member Mississippi Women for Agriculture organization meets to discuss important agricultural developments and to draw encouragement from shared experiences. Sylvia Clark, the MSU Extension associate who coordinates Mississippi Women for Agriculture, said the organization started in 2011. This is the third year the organization has held an annual conference.
House committee considering gutting Senate's controversial religious freedom bill
A House committee on Thursday had a brief discussion on the Senate's Mississippi "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" and is considering changes in an attempt to allay fears the legislation would allow discrimination against gay people and others. The meeting comes as SB2681, passed last month by the Senate after little debate, draws national scrutiny and criticism after a religious-rights bill in Arizona was vetoed late Wednesday. Opponents, including the National Football League and some large corporations, said the Arizona bill would provide legal cover for discrimination.
Highway Patrol troopers rally for change
Highway Patrol troopers held a "blue-out" at the state Capitol on Wednesday, with about 100 uniformed officers calling on lawmakers to put more troopers on the road. "A lot of times I'm covering two or three counties, sometimes more," said Trooper Cindy Searcy of Amory, who serves in Troop G. "If you get into something, your closest backup might be two counties away, or if you get a wreck call, you might have an hour drive to get there. ...I had an incident in Monroe County where a guy ran from me, and my closest backup, it took him 50 minutes to get there." The off-duty, uniformed troopers were joined by Gov. Phil Bryant, House Speaker Philip Gunn, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and numerous lawmakers at a rally and press conference organized by the Mississippi State Troopers Association.
Caucus asks Department of Justice to challenge Mississippi's Voter ID law
A letter has been sent by the chairman of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus asking the U.S. Department of Justice to preclude the implementation of Mississippi's voter ID law. "The law adversely affects Mississippi's most vulnerable population, namely, the elderly, minorities and disabled," said state Sen. Kenny Wayne Jones, D-Canton. "Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court declaring Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act as unconstitutional, Mississippi was covered by the "preclearance" requirement" The Justice Department has yet to say whether it will challenge Mississippi's Voter ID law, similar to challenges made in a couple other states.
Senate panel OKs ban on abortions past 20 weeks
Mississippi is moving closer toward a law that would prohibit abortions at or beyond 20 weeks of gestation. House Bill 1400, which the House passed earlier this month, on Wednesday cleared the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee. It now goes to the full Senate. House Judiciary B Chairman Andy Gipson has said the bill aims to stop late-term abortions that threaten the health of the mother and "to protect a viable child who can survive outside the womb." The bill doesn't allow any exception for rape or incest, but it would allow an exception if a doctor determines the mother's life is in danger or the fetus has severe abnormalities.
Drone Cargo Ships Will Make the Real World Work Like the Internet
Rolls Royce is moving toward a world where a single tap on a smartphone could set a massive cargo ship in motion half a world away. As reported by Bloomberg, the company best known for luxury cars is designing drone cargo ships it says would be cleaner, more efficient, and less expensive than the manned ocean freighters that transport most of the world's cargo today. If the project succeeds, these uncaptained vessels could become a key link in a human-free global supply chain of consumer goods. The push for drone container ships is part of a much larger effort in the logistics industry to automate the way goods and products move from place to place.
College Board recommends Alfred Rankins Jr. as next Alcorn State president
The state college board is tapping one of its own as the recommended candidate to become the next president of Alcorn State University. Former ASU President M. Christopher Brown II resigned in December after officials raised questions about spending practices at the university in Lorman. A Greenville native, Rankins currently serves as deputy commissioner of the college board, where he oversees academic and student affairs for the Institutions of Higher Learning. As the preferred candidate, Rankins will now meet with ASU leaders, staff and students, as well as community leaders and alumni, before the full board votes on his candidacy.
Businesses and musicians team up to help USM student
Several Hattiesburg-area businesses and musicians are teaming up to help a senior at Southern Miss. A "Concert for Coco" is being held March 1 for Jasmine "Coco" Whiteside. The Hattiesburg native was diagnosed anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis in December. Whiteside was admitted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center's ICU Dec. 21 and is still there under care. The benefit concert will begin at 8 p.m. at T-Bone's Records & Café and will include performances by Ralph Nix & the Catfish Gospel Band, 9000 Miles, Rooster Blues and Dr. E and the Voodoo Kings.
Delta State University establishes racial reconciliation conference
Delta State University has established a racial reconciliation conference, entitled "Winning the Race: A Conference on Diversity and Community". The goal is to promote dialogue on race relations by building conversations that will bring together diverse communities in the Delta. The inaugural conference March 18-19 will focus on the Delta State family -- students, faculty, staff -- but will also offer a wide selection of sessions for all attendees with topics such as music, media, Civil Rights history, religion and healthcare.
Students, staff safe after Northeast Mississippi Community College bus fire
Students, bus drivers and coaching staff are safe after a Tuesday night fire that destroyed the bus on which the women's softball team was traveling, said Ricky Ford, executive Vice president at Northeast Mississippi Community College. As of Wednesday morning the community and Northeast family were well on the way to replacing student belongings, including backpacks, books, iPads, laptops and other items to support them in the classroom, he said. Everything should be replaced by Friday. The NEMCC women's softball team was traveling east on U.S. Highway 72 in Alcorn County late Tuesday night when the bus caught fire, reported Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Trooper Ray Hall.
MGCCC makes national ranking of fastest-growing community colleges
Community College Week has named Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College a Fastest Growing Community College. MGCCC is ranked in the top 50 community colleges with enrollments of 10,000 or higher. The ranking is based on data provided by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics. Between fall 2011 and fall 2012, MGCCC enrollment increased by 1.3 percent, placing it at 36th on the top 50 list. MGCCC president Dr. Mary S. Graham said the college is focusing on recruiting non-traditional students, helping mid-career workers retool their skills and expanding access to minority and first-generation college students.
Ukrainian economics professor at Auburn reflects on conflict at home
Dr. Liliana Stern has plane tickets to visit her home this summer, but she's not sure it will be safe for her to visit. Stern, an economics professor at Auburn University, is a native of Ternopil, Ukraine, just two and a half hours from the western border. Ternopil made headlines recently for being one of the cities involved in some of the deadliest protests in Ukrainian history. While Stern said she was stunned to see the violence erupt in her home country, she was not surprised by the protests and public unrest. Since the Soviet Union collapsed, Stern said there was no shift in power, which caused public frustrations to fester and eventually explode. Stern said while she knows the problems in Ukraine are far from over, she hopes the violence will end and new, young leaders will replace those currently in charge.
Diversity task force recommends changes to U. of Alabama's SGA election process
An ad hoc task force on diversity created by the University of Alabama faculty senate recommended changes to improve student government elections at the Capstone by re-enforcing students' electoral rights and obligations. The recommendations by the Faculty Senate Task Force for Excellence in Equity, Inclusion, and Citizenship were delivered to UA's administration for consideration on Monday, according to Steve Miller, the faculty senate president. The task force's recommendations will be shared with UA's Student Government Association's election board, which is scheduled to meet Friday, according to Kelli Knox-Hall, the assistant director of the Office of Student Conduct and the ex-officio UA staff member on the board. The board oversees SGA elections.
Tureaud recounts stories of trial and triumph at LSU
A.P. Tureaud Jr. has a lot of stories to tell -- the product of living, as he calls it, an "enriched life." The first African-American to enroll at LSU and the son of a famed Louisiana civil rights pioneer, Tureaud shared some of those stories as featured speaker at the annual African-American Heritage Celebration at the Baton Rouge federal courthouse on Wednesday. They include the time he drove Thurgood Marshall and other civil rights activists around New Orleans. The fear he felt in breaking the color barrier at LSU and his decision not to return. His great-grandfather's turn from slave to state lawmaker.
Funding boost sought for Louisiana college and university libraries' online research
If Louisiana colleges and universities are going to produce the type of graduates needed to meet the demands of the state's future economy, some argue it may come down to whether the state continues to slash funding for a little-known resource schools have been relying on for more than two decades. The Louisiana Library Network provides LOUIS -- the Louisiana Online University Information System. LOUIS is a consortium of the state's public and private colleges pooling their money together to make sure students in all corners of the state have access to the same technologies and academic databases used for research. State funding for LOUIS has dropped from 70 percent in the 2008-09 fiscal year to 12 percent this year.
Student volunteer efforts make Athens better, says UGA president
University of Georgia students make Athens a better community. Not by just spending their dollars here, said UGA President Jere Morehead, but by contributing many thousands of volunteer hours. "Our students at UGA are truly a force of good in the Athens community," said Morehead during a Wednesday meeting of the Rotary Club of Athens. "They do the sorts of things that make you very proud." Thousands of UGA students participate in volunteer work in Athens every year, and take their responsibilities seriously, he said.
UGA auditors reviewing work of former employee facing racketeering charge
The University of Georgia Internal Auditing Division is reviewing the accounts handled by a woman arrested last week in Madison County on charges that she stole more than $10,000 from a youth sports organization, a UGA spokesman said Wednesday. The auditors are reviewing the accounts handled by Sherry Hawkes, 40, of Colbert, after the Madison County Sheriff's Office charged Hawkes and her husband, Michael Wade Hawkes, 40, with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Hawkes, who was employed as an accountant in the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, was fired Monday. The university still has her husband's employment status under review.
Power goes out on part of UGA for second straight day
For the second straight day, power outages have darkened a large part of the University of Georgia campus. The university sent out an email notice Wednesday morning noting power outages affected the campus from about the Reed Hall Quadrangle north to Broad Street, turning the lights out on much of the north and central sections of campus. Buildings affected included Tucker Hall, Sanford Stadium north, Milledge Hall, Payne Hall, Reed Hall, the Law School, the Garden Club, Old College, New College and Caldwell Hall. Power was restored within an hour, and on Tuesday repair crews were also able to get power back on within an hour, said Fred Remen, director of operations and maintenance in UGA's Facilities Management Division.
U. of Tennessee Police Department hosts 24-hour 'Tweet-along'
The University of Tennessee Police Department is hosting a "tweet-along" from Thursday at 8 a.m. through Friday at 8 a.m. During that time, three officers -- Sgt. Cedric Roach, Cpl. Kelly Mihalik and Officer Lindsay Miller -- will tweet about calls ranging from traffic stops to theft calls to alcohol and drug offenses. The university has released a list of nine call abbreviations for followers to decipher the calls. The abbreviations include: "PI" for public intoxication, "DOC" for disorderly conduct, "SP" for simple drug possession, "PODP" for possession of drug paraphernalia and "UAC" for underage consumption.
U. of Kentucky wins $350,000 grant to help undergraduates study alcohol abuse
The University of Kentucky has won a $350,000 grant to bring 55 college students from around the state to its campus for the next five summers to work on alcohol-abuse research. The grant from the National Institutes of Health takes aim at a problem that affects a huge number of Kentuckians while expanding research opportunities for undergraduate students. "This grant will allow us to significantly expand the breadth and depth of research opportunities for undergraduate students," said Mark Prendergast, a psychology professor who will direct the grant with Kimberly Nixon, a professor in the College of Pharmacy.
U. of Kentucky to be part of manufacturing institute in Detroit
The University of Kentucky will be part of a $148 million light-materials manufacturing institute in Detroit, announced this week by President Barack Obama. The American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute will receive $70 million in Department of Defense funding, with $78 million in matching support from a public-private consortium, including more than $4 million from Kentucky. Kentucky, with its strong aluminum-manufacturing base, stands to benefit from programs developed by the institute, said John Walz, dean of the University of Kentucky College of Engineering. The institute is one of three to be created as part of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, a White House initiative founded to help U.S. manufacturers employ leading-edge technology to become more competitive.
Engineers begin inspections of 1,300 U. of Missouri buildings
A local contract engineering company, Trabue, Hansen & Hinshaw Inc., was hired this week by the University of Missouri to inspect every building on campus. MU spokesman Christian Basi said the university isn't giving the company a deadline for completion of the inspections to avoid rushing the work. He also said the cost of the outside contractor hasn't been tabulated. Basi said the company was asked yesterday to expand its inspections to 1,300 campus buildings, including storage facilities or sheds in which people might work. John Smith, a structural engineer with THH Inc., said the company has inspected between 30 and 40 buildings in the past few days. Smith said residential housing, including residence halls and on-campus housing complexes, were first on the inspection list.
University Village walkway had 'severe rusting,' MU Police investigation says
The walkway at University Village apartments that collapsed Saturday, resulting in the death of Columbia Fire Department Lt. Bruce Britt, showed signs of "severe rusting" and deterioration, according to the partial death investigation from the University of Missouri Police Department. MU Police Department Detective Sam Easley, who investigated the scene after the incident, documented what he described as a walkway "in a deteriorated state," according to the report, which was posted by the Columbia Daily Tribune on Wednesday afternoon. The Tribune received the report as the result of a records request.
GOP tax plan would combine tuition tax breaks, end popular deductions for colleges
Tax legislation introduced Wednesday by Republican leaders in the House of Representatives doesn't have a snowball's chance in Miami of becoming law. But that does not mean that its many provisions related to higher education -- many of which would negatively affect colleges and universities -- don't matter. "Whether or not this legislation is considered by the current Congress, its proposals are likely to have a long shelf life," said M. Matthew Owens, vice president for federal relations at the Association of American Universities. "This is concerning because there are several troubling provisions that would adversely affect students' ability to pay for college, and make it harder for universities to carry out their missions as charitable tax-exempt entities."
BILL MINOR (OPINION): Statue incident, new book on riot coincide
Longtime political observer and columnist Bill Minor writes: "James Meredith, the state's bewildering civil rights icon, again became national news as the focus of racial conflict centered at the University of Mississippi. And this time, he didn't even set foot on the campus. By coincidence, an oddball book just arrived dredging up events of Meredith's 1962 riotous entry to the university. The author, Dick Gentry, said he was an eyewitness and contends that both news media and federal and state accounts of the 'Battle of Oxford' got the story muddled."
BOBBY HARRISON (OPINION): Legislators should look inward for cuts
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "Legislative leaders stressed the importance of fiscal conservatism when they presented their budget proposal late last year and have continued to stress it this session. One agency where legislative leaders have had a difficult time finding areas to cut is in its own backyard -- the budget to operate the Legislature. In Fiscal Year 2008, $25.5 million was appropriated to the Legislature to pay for operations and travel. For the current year, $28.5 million was provided for the 174 legislators and their staff."
SID SALTER (OPINION): Study questions the availability of primary care physicians
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "A study conducted by a group of researchers at Mississippi State University's Social Science Research Center raises the concern that with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act or 'Obamacare' in Mississippi, the influx of subsidized health insurance recipients will overwhelm the availability of primary care physicians. The research is entitled 'Access to Primary Care Physicians Differs by Health Insurance in Mississippi' and was produced by researchers Ronald E. Cossman, Jeralynn S. Cossman, Sarah Rogers, David McBride, La'Mont Sutton and Megan Stubbs-Richardson."

Mississippi State bats keep popping in rout of Mount St. Mary's
Mississippi State baseball essentially had to use a form of reverse psychology Wednesday to ignore the on-the-field thermometer at game time. "We told our kids, we don't do cold," MSU coach John Cohen said. "We don't use that as a excuse for not going out there and performing." In bitterly cold conditions at Dudy Noble Field, MSU (6-4) provided its best two-day stretch of offense in a 10-1 victory over Mount Saint Mary's. The Bulldogs scored 23 runs in the last two days after posting just 42 runs in the first eight contests.
Bulldogs roll
Senior Demarcus Henderson, redshirt junior Wes Rea and senior Brett Pirtle each tallied two RBIs as Mississippi State beat Mt. Saint Mary's 10-1 on Wednesday at Dudy Noble field. In his first career start on the mound, right-hander Preston Brown, a redshirt sophomore, struck out seven batters in six innings of work. He surrendered one unearned run on two hits. Junior Will Cox (Amory) threw three scoreless innings, striking out six. Mississippi State (6-4) opens the Diamond Classic at Dudy Noble at 6:30 p.m. Friday against Michigan State. Eastern Illinois will also participate in the three-day event.
MSU men's basketball drops home contest to Tennessee
It's as if Rick Ray saw this way Wednesday's game was coming for days. Tennessee used its physical play to dominate a undermanned Mississippi State squad in the post and then hung on in the second half for a 75-68 road victory. Tennessee (17-11, 8-7 in Southeastern Conference) is led by one of Ray's closest friends in the head coaching fraternities and knew the style the Volunteers would bring to Humphrey Coliseum. In the large form of Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee dominated the 15-foot by 12-foot rectangle known as the lane. "I thought from the beginning of the game that we weren't prepared for Tennessee's physicality and it's not like it's a unknown commodity," Ray said of Tennessee's style of play.
MSU women's basketball faces nationally-ranked Kentucky
The Mississippi State women's basketball has established an identity With a coach whose nickname is "Secretary of Defense," it's natural that the Bulldogs have adopted Vic Schaefer's gritty, hard-nosed approach toward the game. As much as the 2013-14 team has embraced that style of play, it's not too late for the Bulldogs to take another step. Now they just have to find the time to do it. MSU (18-10, 5-9 Southeastern Conference) plays host to No. 12 Kentucky (20-7, 8-6) on Senior Night at Humphrey Coliseum tonight at 7. WKBB-FM 100.9 and WFCA-FM 107.9 will broadcast the game live. MSU will honor seniors Candace Foster and Katia May before the game.
MSU's Ally McDonald tabbed Golfer of the Week by SEC
After claiming her second consecutive top 15 finish to start the spring schedule, Mississippi State junior Ally McDonald was named the women's Golfer of the Week by the Southeastern Conference on Wednesday. McDonald has now won the award for a school-record fourth time and the second Bulldog this spring, following Rica Tse, who garnered the award on Feb. 12. The Fulton native has led MSU to a top-5 scoring average in the SEC at 291.82. "We are so proud of Ally and this recognition," MSU head coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said.
UPD makes presence known at UM baseball games
University of Mississippi students can expect to see University Police Department officers at this weekend's three-game home baseball series against the University of Central Florida. After rumors of numerous student arrests swirled during the first four home games, many were left wondering if last week's incidents would become a habitual pattern throughout the season. "We are pretty much there to provide security and safety for the fans and visitors," UPD Captain of Field Operations Michael Harmon said. Harmon said he is aware of the alcohol at the baseball games, but it is how people act that security is more concerned with. Harmon said baseball games are similar to the Grove in that because so many people are drinking in one area, UPD only has time to deal with those who are causing a scene.
From Alabama, Hockey's Ultimate Travel Team
The team's trip earlier this season seemed planned by a crazed travel agent who threw darts at a map. Outbound, fly commercially from Huntsville to Denver, east to Chicago, then to Anchorage. On the return, jet from Anchorage to Seattle, then a stop in Houston before the final trip home. Total miles logged: 8,282. Such is the frequently fatigued flyer life of a hockey player at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the only Division I men's hockey team in the South. Skating for a university situated at the epicenter of college football might seem disorientating by itself. The program was disbanded for about six weeks in 2011 when the interim school president, Malcolm Portera, heeded a consultant's recommendation. It was revived through a grass-roots campaign by supporters and the hiring of Robert A. Altenkirch as university president.

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