Wednesday, March 12, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Second Starkville area qualifies for 'fiberhood'
Starkville's Timbercove/College Station/Polos "fiberhood" became the city's second area to qualify for C Spire's high-speed, fiber Internet service, the company announced Monday. The neighborhood hit the company-mandated 35 percent pre-registration mark for Fiber to the Home, a service that will deliver 1 gigabit Internet speeds for residential subscribers, Monday after falling four sign-ups short Friday. Now that the area is qualified, C Spire will move into construction and engineering efforts.
Crawfish supply, prices affected by cold weather
In three decades of selling crawfish, Curt Crissey has never seen prices this high. In years past the owner of Brewski's in Starkville has sold the crustaceans for roughly $3.49 per pound. Right now, the retail cost is $5.79. Just a few weeks ago it was $6.99. Crissey is not alone. Businesses selling crawfish across the Golden Triangle have prices higher than usual. Some have made the decision to wait for prices to dip before putting them on the menu. You can lay the blame on the long, cold winter. If temperatures continue to rise, crawfish yields will increase and prices will lower in coming weeks, Crissey said.
Repeal of later school start likely
Mississippi public schools likely will open their doors earlier in August than originally anticipated. That's because state lawmakers are expected to repeal a 2012 law preventing them from starting classes before the third Monday in August. In recent years, many Northeast Mississippi schools have started as early as the first week of that month, and superintendents indicated they likely will continue to do that, if allowed. The House on Tuesday passed Senate Bill 2571, which repeals the 2012 law. It was later held for a day on a motion to reconsider, but if House members reject that, it would go to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature.
Film incentives bill revived
The House on Tuesday revived a measure the Senate killed that would provide incentives for motion picture studios to set up shop in Mississippi and help create a "film infrastructure." But Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves appears prepared to help kill it again. "I think we need to send a clarion call to the house of lords (Senate)," Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Smith said before the House voted 118-2 to revive its incentives plan as an amendment to another bill. "...There are four different production companies looking at Mississippi right now." But Reeves recently bashed the proposal, and other opponents say the movie industry is too risky for the state to help guarantee financing.
Bill prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks passes
The Senate passed a House bill Tuesday to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. The bill allows exceptions only if the mother's life is in danger or if there are major abnormalities of the fetus. State Sen. Derrick Simmons, D-Greenville, argued there should be exceptions for rape and incest. "A child victim may not know prior to 20 weeks that she is pregnant," Simmons said. Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, said the bill doesn't prohibit abortions but says only that abortions can't be performed after 20 weeks except in rare circumstances.
Senate advances law enforcement pay raise
A bill providing Mississippi's 82 sheriffs a pay raise is heading for Gov. Phil Bryant's desk unless the Senate changes its mind, and legislation honoring two Tupelo police officers -- one killed and the other injured -- in a December bank robbery remains alive in the process. The "Gale Stauffer Jr. and Joseph Maher Law Enforcement Act of 2014" passed the Senate on Tuesday and now heads back to the House which can accept the Senate version of the bill or invite conference to try to work out the differences. In a Dec. 23 bank robbery in Tupelo, Stauffer was killed while responding, and Maher was injured.
Baria has Personnel Board exemption stripped from DMR bill
The House on Tuesday passed an amended version of the Senate bill aimed at providing better oversight of the Department of Marine Resources. The bill includes an amendment by Rep. David Baria, D-Waveland, that strikes a one-year exemption from State Personnel Board review of hirings at the agency. "While I feel that Director (Jamie) Miller is doing a good job and needs the flexibility to reorganize the DMR, my paramount concern is that we maintain the highest degree of oversight possible," Baria said. "The state personnel board helps the Legislature exercise that oversight." Supporters, including Rep. Jeffrey Guice, R-Ocean Springs, said they're confident in current leaders and say they should be allowed to freely reassign or fire employees.
Auditor, MDA in bit of turf war
State Auditor Stacey Pickering said last week that he had recovered $48,933 as part of the beef plant investigation going on for a decade. That brings to more than $617,000 the total amount of money the state has recovered after the project imploded, going back to when Gov. Phil Bryant was auditor. 48 grand isn't a lot of money compared with the overall state budget or the massive failure of Mississippi Beef Processors. The amount isn't the point. Pickering made sure to mention that the beef plant -- for which the state guaranteed a $55 million loan it eventually had to pay -- was not subject to any sort of oversight from the auditor's office. House Bill 1318 would change that.
Senate panel 'very close' to cyber bill
Lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee are getting "very close" to a new cybersecurity bill, according to the panel's top Republican. "As you know we have been working on a cyber bill for years now," Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) told President Obama's nominee to lead the U.S. Cyber Command and National Security Agency, Vice Adm. Michael Rogers, in a hearing on Tuesday. Lawmakers have for years pushed for a comprehensive bill to protect American financial markets, transportation systems and the electric grid in the event of a massive cyber attack.
No one sought reward in Ole Miss statue defiling
Although the University of Mississippi Alumni Association offered a $25,000 reward leading to information about who last month desecrated a campus statue of civil rights icon James Meredith, no one who passed on tips to authorities asked for it. "That was encouraging," said Danny Blanton, Ole Miss' director of media and public relations. "It's an indication of people taking ownership of the university. The entire university body stepped forward and said this isn't what the university is about." Three freshman students from Georgia, all members of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, were implicated in the Feb. 23 incident.
Northeast Mississippi Community College announces new internship program
Northeast Mississippi Community College announced a new partnership with Toyota in Blue Springs on Monday. The TIGER Internship Program will combine three days of classroom instruction with two days of on-site work experience at an area manufacturing facility for $14 an hour. It will benefit Northeast students with an interest in a career in manufacturing, as well as area industries, such as Toyota, Toyota suppliers and other manufacturers in the college's five-county district, the school said in its press release. Classes will be offered on Northeast's Booneville campus in subjects including electricity, fluid power, mechanics, fabrication and robotics. Upon completion, students will graduate with an associate's degree as well as work experience.
Judge in U. of Alabama houndstooth case recuses herself
The federal district judge presiding in a lawsuit by the University of Alabama board of trustees and board president pro tem Paul Bryant Jr. against a Georgia-based company over use of the houndstooth pattern recused herself on Monday. In a brief order Monday, U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn recused herself from the case between UA and Hounds-tooth Mafia Enterprises LLC and its founders. The case was reassigned to district Judge R. David Proctor. Blackburn, who was appointed by former President George H.W. Bush in 1991, graduated with an undergraduate degree from UA in 1973, according to her federal judiciary profile.
U. of Alabama students elect Montgomery junior to lead SGA
Junior Hamilton Bloom was elected president of the Student Government Association at the University of Alabama for the 2014-2015 term on Tuesday. Bloom, a junior from Montgomery majoring in history and political science, defeated Justin Thompson, a junior from Frankfort, Ky., majoring in public relations, according to results released by the SGA Elections Board. Bloom, the vice president for Student Affairs in 2013-2014 and a former SGA senator, campaigned on a promise to listen to students' ideas and the practical experience in the SGA to find solutions for students' concerns.
UGA graduate programs improve in U.S. News rankings
Three University of Georgia graduate programs moved up in U.S. News & World Report rankings released this week. The UGA School of Law improved four spots to rank 29th in the country. The Terry College of Business improved to 48th, up from 52 a year ago and up nine spots from two years ago. The College of Education made the biggest jump in U.S. News' 2015 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools." The UGA College of Education improved from 43rd to 33rd in the magazine's annual ranking, and rose from 33rd to 23rd among public universities.
U. of Florida law school dean brushes off slide in national ranking
It may amount to little more than bragging rights between two state rivals, but the Florida State University College of Law has surpassed the University of Florida Levin College of Law as the state's top law program, according to U.S. News & World Report. The 2015 edition of Best Graduate Schools rankings shows that Florida State's law program rose in the ranks of national law programs from 48th to 45th, while UF's dropped from 46th to 49th -- out of 146 law schools and colleges evaluated. UF Law Dean Robert Jerry said he wasn't worried about FSU's leap forward. "I'm not losing sleep about it because I think most of the world has come to understand that this formula has become so flawed, it doesn't have much meaning anymore," Jerry said.
Texas A&M professor discusses practical use of drones at SXSW Interactive conference
Texas A&M professor Robin Murphy knows that a lot of people look at drone technology and think it's being used to fight wars and illegally spy on U.S. citizens. That's exactly the crowd she expected to greet her Monday night as the host of a South by Southwest Interactive panel discussion titled Drones: Policy. Privacy & Public Safety. Instead, she said the panel was met with well-informed questions about FAA regulations, plus concerns about privacy. Monday night's panel on drone technology was organized by the IEEE as a way to examine social and ethical implications of drone technology. It also helped define the difference between a hobbyist and an entrepreneur, she said.
Two petitions seek action on University Village complex at U. of Missouri
Several weeks after the partial collapse of a University Village walkway at the University of Missouri, decisions about the future of the complex and the day-care center inside the complex are still under discussion. Meanwhile, two petitions signed by students and their supporters are circulating, one that calls for the university to move the day care from the complex and a second that asks for the complete renovation or demolition of University Village, located at 601 S. Providence Road. By this morning, 549 people had signed the petition requesting the day-care center be moved, and 97 had signed the petition requesting complete renovation or demolition.
Education Department Is Urged to Thwart Aid Abuses by Debit-Card Issuers
The Education Department should take steps to ensure that students are protected when colleges use third-party servicers, like Higher One, to deliver financial-aid refunds, says a new report by the department's inspector general. The report, which focuses on three colleges that use servicers to distribute leftover student aid, and one that offers direct deposit through an arrangement with a bank, says the colleges were doing little from 2010 to 2012 to monitor their contractors' compliance with federal student-aid and privacy laws. The colleges were not preventing the servicers from steering students to their debit-card option, and sometimes participated in doing so.
Universities Try a Cultural Bridge to Lure Foreign Students
Colleges want, and increasingly need, more foreign students, not only for high-minded reasons, but also because foreigners generally pay full price. Recruitment from overseas is a rare and increasingly important financial bright spot at a time when state support for higher education has dropped to historic lows, research grants are declining, consumers are objecting to tuition increases, and the supply of college-age Americans is stagnant.
BRIAN PERRY (OPINION): Special needs champion
Consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "Third District Congressman Gregg Harper's office announced this week that a measure authored by Harper to fund pediatric medical research through money currently designated for political nominating conventions has been sent to President Barack Obama for his signature or veto. Harper said in the release, 'As the father of a special needs child, I understand fully the challenges facing families raising kids with medical difficulties. This bill appropriately places kids first by prioritizing research for our country's most vulnerable children.' Harper has championed legislation for special needs children since his first election in 2008. His son, now 24, has Fragile X Syndrome."
SID SALTER (OPINION): Bipartisan faith-based event at Governor's Mansion inspirational
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Watching Gov. Phil Bryant host a crowded bipartisan, multi-racial and faith-based event at the Governor's Mansion on March 8 that included Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams was an intriguing experience. ...Bryant hosted the Faith and Politics Institute's 2014 Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage delegation at the mansion for a reception prior to a banquet at the Old Capitol Inn. The group traveled from the Mississippi Delta to Jackson and then on to Selma, Ala., where they commemorated the 1965 'Bloody Sunday' crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge with former Freedom Rider and now U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. In his welcome to the group, Bryant spoke of the honor he felt in hosting Mrs. Evers-Williams and Rep. Lewis in 'the people's home' and said: 'We are not yet where we need to be (on matters of racial reconciliation), but we have come so far.'

Brown solid for Bulldogs
After a rough weekend out west, Mississippi State returned to the win column on Tuesday night with a solid mound performance by Preston Brown. The sophomore right-hander shut out Southern Illinois through eight innings as the 24th-ranked Bulldogs won 3-0, improving to 13-7. It was a career-long outing for Brown (2-0), who scattered four hits with six strikeouts and a walk. "I was just attacking with my fastball," Brown said. "I'm a ground-ball pitcher and sometimes they find holes. They didn't tonight because our defense played really well." Myles Gentry came on to close it out in the ninth, recording his second save.
Mississippi State AD throws support behind Ray, despite struggles
Scott Stricklin has heard the concerns before. Four years ago, Mississippi State's athletic director dealt with a new head coach who won fewer conference games in his second year than in his first. He watched John Cohen compile a 15-44 record in the Southeastern Conference in his first two seasons. He stuck with Cohen in baseball. Stricklin told The Clarion-Ledger this week that he's doing the same with Rick Ray in basketball. "It's frustrating because everyone wants to make a judgment," Stricklin said. "And the record is usually the quickest way to make a judgment. In this case, you have to look at some of the other factors going on. It's my belief that the wins will come."
Ray looks to newcomers to improve Bulldogs' depth
Mississippi State men's basketball coach Rick Ray chose Monday to talk more about players no one has seen play in a game. With only seven Southeastern Conference victories in two seasons, Ray hopes transfers and incoming freshmen will help reverse the fortunes of a program that finished the regular season 13-18 and 3-15 in the Southeastern Conference. In his first two years at MSU, Ray has had to make do with seven and eight scholarship players. He said the lack of depth has changed his way of coaching and has impacted the program. MSU will try to extend its season Wednesday night against Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament at the Georgia Dome.
Bulldogs, Commodores Battle In Opening Round Of SEC Tournament
There's no team Mississippi State has played more in the SEC Tournament than Vanderbilt, and on Wednesday at the Georgia Dome the theme continues. When play tips around 8:30 p.m. it will be the 14th meeting between the two in this event, with the Commodores holding an 8-5 advantage. The opening-round matchup will be carried by the SEC Network, with Dave Neal and Jon Sundvold handling the broadcast, along with Jeff Goodman on the sidelines. Overall, MSU is 28-50 at the tournament with three championships (1996, 2002 and 2009). "Everybody feels good right now, so, it's a positive going into the tournament," MSU freshman guard I.J. Ready said. "It could be a brand-new start."
Bulldogs seek fresh start tonight
Mississippi State has lost 13-straight games and finished in last place in the Southeastern Conference standings. But none of that matters now. The Bulldogs (13-18, 3-15) are approaching the SEC tournament at the Georgia Dome with a clean slate and hope to gain some momentum tonight taking on No. 11 seed Vanderbilt tonight in the opening round. The game will start at approximately 8:30 p.m. Tonight's winner plays Ole Miss on Thursday night.
U. of South Carolina student Martha Childress: Back in the game
Martha Childress has a good arm. The 18-year-old, paralyzed by what police have said was a stray bullet in Five Points last fall, threw the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday evening at the University of South Carolina baseball. And her arms do much more than throw a ball. "Her arms now are her legs," said her mother, Pam Childress Johnson. The powerful strength in her arms reflects her persistence as a person. Childress is living in Simpsonville now but is planning on coming back to Columbia to attend classes in the fall. She has not been back to Five Points since the incident, and she said she will not be back any time soon.

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