Friday, March 21, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
'New era' begins with The Mill development in Starkville
In about 18 months, a new conference center, hotel and parking garage will become what the developer calls a "gateway to Mississippi State University and a bridge between the university and the city." MSU President Mark Keenum said the project will have a "transformative effect on Mississippi State and Starkville. ...I've always said if it's good for Starkville and Oktibbeha County, it's good for Mississippi State and vice-versa." More than 100 state and local leaders took part in a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at the historic E.E. Cooley Building which was built in 1902 as a cotton mill and later was the university's physical plant.
Project off, running: The Mill conference site coming to MSU campus
Construction on the Mill at Mississippi State University should start within 30 days of Thursday's ceremonial groundbreaking on the mixed-use development on the school's campus. Developer Mark Castleberry said some interior work has already started on the E.E. Cooley Building, which once housed MSU's physical plant and will eventually serve as the development's centerpiece. MSU President Mark Keenum said the school routinely has to back out of hosting academic conferences because of space issues, something the project's conference and convention center and hotel should help alleviate. "We're stretched to the limit because of space," he said. "We can handle about 550 people on campus before we run into capacity trouble." It will also offer the university much-needed office space, Keenum said.
Construction underway on The Mill at MSU
Campus and community leaders officially broke ground yesterday on a $40-million economic development project in "Mississippi's College Town." The Mill at Mississippi State University features three main projects: Transforming a landmark former cotton mill into a conference center and related office space; building an adjacent hotel and parking garage; and developing mixed-use business parcels on the land around the university's old physical plant. MSU president Mark E. Keenum said, "What we are about to build here will have both immediate and far-reaching benefits for Mississippi State University and for the surrounding area. It will also be a testament to the power of partnerships, without which none of this would have been accomplished."
Construction to start on new convention center
Construction on a long-awaited convention center will start Friday. "This project is a win, win, win for all of us concerned," Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum said. The city's old cotton mill will be transformed into The Mill: a $40 million convention center complex for MSU. "I think that it's going to be really transformative," Keenum said. "Not only for Mississippi State, but for this community." Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said people from all over the world will come to use it.
Mill renovations include conference center
The E.E. Cooley building, also known as the Mill, will soon undergo renovations. A groundbreaking ceremony took place at 3:30 p.m. Thursday to celebrate the new establishment. The building is located just off of campus at 600 Russell St. Sid Salter, chief communications officer, said this building meant a lot to his father's generation during the 1930s. Salter said he believes because of this project, students will be drawn to and re-connected with the E.E. Cooley building. MSU President Mark Keenum said the university has needed a state-of-the-art conference center for a long time. "I think The Mill at Mississippi State University will have a transformative effect on both the city of Starkville, the surrounding area and Mississippi State," Keenum said. "It will enhance that area tremendously, and I think will be a hub for further economic growth and development."
Starkville Project Managers React to Groundbreaking at Cooley Building
The Mill project is one that's been a decade in the works. Developers and project managers have high hopes for the $40 million project. "I'm excited this project is about to happen. This beautiful old lady needs renovating," says Tim Muzzi, Mississippi State University architect. Many hope The Mill will serve as both a historic reminder and a sign of Starkville's economic growth. "We're going to have the opportunity to change perception of Mississippi State and about Mississippi by being able to bring people in and show a world-class conference facility," says David Shaw, vice president for research and economic development at MSU.
Mill Project Officially Breaks Ground in Starkville
The development of the $40-million The Mill project is officially underway. A host of local and state dignitaries were on hand for Thursday's ground breaking ceremony in Starkville. The renovation of the old Cooley building is the result of both private investments and public funding. Once complete, the facility will offer a state of the art conference center and offices. Developer Mark Castleberry also has plans to build a large parking garage and an adjacent hotel.
South Mississippi students see golf turned into science
As golfers from the Champions Tour take to the greens at Fallen Oak Golf Club in Saucier for the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic, more than 500 students will be making their way to the same course to learn a little more about science. The STEM Zone -- which stands for science, technology, engineering and math -- was set up in a tent just off the course Thursday. From live broadcasting in front of a green screen to experiments involving the aerodynamics of a golf ball, students got some hands-on activities. "We're leading the activities and getting kids excited about what's going on," said Jonathan McMillan, a senior education major at Mississippi State University, who volunteered to staff the event with some of his peers.
MSU's John Forde named to national boards
Associate professor John E. Forde, the head of Mississippi State University's communication department, now serves on two national boards dealing with public relations education. Forde recently was appointed to the Universal Accreditation Board of the Public Relations Society of America and the UAB's Commission on Public Relations Education. The UAB appointment represents Forde's second term on the body. His first term from 2007-2012 resulted from an appointment by the Southern Public Relations Federation.
Experiment station blooms
On Highway 26 in Poplarville is a large structure where research uncovers the best way to grow flowering and fruit producing plants. Mississippi State University's South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station conducts trials on new varieties of flowers that are then sent to breeding companies throughout the world. By testing varieties in the hot and humid conditions of Mississippi, the staff can share the information collected with retail nurseries, landscapers and nursery growers who produce bedding plants, said Dr. Gene Blythe.
Everything Garden Expo starts today at Mississippi Horse Park
The Starkville Area Arts Council will host the 2014 Everything Garden Expo beginning today from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Mississippi Horse Park. The 2014 Everything Garden Expo is an annual two-day event that provides hobby and professional gardeners with access to plants, supplies and guest speakers that share tips and tricks about successful gardening.
MEC surveys find optimism, confidence in state's economy
Leaders from across the state are showing great confidence in the direction Mississippi is moving and in the ability to improve its economic competitiveness, according to the Mississippi Economic Council. Surveyed during the MEC's Blueprint Mississippi Pathway to Progress Tour, business and community leaders rate Mississippi as a newly emerging growth state, higher than any other category. "The optimism really speaks to the opportunities that exist in Mississippi," MEC president Blake Wilson said. "There is no doubt Mississippi has made great strides in the past 10 years, but when you look at where our leaders believe will be 10 years from now it tells you a bright future is ahead."
Criminal justice bill heads to Bryant
Criminal justice legislation designed to curb the rapidly expanding state prison budget appears to be headed to Gov. Phil Bryant for the second time this week. A new version of the legislation passed both chambers of the Legislature on Thursday with minimal opposition. Language was added to create the crime of marijuana trafficking for possession of a kilogram or more. Under current law, House Judiciary B Chairman Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, said there is no specific penalty in state law for the sale of a large quantity of marijuana and people were being charged under the possession statute. "Obviously, sale is more serious than possession," Gipson said.
Chris McDaniel vs. Thad Cochran grabbing national attention
The race for the U.S. Senate in Mississippi is apparently heating up. The battle between Chris McDaniel and Thad Cochran has caught so much attention that representatives of the New York Times and NBC News were in Collins Thursday night covering Chris McDaniel. Along with NBC News political reporter Kasie Hunt and New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman, dozens of residents showed up for the Covington County Cattlemen's Association meeting where McDaniel was the speaker.
DeSoto: Still an 'ag' county
Despite the "urban myth" that farmland and farming operations are few and far between in Mississippi's fastest growing county, U.S. Congressman Alan Nunnelee saluted DeSoto County's farmers at the DeSoto County Soil and Water Conservation District and Annual Membership and Awards Luncheon in Hernando this week. "I toured DeSoto County in a helicopter as part of the DeSoto County Regional Utility Authority wastewater system flyover tour," Nunnelee said. "Your exposure to DeSoto County if you are in a car going down Goodman Road is different than it is from the air in a helicopter." Nunnelee said farmers in DeSoto County can take comfort in the fact the recent Farm Bill passed in Congress, which was approved with bipartisan support, will enable farmers to plan their crops for the next several years.
Deep South Dems mount comeback with familiar names
Democrats in the conservative Deep South are looking to recapture some old political magic in the 2014 elections. President Barack Obama's party is running candidates with familiar names, like Carter and Nunn in Georgia, in hopes of rebuilding clout where Republicans rule. Given their recent political struggles in the region, some Democrats say they have nothing to lose. Mississippi Democrats, meanwhile, hope former Rep. Travis Childers can knock off the winner of a potentially bruising Senate Republican primary between Sen. Thad Cochran and tea party challenger Chris McDaniel, a state lawmaker.
City vs. Country: How Where We Live Deepens the Nation's Political Divide
There have always been differences between rural and urban America, but they have grown vast and deep, and now are an underappreciated factor in dividing the U.S. political system, say politicians and academicians. Polling, consumer data and demographic profiles paint a picture of two Americas---not just with differing proclivities but different life experiences. People in cities are more likely to be tethered to a smartphone, buy a foreign-made car and read a fashion magazine. Those in small towns are more likely to go to church, own a gun, support the military and value community ties. In many ways, the split between red Republican regions and blue Democratic ones -- and their opposing views about the role of government -- is an extension of the cultural divide between rural Americans and those living in cities and suburbs.
Some state pensions in dire straits
Three years after a wave of pension overhauls swept across America, many states find themselves still hemmed-in by ballooning retiree costs and budget-sucking liabilities, setting the table for more battles between states and public workers. These mounting bills expose many states' history of counting on higher returns and not making required payments to pension funds, but also show that the overhauls to this point have not been enough, said Eileen Norcross, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Washington University. "The math is just unforgiving," she said. "It's sort of like telling yourself you weigh less, even though you're not getting on the scale. There's kind of an illusion there. Under the surface of the illusion is the truth."
College Board OKs $47.3M dorm complex for Jackson State
Jackson State University is moving ahead with a $47.3 million plan to build a new 628-bed housing complex, a 650-seat dining hall and a conference center, to be finished by January 2016. The College Board approved JSU's plans to move ahead Thursday, as well as the university's plans to hire Hollis+Miller Architects of Overland Park, Kan., to design the complex. The board will have to issue additional approvals before construction can begin. An arm of JSU would sell bonds and repay the borrowing through revenue collected from students. JSU would become the latest among Mississippi's eight public universities to build new student housing. Consultants told the College Board on Thursday that dorm space across the university system has soared in the past decade.
Khayat, former Ole Miss chancellor, speaks in Biloxi
The main message was respect and teamwork when Robert Khayat spoke to the Mississippi Gulf Coast League of Women Voters at a luncheon Thursday afternoon at the IP Casino Resort. The former University of Mississippi chancellor is known for his leadership at Ole Miss from 1995 until 2009, a time when minority enrollment, operating budgets and financial aid increased exponentially. But to Khayat, it all boiled down to what he learned in the beginning at home in South Mississippi. "In our home in Moss Point, we were taught respect -- our mother and daddy taught us respect," he said.
Feds accused of steering funding to anti-pot researchers
As the nation's only truly legal supplier of marijuana, the U.S. government keeps tight control of its stash, which is grown in a 12-acre fenced garden on the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford. From there, part of the crop is shipped to Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina, where it's rolled into cigarettes, all at taxpayer expense. Even though Congress has long banned marijuana, the operation is legitimate. It's run by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which doles out the pot for federally approved research projects. While U.S. officials defend their monopoly, critics say the government is hogging all the pot and giving it mainly to researchers who want to find harms linked to the drug.
Marcy talks small government, education at USM in Long Beach
Democrat Bill Marcy was not the last man standing at a candidate forum in at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park, he was the only man standing. State Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, said he was delayed in Jackson and not able to make it Wednesday night to talk about the race for U.S. Senate. So Marcy soldiered on. "We're going to be asking about the hot topics of today, like domestic issues, drug wars and foreign policy," Marcy said of his platform. "We also have questions about Common Core in education."
Delta State professor urges working with media to heal racism
Issues of racism still run deep in the Delta and according to Assistant Professor of Psychology at Delta State University Temika Simmons media aids in the promotion of racism. Simmons' discussion was part of the university's Winning the Race conference on diversity. Her discussion was focused on working effectively with the media to support racial healing and racial equity. "We live in a racist society and most of it is because we refuse to speak up or out against what is right," said Simmons.
Thompson believes education key to equality
The second day of Delta State's Winning the Race conference began Wednesday morning with Congressman Bennie Thompson addressing another large crowd at the Bologna Performing Arts Center. Thompson is the longest serving black official in the state of Mississippi. "For Delta State University to have the nerve to talk about race and diversity in the Mississippi is something to be proud of. The most difficult thing to talk about in America is race," said Thompson. He then discussed that he felt the need to push for integration and racial equality when he noticed the differences in his school and schools white students attended.
Two-headed calf heads to Alcorn's veterinary program
The spirit of Adams County's two-headed calf may be gone, but its body will be immortalized in the halls of science. The calf, delivered in northern Adams County this month at the operation of a full-time cattle producer, was carried to full term but did not survive beyond birth. The veterinary program at Alcorn State University will soon have the calf mounted and displayed at the Lorman campus, Alcorn veterinarian Cassandra Vaughn said. "We were contacted about the calf and asked if we wanted it," she said. "I think it is a very unique opportunity, and (we) would like to capitalize on it and have something available for study."
U. of Alabama to demolish Design House over spring break
The University of Alabama plans to demolish the College of Human and Environmental Sciences Design House during spring break to make way for a planned expansion of a nearby sorority house. The building, originally a dorm for female graduate students and recently used by the Department of Clothing, Textiles, and Interior Design, is scheduled to be torn down during the break from March 22-29, according to UA. The building is being demolished to make way for a new Kappa Delta sorority house, according to UA's 2012 sorority expansion master plan. The budget for the demolition is $74,093
Auburn University to host annual Ag Week events
Auburn University students and faculty will have several opportunities to learn about the College of Agriculture the week of March 24–29. The College of Agriculture will host Ag Week, which features a variety of events and activities that showcase the impact and opportunities related to agriculture in the state. "The sole purpose of Ag Week is to do a promotion of the College of Agriculture and what our students are involved in," said Amanda Martin, student services coordinator in the College of Agriculture. "It's to kind of educate the campus community on what agriculture means in today's world."
U. of Arkansas Trustees Establish Online University
The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees approved Thursday the creation of an online university meant to target adult students. The approved plan, developed by UA System President Donald Bobbitt and his staff, establishes the University of Arkansas eVersity, and authorizes the system administration to plan for academic governance of the institution through a group of existing UA System institutions. With eVersity, UA hopes to tap into a group of adult learners that now turn to for-profit online institutions for their education.
Arrest warrants issued against UGA prof, allegedly asked student to buy drugs in Mexico
Authorities recently issued arrest warrants against a University of Georgia professor who allegedly asked a student to illegally purchase him prescription drugs while the student vacationed in Mexico. The student allegedly accepted money for an undisclosed nonnarcotic medication from Charles Eugene Lance. Instead of buying the drugs, though, she told a faculty member, who in turn notified UGA police. Police learned on March 14 of Lance's attempt to get the student to purchase the medication for him, UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said. A search of Lance's campus office found prescription pills in a briefcase, he said.
More graduates might mean more money for Georgia universities
A new funding formula for Georgia higher education will reward colleges for the number of people who graduate with degrees with bonus points for special populations, including low-income students and nontraditional students. The "performance-based" formula would tie part of college funding to the absolute number of graduates, not to graduation rates, according to John Brown, vice chancellor for fiscal affairs for the University System of Georgia. But the formula would also include other factors not tied to any performance measures, Brown told Regents in a recent briefing. How research will factor into the new formula has yet to be determined.
For many U. of Kentucky students, spring break is more than a beach vacation
University of Kentucky graduate student Morgan Miller loves a day at the beach, or two or five. But during her time at UK, she's also discovered that there are more fulfilling ways to spend her spring break. She's spent several of her past vacations on "alternative spring breaks," doing service work in far-flung places like Nicaragua, and closer to home in Eastern Kentucky. On Friday, she'll finish a week at the David School, a private school for at-risk students in Floyd County, where she and a group of nine other UK students have worked with students, helped with ACT prep, and done whatever else needs to be done. "It's really multi-faceted experience," Miller said in an interview last week.
Texas A&M University celebrates A&M Legacy Society donors at gala
Texas A&M gave back to its biggest donors Thursday evening. The Texas A&M Foundation held a gala for members of the prestigious A&M Legacy Society, reserved for individuals, corporations and organizations who have donated $100,000 or more or who made provisions for the university in their estate plans. In total, the society members have contributed $3.1 billion to the university. Approximately 600 people attended the event, including 180 new inductees. "Thank you for your gifts, service and sacrifices, because you, as we, believe this university will be a better place when we are gone," said Ed Davis, president of the Texas A&M Foundation. "We dedicate this two-day celebration to you."
U. of Missouri closing off decks at apartment complex
Residents of Tara Apartments at the University of Missouri received email notices Thursday morning that their back decks will be sealed off until likely the end of next week while structural engineers "look at them a little more closely," MU spokesman Christian Basi said. The Tara Apartment complex, on Ashland Road near Stadium Boulevard, is for graduate students, married students, those with children and those who are older than 21. The complex was constructed between 1982 and 1984. Basi said the engineers hope to finish evaluating the decks by the end of next week, which is spring break. Any suggested actions would be taken afterward.

Lady Bulldogs never trail in WNIT win
Mississippi State kept its season alive Thursday night advancing in the Women's National Invitational Tournament with a 77-68 victory over Tulane. It was the Bulldogs' first postseason win since reaching the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament in 2009-10 and also the first under second year head coach Vic Schaefer. "We talked about throwing the first punch tonight, which I thought we did in the first half," Schaefer said. "That's kind of where the game stayed after we punched them the first couple of times. Basically it stayed there." MSU (20-13) controlled the game from the opening tip and never trailed in the contest. Mississippi State will now host instate rival Southern Miss on Monday at 7 p.m. in the WNIT second round.
Mississippi State topples Tulane in WNIT
The state's best player was decided a few weeks ago off the court via media and fan voting. Southern Miss' Jamierra Faulkner wrestled the Gillom Award from Martha Alwal as the state's best player. But Alwal will have her shot at a rebuttal after Mississippi State defeated Tulane 77-68 in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament at Humphrey Coliseum on Thursday. Mississippi State hosts Southern Miss on Monday at 7 p.m. The Lady Bulldogs topped the Lady Eagles 71-61 earlier in the year.
Bulldogs advance: MSU women knock off Tulane to move on in WNIT
The Mississippi State Bulldogs performed much better with the doors open and in front of a crowd Thursday night against the Tulane Green Wave. After not doing well against Tulane during closed scrimmages in the last two preseasons, MSU was able to defeat the Green Wave 77-68 in the first round of the Women's National Invitational Tournament at Humphrey Coliseum. The Bulldogs, who won their 20th game of the season in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 1,059, had five players to score in double digits, led by the 15 points each of Martha Alwal and Savannah Carter. "I'm awfully proud of our team," MSU coach Vic Schaefer said.
Lady Eagles advance past Lamar to 2nd round of WNIT
Southern Miss hit a bump --- a large, violent bump --- in the road last week against Middle Tennessee. The Lady Eagle women's basketball team fell flat against the Lady Blue Raiders in the Conference USA tournament title game, and in turn, were denied an automatic berth into the women's NCAA Tournament. But, the way they're looking at it, Southern Miss got a second chance. The Lady Eagles got into the Women's National Invitation Tournament, and got things started on the right foot against Lamar Thursday. Southern Miss defeated the Lady Cardinals 75-60, advancing to the second round where it will face Mississippi State at 7 p.m. Monday in Starkville.
Bulldogs' shuffled rotation looks to maintain success
Last weekend, Mississippi State coach John Cohen made the decision to shift his pitching rotation around to start some of the arms that helped the Bulldogs reach the finals of the College World Series a year ago. The strategy worked as MSU swept a Saturday doubleheader to take its first series at Georgia since 1997. The 21st ranked Diamond Dogs hope that pitching plan works again this weekend when they hosting No. 6 Vanderbilt in a three-game set. The series gets underway at 6:30 p.m. tonight on CSS while Saturday's 7:30 p.m. contest will be broadcast on ESPNU. First pitch of the Sunday finale is slated for 1:30 p.m. and will not be televised.
Setup pitch: Vanderbilt (19-3, 2-1) vs. Mississippi State (15-8, 2-1)
When Preston Brown takes the hill against Vanderbilt today it'll be the second time in his career he's facing an Southeastern Conference school. The sophomore earned the opportunity after compiling a 0.75 ERA through 24 innings this season. Mississippi State's right-hander has yet to allow an earned run as a starter in 2014 -- a span of 18 innings and three starts. But, nine days will have passed since Brown pitched against Southern Illinois. His start against the Commodores will be his first against a major conference opponent this season.
Faldo tests his golf game at Fallen Oak; Mullen enjoys break from spring football
World Golf of Famer Nick Faldo received his first look at Fallen Oak Golf Club on Thursday afternoon when he teed off in the C Spire Pro-Am. Thirty minutes earlier, Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen had finished his pro-am round with Mark Calcavecchia on No. 18 to the cheers of some loyal Bulldog fans. For Mullen, it was a chance to take a quick break from Mississippi State spring football and participate in one of the major sporting events in the state of Mississippi. Mullen finished off his day of golf with a nice chip on No. 18, then he had to head up to Starkville for some football meetings.
We want our SEC, Gulfport councilman says
Whereas football is akin to religion in the South, Saturday is a holy day of sorts because of college football and Gulfport has its share of rabid fans. Therefore, Cable One should offer viewers the new SEC network in August, the City Council has decreed. Councilman Myles Sharp brought up the resolution earlier this week, opining he noticed when he went off to college in Oxford the small town offered better cable fare than Gulfport. Cable One, he thinks, needs to step up its game. The council unanimously passed Sharp's resolution.
Judge tosses lawsuit against Jackson State AD Vivian Fuller
A federal judge has dismissed a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Jackson State University athletics director Vivian Fuller by a former employee. Lolita Ward sued JSU and Fuller, alleging Fuller subjected her to inappropriate comments, gestures and touching in 2011. The lawsuit claims Ward, Fuller's former secretary, was fired in October 2011 after rejecting the advances. The university said in court documents that the EEOC investigated Ward's allegations and found no evidence to support her claims. U.S. District Judge William H. Barbour Jr. earlier this month dismissed that suit, saying Ward "failed to show that there exists genuine issues of material fact with respect to any of the claims alleged in her amended complaint."
What Fuels March Madness: Teams Are Turning to Nontraditional Drinks
Michigan's basketball team came into the NCAA tournament with a No. 2 seed as the improbable Big Ten champion. The Wolverines managed to win the regular-season conference title despite losing preseason All-American Mitch McGary to injury. So what's the secret to their success? It isn't some genius strategy or overlooked superstar. In fact, since the school flaunts it through advertisements, it isn't even a secret. Michigan's players drink chocolate milk. Most teams stick to water, protein shakes and traditional sports drinks like Powerade, which supplies teams during NCAA tournament games. But many now supplement their ice coolers behind the bench with beverages not usually associated with basketball. Michigan's choice of chocolate milk is more scientific than it sounds.
After Fires at Golf Courses, Study Suggests Unusual Culprits: Titanium Clubs
Golf courses are covered in hazards -- ponds, bunkers, thick rough -- but here is another: the golf clubs themselves. Scientists have determined that striking a rock while swinging a titanium club can create a shower of sparks that are hot enough, and last long enough, to start a brush fire. The finding, by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, clears up what fire officials in Southern California have seen as a mystery: the origin of two recent golf course fires, including one that burned 25 acres and injured a firefighter in 2010. Steve Concialdi, a captain with the Orange County Fire Authority, in Irvine, said that in both incidents, golfers using 3-irons with titanium-alloy heads had said they hit the ground and created sparks that started the fires.

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