Thursday, March 27, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
State Treasurer Talks Finance With Mississippi State Students
She manages the state's finances and one of her goals is teaching financial literacy at the youngest ages. Wednesday, State Treasurer Lynn Fitch brought her message to students at Mississippi State University. From managing credit cards to saving for the future, Fitch also told students money problems in their college days can haunt them when they start looking for employment after graduation. Fitch spoke about the importance of managing debt and understanding what money can bring.
T.K. Martin Center wins Restaurant Week's grand prize
Representatives of Mississippi State University's T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability collected Starkville Restaurant Week's $5,000 grand prize charity donation Tuesday after the organization received more than 6,000 votes during last week's competition. Janie Cirlot-New, T.K. Martin Center director, said the entire donation would go into the organization's vehicle fund. "We go out into the community to provide many of our services. One of our vehicles is 17 years old -- we think it's time to replace it," she jokingly said after her organization received an over-sized check from Cadence Bank.
Insurance Professionals Meet at Mississippi State
Southeast insurance professionals are learning more about the industry at Mississippi State. The 27th annual I-Day Conference wrapped up Wednesday. The conference provides continuing education in ethics, along with property, life and claims. MSU grad and State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney was one of the keynote guests. He says it's important insurance professionals know what's happening in the ever changing industry. The insurance conference at MSU is considered one of the largest in the South.
Mississippi State receives $250K grant for health program
Mississippi State was recently awarded a $250,000 grant that will be used to focus on the community's health. University officials say the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation grant will establish the MSU Health Fitness and Wellness Program which will offer the community informational lectures, a children's camp and more used to promote fitness, nutrition and general health. A university health and wellness committee will also be added.
Young Honored by House as MSU's First Female African-American National Alumni President
A Madison resident makes history and is honored by the Mississippi House of Representatives after serving as the first female African-American President of the Mississippi State University Alumni Association. Camille Scales Young was recognized by the House on March 25 with House Concurrent Resolution 15. Fellow MSU alums, Young's family members, and MSU's president, Dr. Mark Keenum, was there for the ceremony, along with former Gov. William Winter. Young is a 1994 communication management graduate who also earned a master's degree in agriculture and extension education in 1996.
Elementary Students Spend the Day at MSU
It's not unusual for the Drill Field at Mississippi State to be crowded on a sunny day. But the popular campus centerpiece had some extra visitors Wednesday. Fifth graders from Sudduth Elementary had a play day with members of Phi Beta Sigma as part of the fraternity's week of events focusing on kids. A tug-of-war, exercise and other activities were part of the day of fun.
Fraternity gives local students grand tour of Mississippi State
Llanes Bradford has been to more than a few Mississippi State University sporting events, but she said she had never been to other locales on the MSU campus -- until Wednesday. She's a fifth-grader at Henderson Intermediate School, where her high scores on a nine-weeks benchmark assessments earned her and others in her grade a field trip to campus. "I'm glad I made proficient and advanced (scores) to be able to come out and do this," Bradford said. "There are a lot of people represented at this (campus)."
Extension Service offering quick lunchtime learning sessions
The Bolivar County Extension Service will host a series of educational sessions, called Quick Bite, beginning in April. "Quick Bite is just a catchy name for an educational program that is offered through video conferencing at our office," said Bolivar County Extension Coordinator Laura Giaccaglia. According to Giaccaglia individuals can stop by the Extension Office during their lunch break and gain insightful information about various topics through video conferencing. Mississippi State University instructor and florist Lynette McDougald will present a session on spring colors, spring flowers and the light, airy inspirations of the season on April 3. Health and Wellness Educator Mandy Conrad is set to present April 10.
MetroCast bringing fiber residential Internet service
A battle for next-generation Internet subscribers is brewing in Starkville, as MetroCast Communications announced Monday it will deploy its own fiber-optic, residential service to Starkville at a later date. The company announced it deployed its own Fiber to the Home initiative, a service that promises a connection speed up to 50 megabytes per second, in Carthage, which will also provide new television channels and digital phone capabilities. MetroCast is targeting similar launches in Starkville and Oxford, according to a release, but the company did not say when the service would be available. Price points for services were also unavailable in the release. The move puts MetroCast toe to toe with C Spire for high-speed Internet customers.
Humane Society receives $5K grant for spay, neuter services
Oktibbeha County Humane Society announced it will receive a $5,000 state grant to offset its pet spay and neuter programs for low income families. The grant is funded through "I Care for Animals" car tag purchases, which provide monies for statewide animal shelters and humane organizations. The program is in its 10th year of service and has assisted more than 60 Mississippi organizations. The money will help for half of the costs required to spay or neuter a pet, OCHS spokesperson Martha Thomas said. Pet owners pay for the remaining amount. The $5,000 grant should cover costs for 83 procedures, she said.
Fitch: Closing MPACT would have been more expensive
The board that oversees the state's prepaid college tuition plan considered closing the program before deciding this week to reopen enrollment. But shutting it down would have left the state with an even larger shortfall, state Treasurer Lynn Fitch told the Daily Journal editorial board on Wednesday. The College Savings Plan Board, chaired by Fitch, voted Monday to reopen MPACT -- the Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program -- which has not accepted new enrollees since fall 2012 because of its funding shortfall.
Districts can select schools' start date
Local school districts can continue to decide when to start their school year. Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law late Wednesday legislation that would undo a law passed in 2012 that would prevent local school districts from starting school before the third Monday in August. The change was passed in 2012 after strong urging from tourism officials, particularly those on the Gulf Coast, who argued early school starts negatively impacted the state's tourism industry. But local superintendents have complained that the later start would force some districts to delay semester exams until after Christmas. Plus, some complained that the Legislature was mandating a school start while supporting a stronger charter school law exempting charter schools from state regulations, such as when school could start.
Bills to limit unions pass; measures await Bryant signature
Three bills that would restrict union organizing and protests and prevent local governments from adopting union-friendly regulations in Mississippi are now headed to the governor. A fourth bill, SB2689, to prohibit local governments from limiting background checks by employers, has already been signed by Gov. Phil Bryant. On Wednesday, the state Senate concurred with small changes made by the House in the three Senate bills, meaning they can now be sent to Bryant for his signature. Supporters said Mississippi needs new laws to preempt organized labor's strong-armed tactics seen in other states that they say would hinder economic development. Opponents said Mississippi is one of the least unionized states and the laws are red herrings that are either already covered by federal law or would run afoul of it.
Ethics Commission records bill goes to Bryant
Common Cause Mississippi Chairman Lynn Evans said legislation sent to Gov. Phil Bryant on Wednesday will make it easier for "everyday people" to seek help if they believe they are unjustly being denied a public record. The state Senate sent to Bryant legislation that would give the state Ethics Commission jurisdiction over public records disputes. The legislation, authored by Sen. Nancy Collins, R-Tupelo, already had passed the House. "We have been working for many years to make public records more accessible to everyday people, who might not be backed by an organization," said Evans of Jackson. "One of the ways is lowering the costs."
Pundit Taggart optimistic Republicans can take majority of Senate
Andy Taggart would be the first to tell you he's a proud Republican. It's no surprise, then, that he's hopeful Republicans will gain the majority of the Senate after 33 of its 100 seats are contested this year in elections. The Mississippi attorney is also known as one of the state's leading monitors of the national political landscape and the co-author of "Mississippi Politics: The Struggle for Power, 1976-2008." He served as former Gov. Kirk Fordice's chief of staff. Taggart spoke to the Columbus Rotary Club at Lion Hills Golf Club on Tuesday. Closer to home, Taggart said he believed Sen. Thad Cochran will defeat challenger Chris McDaniel in the June primary and win a seventh term.
In Mississippi, It's G.O.P. vs. Tea Party
Senator Thad Cochran smiled as placidly as the waters in Mobile Bay behind him, where the Jackson, a $350 million combat ship named in honor of his state's capital, bobbed gently, awaiting its christening bottle of Champagne. Such impressive displays of federal largess were once markers of the clout that members of Congress like Mr. Cochran helped deliver, but to the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, they are monuments to everything that is wrong with Washington. Mississippi is the last major battlefield in the feud between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment. The state has become a well-funded proxy war -- the exception that may be proving the rule: The Tea Party movement is in retreat, at least on the campaign trail.
Obama and Pope Francis Meet in Rome
President Barack Obama arrived at the Vatican Thursday for his first meeting with Pope Francis, a highly anticipated visit the White House hopes will gain support for its economic agenda but that is also likely to highlight divisions between the two on issues such as gay marriage and contraception. Pope Francis greeted Mr. Obama with a handshake as they approached each other just outside the Papal Library, where they met for nearly an hour. The president and the pope were expected to discuss their mutual interest in addressing income inequality, as well as immigration. While Mr. Obama and Pope Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, had a cool relationship, the White House is hoping for better chemistry between the president and the first pope from the developing world.
How Ukraine crisis could dent country's booming cyber-crime
Two U.S. senators are hoping to use Ukraine's new vulnerability to compel the Eastern European nation to clean up the rampant cyber-crime within its borders. The Ukranian city of Odessa is said to be home to the world's largest online stolen credit card data marketplace, and the country at large rivals Russia in the pantheon of cyber-crime. Indeed, Ukraine has become a magnet for Russian hackers gravitating to the digital crime syndicates there. Now, a beleaguered and indebted Ukraine is asking for help from the International Monetary Fund, which gets 17 percent of its money from the U.S. For Sens. Mark Warner (D) of Virginia and Mark Kirk (R) of Illinois, this presents an opportunity.
China to Boost Cybersecurity
China's Defense Ministry said Thursday that it would take measures to boost cybersecurity after reports earlier this week alleging that the U.S. spied on Chinese technology company Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and several Chinese leaders. Speaking at a monthly briefing, Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said that the revelations "exposed the hypocrisy and despotism of the U.S. side." Though Mr. Geng didn't specify how China would seek to boost its defenses against cyberattacks, last month China set up a new high-level committee on cybersecurity, over which Chinese President Xi Jinping presides.
Mississippi University for Women Hosts Leadership Conference
Hundreds of future leaders are putting their skills to the test. The 2014 Phi Beta Lambda Leadership Conference began Wednesday on the Mississippi University for Women campus. Students from community colleges and universities will compete in more than fifty business and leadership challenges through Friday. The organization is student-led and provides an opportunity for networking. WCBI's Joey Barnes gave Wednesday's keynote address.
UM campus recreation center undergoes renovations
When you walk into the Turner Center, you might see a new face in the midst of the numerous renovations. New Director of Campus Recreation Peter Tulchinsky, who was hired in February and was previously director of campus recreation at Elon University, is overseeing the renovations to the recreation center. Renovations to the Turner Center began Feb. 10 of this year and are slated for completion by Sept. 1. Some of the major changes that the center anticipates are the addition of a rock wall and expansion to current workout facilities. Despite the construction, existing services will remain uninterrupted, with the exception of locker availability. There will be a brief period of time during which lockers will be unavailable to rent, as part of the expansion includes the addition of more lockers.
Music students perform for construction workers at USM
About three dozen music students at the University of Southern Mississippi Wednesday performed for construction workers who are repairing and renovating campus buildings that were damaged during the 2013 tornado. Students hosted a brief, free concert at noon inside the university's former art museum for about one dozen workers, along with faculty members and employees from the USM Physical Plant. "We're about half way through this renovation and recovery project from the tornado and we've had construction crews out here in all types of weather and conditions, working really hard for us and we wanted to do something to say thank you to them," said Michael Miles, director of the School of Music at USM.
East Mississippi Community College rodeo set Thursday
It's time to break out the boots and prepare for a good time. East Mississippi Community College, assisted by Luke Lummus Rodeo Productions, will host its second inaugural Ozark Region collegiate rodeo beginning Thursday at Eagle Ranch in West Point. The event, which brings an estimated 350 competitors from about 12 four-year universities and two-year community colleges, will begin at 7:30 p.m. nightly Thursday through Saturday, with additional daytime events to be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday
U. of Alabama students, football players flock to Miramar Beach on spring break
Forget Panama City Beach. Miramar Beach is the new place to be for University of Alabama students heading to the Florida Panhandle for spring break this year, especially for those in fraternities, sororities or on athletics teams. Crimson Tide football players Derrick Henry, O.J. Howard and Geno Smith were spotted Wednesday among the large contingent of University of Alabama students in front of the Whale's Tail Beach Bar and Grill in Miramar Beach, just east of the Destin city limits. "Even in Tuscaloosa, everybody knows the Whale's Tail," said Ryan Coleman, a junior from Birmingham. "That's the reference point. You tell people 'We're three blocks from Whale's Tail,' or wherever you're staying."
Former CIA agent Valerie Plame to speak at U. of Alabama, screen documentary
Former CIA agent Valerie Plame is scheduled to speak to University of Alabama students and screen a documentary about her experiences. University officials say Plame will speak with students of Stephen Schwab, a UA adjunct assistant professor and former CIA analyst, when she visits the Tuscaloosa campus March 31. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr., who was Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, was convicted and sentenced for lying and obstructing the investigation into the leaking of Plame's name to the media.
Toomer's Corner redesign begins next week
The redevelopment of Toomer's Corner and Samford Park at Auburn University will begin next week. The construction beginning Wednesday will be the first of two phases of the redevelopment. Phase one will begin with the "hardscape" construction of the design. "Phase one will include the installation of new pavers, soil replacement and the circular seating wall," said Gail Riese, facilities management communications director. "That will be in the fenced-off work zone." Riese said approximately 9,000 square feet at Toomer's Corner will be fenced off for the project's first phase.
LSU police say students targeted in restaurant fraud scheme
Several employees of the McDonald's restaurant inside LSU's Student Union stole at least $30,000 from students over the past year in a fraud scheme possibly dating back several years, an LSU Police investigation found. Four people were arrested Wednesday and police expect to make at least one more arrest following an investigation that revealed cashiers and managers were overcharging students on school-issued debit cards, pocketing the difference and falsifying records to hide the thefts, according to LSU Police.
U. of Florida, others may get help with building repairs
All across Florida, universities, colleges and public schools struggle with aging facilities and growing student populations. At the University of Florida, President Bernard Machen said one of the school's budget priorities is finding an additional $15 million for a multi-year project to revamp an aging chemistry building. Machen also cited a projected $60 million in "critical maintenance" needs for more than 100 campus buildings that are more than a half-century old.
UGA researchers explore function of cancer-causing gene
Developmental biologists at the University of Georgia are discovering new roles for a specific gene known as Max's Giant Associated protein, or MGA. A little studied protein, MGA appears to control a number of developmental processes, and also may be connected to cancer development. "This is basic science, and we need investigations like these to understand the fundamentals of our biology," said Scott Dougan, the study's principal investigator and Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scientist in UGA's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of cellular biology. "Once we have this understanding, we can begin to develop new therapies to treat diseases in new, more effective ways."
Texas A&M, GameStop, IBM join forces to connect stores with consumers
Texas A&M researchers are teaming up with GameStop to design technology to better connect with consumers at video game stores. A&M announced Wednesday that its Center for Retailing Studies has partnered with the Grapevine-based retailer and IBM to launch the GameStop Technology Institute, which seeks to pursue innovative strategies at the company's brick-and-mortar locations. "When you're interacting with mobile devices or on a website, they are constantly adapting and learning what you like," said Charlie Larkin, senior director of the GameStop Technology Institute. "The search algorithms understand what you're looking for and the content starts morphing toward what you, as a customer, need. With a physical location, that's a tough thing to do when you have shelves full of products. At the end of the day, our goal is to bring that best-in-class experience you get at a digital channel into our store locations."
Texas A&M veterinarian in Galveston area to help animals in oil spill
A veterinarian from Texas A&M University arrived in the Galveston area Wednesday to help treat animals that have been soaked in oil in the Houston Ship Channel spill. Jill Heatley, an associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, was called to the Galveston area after Saturday's oil spill dumped as much as 168,000 gallons of oil in the Houston Ship Channel, which has affected dozens of birds. The Wildlife Center of Texas is expecting the number of birds that need immediate care to rise. A group of Texas A&M-Galveston marine biology researchers also were in the area on standby Wednesday, waiting to begin sampling areas affected by Saturday's spill.
What College Offers the Best Return on Investment? The Answer Is Still Elusive
Harvey Mudd College, a small, STEM-focused, liberal-arts institution in Southern California, is the college with the highest "return on investment," as determined by PayScale's annual "College ROI Report," released on Tuesday. Just like last year. And just like last year, that ranking isn't as meaningful as you might think. PayScale's annual ROI rankings fall victim to some of the pitfalls of calculating the value of a college degree based on future earnings alone.
SID SALTER (OPINION): Alan Nunnelee coming into his own in state's 1st Congressional District
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "It was, as dinner with a member of Congress goes, a pretty low-key affair. My wife and I met U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo and his wife, Torie, for a hamburger after work on a Friday night. Nunnelee, who I was in college with at State back in the 1970s, has been a friend since those days. But I came to know him better after college than during our days together in student government at MSU. He was a frequent and reliable source during his days in the state Senate, where he rose to a position of significant leadership that set him on a path to Congress."

Advancing in WNIT helps illustrate growth of Bulldog program
The signs of growth are everywhere. From the record, to the date on the calendar, to the fact that basketballs are still bouncing in Humphrey Coliseum in preparation for games. Regardless which of those or any of countless other examples you select, it is undeniable the Mississippi State women's basketball team has made progress this season in Vic Schaefer's second season in charge of the program. The most visible reflection of that progress is MSU's eight-win improvement from the 2012-13 season that has Schaefer's team at 21-13 as it prepares to play host to Auburn (19-14) at 7 tonight in the third round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament at The Hump.
Bulldogs get another shot against Auburn in WNIT
It is tough to beat a team twice in the same season, let alone three times. Mississippi State hopes that holds true tonight. The Bulldogs host Auburn at 7 p.m. in the Sweet 16 of the Women's National Invitation Tournament after the Tigers swept both contests during the regular season. "I guess for us it's the third time's a charm," said MSU freshman Breanna Richardson. Mississippi State (21-13) reached the third round of the WNIT for the first time since 2001 with a 77-68 victory over Tulane and 74-66 double overtime win against Southern Miss. The Bulldogs two home victories in the tournament bump its record to 4-1 all-time inside Humphrey Coliseum in the WNIT.
Full-Court Press: Mississippi State vs. Auburn
Mississippi State and Auburn played twice in the regular season --- once in Auburn and once in Starkville. The Tigers won both games by eight points. The third matchup will be played at Humphrey Coliseum, which is important for MSU's supporting cast. Five Mississippi State players finished with double-figures when the teams met in Starkville. Martha Alwal led the way with 18 points. When the game was played in Auburn, Alwal was the lone MSU player to eclipse 10 points. She finished with 14. No other player finished with more than seven.
Mississippi State hosts Auburn in WNIT third-round contest
Mississippi State entertains Auburn in a Women's NIT third-round game at 7 p.m. today at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville. Auburn (19-14) swept MSU (21-13) in two regular-season meetings, and Lady Bulldogs coach Vic Schaefer expects a tough contest. "This is an exciting time for us at Mississippi State," Schaefer said. The MSU-Auburn winner will meet either South Florida or George Washington next week.
WNIT quarterfinal matchup at Mississippi State a 'whole new ballgame'
Terri Williams-Flournoy knows the old adage: It's hard to beat a team three times in the same season. But for the second-year Auburn head coach, she's not looking at the Tigers' quarterfinal WNIT game at Mississippi State on Thursday as taking place in the same season in which the Tigers already beat the Bulldogs twice. "We have to get our kids to understand -- and we've explain it to them -- that this is a whole different season," Williams-Flournoy said. "'That was a team that you played last season, this is a team you're playing now, this season.' And so (what we did before) really doesn't matter."
Mississippi State softball rolls over Samford in non-conference play
Mississippi State senior second baseman Heidi Shape knew it had been a long time since she had hit a grand slam. "It's been quite a while," said a grinning Shape. "I do remember the last one and I know it happened a long time ago." To be exact, Shape went 568 at-bats in between grand slams. Her first came against UNLV in only her sixth career at-bat at MSU. The second came in the fifth inning Wednesday night and was the decisive blow in a 9-1 win over Samford at the MSU Softball Field. "Credit goes to the runners before you as well," Shape said. "You have to have three players on base and they had to have done their part, too. Sometimes, the easy part is swinging the bat." MSU made a lot of things look easy.
Mississippi State's QB Prescott, WR Wilson build relationship
De'Runnya Wilson shuffled forward and then back. It still wasn't right. Dak Prescott tallied the wide receivers with his finger. He computed the number of spots Wilson needed to move. One more step back. The quarterback nodded. Wilson adjusted his place in the line. All this to ensure that Prescott would pass the ball to Wilson for a drill in spring practice. "We're trying to make a run, man. We're trying to shock the world," Wilson said. "Us getting it down in the spring will help us with the 15-game stretch in the fall."
U. of Missouri athletic department runs in the black
The Missouri athletic department operated at a surplus of $4 million during the 2012-13 fiscal year, according to the annual revenue and expense report the university submits to the NCAA. The document, obtained through an open-records request, reports that the athletic department generated $76.3 million of revenue from July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013, while spending $72.3 million. Missouri operated at a deficit of $17.7 million for the 2011-12 fiscal year, spending $68.4 million and taking in $50.7 million in revenue. That deficit was caused by the Big 12 withholding Missouri's conference payout for the year as it was exiting the league for the Southeastern Conference, executive associate athletic director for operations Tim Hickman said. "As we mature into the SEC and some of the new revenue streams we're anticipating there, we'll start a payment plan back to the institution for those funds," Hickman said.
Northwestern University Football Players Win Bid to Unionize
Football players at Northwestern University cleared a significant hurdle on Wednesday, as a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that they qualified as employees with the right to unionize. The decision, which the university said it would appeal, could lead to radical changes in how colleges treat big-time athletes. But the appeals process could take years to play out. The unionization effort is one of several high-profile cases to challenge the NCAA's amateur system. In interviews on Wednesday, several athletics officials said they believed the cases could prompt colleges to do more to help athletes, whether or not they ever go to trial.

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