Wednesday, May 21, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Gelston Takes Post at Mississippi State University
The chief financial officer of the State of Mississippi's lead economic development agency is taking a top executive post at Mississippi State University. After a national search, Kathy Gelston has been named associate vice president for corporate engagement and economic development at the land-grant institution, pending formal approval by the Board of Trustees, State Institutions of Higher Learning. "We are very pleased that Kathy will be joining us and leading our corporate engagement team," said David Shaw, MSU's vice president for research and economic development.
Research scholarship goes to MSU's Herrmann
A Mississippi State University associate professor was recently awarded a scholarship that could help the school build relationships with the island of Cyprus. Dr. Nicholas Herrmann, an anthropologist, was awarded his first Core Fulbright U.S. Scholarship, which he will use to conduct research at the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute for six months starting in January. Herrmann recently received the Ralph E. Powe Research Excellence Award, a top honor at MSU.
A day of science at the Agri-Center
More than 500 students took to the Lee County Agri-Center on Tuesday to learn about water as an ecosystem, as well as how human actions affect the area's water and vice versa. Sponsored by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi and the Mississippi State University Extension Service, the camp consisted of around a dozen different stations, each conducting a different exercise based around water. For instance, MSU extension agent Sherry Thompson's station explained acid rain. "You know the water we use is the same water that was around for the dinosaurs," she said. "It teaches them about the water cycle and how what we put in the air ultimately ends up in the water."
Science fun in Verona
Toyota is once again sponsoring the MSU Extension Service and 4-H Science, Engineering, and Technology day held at the Lee County Agri-center. One of the experiments has to do with water quality. What they do is scoop up some mud from a nearby pond and they look for the little creatures that lie within. "They analyze the water and see if it's healthy and of course the more insects you have in it shows how healthy the lake is," said MSU Extension Service Youth Development Specialist Dr. Linda Mitchell.
Young Agents Embrace Extension's Bright Future
For Extension agents, education is more than the exchange of information. It's personal. It is a connection to their students and a sense of responsibility for the outcomes. It's been that way since 1914, when the Cooperative Extension Service was established by the Smith-Lever Act. In the past 100 years, the organization, now known in the state as the Mississippi State University Extension Service, has delivered research-based information to Mississippians that helped them raise crops, livestock and families.
Pearl River Resort names Moore to key position
Pearl River Resort, the Southern United States' first comprehensive luxury gaming resort, is pleased to announce the promotion of Erica Clemons Moore to Director of Public Relations, Internal Communications, and Special Projects. In her new role, Moore will be responsible for managing all media relations initiatives for the Resort properties consisting of three casinos, three hotels, two top ranked golf courses and a water park. She will oversee a team of writers, media specialists, and event planners. Moore holds a bachelor's degree in communication and public relations from Mississippi State University and a master's degree in public relations from the University of Southern Mississippi.
State: Mississippi fatalities up, seat belt usage down
New numbers from the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety show seat belt usage is down and the number of fatalities from car crashes are up in the state. The study was conducted by the Mississippi Public Safety Data Laboratory at Mississippi State University. Every state is required to conduct its own survey based on criteria set by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. David Parrish, a senior research associate at the laboratory, and his staff did observational surveys in 16 counties in Mississippi. The 2013 survey looked at rural roads to match new criteria laid out by the NHTSA.
Golden Triangle city sales tax numbers up for March
All three Golden Triangle cities saw significant sales tax revenue increases in March, according to the latest reports from the Mississippi Department of Revenue. Starkville saw the biggest dollar increase of the three cities with a revenue return of $520,684.71. That's $29,139 more than the city received in May 2013 from taxes collected in March 2013. What each municipality has received from July 1, 2013 to date shows the improvement was not limited to this month. Starkville, again, has enjoyed the biggest dollar jump of the three cities during that time. The $4,916,944.77 it has received since July 1 is $182,980.48 more than the $4,733,964.29 that made made it to the city's coffers over that same period last year.
Armed robbery, shooting in Starkville
A West Point man was arrested following an armed robbery and shooting in Starkville. Starkville police say Antwjuan Terry, 26, was arrested for armed robbery and aggravated assault after a victim stopped at an intersection in his vehicle was robbed at gunpoint and shot Thursday. The victim was able to flee and seek medical attention for his wounds at the Oktibbeha County Hospital. Police say the investigation is ongoing and additional arrests may follow.
State Farm system could mean higher insurance rates
State Farm is testing a new fire rating system in Mississippi that fire officials say could result in higher insurance premiums in areas where fire service has improved. The pilot program the insurance carrier started in January uses the grid-based ratings system, instead of ratings set by the Mississippi Rating Bureau. Factors the agency considers include a fire department's available water supply, equipment and level of training. One thing the grid system does not do is take into account natural obstacles like rivers that would slow response time from a fire hose to a fire, Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said.
Mississippi-based case nets 16 arrests on fraud
Sixteen people from several states and other countries have been arrested on charges that they took part in a fraud that used stolen information to get money and goods and then ship them to South Africa and Nigeria, according to documents unsealed in federal court Tuesday. The charges by the U.S. Attorney's office filed in Gulfport, Mississippi, against Oluyitan Olagoke of Brooklyn, New York, say he and others were part of the Yahoo Boys, a west African gang. The charges and a related indictment against 17 other people say that the gang would buy bank account information from hackers, steal money, and then send cash or goods to Africa.
Stennis Space Center machinists union accepts contract, ends 5-day strike
Machinists union members at Mississippi's Stennis Space Center have voted to accept a contract proposal from Lockheed Martin Corp., settling a five-day strike. Union spokesman Frank Larkin said members of Machinists Lodge 2249 voted 41-7 Tuesday to accept a contract with Lockheed Martin. The union represents about 115 workers who support NASA rocket testing at Stennis, which is near Bay St. Louis. Employees will return to work Wednesday. Lockheed Martin has about 430 employees at Stennis. NASA spokeswoman Rebecca Strecker said no rocket tests were delayed by the strike. "The strike has not affected overall operations at Stennis," Stecker said.
Course aims to increase women in Mississippi politics
Organizers of a leadership course for college students say they're trying to increase the number of women in Mississippi politics. Twenty-six female students from in-state universities and community colleges are taking part this week in the bipartisan course at Mississippi University for Women. On Thursday, they're meeting at the state Capitol with Gov. Phil Bryant, state Treasurer Lynn Fitch and other officials, including Democratic state Rep. Alyce Clarke of Jackson and Republican state Sen. Sally Doty of Brookhaven.
Payday lenders lament new federal regulations
Mississippi legislators were told Tuesday that federal regulators may do what the Legislature didn't -- allow people who take out payday loans to make installment payments. Banking Committee chairs Hank Zuber, R-Ocean Springs, in the House and Gary Jackson, R-French Camp, in the Senate and other legislators heard how the newly formed federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would impact small loan lenders in Mississippi. Ed Sivak, chief policy and communications director for Hope Enterprise Corporation, a nonprofit community development finance institution, told legislators that federal officials have more reason to regulate in Mississippi. Rep. Nolan Mettetal, R-Sardis, took exception with Sivak's comments.
Mississippi OKs $8.4M for Common Core tests
Mississippi's state Board of Education has approved spending about $8.4 million on standardized tests aligned with the new Common Core state standards. The board voted May 16 for the first year of what could be a four-year contract with a division of the British firm Pearson PLC. The money is Mississippi's share of the cost of a multistate testing group called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.
Rothenberg to address Delta 1000 during Delta Council event
The Mississippi Delta's lead economic development organization is bringing in a noted political pundit to address members during its annual meeting. Stu Rothenberg, widely recognized political analyst, will address Delta 1000 members at the May 30 Delta Council Annual Meeting in Cleveland. "Stu Rothenberg has become a staple at Delta Council meetings because his many friends and admirers in the region want to continue receiving his insights and knowledge," stated Gibb Steele, president of Delta Council. This year's meeting also includes an address by Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden.
Investigators probe; campaigns spar
Investigators on Tuesday continued combing computers and phone records of a blogger who remained in jail, accused of taking pictures of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's bedridden wife for a political video, to see if others helped him or put him up to it. Meanwhile, Cochran's GOP primary opponent state Sen. Chris McDaniel went on the offensive Tuesday on the Paul Gallo talk radio show, accusing the Cochran camp of sandbagging the incident until the final days of a contentious campaign.
Report: Group running pro-McDaniel push poll for weeks
A group has been running a pro-Sen. Chris McDaniel push-poll for at least two weeks and has not disclosed how it's paying for the poll, a potential violation of Federal Election Commisssion regulations. Mississippi Citizens for a Better Mississippi's president, Paul Buisson, confirmed to the Clarion Ledger that his group has been running the poll. It reportedly includes questions that are critical of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), who's locked in a contentious fight with McDaniel for the GOP nomination. In addition to the unusually long time the poll's been in the field, it appears to have an unusual legal designation. The group is registered as a limited liability company, but it hasn't reported any of its expenditures to the FEC, and Buisson insisted that wasn't necessary because the poll wasn't electoral but rather informational.
Payback time: GOP incumbents learn how to win
In 2014, the tea party insurrection is starting to look more like the Boston Massacre. In state after state this primary season, entrenched politicians are proving that incumbency counts for something after all, leveraging the stature and financial firepower that comes with high office to demolish challengers from the activist right. In three states Tuesday night, long-serving lawmakers rolled over tea party opponents. Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran still faces a potentially competitive primary from state Sen. Chris McDaniel, but early fears that Cochran might collapse have faded as McDaniel's record of incendiary statements and inconstant support for Mississippi's federal priorities has been aired before the voters.
Tea Party takes another hit
For Tea Party candidates, Tuesday wasn't their night, again. The biggest primary day so far of 2014 was a flop for conservatives who were eyeing their biggest target yet, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. But the Kentucky senator easily bested businessman Matt Bevin, with the Associated Press calling the race just minutes after polls in the Bluegrass State closed. In the end, he won by more 25 points. Pro-business, establishment GOP groups elsewhere decided not to sit on the primary sidelines this cycle after free-spending conservative outside groups costing them what the establishment saw as winnable races in 2010 and 2012. Though Tea Party groups argued their strategy would backfire with the grassroots, the gamble paid off.
U.S. Senate Candidate Childers Brings Message to Meridian
A Democratic candidate for longtime Senator Thad Cochran's seat wants voters to know there is more than one primary coming up June 3rd. Former First District Congressman Travis Childers was in Meridian Tuesday. Childers says this campaign isn't about political parties. "I think our country is so hung up on left and right, and it's really not about left and right," said Childers. "It's about right and wrong, at the end of the day, and I do know the difference in those two."
New East Mississippi Community College union ground-breaking set for June 6
East Mississippi Community College officials will break ground on a new Mayhew campus student union June 6, a facility that will provide additional classrooms and serve as the school's anchor for student services as it hopes to provide on-campus living spaces in 2018. The almost-$17 million facility is slated to open in 2016, EMCC Golden Triangle campus Vice President Paul Miller said, and will provide infrastructure, management and support for food services and amenities needed as the campus shifts its focus from a commuter-based student body. To fund the project, EMCC will utilize monies recently appropriated to Mississippi's four-year, public universities and junior colleges -- HB 787 alone gave the school $1.47 million for capital improvements -- and 20-year bonds. EMCC in turn will service its debt using financial commitments by area tax pledges, including funds from Oktibbeha, Lowndes and Clay counties.
Auburn University's Strategic Plan's aim is helping freshmen
The Auburn University Office of the Provost wants to make the freshman year at Auburn less stressful for new students. Constance Relihan, associate provost for undergraduate studies at Auburn, gave a presentation Tuesday at the Senate meeting in Haley Center. Relihan discussed priorities of the 2013-2018 Strategic Plan and how the university hopes to address them. "Our first priority is to enhance student success and diversify enrollment," Relihan said. "Under that, is to emphasize student retention and achievement by encouraging and expecting timely degree completion and clearing pathways to student success."
Pensions in no danger of running dry, top Retirement Systems of Alabama official says
A study suggesting that Alabama's pension system is in danger of running out of money is "very irresponsible," contains a number of errors and relies on dated information, according to the chief lawyer for the Retirement Systems of Alabama. Responding to the findings of a study released Monday by Troy University's Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy, RSA General Counsel Leura Canary said the report presents a worst-case scenario based on the worst investment period in American history. "This report is inaccurate and misleading," she said, adding that it could needlessly panic retired government employees. "RSA is not going to run out of money."
Guy Bailey formally named president of U. of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Texas' new university on the border formally has a president, former University of Alabama president Guy Bailey. University of Texas System regents gave final approval Tuesday to naming Bailey as president of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Bailey was president of Texas Tech University before taking the UA job. The new university is a merger of Texas-Pan American and University of Texas-Brownsville, and will include a medical school in an area experts say is underserved in health care. The university's first class will start in fall 2015.
Disciplinary hearing for LSU student in recorded sex case can proceed
A state judge Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed against LSU by a freshman who faces possible suspension until the end of 2017 and potential criminal prosecution for allegedly recording two other students having sex in a dorm room. Xavien Rafael Riascos' suit asked District Judge Tim Kelley to force LSU to delay a disciplinary hearing until the conclusion of any criminal proceedings, but the judge said Tuesday there is no relief he can grant Riascos. "There's not a constitutional violation," Kelley, who did not rule on the merits of the suit, said at the end of a court hearing attended by Riascos and his mother. John DiGiulio, one of Riascos' attorneys, said the ruling means LSU can proceed with a disciplinary hearing, which had been set for May 13 but had been postponed by Kelley. A new date has not been set.
No updates offered on Texas A&M hiring freeze
Texas A&M University staff workers are still in the dark about the system-wide hiring freeze and potential $52 million in annual administrative cuts proposed by a consultant. The university Staff Council met Tuesday morning for the first time since the May 9 announcement of the freeze and cuts. Staff Council Chair Lisa Blum updated the group about a small group meeting with A&M Interim President Mark Hussey on May 12, but said there isn't a lot of information about how to implement the $2.4 million review by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. "Before [A&M administrators] make any drastic changes, they would like to throw everything to pilot groups and let several go through the process and see if it's working before they throw anything official out," Blum said. "Everything was pretty much vague."
Sen. Landrieu offers new bill to help struggling college students and their parents
Taking a shot at cuts in higher education spending in Louisiana, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., offered legislation Wednesday she says would help struggling students and their parents with an increase in Pell grants and lower student loan interest rates. Her election-year Passport to the Middle Class legislation isn't likely to go anywhere, but it offers a sense of Landrieu's priorities as she faces a tough race for a 4th term in the Senate. "A college degree should help individuals build dreams, not debt," Landrieu said about her new legislation.
Federal panel fails to reach consensus on debit cards, state authorization rules
The Obama administration is now free to move ahead with plans to more tightly regulate campus debit cards and require more aggressive state oversight of online education programs after a federal panel on Tuesday failed to reach agreement on those issues. A rule making committee had been negotiating for the past several months over a wide-ranging package of new regulations the Education Department is seeking to develop. Broadly speaking, all of the proposals relate to how and when federal student aid can flow to students and colleges, but the committee debated six distinct issues. Members of the panel failed reach consensus on two of those issues: campus debit cards and state authorization of online programs.
Lawmakers want to prevent campus assaults
College officials often aren't clear about how they must report cases of campus rape and sexual violence, and victims often feel they don't have the support they need to hold assailants accountable, Sen. Claire McCaskill said Monday following a Capitol Hill roundtable. The discussion focused on the Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to disclose campus crime statistics. Some of the participants who met with McCaskill and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said that schools report the crimes differently and many don't provide the training needed to investigate the attacks.
Bryan College Is Torn: Can Darwin and Eden Coexist?
William Jennings Bryan earned a permanent place in American history nearly nine decades ago in the Scopes trial, when he stood in a Dayton, Tenn., courtroom and successfully prosecuted a teacher who broke the law by teaching evolution in a public school. While not quite "the fantastic cross between a circus and a holy war," as Time magazine put it, that captivated the nation in 1925, a similar debate is again playing out in Dayton, this time at an evangelical Christian college named for Bryan, which is being sued as part of a controversy over its own stance on the origin of humans. The continuing debate at Bryan College and beyond is a reminder of how divisive the issues of the Scopes trial still are, even splitting an institution whose motto is "Christ Above All."
BOBBY HARRISON (OPINION): Free market, not government, punished offensive speech
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "Despite the simplicity and the power of the words, people seem to get confused often about what the First Amendment to our Constitution actually says and means. No doubt, reasonable people can have disagreements, but a clear understanding of the First Amendment is important because in many ways it is the foundation of our representative democracy. There have been numerous national media reports of people having said a lot of things lately for which they have suffered consequences. ...In most every instance dealing with the issue of speech, the government did not impose any types of consequences. The people and the business community did."

Extra work: Mississippi State moves on with another close win
After Georgia tied things up by scoring two runs with two outs in the ninth inning, Mississippi State didn't panic. MSU had been there before during the regular season. State rallied back in the 10th inning to defeat UGA 5-4 to close out the opening day of the SEC Tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. "We're 7-0 in extra-inning ballgames," said MSU coach John Cohen. "We'd love to be 7-0 in games where we don't have to go extra innings, but that's how it rolls. These kids are pretty comfortable in tight ballgames because we play a ton of them."
Mississippi State with another walk-off win in Hoover
A sloppy conclusion masked Mississippi State's bright spots in the first game of the Southeastern Conference tournament at the Hoover Met. Georgia's catcher threw Jake Vickerson's sacrifice bunt into right field in the bottom of the 10th. It allowed Gavin Collins to trot home as MSU captured a 5-4 walk-off win on Tuesday. "These kids are pretty confident in tight ball games," MSU coach John Cohen said. "We play a ton of them."
Mississippi State baseball knocks off Georgia in SEC tournament
One pitch. That's all Wes Rea needed to at least for one night make everyone forget his struggles throughout the 2014 season. Mississippi State's 270-pound junior attacked the first pitch he saw from relief pitcher Jarret Brown for a two-run double that gave MSU a lead in the sixth inning of a 5-4 victory over Georgia at the Southeastern Conference tournament. Rea had just three RBIs throughout a month of May where he had been benched for the first time in his career. The fourth-year junior nearly matched that total of runs driven in with one pitch and one swing Tuesday night in the 10-inning victory.
Laster shines for Bulldogs despite no-decision in Hoover
Asked how he suddenly managed to become a significant pitching factor for Mississippi State and Lucas Laster just smiles. The Bulldogs left-hander proved how valuable he can possibly be to a postseason run over the next few weeks, Laster left to a standing ovation Tuesday night from the MSU contingent that made the trip to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. Everything in Laster's pitching line from the 5-4 victory over Georgia in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament was a career high. Laster went 117 pitches over 8 1/3 innings where he only allowed one inning to give him trouble. "You really can't say enough about what he did for us tonight to get us off to the start we needed," MSU freshman catcher Gavin Collins said. "We kept pounding fastball-change all night on them and it never stopped working."
Mississippi State puts an end to UGA's season in extra innings
Georgia rallied off All-American closer Jonathan Holder to force extra innings and then fell to No. 16 Mississippi State 5-4 in 10 innings Tuesday in the first round of the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament. A Hoover Metropolitan Stadium crowd of 8,175 saw Georgia fight back when it was down to its last strike in the ninth and then lose on a errant throw on a sacrifice bunt in the 10th. Georgia concludes the season with a record of 26-29-1.
Mississippi State not worried about workload at SEC tournament
It's still fresh for Mississippi State's faithful. For the Bulldogs' players, the replay of the 2012 Southeastern Conference tournament is fuzzy. "It's a blur now. I was just some 18-year-old freshman that came in really out of nowhere and got to pitch a little bit," MSU closer Jonathan Holder said. In reality, it was hardly a blur. More like a slog. MSU played six games in six days to win the tournament two seasons ago.
McDonald leads Bulldogs into national tourney encore
Ally McDonald may not be a senior yet, but there is little question who leads the Mississippi State women's golf team – both on and off the course. McDonald, a junior from Fulton, is not only the Lady Bulldogs' top player but has also earned the respect from her teammates and coaching staff. "She never gives up," said MSU coach Ginger Brown-Lemm. "She's constantly seeking ways to get better. She's a mature player and really gets the game. Even if she mis-hits the ball during the round, she'll find a way to get it in the hole. Watching her develop and continuing to believe, she leads with that belief." She opened play at the NCAA championship on Tuesday with a 3-over 73. She was tie for 22nd place, six strokes off the lead. "This is something that you dream about and push towards," McDonald said.
Former Mississippi State coach Henderson dies at 72
Former Mississippi State women's basketball coach Jerry Henderson died on Saturday after a battle with cancer. He was 72. MSU said services for Henderson were Tuesday in Starkville. Henderson was the coach at State from 1989 to 1995 and had a long high school coaching career at Madison-Ridgeland High School, Warren Central, Grace Christian Academy, Starkville Academy and Starkville High School.

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