Thursday, May 22, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State road project gets budget boost
The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees approved a budget increase for construction of a new south entrance road into MSU during its meeting last week in Jackson. The new budget for the south entrance road also adds a new funding source: $15.2 million of Mississippi Department of Transportation funds, augmenting $3.5 million of state funds designated for MSU's use. IHL's agenda says Neel-Schaffer, Inc. issued the $5 million cost estimate when the firm was appointed for the project in 2009, and the new budget is updated to reflect more accurate market costs.
Haggard to Kick Off Lyceum Series at Mississippi State
Mississippi State's Lyceum Series will welcome patrons home to the newly renovated historic Lee Hall by kicking off the 2014-15 season with a performance by legendary country artist Merle Haggard on Aug. 20. Taking place throughout the fall and spring semesters, the season also features a variety of other performances. The full season line-up and ticket information will be released June 9 at Season-ticket renewal sales begin July 1 and continue until July 18. New season-ticket holders may make purchases from July 21 – Aug. 1. Individual tickets for each performance go on sale Aug. 4.
EPA task force recruits MSU to battle farmland runoff into river
A task force established by the Environmental Protection Agency to curtail farmland pollution that flows into the Mississippi River has reached an agreement with 12 universities, including one in Mississippi. Task Force will work with Purdue University, University of Illinois, University of Arkansas, University of Kentucky, Mississippi State University and Ohio State University. Others include University of Tennessee, University of Missouri, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, Iowa State University and Louisiana State University.
Four Lawrence County seniors participating in American Legion Boys State
Four Lawrence County High School seniors will be participating in a week of Boys State next week at Mississippi State University. The program is sponsored each year by the American Legion for students between their junior and senior year of high school. Participants learn about government in Mississippi. The delegation is divided into cities and counties and each office holder visits and learns from real politicians about the office that they share.
C Spire meets with potential data customers
C Spire welcomed business representatives from across Mississippi and Tennessee to Mississippi State University's Thad Cochran Research Park on Tuesday to give a progress report on its $23 million data processing center. The 23,800 square-foot center, which is scheduled to open for business in early November, will allow businesses to host information on servers for backup or disaster recovery needs, will allow C Spire to host a number of services for business clients, such as email servers, mobile device management, software-based cloud data storage and other data solutions.
Starkville sanitation recommendations unofficially pushed back
Starkville aldermen unofficially delayed receipt of recommendations on possibly outsourcing the city's sanitation services Tuesday after Chief Administrative Officer Taylor Adams and department head Emma Gandy asked for more time to study internal, cost-saving measures. Adams told aldermen the two drafts were prepared, but he and Gandy could continue to crunch the numbers in an attempt to find financial savings internally without outsourcing sanitation services. The chief administrative officer asked to re-approach the budget committee within 90 days with his findings. Starkville aldermen took the report under advisement Tuesday without any formal action.
Stark Aerospace rolls out ArrowLite unmanned system
Stark Aerospace has introduced the ArrowLite hand-launched, single-operator tactical unmanned aerial system. The ArrowLite was designed, developed and manufactured by Stark Aerospace with support from the Program Manager for Tactical Operations Support (PM TOS), Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO). CTTSO awarded Stark a contract to develop the ArrowLite system for use by special operations and counter-terrorism small tactical units of dominance.
Region's jobless rate lowest in six years
The last time the unemployment rate in Northeast Mississippi was near 7 percent, George W. Bush was president, Lehman Bros. was still in business and gas prices hit a then-record $3.50 a gallon. The Great Recession, as it would be called, had begun four months earlier, its global economic impact to be felt later. Six years later, the economy has improved, though the recession's after-effects still remain. Still, the employment picture has improved, and in Northeast Mississippi, the latest figures reflect that sentiment. In April, the region's 16 counties averaged 7.2 percent unemployment, the lowest since the 6.4 percent jobless rate in April 2008.
College savings plan changes approved
When Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program reopens in the fall, new participants will have fewer plans to choose from and less payment options. The Mississippi College Savings Board adopted new rules Wednesday governing the plan when it reopens. The plan has been frozen to new participants for approximately the last 20 months. "The board's approval of these proposed rule changes today will keep us on the road to reopen MPACT in a fiscally responsible way" said Treasurer Lynn Fitch. "The process allows College Savings Mississippi to put MPACT back onto the list of options for families in planning for a college education."
Report: State's manufacturing sector adds jobs
Manufacturing employment in Mississippi increased one percent over the past year, according the 2014 Mississippi Manufacturers Register, an industrial database and directory published by Manufacturers' News Inc. (MNI). According to data collected by MNI, Mississippi manufacturers added 1,875 jobs from March 2013 to March 2014. Manufacturers' News reports Mississippi is now home to 2,916 manufacturers employing 170,294 workers. "Following several years of losses, manufacturers in Mississippi are beginning to climb back from the recession," says Tom Dubin, president of the Evanston, Ill.-based publishing company.
DEQ defends redacting turned-over invoices
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality argued in court Wednesday that attorney-client privilege trumps the public's right to know how tax dollars were spent at Sam's Club. DEQ defended itself before Hinds County Chancery Judge Denise Owens against claims that its wholesale redaction of invoices submitted by a hired law firm and its subcontractors violated the state Public Records Act. Journalist and consultant Michael Rejebian filed the suit in March after paying $998 for hundreds of pages of invoices that DEQ had blacked out to obscure details about millions of dollars in charges to taxpayers.
Blogger faces new charge over Cochran photo
Clayton Kelly faces a second felony charge for allegedly photographing U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's wife in a nursing home and using the photos in a political video. And Cochran's campaign and his challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, through the media fired recriminations at each other Wednesday in a case that's landed in the national spotlight. Madison County District Attorney Michael Guest said the new charge is "photographing or filming another without permission where there is expectation of privacy." "It is a felony offense that carries a five-year sentence," Guest said.
Tea party makes its last stand in Mississippi, targeting longtime Sen. Thad Cochran
After a string of humiliating defeats in Republican primaries this spring, the tea party's last best hope to oust an incumbent lawmaker is in Mississippi. At first glance, the deeply conservative state's Senate primary race seems ripe for an upset. Sen. Thad Cochran has served in Washington for as long as his 41-year-old challenger, state senator Chris McDaniel, has been alive. A proud and prolific earmarker when senators were freer to send pork to their states, Cochran personifies the kind of free-spending Beltway broker that grassroots conservative voters have often revolted against. Yet McDaniel has failed to put the contest away, even as Tea Party-aligned groups are pouring money into Mississippi to deny Cochran a seventh term. The insurgent has made a series of tactical errors, while Cochran and his establishment allies -- well-funded and prepared for combat -- have been eviscerating McDaniel on the airwaves.
Chamber of Commerce funnels $100K to Mississippi
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has put $100,000 into the Mississippi GOP Senate race, backing up its pledge to help Sen. Thad Cochran defeat a tea party opponent in the June 3 primary election. The powerful business lobby cut that big check to Mississippi Conservatives PAC on May 5, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Headed by Republican National Committee official Henry Barbour, the PAC has already spent nearly $700,000 helping Cochran in his race against state Sen. Chris McDaniel. Chamber strategist Scott Reed told POLITICO earlier this year that the group intended to "strip the bark off" McDaniel.
Time Spent Outside Mississippi Dogs Sen. Cochran's Campaign
How much time should a member of Congress spend in his or her district? The question is simple enough, but the answer leaves a lot to interpretation. Take Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, one of the few incumbents still vulnerable to a primary defeat. Jordan Russell, a spokesman for his campaign, said, "Sen. Cochran, as a senior leader in Congress, has a full legislative workload. I'm sure he would prefer to spend more time home in Mississippi, but Sen. Cochran is dedicated to being a strong, effective voice for the people of Mississippi in the United States Senate."
Wicker calls for action to reduce military suicides
A Senate committee could take action this week on a measure co-authored by Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi that aims to reduce what Wicker says is the alarming rate of suicide among military service members. "We have a problem in the military that we need to address," Wicker said. He and Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana introduced the bipartisan proposal May 7. Both are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. They hope to attach the legislation as an amendment to a fiscal 2015 defense policy bill. "Our strategy is to have it attached to a bill that must pass." Wicker said. "We are getting some positive traction. ... We're going to give it a hard push."
Carter says his business sense gives him an advantage in race to be South Mississippi's congressman
Tom Carter said his business acumen would be just the thing to balance the budget and calm the hostilities that have virtually gridlocked Congress. "I see nobody holding the flag of 'enough is enough,'" Carter, of Carriere, told the Sun Herald this week. "I just see us continually growing and spiraling out of control." Carter is one of five Republican candidates for the District 4 congressional seat held by Steven Palazzo. He said when he compared his resume to the resumes of the other candidates, "I trumped them."
With New Bill, Abortion Limits Spread in South
The Louisiana State Legislature on Wednesday passed a bill that could force three of the state's five abortion clinics to close, echoing rules passed in Alabama, Mississippi and Texas and raising the possibility of drastically reduced access to abortion across a broad stretch of the South. The new rules passed by Republican legislatures require that doctors performing abortions must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, a provision likely to shut down many abortion clinics across the region. Legal experts say the legislation is raising a fundamental question: At what point is access to abortion so limited that it violates the right to the procedure granted by the United States Supreme Court in 1973 in Roe v. Wade? “These incremental laws are part of a greater strategy to end abortion in our country,” said Tanya Britton, a board member for Pro-Life Mississippi. “It’s part of it, and one day, our country will be abortion free.”
Slain JSU professor's car found, investigation continues
As Jackson State University mourns the loss of a beloved professor, police continue the investigation into his death -- Madison's first homicide in its incorporated history. Dr. Garrick Shelton was found in his home Wednesday around lunch time in what Chief Gene Waldrop referred to as a "bloody" crime scene. Officials wouldn't speculate at first, but did release a statement calling the death a homicide. Coroner Alex Breland would reveal nothing about the manner of death on Wednesday.
Business executives mentor Belhaven University students
Top executives are mentoring students from Belhaven University's School of Business through its new Executive in Residence program. This experience gives each student access to some of the most influential business leaders in Mississippi. Belhaven hosted five business executives over the spring semester at Belhaven: Sam Lane, Senior Vice President of First Commercial Bank; Earl Blankenship, Chairman and CEO of Mercury Investment Management; Emmerson Daily, Founder of Daily Equipment Corporation; Melanie Dowell, Senior Vice President of Morgan Stanley and Lee Lampton, Chief Operating Officer of Ergon.
Kentucky president objects to criticism of university by key player in Rupp Arena project
University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto has released a strongly worded letter to Lexington Convention Center chairman Brent Rice over the proposed Rupp Arena renovation, saying Capilouto is "disappointed" in public and private criticism of UK by LCC officials and in the lack of a stable financing plan. Capilouto also said it's clear that there currently is not public support for either taxpayer dollars or "Team Rupp" memberships to pay for the $350 million project. He was responding to a letter sent by Rice in April that asked UK to publicly support the project. Rupp's biggest tenant by far is the UK men's basketball team.
Survey: Many Floridians favor in-state tuition for immigrants but not financial aid
While many Floridians believe children of immigrants living here illegally should pay in-state tuition at state universities and colleges, a large proportion don't think they should get financial aid or compete with their own children for scholarships, a new University of Florida survey reveals. Alexa Lamm, associate director of the PIE Center at UF and one of the authors of the survey report, said it was interesting that Floridians supported unauthorized students getting in-state tuition but didn't want them competing for financial assistance.
GOP politician is now lone candidate for FSU job
A top Republican state senator has emerged as the leading -- and right now the only -- candidate to become the next president of Florida State University. In an unusual move, a FSU search committee voted Wednesday to interview John Thrasher, who also chairs Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign, and then decide whether to offer him the job. FSU has been without a permanent president since Eric Barron left to lead Penn State University. The vote came after search committee members heard that FSU was having trouble attracting quality candidates because of the perception that Thrasher was going to get the job due to ongoing media reports.
Job-training bill gets an upgrade thanks to bipartisan compromise
After years of failed attempts, the U.S. Congress has reached a bipartisan deal to replace the Workforce Investment Act, which oversees a hodgepodge of more than $3 billion in federal job-training programs. The proposed legislation drew praise from community colleges and others in higher education, as well as from think tanks and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The 811-page bill would eliminate red tape and redundancy, they said, while also creating standardized performance metrics and emphasizing better links between K-12, higher education and employers. Yet experts said the language sticks to the general gist of the current law, which Congress first passed in 1998 and has failed to renew for more than a decade. There are relatively few major additions. And some of the changes are less dramatic than they appear.
Death of 'Patent Troll' Bill Is Mixed Blessing for Research Universities
Congress now seems unlikely this year to pass patent-reform legislation aimed at controlling so-called patent trolls. That's both good news and bad news for the research universities that have been in the thick of the debate. The bad news, according to John C. Vaughn, executive vice president of the Association of American Universities, is that there will be no new law, yet "there is a problem out there to be solved." The good news, he says, is that proposals being pushed by the computer and information-technology industry, which many universities found "really quite problematic," are unlikely to be enacted this year either.
'R U on Track for College?' Texting a New Strategy
As educators look for ways to keep high school seniors on track for college and to avoid the "summer melt" that leads some astray in the months after they graduate, a new strategy is gaining ground: texting. This year, West Virginia launched a pilot program that alerts students about deadlines for financial aid, registration, and student orientation, among other matters, with personalized messages on their mobile phones. The texting initiative targets students from low-income families -- especially those set to become the first in their families to attend college.
SAM R. HALL (OPINION): Mississippi Conservatives launches two anti-McDaniel ads
The Clarion-Ledger's Sam R. Hall blogs: "As I mentioned earlier this week, the Mississippi Conservatives PAC is dropping nearly $500,000 into radio and TV ads for the remaining two weeks of the race. There's not a lot new with the television ad... However, the radio ad is blistering. It's aimed just at the Hattiesburg media market, but it certainly will not sit well with most University of Southern Mississippi alumni anywhere. The 60-second spot hits McDaniel for saying he was unsure about how he would have voted on Hurricane Katrina aid, which is not new, but then it turns to McDaniel not voting for funding to construct USM's nursing school and voting against building USM's business school. It also goes after McDaniel for voting against funds for USM construction in this most recent legislative session."
SID SALTER (OPINION): Bizarre antics aside, turnout will decide GOP primary
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "The Mississippi Republican U.S. Senate primary has reached depths of dirt and deceit that go beyond anything in modern state political history -- and as a young man I covered the 1983 Mississippi governor's race between Bill Allain, Leon Bramlett and Charles Evers. Some 30 years after the final two weeks of that race were rocked by allegations against Allain that most observers believed would torpedo his chances of being elected governor, Allain went on to win 74 of the state's 82 counties. In the current Senate primary, the safety and dignity of a vulnerable dementia patient has been determined to be expendable if it moves the political needle. What happened to Rose Clayton Cochran was despicable, deplorable and disgusting. But at the end of the day, there are certain rules that apply to politics regardless the candidates and regardless the outrageous nature of charges and countercharges in heated campaigns."

Mississippi State rides big seventh inning to mercy-rule South Carolina
After needing extras to grab a first day win, Mississippi State took care of business in seven innings on Thursday. The Bulldogs plated eight runs in the seventh to grab a 12-0 win in the Southeastern Conference tournament. The game was called after the seventh due to the 10-run-rule in tournament play. "It's always addicting when you get one run," MSU second baseman Brett Pirtle said. "More runs after that start coming. It's good for our ballclub." "This is one win. It doesn't mean anything except that it allows you to advance," MSU coach John Cohen said. "We're going to play a great Kentucky team that can really score runs."
Bulldogs put smackdown on Gamecocks
Mississippi State has struggled offensively at times this season. Wednesday night against South Carolina was not one of those occasions. The Bulldogs erupted for eight runs in the top of the seventh inning to run-rule the fourth-seeded Gamecocks 12-0 on Day 2 of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. MSU sent 14 batters to the plate in the seventh inning, collecting eight hits off four different pitchers. The biggest blow came on a three-run homer by Brett Pirtle into the bullpen in right field. "It's good to see our bats get going like that," Pirtle said.
Bulldogs blast Gamecocks 12-0 at SEC tournament
South Carolina's bid to strengthen its case to be a national seed for the NCAA Tournament didn't get off to a good start Wednesday night. Its quest to win the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament didn't fare very well, either. Mississippi State converted on early scoring opportunities, the 15th-ranked Gamecocks didn't and that set up to a seven-inning 12-0 victory for the Bulldogs in USC's first game of the SEC tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The game was halted after seven innings because of the 10-rule. "It's been a long time since I've had my tail kicked like that," said USC coach Chad Holbrook said.
Mississippi State's Gallagher follows footsteps of parents in golf
Golf is a family tradition for Mary Langdon Gallagher. The Mississippi State senior has always been reminded of what her mother and father did on the golf course, both in college and in the professional ranks. Her father Jim played in three NCAA championships, while her mother Cissye played in three while at LSU. Her father also played on the PGA Tour and was a member of a Ryder Cup and President's Cup teams. He also racked up seven professional wins. Gallagher is making her second appearance in the NCAA Championships this week as the Bulldogs are competing in Tulsa, Okla.
Autonomy will be hot topic for SEC
Autonomy will be the hot topic when Southeastern Conference officials, coaches and athletic directors gather for spring meetings. Commissioner Mike Slive said Wednesday during an interview with The Associated Press the SEC wants to ensure that the five biggest football conferences can decide how their own legislative process works in many areas affecting their athletes. The NCAA board of directors is expected to vote on a restructuring in early August. The current proposal would require a two-thirds vote by the 65 schools at those power leagues to pass legislation. Slive said that threshold and the interpretation of that legislation are concerns for the SEC, but didn't discuss specific changes.
Discussion to allow beer sales at Williams-Brice continues
If beer sales are coming to an SEC stadium near you, South Carolina will not be leading the charge to bring them. "I am not a proponent of it necessarily personally," Gamecocks athletics director Ray Tanner told The State. "I guess you never say never." In fact, some people, most notably LSU athletics director Joe Aleva, believe the Southeastern Conference's current policy banning alcohol sales in "public areas" of the league's stadiums eventually will be changed, allowing fans to buy beer in Tiger Stadium or Williams-Brice Stadium or Sanford Stadium. Tanner and USC president Harris Pastides have discussed the issue recently, Tanner said.

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