Friday, May 30, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Wise Choices Key Part of Leadership, Boys State Told
Cindy Hyde-Smith, the Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, challenged participants in the 2014 American Legion Boys State to work hard and make wise choices when she spoke Thursday at Mississippi State University. "Farmers are some of the most resilient people around. They are good businessmen and women with positive attitudes," she said. Hyde-Smith told the 380 Boys State participants about visiting a Winston County poultry farmer. His family had the foresight to install a storm shelter and take cover in it three minutes before the April 28 tornado demolished their house and poultry barns. "As soon as the farmer came out of the shelter, he started cleaning up and getting ready to rebuild," she said.
Wet fields for north Mississippi farmers
Bobby Carnathan farms from 6,000 acres in Chickasaw County. There will be no field work today. It's just too wet. "It's just gonna make weeds grow and grass grow," said Carnathan. MSU Extension Service Agent Charlie Stokes says rain is not a problem -- at least not yet. "Most of these growers still have a lot of field work to be done and finishing planting etc. etc., so they would like for this stuff to get out of here," said Stokes.
Hurricane prep urged despite optimistic forecast
Hurricane season begins Sunday and runs through the end of November. The 2014 hurricane season is predicted to be normal or less active with eight to 13 storms and somewhere three to six hurricanes. Only one of them is predicted to be major. Less active or not, forecasters say no one should let their guard down. "Even though this is an inactive season, make preparations just in case, because it really only takes one," said National Weather Service meteorologist David Cox. "Even though the El Nino appears to be strong, it's been in some of those El Nino years have been the strongest hurricanes," said Greg Flynn, external affairs director for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. "It doesn't matter if there are 12 or 15 named storms; it only takes one because if you have the one, it's the worst ever."
Meridian plant expansion to create jobs
A $15 million expansion at Tower Automotive in Meridian will result in the addition of more than 80 jobs at the manufacturing facility located across from Key Field in South Industrial Park. Gov. Phil Bryant and officials with Tower International, the parent company of Tower Automotive, announced the expansion at the Meridian plant Thursday in a press conference attended by area business leaders and local and state officials. A Community Development Block Grant of $2 million through the Mississippi Development Authority and a memorandum of understanding with Lauderdale County and the city of Meridian for "an additional 10 percent of that money" will pay for infrastructure needed to make the project viable, plant manager Al Martinez said.
Wicker champions Air Force Secretary James' visit to Keesler
On the heels of the Senate Armed Services Committee passing its fiscal-year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act last week, Sen. Roger Wicker had plenty to talk about Thursday during the Gulfport Chamber's military affairs breakfast. The most-recent news involved Keesler Air Force Base, which has continually been under attack by proposed force changes. Wicker said the Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, is scheduled to visit the base this weekend to see it firsthand. Prior to his speech, Wicker said James' visit could be a big boost in the effort to keep Keesler's 10 C-130J aircraft, which have again been earmarked for removal.
Saturday is last chance for absentee voting
People not able to make it to the polls Tuesday have until noon Saturday to vote absentee. Courthouses across the state will be open from 8 a.m. until noon Saturday for people to vote absentee in the party primary election for the U.S. Senate and, in some instances, for U.S. House posts. The race that has garnered the most attention is the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate where six-term incumbent Thad Cochran is being challenged by state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, a Tea Party favorite. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican who was eying a campaign for the Senate post if Cochran had stepped down, said recently he didn't know how the tone of the campaign would impact turnout Tuesday.
Cochran's appropriations prowess, particularly for shipbuilding, showcased at JCEDF luncheon
Sen. Thad Cochran made a campaign appearance Thursday at the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation spring investor's meeting in the countdown to Tuesday's heated Republican primary race against Chris McDaniel. "I really enjoy getting around to all parts of the state during this campaign," he said. "It is a constant campaign to keep people informed about what's going on in Washington, trying to represent the interests of our state and be sure that we have economic opportunities here equal to anywhere in the nation. This is a good example of a city that has made that dream come true." The luncheon at the Pascagoula Hilton, attended by a who's who of Jackson County industrial and community leaders, served to showcase the veteran lawmaker's role as a powerful member of the Appropriations Committee.
Chris McDaniel's Senate Bid Sputters and Rallies
The Chris McDaniel campaign bus is sputtering. That's what a reporter was told Thursday as it became clear the Mississippi state senator challenging Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in the primary next week would be a no-show for both of his first two campaign events. Amid the flurry of talk across the state, McDaniel is pushing forward with a 25-town statewide tour to detail his "Five Promises to Mississippi" platform. But like his Senate campaign, the McDaniel bus must navigate a bumpy route to its final destination.
Cochran low key in bus trip across Mississippi Coast
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran showed few signs he was in the final days of his race for a sixth term when he visited the Coast on Thursday. There were no fiery stump speeches, no press conferences. There was just Cochran, his entourage and the campaign bus driving to events from Biloxi to Pascagoula and back to Long Beach. There was little if any mention of opponent Chris McDaniel, who was on a 25-city bus tour Thursday that made it as far south as Meridian. Cochran made no mention of McDaniel and reiterated he saw no need to debate the opponent.
Cochran promotes D.C. influence to fend off tea party challenge
It was just after 9 a.m. Wednesday when Sen. Thad Cochran arrived at Simpson General Hospital, where several dozen people -- longtime supporters as well as hospital staffers---had turned out to greet him. Cochran came here as he began the final week of campaigning ahead of a tough Tuesday Republican primary against state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who has the backing of tea party activists and their allied groups. The courtly senator was barely noticed when he entered the room, and after introductions he spoke for only a few minutes. He is not one to brag on himself. But it was clear that, if he is reelected to a seventh term, he intends to keep doing business as he always has in Washington, tea party critics notwithstanding. "I hope to be able to continue to use my influence in Washington to be sure that we get our share of the federal dollars that are available to help us," he told the hospital gathering. His campaign bus distills that message into three words: "Thad for Mississippi."
For Tea Party, Senate Race in Mississippi Is the Last Chance to Oust an Incumbent
The feud between the Republican establishment and the Tea Party has engendered more whimpers than war cries so far. The notable exception is in Mississippi, where the campaign to unseat Senator Thad Cochran has become the nastiest, and most personal, in the nation. Mississippi politics has always had a rough edge under the veneer of Southern gentility, but this race has reached another level.
Family feud? Barbour family split in Mississippi Senate race
The heated Mississippi Senate Republican primary has sparked a Barbour family split. Conservative news site Breitbart is reporting Jeppie Barbour, the brother of former Gov. Haley Barbour, has endorsed state Sen. Chris McDaniel in his primary challenge to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). Jeppie Barbour is the father of Henry and Austin Barbour, two prominent Republican operatives in the state who are actively supporting Cochran's reelection bid. Henry advises a pro-Cochran super-PAC, while Austin is an adviser to Cochran's campaign.
Distortions fly in Mississippi Senate race
The Senate Republican primary in Mississippi has been a negative and costly campaign --- a proxy fight between the Republican establishment that stands behind Sen. Thad Cochran and tea party allies who are supporting challenger, Chris McDaniel. has found both sides distorting the facts on issues such as abortion, public debt, immigration and the Affordable Care Act.
Blogger Kelly freed on $75,000 bond in photo case
A political blogger and an alleged co-conspirator in the Cochran photo scandal were released from jail in Madison on Thursday after their bonds were reduced. Clayton Kelly of Pearl, a computer engineer and political blogger, would not comment after he posted $75,000 bond, reduced from $200,000. He's been jailed since May 16, accused of taking photos of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's bedridden wife in her nursing home. Richard Sager of Laurel, a teacher and soccer coach, was released after he posted $50,000 bond, reduced from $500,000, his lawyer said. Two others charged in the case were already out.
Chris McDaniel Interview: In Mississippi, 'Seniority Is Not What It Used to Be'
Republican State Sen. Chris McDaniel's primary challenge of Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi is the best chance left for tea-party activists to unseat a Senate Republican incumbent this year. His campaign against Mr. Cochran, who is 76 and seeking his seventh term, has turned the June 3 GOP Mississippi primary into the nastiest Senate contest in the country. He sat for an interview in Grenada, Mississippi, over Memorial Day weekend after addressing a Pentecostal church congregation.
Thad Cochran Interview: Campaign Feels 'Like Being Young Again'
Sen. Thad Cochran's bid for re-election to a seventh term has thrust him into a bitter primary battle against GOP State Sen. Chris McDaniel, and it is the first time since 1984 that the 76-year-old Republican has been in a competitive race. That makes the June 3 GOP primary, in part, a test of whether a rusty 20th century politician can win an ugly political contest that has been bristling with the weapons and pitfalls of 21st century politics. Mr. Cochran, after appearing at a Brandon, Miss., Memorial Day service, paused to reflect on what it's been like to be back on the campaign trail -- in the nastiest Senate race in the country -- after so many years of coating to re-election.
Palin to appear at McDaniel rally Friday
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, will headline a rally for U.S. Senate candidate Chris McDaniel in Ellisville Friday at 11 a.m. The event will be held at the fine arts center on the campus of Jones County Junior College. Palin recently issued her support for McDaniel on a 60-second radio advertisement in which she says McDaniel is "running for the Senate to shake up the way things work up there."
'Duck Dynasty' star calls out President Obama at GOP conference in New Orleans
Phil Robertson, star of the A&E network's hit reality television series "Duck Dynasty," came to New Orleans on Thursday preaching the Bible and the gun to a group of jubilant Republicans. He had a few words for President Barack Obama as well. "We're up against evil like I've never seen in my life," he said. "I'm sitting there and I'm thinking, 'What's coming out of the White House?' The only thing I can tell you folks is it's just downright embarrassing." Robertson was catapulted into conservative politics last year after A&E briefly suspended him for making disparaging remarks about homosexuals and suggesting in a GQ magazine interview that blacks in the South were happy during the Jim Crow era.
Drone Wars: Who Owns The Air?
There are lots of entrepreneurs who would love to fly drones --- tiny unmanned aircraft --- all over the country. They dream of drones delivering packages and taking photos, but there's a battle in the courts right now standing in their way. The battle is about whether it's legal for drones to take to the sky. The question at the core of the battle: who owns the air? It's a question that goes back to the middle ages, to a Latin phrase that translates to "he owns the soil owns up to the heavens." But once hot air balloons and airplanes came into the picture, things got a lot more complicated.
USM Gulf Park VP Frances Lucas resigns
Faced with a recent loss of administrative power, Frances Lucas has decided to step down as vice president for the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park campus. "It seemed like a good time (to step down) with the majority of the decisions that I used to make now being made in Hattiesburg," said Lucas, who steps down at the end of the week. Lucas said she is now "very excited" to move into the faculty ranks and begin teaching in the department of Human Capital Development at Southern Miss. Earlier this year, university officials stripped Lucas of her title of campus executive officer and removed her from the academic decision-making chain on the coast. The change was not without controversy from coastal stakeholders, however. Former faculty council president Pat Smith called the current relationship between the Hattiesburg and the Gulf Park campuses "authoritarian."
Ribbon-cutting set for restored USM Ogletree House
Restoration work is nearly finished on an iconic Southern Miss building that was heavily damaged in last year's tornado. Southern Miss officials said work on the historic Ogletree House has reached "substantial completion." That building houses the offices of the Southern Miss Alumni Association. Much of the south and east ends of the building were damaged during the Feb. 10, 2013, tornado. Jerry DeFatta, executive director of the USM Alumni Association, said a ribbon-cutting for the restored structure will be held in early September.
Mississippi College to offer business degree online
Beginning in August, the Mississippi College School of Business will begin offering its bachelor's in business administration in a variety of formats, including online. The school joins other areas of the Clinton college that have already moved courses online. "The expectations for all classes regardless of their format will be the same and provide our students with the quality business education over which we have built our strong reputation," says Marcelo Eduardo, dean of the School of Business. School of Business courses will be offered in the Accelerated Degree Program format, hybrid programs mixing in-class and online, and traditional lectures in Self Hall.
Auburn University opens $2.1 million magnet lab
A one-of-a-kind laboratory featuring a 6,000-pound superconducting magnet opened at Auburn University Thursday. Auburn's Department of Physics in the College of Sciences and Mathematics introduced the Magnet Laboratory, housed in the Leach Science Center on campus. The facility will allow for local, national and international plasma physics research. "This has been a five-and-a-half-year process," said Dr. Edward Thomas, Auburn physics professor who spear-headed the laboratory development. "... It's been an amazing process. A lot of folks, students, faculty and many, many collaborators have helped with this project."
Vanderbilt's med center revenue $70M below projections
Vanderbilt University Medical Center's revenue slowdown was steeper than expected in the past year, but no major jobs cuts are planned by the region's largest employer. Last year, Vanderbilt launched a series of cost-cutting measures -- including hundreds of layoffs and jobs cuts -- after projections showed that the medical center was poised to see a $250 million decline in revenue over the next two fiscal years. Initial projections showed that revenue would drop by $100 million during the fiscal year ending June 30, but the latest projections show that the drop will be closer to $170 million.
Q&A: Spain describes plan for U. of Missouri teaching and learning center
A draft of a plan establishing a center for teaching and learning excellence will be underway this fall as part of the University of Missouri's strategic plan, which was released in January. Jim Spain, the vice provost for undergraduate studies, will lead the development of the proposal. On May 20, at MU's fifth annual Celebration of Teaching conference, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin asked Spain to develop a proposal for the center. Spain said his office will determine what types of financial resources and space will be necessary for the center, which has no official name yet. His goal is to bring a plan to the chancellor before the end of the fall 2014 semester.
Racial Gaps in Attainment Widen, as State Support for Higher Ed Falls
The Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics released on Thursday its enormous annual report on the state of education in the United States. "The Condition of Education 2014" is based on 42 national indicators, from preschool enrollment to degree attainment to labor-force participation. The report doesn't draw any conclusions, but it provides an abundance of data on all levels of education. While we don't necessarily learn much about higher education that we didn't already know -- especially as some of the data are several years old -- the report offers a fairly comprehensive snapshot of both trends and the current state of the education landscape.

Cohen plans to use entire Mississippi State pitching staff
The postseason has arrived. That means ...Mississippi State's starters can rest some? "We'd love to be able to get through (the lineup) two or three times," MSU coach John Cohen said. "But our bullpen is our thing." Mississippi State plays in the NCAA tournament today for the first time since it lost in the College World Series finals last year. The Bulldogs matchup against San Diego State at 1 p.m. Cohen won't tinker with his regular season rotation -- at least not yet. He announced Trevor Fitts, the team's normal Friday starter, will start Game 1 of the Lafayette (Louisiana) Regional today.
Bulldogs send out Fitts in Game 1
Mississippi State begins its fourth straight NCAA Regional appearance this afternoon. Last year the Bulldogs won their own regional in Starkville but this time will be on the road -- where they have played well of late. But before the Bulldogs can worry about Louisiana-Lafayette's top-ranked Ragin' Cajuns, they will have to contend with two-time defending Mountain West tournament champion San Diego State. No. 2 seed MSU will face the third-seeded Aztecs at 1 p.m. today on Host Louisiana-Lafayette will play No. 4 Jackson State at 6 p.m. in the nightcap.
Fitts expected to start for Mississippi State
Trevor Fitts will throw the first pitch for the No. 17 and second-seeded Mississippi State baseball team in the NCAA tournament Lafayette Regional on Friday. MSU (37-22) sources confirmed Fitts, a junior right-hander, will start against Mountain West Conference tournament champion and third-seeded San Diego State (42-19) at 1 p.m. Friday in the first game of the NCAA Regional hosted by Louisiana-Lafayette. MSU coach John Cohen said the Bulldogs officially will announce the team's starting pitcher today in its final media availability before it leaves for Louisiana. "In the postseason, there are very few tomorrows," Cohen said Monday, "so you do whatever you can do to win that game. Game 1 is critical. There is no Game 2."
Louisiana-Lafayette plays role of favorite at home
The top-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette baseball team has clear expectations. Immediately after seeing his school as the No. 6 overall seed and earn the chance to play host to its second regional, ULL coach Tony Robichaux set a goal for his team to reach the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. ULL, which moved into the top spot in this week's Baseball America rankings, earned a national seed for the first time in program history and an opportunity to play host to a regional for the first time since 2000. In that season, ULL earned the school's only trip to the College World Series.
Mississippi State, San Diego State tangle in Lafayette regional opener
San Diego State baseball coach Mark Martinez knows his squad could face both Mississippi State and Louisiana-Lafayette during this weekend's regional. Fortunately for the Aztecs, the preparations are the same, since Martinez said he sees a lot of parallels between his first-round-opponent Bulldogs and a potential matchup with the host Ragin' Cajuns. "Both of them really want to put the pressure on you," said Martinez, who has filled in as SDSU boss for the last several weeks while head coach Tony Gwynn continues to battle the ravages of a four-year battle with mouth cancer. "They'll push it, they'll drag it, they're going to try to make us handle the ball and make the plays."
Mississippi State football team could see battle at kicker
The Mississippi State football team likely will have a battle for field goal kicker this season. J.J. McGrath, a preferred walk-on at the University of Michigan last season, will transfer to MSU as a walk-on and could become the team's field goal kicker in the fall. Last week, McGrath used his Twitter account, @_McGrath46, to announce he was going to attend MSU. In a direct message to The Dispatch, McGrath confirmed he will be eligible to play at MSU this season despite transferring from one Football Bowl Subdivision school to another because he wasn't one of the 85 scholarship players at his previous school.
Fulton's Ally McDonald named first-team All-American by WGCA
Following the record-setting 2014 campaign for the Maroon and White, Ally McDonald was selected first-team All-American for the second-straight year, as announced by the Women's Golf Coaches Association Thursday. McDonald becomes just the second Bulldog to claim multiple first-team honors and first to do so in back-to-back seasons since Carri Wood did so in the 1992 and 1993 seasons. "Recognizing Ally [McDonald] in this way further reinforces that she is the total package student-athlete," fourth-year head coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said. "She represents the Mississippi State women's golf program, our university and the game of golf with the highest of standards and commitment."
SEC school presidents excited about change
Southeastern Conference presidents and chancellors arrived in Destin on Thursday and brought the rain with them. However, the sunny disposition remained in full bloom regarding the anticipated changes coming from the NCAA that will give greater voice to those conferences with greater budgets. The vibe from these campus CEOs is that change is coming, and it's change to their liking. "The NCAA board will meet in August as planned, we think to hopefully vote on allowing the big five (conferences) to make some decisions on their own," Mississippi State president Mark Keenum said. "As far as the vote count and how that's all structured within the five, we're going to learn more about that (today). We know from earlier meetings what that looks like, and I'm hoping there's been no significant change."

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