Tuesday, June 3, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Oktibbeha supervisors discuss Mississippi Horse Park harness track
The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors approved a joint proposal with Mississippi State University for an engineering assessment of the Mississippi Horse Park harness racing track during its regular meeting Monday morning. Shafer and Associates will conduct the assessment, which is anticipated to cost $8,000, and will examine the measures and materials necessary for repairs to the track. The board agreed to split the cost of the assessment with the university. Gary Jackson, director of the MSU Extension Service, said reopening the track to the public would bring extensive economic benefits to the area, adding that the Mississippi Trotting Association has already expressed a desire to hold monthly races which could bring in not only local residents but also racers from out of state.
MSU Student from Pontotoc Finds New Vision in South Africa
When Mississippi State University senior Will Gentry went to Africa in 2013 for a short visit to expand his academic horizons, he ended up staying longer and working to conserve popular big-game animals. Gentry, who grew up on a farm in Pontotoc, spent seven weeks last summer in South Africa with the African Conservation Experience. He spent weekdays working alongside a veterinarian who helped facilitate the buying, selling and trading of animals living on reserves. In 2013, he earned a bachelor's degree from MSU in animal and dairy sciences and is pursuing a graduate degree at MSU.
Leadership orientation for MSU-Meridian program
Members of both the 2013-14 and 2014-2015 Educational Leadership Cohorts at MSU-Meridian posed for a photo recently during a leadership orientation. Students in this graduate program are working toward a master or education specialist degree in school administration and are admitted once a year in the spring. The program is a 14-month cohort that trains emerging leaders for K-12 administrative positions in area schools.
Carpenter fulfills civic duty as Oktibbeha election commissioner
As candidates, issues and technology changed over the past decade in Oktibbeha County, Myles Carpenter remained a constant figure in local elections. After 10 years as an election commissioner and additional time as a poll worker, Carpenter, 79, will again help guide the county through Tuesday's Democratic and Republican primaries. Carpenter, four other commissioners - each Oktibbeha County district elects its own election commissioner -- and about 100 poll workers have attended pre-election training sessions and run logistical testing on each precinct's voting machines. Now, they prepare for Tuesday's long hours at the polls.
Sharion Aycock Becomes Mississippi's First Female Federal Chief Judge
Federal Judge Sharion Aycock added another first to her long list of achievements when she became the first female federal chief judge in Mississippi during a so-called "passing the gavel" ceremony at the federal courthouse in Aberdeen yesterday. The Honorable Michael Mills, who at the expiration of his seven-year term is the outgoing Chief United States District Judge for the Northern District of Mississippi, handed the gavel over to Aycock, who at that moment became the first female federal chief judge in Mississippi history.
EPA goal for Mississippi is to cut carbon by 38 percent by 2030
The federal government is proposing that Mississippi's carbon dioxide emissions from power plants be 38 percent lower by year 2030 compared to 2005. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced specific targets for all states Monday as part of the Obama administration's effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions nationwide. Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, a Democrat who represents the Northern District, said he would ask the other two commissioners at a Tuesday meeting to make sure the Mississippi regulatory body makes comments on the rules. "My initial response is these types of regulations, like we've seen in the past, are only going to increase the cost of electricity," Presley said. "Any time there's a federal mandate related to environmental costs, someone has to pay for it."
Board accepts plan for state's first charter school
Mississippi's first charter school is closer to opening. The Charter School Authorizer Board voted Monday to accept the application of RePublic Charter School, which wants to open Reimagine Prep in Jackson, serving fifth grade through eighth grade. The board will now seek to negotiate a contract with RePublic. Charter schools would be authorized for five-year terms, and the board can authorize up to 15 per year. RePublic, which has two schools in Nashville, Tennessee, plans to build the Mississippi school in fall 2015. The school would have 440 students at full capacity, and RePublic has raised $400,000.
Candidates battle apathy, disgust, rain to get out the vote
They've hammered each other for months, now Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel in the final hours of the GOP Senate primary are battling apathy, disgust over dirty politics, regionalism and even rain. They're trying to get their voters out in what polls would indicate is a dead-heat and what has been one of the most bitter, negative races in recent memory. A low-to-moderate turnout is expected, based on absentee ballots and history. The race is tough to handicap, said John Bruce, chairman of the Political Science Department at the University of Mississippi. There are many variables. "This weekend, I was at a youth baseball tournament," Bruce said. "This race came up, and nobody said anything nice about anybody. That may not be the most scientific measure, but it's not a harbinger of high turnout. I think average people are saying, 'Please, just let it be over.' "
Time to vote: Senate candidates make final pre-election push
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran campaigned in east Mississippi and held a spirited rally in Jackson on Monday while his challenger, Chris McDaniel, bused across north Mississippi, including Tupelo, where he campaigned at the Mall at Barnes Crossing. The two Republicans were making a final push for votes before today's party primary elections for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Polls will be open from 7 a.m until 7 p.m. At a rally at the state Agriculture Museum attended by about 300 supporters, Cochran said that with his victory and a Republican takeover of the Senate this year, he would again be in line to chair the Appropriations Committee and "I can help stop wasteful spending."
Cochran, McDaniel make final push ahead of GOP primary
Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel campaigned across the state Monday in an 11th-hour push to fire up their supporters and get them to show up at the polls for today's GOP primary. "We've come a long way in Mississippi, and with a Republican majority, together we can make this Mississippi's moment," Cochran told hundreds at a rally in Jackson. "President (Barack) Obama has taken us down some wrong paths. But starting tomorrow, we can get America back on the right path." Steve Guyton, a tree farmer from Kosciusko, stopped in Biloxi, Gulfport, Starkville and even Oxford to put up signs and campaign for Cochran. "I'm just working day and night," said Guyton, 66, as he loaded Cochran signs into his car after the Jackson rally. "This election is critical for the state of Mississippi and for the country."
Thad Cochran Runs on Appropriations and Incumbency in Mississippi
Construction on Phase II of the grand Thad Cochran Research Center on the Ole Miss campus in Oxford is expected to be completed later this year, around the time the senator hopes to be re-elected to a seventh term. Cochran's help securing crucial federal funding for the pharmacy school's natural products research facility is one of numerous examples of the Senate appropriator's widely regarded ability to steer money toward his state, which has the lowest median household income in the country. The incumbent spent the final week of an increasingly hostile race on a statewide bus tour touting his 36 years of experience in the Senate, despite the fact that his appropriations prowess -- and accusations he doesn't fight hard enough for conservative causes -- is what led to the 76-year-old's most competitive primary challenge ever, from tea-party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
Will Mississippi End Its Love Affair With Seniority?
If Mississippi Republicans vote to oust six-term Sen. Thad Cochran in Tuesday's primary, it will be a particularly emphatic demonstration of this year's anti-incumbent sentiment. That is because if there is any place in the country where seniority in Congress is prized, it is Mississippi. Seniority is particularly important to sparsely populated states like Mississippi, whose small congressional delegations like to make up in clout what they lack in number of votes they can cast in the House and Senate. The rivalry between Mr. Cochran and tea-party activist Chris McDaniel also reflects emerging changes in the GOP throughout the South.
Will Mississippi mudslinging topple first Senate incumbent?
The Tea Party has kept its aim on Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) despite a scandal involving his wife and a supporter of his primary opponent -- and he could be the first Senate incumbent to fall in Tuesday's marquee contest. If McDaniel does win, Democrats will be eyeing the race with a renewed interest and are optimistic that their own candidate, centrist former Rep. Travis Childers (D) can take advantage of the schism.
Primary day: The 7 key questions
It's the right's last realistic shot of knocking off an incumbent GOP senator this year -- a down-to-the-wire race in Mississippi where six-term Republican Sen. Thad Cochran is scrambling to stave off tea party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel. A McDaniel win on Tuesday -- an election night featuring an sprawling, eight-state slate of primaries -- would give the outside groups that have backed him their biggest scalp of 2014. A Cochran win would basically guarantee that this is the first election year since 2008 in which no Republican senator goes down in a primary. Polls show the race to be neck and neck.
Wild campaign set up for a wilder finish
Today could bring bad news for those tired of relentlessly negative ads on TV, robocalls on their landlines and pop-up ads on websites. There are scenarios where Mississippi's U.S. Senate race and the Republican primary for the District 4 congressional seat could both advance to runoff elections June 24. In the Senate race, unknown newcomer Thomas Carey, a Hernando realtor, polled at 6 percent in a Red Racing Horses poll last week, 3 percent in a Polling Co. poll and 1.4 percent in one by Chism Strategies. If he gets the 6 percent, he could prevent either U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran on Chris McDaniel from topping 50 percent and avoiding the runoff.
Bentley says Alabama could lure new tire manufacturing plant
Alabama is in the running for a new tire manufacturing plant. "We are one of four or five states where they are looking," Gov. Robert Bentley said Monday. Bentley did not name the tire company, but he said the proposed plant has the potential of creating up to 2,000 new jobs. The governor told a gathering of people who run small businesses in Tuscaloosa that he spoke with officials with the tire company last week. He said the company is interested in two sites in Alabama. He did not identify where those sites are.
University of Mississippi Medical Center head to retire
The head of the University of Mississippi Medical Center has announced his retirement. Dr. James Keeton said Monday that he will retire as of June 30, 2015. Keeton, a pediatric urologist, has been vice chancellor of health affairs and dean of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine since July 2009. He's worked at UMMC since 2002. Ole Miss said it would launch a national search to replace the 74-year-old Keeton, with a goal of producing two or three finalists.
Camp introduces students to advanced manufacturing
Gabriel Sims and Luke Smith each had similar motivations for attending this week's Tek2Go Advanced Manufacturing Camp. "I heard you get to make stuff, and you get to tour plants," said Gabriel, 13, of Belden. For Guntown's Luke, 13, the allure was the chance to "put stuff together." "It is pretty fun being able to play around with the machines," he said. The two are among 15 students from Northeast Mississippi who will attend the camp this week. It is designed both to introduce them to the career and to attract more top students to the in-demand field. The camp is sponsored by Itawamba Community College, the Community Development Foundation and Hawkeye Industries.
Machen pleased with U. of Florida's funding from state
University of Florida President Bernie Machen said Monday he was "extremely grateful to the Legislature and Gov. (Rick) Scott for the level of funding allocated to the University of Florida for the upcoming fiscal year." The $3.8 billion state university budget includes more than $160 million in performance-based funding to be dispersed among the state's 12 universities based on criteria set by the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees and sets policy for the university system. UF estimated it could receive as much as $25.9 million of those new funds. UF also will receive more than $30 million for new construction projects and $16.5 million for critical maintenance and operating costs.
Jindal reappoints supervisors to LSU board
Gov. Bobby Jindal has reappointed four people to the LSU Board of Supervisors this week. The board, which oversees the LSU system, is made up of 15 gubernatorial appointees, subject to state Senate confirmation. Two are appointed from each district every six years and one appointed at large.
Tuition, Fees On the Rise at Arkansas' Major Universities
Students at the state's five largest public, four-year universities can expect one thing for certain next year: higher tuition and fees. On Friday, the University of Central Arkansas was the last of the five largest universities to approve an increase for the 2014-15 academic year. At the University of Arkansas' flagship institution in Fayetteville, undergraduates will see the sharpest incline, paying $13.03 more per credit hour, or $391 for 30 hours. Fayetteville students will also continue to have the highest combined rate for tuition and fees at $8,209 a year. The increases at the Fayetteville and Little Rock campuses, along with increases across the UA System, will help fund faculty salary raises, the university said.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center changes rules for vacation, pay
Vanderbilt University Medical Center announced significant changes to its employee benefits and compensation on Monday that leadership said could ultimately save about 2,000 jobs. VUMC employees learned of changes to their vacation time, as well as a re-structuring of compensation for management, in an e-mail Monday. Beginning July 1, several hundred administrators and members of management will move to a "variable compensation model" that bases five percent of their base salaries on VUMC's financial performance during 2015, according to VUMC spokesman John Howser. Also on July 1, the medical center will switch to a benefits plan that prohibits them from rolling unused vacation time to the next fiscal year.
Texas A&M administrators to be highlighted in documentary on George H.W. Bush
Some current and former Texas A&M administrators will be highlighted in CNN's upcoming documentary about former President George H.W. Bush. CNN announced Monday that it will premiere the profile titled 41ON41 at 8 p.m. June 15. The two-hour documentary draws from 41 storytellers close to the former president. A&M interviewees include Andy Card, former acting dean of the Bush School, and former A&M President Robert Gates. Others are Dana Carvey, Tom Brokaw, Arnold Palmer and presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. The film was funded by the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation.
Mizzou Alumni Association announces amphitheater project
The Mizzou Alumni Association announced a gift to the University of Missouri on Monday morning in honor of the institution's 175th birthday. The association is funding construction of "Traditions Plaza," a $1 million outdoor amphitheater at the north end of the Mel Carnahan Quadrangle just east of the MU Alumni Center. The space will be available for programming for the campus community and alumni by this fall. Todd McCubbin, executive director of the Mizzou Alumni Association, said to fund the project the association is selling bricks.
AAU Is Accused of Glorifying a Limited View of Higher Education
The New America Foundation gave voice on Tuesday to a simmering resentment toward the Association of American Universities, saying its system for ranking research universities is a net negative for higher education. The foundation, in a report by Kevin Carey, its director of education policy, suggested the AAU undergo an overhaul in which its heavy emphasis on research spending as a membership criterion became more balanced by attention to institutional success in teaching students. Through the AAU, Mr. Carey said, a "tiny cabal of venerable institutions has done more to shape and, increasingly, harm the cause of higher learning in America than any other group one could name." That harm, he said, comes from institutions' fruitlessly wasting time and money chasing AAU membership, and from universities' worrying more about superficial measures of research activity than about more-substantive matters. The AAU pushed back, saying it has wider membership criteria and pays more attention to student education than Mr. Carey acknowledges.
CHARLIE MITCHELL (OPINION): Score a victory for Coast in public information case
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "On Nov. 12, 2012, Karen Nelson walked into the office of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources in Biloxi and asked for some information. Any person could have received the same information. That was not an issue. Nonetheless, an amateurish game of hot potato ensued. It took a federal judge and a courageous state judge -- who issued her ruling May 27 -- to say enough is enough. The state judge, Chancellor Jennifer Schloegel, described the actions of state Auditor Stacy Pickering and Attorney General Jim Hood with a wonderful four-syllable word: 'contumacious.' She also reminded them 'they are charged with enforcing the law, not subverting it.' She fined them and six others (lawyers and state officials) $100 each (the legal maximum) for their contumaciousness and ordered them to pay almost $38,000 in legal fees incurred by Ms. Nelson's employer, The Sun Herald newspaper."
STUART ROTHENBERG (OPINION): Mississippi Primary: Cochran Considered Agriculture's 'Gentleman'
Stuart Rothenberg writes for Roll Call: "The rain pounded the Mississippi Delta for the better part of three days late last week, but the nasty weather and a hard-fought primary contest didn't stop Sen. Thad Cochran from attending the Delta Council's annual event on May 30 on the Delta State University campus. ...The six-term Republican received multiple standing ovations from those attending the annual meeting. ...White voters in the Delta are conservative in many ways, but they also believe that members of Congress should be advocates for their constituents, as the state's senior senator has been for the past 36 years. ...While some Republicans are so fed up with Washington, D.C., they simply will vote for change, many Republicans in the Delta will stick with the man who has done what senators -- and particularly Southern senators -- have always done: support programs and federal spending that help constituents."

Pirtle's desperate dash, Mississippi State come up short vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Brett Pirtle walked to the plate in the ninth inning. He owned the best batting average in the Lafayette Regional. He was Mississippi State's last hope, trailing by one with two outs. The senior swung and missed at the seventh pitch of the at-bat. The catcher dropped the ball, allowing Pirtle's career to extend 90 feet longer in Mississippi State's 5-3 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette on Monday. "You just got to give your team a chance if something like that happens," Pirtle said. "Running down the line, I was just hoping he would throw it and hit me in the back of my head." Those type of breaks didn't go the Bulldogs' way in their final two games of the 2014 season in the Lafayette Regional of the NCAA tournament. Pirtle was thrown out and the season ended.
End of line for Bulldogs
Mississippi State's bid to return to Omaha and the College World Series will have to wait. The Bulldogs 2014 campaign came to a close Monday night with a 5-3 loss to top-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette in the champion-ship game of the Lafayette Regional. The Ragin' Cajuns (57-8) plated three runs in the third inning -- two on wild pitches -- and made it hold up to advance to host a super regional against Ole Miss this weekend.
SEC teams fall flat in regionals
The SEC. The Swift Exit Conference. Surprisingly Early Closing to the season. Suddenly Everybody's Confused about the SEC after the regional round of the NCAA baseball tournament concluded Monday. The SEC, which just a week ago had 10 teams selected for the field of 64 (the most any one conference had ever had), now has just two teams remaining. Since 1990, nine SEC schools have won a national title; seven have finished as runners-up. The last time no SEC teams made it to Omaha was 1992.
Examining the pros and cons of the SEC Network
The website getsecnetwork.com is the equivalent of a slightly agitated crowd of fans who are protesting. For now, they are merely carrying posters and behaving in a somewhat restrained fashion toward DirecTV and Comcast, companies that have not reached deals to carry the SEC Network when it launches Aug. 14. But come Aug. 14, if DirecTV and Comcast have not signed on to carry the Southeastern Conference's new regional sports network because of the cost of the programming, the fans of Bulldogs, Tigers, Gators and the rest will not be happy. The fans will lose restraint and demands will become actions: They just might cancel their service.
The Courting of Marvin Clark: Inside colleges' pursuit of a future star
Marvin Clark Jr. was sold. Fresh off a recruiting visit to the University of Oregon two years ago, he was convinced he wanted to play there. A year ago, Mr. Clark made it official, committing to the Pac-12 program over more than a dozen other suitors. Around the same time, he had surgery to repair a fractured foot, forcing him to miss several months on the court. The week he returned to the court, two Oregon coaches visited him there. It was his first game back, and it showed. After the game, he says, the coaches started to walk out of the gym without offering a word. That night Mr. Clark hardly slept, fearing that he had lost his scholarship. The next day he called one of his coaches, who had been in touch with Oregon. Mr. Clark's instincts were right -- Oregon had moved on. But in the cutthroat world of recruiting, who is looking out for him?

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