Thursday, July 10, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Obama's proposals for colleges get an 'F' from state education leaders
President Barack Obama has drawn the fire from college presidents around the country for a proposal to adopt a rating system for the nation's colleges and universities that the President says its designed to combat rising college tuition costs and make colleges more accountable providing a quality education that results in students being able to get a good job. Presidents from around the country have said that rating universities isn't that simple. "I do not believe a 'one-size-fits-all' rating system for public and private universities and colleges is an effective approach," said Mississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum. The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning already have a system in place that focuses on outcomes. "It includes a funding allocation formula that is based on performance and meeting benchmarks for graduation rates, enrollment and retention," Keenum said.
Nara takes over for Durst at Theatre MSU
Before he was selected to replace Jo Durst, John Nara had the chance to meet her. Durst retired in late May after 34 years directing many plays as a theater instructor at Mississippi State University. During the interview process, Nara said he had the chance to talk with Durst about the students she had worked with throughout the years. (Subscriber access only.)
Harrington Named New MSU Business College Fundraiser
Alumnus Zack Harrington joins the Mississippi State fundraising team this month as assistant director of development for the university's College of Business this month. A Hattiesburg native, he holds two degrees from the college: a 2009 bachelor's in business administration with an emphasis in real estate mortgage finance and 2010 master's in sport administration. As an undergraduate, he was a quarterback during the 2006 and 2007 seasons for the Bulldog football team. Jack McCarty, executive director of development for the MSU Foundation, said Harrington brings to the position "a deep appreciation for Mississippi State and a strong background in sales."
Mississippi State alums hosting send-off parties
The MSU Alumni Association and its more than 129,000 alumni have announced the dates for their 2014 Send-off Parties for students heading back to school this fall. Local chapters, in conjunction with the Alumni Association and the Office of Admissions and Scholarships, will host these events that bring together alumni and friends with current, incoming and prospective students and their parents.
Three preliminary winners on first night of Miss Mississippi pageant, including Miss MSU
Jasmine Murray, Laura Lee Lewis and Randi-Kathryn Harmon were winners in the first night of preliminary competition at the Miss Mississippi Pageant. Murray, Miss Riverland, and Lewis, Miss Mississippi State University, tied in the talent competition. Harmon, Miss Historic South was the swimwear winner. Each night of the preliminary competition, which runs through Friday, contestant groupings compete in talent, swimwear, evening wear, and an on stage question.
Starkville police search for vehicle posing as animal control
Starkville animal control officers and police are searching for answers after several dogs were let out of their yards in the Greenbriar sudivision on July 2. Animal control says it received several reports of dogs missing from their yards after a vehicle, labeled as Starkville animal control, was seen in the area. Officers describe the vehicle as a white Ford Ranger with an "animal control" logo and a large cage in the bed of its truck. However, the city says this truck is not operated by Starkville animal control.
Starkville School District supe wants 'amiable' solution for fund dispute
Starkville School District Superintendent Lewis Holloway said he hopes SSD and city aldermen can find an amiable solution over how to use $500,000 in over-collected school taxes. Mayor Parker Wiseman said last week that he approved a transfer of those funds to the school system, but the city was in the process of recalling the funds after Vice Mayor Roy A. Perkins said the move was made without board authorization and instructed the city attorney to investigate all legal avenues to reclaim the money. As of Tuesday, the money had not yet been returned to the city.
Oktibbeha supervisors unanimously pass Blackjack TIF plan
Oktibbeha County supervisors unanimously approved a $4.78 million-maximum tax increment financing plan Monday that, once expected housing developments are added to the tax rolls, will provide funding for numerous Blackjack Road improvements. The plan is contingent on three proposed apartment complex projects, which combined represent more than $100 million worth of investments, coming to fruition and adding about $593,000 to the county's tax rolls. Aspen Heights, one of the three housing projects, already broke ground on its project and aims to open its doors before the start of Mississippi State University's fall semester. The other two, District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer said, are slated to open in fall 2015.
Inspection stickers required despite rumors
Auto-inspection stickers are a fact of life in Mississippi. They're supposed to prove your vehicle is road-worthy, but some state troopers say there seems to be some confusion about inspection stickers. Some people think they don't have to buy it because of a bill in the Mississippi House of Representatives earlier this year. House Bil 104 would have done away with inspection stickers, but it didn't pass the Senate. "If the bill dies in the Senate, that means the law was not passed and did not repeal the inspection sticker law, so it's business as usual," said MHP Troop G Sergeant Criss Turnipseed.
Tax break won't lift cloud over catfish industry
Mississippi farmers are saving some money as of this month. Mississippi House Bill 844, which went into effect on July 1, exempts certain agriculture businesses from paying state sales tax on utility bills. This step was taken by the legislature in an attempt to level the playing field for Mississippi farmers, who compete with producers from areas with more tax breaks and subsidies, such as neighboring Alabama. The bill will impact many farmers in the state, but there is particular interest in cutting the costs of catfish farmers, said Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley. Catfish farms in Mississippi and across the South have been regaining hope this year thanks to an extension of the Farm Bill passed in 2014. American catfish producers have been struggling to stay competitive with markets in Southeast Asia, particularly from Vietnam.
VA leader to visit Jackson hospital
The head of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs will visit the VA Medical Center in Jackson Friday to discuss efforts to improve services there. The G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery VA Medical Center has been plagued by problems, including a shortage of nurses and long waits for veterans to see a primary physician. VA officials said Sloan Gibson, acting secretary of Veterans Affairs, will meet with leaders, workers and "key stakeholders" at the center. Last fall, the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation held a hearing on the problems at the VA in Jackson. Fourth District Rep. Steven Palazzo, who attended the hearing, said then he was "disgusted" by the findings.
Lawsuits Could Still Alter How Obamacare Functions In State
The legal fight over the future of the federal health care reform law could still have a big impact on Mississippians. That's according to conservative legal scholar Jonathan Adler from Case Western Reserve University. Adler, who spoke in Jackson yesterday, says the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the contraception mandate is just the beginning of a series of lawsuits that could dramatically alter how Obamacare functions in Mississippi.
DeSoto lawmakers highlight 2014 legislative session
Good schools bring good business growth to DeSoto County. The importance of good education to DeSoto County's economic growth was touched on by three members of the local delegation to the State Legislature who spoke to the Olive Branch Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon at Whispering Woods Hotel and Conference Center on Wednesday. State Rep. Forrest Hamilton, State Rep. Wanda Jennings, and State Sen. David Parker, who all represent Olive Branch in Jackson, talked about the recently-completed legislative session. All three touched on education in their comments.
Former Southaven mayor sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison
Former Southaven Mayor Greg Davis will spend 2 1/2 years in prison and will have 7 1/2 years of post-release supervision. Another 2 1/2 years of his sentence was suspended. The former mayor also filed to have another trial in a new venue on the basis that the jury during his last trial was impartial. That motion was denied. Davis was found guilty in June for embezzlement and making false representation to defraud City of Southaven. He was ordered to pay $73,000 for the misuse of public funds.
Sims stepping down as Cochran campaign manager
Kirk Sims is stepping down as campaign manager for incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and will stay on with the campaign as an adviser. Cochran staffer Brad Davis, who has been on leave from his state director and legal counsel job for Cochran's Senate office while working on the campaign, will take over as manager, Sims said. "Our plans for day-to-day operations going forward to November have been under discussion for some time now, and I had hoped to step back from day-to-day activities after the primary process and support the campaign in a different role going forward," Sims said.
Mississippi voting records suit refiled in Jackson
A federal lawsuit seeking voter records has been refiled in Mississippi's southern district federal court. Texas group True the Vote and 22 Mississippi residents refiled their lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Jackson against Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and the state Republican Party. The new version of the suit adds election commissions in Copiah, Hinds, Jefferson Davis, Lauderdale, Leake, Madison, Rankin, Simpson and Yazoo counties. The plaintiffs say federal law requires authorities to release voting rolls and poll books without erasing voters' personal information. They also say the law doesn't allow fees for redaction, saying at least one county wanted to charge $1,400. Mississippi authorities say it's proper to remove birth dates and make requesters pay for removal.
McDaniel camp's attempts to eject reporter from courthouse unsuccessful
Supporters of the Chris McDaniel for U.S. Senate Campaign twice unsuccesfully attemped to have a newspaper reporter ejected from a room in the Madison County Courthouse where they were examining poll books on Tuesday. At the Madison County Courthouse, an initial objection by one unidentified man representing the McDaniel camp halted the canvassing process when he left for 15 minutes to call someone with the campaign. Upon return, he strongly objected to the reporter's presence again, saying only members of the McDaniel camp, Cochran camp, and Circuit Clerk's Office were able to be present. Madison County Circuit Clerk Lee Westbrook read opinions from Attorney General Jim Hood and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and said as long as media weren't touching the voter books or photographing private information they were allowed to be present.
Missouri GOP head seeks party probe of Mississippi ads alleging racism
The head of the Missouri Republican Party on Tuesday asked Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to appoint a task force to investigate what he called "racially divisive ads and robocalls" critical of state Sen. Chris McDaniel in the Republican runoff for U.S. Senate in Mississippi, marking the latest instance of lingering intra-party discord following Sen. Thad Cochran's narrow victory over McDaniel last month. Missouri GOP Chairman Ed Martin e-mailed letters to Priebus and RNC members Tuesday afternoon expressing concerns over ads reported by Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.
Ann Coulter tells McDaniel to give up
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter defended Sen. Thad Cochran's (R-Miss.) primary win over Chris McDaniel and criticized his supporters for pushing him to contest the results, warning they could ruin his political future in Mississippi. In an op-ed published in the Clarion-Ledger, Coulter lamented that McDaniel "is being led down a primrose path to political oblivion." "McDaniel's passionate supporters think that a moment of crisis for the country is a good time to treat control of the Senate as if it's a prom queen election," she added. Coulter also said McDaniel’s supporters “looked like clowns and nuts.”
Immigration News: Democrats Slam Obama For Avoiding Border in Texas
With ongoing protests in California, business leaders in Washington calling for a legislative overhaul and lawmakers trading barbs on Capitol Hill, President Barack Obama heard from all sides of the immigration debate Wednesday -- including some particularly pointed criticism from a member of his own party. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a fifth-term Democrat from the Texas border town of Laredo, ripped Obama for not scheduling a visit to the Rio Grande Valley while on a two-day fundraising swing through the state. The president, speaking to reporters Wednesday evening after meeting in Dallas with Gov. Rick Perry and other Texas leaders on the crisis, defended his decision not to visit the border. "This isn't theater," he said. "I'm not interested in photo-ops. I'm interested in solving the problem."
UAW to establish local union for Chattanooga VW plant
The United Auto Workers union will announce today that's it's forming a union local in Chattanooga to represent employees at the Volkswagen plant. Participation will be voluntary, and there will be no formal recognition of the union by the German automaker until a majority of its workers have joined, UAW officials have confirmed. If successful, the effort would mark the union's first successful attempt to gain recognition at a foreign-owned automaker in the South, which is becoming a hotbed of auto manufacturing. As more manufacturing moves into the region, getting into more Southern plants is vital to the union's long-term survival.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College courts high school dropouts with free Transitions Academy
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in August will roll out a new option for high school dropouts that blends GED prep with college-level courses, it announced Wednesday. The new Transitions Academy in Long Beach will provide an opportunity for adults without a high school diploma to simultaneously earn a GED credential and 15 hours of college credit in a career field. The academy is also free to students who qualify, leaders said. Course offerings include Adult Basic Education/GED prep and a choice of either welding or early childhood development. "The program integrates academic skill development, career advising, work-readiness training, and occupation-specific training through ABE and college-level courses," said Becky Layton, director of adult basic education.
Pearl River Community College promotes Seal and Moody
Two women have been named to upper-level administrative positions at Pearl River Community College. Dr. Jennifer Seal became vice president for planning and institutional research and Tonia Moody is director of admissions and records, effective July 1. Seal holds a doctorate in community college leadership from Mississippi State University. Moody holds a master of science degree from Mississippi State.
$2 million grant to help UGA math department attract, train more students
Behind every facet of digital communication is a well-trained mathematician, and the University of Georgia mathematics department is on the front lines of training for this ever-increasing field of employment. One recent grant award will ensure that mathematics education advances at the university. Thanks to a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, UGA will continue its efforts to educate math majors at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The grant will be administered over five years.
Gause appointed to department head position at Texas A&M Bush School
F. Gregory Gause has been appointed the first head of the Department of International Affairs at the Bush School or Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. A noted Middle East scholar for more than two decades and widely recognized for his expertise, Gause has focused his research on the international politics of the Middle East, with a particular interest in the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf. He has published three books, the most recent of which is The International Relations of the Persian Gulf (Cambridge University Press, 2010). "We are delighted to have Dr. Gause join our faculty and provide leadership for the Department of International Affairs," said Bush School Dean Ryan Crocker. "His reputation for superb scholarship and expertise, as well as his close ties to the Middle East, will significantly enhance our international affairs academic programs."
U. of Missouri Summer Rep Theatre presents comedy, ingenuity
The University of Missouri Department of Theatre kicks off its 76th summer repertory season on Thursday with a performance of "The Drowsy Chaperone." Also featured are an adaptation of Mark Twain's "Is He Dead?" and two special performances of "Comedies-in-Concert." The "Comedies-in-Concert" performances are dark comedies geared toward older audiences. Director David Crespy advocated viewer discretion. "These are adult plays," he said. "Don't bring the little people."
Clearinghouse study finds declining student persistance
The portion of first-time U.S. students who return to college for a second year has dropped 1.2 percentage points since 2009, according to a report that looks like bad news for the national college completion push. The findings are the latest from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The nonprofit group regularly releases studies based on the Clearinghouse's data sets, which cover 96 percent of students nationwide. According to the report, which was released today, 68.7 percent of students who first enrolled in the fall of 2012 returned to any U.S. institution the following fall. That number, which is the national "persistence" rate, was down from 69.9 percent for students who enrolled in 2009. The 1.2 percentage point dip is substantial, as it applies to a total enrollment of 3.1 million students.
Texas Showdown Is Averted, With President to Stay On for a Year
The searing spotlight that has been shining on the University of Texas cooled slightly on Wednesday, when the system's chancellor, in a surprising about-face, announced that he would allow the flagship's president, William C. Powers Jr., to stay on another year. The move pre-empted what had promised to be a bitterly divisive meeting of the system's Board of Regents on Thursday, when the board had been expected to fire Mr. Powers. Faculty members who had gathered in a special meeting on Wednesday to protest the president's apparently imminent ouster gasped and cheered when they learned that the chancellor, Francisco G. Cigarroa, had backed down, agreeing to let the president leave on his own terms, at the end of the next academic year.
Confederate flag: Washington and Lee University removing display
Reproductions of the Confederate flag will no longer adorn Washington and Lee University's campus in Lexington, Va., the university president announced Tuesday. However, the school will display historic rebel flags in the university's Lee Chapel Museum. The move came in response to a request from a group of W&L law-school students known as the Committee, which appealed to the university in the spring to remove the flags, to declare Martin Luther King Day a university holiday, and to take steps to confront the school's murky history in conjunction with slavery. Starting in the 1990s, the American Civil Liberties Union launched protests aimed at swaying states to abandon the Stars and Bars. Today, Mississippi is the only state that still uses the emblem in its flag.

Mississippi State's Scott Stricklin challenges fellow ADs for charity
Scott Stricklin paid it forward with a challenge. Mississippi State's athletic director sat and watched Bulldog football players pour a bucket of ice water on him as part of the Chillin 4 Charity campaign. The challenge was laid out by former MSU athletic director and current Arizona AD Greg Byrne. On July 5, Stricklin accepted the challenge. A three-minute YouTube video released Wednesday showed running back Josh Robinson and company pouring a bucket of water on Stricklin.
QBs to represent Bulldogs, Rebels at SEC Media Days
Six SEC football teams will bring their quarterbacks to next week's Football Media Days gathering in Hoover, Ala., including Ole Miss and Mississippi State. MSU coach Dan Mullen meets with reporters on Tuesday morning, and he'll be accompanied by junior QB Dak Prescott, senior safety Jay Hughes and junior linebacker Benardrick McKinney. The four-day event at the Wynfrey Hotel begins Monday morning with defending league champion Auburn and remarks from SEC commissioner Mike Slive. Last year, there were a record 1,239 registered media representatives in attendance.
Why Chris Jones was snubbed from the Outland Trophy watch list
Jimmy Graham may not be the only football player with an identity crisis. Mississippi State's Chris Jones can join the New Orleans Saints' tight end. Except Jones' issues come on the defensive line and don't involve a franchise tag. The Outland Trophy, given to the nation's top interior lineman, presented 64 players on its preseason watch list. Of the 64, 19 came form the Southeastern Conference. Four SEC teams boasted three players. The list didn't include Jones. The snub comes as a surprise considering Athlon Sports named the sophomore a preseason first-team All-American at defensive tackle. So why was Jones left off the Outland watch list? It could be as simple as his position.
Southern Miss AD: Reed Green Coliseum feasibility report expected soon
Ever since Bill McGillis was hired as athletic director at Southern Miss, he's made it clear that several facilities on the Hattiesburg campus need to be addressed. In an interview with the Hattiesburg American on Tuesday, McGillis said the athletic department will soon be one step closer toward doing just that. The Golden Eagle AD said he expects Populous, a company that describes itself as "a global collective of architects, designers, technical experts and industry veterans," to present the findings of its feasibility study on Reed Green Coliseum to the department by the end of July. McGillis said he has requested the company present the university with multiple concepts that address the need for a complete renovation.
Golden Eagle logo issue reaches 'legal vetting' stage
It is difficult to pinpoint when the logo limbo that Southern Miss has been mired in since losing a legal battle with the University of Iowa in 2011 will end. But Golden Eagle athletic director Bill McGillis told the Hattiesburg American the process has reached the "legal vetting" stage, which is currently underway. In 2003, Southern Miss adopted an eagle head logo designed by Hattiesburg-based RARE Design. In 2011, a three-judge panel from the United States Patent and Trademark Office ruled the emblem too closely resembled that of the University of Iowa's Hawkeye logo. McGillis said Tuesday that Rodney Richardson, who designed Southern Miss' logo in 2003, has been working with Southern Miss since the spring on a slightly altered version of the eagle head mark.
Ole Miss offering new beacon technology for sports fans
The University of Mississippi has launched the first beacon technology system in collegiate sports using mobile devices and custom programming to enhance the fan experience during games and link to a rewards program. Michael Thompson, Ole Miss senior associate athletics director, said the Spark Compass platform and Gimbal's contextual aware proximity platform integrate to deliver personalized, timely and relevant messages to game attendees.
DirecTV 'hopes to provide' SEC Network
DirecTV has made a statement regarding the SEC Network, arguing it is fighting for non-sports fans while still hoping to carry the network when it launches next month. "We're in the middle of productive discussions with Disney over ESPN's new SEC Network and hope to be able to provide it as soon as we possibly can," the undated statement reads. The problem in the negotiations is one that cable and satellite companies are fighting constantly at this point: in an era where it is more and more easy to cut the cord completely and go the Hulu/Netflix/Web steam route, networks are still wanting more and more money per subscriber.
Cox cable adds SEC Network
A large chunk of Louisiana's population was assured Wednesday that Saturdays in Tiger Stadium will be available for television viewing this season. The fledgling SEC Network, a 20-year, multiplatform partnership between the Southeastern Conference and ESPN, will be available via Cox Communications when the new network is scheduled to launch Aug. 14. The deal between media giants Cox and ESPN will bring SEC games to most cable television audiences in the Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Acadiana markets. The agreement with Cox was a big one for the SEC Network. In the past few months, the network has struck deals with, among others, the DISH Network, AT&T U-Verse, Google Fiber, and the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative.
Senate committee grills NCAA president about college athlete rights
At a U.S. Senate hearing here Wednesday, Mark Emmert, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, said he lacks the authority to enact many of the changes he'd like to see in college athletics. That assertion -- along with tough criticism that Emmert endured from numerous lawmakers during a three-hour grilling -- prompted Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, to ask, "If you're merely a monetary pass-through, why should you even exist?" In a free-ranging discussion with the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Emmert listed several reforms he would like to see happen, including guaranteed four-year scholarships, scholarships that cover the full cost of attendance, and better health care for athletes. Already, the NCAA has reversed its longstanding rule that barred colleges from offering four-year scholarships.
Senate Committee Presses N.C.A.A., Signaling Interest in Direction of College Sports
Members of a United States Senate committee on Wednesday took their turn demanding answers from the N.C.A.A., signaling that Capitol Hill has a growing interest in weighing in on the future of college athletics. In front of a packed hearing room, Senator Jay Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia, voiced his anger at the state of college sports, echoing critics who have bemoaned its professionalization --- and the perception that the increasing revenue is not being fairly shared with athletes. Rockefeller indicated that, as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, he would be asking tough questions in the months ahead -- and that demands for reform could come. "What I perceive is a web of convenient protection," Rockefeller said.

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