Friday, July 11, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Trainer calls for new talks with hospital trustees
Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer again called for a sit-down meeting with OCH Regional Medical Center trustees to discuss the hospital's financial future. Trainer, who made similar calls to investigate OCH's financial shape in the past three years, said a third-party assessment of the hospital's revenues, expenditures and long-term plans could help position it and the county strategically for the future. Trainer drew pointed criticism in the past three years for numerous attempts to conduct an outside financial study as its completion would be the first step mandated by law for a potential sale or lease of the county-owned facility.
New speakeasy to open in downtown Starkville
A new bar is coming to downtown Starkville. The Guest Room is slated to open next month. It will be located in the refurnished basement of Restaurant Tyler, which is located at 100 E. Main St. The renovation process began in early May, according to Brian Kelley, who along with Chef Ty Thames, opened Restaurant Tyler six years ago. Kelley said The Guest Room will be a 40-seat cocktail bar that will feature food options, too. It will be open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The watering hole will be a "bar for grown-ups," Kelley added. It will have an evolving menu of seasonal cocktails made with local ingredients. Kelley said they plan on "applying the farm to table concept to glass."
C Spire adding suite of home security, monitoring to new ultra speed Internet service
At the launch of C Spire's ultra-high speed, fiber-based gigabit Internet service, analysts wondered what offerings the Fiber to the Home initiative would include beyond the next generation internet, digital HD television and nationwide phone service. They got some answers Thursday with the Ridgeland telecommunications company's announcement that a suite of home automation, security and monitoring services will be part of the package. Branded as C Spire Home, the telecom is calling the package the "smart home" promise. Initial availability will be in one or more of the first C Spire Fiber to the Home cities of Quitman, Ridgeland and Starkville that have qualified areas for related services through pre-registration.
Large U.S. cotton crop potential dampening price outlook
Things just haven't been rosy, price-wise, for cotton -- the December futures contract lost 10 cents in a recent 12-day period, and was down 9 of 10 days. And with rains that have measurably brightened the outlook for much of the cotton belt, heralding potential for a significantly larger than expected crop, things may get worse before they get better, says O.A. Cleveland, Jr., veteran cotton analyst and Extension economics professor emeritus at Mississippi State University. "If I had to set a low for the December futures contract, I'd say 65 cents," he said at the annual joint meeting of the Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corporation and the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Cotton Policy Committee.
KiOR exploring sale, hires firm to assist
KiOR has hired a firm to perform financial advising and assist in exploring a possible merger or sale. The company, which built a $218 million plant in Columbus in 2011, made the announcement in a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday. The development comes 10 days after the alternative fuel company did not make its latest scheduled $1.875 million loan payment to the Mississippi Development Authority. KiOR made the first three payments it owed. The company, whose plant is designed to convert wood chips to fuel, has been idle since December.
Bigger than Nissan: Hinds site could land giant project
A notice filed by Gov. Phil Bryant's office with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suggests western Hinds County could be in line for a manufacturing facility bigger than Nissan. The documents filed July 9 with the Corps' Vicksburg District Office describe the construction of a 5.2 million square foot industrial building and operations center, a 32-acre parking lot, 52.75 acres of dry detention ponds, a 14.5-acre wet detention pond, and 9,500 linear feet of new railroad spur. For comparison, Nissan's plant in Canton is 4.2 million square feet. The proposed site, located just north of I-20 between Clinton and Bolton, is referred to in the filing as "The Norrell Road Site."
Week brings boost for jobs in state, but issues remain
How is job creation faring in Mississippi these days? If you live in Hattiesburg, Water Valley or Canton, you'd probably say, "Just fine, thanks." If you follow National Public Radio, you might say, "Not so fast." Such is the contrast, the often conflicting sets of data, that is inherent in judging a city's economic health, much less that of an entire state.
F.B.I. Honors Office Opened Amid Struggle for Civil Rights
After President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in July 1964, civil rights was the last thing he wanted to talk about. He feared that being associated too closely with the issue would make him appear too liberal for voters coming into that fall's presidential election. But with the disappearance of three civil rights workers in Mississippi and the threat of violence hanging over what became known as Freedom Summer, he knew he had to act. In response to the president's demands, longtime director J. Edgar Hoover hastily opened a field office in Jackson, a step that would take on hugely symbolic importance for both Mississippi and the F.B.I. On Thursday, the 50th anniversary of the office's opening was recalled.
Highway Trust Fund teeters on brink of insolvency
The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday approved a $10.5 billion package to rescue the Highway Trust Fund before it runs out of money in a few weeks, a proposed legislative "Band-Aid-type" remedy predicted earlier Thursday by Mississippi Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert. Tagert, responding to Daily Journal questions about the near-emergency of the dwindling trust fund, said he believed a $10 billion bill pending in the House could temporarily delay the trust fund problem. He noted almost two dozen examples of extensions to federal funding in the past decade. Although far from enacted, the House's action offers hope that some kind of solution can be crafted.
Cochran, Childers slated for Neshoba County Fair
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and his Democratic opponent, Travis Childers of Booneville, are slated to appear back to back on the same stage July 31 at the annual Neshoba County Fair political speakings. Childers is slated to speak at 10:20 a.m., followed by Cochran at 10:30. The annual Neshoba County Fair political speakings are watched closely by the state's media and other political observers and normally draw large crowds. The event is held near the center of the fairgrounds on Founders Square under the tin-roofed pavilion.
Path is not easy for Chris McDaniel to overturn runoff loss to Thad Cochran
A tight timeline and potential cash crunch could make it impossible for tea party-backed Chris McDaniel to overturn his Republican primary loss to six-term Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran. McDaniel has called the outcome a sham and excoriated Cochran on television and talk radio for seeking votes from "liberal Democrats." McDaniel faces daunting obstacles. In addition to the difficulty of proving widespread illegal voting, state law and state history also may work against him. Election challenges are more likely to succeed when candidates are separated by fewer votes, said Derek Muller, a professor at Pepperdine University law school in California who has been following the Mississippi Senate election. "Once you're in the thousands, it's extremely difficult to find fraud or problems that are that widespread," Muller said.
Meridian man dials back vote-buying claim
A Meridian man has recanted -- sort of -- his story that he helped U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran's campaign buy votes for $15 each in Lauderdale County. Stevie Fielder now says he was asked to buy votes -- by someone he won't identify -- but that he refused because "I would be in jail because that's illegal." He says he has talked with the state attorney general's office. "I haven't done anything illegal," said Fielder, who made national news after a lengthy interview with Now Fielder is claiming he was talking "hypothetical" and the recording of the interview must have been selectively edited. But then he appeared to contradict this at one point.
Chris McDaniel says he's not a sore loser
Chris McDaniel has yet to concede the election. That's despite the fact that Thad Cochran had a 7,667 vote victory based on certified results. "I'm not a sore loser. What I am is a person who wants to see the process saved," McDaniel explained to WLBT. "It takes time to investigate corruption. We're not going anywhere until we figure out where it happened and root it out once and for all. McDaniel couldn't give updated numbers of irregular votes his team has found. Political author and analyst Andy Taggart says the last two weeks are the strangest he's seen. "Mississippians who are generally a patient and forgiving people do run out of patience at some point," described Taggart. "And particularly where it becomes quite clear that one candidate has won and one has lost."
Hinds Commissioner, A Cochran Relative, Denies Destroying Runoff Records
Connie Cochran, one of Hinds County's five elected election commissioners and Thad Cochran's sister-in-law, told the Jackson Free Press Thursday morning that the commission did not commit sabotage to help U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran win the June 24 Republican runoff to keep his seat. "It's ludicrous to imply that the Hinds County Election Commission destroyed anything," Cochran told the Jackson Free Press this morning before she was advised to make no more additional comments. Cochran was responding to a new round of accusations lodged yesterday by True The Vote, a Texas-based conservative group that advocates for voter ID laws, trains poll watchers and challenges elections. The group filed a motion for a temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court in Jackson late Wednesday against election commissioners in several Mississippi counties, including Hinds County, as well as the state GOP.
Mississippi GOP chair Joe Nosef calls election lawsuit 'frivolous'
Mississippi Republican Party chairman Joe Nosef says the GOP will defend itself from what he calls a "frivolous" lawsuit filed over access to local voting records. Nosef says the state party does not possess or control the records sought by 22 Mississippi residents and a Texas-based group, True the Vote. In a federal lawsuit filed in Jackson, the plaintiffs request a court order to block the destruction or redaction of any voting records.
Conservative donors stay the course against GOP establishment
Conservative donors fueling the civil war within the Republican Party are showing no signs of surrender, despite recent losses in primaries and mounting criticism that the groups to which they are giving might damage the GOP's prospects at winning control of the Senate. The top conservative groups -- Club for Growth and Senate Conservatives Fund -- have spent more than $10 million on ads and direct contributions to endorsed candidates in 2014 so far, but they've won only in races where establishment groups were largely on the sidelines or supported the same candidate. Donors funding these outside groups aren't demanding their money back or questioning how it was spent, even after Sen. Thad Cochran eked out a win in Mississippi's GOP runoff, which had widely been seen as the best opportunity for tea party groups to defeat the establishment this year.
Guns, normcore and bitcoins: a guide to the hottest campaign accessories this season
When constituents are thinking of reasons to vote for candidates, "They wear great shirts," is not among the top answers. However, style trends -- like LBDs (loveable background dads), guns and smartphones -- are easy to spot on the campaign trail. Here's a look at some of the top campaign accessories of 2014 -- and the candidates who sport them best. Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel, who hasn't conceded to Republican primary winner Sen. Thad Cochran quite yet, is the king of competitive normcore. The New York Times defined normcore as "a supposed style trend where dressing like a tourist -- non-ironic sweatshirts, white sneakers and Jerry Seinfeld-like dad jeans." McDaniel's sartorial choices are a variation on the theme: he's adapted the trend into the campaign-appropriate business-casual normcore.
The precipitous decline of state political coverage
Those two states are part of a nationwide drop in statehouse coverage. Since 2003, the number of full-time reporters covering state legislatures for daily newspapers has declined 35 percent, according to a new study published Thursday by the Pew Research Center. Less than one third of the 801 daily newspapers in the U.S. send a reporter -- full-time or part-time -- to state capitol buildings, Pew found, citing data from the Alliance of Audited Media. There is a paradox in the reality of American politics: The more local an office, the more of an impact it has on any given person's daily life. Yet the more local an election, the lower the voter interest. Now, there is less coverage of those legislators than ever before. That, in turn, has given politicians, lobbyists and public relations professionals the opportunity to step into the vacuum.
HIV again found in Mississippi girl who was medical first
The Mississippi child hailed last year as the world's first person functionally cured of HIV saw the immunodeficiency virus return this month, shattering researchers' hopes for a long-term cure and likely condemning the girl to a lifetime of medication. National Institute of Health officials announced the findings Thursday. "It felt very much like a punch to the gut," said Dr. Hannah Gay, the University of Mississippi Medical Center pediatrician who had been credited for the remission. "It was very disappointing."
Gillespie named UMMC's chief nursing executive officer
Terri Gillespie, a veteran nursing leader and Children's of Mississippi chief nursing and clinical services officer, has been named the University of Mississippi Medical Center's chief nursing executive officer and chief nursing officer of the adult hospitals. Effective Sept. 1, she will succeed Dr. Janet Harris, who will move to a full-time role as associate dean for practice and community engagement in the School of Nursing, a title she has held since January. There, Harris will help develop and implement strategies around service learning in the school's nurse practitioner-managed clinics, among other duties.
USM president addresses concerns over Gulf Park leadership
Some members of the Gulf Coast Business Council are raising concerns about the vision and direction of USM Gulf Park. On Thursday, they met with Southern Miss President Dr. Rodney Bennett to discuss the recent reorganization of the university and future change in leadership at the Long Beach campus. The group chairman called it a productive meeting. Crews are converting three houses next to the USM Long Beach campus into a fitness center, a health clinic, and space for the social work program. Dr. Bennett said the new amenities were in response to Gulf Park students who voiced concerns about not having enough services.
EMCC's Raj Shaunak and the Economic Boom in Eastern Mississippi
When you bring thousands of high-wage, high-skill jobs to an area with very low median income, poorly ranked schools, and a history of farming and low-end factories rather than advanced manufacturing, you raise another question. Where are companies going to find the right people to do these jobs? This is where East Mississippi Community College, or EMCC, comes in.
U. of Alabama announces new associate provosts
The University of Alabama has named three new associate provosts. Jennifer Greer, a professor of journalism and former chair of the department of journalism who recently served as interim dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences, has been named associate provost for Administration. The new associate provosts for Academic Affairs are Kevin Whitaker, an associate professor of aerospace engineering and mechanics and associate dean for academic programs in the College of Engineering; and Patty Sobecky, a professor and chair of the department of biological sciences.
UNC-Chapel Hill administrator Russell Mumper named UGA vice provost
Russell Mumper, an administrator who has been nationally recognized for fostering innovative instruction and has a strong record of facilitating interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial research, has been named vice provost for academic affairs at the University of Georgia. Mumper is currently vice dean and McNeill Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Eshelman School of Pharmacy. His appointment as vice provost is effective Aug. 18. Mumper earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry and his doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Kentucky.
UGA's growing trend: Gardeners, farmers pick up organic tips on farm tour
More than 100 people toured the University of Georgia's organic research and demonstration farm on Thursday, where they could pick up free samples of watermelon, juice, and a fair amount of knowledge. Demonstration tables dotted the lushly green farm off Hog Mountain Road, each attended by a faculty member or student ready talk about the research projects during Thursday's "Organic Twilight Tour" in the cool of the evening. Harry and Brenda Hayes, both retired from UGA, were drawn to the tour through the UGArden, the student-maintained organic garden near the State Botanical Garden on Milledge Avenue. They were both glad to see the university's growing research and teaching effort in organic growing.
$3.75M grant awarded to promote colorectal cancer screening in central Appalachia
The University of Kentucky Rural Cancer Prevention Center has received a $3.75 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote colorectal cancer screening in central Appalachia. This is the center's second five-year round of competitive federal funding; the first five years of the project focused on cervical cancer prevention. Kentucky has the nation's highest rates of cancer incidence and death, and more people from Appalachian Kentucky die from colorectal cancer than those in other regions of the state. The grant was announced at a news conference Thursday.
U. of Missouri receives grant to remediate, replace books affected by mold
The University of Missouri has received a grant to help with remediation or replacement of the books damaged by mold last fall. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a higher-education-centered foundation, gave $400,000 to the MU Libraries to support the remediation process of the university's 600,000 books affected by mold. In addition to the grant, the university also announced a partnership with Washington University in St. Louis and Missouri State University in Springfield that will allow MU to access replacement copies of federal government documents and interlibrary loan access to state documents.
Missouri student government to tackle sexual assault issue
The Missouri Students Association is tackling the issue of sexual assaults on college campuses. MSA President Mason Schara said the organization is moving forward with a campaign that will promote why MU students, faculty, staff and administrators take a collective stand against sexual assault. The campaign is called "#EnoughIsEnough." Shara said the motivation for the campaign came from the heightened conversation about campus sexual assaults and increased numbers of assault reports across the country. "We wanted to battle that," Schara said.
House Starts In On Higher Education Act
The U.S. House education committee on Thursday advanced a package of legislation that would boost federal support of competency-based education, overhaul how cost information and other data is provided to prospective college students, and require more counseling for federal student loan borrowers. Lawmakers approved three bills that are part of House Republicans' piecemeal approach to rewriting the Higher Education Act, which expires at the end of this year but isn't likely to be reauthorized by then. The measures all garnered bipartisan support Thursday, but many Democrats on the committee said they were concerned the bills did not go far enough in directly addressing the rising price of college and providing student loan borrowers with needed consumer protections.
OUR OPINION: Oxford-University Transit prepares for record rider year
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "Problems created by success in Oxford and on the University of Mississippi campus continue pushing a united effort for solutions to stay ahead of the transportation curve, an enviable record in a complex town-and-gown relationship. Oxford-University Transit anticipates another record-setting fall with the expected arrival of six new buses, additional route mileage and more frequent service on some routes. ...O-U Transit's success is not without financial risk (federal funding is involved), but that is a situation in which a willing and influential congressional delegation and staff work can be immensely helpful."
PHILLIP TUTOR (OPINION): In Mississippi, along the Alabama border
Commentary editor Phillip Tutor writes in The Anniston Star: "Between the Alabama line and Starkville (home to Mississippi State University, a quaint downtown and my favorite college baseball stadium) is Columbus (which has an admirable downtown, too) and not much else other than asphalt, roadside scrub brush and summertime haze. It's flat, like Iowa. The drive is interminably boring, like daytime TV. It's unappealing, with only small hints of the Southern charm of other Deep South drives. (And as someone whose family is steeped in Mississippi soil, this isn't something I take lightly.) Granted, this small slice doesn't define Mississippi any more than the barrenness west of Tuscaloosa defines Alabama. (Be honest -- there are several brutally boring drives in Alabama, as well.) But an afternoon spent on this sliver of U.S. 82 -- which runs from south Georgia to New Mexico -- is a reminder of how Alabama and Mississippi, states eternally linked to one another, also offer contrasts of Southern life."

Mississippi State's Bernardrick McKinney named to Nagurski Trophy watch list
For the second time this week, Mississippi State junior linebacker Benardrick McKinney has earned watch list recognition for a national individual award as the Bronko Nagurski Trophy unveiled its 81 candidates for the 2014 season, the Football Writers Association of America unveiled Thursday. The Narguski Trophy has been awarded to the National Defensive Player of the Year every season since 1993.
Former Bulldog Tyler Russell Speaks to Kids at Vacation Bible School
Former Mississippi State star quarterback Tyler Russell shared his story Thursday with children attending a local church's vacation bible school. Russell told the kids at Meridian's Calvary Baptist Church that there were a lot of people who influenced him as he grew up in Meridian. His says his message is one he hopes will encourage them in their faith and achievements.
How Many Chances? College Athlete Twice Accused of Sexual Assault May Play Basketball Again
On the same day a U.S. senator released a report saying colleges don't take sex assault allegations seriously enough, word leaks that a college is recruiting an athlete who was accused of sexual assault at two other institutions.
College Football's Newest Toy: Drones
Most college-football teams have someone like Ken Norris. He is UCLA's director of video operations -- the guy who records practices and keeps the coaching staff plugged into the latest technology. But that isn't his only job, and no one else has Norris's other role. He may be the first person in the long and strange history of this sport whose position requires him to fly an unmanned aircraft system. Norris, in other words, is the pilot of the UCLA football team's drone. The drone models that football teams use are otherwise meant for aerial photography, not military intelligence, surveillance or agricultural purposes. Most cost around $1,000 -- a bargain by the standards of major college-football budgets, which run into the tens of millions.
Doctors Face Ethical Issues In Benching Kids With Concussions
Doctors have gotten much better at diagnosing and treating sports-related concussions, which is a good thing since Americans suffer up to 4 million sports-related concussions a year. But we're not so good at is following their advice. Student athletes and parents sometimes balk at doctors' recommendations to avoid play until concussion symptoms are gone, or to cut back on schoolwork. Both have been shown to speed recovery, and getting another hit on a vulnerable brain increases the risk of long-term problems. Doctors shouldn't wimp out, according to a position paper released Wednesday by the American Academy of Neurology.
JOHN L. PITTS (OPINION): SEC West appears to be up for grabs
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's John L. Pitts writes: "On Monday, a caller asked where she could find the football schedules for Ole Miss and Mississippi State. It's the first sign of fall. This time next week, we'll be into the fourth and final day of SEC Football Media Days in Hoover, Ala. And college football can again replace futbol as the focus of our attention. For now, even fans whose teams were dumpster fires last season -- I'm looking at you, Arkansas -- can be filled with optimism. I've spent most of the spring thinking that this might be the year that Ole Miss or Mississippi State could shock the world and win an SEC Western Division title. Bear with me, I haven't been out in the sun too long."

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