Thursday, July 17, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
4-H Tours East Mississippi Electric Power Association
Meridian was one of several stops made Wednesday by members of 4-H clubs in Mississippi. This stop was an opportunity to teach the kids about business cooperatives. East Mississippi Electric Power Association was an example of what the Mississippi State University Extension Service wants to teach young people involved in 4-H. Tim Martin of EMEPA says, "We are one of many who help to teach the kids about cooperative business models and EMEPA is a cooperative. We are member-owned, member-managed through a board of directors with emphasis on keeping costs low for our members. And that is just a great business model that the MSU staff is trying to teach these kids."
Man arrested for Starkville High School break-in
Starkville police arrested a man after a break-in at the Starkville High School on Wednesday morning. Officers were dispatched to the scene at 2 a.m. in regard to an alarm call. At the school, officers found the doors open and began a search of the building. Deairious Cooper was found in the building during the search and now faces a charge of commercial burglary.
Cadence wants $2.55M from Starkville for Main Street property
Starkville aldermen approved a non-binding letter of intent Tuesday to begin purchase negotiations with Cadence Bank for its $2.55 million Jackson Street location. The agreement allows the two entities to formally begin talks for the almost 39,000 square foot facility, which would be later renovated for Starkville Police Department's new headquarters. The city will have at least 120 days to solidify an arrangement, but both entities are not bound to strike a deal. Cadence Bank will build a new branch headquarters on property it owns on Russell Street, city CAO Taylor Adams said, alleviating any ad valorem losses incurred by the city's potential purchase.
Cotton Mill Project Officials Break Ground
After years of planning, developers of the Cotton Mill project held a ground breaking on Wednesday in Starkville. The six-acre plaza will include a 117-room Holiday Inn with a steak house and three major retailers. The developer is Jackson-based Nicholas Properties. "It's going to represent a lot economic impact on the city," Nicholas Properties President Mark Nicholas said. "You're looking at a minimum of over 160 jobs to this area."
Technology a top Common Core concern for Mississippi school district leaders
Common Core is coming, like it or not, to Mississippi school districts next month. District leaders heard solutions and strategies for implementing it Wednesday during the Mississippi Association of Superintendents' annual conference at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi. Concerns over technology dominated the conversation, from devices to bandwidth to software, but most were concerned about districts' infrastructure. Common Core heavily integrates technology in all areas of learning, with the goal of getting students ready for an increasingly technological world. But Mississippi is one of the nation's least-connected states, and this year earned an F on a digital report card by Digital Learning Now, an education policy group. "The bandwidth conversation has to happen immediately," said Todd English, superintendent of the Booneville School District.
Locally-grown foods look to bigger business
Once a niche business, locally grown foods aren't just for farmers markets anymore. A growing network of companies and organizations is delivering food directly from local farms to major institutions. Along the way, they're increasing profits and recognition for smaller farms and bringing consumers healthier, fresher foods. In Mississippi, Wal-Mart has started buying purple hull peas directly from farmers in the Mississippi Delta, a deal cemented with USDA help. One of the farmers, Charles Houston, says the checks from Wal-Mart have helped many of his area's small farms survive, paying for new irrigation and infrastructure. Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, pledged to double its share of locally grown foods between 2009 and 2015.
Four more indicted on hate crime charges in 2011 attacks on blacks in Mississippi
Four more people have been indicted in what prosecutors say were a series of racially motivated attacks on blacks in Mississippi. John Louis Blalack, 20, of Brandon; Sarah Adelia Graves, 21, of Crystal Springs; Robert Henry Rice, 23, of Brandon; and Shelbie Brooke Richards, 20, of Pearl, entered not-guilty pleas Wednesday before Magistrate Keith Ball on various charges including conspiracy and committing a hate crime. Bail set bond at $100,000 for each of them. A tentative trial date is set for Sept. 15 before U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate. Prosecutors said 10 people in all have been indicted for attacks on blacks that occurred between April 1, 2011, to June 26, 2011.
Report: Waveland mayor first in Mississippi to publicly support same-sex marriage
Waveland Mayor David Garcia said he believes all residents in his city should have the freedom to marry, and his opinion was made public Wednesday. Southerners for the Freedom to Marry announced in a press release Garcia had become the first mayor in Mississippi to openly support gay marriage. Garcia said LGBT residents in Waveland help the economy and spend money like any other resident, and he would welcome gay marriages in the city. "I'm not a person to judge people in their beliefs of what they may believe in. I have no problem supporting them in that effort," he said.
McDaniel lawyer: Expect runoff challenge within 10 days
Lawyers for Chris McDaniel say they expect to file a challenge of McDaniel's June 24 GOP runoff loss to incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran within the next 10 days. As has become the paradigm for the nasty, bitter battle between the six-term incumbent Republican and the tea party challenger, the Cochran campaign responded with a news conference shortly after the Wednesday McDaniel camp news conference. Almost a month ago, Mississippians chose their Republican nominee," said Cochran adviser Austin Barbour. "...They have still not presented one shred of evidence. ...Sadly, with their lack of evidence, they fill that gap with rhetoric, grandstanding and fundraising appeals." "Mississippians are ready to move on," Barbour said.
McDaniel camp: Legal challenge to be filed
Chris McDaniel made it clear Wednesday through his campaign surrogates that he is not ready to give up on his contention that the June 24 Republican primary runoff against incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran was stolen from him. Attorney Mitch Tyner said during a McDaniel campaign news conference from outside his north Jackson office attended by about 50 vocal supporters that he expects a legal challenge will be filed to the Cochran victory within the next 10 days. But Tyner and state Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, also an attorney and McDaniel supporter, did not provide any specific details of the number of questionable votes the McDaniel campaign had found during about 10 days of examination of election data from all 82 counties.
McDaniel camp returns funds
Chris McDaniel's campaign refunded $2,599 to a woman previously listed as a campaign staffer who's now one of the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit alleging voter fraud in the June 24 U.S. Senate Republican primary, records show. The woman, Elaine Vechorik, of Sturgis, donated $2,599 to the general election and $2,600 to the primary election on Oct. 17, 2013. Her husband, Craig Vechorik, also donated $2,600 to the primary, records show. Vechorik says she was never a staffer and blamed a "computer glitch," while the campaign said the refund was due to a "clerical error." Vechorik was questioned in the Rose Cochran nursing home incident that occurred in April, but she was not charged, Madison County District Attorney Michael D. Guest said on Wednesday. A New York Times article on Sunday about the contentious Mississippi Senate race mentioned a fifth person of interest in the nursing home case and Guest confirmed that person was Vechorik.
FEC filing: pro-Cochran PAC funded black outreach
Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's political machine paid to turn out the black vote for Republican Sen. Thad Cochran's re-election bid, according to campaign finance reports. His vanquished rival insisted that was improper and said Wednesday that a legal challenge to the loss remained likely in the next 10 days. Barbour, a political giant in his state and a favorite of national donors, backed Mississippi Conservatives and his nephew Henry Barbour was a top official there. Mississippi Conservatives sent almost $145,000 to All Citizens for Mississippi, a late-to-arrive group that urged black voters to turn out for the June 24 runoff between Cochran and tea party favorite state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
Bishop Ronnie Crudup's PAC report stirs questions
A report filed with the Federal Election Commission by his own political action committee seems to contradict Bishop Ronnie Crudup's recent statements that he raised money from several sources to pay for ads and other efforts to get black voters to oppose Chris McDaniel in the GOP primary and runoff for U.S. Senate.
Wicker, Feinstein Seek to Revive 'Seersucker Thursday'
One of the Senate's great summer traditions will make a comeback shortly before August recess. In a "Dear Colleague" letter, Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein are inviting fellow senators to observe "Seersucker Thursday" at the end of July. Feinstein is a longtime support of the seersucker tradition, and Wicker holds the Senate seat occupied by the founder of the event, Trent Lott. The Senate's Seersucker day was canceled a few years back. "Seersucker Thursday is a day to celebrate the camaraderie of the United States Senate," Wicker and Feinstein write.
The GOP Now Likes Community Organizing (If It Wins Elections)
Both parties are sounding confident right now about their midterm election prospects, but only one can be right. As it stands now, Republicans clearly have more reason for optimism. On their side, Republicans have history and a current political environment in which the Republican base looks to be more excited about the coming election than Democrats. Meanwhile, voters are consistently telling pollsters that they're dissatisfied with the nation's direction, which usually portends bad news for the party holding the White House. At a briefing for journalists Wednesday, the GOP also contended that it has raised its technology game to the juggernaut level of President Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns, in terms of identifying which voters need more persuasion to get to the polls.
Volunteer Mississippi Holds Information Meeting on MUW Campus
Area non-profits are learning how to better coordinate their services and find volunteers. Mississippi University for women hosted an information session with Volunteer Mississippi on Wednesday. The meeting covered topics such as the availability of funds for local projects. They also discussed opportunities to access resources such as VISTA, AmeriCorps State, National Civilian Community Corps, Senior Service Corps, and others.
A little William Faulkner for everyone
The 2014 Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference begins Sunday and continues through July 24 in Oxford. The theme is "Faulkner and History." Organizer Jay Watson says that means a little William Faulkner for everyone "Faulkner writes about people who are saturated in history and have an undeniable sense that the past is still with us shaping our outlook on life," Watson, University of Mississippi Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies, told The Oxford Eagle. While the conference is geared toward writers, teachers and others who love Faulkner's work, there will be other events. The university's John Davis Library will display Faulkner books, manuscripts, photographs and memorabilia throughout the conference.
Herts to lead DSU's Delta Center for Culture and Learning
After a national search, Delta State University's Delta Center for Culture and Learning has found a replacement for retiring director Dr. Luther Brown. Dr. Rolando Herts, who conducted his dissertation research at Rutgers University in New Jersey, will follow Brown, who served at Delta State for 14 years. Herts will begin his duties Aug. 18. Herts's research has focused on roles of universities with tourism planning and development as an emergent form of community engagement and place making. Originally from Little Rock and Eudora, Ark., Herts has years of experience working in the Delta region. After completing undergraduate and graduate programs at Morehouse College and the University of Chicago, he returned to the area to teach with Teach For America.
Portera: EMCC's 'communiversity' would be 'major new asset'
Before Lowndes County supervisors approved a $10 million commitment toward what East Mississippi Community College and Golden Triangle Development LINK officials are referring to as a new Center for Manufacturing and Technology Excellence "on steroids," Malcolm Portera told them about a recent economy index that had Mississippi ranked dead last out of 50 states. Portera, a former president at Mississippi State University and the University of Alabama, said the index is about the economy of the future and what it's going to take to be competitive in an advanced manufacturing environment. "What we want to do here is to take our center for manufacture and technology excellence to a whole new level," Portera said. "I think it will be a resource that will not be matched in the rest of the South if we can pull this off." Pulling Communiversity off is not far from reality.
Another generation joins Meridian Community College rolls
As long as there are dads and daughters, there will always be dads wanting to show their girls the way. So it was when the Rev. Chris Cooksey, who makes his home in North Mississippi, came to his alma mater, Meridian Community College, for a visit on Tuesday, he thought he would show his soon-to-be 17-year-old daughter Taylor the lay of the land, like where his favorite instructors' offices were and which building hosted his classes. Taylor will be a freshman in fall when classes start in August.
U. of Alabama increases parking permit rates for fall semester
Parking permit rates for students, staff and faculty at the University of Alabama will increase for the 2014-2015 academic year. The rates, which increase between $10 to $30 based on the permit, saw similar hikes last fall. Rose Administration reserve permits for faculty and staff will increase by $30 to $560. Green permits for faculty and staff will increase by $20 to $265. Student registration for the fall term began July 9.
U. of Florida Health hospitals may need to return $30 million to feds
University of Florida Health's hospitals in Gainesville and Jacksonville might have to return more than $30 million in Medicaid money after the federal government says Florida hospitals were overpaid for years through a program to help cover the costs of caring for the uninsured poor. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services say an audit shows that, over an eight-year period, the state's safety net hospitals received $267 million more than they were due through the Medicaid Low Income Pool. The federal government wants all of the money repaid in one year.
Students get a crash course in sciences at Texas A&M summer camp
Computer programing. Russian, college-level mathematical statistics. Which would you like to learn in two weeks? How about all three? More than 55 students, ages 11 to 17, from around the U.S. are winding down their first experiences living the college life at the Texas A&M campus this week. The students are part of the fifth-annual Aggie Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Summer Camp, which hosts a camp in June and another in July. Camp directors said the kids already have a lot to show for their efforts, including 3-D printed objects that will be on display in the Stark Gallery at the Memorial Student Center until Friday.
UL-Lafayette reopens campus after bomb scare
An early morning bomb threat closed the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for most of the day Wednesday, as police officers and bomb-sniffing dogs swept the campus in a search that found one package made to look like a bomb. The package, found in a trash can in Girard Park just off campus, did not contain explosive materials, State Police Master Trooper Brooks David said. "It was made to look like an explosive device, the way it was built and the way it was packaged," David said. The entire campus was evacuated, and the disruptions rippled out to affect much of Lafayette. Some of the city's main roads near UL-Lafayette, which sits in the center of the city, were closed.
Clery Fines: Proposed vs. Actual
Since the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 formed a specialized unit to enforce the federal campus safety law known as the Clery Act, an increasing number of colleges have faced fines for violating it. Department officials over the past four years have finalized the penalties against 15 institutions, compared with the six total fines doled out during the previous decade. Many more cases are currently making their way through the process, and the department plans to double, over the next few years, the number of regulators dedicated to Clery Act enforcement. In spite of that increased scrutiny, colleges facing penalties have continued to be successful in getting their Clery Act fines reduced, according to data provided by the Education Department.
SID SALTER (OPINION): Internet taxes, Internet sales taxes are different
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "The U.S. House voted Tuesday to make permanent the 1998 moratorium on new state and local taxes on access to Internet services. The 1998 moratorium was a reaction to state and local government attaching the same kinds of fees and taxes that now accompany monthly telephone bills. ...The measure now faces Senate action. While the bill does purport to ban any form of Internet-only taxes, it does not ban the collection of Internet sales taxes. The House action banning Internet access taxes sets up a political collision between the House-passed Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act adopted Tuesday and the Senate-passed Marketplace Fairness Act adopted a little over a year ago."

Mississippi State defense enters season with swagger
The Dak dust has settled here in Alabama for SEC Media Days. Past the talks of the Heisman Trophy and statistical projections surrounding Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott is MSU's backbone: the defense. It lost three -- safety Nickoe Whitely, linebacker Deontae Skinner and defensive end Denico Autry -- of the 22 players listed on the two-deep depth chart. The Bulldogs have replacements and reserves for those replacements waiting. "We're always looking to improve. We're working," safety Jay Hughes said. "Nobody's satisfied, everybody's hungry. Everybody has that look in their eyes. It's defense. It's psycho."
Mullen, Bulldogs embrace expectations
Dan Mullen has spent five seasons trying to build expectations at Mississippi State. Now he has them. Boasting a league-best 18 returning starters and helming a team that closed 2013 on a three-game winning streak, Mullen was calm and confident Tuesday as he talked about a team he believes could be the best he has had in Starkville during the morning session of Day 2 of the Southeastern Conference's Media Days. Mullen believes that experience can be the backbone of a successful team in Starkville this season.
Prescott sets tone for Mississippi State
For the first time, Dak Prescott owns the starting quarterback job entering a season at Mississippi State. On Tuesday morning, he owned the room at the Southeastern Conference Media Days. Prescott, a redshirt junior who started seven games in relief of senior Tyler Russell in 2013, carried himself with poise and composure while speaking to the media on the second floor of the Wynfrey Hotel, exuding a quiet confidence that has his teammates -- and MSU fans -- following his lead. "I accept every bit of that responsibility, 100 percent," said Prescott when asked about his ability to be a team leader.
Mississippi State invited to play in Corpus Christi Coastal Classic
Mississippi State's non-conference schedule will now feature a trip to Texas for the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic at the American Bank Center. This Thanksgiving event, now in its second year, will be held Nov. 28 and 29, with the Bulldogs playing St. Louis in the opening round and then either TCU or Bradley. Earlier this week, MSU also announced it will play Florida State, Oregon State and Tulane. The Bulldogs will release its entire non-conference schedule next week.
With less then a month to go, breaking down what we know about the SEC Network
Four weeks from Thursday, the SEC Network will be on the air ... at least via the cable and satellite providers who have signed up for it by then. Justin Connolly, ESPN senior vice-president of programming for college networks, was at Southeastern Conference media days Wednesday, and he offered this primer on what will soon be a big show: The switch flips on the network at 5 p.m. Aug. 14. There will be 45 SEC football games this season --- three per week. Kickoff times are 11 a.m., 3 p.m. (for the first time, an SEC game will compete with CBS' SEC game of the week) and 6:30 p.m. All 14 schools will have a football preview show in August.
SEC Network's presence is everywhere, even if station's providers are not
Well before its launch, the SEC Network's presence has been ubiquitous. The network itself had its own billboard message on a nearby highway here in suburban Birmingham. Now four weeks away from when the network goes live Aug. 14, there are still major cable and satellite providers not yet on board. "We continue conversations," Justin Connolly, the ESPN executive who oversees the network said Wednesday at SEC Media Days. "It's one of those where you really don't say it's done or they're on board until it's done and contracts are signed. Conversations continue. When they sign a deal like Cox or Dish Network or AT&T U-Verse does we'll obviously let people know. Until that moment, we don't have a deal in place of them."
Clock-rule topic has minor flareup at SEC Media Days
From the possibility of paying players to issues with scheduling, many topics that have arisen during this week's SEC Media Days don't deal with the actual product on the field. Pace-of-play, however, is a notable exception. Steve Shaw, the SEC's coordinator of officials, gave a presentation on 2014 rule changes Wednesday morning and encouraged continued debate on the subject. However, he said his job is to enforce the rules as they are now and said the SEC will continue to experiment with an eighth official at one game each week to help ensure consistency between plays.
Why College Football Is Studying Major League Soccer
No sports fans are as maniacal as the people who pack Southeastern Conference football stadiums on Saturdays. To call college football their religion may be generous to those who believe in a supreme being. But not even Southern football fans are sure things to show up to games any more -- and their increasingly unpredictable behavior has sent officials from SEC athletic departments searching for ways to win them back. Their common destination this off-season was an unlikely location in Big 12 country. But they weren't scouting other colleges. They were chasing an experience so foreign that it doesn't currently exist in the Southeast: a Major League Soccer game. This week at SEC Media Days, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said that SEC football nuts and European soccer buffs were kindred spirits. But college-football fans and MLS fans have a lot in common, too.

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