Friday, July 18, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
Something for everyone: MSU Riley Center announces fall/winter series
The MSU Riley Center's 2014/2015 Fall/Winter Performing Arts Series offers a lineup of talent for music lovers of every age and taste. The series will showcase a wide array of performances in a historic setting, providing audiences with unique musical and theatrical experiences. Martina McBride kicks off the series on Aug. 28 with her soaring voice and catalog of hits. "This Fall/Winter season again offers a terrific list of artists and cultural events, several of whom are returning to our stage with new musical groups or material while others are musical icons coming to Meridian for the first time," said Dennis Sankovich, executive director of the MSU Riley Center. "Through the sponsorship support of The Riley Foundation, we have the ability to offer a wide variety of major headline musical artists who are helping to establish the MSU Riley Center stage as a musical mecca of the South."
MSU Riley Center Announces Fall-Winter Season
Several big name performers are set to hit the stage at the MSU Riley Center in the coming months. Perhaps the biggest attraction of the fall and winter season will be country superstar Martina McBride. "Oh, this is great," MSU Riley Center executive director Dennis Sankovich says. "Everybody was really blown away by the announcement... We've got some really nice artists to present to Meridian, right in our own backyard, here in Meridian, Mississippi."
Mississippi State grad student does international agricultural outreach
People like graduate student Alyssa Barrett are turning the Mississippi State University goal of international outreach into reality. Barrett, a master's student in agricultural and Extension education from Wiggins, went to the West African nation of Ghana in March to collect data for her thesis, which is examining the effectiveness of an agricultural education program. In 2013, she traveled to Nigeria to teach the same agricultural program. MSU has placed an emphasis on international outreach, with special focus on food security matters. Michael Newman, director of the MSU School of Human Sciences, said the school is pursuing two goals. "We want to help people around the world by sharing some of our expertise with them, and we also want to learn from them," he said.
Mississippi State Hires International Rice Breeder at Stoneville
Mississippi State University increased its support of the state's rice industry in the state with the recent appointment of Ed Redona as rice breeder at the Delta Research and Extension Center. Redona started July 1 as a research professor with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. He came to MSU from the nonprofit International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, where he was a senior scientist. "The rice industry needs to have rice varieties to fulfill the requirements of the market," said Jeff Johnson, director of the Stoneville research station. "Dr. Redona has a wealth of experience that he can bring to bear on the needs of consumer and producers in Mississippi."
Brookhaven students' experiment at space station
During a year of research, five recent Brookhaven Academy graduates examined how bacteria can be used in microgravity and produced an investigation. Right now, the students' experiment is in space with astronauts on the International Space Station. The science experiment wound up there after Brookhaven Academy students Samantha Barton, Ashlea Bardwell, Garrett Smith, Ruth Vaughan and Lindsey Winborn entered their project into NASA's Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. Winborn's favorite aspect was the oral presentation at the SSEP National Conference this month at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. She will attend Mississippi State University and study chemistry in preparation for a planned career as a pediatrician. "I can't wait to get the results and see if they actually work," said Winborn.
MSU-Meridian dean accepts post at U. of West Florida
Mississippi State University-Meridian Dean and Associate Vice President Steven F. Brown will step down on Sept. 12 to accept a leadership post at a Florida university. "We're grateful to Steve Brown for his service to Mississippi State University and to the Meridian/Lauderdale County area. We wish him continued success in his career at the University of West Florida," said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. "We will immediately begin a search designed to bring dynamic new leadership to MSU-Meridian, which plays such an integral part in our overall mission."
Two Lives Collide, and End, at an Elvis Shrine
Late on Tuesday night, Dwight David Taylor Jr. walked past the stone lions, the grove of blue Christmas trees and the pillars topped by spray-painted basketballs and stood on the front porch of Graceland Too. Showing up here late at night was not in itself unusual as Graceland Too, a deliriously baroque shrine to all things Elvis Presley and many things less obviously germane, was advertised as ready to give tours at any hour. Over the past 24 years, it has become a destination for drunk fraternity brothers in the middle of the night and international tourists on the Elvis pilgrimage from Tupelo (for the birthplace) to Memphis (for the other Graceland), while its resident, Paul McLeod, has gone from eccentric proprietor to main attraction.
Kemper power plant nearing completion
After more than four years, construction is beginning to wind down at the 582-megawatt Kemper County energy plant. Officials have set a deadline of May 31 as its target operation date. Vice President of Generation Development John Huggins equated Mississippi Power's progress to building a house. Although its completion has been pushed several times from the original May 2014 date for a number of reasons, Huggins said they're now finishing the trim, painting their "new home" and could wrap up work sooner than May. The plant just north of Meridian already has a coal mine that went commercial in June 2013. The rest will begin rolling out later this summer.
Airbus partners with Precision Aviation, Government Capital
Airbus Helicopters Inc. has partnered with Precision Aviation Services and Government Capital Corp. to provide tax-exempt financing for mission equipment technology upgrades and required major maintenance for law enforcement and government-owned AS350-series helicopters. Precision Aviation Services, of Peachtree City, Ga., AHI's newest service center, will work with AHI and Government Capital to provide aircraft systems and avionics upgrades, conduct AS350 12-year airframe inspections and install new mission equipment to enhance the performance of the older helicopters in use with public agencies. Airbus Helicopters' AS350-series is built and certified by Airbus Helicopters Inc. in Columbus.
Report: Camp Shelby situated to be premier base
Location, climate and logistical facilities all "uniquely situate" Camp Shelby to be the most cost-effective military facility of its kind, according to a report released Thursday by a national business group. Business Executives for National Security released the report with strategic recommendations for Col. Brad Smith, Camp Shelby's commander, after a delegation visited South Mississippi June 23-24. In March, the mobilization mission that began in 2004 ended, and with it, a $1 billion injection into the Pine Belt's economy during the last decade. More than 220,000 soldiers deployed to war zones through Camp Shelby during that span.
Stennis Center begins engine test project for SLS rocket
Engineers on Thursday installed an RS-25 engine on the A-1 Test Stand at the agency's Stennis Space Center, the next step in preparing to test parts of NASA's Space Launch System rocket that will send humans to new destinations in the solar system. The SLS is designed to carry astronauts in NASA's Orion spacecraft deeper into space than ever before, to destinations including an asteroid and Mars. NASA is using existing and in-development hardware and infrastructure, including the RS-25 engine, to the maximum extent possible to enable NASA to begin deep space missions sooner.
Alcorn County purchasing clerk charged with inhibiting investigation by state auditor's office
Alcorn County's purchasing clerk was charged Thursday with hindering an investigation after representatives of the state auditor's office allege he shared documents with an elected official who is being investigated for embezzlement. During an unofficial information meeting before the Alcorn County Board of Supervisors, State Auditor Stacey Pickering said during the investigation, which has been ongoing since December, William Paul Rhodes, 54, went through investigation files, copied documents and shared them with Alcorn County District 2 Supervisor Jimmy Dal Nelms. Pickering said they will not be commenting further on the investigation into Nelms but wanted to clear the air following the Thursday morning arrest of Rhodes.
State Education Chief Reaffirms Commitment to Common Core, Aligned Tests
The head of the Mississippi Department of Education is reaffirming the state's commitment to both Common Core standards and the tests aligned to them that students will be taking at the end of this year. Mississippi Superintendent of Education Carey Wright says there should be no uncertainty about the state's commitment to both Common Core and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. "We adopted the standards in 2010. They're very clear, they've been on the web since that time, we've been implementing them since that time," she says. Wright says Mississippi educators have been very involved with the PARCC assessments, helping develop and review test items.
Justices say birthdates must be redacted before poll books open for inspection
The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday that circuit clerks must redact voters' birthdates before poll books are open for public inspection. The ruling is a blow to state Sen. Chris McDaniel's effort to examine election materials as he seeks evidence of improper voting to challenge his loss to six-term U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in the June 24 Republican primary runoff. Thursday's ruling came from a panel of three justices, and McDaniel attorney Mitch Tyner said he will ask the entire nine-member court to hear arguments and reverse the decision. McDaniel has released no documents to substantiate his claims that thousands of voting irregularities occurred June 24.
Supreme Court: McDaniel can't see voter birthdays
The state Supreme Court has denied the emergency request of Chris McDaniel, the losing candidate in the June 24 Republican runoff for U.S. Senate, that the Harrison County Circuit Clerk's office be ordered to give his campaign access to election poll books, including the dates of birth of registered voters. McDaniel's attorneys say personal information in the poll books, such as a voter's birthday, is needed for the planned legal challenge because multiple voters in a county might have the same name. But Attorney General Jim Hood, who submitted a written argument before the Supreme Court claiming McDaniel should not have access to the personal information, said people with the same last name could be distinguished by the individual voter number each registered voter receives. The attorney general also argued that making such information available to be public is particularly dangerous because of the growing problem of identity theft.
Supreme Court rules against McDaniel in records appeal
The state Supreme Court on Thursday rejected Chris McDaniel's request for access to poll books without voters' birth dates blacked out. But McDaniel's lawyers are going to ask the court to rehear the case. McDaniel accused Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann -- who endorsed Cochran -- of intentionally misleading circuit clerks to thwart him. On Thursday Hosemann said, "Filing lawsuits against circuit clerks who are clearly following the law is both a waste of time and taxpayer money." Hosemann said voters have a right to have personal info protected and "It's time to address the real issues of this election and move on as a state."
McDaniel petition seeks access to Oktibbeha election materials
Representatives for state Sen. Chris McDaniel filed an order of mandamus with Oktibbeha County Circuit Court on Friday seeking an emergency hearing and full access to the county's run-off election materials, information they attest was kept from them by Circuit Clerk Glenn Hamilton for privacy reasons. Hamilton said his office made redacted information available to the McDaniel campaign -- officials hid voters' birthdates and other sensitive information -- but the senator's representatives were uninterested in viewing the censored documents.
FEC complaint to be filed against Crudup's PAC
The group Tea Party Patriots is in the process of filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against a political action committee operated by Bishop Ronnie Crudup over the PAC's alleged failure to file required reports. The group's attorney, Cleta Mitchell of Washington, D.C., said she expects to file a complaint Monday against Crudup's All Citizens for Mississippi PAC, which helped drum up votes for incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in metro Jackson's black community.
GOP split in Mississippi over tea party's McDaniel spreads to national party
Is Chris McDaniel a modern-day Don Quixote tilting at windmills or is he a brave warrior, fighting to the last, for a just cause? Either way, the tea party candidate's protracted battle against six-term Sen. Thad Cochran (R) of Mississippi has deepened the split in an already divided Mississippi Republican Party -- and is spreading further into the national GOP. More than three weeks after state Senator McDaniel lost his primary runoff to Senator Cochran by more than 7,600 votes, he is still not conceding the race -- and not going away quietly. The Mississippi brouhaha is expected to flare up in Chicago in early August, when the Republican National Committee meets to discuss party business.
Plane crash builds pressure on West over Ukraine
The immediate hours after the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 brought far more questions than answers. But one thing was clear: The deaths of nearly 300 people will put new pressure on the White House and European leaders to address the conflict in Ukraine and confront Russian President Vladimir Putin. President Barack Obama tried on Wednesday -- just hours before the plane went down -- to get out in front of the chaos in the region by announcing tougher sanctions against Russian entities. But the tragedy shows there is a long way to go.
World Leaders Match Anger With Calls for Inquiry Into Ukraine Plane Crash
Dismayed and angered by the downing of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine, European leaders cast about for some form of joint response to the tragedy on Friday but, beyond calls for an international inquiry they showed few signs of immediately following the United States in imposing harsher sanctions on Russia. With sentiments ranging from shock to fury, political leaders across the globe urged a rapid, independent and international effort to investigate the crash, which killed 298 people and provoked accusations and counter-accusations about who brought the plane down.
USM's Jim Coll to speak on crisis communication, social media
More than a year has passed since an EF4-rated tornado roared through Hattiesburg and the University of Southern Mississippi campus, but the lessons are still fresh for Jim Coll. As the chief communication officer of the University of Southern Mississippi, Coll led the university's communication efforts through the 2013 tornado crisis that affected thousands of students and the campus itself. Coll will speak to the Meridian chapter of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi today about how his team used social media to help move the campus and community through the crisis. Coll's presentation begins at noon in the Rush Hospital Cafeteria meeting room in Meridian.
Jackson State seeks to buy apartment complex
Jackson State University wants to buy a 444-bed apartment complex adjoining its campus. The College Board Thursday voted to move toward leasing the complex while keeping open options to buy it. Michael Thomas, the university's vice president for business and finance, says Jackson State needs more housing to accommodate an increasing number of students wanting to live on campus. Last year, the university began leasing a 240-bed motel near the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. Thomas says JSU will retain that motel this year.
DSU's LaForge hosts summit with Delta mayors
Delta State University President Bill LaForge hosted the first Mayors' Summit at the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni House Wednesday. The summit was a meeting LaForge held to speak with the mayors of the 38 towns in the Mississippi Delta. Caitlyn Thompson, coordinator for communications and marketing at Delta State, said approximately 20 of the mayors were present. Members of Delta State's administration also attended the summit. "The goal of the summit was to discuss and develop these relations, and to discover new and meaningful ways that Delta State can partner with regional municipalities," said Thompson. "Of the 15 towns in Bolivar County, I think 12 were represented."
Aspiring musicians attend Delta Music Institute camp at DSU
Twenty high school students from four states are attending a week-long residential camp at Delta State University's Delta Music Institute. Tricia Walker, director of the Delta Music Institute, opened an orientation session with directions for music projects and later participants learned about the various roles in a recording session from Travis Calvin, Vince Barranco and Barry Bays. While at the camp this week, students are exploring three areas of concentration in the music industry: audio engineering, performance band or singer/songwriter.
$1 million donated toward new U. of Florida chemistry building
The University of Florida has received a $1 million donation from Fort Myers oncologist Dr. Howard Sheridan and his wife, Brenda Sheridan, to help pay for construction of a new chemistry building. "The current building is not the state-of-the-art facility that the university's reputation deserves," Dr. Sheridan said in a news release. The new building will be built adjacent to the existing chemistry building on what is now a parking lot at the southeast corner of University Avenue and NW 17th Street. UF now has $42 million toward its needed $60 million to replace the outdated, cramped, building built in 1947 with one that can meet the growing demand for class and lab space.
UGA fundraising sets record at $126 million
Donors loosened up their purse strings to set a record in new University of Georgia President Jere Morehead's first year in office. Morehead's inaugural year proved to be the best fundraising year in UGA history, the university announced Thursday. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, UGA fundraisers received gifts and pledges for $126.4 million, up 8 percent from the previous years. The number of donors also increased; large and small gifts came from nearly 57,000 contributors, up 4 percent over the previous year. UGA is in the "quiet" phase of a major capital campaign with a goal of raising at least $1 billion by the year 2020.
U. of Missouri employees receive free tuition to get MU High School diploma
The University of Missouri is giving its employees the chance to finish their high school diplomas on the university's dime. Employees from MU, MU Health Care, MU Extension and UM System workers in Columbia can now finish their high school diploma work through MU High School as part of a two-year pilot program. "Offering MU employees the opportunity to earn their high school diplomas from an accredited and well-respected entity like MU High School just makes sense," Daniel Clay, dean of the education school, said in a news release. "It is good for the employees and the university." Kiki Gross, a lead custodian with the MU Office of Residential Life, plans to apply as soon as possible.
Sustainability, Divestment and Debt: a Survey of Business Officers
Many campus chief financial officers lack confidence in the sustainability of their colleges' business model over the next decade -- but they also seem loath to take cost-saving measures that could ignite campus controversy, according to a new survey by Inside Higher Ed and Gallup. The survey, which will be released in conjunction with the upcoming annual meeting of the National Association of College and University Business Officers, is based on the responses of chief financial officers at 438 colleges and universities. It finds that just under a quarter of business officers (24 percent) strongly agree they are confident in the sustainability of their business model for the next five years, and only 13 percent strongly agree they are confident in their model over the next 10 years.
Some Universities Crack Code in Drawing Women to Computer Science
One of the reasons so few women work in tech is that few choose to study computer science or engineering. Only 18 percent of computer science graduates in the United States are women, down from 37 percent in 1985. At a few top college programs, though, that appears to be changing. So how have these colleges changed the ratio? One factor is that more students of both sexes are choosing to major in computer science. That's simply because they see plentiful jobs, the applicability to many professions and the attention tech is receiving in the business pages and in pop culture. But at the colleges with the most significant increases in female majors and graduates, there is more going on.
Young Scientists Say They're Sexually Abused In The Field
Many young scientists dream of their first trip to a remote research site -- who wouldn't want to hang out with chimps like Jane Goodall, or sail to the Galapagos like Charles Darwin, exploring the world and advancing science? But for many scientists, field research can endanger their health and safety. In a survey of scientists engaged in field research, the majority -- 64 percent -- said they had personally experienced sexual harassment while at a field site, and 22 percent reported being the victim of sexual assault. Most of the people reporting harassment or assault were women, and the vast majority were still students or postdocs.
New Politics of Partner Benefits
As many states have recognized gay marriage in the last year, and as states without gay marriage have started to see court rulings that could change the law there as well, public colleges and universities have been considering a range of questions. Because many public colleges moved to offer partner benefits years before their states recognized gay relationships, some wonder if they need to keep those benefits. And in other parts of the country, including states where any benefits for same-sex partners were decidedly off the table until recently, that is changing. According to a list compiled by the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group, some 309 colleges offer same-sex domestic partner benefits.

Mississippi State's Robinson on Doak Walker watch list
For the first time in his career, junior Josh Robinson earned a place on the Doak Walker Award Watch List, according to an announcement from the PwC SMU Athletic Forum on Thursday. The Doak Walker Award, in its 25th year, is presented annually to the nation's top running back. The award is named for SMU's three-time All-America running back Doak Walker. It is the only major collegiate award that requires all candidates to be in good academic standing and on schedule to graduate within one year of other students of the same classification.

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