Friday, July 25, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
MSU president Mark Keenum named to Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research board
Mark Keenum, president of Mississippi State University, has been named to the 15-member Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research board of directors. Congress authorized the FFAR in the 2014 farm bill, recognizing the need to identify and develop new sources of revenue to support investments in U.S. agriculture research. Keenum said the USDA appointment will allow MSU to be represented "in this vital process and that fact greatly enhances our university's status as a major player in national and global agricultural research efforts and activities." Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said "Studies have shown that every dollar invested in agricultural research creates $20 in economic activity."
MSU Hosts Young Animal Scientists
A young researcher from Maine and another from Brazil are finding Mississippi to be a good place to lay the foundation for scientific careers. Samantha Kwok of York, Maine, and Arabela Viana from just north of Rio de Janeiro are conducting similar, but separate, studies in physiology this summer at Mississippi State University. Kwok, who will be a senior at the University of Maine in Orono this fall, is a fellow in the Research Experience for Undergraduates in Computational Biology funded by the National Science Foundation. Viana is a fellow in the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine's Summer Research Experience Program.
Mississippi State's Forde inducted
John Forde, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA of Starkville, will be inducted into the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame Friday at noon in the John Grisham Room at Mississippi State University Mitchell Memorial Library. The Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Southern Public Relations Federation and MSU Department of Communication. Forde, along with three other inductees, will be honored with the unveiling of a permanent plaque with their names engraved alongside the members inducted since the founding in 2010.
Mississippi tea garden in the works
Raindrops bead on the green leaves of thousands of young plants in the shade nursery at the Great Mississippi Tea Company in Brookhaven, a glistening endorsement of Jason McDonald's plan for land where cattle once roamed. A steaming cup of comfort from these leaves is still a bit down the road but that's the goal -- Mississippi-made specialty tea, an agritourism draw and a crop that won't get wiped out by a hurricane. Research on tea farming in Mississippi, supported by Mississippi State University and a grant from Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce through USDA Specialty Crop Program, is in progress; McDonald's farm and Teacraft are industry collaborators in the effort "We really don't know what insects might feed on the tea, we don't know what diseases might arise," says Judson LeCompte, MSU graduate research assistant.
Mississippi State, UNC-Greensboro collaborate in East Mississippi
Did you know that in Kemper County there is another Mississippi State University classroom? It is housed in the East Mississippi Sportsmen Association's Hunting Club facilities on Highway 16, between Scooba and Dekalb. MSU has been operating summer field programs since 1987 at the EMSA's 16th section Kemper County Board of Education school lands. And recently the MSU technicians and graduate students have been accompanied by their counterparts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Their studies began with the wild turkey.
Stuff the Bus provides Meridian, Lauderdale County students with school supplies
Motorists couldn't miss the big bright yellow school bus parked in front of Dumont Plaza in downtown Meridian Thursday. The bus was not there to pick up children. It wasn't dropping them off for a field trip to the MSU Riley Center. Organizers with United Way of East Mississippi's Stuff the Bus were collecting school supplies, uniforms and donations for children in public elementary schools in Meridian and Lauderdale County. Ethel Ann McCoy, an employee at the MSU Riley Center, was among those who dropped off donations Thursday. "It's about giving back to the community," McCoy said. "I'm glad to be able to do it."
Golden Triangle's first brewery ready for business in Starkville
The Golden Triangle has its first homegrown beer. SweetGum Brewing Co. is slated to have its first brew on local shelves by the end of September, according to co-owners Ed Dechert and Cameron Fogle. It's called Standby Red Ale. It's an Irish red beer, one Fogle said is "appropriate for Starkville's market." Fogle, 41, is an attorney who teaches at the University of Alabama. He is the company's businessman. Dechert, 32, teaches at Mississippi State. He is the brewer. They were introduced during an Arts and Sciences Happy Hour at Zorba's Greek Tavern. Both had kicked around the idea of starting a brewery and they decided to go for it. They came up with their company's name. (Dechert's wife helped: the couple has sweetgum trees in their backyard.) An MSU advertising student came up with a logo.
Unemployment rates hover near last June's levels
The latest series of unemployment data from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security brings good news and bad news. The bad: There were an estimated 400 fewer jobs in Mississippi last month than there were in May, according to the seasonally-adjusted results from a survey of state employers. The good: There were 13,300 more jobs created in Mississippi over the past 12 months. A higher unemployment rate is not unusual this time of year, said MDES chief of labor market information Mary Willoughby. Oktibbeha County had a 10.1 unemployment rate for the month of June, which means about 1,970 people were out of work. Twelve months before, it was 10.7.
Local retailers ready for tax-free weekend
Local retailers are gearing up for this weekend's sales tax free event. Beginning Friday, the state of Mississippi offers sales tax exemptions on clothing and footwear. In order to receive the tax break, the total purchase cannot exceed $100. Rebecca Tabb, owner of R. Tabb and Company in Starkville is also expecting a busy weekend. "The two tax days are always very busy because it's a great time to get back to school clothes on sale plus tax free," Tabb said. "I even do my whole store tax free to make it more exciting." Tabb said in addition to the tax-free perks, she is offering a store-wide sale.
Oktibbeha road manager: Four-crew maintenance system could yield efficiencies
Oktibbeha County could add an additional crew and service territory to its current road maintenance system next fiscal year, a move that Road Manager Victor Collins says could provide timelier road grading operations and better resource management. The road department currently operates three maintenance crews within Oktibbeha County's five districts. Those crews, Collins told supervisors Monday, are swamped with work orders, including road grading, mowing and culvert maintenance, due to the county's growth. His proposal would create a fourth crew by reducing each existing group's personnel by one and with two additional hires.
Columbus Air Force Base takes positive approach to study results
Officials at Columbus Air Force Base say they are evaluating the services they provide to personnel after an Air Force Times study listed the base as one of the least-popular to be stationed in the Air Force. The article, titled "Bringing up the rear: The 5 worst bases in the Air Force," ranked CAFB as tied for the third worst assignment. Air Force Times is a publication that covers the Air Force community. It is a Gannett-owned publication independent of the U.S. military. On Wednesday, Senior Airman Stephanie Englar, a base public affairs specialist, said CAFB is no different from any other base in regard to how airmen professionally progress and receive assignments, nor is it different in how the size of its facilities are determined.
Airbus manager of Golden Triangle plant talks business at Gulfport Rotary Club
The head of the Airbus helicopter plant in Columbus stopped by the Gulfport Rotary Club on Thursday to share how the northeast Mississippi city had attracted the largest aerospace company in the world. "Mississippi is a great place for us to do business," said Sam Adcock, vice president and general manager of Airbus Helicopters. The Airbus Group came to the state 11 years ago and helped kick-start international development in an area known as the Golden Triangle. He said two things that make an area attractive are being in a small state and not being near competitors, which is what drew the company to Columbus. Sen. Thad Cochran's position on the Appropriations Committee was also crucial in the decision, which helped the company to get a federal contract.
Neshoba County Fair starts today
One of Mississippi's oldest traditions kicks off today. The Neshoba County Fair will take place throughout this week before concluding Aug. 1. Neshoba County Fair Association President Gilbert Donald believes the fair's popularity can be attributed to the tradition and values it has held up over the years. Meridian Day at the Fair takes place next Wednesday at Founder's Square. Meridian Day is one of the biggest Fair days of the week with more than 20,000 attendees with booths set up by Meridian organizations, including MSU-Meridian.
Legislative leaders tout performance budgeting
House Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson, R-Poplarville, said Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation with "humongous" problems. To solve those problems, Frierson said Mississippi's political leadership must ensure efficiency and effectiveness in their budgeting for state agencies. Frierson, House Speaker Philip Gunn, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and others said the performance-based budgeting plan it unveiled during a Thursday afternoon news conference will help them be more efficient in their budgeting. "Taxpayers deserve a strong return on their investment in state government," Reeves said.
Lawmakers vow new effort to measure budget results
Top legislative Republicans are promising that Mississippi will get performance-based budgeting right this time. In 1994, the Legislature passed a plan requiring agencies to collect data measuring their performance under five-year strategic plan. But that data, though listed in budget documents, has been little used in making decisions. House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said Thursday that a new approach will identify agency programs and try to determine whether the money spent on them produces results. The idea is to stop spending on programs that don't produce measurable results -- and, in some cases, spend more on programs that do produce results.
Congressional candidate defends special forces claims
A Mississippi congressional candidate called out by the Special Forces community for describing himself as a Green Beret says he stands by what he has said, even if it should have been phrased differently. Ron Dickey, running as a Democrat against Republican 1st District Rep. Alan Nunnelee, was attached as a food service specialist with the 3rd Special Forces Group during Operation Desert Storm while he served in the Army from 1990-93. From 1991-1993, attached support personnel assigned to a Special Forces unit were authorized to wear the green beret. Since the controversy started, Dickey has edited and removed most of the language referring to his service with the Green Berets.
Supreme Court says no to McDaniel hearing
The Mississippi Supreme Court declined Thursday to give a hearing to Chris McDaniel, who lost the June 24 Republican primary runoff to incumbent Thad Cochran. McDaniel had requested a hearing before the full court after it ruled last week that his campaign could not have access to personal information, such as voters' dates of birth, during an examination of data from the June 24 election. Justices David Chandler, James Kitchens and Michael Randolph said they would have granted the hearing. Justices Jess Dickinson and Randy G. Pierce did not participate, meaning the four who chose not to hold a hearing were Chief Justice William Waller Jr., Ann Hannaford Lamar, Leslie King and Josiah Dennis Coleman.
Mississippi justices won't revisit poll books judgment
The Mississippi Supreme Court said Thursday that it won't reconsider its ruling that voters' birthdates must be redacted before poll books are opened for public inspection. State Sen. Chris McDaniel had asked the nine justices to hold a hearing and reconsider the ruling they issued last week. On Thursday, a majority said no. Two justices did not participate in the ruling and two said they would have granted a hearing. McDaniel campaign spokesman Noel Fritsch said Wednesday that the campaign was still gathering evidence of potential wrongdoing to prepare to file an election challenge.
Judge questions motive of group wanting voter info
A federal judge and a state attorney raised questions Thursday about the Texas-based group True the Vote's motive in wanting birth dates of Mississippi voters. A hearing was conducted Thursday in Jackson related to the lawsuit filed by True the Vote and 22 Mississippians against Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, the state Republican Party and election commissions in nine counties. U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas of Texas, appointed to hear the case, said Thursday in court that the case is technically about what documents can be seen. "This is not a case of voter fraud," Atlas said.
Cochran: 'I didn't party' on DMR boat
Evidence presented in federal court Wednesday indicated U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran was boozing it up at the DMR's expense in the summer of 2010, but he and a staff member say that's just not so. "No, I wouldn't have had anything to drink out there," Cochran, who is in the middle of a re-election campaign, told the Sun Herald on Thursday. "Maybe a Diet Coke, or iced tea if they had any. I haven't drank anything in four years now, and I didn't drink much before that." Cochran's trip came up at the sentencing of Scott Walker, who had admitted he conspired with his father, former Department of Marine Resources Director Bill Walker, to defraud the government.
McDaniel spokesman gets angry over FEC questions
Despite claiming to have no ties with a firm that was using the campaign's name in phone calls seeking support for a legal challenge, the Chris McDaniel campaign has now reported they spent more than $11,000 with Liberty Action Center during the runoff election. On their latest report to the Federal Election Commission, the McDaniel campaign reported three disbursements to LAC totaling $11,651. All three disbursements, which were made between June 12-24, were listed as being for facility rental and catering services. Nowhere on their website or accompanying social media accounts does LAC offer such services.
Mississippi gets 179 children in border surge
Mississippi has received fewer than 200 of the unaccompanied immigrant children who crossed the U.S. border and were released to sponsors so far this year, but the war of words over such children continues within the state. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families released data Thursday showing that sponsors in Mississippi received 179 of more than 30,000 such children nationwide from January 1 to July 7. Nicole Webb, a spokeswoman for Gov. Phil Bryant had no immediate comment. Earlier Thursday, Webb said Bryant had no knowledge of any arrivals in the state. Bryant, a Republican, wrote to President Barack Obama on Friday demanding that Obama pre-announce plans to send immigrants to Mississippi and saying Mississippi would block transports.
Conservative Blackburn finds harmony with music industry
If Marsha Blackburn were to leave Congress -- either by a loss in the upcoming election or some other unforeseen development -- the head of the Nashville Songwriters Association International said he would respond as if there were a death in the family. "I'd hang a black wreath on our office and close it for a week," said NSAI's Bart Herbison, whose organization promotes the interests of songwriters. For Nashville songwriters and the broader music industry, Blackburn has cemented her status as a rock star. She's a go-to member of Congress for almost any music-related issue, and those have come up more frequently in Washington D.C. lately.
UGA seeking VP for instruction, Frum to chair search committee
The University of Georgia has appointed a search committee to begin a national search for a vice president for instruction. The school says UGA Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten appointed the committee. Jennifer Frum, vice president for public service and outreach, will chair the search committee. The committee will be assisted by the UGA Search Group in Human Resources.
UGA's new wrinkle on tending its beef herd: horses and stockmen
If you don't think they're serious about sustainability out at the University of Georgia's J. Phil Campbell Sr. Research and Education Center in Oconee County, then you haven't seen the revolutionary, yet old-fashioned, way they're tending their cattle herd. Instead of herding cattle with trucks, humans on foot, or Kawasaki "mules," they're doing it with horses and men -- not cowboys, but stockmen. It's the old way, but it's a new way for many ranchers or farmers who raise cattle, said Richard Boatwright, who rides herd on the Campbell farm's cattle along with C.J. O'Mara. "This is commonplace in many areas of the country, and it's good for the cattle and good for the people," said Boatwright, 42, who managed a Wyoming ranch before coming to work at UGA.
Worst of recession over, outlook bright, Morris Communications CEO tells UGA audience
Economic skies are brightening, both for Morris Communications and the national economy, according to the chairman and CEO of the family-owned media company. "The Great Recession touched us all, but I think the worst of it is behind us," William S. "Billy" Morris III told a small group that included local business leaders on the University of Georgia campus. The gathering at UGA's Richard B. Russell Building also included Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten and Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication Charles Davis, a former employee at the Morris-owned Athens Banner-Herald. Managers feared the digital revolution at first as a threat to the print-based newspaper business, but that has changed, Morris told both his UGA audience and the Athens Banner-Herald employees.
Annual Texas A&M event offers ins, outs of raising beef cattle
While the country is experiencing a boom in cattle sales, ranchers throughout Texas can learn strategies and practices on raising healthy cattle and calves at a beef cattle educational program next month. The 60th annual Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course is scheduled Aug. 4-6 on the Texas A&M University campus in College Station and will cover topics ranging from growing grass that can be used for cattle production to the proper nutrition of cattle, said Jason Cleere, the conference coordinator and AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist. Record cattle prices are creating opportunities for ranchers to increase their revenue and reinvest in their cattle, he said, which is a major topic that will be covered at the two-and-a-half-day event. R.C. Slocum, former Texas A&M head football coach and Central Texas rancher, will be one of the featured speakers during the general session on Aug. 4.
U. of Missouri hires new marketing executive
The University of Missouri has filled another administrative position. Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced Thursday that Ellen de Graffenreid, current senior vice president for communications at Brandeis University, has been named the new vice chancellor of marketing and communication. de Graffenreid starts at MU on Sept. 2, filling a position Loftin created a few months ago. Mary Jo Banken has filled the role in the interim, picking up a post that started as the assistant to the chancellor of university affairs, a job that Chris Koukola retired from in January. Banken will return as director of the MU News Bureau when de Graffenreid starts. MU spokesman Christian Basi said de Graffenreid’s salary is $220,000.
Deaton highlights relationships, advocacy through his namesake institute at Missouri
When Brady Deaton retired from his post as University of Missouri chancellor, he didn't go very far. He also, technically, didn't retire. Days after Deaton announced his retirement, UM System President Tim Wolfe said the university would honor Deaton with a new program, the Brady and Anne Deaton Institute for Leadership and International Development. The goal of the institute was to focus on how the university can be more effective in influencing international development in several areas, including food security and safety, water quality and health, and economic development. For fiscal year 2015, the institute had a $301,921 operating budget, about $236,000 of which goes toward Deaton's salary and benefits.
Senators in Both Parties Agree: States Must Do More for Higher Education
Congressional hearings often feature bitter partisanship and acrimonious finger pointing. But there was mostly agreement on Thursday at a higher-education hearing of the U.S. Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Both Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat of Iowa, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican of Tennessee, agreed that states should take a leading role in paying for and overseeing public colleges. Senator Harkin, the committee's chairman, reiterated his view that states largely disinvested from higher education during the most recent recession, driving up the tuition costs and requiring students to go deeper in debt for a college education. The solution, Mr. Harkin said, is to create incentives for states to increase their appropriations for higher education.
House Overhauls Tax Breaks
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved an overhaul of higher education tax breaks and passed legislation changing how federal student loan counseling works. The tax measure, which is part of the House Republicans' overall effort to make changes to the tax code, contains some provisions that colleges and universities strongly support. For instance, the bill makes permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit, something that higher education advocates have pushed for since it was created as part of the 2009 economic stimulus law. It would also change how the tax credit is calculated to more fully account for Pell Grant recipients.
5 'Dirty Words' Admissions Offices Should Embrace
Brian Wm. Niles didn't cuss, but still a few people winced. At the ACT's annual Enrollment Planners Conference in Chicago on Thursday, Mr. Niles, founder of Target X, recommended five "dirty words" colleges should use regularly. (Squeamish romantics fond of quaint words like "learning," be warned.) -- Customer, Sales, Competition, Experience and Accountability. Niles asked for other words that colleges should embrace. "Closing," said one admissions official (as in, closing the deal with an accepted applicant). "Fire," said another (as in, letting an ineffective staffer go). "ROI!," someone else exclaimed. "ROI!"
Ohio State Fires Marching Band Director After Finding Tradition of Sexual Hazing
Ohio State University fired the director of its renowned marching band on Thursday and released a report describing a culture of harassment and alcohol abuse in which students were told to mimic sex acts, march down the aisle of a bus while others tried to pull their clothes off, and march on the football field in their underwear. The report, by the Office of University Compliance and Integrity at Ohio State, described the hazing as being by students against other students, particularly new band members, but said that the band's director, Jon Waters, did not do enough to stop it. "The misconduct described is highly sexual, frequent, and longstanding as part of the marching band's culture," it said. The practices detailed in the report had gone on for years, even decades, while Mr. Waters, 38, was the band director for less than two years, noted his lawyer, David F. Axelrod.

Mississippi State schedules Football Fan Day
With the 2014 Mississippi State football season inching closer, Bulldog supporters can meet this year's team at the annual Fan Day celebration on Sunday, Aug. 24. This year's event will be held inside the newly renovated and expanded Davis Wade Stadium. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. with the event running from 5-7 p.m. This year's activities, which allow for fans to see the expanded stadium and conveniently fit into the football team's practice schedule, will once again be open to the public, family friendly and free for all in attendance. Fans are asked to enter through the West and North Main gates.
Southern Miss' home date vs. BYU likely to move
One of Southern Miss' non-conference home-and-home football series isn't in jeopardy, according to athletic director Bill McGillis. However, 2015's scheduled home game versus BYU will almost certainly be moved. The contest was originally scheduled for Oct. 17, 2015, in Hattiesburg per the terms of the game contract, which was obtained by the Hattiesburg American through an open records request. But it was recently reported that BYU was making an effort to move the game in order to schedule a sixth home game in 2015. "The series is still on the books, the dates are just not finalized," McGillis told the Hattiesburg American on Tuesday.

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