Thursday, April 19, 2018  SUBSCRIBE   
 
The Big Trick of 'Bluff'
Author Michael Kardos has always been drawn to the art of illusion. As a teenager, the New Jersey native got into doing magic, and as an adult, he wanted to tackle the topic in his writing. His third novel, "Bluff" (Mysterious Press, 2018, $26), which came out April 3, does just that, but it was not a quick road from his initial idea to hitting bookstore shelves. "For a long time, I wanted to write some fiction involving magic because I was always kind of struck by the similarities of the two," Kardos says. "You're setting something up, and you're trying to create this sense of wonder in you audience." The author and Mississippi State University professor already intended for "Bluff" to be set in real world, but that meant the illusions needed to feel real, as well. Although magicians are a tight-lipped community, he says that many professionals in the industry write books to share techniques with those who are interested in mastering them.
 
$39,000 donated to help Mississippi State officer
A large donation was made Wednesday to help a Mississippi State University police officer with medical expenses. Modern Woodmen of America helped present the $39,600 check to officer Brad Massey and his family. Justin Mitchener won a fundraising raffle and donated the $10,000 winnings back to help the officer. Massey is currently fighting cancer.
 
Decatur's Roesener wins Mississippi State essay contest
Nathaniel D. Roesener of Decatur was the freshman winner of the Maroon Edition essay competition at Mississippi State University. Roesener, is an architecture major at MSU. The essay topic was "The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates" by New York Times best-selling author Wes Moore. Essay subjects come from Maroon Edition, the annual common reading program for incoming MSU freshmen.
 
Public housing, commercial development in works for Starkville
A new development in the works could see new public housing built in Starkville and open up space for more commercial development on Highway 12. Johnny Moore, a local attorney working with Tuscaloosa, Alabama-based developer Christopher Dobbs, spoke to aldermen about the project during Tuesday's board meeting. He said the project, if it comes to fruition, would see a replica of Pecan Acres, a public housing neighborhood, built in a new location in Starkville, and the current location on Highway 12 made available for commercial development. Moore said confidentiality agreements have prevented him from coming to the board up until this point, and also limited how much he can currently say, including where the new location for Pecan Acres would be. However, he said he's also worked with aldermen Roy A. Perkins and Henry Vaughn of wards 6 and 7, respectively, and the Starkville Housing Authority that unanimously approved the project. He said the group is also working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on the project.
 
City looks to add new public housing and commercial development
The Starkville Board of Aldermen were presented with a potential new project, which would add new public housing and commercial development to the city during its meeting on Tuesday night. Attorney Johnny Moore addressed the aldermen during citizens comments addressing affordable housing within the city. Moore said it has been since the late 50's, early 60's since there has been any new public housing in Starkville. He said after seeing there hasn't been any new developments, he worked with his law partner, Starkville Housing Authority and a realtor in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to begin their planning. "We came up with a strategy to get new housing in Starkville without it being a significant expense to the city of Starkville," Moore said. Moore told the board the reason he is just now bringing this project to the city is because there are publication requirements and he didn't want the board to not be aware of their planning. He said another reason was due to the confidentiality agreements with their clients.
 
Cooking for TV: Starkville teen's cooking show premieres on MPB May 5
Mark Coblentz spent this past Monday afternoon like a lot of high school guys -- at spring football practice. Like plenty of boys, he likes to hunt and hang out with friends. But how many 15-year-olds have their own cooking show on television? Mark does. "Making A Chef" will premiere at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 5 on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. It will air again at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 6. Season One's eight episodes feature the Starkville teen who many followed on FOX Broadcasting's "MasterChef Junior" Season Five in early 2017 and on the Food Network's "Chopped Junior" in late 2015. Mark has also appeared on MPB's "Fit to Eat" and on the nationally syndicated show "Wonderama." "We pitched the idea to MPB and they liked it," said Mark's dad, Robbie Coblentz.
 
Mississippi GOP hopefuls running for Congress face off in candidate forum
Republicans running for an open congressional seat in Mississippi are advocating cuts in federal spending and regulations. The six GOP candidates in the 3rd District spoke Wednesday night in Jackson at a forum sponsored by Americans For Prosperity, a group promoting free markets and limited government. The Republican field has two health care professionals, Whit Hughes of Madison and Morgan Dunn of Magee; a state senator, Sally Doty of Brookhaven; a businessman, Perry Parker of Seminary; a district attorney, Michael Guest of Brandon; and an artist and educational consultant, Katherine Tate of Jackson. All six candidates denounced the federal health care overhaul that then-President Barack Obama signed in 2010. The candidates said government should not play a big role in health coverage and decisions.
 
Many other states have increased gas tax for transportation
Mississippi is not the only state struggling with transportation needs, according to a report by the Legislature's Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Committee. The report released this week cites the National Conference of State Legislatures as saying states have been in "a near constant state of crisis for about a decade" in terms of funding for transportation needs. The report cited the American Society of Civil Engineers as saying the nation as a whole faces major transportation issues. The report by PEER, which provides oversight responsibilities for the Mississippi Legislature, goes on to say since 2013 that 26 states plus the District of Columbia "have enacted legislation that will increase or may increase their overall gasoline taxes."
 
Delbert Hosemann focused on education and economic development
Delbert Hosemann didn't have any big announcement to make, but the Mississippi Secretary of State did have a plethora of information to share with those attending the monthly Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday. The Vicksburg native, who has been rumored to be making a run for the office of lieutenant governor, said education and economic development should be the focus and priority of improving the lives of Mississippians. "We need to nurture business, small business in particular," Hosemann said. "And we don't have to give away Mississippi with incentives." He said the idea of offering incentives to attract major manufacturers needs to change and the focus turn to developing trades and a skilled labor force for those 70 percent of graduates who do not plan to attend college.
 
Tuition to rise 4 percent on average at Mississippi schools
Mississippi's eight public universities plan to raise tuition by an average of 4 percent next fall. Presidents say lingering effects from state budget cuts two years ago require them to raise more revenue from students. The College Board on Thursday preliminarily approved tuition increases at all of the universities. Trustees will vote again next month to finalize the changes. The statewide average for two semesters of full-time tuition and fees will rise by an average of $303 to $7,805. That's for an in-state undergraduate.
 
Chancellor Jeff Vitter lays out Ole Miss plan for excellence
During Tuesday's speaking engagement at the Columbus Rotary Club meeting at Lion Hills Center, University of Mississippi Chancellor Jeff Vitter set the record straight on one point: He does not wear a back brace. "It's a copy of our strategic plan," Vitter said. "I keep it in my back pocket wherever I go." The plan has not been reduced to a pocket-sized pamphlet. It is contained in an 8-by-11-inch plastic binder that Vitter folds over and sticks in his hip pockets. "It's rough on pockets," he admitted. "When I went to an Ole Miss Women's Council (meeting), one of the women gave me a hug. She thought I was wearing a back brace." Vitter spent his time with the Rotarians noting some of university's achievements since his arrival as chancellor in January 2016 as well as highlighting some of the goals contained in the strategic plan.
 
Slavery Research Group explores history of slavery at UM with campus tour
The University of Mississippi Slavery Research Group hosted several events yesterday to explore the history of enslaved people in north Mississippi. The group hosted a Slavery on Campus History Tour to spread awareness of the history behind the Oxford campus. "Tracing the history of slavery and its relationship with the University of Mississippi requires quite a bit of detective work," said Leigh McWhite, political papers archivist and Slavery Research Group member. "The official records of the university of the Antebellum period are sparse. They include the board of trustees minutes, the registrar's ledgers and the faculty minutes. Through her personal studying of these documents, McWhite found that slaves were deeply involved in the construction and upkeep of the university from its founding.
 
Judge to shield ex-Ole Miss student's identity in gender bias lawsuit
A federal magistrate judge has agreed to shield the identity of the ex-Ole Miss student who has filed a gender bias lawsuit against the university. Last month, the former the University of Mississippi student filed the lawsuit against the university and the state College Board alleging he was a victim of gender discrimination because of his long-term suspension for what he calls a false sexual misconduct allegation. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Jackson, uses the pseudonym Andrew Doe for the expelled student. A state College Board spokeswoman said the university was aware of the lawsuit, but couldn't comment on it because of the pending litigation.
 
Statesmen Boulevard nearing completion
Statesmen Boulevard is set to be completed in August and just in time for Delta State University's football season. According to Jeff Barkman, director of facilities management,"It starts at Highway 8 and wraps all the way around the stadium and goes over in front of the baseball field and will stop at Shumate Circle. "It'll give us more parking and better traffic flow. Instead of going through McClain and Shumate well have that big boulevard. It'll help with recruiting because it puts a new entrance in the facility and new parking lots." Barkman said the cost is about $4.5 million and funding for this project was made possible in part by a grant from the Federal Highway Administration and the Mississippi Department of Transportation. Additionally, there will be a 20 percent local match from Delta State and Cleveland. Construction will also include improvement of streets around and in front of the football stadium, new sidewalks and street lighting installation, and the construction of new storm drainage piping and fencing. Senator Thad Cochran played a major role in securing federal funding for the project.
 
Report lauds quality of Mississippi's preschool program
A new report released Wednesday says Mississippi's state-funded preschool program, though small, continues to score well on quality measures. The report by the National Institute for Early Education Research, says Mississippi's program meets nine of 10 standards set by the institute. Nationwide, states provide preschool for about a third of 4-year-olds, but Mississippi's state program reaches only 3 percent of such children, according to the NIEER. Mississippi is spending $4 million this year to finance early learning collaboratives --- groups of public and private agencies in 14 communities --- that provide preschool classes to 4-year-old children. That will increase by $2.5 million in the budget year beginning July 1, which officials have said should bring the total number of slots available statewide to 3,000.
 
Pre-K makes 'modest progress' in enrollment, spending
Mississippi met the majority of new quality pre-K standards last year, according an annual report on the state of preschool in the United States released this week. The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) report, which examines each state's pre-K progress and how the states compare with each other, found that states are making small steps forward in some areas but taking a step back in others. "Overall, this year we've seen modest progress in enrollment spending over last year, and looking over the entire 15 years we've conducted the study, we see more change, but still modest change if you look at it year by year," said Dr. Steven Barnett, senior co-director of NIEER and co-author of the report, in a conference call on Tuesday.
 
Auburn fraternities self-impose ban on hard liquor
Starting next month, hard liquor will be banned at fraternity events held on chapter property -- including date parties, band parties, rush events and big brother nights -- after a high number of alcohol-related medical calls and conduct cases. Auburn's Interfraternity Council of Presidents, a panel made up of the presidents of IFC fraternities that serves as the group's legislative branch, recently voted to implement the ban, beginning May 5, 2018. IFC said the move would be a step toward a healthier fraternity community. "We feel that there are steps that other schools have taken and steps that we needed to take to prevent a tragedy that has unfortunately plagued other universities," said Gavin McGettigan, IFC president. "In our experience, we have observed issues with liquor consumption at parties on chapter premises, which led us to this solution."
 
Auburn English instructor Matthew Teutsch receives Fulbright U.S. Scholar award
Matthew Teutsch, an instructor in Auburn University's Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts, received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to Norway, where he will lecture at the University of Bergen in Norway as part of a project that will explore how African American authors imagine and represent the South to both America and the world. "Dr. Teutsch has received a wonderful opportunity to educate and engage citizens in Norway. We are extremely proud of his accomplishments," said Joseph Aistrup, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Teutsch's research focuses on African American, Southern, and 19th-century American literature. Fulbright scholars address critical global priorities in all disciplines, while building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the U.S.
 
Medical Device Teams from U. of Arkansas, UA-Little Rock Sweep Governor's Cup
Undergraduate and graduate student teams from the University of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock walked away from the 18th annual Governor's Cup competition with $154,000. Winners were announced Wednesday at the awards luncheon. The competition is sponsored by Delta Plastics of Little Rock and managed by Arkansas Capital Corp. of Little Rock. The first place overall winner in the graduate category was Lapovations LLC from the UA. The medical device company, which won $25,000, is focused on creating a platform of innovative products that improve laparoscopic surgery. The team netted an additional $2,000 when it won the elevator pitch competition, which was judged by the luncheon audience.
 
Students from U. of Arkansas take first in annual business-plan competition
Jared Greer, 37, has more experience than most participants in the annual Governor's Cup business-plan competition. And Greer, founder and chief executive officer of Lapovations LLC, a medical-device startup from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, has taken advantage of that experience. On Wednesday, Lapovations won the graduate division competition, and $25,000, in the 18th Governor's Cup held at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock. Lapovations now has won five business plan competitions and finished second in two others. In all, the company has won $300,000 in similar competitions, Greer said. On the undergraduate level, the $5,000 innovation award winner was TiFix from Harding University. The graduate winner of the $5,000 innovation award was Ozark Microheater Systems from UA.
 
Support sought for U. of Florida's long-term temp workers
The University of Florida Faculty Senate will vote on a resolution Thursday that, if passed, will recommend the university reassign long-term temporary employees to full-time positions with benefits. "Other Personnel Services" positions are designed to be less than a year, and they don't come with paid vacation, sick or administrative leave days or paid holidays. The Alachua County Labor Coalition found that of the more than 3,000 non-student OPS workers, 47 percent had been employed for more than two years, and 69 percent are older than 25. "Too many individuals who are OPS who should be full-time earning Social Security, vacation, benefits," said Paul Ortiz, director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History program and a former Faculty Senate member.
 
Campus police officers only in some cases equipped to deal with mental health crises, experts say
During a Harvard University student's arrest by Cambridge police for running down a street naked last week, he was tackled and punched repeatedly in the stomach, an act the institution's president and other local officials deemed "disturbing." It's one in a series of incidents over the last seven months in which the public has questioned police officers' use of force against college students who may have mental health issues. While the incidents differ, many students on the affected campuses have been alarmed by the way police treated those students. In September, a suicidal Georgia Tech student was shot dead by a campus police officer who hadn't completed required crisis training. The shooting led to riots and student demands for more investment in mental health services. And earlier this month, a University of Chicago officer shot and wounded a student who was having a psychotic episode. While experts say college and university law enforcement personnel are generally being trained well and are equipped to handle such emergencies, they stressed that not enough money and time has been spent on helping students before they reach a point in which police would need to intervene.
 
Tuition freeze raises Purdue's profile, but at what cost?
A high-profile multiyear tuition freeze has catapulted Purdue University to the top of many observers' lists of well-managed public universities, casting President Mitch Daniels as a budget cutter without peer. Bloomberg Businessweek last December summed up public sentiment, asking, "Can Mitchonomics Fix the Broken Business of Higher Ed?" The university is understandably proud -- it even created a page on its website to crow about media coverage of the feat. Last week Daniels said the tuition freeze, which began upon his arrival in 2013, will stretch into the 2019-20 academic year, meaning that at his planned departure from the renowned land-grant university in June 2020, Daniels will be able to boast that he never raised in-state tuition -- period. But the move has also led Purdue to focus more on serving students from outside Indiana and pushed academic departments to consider difficult cuts.
 
100 Top Colleges Vow To Enroll More Low-Income Students
College access and affordability: It's a common topic in higher education -- because college is the one place that can really be a catapult when it comes to moving up the economic ladder. And yet, research has shown that low-income students make up just 3 percent of the students that attend America's most selective colleges. And, it's not that these students just aren't there -- every year tens of thousands of top students who don't come from wealthy families never even apply to elite colleges. Universities are taking note -- and banding together under something called the American Talent Initiative -- a network backed by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Aspen Institute and the research firm Ithaka S+R. Each school has its own goals, too --- many want to increase the number of Pell Grant students on campus, others aim to improve graduation rates --- but they're all on board to share strategies, learn from each other's missteps and provide data to monitor their progress.
 
Tax shift proposals can accomplish different goals
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "So-called tax shifts, as proposed last week by House Speaker Philip Gunn, have been tried before in the Mississippi Legislature. The last major tax shift effort occurred over a two-year period in 2006 and 2007 when then-Republican Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck proposed first eliminating, and then reducing, the state's 7 percent tax on groceries and replacing the lost revenue with a cigarette tax increase. ...Gunn is proposing to reduce the state income tax while at the same time increasing the gasoline tax by 8 cents per gallon (phased in by increases of 2 cents per gallon for four years.) There are a number of differences in the two tax shift proposals."


SPORTS
 
State drops midweek matchup to Memphis
Two doubles by Hunter Stovall were Mississippi State's offensive highlight as the Bulldogs dropped a 6-1 decision to Memphis, Wednesday night at AutoZone Park. MSU (19-19) was held to five hits but used strong pitching from Denver McQuary and Keegan James to remain in the contest. "It was a disappointing night all the way around," MSU head coach Gary Henderson said. "In the seventh inning, a leadoff walk hurt us. We followed with an intentional walk to set up the double play ball and that led to a four-spot. We need to hit more balls hard and have crisper at-bats." State will return home to Dudy Noble Field for a three-game Southeastern Conference series against No. 3 Arkansas as part of MSU's annual Super Bulldog Weekend.
 
Razorbacks' Matt Cronin aims to close out saves record
Wes Johnson, Colby Suggs and Matt Cronin were walking down a hallway in Baum Stadium a week before this season opened when they passed a list of Arkansas Razorbacks' records posted on a wall. One record in particular caught Cronin's attention, and the sophomore left-hander from Navarre, Fla., wasn't shy about expressing his thoughts. "Matt saw that Colby has the most saves in a season and he goes, 'Hey, I'm coming after your record,'" said Johnson, the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville pitching coach. "I just laughed, and said, 'OK, yeah. Whatever, Matt.'" No one is laughing now about Cronin's chances of surpassing the school-record 13 saves Suggs had in 2013. Going into No. 3 Arkansas' series at Mississippi State this weekend, Cronin has nine saves with 17 regular-season games remaining and likely appearances in the SEC Tournament and at least an NCAA regional. He's tied for seventh on the Razorbacks' season saves list.
 
Mississippi State basketball lands nine on SEC honor roll
Six members of the National Finalist Mississippi State women's basketball team and three from the Bulldogs' NIT semifinalist men's team were named to the SEC Winter Honor Roll on Wednesday. Both tied for the fourth-most selections in the conference among their respective sports. The Bulldog women, who recorded a school-record 3.40 grade-point average in the fall, had seniors Blair Schaefer (biological sciences), Victoria Vivians (human development and family sciences) and Morgan William, a December graduate in kinesiology, claim their fourth-straight year on the honor roll. The other member of the winningest class in program history, Roshunda Johnson, was named to the list for the second year in a row in interdisciplinary studies.
 
Shea Patterson details scope of Ole Miss deception in lengthy letter to Michigan
In a detailed filing regarding his transfer case, former Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson tells Michigan officials he was lied to by former Rebels coach Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss officials repeatedly over a 20-month period in an attempt to keep him on campus and discredit both media and the NCAA, CBS Sports has learned. In a scathing nine-page rebuke of Ole Miss to the NCAA, Patterson begins by saying, "I'm not going to hold anything back..." CBS Sports was allowed to view the document that was part of his transfer appeal package but agreed not to report its details due to the sensitivity of the ongoing case. Patterson's appeal to become immediately eligible at Michigan is now in the hands of the NCAA for a final resolution. It is now known that Patterson's appeal contains a timeline of allegations asserting that he and his teammates were misled about the scope of the NCAA's investigation into Ole Miss.
 
Virginia AD confirms contact with Dawn Staley about job opening
Sour taste, erased. Virginia has managed to nab a big name for its new women's basketball coach, while at the same time repairing its relationship with the program's most famous alum. At the introduction of new coach Tina Thompson, the WNBA's second-leading all-time scorer on Wednesday, UVA athletic director Carla Williams confirmed that she had reached out to South Carolina coach Dawn Staley about the position, according to the Daily Progress's Sam Blum. Williams' statement echoes what The State had previously reported soon after Virginia coach Joanne Boyle unexpectedly retired at the end of this season -- the Cavaliers at least tried to lure Staley, an All-American and national player of the year at UVA, back to Charlottesville.
 
U. of Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer receives four-year contract worth $1M annually
Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer has received a four-year contract, the university announced Thursday. Fulmer had been working as an at-will employee since replacing John Currie on Dec. 1. Fulmer's contract will run through Dec. 31, 2021. He'll earn $1 million annually. That figure is comprised of his base salary ($300,000), supplemental pay ($600,000) and annual retention bonus ($100,000) that's due if he remains AD on Dec. 31 each year throughout the duration of his contract. He's also eligible for up to $300,000 annually in performance bonuses. Those bonus figures will be determined by Tennessee's graduation success rate and its standing in the Director's Cup.
 
UGA, Kirby Smart again in race for fans to flock to Sanford Stadium for G-Day
With the ink hardly dry on letters of intent for the final members of Georgia's top-ranked recruiting class, Kirby Smart was looking ahead to another competition of sorts. At the end of his signing day press conference on Feb. 7, the Bulldogs coach sent out the message that he wanted fans to show up in force for this Saturday's G-Day game. He knew enthusiasm would be high at Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M which for its spring games under new head coaches. He refreshed that message last Saturday. "Again, we want to challenge our fans to come out because we think there's no greater ability to measure our team or some of our young players than to put whatever the maximum number we can put in that stadium," he said. "It will certainly be needed because our players need to get able to play in front of that kind of atmosphere." Fan filled Sanford Stadium beyond its capacity in 2016 for Smart's G-Day game with more than 93,000.
 
NCAA bans teams using former football players in practice
The NCAA Division I Council has banned college football teams from using former players in practice and tabled a proposal to let players participate in four games while still redshirting. The Division I Council announced several rule changes Wednesday , including a new recruiting calendar for all sports not including football and basketball. The council also lifted a ban on alcohol sales at NCAA championships, following a two-year pilot program where alcohol was available at several events.



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