Wednesday, April 29, 2020   
Mississippi State's commencement to be broadcast statewide and online
Mississippi State's May 1 commencement exercises will be broadcast statewide via MSTV and available for online viewing. The Friday graduation ceremony begins at 2:00 p.m. with livestreaming available at MSTV is available to MaxxSouth Broadband subscribers in the Golden Triangle and those with C Spire Fiber TV throughout the state on Channel 80. WCBI also will broadcast the graduation on MyMS 4.2. The university announced earlier this month that spring commencement is moving online this year to recognize MSU graduates for their hard work while dealing with the realities of distancing restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Graduates will have additional options to participate in traditional commencement exercises on campus in December, provided the university has received clearance at that time from health professionals and government leaders.
Mississippi State cyberdefense tool being considered for use by U.S. military
The next six to nine months will prove critical for a project in the works for six years at Mississippi State University's Center for Cyber Innovation. The computer program Netmapper, designed by CCI researchers Phil Akers and Bob Reese, scans computer networks to identify all of its devices, installed programs and services and makes a map of them on a screen. Akers and Reese have been customizing Netmapper to scan the complex networks of the U.S. military so that government entities can use it to simulate cyberattacks and test out their defenses. Circadence Corporation, a cyber readiness company that has an office in Tupelo, contracted Netmapper for the project in 2014. Reese said he believes the program will get official permission in the next six months to be used on any military base nationwide. Reese and CCI Director Drew Hamilton both said it's unusual for a piece of university-created software to be considered for use by the U.S. Department of Defense. "Trying to determine what's on a network and to do network planning is a huge problem, so I think this is a major contribution that we're looking at making from MSU," Hamilton said.
Mississippi ag industry holds on as virus rattles supply chains
National news reports have grabbed attention with footage of vast amounts of milk being dumped and mounds of vegetables that were buried in the fields that grew them. Those are two of the many effects of the corona virus pandemic on the nation's food supply. The milk and vegetables had to be discarded because of a widely cited breakdown in "supply chains." In other words, the usual destination for those foods was not holding up its end of the bargain, according to Dr. Elizabeth Canales, specialty foods specialist at Mississippi State University. Restaurants -- which have been sharply curtailed due to the pandemic -- are supplied with different cuts of meat than groceries. Those dire dumping scenes have not happened in Mississippi, whose growing season for vegetables is just getting underway, Canales said in a recent interview.
Alliance Project: Become a gatekeeper to help prevent youth suicide
The Mississippi Department of Mental Health and Mississippi State University are offering training focused on youth suicide prevention, and crucially making it available online to be accessed during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Since last year, The Alliance Project training has taught thousands of parents and caregivers, educators, mental health professionals, and others in Mississippi on how to identify when a person is in distress, make a connection with that person, and learn how to help them. A special edition of this training, created by MSU Department of Psychology staff, is now available online, allowing access when so many people and professions are practicing social distancing to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. "This training is designed to help you learn how to reach out to those who need help despite our need to keep a distance," said Rachel-Clair Franklin, LPC-S, with the MSU Department of Psychology. "We have tailored our normal, in-person training to fit the unique times we are living in."
'All I need are customers': Local retailers begin reopening after some have been shuttered since March
One of the major concerns Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves had about his decision to allow retail stores to reopen was whether retailers could ensure social distancing. Among the governor's orders were restrictions on how many customers could be allowed in a store at any given time. Reeves set the threshold at 50-percent capacity. On Tuesday afternoon, none of the handful of retailers who had chosen to reopen in Starkville and Columbus had any trouble enforcing that rule. Rebecca Kraker, owner and, for now, sole employee of R. Tabb & Co., a women's apparel and gift shop store on Main Street in Starkville, stood on the threshold of her store at about 3:30 p.m., debating whether to call it a day. Kraker hasn't been open for regular business hours since mid-March. In the interim, she's made some sales over the phone or through social media, filling orders that can be picked up curbside. While the governor's order allows Kraker to resume "normal" operations, she isn't sure she'll adopt a "business-as-usual" approach.
LINK CEO warns cuts coming as local businesses, governments deal with pandemic
Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins remembers the atmosphere in Columbus as the city dealt with the tail end of the Great Recession in 2009. "Things were tough, but people were still eating at Harvey's," Higgins told Columbus Rotary Club members in Tuesday's Zoom meeting. "People were still going to Mi Hacienda. People were still going out to Proffitt's Porch and having lunch even though the economy was bad." That year, the city suffered a $900,000 sales tax shortfall, according to Higgins. What about this year, with the Golden Triangle area still in the midst of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic? "I think it's going to be worse," Higgins said. Columbus, Starkville and West Point all make roughly 40 percent of their income from sales taxes, but with many businesses closed or limited and restaurants directed to shut their dining-room doors to customers, that source of money is scarcer. But there is still optimism for local companies, Higgins stressed Tuesday.
'A sense of normalcy:' Some businesses beginning to reopen
Kim Caron is marking the 10th anniversary of the Caron Gallery this year, but the celebration has been a bit muted thanks to the coronavirus. For six weeks, her art gallery on Main Street in downtown Tupelo has been closed to the public. But on Monday, she finally reopened. "We're trying to be very cautious and keep our six feet apart or more," Caron said. "We've got some masks, too, to let our customers know we're being conscientious." Next door, Amsterdam Deli was filling pickup and delivery orders. Across Main Street, Reed's department store has been navigating the new normal, having been closed for seven weeks. The store began offering curbside pickup last week, and customers have still been able to order online. President Jack Reed said, "Our biggest seller has been gift certificates. A lot of graduates are getting them, and in some cases, the kids can add them altogether and have $200 or $300."
104-year-old newspaper in Mississippi Delta closes, but another paper is coming
Little-league baseball games. School plays. Graduations. Wedding announcements. City meetings. The news that ties a community together and gives its readers a sense of place. And now, a final obituary. The only newspaper in a Mississippi Delta county is shutting down, citing financial concerns and a shrinking community. The Bolivar Commercial was 104 years old. Managing Editor Denise Strub took a break on Monday from putting together the paper's final edition to speak with the Clarion Ledger about the newspaper. "It's very quiet," Strub said. "It's spooky quiet in the newsroom." Several people in the community, including Mayor Billy Nowell, knew that Cleveland needed a local newspaper. So when the Commercial broke the news of its impending closure, Nowell and other community leaders reached out to another Cleveland publisher, Scott Coopwood. Coopwood announced Tuesday that a new weekly newspaper, The Bolivar Bullet, would be mailed to 2,000 homes and businesses on May 6.
33 COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Anderson; Meridian employees start testing
Anderson Regional Medical Center was hospitalizing 33 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday, according to Anderson's website. The hospital's records show it was the highest daily total of COVID-19 patients at Anderson since the outbreak began and an increase of 20 patients from a week ago. Rush Foundation Hospital is not providing daily hospitalization numbers. The Mississippi State Department of Health confirmed 14 new cases of COVID-19 in Lauderdale County Tuesday, for a total of 318, the second highest in the state. Nineteen people from Lauderdale County, including 11 residents of long-term care or residential care facilities, have died from the virus, MSDH reports. Health department data shows 75 of the county's cases are in long-term care facilities. Employees for the city of Meridian have begun getting tested for COVID-19 at city hall, as part of a partnership with Greater Meridian Health Clinic.
Mississippi's top health official on coronavirus: 'This thing's not over'
While Gov. Tate Reeves has expressed optimism at fully reopening Mississippi's economy, the state's top health official warned Mississippians Tuesday that there are life-and-death consequences to returning to normalcy. "This thing is not over. We need to continue to be careful. Certainly we have flattened the curve," State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said. "... but please now is not the time to let down our guard." Later during the press conference, Dobbs was more blunt. "I hate to say this but people are going to die because people are being lax. I don't think it's going to be a big number, but there will be some tragedies," Dobbs said. "So people need to be cautious about what they do so they can protect their loved ones." Dobbs said it wasn't totally clear what direction the state was headed -- particularly when it came to the hospitalization rate of coronavirus patients. Mississippi had 429 people hospitalized with the virus as of Tuesday, the highest total yet.
Department of Public Safety to extend expiring driver's licenses, other permits
Anyone who has a driver's license that has expired, or is set to expire during the COVID-19 pandemic received good news last week. Mississippi's Department of Public Safety announced it will extend driver's licenses, learner's permits, intermediate licenses, firearm permits, security guard permits and ID cards set to expire. All licenses and permits that expire between March 14 and June 30 of this year are now valid until Aug. 3. On April 2 all driver's license stations were closed across the state due to COVID-19 concerns. Online services are available for renewal and duplicate driver's licenses, ID cards and address changes. Driver's license stations remain closed to the public, except for the nine Mississippi Highway Patrol District Troop Stations across the state, until further notice. The only services the MHP Troop Stations will provide are sex offender registry transactions and all commercial driver license (CDL) transactions.
Mississippi Arts Commission to Provide Economic Relief for the Arts Sector in Mississippi
The Mississippi Arts Commission is announcing a special round of funding to provide relief to Mississippi's arts sector from the devastating economic impacts of COVID-19. Using funds from the CARES Act, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded almost $30 million to the nation's 50 states, the District of Columbia and several territories including Puerto Rico. MAC has received approximately $441,100 in CARES Act COVID-19 recovery funding from the NEA and will quickly distribute these funds to Mississippi arts organizations. Tasked with developing its own process for awarding these funds with the purpose of preserving jobs and facilities costs, the agency established the MAC CARES Emergency Grants program to distribute these funds to arts organizations. "We are incredibly grateful to Congress, the President, and the NEA for this much-needed recovery funding and understand that time is of the essence in distributing these funds," said Malcolm White, executive director of MAC.
A Flood of Catastrophe: How a warming climate and the Bonnet Carre Spillway threaten the survival of Coast fishermen
On a warm, sunny September morning, bait salesman Roscoe Liebig scanned the harbor's vacant piers and shook his head in disgust. Liebig recalled his usual surroundings: a full parking lot, a line of fishermen hooking their bait, and oysters peeking out in a low tide. That day, all of it was gone. In a typical year, he'd be outside peddling his shrimp and croakers, a type of bait fish, to fishermen passing by. "This is catastrophic," he said. Referencing another historic disaster, Liebig put 2019 in perspective: "BP could blow up a well and you'd do better than this. It's a dying freaking industry, and this is just the icing on the cake." At the core of his stress is the recent openings of the Bonnet Carre Spillway, an increasingly frequent event that rattles the sound's water quality and kills aquatic species that fishermen depend on for survival. The plight of Mississippi's fishermen stems from a national phenomenon: how climate change is affecting America's mightiest river.
Former USAID Chief Mark Green On Coronavirus, Foreign Aid, Trump's Philosophy
For nearly three years, Mark Green led the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in delivering foreign aid to countries in need during times of crisis, including the coronavirus pandemic. In mid-March, Green announced that he was stepping down and taking on a new position as executive director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership. President Trump has asked Senator John Barrasso, R.-Wyo., to take over as the USAID acting administrator. NPR's Rachel Martin spoke with Green, a former Republican congressman from Wisconsin and U.S. ambassador to Tanzania, about the value of U.S. foreign assistance, his outlook on how developing countries will face the pandemic and what the future may hold for USAID.
House panel chairman urges agriculture road map for pandemics
The federal government needs a plan for agriculture to address massive economic disruptions like those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, House Agriculture Chairman Collin C. Peterson said Tuesday. The Minnesota Democrat told reporters during a conference call that the House and Senate Agriculture committees need to assert their authority and address weaknesses he sees in the system. For example, he endorsed a boost in the Commodity Credit Corporation's borrowing authority but only with congressional oversight conditions. "We need to have a plan on the shelf with a way to deal with this stuff going forward so we're not in the middle of a crisis flying by the seat of our pants," he said. Peterson said he wants greater committee oversight of the Agriculture Department's distribution of federal aid to farmers and ranchers and its handling of surplus agriculture goods sent to food banks and pantries. He also said he doubted Congress would act in time to affect the USDA's plan to make $16 billion in direct payments to producers who can show harm from COVID-19 related policies.
President Trump's next coronavirus pivot: Celebrate America's grand reopening
President Donald Trump is looking to the business executives of America to get him out of the coronavirus penalty box. With the U.S. economy stuck in a deep downturn, Trump is betting on his promotional skills -- of corporate executives, small-business owners and American workers -- to rescue his standing just six months before the general election. The president is pressing businesses and even schools to reopen as part of his message that the U.S. is digging out of the coronavirus pandemic and getting back to work, despite persistent doubts from state officials and business leaders about whether adequate testing and contact-tracing infrastructure is in place. The move to more economy-focused events and messaging at the White House comes after weeks of singular attention on the president as the front man for the pandemic response.
Black activists and officials see a major threat in South's plans to reopen
As Southern governors are reopening the region this week, black activists are joining with local and federal lawmakers to sound the alarm about what they see as a looming threat to the Black Belt. They say the mostly white, male Republicans -- who were reluctant to close their states but are now eager to reopen -- are effectively issuing a "death sentence" for millions of black Americans who have been disproportionately impacted both economically and medically by the novel coronavirus. A coalition of mostly black female activists led by Black Voters Matter, the Southern Rural Black Women's Initiative, the A. Philip Randolph Institute and the Highlander Research and Education Center launched a petition to the governors of Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Florida, pleading with them to extend their stay-at-home orders.
U.S. Economy Shrank at 4.8% Pace in First Quarter
The U.S. economy shrank at a 4.8% annual pace in the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic pushed the U.S. toward a near-certain recession. The decline in seasonally and inflation-adjusted gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, was the steepest quarterly contraction since the last recession and signaled the end of the longest expansion on record. Consumer spending drove the drop, falling at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 7.6%, the largest decline since the second quarter of 1980, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. The quarter also saw a sharp decline in business investment, with the fall-off in consumer and business spending only partially offset by gains in government spending and residential investment.
USM hosts free online transfer application opportunity today
The University of Southern Mississippi is offering a Free Online Transfer Application event from noon to midnight today for students from any Mississippi community college who have not initiated an application for enrollment for either the summer or fall 2020 semesters. Students meeting that criteria will receive an email with the link to the free application on Wednesday, and will have from noon until midnight to complete and submit an application for transfer admission. This opportunity is not available for incoming freshmen or students previously enrolled at USM. Typically held at the community college campuses, this event is offered online to comply with existing guidance on social distancing and travel to help stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
USM professor, students making masks for Pearl River County officers
A University of Southern Mississippi professor and costume shop supervisor for the USM theater program has teamed up with two graduate students to make protective masks for officers with the Pearl River County Sheriff's Department. Instructor Kelly James-Penot and students Mackenzie Dunn and Erin Jester have made about 100 of the 100% cotton masks, which are brown on one side and cream-colored on the other. They began donating the masks to the sheriff's department a few weeks ago. Both officers in the field and jail staff are wearing them. James-Penot is making masks at her home in Pearl River County, while her students are making theirs from their homes out of state.
Alcorn State University announces virtual graduation ceremony
On May 2, Alcorn State University will honor its spring 2020 graduates in a virtual commencement ceremony due to the coronavirus. "While no one could have anticipated recent events, I want our graduates and their families to know how excited and proud we are to recognize the hard work and accomplishments of our graduating class," said Alcorn State University President Felecia M. Nave. "Although we cannot replace the experience of walking across the stage, we hope graduates and their families will still be able to mark and celebrate this very special occasion." The university will award degrees to 466 students, including 73 graduate degrees, and recognize students who have earned academic honors. Members of the Class of 2020 friends and families are invited to gather together online as the University recognizes the graduates and confers their degrees. The ceremony will be live-streamed on the university's website at 9 am.
Alcorn to host virtual commencement ceremony for 2020 graduates Saturday
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Alcorn State University will honor its spring 2020 graduates Saturday through its first virtual commencement ceremony. The virtual ceremony will have many of the elements of a traditional commencement ceremony including the reading of graduates' names. Alcorn State University will award degrees to 466 students, including 73 graduate degrees, and recognize students who have earned academic honors. Friends and family members of those in the Class of 2020 are invited to gather together online as the University recognizes the graduates and confers their degrees. Graduates are encouraged to share photos of their in-home celebrations on social media using the hashtag #AlcornGrad20. The university also plans to offer all spring 2020 graduates the opportunity to walk in a future commencement ceremony.
Angie Thomas Writers Scholarship winner to Belhaven University: Author reveals the winner
"All I could do after the call was drop to my knees, cry, and thank God," said Imani Skipwith when New York Times best-selling author Angie Thomas told her she had won a full-ride scholarship to Belhaven University. Skipwith, a senior at Mississippi School of the Arts in Brookhaven, was selected as the winner of the Angie Thomas Writers Scholarship, based on her writing submission and experience. "Imani is truly gifted from God. That was clear the moment I first read her entry," said Thomas. "The Belhaven Creative Writing program was made for writers like her. It's an honor to know that such a brilliant young woman will benefit from a scholarship in my honor. I have no doubt that Imani will soar under the guidance of the entire Belhaven family." Thomas, a 2011 graduate of Belhaven University, is the author of New York Times best-selling novels "On the Come Up" and "The Hate U Give." "The Hate U Give" was developed into a major motion picture from Fox 2000. Thomas is also working as a producer on the film version of "On the Come Up."
How COVID-19 is affecting counseling and psychological services
The American Psychological Association has said that the isolation and limited social contact that comes with quarantine can negatively affect mental health and worsen the effects of pre-existing mental health conditions in vulnerable populations. Some counselors and therapists in Auburn are making sure that their patients are still able to get the mental health care they need. According to the assistant director for outreach and mental health initiatives, Dustin Johnson, any student enrolled at Auburn University has 24/7 access to a phone consultation with a representative from Auburn University Student Counseling and Psychological Services. Some ideas include self-care activities like Color My Mondays, where students can access mindfulness coloring pages and learn the best tips for mindful living, and dance parties on Fridays, which are hosted through Zoom meetings online, Johnson said. COVID-19 discussion groups are also available for anyone to join to address questions and concerns.
U. of Florida looks at testing students for COVID-19
University of Florida officials on Tuesday said they are considering testing 500 to 1,000 students a day for COVID-19 as the school looks at plans to reopen campus in the fall semester. Steve Orlando, a spokesman for the university, said testing up to 1,000 students a day represents "one possible model under consideration" to allow students and faculty to safely return to campus. "As we begin to plan and prepare for a gradual reopening of the university, we are exploring all options as part of a series of steps to welcome back faculty, staff and students to campus once local, state and federal guidelines allow us to do so and factoring in guidance from our elected officials and the (university system's) Board of Governors," Orlando said in an email Tuesday. Orlando said any university plans will likely involve "data-driven efforts to rapidly test" to locate and isolate people with COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.
U. of Florida, Santa Fe College reschedule graduation
The University of Florida and Santa Fe College have both rescheduled their spring 2020 commencement ceremonies to dates later this summer. UF has rescheduled its graduation for July 31-Aug. 2, after the state's university system canceled all in-person May ceremonies last month for Florida's public universities. Both schools, however, cautioned that the ceremonies could still be postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. UF said that weekend could be pushed back as late as December, and noted that such a decision could be made in July. Families are asked to make flexible travel plans.
Texas A&M researchers to study possible COVID-19 treatment
Texas A&M University researchers are searching for local medical professionals to participate in a clinical trial of a common tuberculosis vaccine that may be able to treat COVID-19. Lead researcher in the US Jeffrey Cirillo said fewer than 100 people -- the minimum number needed to start vaccinations -- are signed up locally as of Tuesday. The regent's professor of microbial pathogenesis and immunology at the Texas A&M Health Science Center said he's aiming to begin administering vaccines at the end of this week or early next week. Cirillo and the Texas A&M Health Science Center are leading a group of scientists and doctors from Harvard's School of Public Health, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston in the effort, according to an A&M System press release. Cirillo said there are clinical trials for how BCG can fight COVID-19 being conducted around the world, including in Australia,
U. of Missouri: Still no working on campus
Despite a relaxation of business restrictions next week, University of Missouri employees can't return to work on campus, MU Vice Chancellor for Operations Gary Ward wrote in a communication to faculty and staff on Tuesday. Gov. Mike Parson on Monday announced plans for reopening the state when his statewide stay-at-home order ends on Sunday. It won't include MU employees, Ward wrote in the message emailed to faculty and staff. "At this time, the university continues to operate under a directive from President and Interim Chancellor Mun Choi that states no one may physically work on the Mizzou campus or in UM System offices unless they are requested to do so by an appropriate supervisor," Ward wrote. "We will continue under our current arrangement until further notice." The campus is being cleaned and disinfected in preparation for a return of students for the fall semester, he wrote.
Growing number of colleges announce intent to reopen this fall
A growing number of colleges announced plans to reopen their campuses for the fall semester, in some cases using language that was more definitive than previously seen in higher education so far in the crisis. Radford University, for example, on Tuesday said it will resume full campus operations Aug. 3. Brian Hemphill, president of the public university in Virginia, in a message to faculty and staff members said the reopening would include campus housing and dining services. The university plans to resume in-person instruction on Aug. 24. Baylor University, George Fox University and Wheaton College in Massachusetts also this week announced plans to reopen their campuses and resume in-person instruction for the fall semester. And Mitch Daniels, Purdue University's president, last week in a letter described a plan for reopening in the fall, where the university would separate people by age and vulnerability while limiting class sizes. President Trump on Tuesday praised Purdue ("great school in a great state") for its stance on reopening the campus in West Lafayette, Ind. "I think that's correct," Trump said. More colleges appeared to be following Daniels's lead this week.
Colleges could lose up to 20 percent of students, analysis says
Four-year colleges may face a loss of up to 20 percent in fall enrollment, SimpsonScarborough, a higher education research and marketing company, has predicted on the basis of multiple student surveys it has conducted. The findings are based on surveys of more than 2,000 college-bound high school seniors and current college students in March, just after the coronavirus began spreading in the United States, and in April, after three weeks of record unemployment claims. The finding are based on several surveys, one of which was released previously. The numbers are particularly bleak for minority students. Forty-one percent of minority high school seniors say it's likely they won't go to college at all in the fall or "it's too soon to say." That compares to 24 percent of white high school seniors. Some colleges will fare better, the SimpsonScarborough report says, based on prestige or location or particularly sensitive administrators. But as a whole, "the effect on higher education enrollment could be catastrophic."
'Alt-Ed' Ventures Could Gain Traction in an Uncertain Fall
The 2020 fall semester is still a giant question mark just about everywhere, but one thing is certain: As survey after survey shows, students are challenging the idea of paying full price for a less-than-full experience, even if it's discounted by scholarships. One possible result is that students will flock to established online providers. I'm more fascinated by another emerging probability: that a host of entrepreneurial ventures -- for-profit and nonprofit -- move from the margins of the higher-ed landscape to play a more central role for more students than ever before. That might not upend the overall status quo, but it could certainly transform some of the would-be disruptors from curiosities to bigger players, while some traditional institutions flounder. It could also open up interesting new strategies for colleges to consider. Several alternative-education providers have already seen notable spikes in enrollments and inquiries, albeit still mostly for services that are free or low cost.
With laboratories shut, coronavirus forces scientists to 'stop cold'
The abrupt stoppage of a vast array of exploration and experimentation at universities and other research institutions has left scientists wondering about the discoveries that may never be made, the sick people who will miss the chance at a breakthrough cure and the careers that may never be launched. When the orders came down to close their laboratories, scientists scrambled to mothball their experiments in ways that would maximize their chances of being revived. Those who need only a computer and an internet connection to run simulations or crunch complex numbers continued their work from home. A hiatus of several weeks isn't likely to result in irreparable harm, said Randy Katz, vice chancellor for research at UC Berkeley. If the restrictions stay in place for months, however, losses will become increasingly difficult to avoid. For example, mice that have been bred to have a particular genetic condition or disease must begin an experiment at a particular age, giving scientists a narrow window for conducting their experiments. "Animals don't live forever," Katz said.
Andrew Cuomo, Mitch McConnell standoff underscores a key impasse in the national partisan divide
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: Less than a year ago, a Democratic New Jersey congressman vented his contempt for so-called "moocher states" like Mississippi that receive more money from the federal government than they send back to Washington in the form of taxes. Last week, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sang another verse of the same song when he blasted Republican U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the same issue when McConnell suggested that perhaps states like New York -- struggling as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. -- might consider bankruptcy as a cure for their current coronavirus-driven fiscal woes. ... The point of contention between Cuomo and McConnell is not a new one.

What Alex Wilcox and the wall sit challenge mean to Mississippi State
Samantha Ricketts woke up to an abundance of notifications on her phone Tuesday morning. The Mississippi State softball head coach's season ended a month and a half ago because of the coronavirus pandemic. Like many others, Ricketts has been sleeping in and staying home ever since. Nobody had much reason to ask her about batting orders or pitching rotations. The reason her phone rang continually dug much deeper than those matters, which have become trivial considering the circumstances. It was April 28. 4/28. Rather, 4:28. Four minutes and 28 seconds. That's how long former Mississippi State softball player Alex Wilcox held a wall sit on the same day as a round of chemotherapy. Back against the wall, feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent at 90 degrees. Four and a half minutes of physical pain and mental madness. The workout wasn't supposed to last that long. Assistant coach Tyler Bratton got carried away in telling the team a story about the first man to ever run a sub-four minute mile. By the time he finished, he looked at his stopwatch as the timer approached four minutes. The players' legs were shaking. Some of them had already tapped out. Not Wilcox.
How the Cape Cod Baseball League's cancellation could impact Mississippi State players
For over 100 years, the Cape Cod Baseball League has functioned as the pinnacle of summer collegiate baseball. Thirty players comprise 10 teams, living with host families in picturesque beach towns up and down the Massachusetts coast where the only responsibility is baseball. But for the first time since 1947, the CCBL will not be held due to concerns over COVID-19 in the Northeast United States. And with the country's premier summer league now canceled, it stands to have an impact on a number of players from Starkville. "I think it's really, really important because everybody in the country lost valuable valuable reps whether it's working with them daily in practice or SEC play and seeing and facing some of the best arms in the country or vice versa, right?" MSU hitting coach Jake Gautreau told The Dispatch last week of why summer league is so important this year. "... So yes, you want guys to be able to get out there and play and kind of earn some of those reps back." For those participating, the CCBL represents a chance to play in front of countless major league scouts with the best collegiate players in the country. For two months, teams compete on a semi-daily basis. An all-star game has also become part of the mid-season norm.
Local alums Farrod Green, Leo Lewis ink post-draft deals with NFL clubs
A pair of area alums will use the upcoming NFL minicamp process to hopefully earn a permanent roster spot as Wesson product Farrod Green signed as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Indianapolis Colts and Brookhaven High alum Leo Lewis did the same with the Pittsburgh Steelers this week. Last season as a senior at Mississippi State, Green caught a career-high 21 passes for 257 yards and one touchdown as a tight end. The Colts are coming off a 7-9 record last season under coach Frank Reich. They'll have a new quarterback under center in 2020, as Philip Rivers has come over from the Chargers. Lewis ended his time in Starkville as a four-year starter in a talented linebacking group. Fellow MSU linebacker Willie Gay was a second-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs. NFL teams may be barred from having large meetings at their facilities, but most have embraced technology as a tool for learning.
Is Tommy Stevens Saints' next Taysom Hill? Joe Moorhead believes he has the skills
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: The NFL Draft was rocking along, nearing its end, and then, rolling across the bottom of our TV screens, came this bolt out of the blue: The New Orleans Saints, with pick No. 240 in the seventh round, take Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens. Say what? And while the Saints' pick of Stevens may have shocked most of the football universe, at least one person wasn't surprised: Joe Moorhead. Moorhead, who coached Stevens at both Penn State and Mississippi State, remains bullish on Stevens. "Good things happen to good people," Moorhead said. "Tommy Stevens is a great person." Nevertheless, the pick raised eyebrows around the NFL -- and in Mississippi. ... If you know anything about Saints coach Sean Payton, who will kick onsides to begin the second half in a Super Bowl, you know there is most often a method to his madness. No doubt, he sees a whole lot of jack-of-all-trades Taysom Hill in Stevens. So does Moorhead.
MAIS cancels all remaining championships for 2019-20 school year
Hopes for a return to high school sports in Mississippi this spring were officially dashed Tuesday evening when the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools canceled all remaining championships for the 2019-20 academic year. According to a news release from Executive Director A. Shane Blanton, member schools can still practice, scrimmage and compete against each other per normal summer guidelines. The MAIS said April 17 that it was still considering options to resume spring sports, but Tuesday's decision showed no such avenues were available. Tuesday's decision by the MAIS affects six local schools: Heritage Academy, Starkville Academy, Columbus Christian Academy, Oak Hill Academy, Hebron Christian and Starkville Christian.
Shelter-in-place and social distancing restrictions spark biking craze in Mississippi
Chrissy Ammons was at Moore's Bicycle Shop in Hattiesburg Tuesday to get a bike rack. She's been doing a lot of biking since the coronavirus pandemic started in Mississippi in March. She especially took to the open road after Gov. Tate Reeves' shelter in place order. "My options of other socialization are limited," Ammons said. "I can't go to the bars to hang out. There's no live music. I'm limiting going to friends' houses. (Bike riding) is a free option to do and it's good exercise." Bicycle shops around the state have been doing a brisk business due to coronavirus limitations on activities. "This is not the racers coming out to buy the $3,000 bike," James Moore, owner of Moore's Bicycle Shop, said. "This is people who haven't been on a bike in 30 or 40 years." Moore said he's done six months worth of business in March and April. Tom Martin, co-owner of Indian Cycle in Ridgeland, said people have cabin fever. "We haven't seen this level of activity in the last 10 years," he said. "It's resulting in a shortage of bikes, bicycling equipment and bicycle parts."
Deer hunting: Longer season and mandatory CWD samples proposed
Battling with chronic wasting disease and flooding, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks has proposed changes during its April commission meeting in rules for the 2020-21 deer season. Flooding in the South Delta has been a problem of historic proportions. In 2019, the area was flooded much of the year and animals were seen starving and dying. Among deer, numbers are said to be down and to make the situation worse, fawn recruitment was low. Last year, the agency responded with a reduced bag limit of one buck per day, two per season and two antlerless deer per season. The 2019 season was also reduced by 15 days and started Oct. 15 rather than Oct. 1. For the coming season, MDWFP has proposed a full-length season from Oct. 1-Jan. 31, but the bag limit will remain reduced with two bucks and two antlerless deer. "This is a measure to reduce the harvest because we know the population has been impacted," said Russ Walsh, MDWFP Wildlife Chief of Staff. "We know there was an impact from hunters and the camera survey we're doing. We still don't know the extent of the impact and won't for several years."
From Jamie Trachsel's salary to facilities, Ole Miss to invest heavily in softball
Softball isn't just another sport anymore at Ole Miss. It's an investment. Ole Miss hired Jamie Trachsel as its new softball coach on Friday, bringing in a woman who led Minnesota to the Women's College World Series in 2019. For athletic director Keith Carter, luring Trachsel to Oxford is one step toward developing the program into a national contender. "What I really loved in our interview is she referenced winning a national championship multiple times," Carter said. "That's what we're looking to do. We want to get to Oklahoma City and be knocking on that door and have the opportunity to bring a national championship back to Oxford." Of course, if every team that wanted to a win a national championship won one, the NCAA's trophy budget would be astronomical. So how does a program like Ole Miss take the leap from being a team that loses in Super Regionals to a team that busts through and makes it to Oklahoma City? To Trachsel, it involves a top-to-bottom systemic buy-in.
Ole Miss AD Keith Carter hopeful for on-time start to college football season
Ole Miss athletics director Keith Carter said Tuesday he is hoping to bring student-athletes to campus by July 1. That timetable, Carter said, would allow for an on-time start to the college football season this fall. Any delays past July 1, Carter said, would make it precipitously more difficult to begin the season as scheduled. "It's going to be an interesting situation because in the SEC, there are 11 states that are represented," Carter said. "We're trying to find a uniform way for all these states and institutions to come back and bring these student-athletes back and get them ready for the fall. With each state having a different timeline, finding a uniform way to do that may be difficult, but certainly everyone is on the same page trying to get that done." Carter said Ole Miss athletics will follow decisions made by the chancellor's office and the IHL regarding the student body in general.
NCAA takes step toward allowing athletes to earn income from endorsements, social media content
The NCAA took a dramatic step Wednesday toward allowing college athletes to earn income for things like product endorsements and social media content when its Board of Governors approved a broad set of recommendations to address an issue that has put college sports leaders under significant political pressure over the last year. With state legislatures across the country passing or looking into laws that would allow for college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness and members of Congress also sounding the alarm on the issue, what the NCAA announced Wednesday represents a significant change from prior NCAA policy. "Allowing promotions and third-party endorsements is uncharted territory," Ohio State president and Board of Governors chairman Michael Drake said in a release. Still, it's unclear whether the NCAA's action to broaden name, image and likeness rights will be enough to get lawmakers to back down. Though the working group presented broad recommendations that would be seen as a significant win for college athletes' rights, there are several details that remain unresolved on exactly how the new rules would be written and enforced.
NCAA proposes letting college athletes get paid for endorsements
College athletes could earn money from the use of their name, image and likeness under a narrow NCAA proposal unveiled Wednesday. The college sports association would request an exemption from federal antitrust laws under the proposal, and establish a "safe harbor" to protect the NCAA from lawsuits filed over its new name, image and likeness rules. The NCAA also would ask Congress to override state laws that allow student athletes to be paid. California in 2019 was the first state to open the door to college players cashing in on endorsements. If approved by college officials and put into effect next year, the NCAA's plan would allow college athletes to earn money from endorsement deals or other business agreements. But athletes couldn't use school logos or trademarks in their product pitches.
NCAA takes next step toward college athletes getting to cash in on endorsements
Hours after Jake Fromm was drafted by the Buffalo Bills Saturday, he held a 12-minute Instagram chat with fans with a Panini trading card backdrop. That came a day after the quarterback pitched a brand of chicken wings on his Twitter account. On Monday, he told his nearly 202,000 followers they could purchase the Head & Shoulders styling gel he used during draft weekend at Wal-Mart. Fromm couldn't have cashed in like that during his three seasons as a starter at Georgia where he became one of the most famous faces in the state. Now, under a plan going forward from the NCAA Board of Governors announced Wednesday, college athletes would be permitted to be paid for third-party endorsements "related to and separate from athletics," while still playing for their schools. Athletes could profit from social media, businesses they start and personal appearances. It would be a drastic change for college athletics which has preached amateurism while bringing in billions in revenue. The Board will vote on a formal proposal later after input from schools. All of the NCAA's three divisions are expected to adopt the name, image and likeness rules by January to take effect by the 2021-22 academic year.
Some Sports May Have to Skip This Year, Dr. Anthony Fauci Says
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the leading public health expert on President Trump's coronavirus task force, said this week that it might be very difficult for major sports in the United States to return to action this year. Various leagues have considered a number of options for restarting play that came to a halt in mid-March, as the extent of the coronavirus outbreak became increasingly apparent. A key variable, Dr. Fauci said in an interview on Tuesday, will be whether the country can gain broad access to testing that quickly yields results. He said that manufacturers had made strides in developing such tests, but not enough for major sports competitions to resume. "Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything," he said. "If you can't guarantee safety, then unfortunately you're going to have to bite the bullet and say, 'We may have to go without this sport for this season.'" Dr. Fauci's remarks came as Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and other leagues were scrambling to find ways to safely bring their players together to train and to play games, with or without fans in the seats.

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