Thursday, September 24, 2020   
Why do some hurricanes stall, and why is that so hard to forecast?
Kimberly Wood, an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University, writes for The Conversation: A lot can go wrong when hurricanes stall. Their destructive winds last longer. The storm surge can stay high. And the rain keeps falling. During Hurricane Sally, Naval Air Station Pensacola reported more than 24 inches of rain as the storm's forward movement slowed to walking speed along the coast. We saw similar effects when the decaying Hurricane Harvey sat over Houston for four days in 2017 and dropped up to 60 inches of rain in some areas -- that's 5 feet! Hurricane Dorian slowed to 1 mile per hour in 2019 as its winds and rain battered the Bahamas for two days. Post-Tropical Storm Beta was the latest stalling storm, flooding streets in Houston as it slowly crept up the Texas coast and eventually moved into Louisiana. Research shows that stalling has become more common for tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic since the mid-20th century and that their average forward speed has also slowed. So, why does this happen?
Want the youth vote? Some college students are still up for grabs in November
Christa Winkler, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Mississippi State University, joins with colleagues to write for The Conversation: College students are a rapidly growing and increasingly coveted voting bloc. Twice as many college students voted in the 2018 midterms as did in 2014, challenging the stereotype that young people are politically disengaged. According to the Knight Foundation, 71% of college students are expected to vote this November. Both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are courting them, in different ways. Trump and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, are trying to win the support of students with new religious freedom and freedom of speech assurances. Meanwhile, Biden is promising to enact tuition-free college and forgive US$10,000 in student loans for all borrowers if elected. There are over 14 million college students in the United States, which has about 235 million eligible voters. ... As with any large and diverse group, some students are more likely to vote than others. So which young people are actually up for grabs?
Starkville bars battle through the pandemic
The coronavirus hit many businesses hard during the pandemic. In many places, health guidelines put a target on bars which has impacted their revenue. Eulalio Mendoza is the manager of Drifters Bar and Grill in Starkville where he says the nightlife has changed dramatically. "There's just not a lot of people out anymore and usually in football season you can't get people off the streets here," says Mendoza. The dwindled nightlife has brought tough times to the bar according to Mendoza. "The money that was here a year ago is not even remotely close to what it is now," says the manager. "Everyone has been suffering a little bit." When Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves opened up more businesses, Drifters slowly saw its customers returning to the bar but patrons must follow new guidelines to receive their drinks. "In the Cotton District it's a lot different because usually it's completely packed on game days and it's what you want to see in a college town," Mendoza explains. "Not being able to see that really puts a damper on football season."
Local students have voice in education policy
Amy Zhang doesn't quite know what to expect from her first State Board of Education meeting today, she said. The junior at Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science has been going through training and watching videos from previous board meetings to prepare herself to be the latest student representative, a non-voting member of the board providing input on the board's policy decisions that affect every public school student in the state. "I'm just looking forward to experiencing my first meeting and learning about the board of education and the different policies they'll be discussing, and I'm excited to hear the other board members' opinions," said Zhang, a Starkville native. The board selected its first student representatives, one junior and one senior, last year, and appointees serve until they graduate from high school. Last year's junior representative, Omar Jamil of Hernando, is now the senior representative. Zhang is one of four area students so far with a voice at the state level of education policy. Christian Dunne, also a junior from Starkville, was appointed Zhang's alternate representative in case she is unable to finish her term. The council of students from all over the state offers advice and opinions to state superintendent Carey Wright and serves as liaisons between the Mississippi Department of Education and their fellow students, a role they share with the student representatives on the state board.
Tupelo asks state agency for money to go toward arena expansion project
City officials this week formally asked a state agency to award the city of Tupelo half a million dollars in state bond proceeds to help with current renovation efforts at the BancorpSouth Arena. The Tupelo City Council on Tuesday afternoon unanimously approved a resolution asking the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration to send city leaders the bonded money for the arena improvements. This past legislative session, state lawmakers passed House Bill 1730, which allocated $500,000 to go toward the renovation efforts at the BancorpSouth Arena and other projects around the state. The arena, which is one of the few city-owned arenas in the state, is currently undergoing a $15 million renovation to expand the conference center and modernize some portions of the arena. Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton said that even though the Legislature had already approved for the funds to go toward the arena renovations, the city still has to technically request that DFA send the money to the city. Shelton said even though the money will benefit the city, people from all over the region utilize the arena and its conference center.
MDA: Adranos bringing rocket motor research and development to Stone County
Solid rocket fuel innovator Adranos, Inc. is locating its rocket motor research and development operations in McHenry in Stone County. As a part of its relocation to Mississippi, Adranos will make a $525,000 corporate investment and plans to create 20 jobs. Adranos is locating at the 640-acre, seven-building complex formerly occupied by General Dynamics. The site's primary advantages are its proximity to Stennis Space Center and its compliance with all Department of Defense safety requirements for munitions handling. There, Adranos will build a rocket motor test stand so it can perform a series of tests of its next-generation rocket fuel, the first of which will occur during the summer of 2021. "South Mississippi's workforce is second-to-none and plays a critical role in the region's efforts to explore the depths of outer space, and now 20 more of the area's residents will have the opportunity to be an active part of this important mission," said MDA Interim Director John Rounsaville. "We are grateful to the Stone County Economic Development Partnership and Cooperative Energy for their support of this company. As a result of their teamwork, new jobs and investment are being realized in Stone County and beyond as Adranos prepares to ramp up production of its state-of-the-art rocket fuel."
Campaigning begins for the In God We Trust flag
What will be the state's next flag? A lot of votes and steps have already been taken. But the next step is at the polls. Think of the In God We Trust flag as the candidate and Mississippi's business leaders are now working to organize a campaign of sorts. "Making sure people understand that, 'Hey, the vote is on November 3 and this particular event is at the very bottom of the ballot,'" said Mississippi Economic Council President and CEO Scott Waller. "There's a lot of other things on the ballot above it but get to the bottom of ballot and cast your vote." The Mississippi Economic Council and Alliance for Mississippi's Future are teaming up for the campaign. They've created where people can learn more about the design and make a donation to the campaign to receive items like a yard sign, car tag, decal or facemasks. They've studied the topic for years now and believe it's important folks know what's at stake."I think the future really lies in getting this symbol flying so that represents Mississippi in a symbol that will let other businesses know that look, this is a new day, a new opportunity in citizens of Mississippi are ready and welcoming to start moving forward," added Waller.
Mississippi governor: Don't let politics hinder virus vaccination
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on Wednesday praised the Trump administration's efforts to make a coronavirus vaccine available to the public in the next few months and asked residents not to allow political divisions to stop them from getting vaccinated when the time comes. "If you are anti-Trump, don't let this stop you from getting a vaccine," Republican Reeves said during a press briefing Wednesday. Reeves has raised concerns about the politicization of the pandemic from Republicans and Democrats multiple times in recent weeks. He said Wednesday that politics, particularly from politicians on the left who dislike Trump, is "infecting" the scientific process of work on a vaccine. Earlier that day, at least one Senate Democrat accused Trump of trying to rush the work of scientists and public health experts to get them to have a vaccine ready before election day in early November and bump up his approval ratings. Trump has repeatedly said a vaccine could become available before November, despite scientists' statements that one isn't likely to be completed until at least the new year.
Gov. Tate Reeves plans to get COVID-19 vaccine. 'If you're anti-Trump, don't let it stop you.'
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Wednesday that he plans to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it is made available, decrying the growing political debate over the matter. The Republican governor held a press conference Wednesday after having talks with the White House Coronavirus Task Force. "They asked me to relay the overwhelming confidence of President Trump and the team in the vaccination process," Reeves said. "Politics are infecting this, and some on the left are involved," Reeves said. "We can't let that cloud the experience. The Coronavirus Task Force met with governors and walked us through the endless checks and balances (in the vaccine process)." Earlier Wednesday, at least one Senate Democrat accused Trump of trying to rush the work of scientists and public health experts to get them to have a vaccine ready before election day in early November and bump up his approval ratings, the Associated Press reported. Mississippi's top health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Wednesday he expects a vaccine won't be made available to the general public until well into 2021. "We do anticipate in the first part of 2021 there will likely be some vaccine available to us," Dobbs said.
Mississippi reports 737 new COVID-19 cases, 4 deaths
The Mississippi State Department of Health on Thursday reported 737 additional cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths. Marshall County in Northeast Mississippi reported one additional death. The statewide total number of cases since March 11 now stands at 95,310, with 2,874 total deaths. Around 85,327 people are estimated to have recovered from the virus as of September 20. All counties in the Daily Journal's coverage area reported additional cases. The additional case counts are: Alcorn (5), Benton (2), Calhoun (5), Chickasaw (3), Clay (4), Itawamba (7), Lafayette (17), Lee (29), Marshall (7), Monroe (14), Oktibbeha (10), Pontotoc (10), Prentiss (10), Tippah (11), Tishomingo (5) and Union (5).
ABC Study Committee wraps up testimony with report to Legislature due in November
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Study Committee finished its second day of hearings Tuesday and restaurant owners want changes to the way the ABC conducts business. While they said they're largely satisfied with the control state model in Mississippi where the state acts as the wholesale distributor for spirits and wine, they'd like changes to the online ordering system such as more options for split cases and would like the pace of deliveries to return to pre-COVID efficiency. They also have problems with how the DOR delists items from its warehouse inventory, which the agency does twice annually. They also have problems with the DOR's transition to a new shipping company, which they say make deliveries during peak business hours and are rough with product. John Bean is the president and CEO of the Eat with US, a Columbus-based restaurant ownership group that owns Harveys, The Grill, Sweet Peppers Deli and the Bulldog Burger Company. "Pre-COVID, I'd say operations were very good, organized, consistent and reliable," Bean said. "But since COVID, and I recognize that everybody's supply chain, labor issues have been disruptive, but it has been a challenge. Concerning the TAP (Taxpayer Access Portal) system, our managers have learned to navigate it, but a more friendly and simple system would improve the accuracy of orders and cut down on mistakes."
Mississippi Could Lose Billions Amid Trailing Census Response as Sept. 30 Deadline Nears
Mississippi schools, cities and families stand to lose millions in federal funds if enough residents do not respond to the 2020 Census by the Sept. 30 deadline. U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker warned in a statement earlier this month that the state was "lagging well behind the national response rate." "I would ask every Mississippian to make sure they have completed the census before time runs out. This is a civic obligation just like voting or performing jury duty," Wicker said on Sept. 11. Mississippians can complete the census survey in minutes online at, by calling 844-330-2020 or by returning a survey they should have received in the spring with a postage-paid return envelope. In a page dedicated to the census on its website, the Mississippi Department of Education warns that "students could lose access to critical programs and services" if they are undercounted. Census data is used to allocate funds for education generally, but also for special-education grants, the National School Lunch Program, child care grants and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Wicker noted that the census could prove especially important for Mississippians amid the continually unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Tate Reeves' inaugural nonprofit has dissolved. Where did the money go?
Less than a year after soliciting thousands of dollars from secret donors, the nonprofit that paid for the inauguration of Gov. Tate Reeves has dissolved -- and it's unclear where its funds went. The Reeves campaign formed a 501(c)4 nonprofit in called For All Mississippi, days after winning the race for governor in November. For All Mississippi dissolved in August, and it's unclear how much money the nonprofit raised. For All Mississippi's filing documents show it was created for a political purpose -- the 2020 inauguration of Reeves and his transition to office -- but nonprofits are shielded from the normal disclosure laws for political organizations. There is no contribution cap. There is no public disclosure of donors. There is no public accounting of how the money was spent. Spokespeople for Reeves and the treasurer of the For All Mississippi did not respond to multiple requests for comment. When asked at a Wednesday press conference about any leftover funds the nonprofit could have, Reeves said he would look into the matter.
What is Mississippi getting for $350 million a year in workforce development? Leaders vow to find out.
Mississippi spends roughly $350 million in state and federal funds on workforce development and training each year, a new budget report drafted for the first time this year revealed. But for all the celebration of the state's advancement in the workforce over the last few years, newly elected leaders are finding little more than smoke and mirrors. They're questioning what the state has really accomplished with the money as its workforce participation rate remains among the worst in the nation. "We didn't have the structure to start with," Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann told Mississippi Today. "Like, how are we training? Are we doing it in schools? How is that going? Are the community colleges meeting the needs? Where are they not meeting the needs? Is everything running as smoothly as it should?" Hosemann said state economic experts estimate about 40,000 Mississippians who lost employment during the pandemic will not return to the jobs they had before. "We have an immediacy to act here," Hosemann said.
Rep. Bennie Thompson calls Breonna Taylor decision 'incomplete justice,' says system 'must be changed'
Representative Bennie Thompson is calling the decision to indict one officer in the death of Breonna Taylor "incomplete justice." "We waited 6 months for incomplete justice. The system must be changed," Thompson wrote on Twitter minutes after the decision was announced while linking to an Associated Press article regarding the findings. Wednesday it was announced that a Kentucky grand jury would not move forward with charges against any officers for their role in Taylor's death. One officer, Brett Hankison, has been charged with three counts of wanton endangerment. According to Kentucky's Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the officers who went to Taylor's apartment knocked before entering and did not use a no-knock warrant. Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, had been asleep at the time but both got out of bed when the knocking occurred. Walker would later tell police that he did hear the knocking but did not know who was coming in so he grabbed a gun. Walker would then shoot at police, hitting one officer in the thigh. Police would return fire with Taylor being shot six times. "According to Kentucky law, the use of force by (Officers Jonathan Mattingly and (Myles) Cosgrove was justified to protect themselves," Cameron said. "This justification bars us from pursuing criminal charges in Miss Breonna Taylor's death."
Acting DHS secretary: White supremacy is 'most persistent and lethal threat' internally to US
Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Wednesday during his confirmation hearing that white supremacists have become the "most persistent and lethal" internal "threat" to the U.S. "White supremacist extremists, from a lethality standpoint over the last two years, particularly when you look at 2018 and 2019, are certainly the most persistent and lethal threat when we talk about domestic violent extremists," said Wolf, who has been heading the DHS in an acting capacity since November. The Senate committee hearing came just a few weeks after a whistleblower, Brian Murphy, who served as an undersecretary in the Homeland Security Department's intelligence office, said Wolf told him to squash information regarding the threat of white supremacy and assessments of Russian interference in the U.S. election to better fit President Donald Trump's agenda. Wolf denied this during his confirmation hearing, calling allegations of modifying such intelligence conclusions for political purposes "patently false" and a "fabrication." Wolf additionally told senators the country faces threats of election interference from Russia, China and Iran.
President Trump won't commit to peaceful transfer of power if he loses
President Donald Trump again declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the Nov. 3 presidential election. "We're going to have to see what happens," Trump said Wednesday at a news conference, responding to a question about whether he'd commit to a peaceful transfer of power. "You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster." It is highly unusual that a sitting president would express less than complete confidence in the American democracy's electoral process. But he also declined four years ago to commit to honoring the election results if his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, won. His current Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, was asked about Trump's comment after landing in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday night. "What country are we in?" Biden asked incredulously, adding: "I'm being facetious. Look, he says the most irrational things. I don't know what to say about it. But it doesn't surprise me."
President Trump says he would accept Supreme Court election ruling after declining to commit to peaceful transfer
President Trump on Thursday said he would accept a hypothetical Supreme Court ruling declaring Democratic nominee Joe Biden the winner in November's election, a small concession as Republicans rebuked his refusal a day earlier to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. Trump appeared on Brian Kilmeade's Fox News Radio show, where the host sought to smooth over the president's comments late Wednesday, which caused an uproar. "Oh that I would agree with," Trump said when Kilmeade suggested that Trump would accept a Supreme Court ruling declaring the outcome of a contested election. But the president immediately began casting doubt on the result. Experts have noted that any election disputes would have to go through lower courts and may not even reach the Supreme Court. But Trump has in recent days argued his forthcoming nominee for the court should be confirmed quickly so they can help decide a contested election. Trump's repeated attacks on the integrity of the election have raised alarms among lawmakers and watchdogs. He escalated his rhetoric late Wednesday when asked if he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
Republican Leaders Reject Trump Hedging On Transfer Of Power Amid War Over Confidence
No votes have been counted in the election of 2020 but a battle already is raging over the integrity of the tally and the process that will follow. President Trump suggested he might not accept the election results if Democratic nominee Joe Biden is declared the winner. Shortly after his remarks, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, tweeted his vehement disapproval: "Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus. Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable." Other top Republicans followed suit Thursday morning. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wrote: "There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792." The third-ranking House Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., also shared her rejection of Trump's remarks, writing, "The peaceful transfer of power is enshrined in our Constitution and fundamental to the survival of our Republic. America's leaders swear an oath to the Constitution. We will uphold that oath."
Appellate Judge Amy Coney Barrett's record in Chicago could be focus if Trump nominates her to replace Ginsburg
When Amy Coney Barrett last appeared on President Donald Trump's shortlist of Supreme Court nominees, she was only months into her first turn as a judge on Chicago's 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and had a very slim record of rulings. This time, as she finds herself a front-runner to be nominated for the seat vacated with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Barrett, a favorite of social conservatives, brings to the national spotlight more than 100 written opinions and dissents authored over the past 2 1/2 years. They range from writings on mundane issues to lengthy dissents on hot-button topics including gun control and immigration. Those rulings -- along with her role in an abortion-related case in 2018 -- are sure to be scrutinized closely in what would clearly be a fiercely contested confirmation process should Barrett earn the president's nomination. Barrett, who turned 48 in January, would be the youngest jurist on the Supreme Court and could shape the country's legal direction for decades to come. A devout Roman Catholic and mother of seven, Barrett considers herself a public meaning originalist who applies the intent of the authors of the Constitution or governing laws at the time they were written when trying to discern whether someone's rights have been violated.
Young adults are now the largest group of Americans getting COVID-19, CDC says
The longer the COVID-19 pandemic goes on, the younger its victims get. A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the median age of people with COVID-19 in the U.S. has declined over the spring and summer, with Americans in their 20s now accounting for more cases than people in any other age group. The findings suggest that if the U.S. wants to get its coronavirus outbreak under control, it will need more cooperation from young adults. Over time, these infections in younger adults appeared to spread to older, more vulnerable adults in certain parts of the country, the researchers wrote. In the Southeastern U.S., an increase in the test positivity rate for people in their 20s and 30s was followed nine days later by an increase in the positivity rate for people in their 40s and 50s. Six days after that, people ages 60 and up had a higher positivity rate as well. The findings underscore the need for health officials to target younger adults with "age-appropriate prevention messages" about the importance of preventing COVID-19 spread, the study authors wrote.
Ole Miss researchers working on a coronavrius treatment
Researchers at the University of Mississippi are developing a treatment that could prevent the coronavirus. Dr. Joshua Sharp, one of the researchers from the School of Pharmacy said the treatment would be a nasal spray. The spray would be prescribed by a doctor and self-administered. Dr. Sharp hopes a daily dose would prevent people from getting the coronavirus. Especially those who aren't showing symptoms. "This has impacted how we live our daily lives so the idea that we can actually try to get people back to something closer to normal, you know it's a real motivating force," he said. He believes the nasal spray should stop the virus before it infects people. "We think if we can apply this nasal spray, it will keep the virus from being able to find purchase on those cells in your nasal cavity," he said. "Then the virus will cruise on along to your stomach and be digested with everything else you breathe in." The team hopes they can start clinical trials soon.
University unveils results of climate survey, makes plans for future
Last week, the university released the results of the campus climate survey that kicked off in February 2019 after former Chancellor Jeffery Vitter resigned, Ed Meek's name was removed from the journalism school and university professors published the UM Race Diary Project. The university now plans to hold forums on Sept. 29 and 30 with specific groups of campus constituents to discuss plans to utilize the survey results on campus. Most of the survey findings were consistent with the campus climate surveys that Rankin & Associates has conducted at 220 other universities. Sue Rankin, of Rankin & Associates, said that the survey's information has to be "taken with a grain of salt" because Rankin & Associates is the only company with a data set on campus climates. "We think you should use this as your baseline," Rankin said. "You can use this as a benchmark for yourself because a lot of the institutions in our project are not the University of Mississippi. They (don't have) the same contextual, political (and) social things that you're dealing with compared to say, New York University or the University of Washington."
Auditor Subpoenas 'Strike' Prof's Emails, But Statute At Center of Controversy May Not Apply
Lafayette County court documents show that State Auditor Shad White issued a Sept. 18 subpoena to the University of Mississippi commanding the school to produce emails that Professor James Thomas sent from or received through his university email address. The subpoena, which the Mississippi Free Press found in the courthouse today, also demands Thomas' 2020 class schedule, rosters from every class he is teaching during the fall 2020 semester, copies of all materials Thomas has uploaded to Blackboard for those courses, and any communications to or from Thomas via Blackboard. On Sept. 14, White wrote a letter to University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce recommending that the university terminate and recoup two days' pay from Thomas, an associate professor of sociology who tweeted that he was participating in a teach-in event called Scholar Strike. The state auditor contends that Thomas engaged in an employment strike, which is illegal for public employees in the Magnolia State. Logan Reeves, spokesman for the Mississippi Office of The State Auditor, told the Mississippi Free Press yesterday that he was unaware of a formal response to date from UM, but added, "Our position is that the law is very clear what must take place next."
Coronavirus in Mississippi: Free Southern Miss course offers insights from experts
The University of Southern Mississippi is offering a free course to help the public understand the coronavirus pandemic. "Understanding the Pandemic: a Short Course Presented by USM Faculty Experts" explores the virus that causes COVID-19 and related pandemic topics. The multi-part course, according to a USM news release, contains six modules --- the history of pandemics; social and economic impact of pandemics; coronavirus and epidemiology; spread, prevention and treatment; vaccines; and personal health and wellness in a pandemic. The course was the brainchild of Douglas Masterson, senior associate provost for Institutional Effectiveness and professor of chemistry and biochemistry. As COVID-19 spread, Masterson realized there was public misinformation and misunderstanding -- not only about the novel coronavirus' immediate impact but about the history of pandemics in general, the news release said. His concern led to a conversation with Karen Coats, dean of USM's graduate school and professor of cell and molecular biology. The two recruited fellow faculty to create the course.
William Carey breaks school record for fall enrollment
William Carey University set an all-time school record for fall enrollment this year with 5,260 students, a 3.3% increase from last year. "In spite of the uncertainty that surrounds the COVID-19 pandemic, William Carey continues to offer strong programs that attract increasing numbers of students," said WCU President Dr. Tommy King in a news release. The School of Education, the Winters School of Music and the College of Health and Sciences all set new high marks for enrollment in its programs. With more than 1,700 students this semester, the School of Education saw an enrollment increase of 35% from last year, as well as a 50% increase in undergraduate students. The Winters School of Music reached its highest enrollment with 185 students, and the College of Health and Sciences set a record with 1,052 students. William Carey also saw a record enrollment for the summer semester this year.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College cuts the ribbon on new student union, breaks ground on new arena
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is expanding and it has educators, students and administrators at the college excited. A ribbon cutting and a ground breaking were held Wednesday for two different multi-million dollar facilities on the college's Perkinston campus. The ribbon was cut for the new student union and cafeteria. The $8 million student union can welcome up to 400 people in the public dining area and will give students new options each day on campus. But campus leaders plan to use it for a lot more. "We just have not had that space in the past in our dining facility," said MGCCC President Dr. Mary Graham. "So it opens the door, not only to do things in our college community, but to do things for our local community." The new student union isn't the only expansion project taking a step forward. Shortly after the ribbon cutting ceremony there, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for MGCCC's new multipurpose arena. The sheer number of expansion projects has student athletes smiling. "They have been really receptive, really excited about that," said MGCCC Athletic Director Steven Campbell. "So they see all the new cafeteria, the new dorms going online, and now we get a new basketball arena to add to the puzzle."
U. of Alabama's Paul W. Bryant Museum re-opens after six-month closure
After closing for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Paul W. Bryant Museum, 300 Bryant Drive on the University of Alabama campus, directly across from Coleman Coliseum, will reopen at 9 a.m. Thursday. Named for legendary Paul William "Bear" Bryant, longtime UA football coach and athletic director, the museum houses exhibits from decades of champions, archival materials about UA sports, and paraphernalia dating back to UA's first gridiron team, in 1892. Like the rest of UA, the Bryant Museum shut down back in mid-March, during spring break. "It seems like forever," said Ken Gaddy, director of the museum. Since staff got the go-ahead last week, they've been cleaning and triple cleaning, he said, and putting signage up on floors to indicate proper distancing. All patrons will be expected to wear masks at all times, and purchase timed tickets, in advance. Most standard displays remain the same, though there is one old-new exhibit, on sports and tobacco, how athletes were once used to sell cigarettes.
Auburn Panhellenic earns national excellence award
The Auburn University Panhellenic Council was awarded the 2020 National Panhellenic Conference's Excellence Award last month on Aug. 10 for its national merit as a College Panhellenic Association. Auburn Panhellenic has won this award once before in 2017. "The NPC Excellence Award is granted to College Panhellenic Associations that demonstrate outstanding contributions in the following categories: academic innovation, community impact, judicial procedure, leadership, marketing, programming, and recruitment," said Madison Birckhead, president of Auburn Panhellenic. "For perspective, NPC sororities are located on more than 670 campuses internationally." The Auburn Panhellenic Council was founded 91 years ago in 1929. Since then, Auburn has "served as a voice, an advocate, a resource, and a community for women on Auburn's campus", according to the website. Auburn University hosts 18 Greek chapters under the Panhellenic association.
At LSU, White House coronavirus leader Deborah Birx urges people to keep wearing masks and distancing | Education |
Louisiana's efforts to fight the coronavirus -- particularly mask-wearing and social distancing -- are saving lives, a top White House health official said during a visit to LSU Wednesday. Birx, a renowned infectious disease doctor who reports to Vice President Mike Pence on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, met with LSU leaders and Gov. John Bel Edwards for a series of morning roundtables to discuss how the school and state are managing the virus, as well as to gather information on what steps the nation's colleges are taking. Birx said there is evidence Edward's order requiring masks in public places has driven down new cases since it went into effect in July. "Louisiana made changes that saved people's lives," she said. "We've learned from Louisiana that masks work." Wednesday's meeting came weeks after students returned to LSU and other colleges and ahead of the start of the SEC football season this weekend. Attendance will be capped at 25% inside Tiger Stadium and no tailgating is allowed outside.
UGA COVID infections trending downward, university reports
COVID-19 infections at the University of Georgia declined for the second week in a row, the university reported Wednesday. UGA's DawgCheck system listed a total of 163 positives, including 153 students, 10 staff member and no faculty members. Last week, UGA reported 446 positive tests, including 404 students, 16 staff and one faculty member. UGA meanwhile is listing higher numbers from earlier weeks than what was originally reported. For the week ending Sept. 13, UGA originally reported 421 and now lists the figure as 446; the week prior to that, UGA originally listed 1,412 positives but now lists 1,500. "These figures may vary slightly from week to week as data are continually updated," according to the University Health Center website. "Obviously, this downward trend is what you want to see," said Dr. Garth Russo, executive director of the University Health Center, in a press release. "It demonstrates that the decrease we saw last week was not an anomaly: quite the contrary, even more individuals were tested, yet our numbers continued to decline. We must continue to work together to maintain this momentum and flatten the curve. Now is not the time to relax on best practices."
U. of Florida starts COVID-19 saliva tests
The University of Florida has begun rolling out a recently-approved COVID-19 saliva test for students and faculty that officials say will largely replace the standard -- and uncomfortable -- nasal swab. According to UF Health officials, roughly 600 members of the university community have been tested since the saliva tests were launched last Saturday at a testing site at Broward Hall. The tests provides students with an easier and less-invasive option than the nose swab, said Dr. Michael Lauzardo, from UF's Emerging Pathogens Institute and director of Screen, Test & Protect. The method, commonly referred to as a spit test, will be expanded across UF testing sites in the coming weeks to replace the nasal swab -- which is inserted deep into the nasal cavity and can be considered uncomfortable. In trials by UF Health teams to measure the method's accuracy, Lauzardo said the saliva test results nearly identically matched results from the nasal swabs. The tests are derived from a Yale University and FDA-approved protocol, and tested independently at UF labs.
Fall commencement at U. of Florida to be virtual
Fall commencement will be virtual at the University of Florida this year, following an order from the state to scrap in-person graduation ceremonies. Wednesday, the state university system that oversees UF and Florida's public universities said schools must find an "alternative schedule or method" for commencement this fall, citing concerns around large gatherings. "While we understand the disappointment this may cause, universities were creative in their spring and summer commencement festivities, and each of them found ways to celebrate their graduates and their achievements. We are confident that the fall graduates will be equally celebrated," the state's announcement said. Both of UF's spring and summer commencement were held virtually this year, after the state issued similar orders in March and June.
U. of Missouri lands USDA grant for energy audits
The University of Missouri is the recipient of a $98,195 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to conduct energy audits for agriculture producers and rural small businesses throughout Missouri. It is among the $1.7 million in grants awarded Wednesday to rural Missouri farmers, agriculture producers and businesses to outfit their operations with renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. USDA is investing in 75 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Missouri through the Rural Energy for America Program. Recipients can use the funding for needs including conducting energy audits, installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency improvements.
Reports allege Texas A&M students drugged, sexually assaulted off campus
Texas A&M University's Title IX Office has received anonymous reports that allege students are being incapacitated with a drug and then sexually assaulted. The reports concern off-campus behaviors related to the use of incapacitating agents such as rohypnol, ketamine, GHB or large amounts of alcohol, according to a weekend email that Chief Risk, Ethics, and Compliance Officer Kevin McGinnis sent to faculty, staff and students. Officials are in the early stages of responding to the allegations, Assistant Vice President of Compliance & Title IX Officer Jennifer Smith said via email this week. "We sent the notice because we felt it was important to make our campus community aware of the reports," she said. The email said law enforcement is looking into the situation. A&M University Police Department officials said Wednesday that the Title IX Office received "several" anonymous complaints to which the department is providing assistance.
Texas A&M hires search firm to find next president
Texas A&M has hired the search firm Isaacson, Miller to find its next president, the university announced Wednesday. "Finding new leadership for Texas A&M University is my top priority," said John Sharp, the A&M System chancellor, in a statement. "Texas A&M is an exceptional place. Texas A&M demands exceptional leadership. "Texas A&M needs someone who understands the importance of maintaining the unique culture and traditions that make Aggies so successful after earning their degrees." Current A&M President Michael K. Young announced earlier this month he will be retiring at the end of May. Young will transition to teaching at A&M and will become the first director of the Institute for Religious Liberties and International Affairs at the George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service. Sharp said he plans to have a new president hired before Young's retirement. Isaacson, Miller is the largest higher education executive search firm in the country.
Undergraduate enrollment falls by 2.5 percent, community college enrollment by 7.5 percent
Undergraduate enrollments are down 2.5 percent compared to last fall, with the biggest losses being at community colleges, where enrollments declined by 7.5 percent, according to preliminary data on fall enrollments from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Although the enrollment declines were steepest at community colleges, undergraduate enrollment fell at all types of colleges, including private nonprofit four-year colleges (-3.8 percent) and private for-profit four-year colleges (-1.9 percent). The decline was more modest at public four-year colleges (-0.4 percent), although there were differences across public four-year institutions according to location, with rural institutions seeing the biggest decline (-4 percent) and urban institutions seeing slight gains (+0.5 percent). Doug Shapiro, executive director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, said that while the overall undergraduate enrollment decline was lower than many had projected during the pandemic, the results are extremely concerning for community colleges and the many low-income students they serve.
A First Look at Fall Enrollment Shows a 2.5% Dip Among Undergraduates
How have college enrollments fared in the middle of a pandemic? A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, released on Thursday, provides an early look, with data showing a 2.5-percent dip in undergraduate attendance this fall. The preliminary data, which reflect enrollments as of September 10, reveal that undergraduate enrollments at all types of institutions have declined, compared with the same time last fall. Community colleges fared the worst, with a decline of 7.5 percent. The drop in undergraduate enrollment also played out across all demographic groups -- and among international students in particular -- and in some states more than others. The center's enrollment results are based on 3.6 million students at 629 colleges, nearly 22 percent of the institutions that report to the organization. The data will be updated monthly throughout the fall as more colleges report their enrollments. The research center reported a bright spot in this fall's enrollment patterns as well. Enrollment for graduate students overall was up 3.9 percent, despite a decline in international students.
HBCUs experiencing better student compliance with pandemic restrictions than other institutions
University and college administrators are clearly having a tough time monitoring the daily activities of students during the pandemic, much less controlling their risky behaviors on weekends. This was evident in the parties and other gatherings widely documented on social media during Labor Day weekend and the subsequent spikes in COVID-19 outbreaks on campuses across the country. This was not the case at North Carolina A&T State University, a historically Black institution where, in a first, classes were held on Labor Day. "We held classes to discourage our students from going anywhere," Todd Simmons, associate vice chancellor for university relations, said matter-of-factly -- and unapologetically. The plan appears to have worked. NCA&T had no reported large student gatherings or parties during that time. And after scouring various social media sites, campus officials determined students were largely compliant with a raft of public health rules being strictly enforced on and off the Greensboro campus. NCA&T, like the majority of other historically Black colleges and universities, is very protective of its students. HBCUs tend to have stricter social rules than most other colleges and often exert more control over student behavior -- administrators refer to it as "more hands-on guidance."
COVID-19 Brings New Uncertainty for Schools at All Levels
The coronavirus pandemic has radically reshaped higher education. From admission to graduation, no aspect of the college experience remains unchanged, and the disruptions are far from over. How institutions and students will manage this year is uncertain, and the survival of some schools is in doubt. Many campuses began to reopen in August, only to close a few weeks later following outbreaks of the virus, leaving students caught in a web of obstacles to obtaining a postsecondary degree, from increased financial stress to growing mental health concerns. These challenges come at a time when education, retraining and retooling are more important than ever. Postsecondary institutions' response to the crisis will dramatically affect the economic recovery, and state legislators and policymakers have an important role to play in that effort. Even before the pandemic, public institutions were challenged by reductions in state funding. Budget cuts during the Great Recession significantly reduced higher education spending. Between 2008 and 2018, states spent an average of 13% less per student, after adjusting for inflation. While some states have worked to reduce these cuts over the past seven years, overall funding levels in 2019 remained 8.7% lower than pre-recession spending when adjusted for inflation.

Take It Easy: A history of the air raid and how it functions in its simplicity
Hal Mumme is among the architects of the modern passing game. The Don Corleone of aerial assaults. The Godfather of the air raid offense. He designed the air raid in the mid-1980s as the head coach at Copperas Cove High School in Texas, before bringing it to Valdosta State, Kentucky, New Mexico State and more. Imparted to the wider college football world at Texas Tech, Washington State and now, Mississippi State by Mumme's former assistant, Mike Leach, the offense has long been lauded for its simplicity. The root? The Eagles. Listening to co-lead singer Don Henley run through his roster of talent, Joe Walsh on guitar, Glenn Frey on vocals, and on, Mumme identified with Henley's characterization of letting the artists rely on their natural talents. "I was listening to (Henley) being interviewed, and they asked them how they became the best and he said, 'Well, we had a great capacity for boredom,'" Mumme recounted. "So I started using (that line) with our teams starting probably in the early '90s, but (the air raid) is just that way," he continued. "(The players) just get so good and so instinctive that whatever their God-given abilities are, we're not taking any of that away by creating doubt or creating confusion."
Ticket prices for LSU-Mississippi State more than triple 2019 opener
Securing a seat at LSU football's opener will cost a bit more than recent years. The average price to be one of the 25,000 allowed in the building when the Tigers face Mississippi State was $243 as of Wednesday, according to Ticket IQ, which tracks sales data across secondary markets. But a large number of tickets were still available across resellers including StubHub, Seatgeek and VividSeats for as low as $61. Two tickets 16 rows back from the LSU benches were listed at $4,800 each, but the majority available in the lower sections fell somewhere between $130 and $400. In all, the ticket sales for Saturday's game mark a 247% increase from the Tigers' opener a year ago, which averaged $70 per ticket. There are a few obvious reasons for increased costs, the first being the coronavirus pandemic prompting officials to limit Tiger Stadium's capacity to 25% and creating a relative scarcity of tickets available for purchase. The matchup is also significant.
How does LSU beat Mississippi State? Keys include pressure K.J. Costello and win the run game
College football season has finally arrived. As LSU begins its title defense Saturday, the Tigers host Mississippi State in the first weekend of the Southeastern Conference's 10-game, league-only schedule. New Mississippi State coach Mike Leach's Air Raid offense relies on throwing the football -- Leach's offenses averaged about 5,000 yards passing at Washington State -- so LSU needs its defensive backs to lock down the wide receivers. Though sophomore Derek Stingley Jr. returned as one of the best cornerbacks in college football, LSU will break in two new starters during the season opener: sophomore nickel corner Cordale Flott and freshman corner Elias Ricks. Offensive linemen take wider splits in the Air Raid, pushing defensive ends further from the quarterback. The spacing makes it harder to create pressure, especially with how quickly quarterbacks release the ball in the scheme. If LSU can pressure grad transfer K.J. Costello, his passer rating dropped from 103.2 to 18.3 when under pressure last year. He also threw an interception in eight of the 10 games he lost at Stanford.
Mississippi State soccer looks to rebound against Alabama
The Mississippi State soccer team is looking to rebound from an overtime tie in its season opener. Mississippi State will play its first home game of the season on Friday against Alabama (1-0) at 6 p.m. It will be broadcast on the SEC Network. The Bulldogs (0-0-1) opened the season last week and tied with Auburn, 1-1, after regulation and extra time. Alabama cruised in its first game of the season and beat Tennessee, 3-1. "They're a veteran team and they have a ton of returners," MSU head coach James Armstrong said of Alabama. "They have a lot of talent and they're deep. They're pretty consistent across all their lines and they're well coached. They can pose a threat, for sure." To be able to compete against Alabama, Mississippi State is going to have to execute more on offense. In the 1-1 tie with Auburn, the Bulldogs only goal came from a Niah Johnson penalty kick despite taking 19 shots and 9 shots on goal. Armstrong said his squad needs to work on taking better shot selections going forward. He thought the Bulldogs took good shots last week, but they could have gotten a little closer to goal before taking them.
Deion Sanders is on the housing hunt. What are his best options in the Jackson area?
Coach Prime is on the housing hunt. And no surprise, the NFL Hall of Famer has an upscale list of criteria. Jackson State University football coach Deion Sanders is searching for a "secluded" place in a gated community, he said in a Tuesday night tweet. He wants something with four bedrooms on at least five acres. It's got to be move-in ready, he added, and a private lake would be a "bonus." Hundreds replied to Sanders' tweet describing his ideal crib. And the news raced around the local real estate agent community: Who would represent him? What neighborhood or suburb might the football and baseball legend land in? "It spread like wildfire," said John Mondy, owner of Millennium Realty in Flowood and a JSU alumnus. "I had four or five people text me this morning, and they (sent) the tweet. And I had already responded to it." Mondy figured Sanders might be especially keen to check out the $4 million option in Madison: 13 acres, 13,600 square-feet -- and two private lakes, when Sanders only asked for one.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey cites professor for helping season
If the SEC is able to complete a football season in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, Stella Self should be voted the conference's MVP. Most Valuable Professor. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey in recent months often has cited the advice of Self -- an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at South Carolina -- for helping him remain patient in making decisions about the season. Sankey's approach is why the SEC is scheduled to open its season Saturday while the Big Ten and Pac-12 -- which on Aug. 11 announced they wouldn't play football this fall -- are scrambling to try to begin playing in late October. Self hasn't sought the limelight, but her name has been mentioned by some media outlets. "I credit a faculty member, who never wanted to be known," Sankey said Wednesday when he spoke with reporters on a teleconference. "A biostatistician who encouraged me, provided me with a mantra, 'This is all new. So if you wait and take as much time as possible to make major decisions, we'll learn more every day. And therefore if you take that time, you'll have better information on which to base your decision.' I credit her guidance to me in mid-April."
Greg Sankey on intraconference transfers: If SEC members don't like the rule, vote to change it
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey offered a clear message to the conference's member institutions on Wednesday: If you don't like the SEC's intraconference transfer rule, then vote to change it rather than plead for a waiver. Kentucky quarterback Joey Gatewood, Tennessee offensive lineman Cade Mays and Mississippi defensive back Otis Reese are intraconference transfers seeking immediate eligibility to play this season. Because they transferred from one SEC school to another -- Gatewood transferred from Auburn, and Mays and Reese transferred from Georgia -- they must gain waivers from both the NCAA and the conference to play immediately. "It is interesting that we rely on waiver requests rather than changing rules," Sankey said on Wednesday's SEC teleconference. SEC presidents and chancellors voted in 2018 to create immediate eligibility exemptions for intraconference graduate transfers or in cases where a postseason ban comes into play. Mays, Gatewood and Reese do not fall under those exemptions. "Rule changes are always available to our membership," Sankey said. "We, as a staff, support that process."

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