Monday, October 5, 2020   
MSU, USDA Agricultural Research Service Celebrate New Partnership, 'Atlas' Supercomputer
Building on decades of successful collaborations, Mississippi State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service celebrated the new "Atlas" supercomputer Wednesday [Sept. 30] with a virtual event. With funding from the USDA-ARS, the state-of-the-art system was installed recently at MSU's High Performance Computing Collaboratory. The system contains 23,040 logical cores with 101 terabytes of total RAM, powering research advances in biocomputing, epidemiology, geospatial technology and more. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency, finding solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans every day from field to table. ARS Administrator Chavonda Jacobs-Young said the new partnership increases the computational compacity of SCINet, the organization's platform for providing scientists access to high performance computer clusters. "There is limitless potential when combining high performance computing and world-class agriculture research and development," said MSU Interim Vice President for Research and Economic Development Julie Jordan.
The Mill at MSU unveils National Register of Historic Places markers
The Mill at Mississippi State now has two markers at its main entrances signaling the building's designation on the National Register of Historic Places. Officials from the university and the National Park Service were on hand to unveil the new plaques Sept. 30. The repurposed building has been listed on the registry since 1975. "Each time I step into this historic building, it is a pleasure to know our university and community have worked to preserve a special piece of history that is now being utilized as an economic development hub as we lead into the future," said MSU President Mark E. Keenum, who also serves on the board of trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The historic John M. Stone Cotton Mill, formerly known as Mississippi State's E.E. Cooley Building, began its transformation into a state-of-the-art conference and meeting complex with a 2014 groundbreaking. During ceremonies to celebrate its opening, Keenum emphasized that what is good for Starkville and Oktibbeha County is good for Mississippi State University and vice-versa.
46th MMA Bi-State reopens at Meridian museum
If you missed it the first time, now's your chance to view the 46th annual showing of the region's oldest juried art competition: the Meridian Museum of Art Bi-State Competition. The downtown Meridian museum's annual recognition and celebration of the outstanding artistic achievements by artists who are current or past residents of Mississippi and Alabama, the competition offers more than $3,000 in awards and prizes. After this year's opening in May, the Bi-State exhibition was temporarily placed on hold to accommodate the joint venture with The Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience (The MAX), "Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South." An exhibition comprised of 56 photographers' visions of the South over the first decades of the 21st century was featured at both downtown Meridian venues simultaneously. Joe Morzuch, an assistant professor in the Painting Department of Art at Mississippi State University, is this year's winner of the coveted Alliance Health Center Best of Show Award, which includes a $1,000 cash award and an exhibition at the museum in the fall. Morzuch, a self-described "still-life painter interested in the visual and communicative potential of objects cast-off, discarded and overlooked," won the overall titled with "Broken Pallets with Flags," an oil on canvas on panel.
Online workshops help floral artists create seasonal motifs
Two online workshops this fall will help floral enthusiasts create seasonal designs for their homes. Jim DelPrince, horticulture specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, will present the "Fresh Fall Floral Design" course Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to noon and "Deck the Halls! Swag, Centerpiece and Garland" Dec. 4 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. In the fall floral design webinar, he will demonstrate how to design a buffet table arrangement and provide time for students to recreate their versions while receiving critiques to help improve their skills as they complete the project. The registration deadline for the course is Nov. 5, and the $175 fee covers all course materials, including flowers that will be shipped one to two days in advance. Participants in the daylong Christmas floral course will create three designs using fresh evergreens to decorate their homes for the season, including a door swag in a floral foam cage, a fragrant evergreen table centerpiece and a garland. The deadline to register is Nov. 20, and the $250 fee covers the greenery and supplies that will be shipped before the workshop.
Mississippi public universities help to rebuild economy as state recovers from COVID-19
Mississippi public universities are doing everything they can to help rebuild the state of Mississippi's economy as it recovers from the impact of COVID-19. Staff and faculty members are developing organizations, creating marketing plans and ensuring that the community is adapting to the "new normal." Mississippi State University and its College of Business have partnered with the Mississippi Small Business Development Center to produce and provide a nine-part video series aimed at helping family-owned companies and establishments navigate the pandemic and economic disruption. Covering a wide variety of COVID-19 topics, the videos address the survival, growth and sustainability of these businesses and the special needs of owners in adapting to the "new normal."
Drive-thru health fair held in Waynesboro
The Mississippi State University Extension Service in Wayne County held a drive-thru health fair Friday in Waynesboro. It teamed up with several healthcare organizations and businesses in getting beneficial and educational material into the hands of the public and all who attended were also given face masks and hand sanitizer. Extension agent Jessica Sibley says their goals are to help educate the public. "I feel like they benefit from today because they actually learn a little bit more about some of the health-related issues that we face not only as a community but as a state," she said. "With obesity, high blood pressure, individuals that are getting diagnosed with diabetes, and having that information to help them in the future, control some of them." This is the first time the MSU Extension Service has held the annual event outdoors.
Starkville mask requirement up for debate Tuesday after statewide mandate ends
Rick Jordan, of Starkville, and his wife have not seen their families in several months due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Jordan works in the service industry and his wife is a teacher, so they both deal with potential exposure to the virus through in-person interactions, even though protective face masks are currently required in Starkville's businesses and schools. "If we can just keep this (mask mandate) going for a little while longer, hopefully we can get the numbers down long enough that we can actually get back to some kind of normalcy," Jordan said. He said he hopes the Starkville aldermen decide Tuesday to keep the city's mask requirement even though the statewide requirement ended Wednesday. Businesses have been required since early July to monitor customers both at the entrance and inside in order to ensure that all customers over the age of 6 wear masks and that everyone adheres to social distancing. Stores must also provide signs at the door and markers on the floor reminding customers to stay six feet apart.
OCH shows $3.2M operational deficit in 2020; budgets surplus for 2021
OCH Regional Medical Center operated at a deficit of $3.2 million for Fiscal Year 2020, which ended Wednesday, according to budget documents presented at Tuesday's special-call board of trustees meeting. Some of the deficit came from the increase in tax deductions outpacing revenue growth by more than $2 million. However, some revenue losses came from public fear of catching COVID-19, Chief Financial Officer Susan Russell said. "We've heard multiple department directors say that people are delaying care because of COVID," she said. Russell and OCH CEO Jim Jackson could not be reached for comment Wednesday when asked if they expect the hospital to make up that lost revenue during Fiscal Year 2021. The budget, which the trustees approved unanimously on Tuesday, projects a $709,000 operational surplus even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The budget is based on projected numbers of procedures and patient days, which Russell acknowledged are difficult to predict due to the pandemic. Predicted increases in procedures, patient days and resulting revenue during FY 2021 include the divisions of respiratory therapy and labor and delivery. Meanwhile, fewer emergency room and physical therapy visits are expected, as the hospital has seen so far during the pandemic.
Hundreds of absentee ballots already requested, cast for general election
In Oktibbeha County, which has more than 30,000 registered voters, Circuit Clerk Tony Rook told The Dispatch his office has received about 800 or 900 requests for general election absentee ballots since circuit clerks' offices throughout the state began receiving the ballots last week. "We have seen a substantial turnout for absentee voting so far, and we anticipate ... turnout to remain consistent until Election Day," he said. Oktibbeha County also has a special runoff election to fill the recently vacated District 15 Senate seat. The deadline to register for that and the District 37 House race have already passed, but absentee voting for those runoffs also is underway. With the COVID-19 pandemic still going on, many voters fitting state requirements -- 65 or older, have a disability, required to work during Election Day or will be outside the county on Election Day -- have opted to vote absentee, they said. "I also believe there's more interest this year compared to previous elections, and these are the two driving forces behind the increased turnout this year," Rook said.
State and local officials, NAACP urge people to vote at Starkville town hall
Next month's election has been called the most important in recent history, and residents of Starkville and Oktibbeha County are increasingly aware of it as more and more of them register to vote, Oktibbeha County NAACP President Yulanda Haddix said. "I've met (these) people downtown; I've met them in restaurants; I've met them in stores," Haddix said. "It has been phenomenal, and people really want to be a part of this process." The Oktibbeha County NAACP organized and hosted a town hall event Friday that drew about 100 people to Fire Station Park in Starkville. Attendees were required to wear protective face coverings and stay a safe distance apart due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While the event also served as a campaign stop for Mike Espy, the Democratic candidate running to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, local officials and event organizers also encouraged the crowd to register and vote in the local, state and national elections on Nov. 3. The NAACP provided registration applications, sample ballots and a voting machine for people to learn how to use. The voter registration deadline is 5 p.m. Monday. The Oktibbeha County NAACP has been dropping off applications for people to fill out at stores and shops throughout Starkville and will pick them up Monday to drop them off at the circuit courthouse by 4:45, Haddix said.
Mississippi lawmakers wrap up 'unprecedented' session
After what Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann said felt like the "longest session" in memory, the state Legislature on Friday finally wrapped up its business for the year. Hosemann, a Republican, said lawmakers -- who had until the end of day Friday to complete business before the session expired -- were at the Capitol past midnight finalizing bills that would give millions of dollars of federal coronavirus relief to hospitals, farmers and veterans centers. In the past nine months, legislators have had the task of handling dozens of coronavirus-related proposals in addition to regular proposals that come before the body every year. Mississippi received $1.25 billion from Congress to respond to the pandemic, much of which the legislature was in charge of dispersing throughout the state. Among the appropriations made during the legislative session were $10 million to the Wireless Communication Commission to improve communication equipment for first responders and $20 million for landlords who have not evicted tenants who could not pay rent during the pandemic. Money was also allocated to increase broadband access in rural areas and to provide technology such as iPads and hotspots for students who are remote learning.
Legislature redirects COVID-19 money, ends historically long 2020 session
After nine months in and out of the state Capitol due to the pandemic, the Mississippi Legislature this week shifted some federal COVID-19 relief money to landlords, farmers, hospitals and veterans, then ended the 2020 legislative session Friday. House Speaker Philip Gunn likened managing the Legislative session -- which saw a COVID-19 outbreak that included him and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann getting infected -- to "calling an audible at the line of scrimmage." "We balanced the budget, basically in the dark, after seeing a one-month loss in state revenue of $240 million," said Hosemann, who also recounted his personal battle with the coronavirus, which left him so weak he could barely walk at one point. "... We've had quite a session." "We'll be back in three months to tee it up again," Gunn said of the 2021 legislative session set to start in January. Lawmakers have already begun the process of setting a roughly $6 billion budget for the coming year.
Lawmakers approve new MEMA warehouse
The Mississippi Legislature has finished its session by making final appropriations that will help the state's response to the coronavirus. Among the last measures passed was House Bill 1808. The measure allows the purchase of a warehouse for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. The 103,000 square foot warehouse on Mendell Davis Drive in south Jackson cost the state just under $2.4 million. MEMA Executive Director Greg Michel says that was below the asking price, and it also came with a significant parcel of land that will be utilized in the future as a regional logistical re-supply site for disaster response that has the capacity for military aircraft to land. "All states are working towards getting to a 60-day level of PPE, and ll the different types of PPE as recommended by the CDC. So, we had to get a space to put that and not only just a space, but a climate controlled space," Michel said. Michel said some of the PPE could be damaged if exposed to the wrong climate or weather conditions.
Gov. Tate Reeves tests negative for COVID-19 after attending White House events with President Trump
Gov. Tate Reeves has tested negative for the coronavirus days after he visited the White House and joined a news conference with President Donald Trump, who tested positive Thursday along with First Lady Melania Trump. In photos and videos of the Monday visit, Reeves was not wearing a mask. Reeves announced Friday afternoon that he'd tested negative. "Better safe than sorry!" he wrote on Twitter. He told the website Y'all Politics earlier in the day that he did not believe he was positive and was not quarantining. Reeves said he was only near Trump during an outdoor news conference on Monday where social distancing was strictly enforced. Most of his day, he said, was spent with Vice President Mike Pence and the White House Coronavirus Task Force. "I feel fine right now, feel great, and I don't have any reason to believe that under current protocols that it would be necessary for me to self-quarantine," Reeves said in the Y'all Politics interview. He added on Twitter he is praying for the president and first lady. "Let's get a prayer team going for the president as he leads the country even while sick!" the governor wrote.
State leaders discuss their bouts with COVID-19, react to President Trump's diagnosis
After a coronavirus outbreak at the highest levels of the White House, with the president and First Lady now infected, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn reflected Friday on how COVID-19 affected at least 30 of his coworkers at the State Capitol. "I was very blessed and fortunate that my case was very light and the little symptoms and was able to recover in short order, but I have some members who really got, they got hit hard," Gunn said. Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann described his experience with COVID-19 as a flu at first, but then it got more difficult for him to move. "I personally could hardly get out of bed some days. My challenge was to walk 100 steps. As y'all know, I'm pretty active. So it is very difficult. I am hopeful and prayerful that the President's COVID is not as severe as mine or worse," Hosemann said. Gunn said those who remain skeptical about the virus need to hear how it's affected his colleagues. "There are members of my house who can give testimony about how difficult it can be. And I hope people will listen to that. And we certainly pray for our president, we pray for all of our nation's leaders," Gunn said.
President Trump aims for Monday release after supporter drive-by
President Donald Trump was hoping for a Monday discharge from the military hospital where he is being treated for COVID-19, a day after he briefly ventured out while contagious to salute cheering supporters by motorcade in a move that disregarded precautions meant to contain the deadly virus that has killed more than 209,000 Americans. White House officials said Trump was anxious to be released after three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where doctors revealed on Sunday that his blood oxygen level dropped suddenly twice in recent days and that they gave him a steroid typically only recommended for the very sick. Still, the doctors said Trump's health is improving and volunteered that he could be discharged as early as Monday to continue the remainder of his treatment at the White House. "This is an important day as the president continues to improve and is ready to get back to a normal work schedule," White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News on Monday. He said the determination on whether Trump would leave the hospital won't be made until later in the day after the president is evaluated by his medical team, but that Trump was "optimistic" he could be released Monday.
National security experts describe a distracted and potentially vulnerable country
The U.S. president is hospitalized with a virus he refused to treat as a grave threat, in the final weeks of an election whose results he will not pledge to accept, as the nation confronts a struggling economy, an unyielding pandemic and racial unrest. The combination of these crises has plunged the United States into a vortex of potential vulnerability that national security experts said is probably without precedent. Consumed by its own difficulties, the country is in a poor position to respond to provocations by adversaries, advance its foreign policy interests with support from allies, or serve as a credible model of functioning democracy, former senior national security officials said. "I see weakness and division and above all else distractedness," said Nick Rasmussen, who served as director of the National Counterterrorism Center in both the Obama and Trump administrations. "Any problem anywhere else is just a third or fourth order problem right now because we are so self-absorbed, inward looking and consumed with our own toxicity. And when you're distracted, you make mistakes." "In a normal government, you could probably absorb some of this dysfunction," said John McLaughlin, a former acting director of the CIA who now teaches at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. "But this government, on national security policy, has had a very sketchy -- to say the least -- process for making foreign policy decisions."
Voters to consider simplifying electoral process for statewide office
Mississippians will have the opportunity during the upcoming election in November to simplify the state's electoral process and to provide for a majority of votes cast as the sole requirement to win statewide office. The Nov. 3 election in Mississippi will feature a number of ballot referendums. If approved, ballot measure 2 would remove a state constitutional provision dating back to 1890. Under that current provision, candidates for all statewide offices such as governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general, must win not only a majority of the votes cast in an election but also a majority of the state's 122 House districts. If no single candidate receives a majority of the votes cast as well as a majority of the House districts, then the Mississippi House of Representatives votes to decide the winner of the election, under current law. The provision, along with poll taxes and literacy tests, was initially created during the Jim Crow-era as among a variety of ways used to block African-American citizens in the state from winning elected office. But state lawmakers this past legislative session passed a resolution with broad support to amend the constitution and remove this provision. Under the amendment proposed by the legislators, all statewide candidates would simply have to gain a majority of the votes cast to win the election. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, then a runoff election will be held.
Mike Espy finally lands support from national Democrats in Senate race. Is it too late?
As the national Democratic Party apparatus pumped manpower and money into U.S. Senate races across the country earlier this cycle, Mississippi candidate Mike Espy lamented his campaign was overlooked and neglected, even as he appeared to gain momentum in his challenge of incumbent Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. Espy likened his campaign to Mississippi being the unnamed "land mass" in national media hurricane coverage, and said, "They don't think a Black man in Mississippi can win." But all that changed dramatically the past two weeks, as record amounts of money pour into Espy's campaign in the final stretch before Nov. 3, and the scant polling of the race shows him closing the gap with Hyde-Smith, including a recent one that showed him within just 1 point of the Republican incumbent. National party leaders and outside groups are perking up to the possibility of a Senate seat flip in one of the reddest states. James Carville, the veteran Democratic strategist to President Bill Clinton, told Mississippi Today that when he told people earlier this cycle that Espy has a shot at winning, “people’s eyes kind of glazed over.” “But I think there is increasing interest in the Mississippi Senate race,” said Carville, who spends a good deal of time in Mississippi and has a home in Bay St. Louis.
Parenting during a pandemic: How members of the UM community balance their new roles
With schools and universities returning to various forms of in-person, online and hybrid teaching, students and teachers who are parents have had to navigate new complications with their dual roles. Mona Caldwell, a senior art history major, is a mother to a two- and six-year-old. She balances her classes with spending time with her kids weekly, and she said the pandemic has created a myriad of struggles for her. Having a toddler and a kindergartener, Caldwell said the new aspect to parenting that she struggles with most is balancing his schoolwork with her own. "Balancing my school work with my son's school work was probably the biggest challenge. I had to learn to focus on the top priority of the day," Caldwell said. Caldwell plans to graduate in November and pursue a master's degree. She said her biggest motivator is her faith and the knowledge that she gets one step closer to her degree with every passing day.
COVID-19 cases continue to drop on U. of Alabama campuses
The number of positive COVID-19 tests for University of Alabama students fell for a fourth straight week in numbers released Friday. The school reported 24 positive tests for the previous seven days after 48 cases were recorded a week earlier. It brings the semester total to 2,374 positive tests for UA students since classes began Aug. 19. UAB had 19 new cases while UA-Huntsville had 12 students test positive. Isolation occupancy also remained low on all three campuses. In Tuscaloosa, it's 2.06% (10 of 486 rooms) while 1 of 100 at UAB is being used and 9.2% in Huntsville or eight of 87 rooms. The sentinel testing or random sampling of campus members also had a low positivity. In Tuscaloosa, 0.61% were positive. That means three of 487 students, faculty and staff tested positive. UAB had just one in 405 and none of the 179 sentinel tests at UA-Huntsville came back positive. This comes as hospitalization rates climbed this week at Tuscaloosa's DCH facility.
Auburn University's Gogue Center gets kudos for sustainability
Auburn University has been awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Gold certification for the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center. "It is extremely gratifying for this project to be recognized with such a prestigious award," said Simon Yendle, Auburn University architect. "We are committed to doing our part to create a sustainable campus. All of our capital projects [more than $1 million] aspire to be designed to reach the Silver level, but due to the project team's dedication to exceptional sustainable design and operational efforts, the Gogue Center has been awarded Gold." LEED, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, or USGBC, is an international symbol of energy and environmental sustainability. "We are honored to receive this prestigious recognition from USGBC," said Chris Heacox, director of the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center.
U. of Tennessee to hold in-person graduation ceremonies in November
The University of Tennessee at Knoxville will hold in-person graduation ceremonies in November, Chancellor Donde Plowman said Friday. Graduation ceremonies will take place from Nov. 19 to Nov. 22 in Thompson-Boling Arena, before students leave for Thanksgiving break. Details are still being finalized, but a limited number of guests will be allowed for each graduate, and each ceremony will have 200 graduates, said Provost John Zomchick. Masks will be required and social distancing will be implemented in the arena. Spring, summer and fall 2020 graduates will be able to participate. UT will hold three ceremonies each day, for a total of 12 ceremonies. "We're going to do everything we can to keep that spirit of commencement alive, while still making sure that it's safe for the participants and for the attendees, the families," Zomchick said. UT is also planning on holding in-person ceremonies for spring 2021 graduates, Zomchick said.
Texas A&M Urban Farm United greenhouse utilizes aeroponic towers to expand community offerings
When people think about a vegetable garden, towers of crops are not necessarily what come to mind --- but that is what greets people in the Texas A&M Urban Farm United greenhouse. The student-run organization, often called TUFU for short, was developed last year to address food insecurity on the Texas A&M campus by providing food to the 12th Can food pantry. The urban farm, which is located off Hensel Drive past Becky Gates Children's Center, has 24 towers that can be used to grow any of 150 different plant species. The automated aeroponic system requires 90% less land and water but produces 30% more yield, TUFU director and co-founder Lisette Templin said. An aeroponic system means the plants' roots are exposed to air most of the time and receive nutrient-rich water in a raindrop method. "The beauty of the system is it allows people -- ordinary people -- to take control of their food," she said. Templin is an instructional assistant professor in the department of health and kinesiology at A&M and said she does not have any experience or training in agriculture.
Thomas Jefferson statue protesters announce list of demands at U. of Missouri
Friday afternoon wasn't a quiet one at Jesse Hall at the University of Missouri. Roughly 40 student-activists and protesters made their voices heard on issues of racial justice and the university's role in it. For two mostly uninterrupted hours and across three of the building's four floors, organizers for the group Mizzou 600 made speeches and led the group in chants of "Whose campus? Our campus," and "Hey hey, ho ho, this racist statue has got to go," among others. The group, which derives its name from the more than 600 enslaved people Thomas Jefferson owned, began its protest next to the Jefferson statue on Francis Quadrangle. From the statue, the protest moved to Jesse Hall, where MU Vice Chancellor Bill Stackman confronted one of the organizers, saying the protest was a violation and disruption of the administrative work being done in Jesse Hall. According to MU's use of facilities policy, disruptive protests in administrative buildings are prohibited. Stackman, who later declined to be interviewed, told the group it would be reported to the Office of Student Accountability. Organizers for Mizzou 600 declined to be interviewed and instructed protesters not to speak to journalists.
U. of Virginia president: 'UVA will not walk away from Thomas Jefferson'
University of Virginia President Jim Ryan is sharing his thoughts on the future of the Thomas Jefferson statue and more in written remarks published by the university. Ryan says he received many notes and some of them were skeptical, but in the end, he has a clear view of the Jefferson statue: it will stay. There are already plans to contextualize it, but President Ryan wrote: "I do not believe this statue should be removed, nor would I ever approve such an effort." He went on to say, "as long as I am president, the University of Virginia will not walk away from Thomas Jefferson." As for Jefferson's statue, Ryan said contextualization will "not make judgments' but will enable people to 'pursue the truth."
Affordable Care Act: At risk is a law that has cut the rate of uninsured students by half
As Senate Republicans rush to confirm a conservative justice to the Supreme Court who could nudge it toward invalidating the Affordable Care Act, concerns are rising that an end to Obamacare could again leave millions of college students without health insurance. "It's almost unimaginable, the idea of students losing coverage in the middle of a pandemic," said Erin Hemlin, director of health policy for the millennial advocacy group Young Invincibles. Whether justices would really go that far, though, is hardly clear in a complicated legal battle that's headed to the Supreme Court a week after the election. But Democrats have been arguing that the appointment of President Donald Trump's nominee, former University of Notre Dame professor Amy Coney Barrett, would make it more likely. Even so, experts in health care at colleges do not expect anything to change right away. The court is not expected to rule, in the case brought by several Republican state attorneys general asking for an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act, until next summer. Still, at least two studies this year have found that the law has cut the percentage of uninsured college students by half.
Colleges Learn How to Suppress Coronavirus: Extensive Testing
As campuses across the country struggle to carry on amid illnesses and outbreaks, a determined minority are beating the pandemic -- at least for the moment -- by holding infections to a minimum and allowing students to continue living in dorms and attend face-to-face classes. Being located in small towns, having minimal Greek life and aggressively enforcing social-distancing measures all help in suppressing the contagion, experts say. But one major thread connects the most successful campuses: testing. Extensively. The success stories stand in relief against all that has not worked. Hoping to offer some semblance of a normal college experience despite the coronavirus -- and to recoup significant financial losses from earlier in the pandemic -- more than a third of U.S. colleges invited students back for the fall, offering socially distanced campus housing and at least some face-to-face classes. Within weeks, however, campuses had joined cruise ships, nursing homes, prisons and meatpacking plants on the short list of coronavirus hot spots.
Notre Dame's President Went Unmasked at White House, Then Tested Positive. Now He's Under Fire.
The Friday revelation that the University of Notre Dame's president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, tested positive for Covid-19 less than a week after appearing unmasked at the White House spurred intense criticism and calls for his resignation. And it brought charges that the university was guilty of a double standard by asking students to follow social-distancing rules while allowing the president to flout them. The disclosure came just hours after President Trump -- who this week ridiculed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for wearing a mask -- dropped the bombshell news on Twitter early Friday morning that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the virus. Jenkins had been among more than 150 guests at the Rose Garden ceremony where Trump formally introduced Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Notre Dame law professor and alumna, as his nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court. When Jenkins was photographed maskless and craning his neck to see Trump introduce Barrett at last month's Rose Garden event, the criticism was swift and severe. But politics may have had little to do with it. In his apology, Jenkins said he had made an "error of judgement" in taking off his mask and "shaking hands with a number of people" at the Rose Garden ceremony. For Notre Dame students like Ashton Weber, that's not good enough.
Any fool knows there's no way to win
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: Remember when Ray Charles and Norah Jones won a Grammy award in 2005 for their moving rendition of "Here we go again," the country music standard written by Don Lanier and Red Steagall? Reckon Gov. Tate Reeves could team up with Jones for a new 2020 rendition? He seems determined to sing the same old song. ... When Reeves earlier this year issued controversial "partial vetoes" on the CARES Act appropriation bill, many legislators started humming "Here we go again." Then, House Speaker Philip Gunn and Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White filed suit in Hinds County Chancery Court to throw out the vetoes. While the Mississippi Constitution does authorize governors to "veto parts of any appropriation bill," for over a hundred years the Mississippi Supreme Court has consistently limited this power. So, Gunn and White contend, as "Any fool knows," there's no way for Reeves to win since the Chancery Court and, on appeal, the Supreme Court will follow historical precedent. Or not.
Republicans say blue states have the most crime. Mississippi has the nation's highest murder rate.
Bobby Harrison writes for Mississippi Today: Lawmakers were stunned to recently learn from Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell that the state has the highest homicide rate in the nation. Included in the information Tindell presented to legislative leaders last week as part of his budget request for the upcoming fiscal year were statistics detailing that the state's homicide rate had increased 41% during the past five years and was currently the highest rate in the nation. "It is expected that there will be over 500 homicides in the state for 2020," the DPS document read. "What in the world is going on?" asked House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia. No doubt, such information conflicts with much of the current political rhetoric from Republicans and President Donald Trump's constant refrain that most of the crime in the nation is occurring in blue states and cities. ... When legislative leaders asked Tindell about the high homicide rate in Mississippi, he cited the breakdown in the family where people "are coming up in a world where the taking of a human live does not mean anything to them."

Mississippi State Soccer Defeats Ole Miss, Brings Home Magnolia Cup
Mississippi State soccer defeated rival Ole Miss on Friday night in Oxford, 1-0, to bring home the Magnolia Cup for the first time since 2012. The Bulldogs (1-0-2) defeated the Rebels (1-1-0) in Oxford for the first time since 2001. "An outstanding team performance today," said head coach James Armstrong. "The girls overcame a lot of adversity this week and they executed the game plan. We challenged them to be mentally tough in this game and they came up time and time again. Maddy Anderson made some important saves, Macey Hodge was brilliant in midfield next to Alyssa D'Aloise. Obviously [Monigo Karnley] is a special talent and proved that today with what was the winning goal. Overall, just incredibly proud. As a coaching staff, we're incredibly proud of the effort these girls continue to put in day-in and day-out. Today, it was their just reward for everything that they've done so far this season to bring the trophy back to Starkville." Junior Monigo Karnley squeezed a shot between two closing defenders in the 20th minute that found the back corner of the net. The forward was able to sidestep the defenders after receiving the ball off a corner kick to put the Bulldogs up over the Rebels fairly early on.
Mississippi State soccer edges Ole Miss in Oxford
The Mississippi State soccer team got its first win of the season Friday against rival Ole Miss in Oxford. It was the Bulldogs' first victory in the Magnolia Cup rivalry matchup since 2012 and their first win in Oxford since 2001. Junior Monigo Karnley scored in the 20th minute for Mississippi State (1-0-2), and the goal stood as the winning tally in the match. "Monigo is great in tight spaces," Mississippi State head coach James Armstrong said in a news release from the school. "She's lethal when she's in and around the box, and she showed it tonight in a big-time moment. Big time players step up, and she did tonight. That's what she's capable of doing. We were waiting for her to get her first goal of the season and what a time to get it." Goalkeeper Maddy Anderson posted four saves in the shutout, and she was helped by her defense, too. Junior Hailey Farrington-Bentil had two defensive saves in the second half for the Bulldogs as they kept the Rebels out of their net. The Bulldogs haven't lost in three Southeastern Conference matches so far after 1-1 ties with Auburn and Alabama. They have five regular-season matchups remaining, and their next one is at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11, against LSU in Starkville.
State Men's Tennis Wraps Action At LSU Invite
The Mississippi State men's tennis team concluded play in the three-day LSU Invite on Sunday, wrapping up some hard-fought tennis competition throughout the weekend. Doubles action began the day with three Bulldog tandems in swing. The MSU duo of Florian Broska and Nicolas Ocana took on LSU'S Malik Bhatnagar and Ben Koch and the MSU tandem breezed past the host Tigers 8-3. Nemanja Malesevic and Stedman Strickland teamed to take a hard-fought affair over Arkansas' tandem of Josh Bortnick and Foster Rogers 8-6. Alberto Colas and Gregor Ramskogler dropped a tough decision by the same score to Texas A&M's Noah Schachater and Valentin Vacherot. In singles action, Bulldogs Tortora and Ramskogler were set to face each other in the Tiger Draw title match. However, Texas A&M's Carlos Aguilar and Schachater were also set to face each other in the Gold Draw, so the decision was made to switch the championship matchups in the two draws. Tortora battled Schachter in the Gold Draw final, falling 6-0, 6-2. Ramskogler took on Aguilar in the Tiger Draw, where the Aggie notched a 6-2, 6-2 triumph. The Bulldogs will now prepare to host the Bulldog Challenge (Oct. 23-25) in their second of three scheduled tournaments this fall.
State Golf Programs Tee Off Fall Season at The Blessings
The Mississippi State men's and women's golf programs will tee off their fall seasons at the Blessings Collegiate Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas, beginning Monday, Oct. 5. The GOLF Channel announced the three-day event in partnership with the University of Arkansas earlier last month. The Bulldogs will play 54 holes over Oct. 5-7 on the 7,900-yard course at Blessings Golf Club. The all-SEC season opener will feature each men's and women's program in the conference. Head coaches Dusty Smith and Ginger Brown-Lemm are looking forward to the new season and seeing how their teams will compete in the SEC. "First off, I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to compete this fall," Smith said. "I know a lot of people have worked very hard to make this possible for our golf program, and our guys are very thankful for that. Last spring, when our season got cut short, I was devastated for our players who put so much time and effort into a season. To see them prepare for this moment for the past month or so has been gratifying." "We come into this fall competitive season with humility and a grateful heart," said Brown-Lemm. "We want to continue what we started last spring when we finished so abruptly. We have a unique opportunity with an all-SEC field and a beast of a golf course in The Blessings. We prepared hard and look forward to the challenge."
Arkansas snaps 20-game SEC skid, 21-14 vs. Mississippi State
Two coaches and almost three years since Arkansas last won a Southeastern Conference game, the Razorbacks took down the team that was the talk of college football last week. Feleipe Franks threw two touchdown passes and Arkansas intercepted K.J. Costello three times as the Razorbacks broke a 20-game SEC losing streak by upsetting No. 16 Mississippi State 21-14 on Saturday night. "The mood in the locker room was probably everything you might expect," first-year Arkansas Sam Pittman said. "The kids have gone for a long time without having an opportunity to win. And against a team, I mean, that's a ranked football team and for us to come in here their place and win, the guys are ecstatic." A week after a record-breaking and stunning upset against LSU, the Bulldogs (1-1) and new coach Mike Leach hardly looked like the same team. Costello was 43 of 59 for 313 yards and one touchdown. "I didn't think we read the field very well," Leach said. "Most of our problems out there -- offense, defense, special teams -- were because our eyes just weren't in the right place. We're not experienced enough or talented enough for that."
Coronavirus causes Mississippi State tailgaters to change years of tradition
For seven years, Matthew Bedwell and Chris Hutchins set up shop in the Junction for Mississippi State football games. Since the cancellation of tailgating on SEC campuses, the two had to find another way to create the same game day experience. "This is the first year ever that we haven't been able to tailgate," said Bedwell. "So we decided to set up with a bunch of the other condo association members here at the University Club and watch the games and hang out and tailgate kind of like we used to on campus." They created an experience similar to one at the Junction. The fans set up corn hole, grilled chicken and sausage, and enjoyed college football on television. Even with their attempts to make it feel like a normal gameday, Hutchins said it's just not possible this season. "There is no way to have a true college game day experience right now and so we have to do the best we can," Hutchins said.
Starkville volunteer donates masks at Sanderson Farms, has donated over 2,000 masks total
Evita Lopez has volunteered for as long as she can remember. Her mother, Angelina Lopez, always took her on volunteer trips in the Philippines and taught her the importance of giving back. This weekend at the Country Club of Jackson, Evita's taken her charitable efforts to another level. She handed out an entire large brown bag full of Sanderson Farms Championship-themed face masks to fellow volunteers and media members along the course this past Saturday. Over the current pandemic, she has handed out over 2,000 handmade facemasks, with a focus on donating to frontline workers. "It's a good stress reliever from work," Evita said. "It makes me feel so good knowing that I have helped a lot of people." Evita moved to Starkville in December 1985 as a graduate student at Mississippi State. She works at the USDA in Starkville. She drove two-and-a-half hours to volunteer in Jackson Saturday. Last year, she took the trip to-and-from Starkville each day of the Sanderson Farms Championships. Evita has also volunteered at United States Track and Field events, k-12 outreach science fair and robotics and the 2019 U.S. Women's Amateur at Old Waverly Club in West Point. Her goal is to volunteer through retirement.
Sergio Garcia birdies final hole to win in Mississippi
Sergio Garcia had gone just more than a year since his last victory, which felt even longer considering he failed to make the FedEx Cup playoffs and fell out of the top 50 in the world for the first time since 2011. One week, and two big shots, changed everything. Garcia hit a 5-wood that barely cleared a bunker and set up an eagle putt from just inside 4 feet to tie for the lead, and he won the Sanderson Farms Championship with an 8-iron to 30 inches for birdie on the final hole. "The perfect ending for an amazing week," Garcia said. Peter Malnati, whose lone PGA Tour victory was at the Country Club of Jackson five years ago, rallied from five shots behind with a career-best 63, punctuated by a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole. That set the target, and Garcia needed his two big shots to catch and then beat him.
'The Deion Sanders' has brought plenty of buzz and a bushel of questions to Jackson State
The news involving Deion Sanders brought the best kind of chills to another Pro Football Hall of Fame member, this one No. 312. The reigning conference defensive player of the year said of a team Zoom call, "Our eyes were bucked wide." The university athletic director said of the state capital, "The city's on fire." A local real estate agent said, "It's fun again." A longtime fan said, "The hope is there now." Buzz, that coveted element of American life, has alighted in a place where locals tell of a lack of buzz for some while. It has whooshed in as it does so often and so oddly -- upon but one famous human. Sanders, the native Floridian and Pro Football Hall of Famer whose dazzling NFL career as "Prime Time" ran from 1989 to 2005, is that kind of human. When Sanders signed on to coach Jackson State football after coordinating a Texas high school team's offense until this past December, the line to buy tickets for a season set to begin so eccentrically in February coursed down the sidewalk and halfway around the parking lot about 150 strong at 10 a.m. Thursday, after snaking around even farther toward a full circle around, jeez, dawn. Suddenly, disbelief (that such a marriage could occur) has turned into disbelief (that such a marriage has occurred). Jackson State got what university president Thomas K. Hudson called "a slam dunk, home run hire" and what Athletic Director Ashley Robinson called "probably one of the best college football hires in the country, and I'm talking about Power Fives, all of them mixed together."
Coach Prime says Jackson State with Under Armour
It looks like the Deion Sanders-Under Armour marriage will continue at Jackson State. Jackson State's new head coach posted a video on his own social media on Saturday afternoon showing off some gifts. They included merchandise with Sanders' face on it, ball caps, and a special Jackson State tee with an Under Armour symbol. "We got the UA on it," Sanders said pointing to the shirt. "Cuz we UA now. Thee I love, baby." HBCU Gameday has reached out to Jackson State for comment. HBCU Gameday was the first to report that one of the conditions for signing Sanders meant Jackson State would likely have to leave Nike. Sanders was introduced as coach a few days later, but none of the JSU gear he rocked bore the swoosh symbol. Sanders was once Nike's biggest seller, but things soured between the two parties. He's been an Under Armour endorser for years, most recently at Trinity Christian in Dallas, Texas. Now his hiring has swung the JSU pendulum from Nike to UA.

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