McRae Foundation gift boosts Millsaps Christian Center renovation

Millsaps College on Thursday announced a $4 million gift from the Selby & Richard McRae Foundation toward a campaign to renovate the Christian Center on campus. The Christian Center, a beloved fixture on the Millsaps campus since its construction in the 1950s, is scheduled for a transformative renovation project that will establish new classrooms and office space for the Humanities division, a new 175-seat lecture hall, and a new chapel and center for the chaplaincy on campus, the college said in a press release. Upon completion, the building will be rededicated as the Selby and Richard McRae Christian Center, Millsaps said. The press release noted that the Selby & Richard McRae Foundation was established in 1965 to support the arts, education, and social service organizations in central Mississippi. The foundation is today managed by the children of Mr. and Mrs. McRae: Richard D. McRae, Jr., Susan McRae Shanor and Vaughan W. McRae.

Tupelo starts construction on Vietnam Wall replica

A groundbreaking ceremony in Tupelo on Monday marked the beginning of construction on a smaller version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Daily Journal reported. “We’ll actually start turning dirt this week,” Tupelo Parks & Recreation Department director Alex Farned told the Daily Journal. “We hope to have everything complete by this fall so we can have a ribbon-cutting on Veterans Day in November.” The simple, black granite “V” will be 60 percent of the size of the official monument in Washington, D.C., the newspaper reported. “It will be a little over 6 feet tall at the center,” landscape architect Shipman Sloan said to the Daily Journal.

Millsaps professor on team earning NSF grant

Dr. George Bey, professor of sociology and anthropology and Chisholm Foundation Chair of Arts and Sciences at Millsaps College, is one of three researchers to receive a $286,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Millsaps College announced this week. Joining Bey in receiving the grant are Dr. Tomas Gallareta Negron of Centro Yucatan-INAH in Merida, Yucatan (Mexico) and Millsaps Scholar of Maya Studies and Dr. William Ringle, chairman of the department of anthropology at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., a college press release said. Dr. Ringle serves as senior investigator on the NSF project. Grant funding will be used for a three-year project to carry out research focused on understanding patterns of cultivation and architectural construction by the ancient Maya in the eastern Puuc Hills of Yucatan, Mexico, shaped the regionalism of the area during that time, the press release said. “This is an incredible opportunity for us to research the agricultural sector of the ancient Maya, along with stone working and architectural construction, which will help us better define the growth of the region, its social hierarchies, and its political organization,” Bey said in the release.

‘The Heart of Dixie’ by Tricia Walker

Tricia Walker, a native of Fayette and the director of Delta State University’s Delta Music Institute, wrote The Heart of Dixie about the close ties she had with Dixie, the African -American woman who helped raise her and worked for Walker’s family for three generations. The Heart of Dixie, a touching tribute that crosses the lines of gender, class and race, was included in Oxford American magazine’s 2001 Southern Music Sampler. Learn more about Tricia Walker and her music at bigfrontporch.com. Listen to The Heart of Dixie:

‘Starkville City Jail’ by Johnny Cash

Country music legend Johnny Cash was arrested for public drunkenness in Starkville and held overnight at the Oktibbeha County Jail on May 11, 1965. His arrest was the inspiration for Starkville City Jail. The song appears on the album At San Quentin. In 2007, more than 40 years after his arrest and four years after his death, the City of Starkville pardoned the late country music legend and held a three-day Johnny Cash Flower Pickin’ Festival in his honor. At the time of his arrest, Cash claimed he was just picking flowers.

‘The Thrill is Gone’ by B.B. King

The Thrill Is Gone became a major hit for B.B. King in 1970 after it appeared on his album Completely Well. The song became one of the legendary bluesman’s signature tunes and earned him a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1970. King, who was born on a plantation in the Mississippi Delta, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.  Many other artists also have recorded The Thrill is Gone, but King’s version placed No. 183 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

‘Ubangi Stomp’ by Warren Smith

Ubangi Stomp is an American rockabilly song written by Charles Underwood, who worked with Sun Studios founder Sam Phillips in Memphis, and first released on record by Humphreys County, Mississippi, native Warren Smith in 1956. While the song didn’t make the charts, it went on to become a rockabilly standard and has been covered by many artists. Early in his career, Smith performed with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison. Smth’s recording of Ubangi Stomp appears on many compilation albums, including The Sun Records Collection and The Best of Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour. Listen to Ubangi Stomp:

Jolly stepping down from appeals court

Judge Grady Jolly has told President Trump that he plans to retire from the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct 3. The federal court handles cases from Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Jolly will turn 80 in October. Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker will make recommendations to the president, whose nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.

Oxford’s Davis McCool: High School Journalist of the Year

Oxford High School senior Davis McCool has been selected High School Journalist of the Year by the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association. McCool is editor-in-chief of Oxford High’s newspaper, The Charger. He will receive $250 from the Mississippi Press Association at the scholastic press group’s convention March 31 and advance to the Journalism Education Association’s national competition with winners from other states. “This was an incredibly tough year for our judges,” Scholastic Press Association director R.J. Morgan said. “But I’ve been involved with high school journalism in this state for 10 years, and I’ve seen few if any students with the talent, work ethic and humility of David McCool.

Coopwood chairs Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi

The Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi announced that Scott Coopwood was elected chairman for 2017 by its Board of Directors. The Foundation receives tax-deductible contributions from hundreds of donors to assist dozens of charitable programs and causes, especially education and health for children and youth. The board has at least one director from each of the 11 counties in the Foundation’s service region. “It is an incredible honor to be chosen as this year’s chairman for Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi,” Coopwood said in a press release announcing his selection. “This unique organization helps better the lives of those who live in the coverage area which includes several counties in the Mississippi Delta and I’m proud to be on board to help move our region into a positive future.”

Hattiesburg American cutting back publication days

The Hattiesburg American will begin publishing just three days a week beginning April 5. The announcement was made Wednesday in a letter to readers by publisher Nathan Edwards posted on the newspaper’s website. Edwards called the shift from daily print publication a “strategic change that further builds upon our digital-first approach by strengthening the direction of its exceptional seven-days-a-week newsroom and combining the best of its seven-days-a-week print product into three great editions — Wednesday, Friday and Sunday — beginning April 5, 2017.” “Our research shows subscribers are increasingly choosing to access the American online via our website, mobile and tablet devices, with the Hattiesburg American having 8X more digital readers than print readers,” Edwards said. Edwards told readers that the “three-day-a-week print products will be as robust as ever, if not more so, and contain all of the great content you have come to rely on and enjoy.

Overby Center: What statues should represent Mississippi?

The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics will address the issue Wednesday of whether Mississippi should be represented in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall by two 19th century figures prominent in the secessionist movement. The program, “Revisiting Jefferson Davis and J.Z. George: U.S. Capitol Relics?” begins at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The Overby Center is on the Ole Miss campus. Overby Center chairman Charles Overby will be joined in the discussion by William “Brother” Rogers, president of the Mississippi Historical Society, and Marvin King, associate professor of political science and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi. “We expect a robust discussion about whether any 20th century Mississippians should be placed in the Statuary Hall,” Overby said in a press release.

Benjamin sentenced for bribery scheme

Irb Benjamin, who represented Alcorn County in the state Senate and House, has been sentenced to nearly seven years in prison for bribes he paid to former state Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps. His sentence could be reduced if information he provided results in prosecution of others in the scandal, according to U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate. Six people have pleaded guilty in the bribery scheme and four others have been charged. Wingate ordered Benjamin to pay a $100,000 fine and forfeit $261,000 within 90 days. Benjamin, 70, is scheduled to report to federal prison on May 16.