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.

Lawmaker: Need public input before ed funding vote

A state representative is urging members of the public and other lawmakers to sign an online petition urging the legislative leadership to seek more input from the public on a new education funding formula before bringing any bills to a vote. Rep. Jeramey Anderson, D-Escatawpa, sent out a statement Wednesday urging people to sign the petition as a follow up to last week’s “Seat at the Table” rally at the State Capitol. Despite the hundreds in attendance at the rally, only three people have signed the online petition as of Wednesday afternoon. “I urge my colleagues to join me in voting against any new education funding legislation that has not been properly vetted or presented in a series of public hearings,” Anderson said in his statement. The legislative leadership has declined in recent weeks to reveal specific details of progress towards finalizing legislation rewriting the state’s public education funding formula.

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.

School consolidation meetings set in Winona, Hattiesburg

The Mississippi Department of Education announced meetings this week for discussion of the consolidation of several school districts. Local officials will meet in three sessions Tuesday in Winona to talk about details of the administrative consolidation of the Montgomery County and Winona school districts, as ordered by Senate Bill 2495, which was passed during last year’s legislative session. Montgomery County School District school board members will meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Montgomery County School District Central Office, 618 Summit St. in Winona. At 4 p.m. Tuesday, Montgomery County elected officials will meet at the Winona School District Central Office, 218 Fairground St., Winona.

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.

Formby heading to Workers Comp Commission

Rep. Mark Formby, a Republican from Picayune, has been nominated to serve on the state Workers Compensation Commission. Gov. Phil Bryant announced the appointment by posting an Associated Press story on his Facebook page Wednesday afternoon. Formby is a veteran lawmaker who has chaired several key House committees. “His experience as a small business owner and knowledge of the issues affecting workers and employers make him the perfect choice, and I am delighted he has accepted this appointment,” Bryant said on Facebook. The Workers Compensation Commission consists of three commissioners and up to eight administrative law judges, who consider cases of injured workers.

Obama appointees ousted in U.S. Attorneys offices

Both Gregory Davis, U.S. attorney for southern Mississippi, and Felicia Adams, U.S. attorney for northern Mississippi, have resigned. Their decisions followed Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ request that all U.S. attorneys appointed by President Barack Obama step down. Taking over their positions are Harold Brittain, now acting as the top federal prosecutor in southern Mississippi, and Robert Norman, filling that post in northern Mississippi, according to an Associated Press report. President Donald J. Trump must now nominate new U.S. attorneys for Senate confirmation. Brittain and Norman automatically took over as the top assistant U.S. attorney in each district.

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.