Feature Story from 1999
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rising costs of designer clothes, popularity of gangs and the growing incidence of youth violence have made school uniforms an attractive option to many parents and school districts.
Once reserved for private schools, uniforms have become more common among the student population at large. Several Mississippi school districts already have established school uniform codes or will require uniforms this fall.
By Chuck Dunlap
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Heating and cooling the home accounts for about 44 percent of a home utility bill each month, and therefore uses more energy and costs more money to operate than any other system in the house.
Heat pumps are a growing alternative to conventional electric units and a good way to save money. A heat pump can save as much as 30 to 40 percent of the electricity a consumer uses for heating and cooling the home. Both gas and electric heat pumps are available for use.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- News of government payments for some hog farmers and improved cattle prices will bring some relief to Mississippi livestock producers after years of depressed markets.
The second phase of Small Hog Operation Payment program moneys will soon be available to hog producers who have struggled to break even for the last couple years. The program will pay up to $10 per slaughter-weight hog marketed during the last six months of 1998. With a limit of 500 market hogs, or an equal number of feeder pigs, the maximum payment for any one operation is $5,000.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A new Mississippi State University research center should help Mississippi farmers use satellite technology to produce better crops.
The Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, MSU's agricultural research arm; the university's Engineering Research Center; and MSU's Forestry and Wildlife Research Center have joined resources to establish the Remote Sensing Technologies Center.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Treated wood products used for making picnic tables, decks or lining gardens are safe and durable options for sprucing up Mississippi yards.
Dr. Terry Amburgey, a Mississippi State University professor in the Forest and Wildlife Research Center, said oil-borne preservatives and water-borne solutions both offer excellent durability. However, wood freshly treated with oil-borne preservatives, such a pentachlorophenol or creosote, should not be used on decks or lawn furniture.
By Chuck Dunlap
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Passing a calculus test may be easier for some students than trying to pass their first alcohol breath test.
A 1997 Harvard School of Public Health study found that 43 percent of college students admitted to binge drinking in the preceding two weeks. A binge is defined as drinking to the point where health and well being are at risk.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Growers are hoping Mississippi children are experiencing the last chances to see boll weevils in their natural habitat as eradication efforts begin in the North Delta.
Growers across the nation's Southeast have been chipping away at boll weevil strongholds since the early '80s. Eradication efforts that began in Virginia and the Carolinas have continued successfully across Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and into Tennessee and Mississippi. Separate efforts are underway in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Backyard chefs firing up the grill for another charbroiled feast should never overlook small details that can mean the difference between a delicious, outdoor meal and a safety disaster.
Each year, outdoor cookers cause many injuries to careless cooks or people too near the equipment. People who regularly use barbecue grills or smokers often become so familiar with the equipment and the cooking routine that they forget safety checks.
By Molly Kinnan
MISSISSIPPI STATE --The freedom and independence that college life provides can lead some freshman to overlook financial responsibilities.
Jan Lukens, consumer management specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the most common budgeting mistake made by students is not keeping track of their money.
"Students need to take the time to sit and put things down on paper," Lukens said. "Sitting down and looking at the whole situation can make students aware of the danger of overdrawing."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Living in the water doesn't spare Mississippi's catfish from the effects of summer heat as recent daytime pond temperatures have reached the high 90s.
Jim Steeby, area Extension aquaculture agent with Mississippi State University's National Warmwater Aquaculture Center, said water temperatures in the Delta where he is located have stayed at 95 degrees in the afternoon since the last week of July. While catfish thrive in warm weather, this level is too hot.
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- "Would you like soybeans with that order?"
Asians have long appreciated the taste and benefits of soybean protein in their diets, but most Americans have not rushed to purchase soy products. One Mississippi State University researcher has increased Western acceptance of this healthful food by blending soybean protein with yogurt.
By Denise Cosper
Southern Rural Development Center
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter told educators and job training program coordinators that continuing to move the rural South from "shadows into sunshine" requires building human relationships where people work together.
By Molly Kinnan
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As most of the nation focuses on the Mid-Atlantic and Eastern states' drought, Mississippi farmers are struggling through a late-season drought of their own.
The first summer months looked promising to many Mississippi growers, but some crops have weakened due to a sudden lack of moisture in the area.
Dr. Alan Blaine, soybean specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said soybean production seems to be hardest hit by the changing weather.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Officials working to advance the well-being of Southern states have named five areas of central importance to the region and are studying these issues to learn how to address them.
Land prices, national forests, welfare reform, workforce changes and telecommunications were the topics identified as key to the rural South.
Karen DeRosier, executive director of the Florida State Rural Development Council, said each state rural development council submitted areas of concern to their state.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most parents second-guess themselves enough without society planting doubts or creating more confusion as each family struggles with their individual choices.
"Employment opportunities and child-care decisions are the first major choices parents face as their family grows," said Dr. Louise Davis, family and child development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Heat and drought are claiming another Mississippi casualty as hay production is way down in most areas of the state.
While some parts of the state have received ample rain, most are parched and facing severe hay shortages this fall.
John Wilson, Itawamba County agricultural program assistant with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the commercial hay producers in his county are going to be at least one-third short on filling hay orders.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Small communities' long-standing reputation as safe is being tarnished as big city crime makes its way to the rural South, a trend that is dropping but not as fast as crime in other areas.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Grants of nearly $240,000 are allowing Mississippi State University to partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Research Service to study a Mississippi environmental concern with national implications.
Dr. Larry Oldham, Mississippi State University Extension Service soil specialist, said land application of animal manures is one of the most important issues facing American agriculture.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Depressed row crop prices prompted growers to plant more rice in 1999, but while growing conditions cooperated, the market did not.
Dwayne Wheeler, area agricultural agent with Mississippi State University's Extension Service in Tunica County, said the bleak soybean market was a big factor in growers planting more rice. However, since planting time, rice prices taken a turn for the worse and are running about 30 to 40 percent behind last year's figures.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Rural medical doctors across Northeast Mississippi recently made time in their busy schedules to encourage future physicians waiting in their shadows.
Dr. J. Edward Hill, director of the family medicine residency program at North Mississippi Medical Center, helped arrange the "shadowing" opportunity for participants in a special Rural Medical Scholars Program last summer. This was the second year for the six-week program designed for upcoming high school seniors considering careers in medicine.