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Local News Notebook

December 15, 2010

Freezing drizzle expected through morning

National Weather Service officials urged caution heading into this morning as they expected light freezing drizzle to spread across the region through the morning hours.
Through a hazardous weather outlook issued Tuesday afternoon, forecasters said they expected freezing drizzle to fall across a line from Cleveland to Grenada to Columbus, with the western side of this region having the best chance for this precipitation between 4 and 7 a.m. today and eastern segments of the outlook area receiving the freezing rain between 7 and 11 a.m.
Weather Service officials urged motorists to use caution as roadways may be icy.

Former MSU employee pleads guilty to embezzlement

A former employee of Mississippi State University’s research facility at Stennis Space Center pleaded guilty last week to embezzling more than $34,000, a state official said Tuesday.
State Auditor Stacey Pickering announced today that
Stacie Stroud, 33, entered the plea Thursday to the charge of embezzling $34,315.79 by using her state-issued procurement credit card for personal purchases, State Auditor Stacey Pickering said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon. She will serve four years of probation under the Mississippi Department of Corrections’ supervision.
Internal auditors with MSU unearthed the discrepancies and reported the allegations to Pickering’s office in February 2009, Pickering said. Stroud pled guilty to using her state-issued card to pay such personal expenses as her neighborhood homeowner’s dues, a birthday party, payment on her student account at MSU and purchases at Amazon.com, Office Depot, and the campus bookstore.
She also charged personal fuel expenses to University-owned Chevron fuel card.
“Our office has investigated multiple cases involving government employees making personal purchases on government-issued procurement credit cards,” Pickering said in the statement.
“In many instances, the individual is very creative in an attempt to cover their tracks and works hard to ensure that few people oversee their day-to-day functions.
“Although procurement cards make it more convenient for government employees to make necessary and authorized purchases, the convenience does not allow for less oversight and pre-authorization. With the heightened awareness on the abuse of procurement cards, agencies, local governments and elected officials must have the necessary checks and balances in place to ensure that taxpayer funds are not misspent,” Pickering said.
Investigators in Pickering’s office took exception to $42,691.95 which included $34,315.79 in principal, $1,511.76 in interest and $6,864.40 in investigative costs. Stroud repaid $42,691.95 to the court following her court appearance Thursday. 
She was employed with MSU from September 2007 to February 2009.

CAVS Extension Center at MSU takes top national award

Mississippi State University’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems Extension Office took home a top honor from the University Economic Development Association’s annual meeting in Reno, Nev., last month.
Based in Canton, CAVS Extension was the winner of the 2010 Award of Excellence in Business Assistance and Entrepreneurship for its work with the Navistar plant in West Point.
“UEDA’s Awards of Excellence winners earned this prestigious recognition through their superior performance,” said Steve Holland, the association’s outgoing president and director of the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center at Montana State University. “Our country is facing serious economic issues, and our colleges and universities are well suited to serve as thought leaders and to help find solutions.”
The winning project, officially titled “The Role of MSU’s CAVS Extension in Supporting Rapid Commercialization at Navistar Defense’s Plant in West Point, MS,” is an example of Mississippi State’s commitment to service, said Clay Walden, director of CAVS Extension and a research professor at the land-grant institution.
“CAVS Extension and the university as a whole are actively engaged in the lives of Mississippians,” he said. “Our work with Navistar illustrates the assistance we provide and the partnerships we develop with employers in the state.”
In West Point, CAVS Extension engineers led by Glenn Dennis designed and implemented the manufacturing system, including the use of advanced modeling and simulation techniques, to help Navistar enhance production of the company’s mine-resistant armored protection vehicles, commonly called MRAPs, for the U.S. Department of Defense.
“All of us are very proud of the excellent work being done by the CAVS Extension team,” said David Shaw, Mississippi State’s vice president for research and economic development. “Working to meet the needs of business and industry is a clearly-defined priority of the university. Our researchers and resources have vital roles to play as the state’s economy grows and diversifies.”
In addition to Walden and Dennis, Research and Technology Corporation Director Marc McGee and Associate Vice President for Economic Development Melvin Ray represented Mississippi State at UEDA’s Higher Education Institutions as Catalysts for Economic Development summit.
For additional information about MSU CAVS Extension, which is a major component of the Bagley College of Engineering Engagement and Outreach Service, please visit http://www.cavse.msstate.edu.

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