Home » sustainability » Recent Articles:

Murray in a flash: a weekend summer update from The News

June 27, 2014 News

Every weekend this summer, The News will update you on the latest in Murray. Whether you’re in town or at home for the summer, you’ll find what you need at TheNews.org. This update is for June 27. Email us with any questions, concerns or tips.

Summer Orientation, Racer 101 prepare incoming students for college life

By Mary Bradley, Assistant News Editor

As the weather heats up and Murray State students dive deeper into their summers, the class of 2018 is spending the season preparing to begin their college careers.

Programs such as Summer O and Racer 101 are helping students make the leap from high school to college, and current students have given their summers to help the incoming Racers be as prepared as possible.

Racer 101 is a four-day extended orientation where incoming freshmen learn the campus, interact with students and are taught traditions. Summer O is orientation for incoming students.

Students of all academic years can volunteer to become counselors for Racer 101, and Summer O, which has several orientation sessions for the incoming freshman to attend.

Lindsey Powers, a Summer O and Racer 101 counselor, said the incoming freshman are already excited to be Racers.

“They are so excited to get to campus in the fall and to meet new people,” Powers said. “It makes our job easy because if they are excited then we can bond with them and give them more information.”

While Powers said the programs have been going well, she said there are always worries for the incoming freshman as the first day of classes inches closer and closer.

Dealing with financial aid, housing and roommate assignments are only a few of the fears new students might face. However, Powers said those feeling overwhelmed aren’t alone.

“I think all incoming freshmen are scared of the unknown of what college will be like, whom they will be friends with and if they will succeed,” she said. “I think they are also just antsy to get things started and start a brand new chapter of life.”

Kit Rowan, incoming freshman from St. Louis, Mo., participated in both Summer O and Racer 101 and said she was happy with how the programs went.

“I loved it,” Rowan said. “I didn’t know anyone going down there that are girls, so I met a bunch of friends and some really great mentors.”

Rowan said she thinks the programs can definitely help incoming freshman with their transition to college.

Renovations begin on historic president’s house

By Rebecca Walter, News Editor

Oakhurst is facing renovations and maintenance in preparation for the arrival of incoming President Robert Davies and his family in July.

Mike Dunnavant, director for building and equipment maintenance, said the president’s home received a new roof, gutters, down spouts, flooring and was re-painted. Landscaping was also done around the property to fix damage caused by extreme weather last winter.

Dunnavant said as of Friday, the renovations are 95 percent complete. It is unknown at this time the total cost of the renovations.

According to the Murray State University website, Oakhurst was originally called “Edgewood” when it was first built. Construction for the site began in 1917 and was started by former president Rainey T. Wells and his wife.

Construction was complete in 1918. Wells and his family lived in the house until 1936 and the Board of Regents bought the building with the intention of using it for the president of the University to live. The building was renovated and remodeled by former president James Richmond and then was given the name “Oakhurst.”

The house was remodeled in 1968 then again in 1970, and the building as seen few major renovations since that time. Oakhurst is located on the lot facing between University Drive and Main Street.

The project is expected to be completed before the arrival of president Davies.

Student food pantry open for the summer

By Lexy Gross, Editor-in-Chief

Murray State students can still use the on-campus food pantry, Racers Helping Racers, during the summer months.

The pantry is open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays in Room 244 of the Blackburn Science Building.

Re’Nita Avery-Meriwether, coordinator of the program, said she decided to keep the pantry open because of the high demand it saw during the Spring semester.

“We wanted to offer the same service to our summer students,” she said. “There are still students on campus and many of them are taking classes.”

Avery-Meriwether said summer hours started at the end of finals week and students have been coming in throughout the summer.

The pantry opened in the Spring and is partnered with Need Line, a community food pantry.

Avery-Meriwether said the shelves have stayed stocked in the pantry, thanks to donations from organizations and individuals in the community.

C-SPAN bus visits campus, teaches public affairs

By Rebecca Walter, News Editor

Students and residents of Murray were given the opportunity to enhance their knowledge on public affairs as the C-SPAN bus rolled through town Wednesday.

Through the Governor’s Scholar Program, which is currently taking place on Murray State’s campus, visitors had the chance to learn more about C-SPAN and what the television network offers.

Information on public affairs, educational outreach and the three branches of government were all topics visitors could learn more about as they took touchscreen quizzes on the bus.

Visitors had the chance to tour the bus from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday while it was parked in the James H. Richmond parking lot. The event was opened to the public.

This is the C-SPAN Bus’ 21st year on the road. The bus travels through different cities, schools and universities across the U.S., promoting C-SPAN’s educational and political resources for students.

C-SPAN was created by the cable television industry and is broadcast in more than 100 million households. In Murray, C-SPAN is provided through Time Warner Cable on channel 96 with a C-SPAN 2 available on channel 97. Both channels are provided as a public service, free of commercials or government funding.

DON’T MISS

Racer Athletics releases new logo, makes staff changes

Board of Regents appoints Transition Committee members

New graduate program offered in sustainability science

MESS looks toward sustainability fee

March 13, 2013 News

The Murray Environmental Student Society is working to implement a $1 to $15 green fee that will be added on to student tuition and will help fund future sustainable projects on campus, but the fee will only come to fruition if there is adequate student support.

While there is no definite timeline yet, Caleb Johnson, senior from Bowling Green, hopes that the group will have made serious progress in its endeavor by next fall.

The money from the fee would be put toward energy conservation methods and technology, renewable energy sources, and fresh, local food for Winslow Dining Hall and the Thoroughbred Room. Most of the money would go to support the Murray State Sustainability Committee, which works to create a more sustainable campus.

The Committee is currently in the early stages of adding solar panels to Murray State’s energy grid.

There are a series of steps the organization must go through before the fee can be put in place. Student awareness of the fee is number one on the list, followed closely by gaining student support.

MESS polled students on campus in 2010 to gain an idea of student approval should the fee be put in place. According to the poll, 92 percent of students said they would definitely pay $1 for a more sustainable campus, and 85 percent said they would pay $5 or more.

MESS will have to petition the student body in order to get a Student Government Association referendum that can be voted on.

“I think it’s an issue a lot of people can get behind,” Johnson said. “We’re talking about sustainability—it’s not a radical idea. It’s about the same cost as a couple cups of coffee.”

Kate Russell, a sophomore from Cobden, Illinois said, “A green fee sounds good to me. It sounds like a good idea for the University.”

Once the student body has passed the green fee, it moves to the University President. Randy Dunn has already shown his approval with other sustainable projects, having already approved the Sustainability Commission’s solar panel plan.

Finally, the fee must be passed by the Board of Regents. The Board of Regents has to see that the green fee will positively affect the student body and will be in the best interest of the university as a whole in order to make the extra cost worth it.

Besides tacking on an extra fee, the Board of Regents could instead allocate a portion of the student activities fee to keeping the campus green.

Allison Crawford, a junior from Murray said, “Our tuition and fees goes up 5 percent every year anyway. Maybe we could utilize that for the green fee.”

The project is the brainchild of the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, a group of environmentally-minded students who represent their home schools’ student body, which works to make Kentucky universities more sustainable.

KSEC has decided to push hard for green fees in universities across Kentucky, as well as campus divestment from fossil fuels.

More than 100 schools in the United States have established green fees in past few years, ranging staying around $3 to $5, but can be as much as $40, as is the case at Northland College in Wisconsin.

Murray is not the first to show interest in Kentucky. Centre College, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Louisville have all added green fees to their tuition.

For MESS, the push for the fee ends with the Board of Regents, but for environmental groups in other states, the vote goes on to the State government. In 2009, universities in Texas and Florida tried to establish green fees but met opposition when their referendum had to be passed by the state legislatures. The bill failed in Florida because of fears from legislatures that the extra fee, in addition to the already struggling economy, would be too much for students. As of 2010, the movement has been rebooted in Florida, with a fee of less than $1.

Currently, Murray State is moving toward a greener campus with cafeteria composts, bio-degradable cups and take-out boxes along with new energy monitoring systems in dorms and campus facilities.

Story by Amanda Grau, Contributing writer.

Cost hinders school’s desire for sustainability

October 11, 2012 News

The school of agriculture recently acquired a bio-burner, a device that converts biomass into energy. Rick Jones, Bio-Burner representative, explains that the bio-burner is capable of running off of any bio-product as long as it has less than 35 percent moisture at any size under two inches. The bio-burner recently placed in the Garrett Center was fired up for the first time Wednesday. Jones said the school of agriculture could use horse manure, sawdust shavings from the horse barns, straw or other small plants. Austin Ramsey || The News

The Hutson School of Agriculture is making great strides to limit its dependence on petroleum diesel and other fossil fuels through research into renewable, natural, alternative fuel sources, but due to cost and availability the school is limited to what it can actually do.

Most recently, the school purchased a “bio-burner” in an attempt to lessen the utility costs at one of its facilities.

A Soybean Promotion Day in 2005 inspired faculty and staff at the school of agriculture to start using biodiesels on the farms to power their vehicles and machines. The Kentucky Soybean Association aided the school in this transition.

Biodiesels are used on the farms, to power its vehicles and machines, and are used whenever the school can afford to; the cost and availability of the biodiesels being the main limiting factors in their use at Murray State.

The last time the farms were able to use biodiesel was approximately six months ago.

Soybean-based biodiesel is produced through a refinery process called trans-esterification. This process consists of mixing methanol with sodium hydroxide, and mixing that product with the soybean oil. This blend can then be combined in different percentages with petroleum diesel to create biodiesel.

Tony Brannon, dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture, said biodiesels are also more environmentally-friendly than petroleum diesel, having far lower carbon dioxide emissions and degrading four times faster. Plus, using them limits our dependence on foreign oil.

Soy-based biodiesel performs almost identically to conventional diesel fuel in the areas of consumption, horsepower and torque.

Brannon said contrary to what most people believe, there are no negative ramifications to using biodiesel.

“Biodiesels support our industry, it is a natural resource and we can grow soy beans every year so it’s renewable,” Brannon said. “The fact is, one day, we’re going to run out of oil and we’re going to need these alternatives.”

The farms currently don’t have the certificates necessary to manufacture their own biodiesels and instead, are supplied with biodiesel by Mid-West Terminal – one of only four soy-based biodiesel distributors in Kentucky – via the Murray State Motor Pool.

Owensboro Grain furnishes these four distributors with their soy-based biodiesel, and is the only producers of soy-based biodiesel in Kentucky.

Brannon said there are units out in the agriculture industry, and areas available with which the farms could produce and commit to manufacturing their own soy-based biodiesels, although he said, it would be on a very small scale if they did one day choose to do so. He said the reassigning of what type of fuel the farms will use, specifically transitioning to using only biodiesels, is not a top priority for the school of agriculture right now.

The dean’s attention and efforts in sustainability, renewability and environmental friendliness are currently focused on the use of energy crops: energy dense plants that, when burnt, release high amounts of harness-able power.

The “bio-burner,” the machine responsible for converting biomass into energy, was installed at the Garrett Center on the Hutson farm, to test the effectiveness of burning energy crops. If this trial run is successful, Brannon said they will move on to acquiring more burners to power other buildings, starting first with the Equine Instructional Facility located on the West farm.

The Equine Instructional Facility, used for equitation classes and equestrian team practices, hasn’t had heat in its riding arena since it was built in 1998. The arena would require two bio-burners.

The farms plan on fueling the bio-burners with energy crops such as switch grass, sorghum, “energy sorghum” and “energy beets,” that will be grown on the farms.

Brannon said they also plan on burning the manure from the horses of which about 100 tons is produced annually.

Even excluding these current projects, Brannon said the Hutson School of Agriculture has always been at the forefront and a promoter of renewability and sustainability programs on campus, teaming with Food Services for years on a sustainability composting/recycling and gardening project and practicing other energy smart methods on the farms, like conservation tillage.

These practices advocate one of President Randy Dunn’s three commissions for Murray State, campus sustainability.

This commission entails the promotion of sustainability issues, the proposing of policies and programs, and the nourishing of campus organizations.

“This farm is not only a benefit to our university but also to our region,” Brannon said. “We have over 2,000 trials annually on our farms that benefit the agriculture sector of our region. We do a variety of tests, cattle research studies, dark tobacco research, soybean trials and many other types of research projects.”

Brannon said the school of agriculture is on the cusp of something big. He said if technology advances as much in the next 20 years as it did in the last 20, then he can see the farm becoming completely self-sustaining.

Written by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer.

 

Paleo diet: first-hand look at ‘caveman’ fad

April 19, 2012 Features

“Be like the cavemen,” is not something people hear everyday.

The paleo diet is often known as the caveman diet, which asks people to eat what their bodies were originally intended to digest.

For two weeks I participated in this experiment to improve my health and see if it is possible for a student lifestyle.

The main idea is to eat fruit, vegetables, lean meat, seafood, nuts, seeds and few healthy fat. Then avoid dairy, grains, processed foods and sugars, legumes, starches and alcohol. … Continue Reading

Green reads: class studies environmental literature

April 19, 2012 Features

“The best literature complicates nature,” Paul Walker, assistant professor of English at Murray State, said of a new course for undergraduate students.

“Literature and the Environment” is a course concerning the study of literary works from different cultures and periods focusing on the environment, its inhabitants and their survival.

The course, originally taught by a visiting professor, was revived in Spring 2010 after a long hiatus. Since its revival, it has been offered twice with Walker as professor. The class is scheduled to be offered every three semesters. … Continue Reading

‘Just like grandma used to grow’: garden center returns to roots

April 19, 2012 News

On the outskirts of Murray, Beans to Blossoms, a locally owned garden center, re-opened its doors in February for the spring season to provide its customers with organic plants and seasonal produce.

Steve and Suzanne Cathey dreamed of owning their own business, so in 2001 with the help of their daughter, Lindy McManus, the family opened a nursery on their farm in Bethel. … Continue Reading

More bikes, more racks

April 19, 2012 News

This may have happened to you before – it’s five minutes before class, but you’ve been sharking for a parking spot for the past 15 minutes.

Either you can park in a place far from class and risk being late, or you can make your own parking spot. However, you’re not in your car.

You’re on your bike.

By adding more sidewalks in the community, the University has aimed to increase the ease and frequency of environmentally-friendly transportation.

If more students are walking and riding their bicycles, it only makes sense there would also be the increased benefit of having somewhere to park. … Continue Reading

University offers employee bike loan program

April 19, 2012 News

In the past two years the visible number of bicycles on Murray State’s campus has increased.

But this rise is not confined to students. Faculty and staff are also using the power of pedals in transporting themselves to and from campus.

This is no coincidence. Murray State implemented a new loan program for faculty and staff to purchase bicycles. The program is based off of an earlier model used for the purchase of computers. The program allows for faculty and staff, employed for at least six months, to take out a no-interest loan of up to 80 percent of the cost of a bicycle and its accessories, so long as it is not more than $2,000.

Mike Gowen, member of the President’s Commission on Campus Sustainability, said the plan came out of a long discussion on how to get campus more active and bike-friendly.

“It is an important first step in making the campus community more bike-friendly and encouraging faculty and staff to consider ‘green’ commutes,” Gowen said.

Gowen said since the program started in the fall of 2011 the amount of participation has increased.

“I think participation has steadily grown,” Gowen said. “I’ve even taken part in the program.”

Matt Falwell, owner of Gear Up Cycles in Murray, said there has been a lot of interest in his shop about the loan program. But he believes this program is about much more than money.

“Yes there’s the financial incentive,” Falwell said. “But it’s giving them the chance to see bicycles as another mode of transportation.”

Falwell said the bicycle loan idea is spreading outside of Murray State.

“I’ve been in contact from local municipalities about this,” Falwell said. “Human resource people realize that if your employees are exercising and active and have better health they can save money on healthcare costs.” … Continue Reading

College of Business & JMC

Current Edition