Author Archives: Colin Krieger

Lowndes County Schools Looking to Save Big Thanks to Green Energy Tech

LOWNDES COUNTY – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Lynn Wright and Brian Clark (Dispatch file photo)

Lowndes County School District Superintendent Lynn Wright recently announced that the LCSD and Schneider Electric have joined forces in order to help the District save a lot of money on its power bills and go green at the same time. Schneider is an energy management company with expertise in maintaining and improving energy efficiency. While the initial cost paid to Schneider was a bit over $4 million – which included upgrades to the District’s HVAC systems that had already been mandated anyway – the savings over a 20-year period are expected to be in the $8 million range. Along with these newer, more efficient HVAC units, a large number of motion-sensor lights and LED lights were installed. The TVA also supplied the District with a $115,800 incentive payment to help start the ball rolling.

“I think energy efficiency is a big topic,” Board President Brian Clark said. “I think everybody needs to take advantage of that whenever possible. The LED lights that have been installed (are) going to drastically reduce usage moving forward and that equals dollar savings.”

“We have a responsibility to utilize our funds as effectively and efficiently as we can,” Wright said. “Energy savings, not only does it help us financially but helps the environment.”

The LCSD estimates that these changes should bring about $300 thousand per year in savings on energy costs, reflecting about a 22% improvement over last year’s costs. With almost all of the work complete as it stands, Schneider is expected to complete the last of the work by December.

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Columbus and Starkville Have Some New and Returning Businesses to Support

Courtesy of the Dispatch

COLUMBUS

Columbus Inn & Suites across from the Magnolia Bowl is up for sale to the right entrepreneur. The building, located at 506 Hwy 45 N, has 90 rooms, a fully-equipped restaurant, kitchen, pool and meeting areas. The asking price is $1.45 million.

Window World recently opened its doors at 134 Lincoln Road, next to Walmart, earlier this month. It is part of a 200-store chain that services both interior and exterior window needs of all kinds. They are open Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-5p.m and Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Waldrop and Co. Real Estate has now moved in to the old Cross Golf Cart building at 5736 Hwy. 45 N.

Grassroots Natural Candle Company has come back, having moved across the street to 127 Fifth St. N. Offering a wide variety of fragrance products (not just great candles!), they are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday from noon-5 p.m.

STARKVILLE

Twigs Nursery and Landscaping at 7653 Oktoc Road opened for business last week. MSU graduates Kody and Kandiace Brown offer a variety of plants, flowers, arrangements, seeds, pots, garden tools, Mississippi-made items, pottery and of course landscaping. It’s open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Wednesdays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

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Mississippi Steel, Liberty Steel Announce New Partnership; New Shops in Columbus and in Starkville

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Columbus’ Mississippi Steel Processing has announced their majority acquisition by North Jackson, Ohio’s Liberty Steel Products Holding. MSP processes rolls of steel to the tune of 750 thousand tons annually; the company also runs and makes handcrafted steel and wooden furniture for their downtown shop, Steel Forest Furniture. Their president, Chip Gerber, made the announcement Wednesday night via press release: “We are excited for the future of MSP and our partnership with Liberty,” Gerber said. “The experience and reputation of Liberty in the industry is a welcome addition to our team at MSP.”

Susan McKay, the owner of Party and Paper, plans to open her new shop, Impressions by Susan, at 424 Main St by November. The new venue mainly offers event printing, personalized invitations, gift-wrapping, and the like. The store will be open from Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Kate Cryder will be opening an organic spray-tan business for those interested in safer methods of getting tanned in the next few weeks. Gypsy will be located at 109 5th St S, in the location formerly occupied by Fin’s Bobby Pin. She will be open from Tuesdays through Saturdays. Appointments can be scheduled online at tangyspy.co, and a personal consultation is included for each client.

Brickerton Day Spa now has new ownership: Amy and Matt Bogue will continue the spa as it is now, but they are looking to expand its services in the future, with medical treatments as the first thing on the list.

STARKVILLE

Starkville Nutrition, which offers healthy shakes and teas, has opened up at 500 Russel St, Ste 18. They had their grand opening in August, and will be open from Mondays through Saturdays.

Thrive Health, which used to be located on Hwy 12, has moved to the same building; their new address is 500 Russel St, Ste 29. They offer Chinese medicine, acupuncture, CBD oil, etc. They accept walk-ins from Mondays through Fridays.

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Breaking News on Leigh Mall

COLUMBUS, MS – Article attached below, Courtesy of the Dispatch

Colin:

 

Leigh Mall on Highway 45 in Columbus is up for public auction as collateral on a defaulted loan, according to a public sale notice in today’s edition of The Dispatch – File Photo from the Dispatch

Best thing that could happen. The out of town owners misjudged the market and passed on several solid opportunities recently(IMO.)

 

After the ownership group balked at several multi-million dollar offers over the last few years, the mall is up for auction. The LINK, recently defunded by the city council, had secured at least two offers aimed at rehabbing the mall over the last 5 years that were ignored by the current owners.

The big challenge is really that this is not a single property call for sale, but a full asset “foreclosure.” Some companies allow this to happen as part of a buyout or restructuring- but it is often a sure sign of distress.

Luckily for Columbus, Leigh Mall is one of the most valuable assets the company owns and would be one of the first “sold off” in either case.

I’d hope an outlet mall or redevelopment group would make a fast charge to the property(as they have done in the past.)

Big time news in any scenario, and heads up news gathering by Zack and the Dispatch.

Worth mentioning I wouldn’t expect the mall to actually close at any point.

http://cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=68840

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CAFB and Other Bases to Receive New Training Jets, Simulators

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

CNN reports that Boeing recently agreed to a contract to produce a number of new T-X trainer jets, which will replace the T-38 trainer jets, which have been in use for nearly six decades.

“The Air Force currently plans to purchase 351 T-X aircraft, 46 simulators, and associated ground equipment,” the Air Force said in a statement announcing the award, according to CNN.

CAFB’s PAO, 1st Lt. Kara Crennan reported that the contract calls for as many as 475 new jets to be built and distributed among air bases; CAFB is one of the nation’s three major training bases.

“Columbus Air Force Base is excited to get a new trainer,” Crennan went on to say. “This is showing the progress that the Air Force is making as far as innovation and ensuring we are keeping up with the advancements in technology. While the T-38 is a wonderful trainer and aircraft and has served us faithfully the last 60 years, we are excited for what the future holds in this new T-X aircraft that Boeing is going to make for us.”

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4-County Electric Welcomes its New CEO

GTR Region – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Incoming 4-County Chief Executive Officer Brian Clark works at his desk Wednesday – Clark will replace Joe Cade, who plans to retire at the end of the month, as CEO and general manager Oct 1 – Photo by Isabelle Altman, Dispatch Staff

4-County Electric Power Association’s Asst General Manager Brian Clark has been named the non-profit cooperative’s new CEO in a recent press release; he will take over for outgoing CEO Joe Cade, who will retire at the end of the month. Clark first joined the company as a staff accountant about thirteen years ago, and worked his way up the corporate ladder to CFO in 2013m and then AGM in February.

Cade, who took over as CEO in 2010, is credited with working closely with the GTR LINK to help bring big businesses such as Yokohama to the area, as well as improving efficiency, work safety, and community engagement in the nine counties they serve. Clark means to continue and improve upon those successes: “I think 4-County’s in a great place,” Clark said. “I know that’s easy to say, but Mr. Joe and the board, they really have done the right things at the right time, which makes my job easy coming in. But it’s kind of like being a pristine athlete at a pro level. You have to work hard at staying in physical shape, so we have to work hard at maintaining what they’ve already built for us.”

Clark also serves as the LCSD board of trustees’ President, having been a member since 2010. Superintendent Lynn Wright speaks highly of him:  “He’s willing to ask good, tough questions and he expects solid answers,” Wright said.

“He’s well-educated, he knows what he’s doing and he’s been real good in his jobs here so I don’t have any doubts about him,” Outgoing CEO Cade said. “I think he’ll do a really good job. . . I’ve had over 25 years of good relationships with everyone I’ve worked with and I know Brian has got the personality to do very well,” he added. “He’s a rock-solid good Christian man.”

 

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Starkville Recognizes its Own in Awards Program

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of the Dispatch

 

The Starkville Main Street Association presented its 2018 Partner of the Year Award to Brian Kelley and Ty Thames with Eat Local Starkville. The association held its annual awards ceremony on Thursday.
Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff

Starkville’s Main Street Association recently recognized a number of local businesses and developers during its annual awards program. GDST Interim CEO Jennifer Prather spoke to recent additions such as the breezeway lights near Starkville Cafe and the street pianos on Main as improvements that “create a sense of place for people to want to be downtown and stay downtown, and they want to spend money.” She went on to say that these, as well as investment in community events, “create an impact on our city, but it also created a unique experience for visitors to our city who may have been in our community for the first time,” she added. “Now they want to come back, and they want to dive more into what we have going on here.”

 

Michelle Jones, who is now past President of the Main Stree Assn Board, presided over the meeting immediately prior to the awards ceremony. “I moved to Starkville in 1998. At that point, when you drove downtown at 5 o’clock, there was no activity,” she said. “There was no night life. There was not a lot going on. Today, I showed up at 5:15 (p.m.) and almost couldn’t get a parking spot. It’s so exciting, and our sales tax base keeps increasing, which increases what our community can do. It’s all about economic development and protecting what is special and important to Starkville.”

Among the award recipients were: Eat Local Starkville (Partner of the year for 2018), Pop Porium, Glo, Jackson Square, The Gin, 550 Russel Street, and George Mary’s.

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Football and Spices and Bars, Oh My!

GTR REGION – Courtesy of the Dispatch

1920 Hwy 45 in Columbus will soon be the home of a new sports bar called “Yo’Bar.” The venue is the brainchild of Ledrico Isaac, who has been working hard on the idea for nearly five years.  The place will have food and drink as well as a mechanical bull, karaoke, football games on the TV’s.

On a related note, The Elbow Room will re-open (under its original ownership) while they look for a buyer. They’re asking for just under $190K, including their recipes book.

Rex’s Direct Foods on Alabama St. was recently purchased by Slyvia Graham, a loyal customer who jumped at the chance to buy the store when the original owner decided to retire. She hopes to expand the variety of items on offer.

In Starkville, variety shop Tuesday Morning has moved to its new location at 402 Mississippi Hwy 12.

In Clay County:

Peco Foods will be holding a job fair this Saturday from 10AMto 2PM at the EMCC CMTE Building in Mayhew. Interested applicants should register with www.mdes.ms.gov.

The West Point Peco location is hiring maintenance technicians, management-supervisors, management trainees, experienced forklift operators, and refrigerator technicians.

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New Starkville Parks and Rec Head Sees Great Things in its Future

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Starkville Parks and Recreation Director Gerry Logan talks about his department to the Starkville Rotary Club – Logan talked about parks and recreation’s impact on Starkville – Photo by Alex Holloway, Dispatch Staff

Starkville Parks and Recreation recently appointed a new Director, Gerry Logan, who spoke with the Starkville Rotarians recently. He spoke about upcoming tournaments and events both past and future, all of which help to contribute to Starkville’s bottom line by way of tourist (and local!) dollars filling the coffers at hotels and local shops.

“Parks and Rec is an economic impact driver,” Logan said. “We host tournaments. We host events. We contribute to the economic development of the community. We deal with quality of life issues. We have sidewalks and areas for people to walk. We have a free walking track at the Travis Outlaw gym . . . It’s about contributing to the … soul, if you will, of the community.”

SP&R runs seven local parks, accounting for about two hundred acres of territory and facilities. With a $400K+ budget increase for 2019, Logan plans to put the additional funding to good use, with new projects on the horizon: “What the comprehensive plan said we needed is certainly some additional field space,” Logan said. “That’s proven. We are certainly short on field space, particularly diamond field space — baseball and softball fields. It also noted we have a lack of multi-use trail. Those are things we need and it’s certainly our goal to get there.

“As part of this new process, with any new facilities that come on we’re also going to look at renovating the Sportsplex,” he added. “A second entrance has certainly been talked about. It’s challenging because of the creek and overall layout of the land, but with any potential discussion of new facilities and a new park, the second part of that is renovating the Sportsplex to make it as efficient as it can be — parking, access roads, things like that.”

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Lowndes Community Foundation Seeks to Help Locals Help Themselves

LOWNDES COUNTY – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Matt Bogue, co-chair for the Lowndes Community Foundation, outlines five key focus areas for Columbus and Lowndes County – Photo by Deanna Robinson, Dispatch Staff

The Lowndes County Foundation has put together a steering committee comprised of many local community leaders in order to help decide how best to distribute grants intended to identify and address community challenges on a grand scale. The LCF is a local branch of the Tupelo-based CREATE Foundation, which has given out more than $109,000 among dozens of organizations and projects in Lowndes County since 2005.

At a recent meeting of the committee, attended by 44 members, Matt Bogue (co-chair of the LCF and VP of Dutch Oil) stated that “(We have) people from business, people from education, people from social service, people from all walks of life . . . These are people who are engaged and very invested in Columbus and Lowndes County. It’s a solid group.” He went on to say, “We’re business owners, people who work and teach in the community, people who live here. Our kids play ball in the parks . . . Organizations are working on these problems and get hung up. What we’re saying is, you tell us where you’re running into dead ends and let us see where we can help you.”

The group seeks to address many issues in the area, from blight and poverty to crime and educational issues. They know that no one group can fix every problem, so they are working on finding ways to address small portions of every issue that they can, conquering one problem at a time.

“(For example) I think ‘How do we solve the poverty problem?’ is almost the wrong question,” Bogue said. “It’s too big of a question. Instead, how do we take action in ways that reduce the impact of that issue? There are great organizations in the community trying to address poverty in Columbus. How does this task force plug in with those and bring those together instead of duplicating those efforts . . . That takes coordination. You can’t look at the problems of crime or educational proficiency in Lowndes County as ‘I’m going to address this (broad) problem.'”

“We’re good at arresting people for drugs, but what happens next?” Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton, said. “We need to do things that help get people off drugs and return them to being productive citizens . . . I like the holistic approach the Lowndes Community Foundation is taking here,” Shelton said. “By (better educating our children and implementing other improvements), I believe it will work.”

“We always gravitate toward the bad,” said Bogue, as he remarked upon the community’s view of itself, especially with regards to crime. “Things aren’t that bad. We live in a great community.”

Colin Krieger, a Re/MAX Realtor serving on the community engagement task force, feels the same way; he believes that we need to rid ourselves of our own apathy before we can truly move forward: “We’re often our own worst enemy with our narrative, when in fact, Columbus is a lot better off than many other communities,” he said. “Economically, we’re growing.”

LCF is not the first group to make such an attempt; some have done better than others: “There are generations of brilliant people who have tackled these problems, and yet they still persist,” Bogue said. “It doesn’t mean they didn’t do their job or do a fantastic job. What it means is these are very complex issues. Solving them is an overwhelming task. But hopefully, we can leave our community in a little bit better place for the next generation than where it was when we inherited it.”

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