Fiber Broadband Access Coming to Monroe County

Monroe County, MS – Courtesy of WCBI

In a promising first step, Monroe County has laid the groundwork to allow residents to gain access to proper high-speed internet in the county. MC Electric Power Assn and Conexon have announced an agreement which will provide the service; it is anticipated to be 100% complete within about four years. “This is a $30 million project, and we want to make sure it’s designed correctly,” said Barry Rowland, who is general manager of MCEPA, which was the county’s first electric co-op. The service will be administered by a subsidiary to be called “M-Pulse Fiber.”

Georgia-based OSMOS will be handling the initial infrastructure setup. “What they will be doing, you may see them come to your home, on side of the road, at poles, they will go to every single pole, check clearances, permits, crossings, railroads, waterways, state highways,” Rowland said. “I think it will be great for the whole communities we serve,” he went on to say.

Construction on the network is anticipated to begin by the fall or winter, with some customers coming online as soon as early next year.

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New Locations Coming for McAlister’s, CarMart

Golden Triangle Region, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Openings and Re-openings Galore

McAlister’s has announced that they will be opening up their third GTR location; this time, in West Point on Hwy 45, next to Burger King. They anticipate opening this summer.

CarMart is building a second location in northern Columbus on Hwy 45 a bit north of the Carl Hogan dealership.

Palmer Home Thrift Store on S. Main St is back, but they are limiting traffic to ten customers at a time. Columbus: 9-5. Starkville: 9-7.

Gordman’s has replaced the old Goody’s ztore in Starkville. They offer higher-end goods at discount prices. Mon~thurs Noon to 6, Sundays 1-9.

Food, Glorious Food!

Essential businesses are adapting to the way things are right now, and are working on ways to serve their customers.

The Butcher Shop in Columbus, 108 13th St. N., has been doing well, but have managed to keep much of their high-quality meat selection in stock. “We’re doing great,” owner Bill Mason said. “We still have plenty of product to sell… Everybody is buying heavier than they normally would because everything is so uncertain.” 8-5:30 Mon~Sat. Call ahead to make sure what you’re looking for is available.

Starkville’s United Produce, a wholesaler, has shifted to allow for retail sales for the time being, as many of their usual restaurants are closed or ordering much less than usual. 900 Louisville St, Mon~Fri 7 to 4 and Saturday 7 to noon. 662-323-8578. “We’re making the (delivery) option available to the customers,” General Manager John McKissack said. “We’re doing it for them and for us. I’ve gotta find a way to support our guys too. … My guys all came together with this idea. From here on, we’re all in this together.”

East Mississippi Wholesale Foods, 5897 Hwy 182, is doing the same. They offer bulk purchases of meats, paper products, cleaning supplies, and similar items, as well, so make room in your freezer! “We understand that Kroger and Walmart are selling out of stuff quickly, or limiting what you can purchase,” store rep Cristen Crantham said. “Even when we’re out, we are hoping to get another truck in the next day. Customers can call and we can hold items for you or call you when they are in.” Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Moe’s Original BBQ in Starkville on Main St is offering workers who are laid off or otherwise out of work $5 pulled pork sandwiches and two sides Monday through Friday 2-4 p.m.

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Customers Stocking up on Gardening Supplies, Guns, Ammo

COLUMBUS & STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

With local cities and counties both imposing curfews, closing non-essential businesses, and asking people to stay home whenever possible, many residents are planning ahead for whatever may come. This has resulted in runs on certain items in stores, forcing the shops to take precautions to protect its customers and workers, even as their shelves get raided.

Signs outside the Oktibbeha County Co-op in Starkville denote city laws regarding gatherings. Photo by Theo DeRosa, Dispatch Staff

General Manager Jeff Hays of Lowndes Farm Supply reports that his business has increased due to the concerns over potential shortages: “I think they don’t know what might happen to the supply chain.” Many folks are buying more feed, seeds, and more, within the restrictions stores have had to implement in order to make sure everyone can get what they need.

Owner Gary Dedeaux of Gary’s Pawn Shop on Hwy 45 in Columbus says that handguns and 9mm ammo have become hard to keep in stock despite a 2-box/person limit; the manufacturers themselves no longer have any to send them. As with many other businesses, they have implemented a locked-door policy in the name of safety, along with a tight restriction on what types of transactions may be processed and how many customers are allowed in-store at any given time. They also specified that ammo must be pre-ordered.

“What we’ve noticed the most is the way people shop,” owner Ken Campbell of The Spirit Shoppe on Bluecutt said. “It’s ‘give me a case of that,’ instead of a bottle. I guess they plan on self-quarantining until this is over. I had one gentleman buy six half-gallons of gin and 21 liters of tonic, and he says, ‘I’ll see y’all in a couple or three months.’ That’s kind of the mentality that’s going on.” He also noted that, while bars are now closed to inside business, many of them still allow drive-thru or curbside item pickup.
Scott Gault, owner of Starkville’s Scotty’s Wine and Spirits on Hwy 12, reports higher sales over last year, despite the reduced hours.

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All the Local News That’s Something Something…March 21, 2020

Please keep in mind that many cities in the area, including Columbus, now have a curfew (10PM to 6AM here). There’s a steep fine for violating it, so please stay home during those times unless there’s an emergency! Note that many restaurants remain open for most of the daylight hours for drive-thru or curbside pickup service.

Also, many places such as grocery stores now have set up special “Senior hours,” in the mornings, during which ONLY Senior citizens and their caretakers will be allowed into the store. Please call your favorite store to see if they’re participating in this, and when, should you be, or have a family member, who could benefit from this special service!

I believe what’s good for business is good for our community. If you have good news, call me: 662.329.7653. My day job is being a Realtor at RE/MAX Partners

In the meantime, please help out your community and buy local!

From Starkville Strong

Call me for all your fruit and veggies. Got enough salads to feed the national guard for a month. We offer free delivery or available at the warehouse. 900 Louisville Street, Starkville, MS.
Warehouse # 662-323-8578
Chris Buckley 662-321-0877

Cars? You want cars? We got cars!

CARMART is making a HUGE investment and building a bigger location on the North end of Highway 45.

Let’s hope this health issue is long over when they get ready to open for business this summer!

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Louisiana Shrimp Shack to Return to Columbus Soon

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Owner Kenneth Helmer reports that he is working on converting the old Pumpkin Patch location (6188 Hwy. 45 N.) into the new Cajun eatery. the new Columbus Shrimp Shack. He plans to serve up genuine Louisiana gulf seafood, straight from the source: “I made up my mind about the shrimping,” Helmer said. “When you commercial fish for a living, we don’t always get what we should for our seafood. I just decided I’m up in the age now, I don’t want to fight the season. I just want to find me a place up here, settle in and make a restaurant and get good help where I can watch it more than work it.”

“Get ready for a little spice,” he went on to say. “We’re going to put out good quality food. Whatever we do, we’re going to cook it from scratch. … Whatever I cook in here, in this building, it ain’t coming from a jar. . .People are excited about me coming back,” Helmer said. “The people up here, I like it. It’s a nice community, a lot of good folks.”

In other food news:

Columbus’ own Southern Snow Shack on Chubby Dr (near Mi Toro) has now reopened in anticipation of the heat to come. They serve up cold, frosty treats Mon~Sat from Noon to 6PM.

In Starkville, you can get your snowball on at Starkvegas Snowballs in the Cotton District and on MLK Drive. Open every day from 2-7 PM.

Also in the area, Two Brothers Smoked Meats is now open for business at its new location. They had outgrown their old Cotton District venue, so they now run a two-story restaurant on University Drive with more than triple the capacity. Tues~Sat from 11AM to 10PM and Sundays from 11 to 4.

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MEC Seeks to Improve State’s Reputation

COLUMBUS, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

MEC recently held their annual luncheon at Lion Hills. At the meeting, CEO and President Scott Waller asked the many business professionals and community leaders in attendance about how they felt Mississippi is perceived by both locals and by outsiders. More than half of them had negative views on the state themselves, and the general consensus was that most people from other states feel the same way. His goal is to help to identify the most important of our issues and bring them to local and state leaders so that they may hopefully be addressed on a large scale: “When we think about what our state is, where we’re going, how do we change that image?” he said. “How do we make sure that we’re not talking about the negative, but instead figuring out a way to deal with the negative — because we can’t walk away from it — but then talk about the good things that are happening that can help change the dynamic of the conversation?”

Mississippi Economic Council President and CEO Scott Waller speaks with Kyle Jordan of Starkville – Isabelle Altman, Dispatch Staff

He pointed out that the state has been improving gradually in recent years: Our graduation rate is a bit above the national average (85% as compared to 84.6%), and that our national ranking has improved, as well: “In the latest Newsweek poll on education, Mississippi ranked 46th,” he said. “Think about that for just a second: 46. Maybe that’s not a great number, but when you’ve always been either 50 or 51 (including) D.C., that’s a pretty big improvement. … There’s something happening in (education) that’s allowed us to move up. We’re 46th today. Our next goal should be 44. Then 42. That’s when you start to see the needle move, that we’re actually making real progress.”

Most attendees agreed that our universities and community colleges are doing well in their mission to prepare students for the workforce: “Particularly in a place like Columbus that has not only strong community colleges but a strong four-year university right here, and you’re fairly close to another, that you see the value of what our universities bring to the table and what our community colleges bring to the table in terms of preparing our workforce,” he said. However, their view on our K-12 educational system was not nearly as optimistic, with 2/3 of them saying that pre-college education is inadequate in the state.

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Logan’s Roadhouse in Columbus Among Several Stores Closed Nationwide.

NUTS!” 🥜🥜🥜

Columbus,MS – Courtesy of Brewbound

According to several local reports and one former staff member, the mildly popular Logan’s Roadhouse eatery on 18th Avenue in Columbus has closed. The franchise location was well-known locally for its abundant free peanuts and lackluster customer service.

Several reports of other shuttered locations in recent days include: Gonzales,LA, Corpus Christi, TX, Chester, VA, Bowling Green,KY, Ocala,FL, Opelika,AL, Tridelphia,WV, Nashville,TN.

The restaurant was part of a redevelopment of the area in 2011 that included 3 new franchise hotels and a Renasant Bank branch. Although online reviews were far below average, the closure seems to be part of a recent restructuring after Roadhouse was acquired by Craftworks Holdings in November of 2019. Logan’s previously closes 18 stores as part of a bankruptcy agreement in 2016 has reported Craftworks Holdings has shuttered a number of Gordon Biersch and Rock Bottom Brewery locations as well in recent weeks:

“On Sunday, the Nashville, Tennessee-headquartered operator and franchisor closed Gordon Biersch locations in Syracuse, New York; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Rockville and Baltimore, Maryland; and the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

All of those locations have been scrubbed from the Gordon Biersch and Rock Bottom websites.

In a statement shared with Brewbound, Craftworks Holdings chief experience officer Josh Kern called the move “purely a business decision as we continue to focus on other Craftworks Holdings locations throughout the country.”

An “About Craftworks” boilerplate shared by Kern said Craftworks operates more than 390 restaurants and breweries in 40 states and Washington, D.C. In addition to Rock Bottom and Gordon Biersch, Craftworks’ operates the Logan’s Roadhouse and Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom chains, as well as speciality restaurants Chophouse, Big River Grill, AIA Ale Works, Ragtime Tavern & Seafood Grill, Seven Bridges Grill & Brewery and Sing-Sing.

Sunday’s closures are just a few in a string of recently shuttered Craftworks outposts, including Old Chicago locations Dallas and Cedar Hill, Texas, and Boise, Idaho; Gordon Biersch restaurants in Gilbert, Westgate and Phoenix, Arizona, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Buffalo, New York; and a Logan’s RoadHouse in Corpus Christi, Texas.”

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PRESS RELEASE = Historic Rex Theater to Be given New Life

STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership

OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Castle Properties, Masonic Lodge, and Glo to undergo 1.2 million dollar restoration & renovation for Historic Rex Theater in downtown Starkville.

Golden Triangle developer and owner of Castle Properties, Mark Castleberry, plans to redevelop the former theater into an office space for local business, Glo.

Kyle Jordan, a 6-year member of the Starkville Freemason’s Abert Lodge said, “When I became Master of the Lodge, I had high hopes of restoring our building so that we could shift our focus from maintaining our property, to philanthropic efforts, member outreach, and retention.”

Anna Barker of Glo said, “The redevelopment of the Rex Theater is an opportunity to honor the rich history of Starkville while celebrating the entrepreneurial ecosystem and tremendous economic growth in recent years.”

“We’re so excited to firmly place our roots in Starkville. What started in a 30 square foot closet as a student startup, Glo has transformed into a local business employing over 15 members of our community,” said Hagan Walker.

Walker adds, “I’m absolutely elated that we have found a place that allows us to stay in Starkville and a partnership with Mark [Castleberry] and The Masonic Lodge will help revitalize our downtown.”

Briar Jones of Thomas Shelton Jones and Associates will serve as the architect on the project and Byrum Construction, Inc. will oversee the construction of the development.

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Humble Taco to Take Over Former City Bagel Location

STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of the Starkville Daily News

A rendering of the new Humble Taco concept that is expected to open on University Drive in May

Eat Local Starkville, a group that runs a number of Starkville restaurants, plans to introduce the Humble Taco concept to the city at the former City Bagel location on University Drive. The restaurant will place a focus upon locally-sourced ingredients wherever possible. Owner and Chef Ty Thames commented that he wants to present patrons with a blend of Mexican and Southern cuisine.

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Courtesy photo: A rendering of the new Humble Taco concept that is expected to open on University Drive in May

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Comfort Food to Get a New Source in Starkville

STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Georgia Blue will be holding its grand opening for its 5th restaurant location on March 2nd in Starkville at 207 S. Jackson Street. The Mississippi-based eatery will serve up home cookin’ day and night. The small chain has been around since 2010.

On the downside, local favorite bakery The Biscuit Shop will be closing its doors as of the end of the month, in preparation for a move to Northport, Alabama. Owner Krista Olley posted about the move on FaceBook: “We will have distributors in Starkville with our biscuits,” the post reads. “We thank you for your business from the bottom of our hearts.” She says to keep an eye on their FB page for upcoming info on where to find their products on store shelves in Starkville after the move.

Local contemporary women’s boutique Dsquared has completed its move to their new location at 807 University Drive. They will be holding a grand opening celebration Friday at 4PM.

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