The W is looking to give its baseball players a new home in which to roost. Plans for fundraising have begun with the intention of adding a baseball field to the campus near Pohl Gymnasium: “We’re working on a pretty vigorous fundraiser at the moment to begin phase one [in about] 10 to 18 months,” Athletic Director Jason Trufant said. “With this being for the most part funded by donations and fundraisers, we can start phase one pretty quickly.”
“It’s going to be a great way to recruit more players as well as more students,” said Matt Wolfenbarger, head coach of the Owls baseball team. “It will also allow our guys to go from class to practice.” Right now, the Owls use Columbus High’s field for their Home games.
With the school having recently been granted admission into (provisional) Division III status in the NCAA, it is hoped that this project will help to highlight The W and its sports program on a national level.
Jones Lange LaSalle Americas (JLL), the new management firm in charge of Leigh Mall, have begun the much-needed work of fixing up the mall’s parking lot and roof while also seeking new tenants to take part in what many hope will be a brighter, better future for the mall. Caroline Hearnsberger of Tupelo’s The Retail Coach (TRC), recently gave a presentation to local business owners regarding the future of Leigh Mall. Along the way, she stated that JLL recently approved a bid for these repairs:
“They’re definitely interested in, and wanting to, do repairs to the inside and the places in the parking lot that aren’t exactly safe,” she said. “They’ve already taken care of the missing tiles in the interior. So they’re definitely moving forward in making the property look better.”
Hearnsberger went on to say that JLL has been acting on fixes such as these after they took over in late 2018; the prior owners were moved to do some minor parking lot fixes only under pressure from the local government. Where the old owners failed to act, the new ones are eager to do so, especially when it comes to repopulating the mall with new businesses:
“I can’t go into specifics,” she said. “But there are still companies definitely interested in that space. … It’s just a matter of putting the right puzzle pieces together.”
She also stated that there has been some interest in the vacated space on Hwy 45 where K-Mart used to be, and on the soon-to-be closed Office Depot space not far from Leigh Mall: “I know it’s frustrating to see people vacating those spaces,” she said. “But there is movement.”
However, TRC is also looking to help improve downtown: “When you have people living and working down there, they often just want to walk down somewhere and get a bite to eat or buy shoes, whatever,” Hearnsberger went on to say. “And there just aren’t that many vacancies here.” She has a point – there are only twelve vacancies among the 136 retail spaces downtown, according to CMSD’s Barbara Bigelow; they’d like to see that last dozen filled up.
“People love having a personal shopping experience,” Hearnsberger continued. “Especially younger people — the people in the 18 to 24 age range — they like being able to touch and look at the merchandise. They can go and get what they need right away instead of waiting for shipping.” For the full article, please click here.
Students and instructors alike have fond memories of their time at Lee High in Columbus. The site is currently undergoing renovations in order to turn it into a combination mall/apartment complex with 23 residential units available.
“I remember so clearly sitting in the halls and drawing [the rows of lockers].” Lee alumna Carol Littlejohn, class of 1968, said. “We learned how to draw them so the lines made it look like they were getting smaller.”
“We’re hoping to be complete by Sept. 1,” Developer Scott Berry, class of 1971, said. “We want to start leasing then, and I’m really hoping for it. I don’t think that’ll be a problem.”
First built in 1953, the school was in operation until 2011, when the school district opened Columbus Middle School on the other side of town. Berry bought the property in 2018 and got to work on the renovations right away.
In the mall section, Berry’s plans include a 200-seat restaurant and a 1000-seat auditorium. The main twenty former classrooms are being converted into 1BR/1BA and 2BR/2BA apartments, both meant for long-term rentals. The three remaining spaces, which are larger, are being set up as short-term rentals, aimed primarily at complimenting the event space.
“If people are coming in for a weekend wedding, say, and they want to have the rehearsal and the wedding, we want them to say, ‘oh, can we have those apartments too?'” Berry said. “They’re designed to be complimentary.”
Berry says that he wanted to maintain as much of the original school structure as possible, so that tenants would always remember where the building came from. He has made sure to preserve much of the old building, including many lockers and classroom doors.
“Who knows,” Littlejohn added. “Maybe they’ll even want to learn the history of Lee High.”
– all photos are Courtesy photos unless specified otherwise –
June 1st, 2019 will be Lemonade Day! It’s an opportunity for kids to learn the basics of running a business, marketing, and (hopefully) turning a profit. An offshoot of the national LD program, it began last year in Starkville, and its success – over 150 kids up to 6th-grade level took part, setting up 64 lemonade stands throughout the city – has led to expanding the local program to both Columbus and West Point.
The Golden Triangle program leader is Jeffrey Rupp, director of outreach for Mississippi State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship. He’s hoping that the number of participants this year will double or more.
Participants can now sign up online; they will receive a free workbook, which gives them the basics on starting a business, marketing it, and how to handle finances at a basic level they can understand. It also encourages kids to donate some of the profits to local charities in order to help others, which many did. The kids can also receive advice & feedback from local business owners. Last year, Cadence bank even offered $40 micro-loans to the budding entrepreneurs; Rupp said all of these micro-loans were paid back 100%. They will be doing so again this year.
Main Street Columbus Director Barbara Bigelow said: “I thought it was just so cool,” she said. “… I love the program. The whole premise beside it is to teach young people how to set up a business and follow through.” She is currently looking into obtaining booth spots downtown for the event, and she has reached out to local schools in order to solicit interest from students.
“All you have to do is go buy lemonade,” Rupp said. “So it’s really easy for the public to get involved.” – And THAT’S Good for Business!
Groundbreaking first took place on East Mississippi Community College’s ~$44 million Communiversity facility in December 2016; it was designed to be EMCC’s new state-of-the-art workforce technical training facility. For more information, please click here:
Students in East Mississippi Community College’s Automotive Technology Program now have two new cars upon which to hone their skills: a pair of Toyota Corollas that have been donated by Carl Hogan Toyota. The vehicles are preproduction models (which cannot be sold, and are normally only used for training purposes or for working out the last-minute kinks in a new design).
General Manager Jonnie Moore said that he already has three graduates of the Auto Tech Program working for him, and that he would like to see more graduates of their caliber in the future: “We are really excited about what EMCC has going on over there in that program and we want to help out in any way we can to get these students ready to go to work,” Moore said. “If we give them Toyotas to work on, it will make it a little easier when they come over here to work for us.”
In January 2018, EMCC was one of only twelve colleges nationwide selected by Toyota Motor North America to participate in the Toyota Technician Education Program (T-Ten); prior to this, only workers educated at Toyota facilities could get jobs as Toyota Certified Technicians.
EMCC President Dr. Scott Alsobrooks expressed his gratitude for Carl Hogan’s donation of the Corollas: “These Corollas will further enhance the quality education provided to students in our Automotive Technology Program,” Alsobrooks said. “We can’t thank Carl Hogan Toyota enough for this contribution and for the support of this program and our institution.”
Starkville Nutrition (SN) is coming to Columbus with two new locations, under two new names. Columbus Nutrition is coming to 2020 Hwy 45 (a bit past Sonic on the right). They will offer such items as loaded teas and healthy protein shakes. The owners are SN founders Luke and Avery Adkins. Downtown will also get its own location in late May, to be called Second Ave. Nutrition soon; owners are Michael and Rachel Womack. While the shops are independent of one another, the items they carry will be similar, and certain items will be the same at both stores.
Brickerton Day Spa has been revamped by its new owners and rebranded as “Allegro Medspa.”
“Hopefully this will give (spa customers) easier access to health care. If you need to get seen we can make that happen,” Amy Bogue, one of the owners said. “Say someone comes into the clinic for back pain — I would love for our providers to send them to the spa for a massage before putting them on medicine. We just kind of want to marry medicine and wellness together and promote being healthy overall.”
The West Point Growth Alliance will be sponsoring a city-wide yard sale this Saturday morning. Check out the West Point Life Facebook page for a map, or call them if you want to sell items: 662-494-5121.
GOLDEN TRIANGLE REGION, MS – Courtesy of the Dispatch
The GTR will soon be receiving about $13 million in funds from the State, which will include more than $6 million for construction and MUW and $5 million for the Partnership School in Starkville.
“We didn’t get everything we wanted, but we got a lot,” said Rep. Jeff Smith (R-Columbus), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Columbus will receive about $1 million to be used for City Hall renovation and for Phase 2 of the Brown Ampitheater on The Island. West Point will receive about $500 thousand for road repairs. Crawford and Caledonia will get money for school repairs and park improvements.
“It was nice to see Crawford get something,” Smith said. “It’s the first time they’ve ever gotten anything.”
Not all of the financial requests succeeded, however, but this will be strong start. Much of the funding will be going to our universities and to improve quality of life for people in the GTR region – and THAT’S Good for Business!
The Mississippi Senate approved HB 1565 this week with a 51-1 vote. As it is believed that the Governor will sign it into law soon. The new law will add 1% to the existing 2% restaurant tax, which is expected to bring in about $2 million in its first year. Local Aldermen have begun discussions on how to move forward with the proposed Cornerstone Park project, with a final cost estimated to be around $18-22 million.
The model for Cornerstone – Vicksburg’s Sports Force Park – has turned out to be a massive success in a very short time, so following their lead is the current plan. The City of Starkville plans to build a tournament-ready recreation facility at Cornerstone Park on Highway 25. Once the bill is signed, it will go to the people for a referendum, which requires a 60% approval in order to pass.
Part of the Pilgrimage once again, restoration on Clay County’s Waverly Mansion have been moving forward at full tilt. Hundreds of visitors come there every year for the Pilgrimage, even in its partially-restored status, to see its beauty and wonder what it will look like when it’s all done.