Category Archives: Charity

Lemonade Day is Coming!

GOLDEN TRIANGLE – Courtesy of the Dispatch

– 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.

ld2018 – Kadie Eldridge, left, and Abigail McTaggart pour lemonade at their ‘Lemony Spickets’ stand on the Mississippi State University campus in this 2018 Dispatch file photo

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!

To learn more about Lemonade Day or to sign up and volunteer, go to

Click here for the FaceBook page for the event.

Please click here to read the original article.

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International Paper Issues Nearly $100K in Grants to Schools & Nonprofits

GOLDEN TRIANGLE – Courtesy of the Dispatch

International Paper has a regular program which issues grants to local educational and nonprofit groups in areas where they operate. This year, they are issuing a total of $95 thousand to local beneficiaries.

“As part of the IP family, we are privileged to assist these schools and area non-profits in their efforts to make an impact on the lives of those throughout our communities,” said Columbus Mill manager David Phillips. “We offer our heartfelt appreciation to each of these organizations and their volunteers. The … work you do is critical to the success of our community.” 

IP’s grant program addresses needs in four main areas: education, hunger, health/wellness, and community initiatives. 

19 local organizations received funding this time around. 

“It’s absolutely huge for us,” said YMCA Director Andy Boyd. “The adaptive therapy we provide depends on grants like the one we received from International Paper. We just couldn’t do this work without it.” 

“IMPACT is a pre-school program for children from birth to 5 years old who have special needs and challenges,” said Janie Cirlot-New, Director of Starkville’s T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability at MSU. “In addition to the classes and we do assessments to determine if children are going to need special services. . . We rely almost completely on these kinds of soft-money donations,” Cirlot-New said. “These grants are what allow us to provide the services we offer.” 

Please click here for the original article, including a breakdown of the grants issued.

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Bank of Vernon Coming to Columbus

COLUMBUS, WEST POINT – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Andy Johnson, CEO of Bank of Vernon, has announced that they plan to open a new branch – only their second outside of Vernon – on Bluecutt and Chubby Drive in Columbus. No date has been set, however. The bank first opened in Vernon, Alabama in 1911 and made it through the Great Depression. In 2017, it opened up in Caledonia, which is currently its only other branch outside Vernon.

Aaron’s on 45, a rent-to-own place, has moved its inventory over to its Starkville location at 424 Hwy 12 W and shuttered its local building.

The Uniform Center has opened for business at 443 Wilkins Wise Road in Columbus. New owners Leroy and Pam Lacy moved the business from Highway 45.

Belk on Hwy 45 N just recently held its Grand Re-opening this past Wednesday after extensive renovations. They are listed as #14 out of their 150 division stores.

Hoover’s Bakery in West Point has re-opened its doors! They will open at 5 AM Tuesdays through Fridays, closing not long after lunchtime. So, bring your appetite and be sure to wake up bright and early!

Please click here for the original article.

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New Construction Abounds Along South Frontage Road

New Construction Abounds Along South Frontage Road

GOLDEN TRIANGLE – Courtesy of The Dispatch

The next time you’re taking a trip from Columbus to Starkville (or realms beyond), keep a weather eye out for the service road to your left. A number of construction projects, new and old, are cropping up there like flowers in Springtime.

1521 S. Frontage Road, just past the Macon/Meridian exit, will house the new combined West Point-Starkville-Columbus office location for Atmos Energy, which will replace their existing offices in those areas once it opens its doors (scheduled for this September); existing employees will be shifted to the new office.

Kingdom Vision International Church is working on adding to its new building at 2467 S. Frontage Road. They hope to open up the new multi-purpose center and gymnasium in late 2019.

Exceed Technologies and Mississippi Alarm arecurrently building new structures at 2787 S. Frontage Road, and they hope to move in by mid-October.

A bit further on, nearer the GTR Airport exit, Stribling Equipment is building their own new facility. They sell heavy equipment, and have found the need for a more centalized, larger location in order to better serve their customers. They hope to complete the move by January.

Sunbelt Rentals opened its Columbus location 645 Highway 45 S., this past June. It offers rental construction equipment for everyone from large contractors to individual homeowners who need some special tools for their favorite project.

Please click here for the original article.

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International Paper Keeps Going On Strong in Columbus

International Paper Keeps Going On Strong in Columbus

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

David Phillips, Columbus Mill manager for International Paper – Photo by Mary Pollitz

Columbus Mill Manager David Phillips recently spoke to the Rotarians at Lion Hills Center in Columbus about his facility, which was acquired by International Paper a couple of years ago, and the company’s plans for the future. They have begun a new initiative called “IP Way Forward,” having already invested $135,000 within the local community as a way of giving back to the good people of Columbus. Their initiative calls for the company to focus on “[I]nvesting in people, sustaining forests, improving the planet, innovative products and inspiring performance.” This includes helping out the less fortunate by assisting with education, hunger, and medical programs.

Kellum Kim, mill communications manager said that they wish to continue the good works done by Weyerhauser, the prior owners of the mill, with regards to the community in Lowndes County: “People that know Weyerhaeuser, know that they did a lot of great things in the community, they just did more behind the scenes,” Kim said. “What we are really trying to change is getting more hands-on, (and) get more of our team members involved.”

“Part of the IP Way Forward is to provide value for stakeholders,” Phillips said. “One of our stakeholders is the community and so we want to make sure we are providing value for the community that our employees live in.”

Kim added: “It’s all about investing in our communities and being a good steward of our communities and what we can do to make our community a better place for everyone in Lowndes County.”

The mill currently has about 325 full-time employees, including thirty who were brought on board this year. They also contract up to a hundred workers per day, and their average pay rate is about $28/hr. Philips noted that the mill is largely self-sustaining, as they generate all of their own power by harnessing the steam generated by burning tree bark that might not otherwise be useful; they also use the surrounding 65-acre marsh to treat their wastewater.

International Paper and their Columbus Mill are giving back to their local community while making products that we use every day — and THAT’S Good for Business!

Please click here for the original article.


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Starkville Habitat for Humanity and MSU Collaborate on Tenth Maroon Edition Home

Starkville Habitat for Humanity and MSU Collaborate on Tenth Maroon Edition Home

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Courtesy of MSU

Habitat for Humanity groundbreaking in Starkville (photo courtesy of MSU)

Mississippi State University and Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity recently broke ground on their tenth Maroon Edition home. The project, which has been going on for about a decade, provides homes to Habitat-eligible families in the area who need the help, with emphasis on those who are students and/or otherwise associated with MSU. Construction on the home will take place this Fall, with the help of Habitat and MSU volunteers.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum Habitat for Humanity with a $5,000 check from the university during the event. “I’ve now been a part of 10 homes and it’s something that I’m very proud of,” Keenum said. “We’re about helping other people. A lot of the people working to build this home will be employees, retirees, and more importantly, students of Mississippi State. What better experience for students to share than to help someone have a new home?”

All in all, the Starkville Area HfH has now built, or otherwise supplied, over sixty homes to local families in need. Students are encouraged to volunteer to help out on these projects; roughly 3,600 volunteers have become involved and generously donated their time, effort, and expertise over the years.

“When you look at the Habitat website, it says that we solidify and build strong communities,” said Charles Ware, Starkville Area HfH president. “What it doesn’t say is that it’s a game-changer for the new homeowner.”

The new homeowner, Lou-Quan “Quan” Lucious, pitched in to help build a new home for a friend of hers last year: “I learned a lot working on [the] house,” Lucious said. “It showed me that I have to work hard for something I really want. I had to put work into it to get this. I had to put my mind to it.”

“Habitat, for me, is about creating homes and creating spaces where families can live and grow and learn and love each other,” said MSU Vice President for Student Affairs Regina Hyatt. “We are delighted at Mississippi State to be able to send students here to help create hope.”

More information about the program, for both potential homeowners and for volunteers, can be found in the full article here.

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Starkville to Get New Public Housing and Commercial Space

Starkville to Get New Public Housing and Commercial Space

Starkville – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Local attorney Johnny Moore recently spoke with Starkville aldermen on behalf of Tuscalloosa developer Christopher Dobbs at their board meeting. They discussed potential plans to move public housing development Pecan Acres to a new location, freeing up the original site on Highway 12 for commercial development.  The Starkville Housing Authority and HUD are also involved with the possible project.

Attorney Johnny Moore speaks to aldermen during Tuesday’s board meeting – Credit: Alex Holloway, Dispatch Staff

While the exact location of the new Pecan Acres site has yet to be determined, it will still be within Ward 7, and current residents will have first choice of housing units to move into at the new location. The new site will be 100% ready before requiring anyone from the old one to decide whether to move there or go elsewhere: “The way this is going to take place, the units will be built, and then they will move into the new units,” Moore said. “Nobody’s going to be displaced for any period of time.”

The aldermen seemed receptive to the idea, according to reports. Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver said that “This is a once-in-a-lifetime (opportunity). . . So if Volunteer Starkville wants to get involved or anyone wants to help, there’s tons of outreach programs out there that could help.”

“We’re going to take the Pecan Acres property and put about $150 million in infrastructure improvements in it,” Moore said. “It’s going to increase the funds that our schools will receive by about half a million dollars a year. We’re going to receive sales tax. We’re going to receive property tax. We’re going to get people who are living in public housing that’s over 70 years old in new housing.”

The aldermen also discussed potential interest in a planned EMS district, and the matter will be open to input from EMS service providers at their May 1st meeting. The idea is that it should be possible, within the defined district, to house both fire trucks and Fire Dept. ambulances at the same stations, improving response times and allowing easier access to OCH Regional Medical Center.

The fact that ambulance services are generally run at a loss, and must therefore be subsidized, was brought up as part of the discussion; it will be discussed further at their next meeting, along with ideas for potential outside firms that can assist with implementation.

Please click here for the full article.



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6th Annual Restaurant Week Charities Announced

Starkville – Courtesy of The Dispatch

The Partnership revealed the three charities that will be eligible to win up to $5,000 from Cadence Bank during the sixth annual Restaurant Week later this month.

Jennifer Prather (courtesy photo)

Partnership Director of Tourism Jennifer Prather has announced that The Partnership has selected this year’s charities who will be receiving grants based on patronage during Restaurant Week, later this April: Christian World Missions, the Oktibbeha County Humane Society and the United Way of North Central Mississippi. These were selected from a pool of nominations sent in by the community. During Restaurant Week, patrons at certain restaurants will be given the opportunity to “vote” for one of the three charities; the winning charity will receive $5,000 from Cadence Bank; 2nd Place will receive $1,000; the last will receive $500.

Restaurant week is set for April 22-29. “During that time, we encourage the community and visitors to eat out as many times as they can,” Prather said. “Every time they eat out at a participating restaurant, they can cast their ballot for a participating charity of their choice . . .We encourage everyone to be ready on April 22-29 to eat out as much as they can and help these organizations share the message of the work they’re doing and to get everyone excited about them,” She went on to say.

Partnership CEO Scott Maynard said Restaurant Week stated that both local restaurants and local charities benefit from the arrangement: “I think it’s graduated to the point where people recognize it now and really look forward to not only participating in the nomination process, but also through the thousands of votes we receive from people dining out each year,” he said.

Please click here for the full article.

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Neighborhood Popup Soup Kitchen Helps Local Children

Neighborhood Popup Soup Kitchen Helps Local Children

Columbus – Courtesy of The Dispatch

A group of generous locals have recently begun handing out food to those in need at 14th Ave & 20th St, not far from the Boys & Girls’ Club. They set up shop on Monday afternoons at around the time school lets out; they try to have about 50 meals made each week, and it’s all paid for out of their own pockets, plus the occasional donation.

Shannon Scott gives Leon Brewer a sandwich on 14th Avenue Monday afternoon. A different member of the group supplies the food each week.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

“It’s free, baby,” Willie “Sweet” Scott assured a young girl and her two siblings as he and his friend Charles Clemmons saw to it they each had evertything they needed.

“It was set up kind of for the kids, but we don’t turn away (any)body,” Clemmons said. “I wouldn’t want to miss somebody, tell somebody, ‘No you’re too old.’ That may be his only meal. People (are) hungry sometimes coming through the neighborhood.”

The group sets up their stand on Mondays from 3-5 p.m. where they give away whatever they’ve prepared that week.

“I’m just happy to be out here doing what I can and kind of helping,” fellow volunteer Shannon Scott said. “Of course, you run into all sorts of characters. You got your ones who want something for nothing and then you’ve got people who come and you know they really need it. They make it all worth it.”

Please click here for the full article.

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Bring Your Kids, Bring Your Cameras, and Come on Out to the XMAS Tree Lighting and Caroling Downtown!

Bring Your Kids and Come on Out to the XMAS Tree Lighting Downtown!

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Tonight is the annual lighting of the biggest and best Christmas tree around, says Main Street Columbus Executive Director Barbara Bigelow: “Everyone is invited to gather from 5:30-7 p.m. at the east end of the Tombigbee pedestrian bridge where the city will have one of the beautiful magnolia trees decorated.”

Kylee Price, then 3, is held up by her father Eliot Price during the 2015 Christmas tree lighting at the Riverwalk. This year’s official lighting festivities are Monday from 5:30-7 p.m. Photo Courtesy of The Dispatch

Fourth graders from Cook Elementary will be singing carols starting at 5:30PM, and Mayor Robert Smith will light the tree at about 6:15 p.m. Kids will be able to make craft items to take home, and everyone will have hot chocolate and cookies; representatives will also be accepting new, unwrapped toys for children aged 3 to 12 for the community toy drive.

Santa & Miz Claus will be on hand, along with a professional shutterbug to help preserve memories of the night’s festivities. Local event sponsors include Rex’s Rentals; Colin Krieger, RE/MAX Partners, Starkville-Columbus; DMayfield Photography; Visit Columbus; McAlister’s; and Coffeehouse on 5th.

“We hope everyone will bring their friends and families and enjoy this free community event,” said Bigelow. “This beautiful evening will give all kids, young and old, a wonderful, joyous time together — a night of family fun.”

Please click here to view the full article.

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