Category Archives: Education

New President at EMCC

GOLDEN TRIANGLE – Courtesy of The Dispatch

East Mississippi Community College has announced that it will be bringing in a new president early in 2019. The newest officeholder is to be Scott Alsobrooks, vice president of economic and community development at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville. His predecessor at EMCC, Thomas Huebner, resigned his position in May.

Incoming EMCC President Scott Alsobrooks

“We were methodical and tried to do everything we could to get a great pool of candidates,” EMCC Board Chairman Moore said. “I think we accomplished that feat. Now we have, what I perceive is, the right man for the job. We felt like he was the best candidate of those that we interviewed to serve as our next executive leader as president.”

“He has approximately three decades of experience, some in industry and some in the community college environment,” Moore said. “He’s knowledgeable of all aspects of a Mississippi community college. He’s an excellent communicator, a documented innovator and he’s not afraid of any challenges. I think he will be a great leader for our institution moving forward.”

“I’ve watched what’s been going on in the Golden Triangle,” Alsobrooks said. “The (manufacturing) renaissance that you have is just really amazing. When I was a student in the ’80s, between Starkville and Columbus, it was just cow pastures. Now, you drive through there and you’ve got all these big manufacturing plants and they’re making helicopters and engines and just all kinds of advanced things. I’m excited about coming up here and being a part of that and helping students be successful.” “The Communiversity is going to be a huge asset in the community,” he went on to say. “I’m excited about … getting to work.

“I look forward to showing the opportunities to people and letting them know what we have available at East Mississippi.”

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Kids Become Makers in Starkville Schools

STARKVILLE, MS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Sudduth Elementary first graders Gianna Russell and Sirita Chanachai build with plastic cups in their Makerspace Friday afternoon – Mary Politz, The Dispatch

Sudduth Elementary librarian Leslie Hunt helped to bring a Makerspace to the school – an area filled with myriad materials that can help to inspire young minds to build, solve problems, and even get some learning in without them even realizing it. “I just started thinking, it would be awesome to have it all in one room for everyone to utilize,” Hunt said. “(The kids) love it with just being creative and it helps them with behavior issues. It is amazing (because) some of the kids … have had difficulty doing certain things, but in here it’s kind of like everyone is on the same level.”  she also noted that students tend to get more creative and imaginative when using simpler materials such as plastic cups and unsharpened pencils.

First grade teacher Mya Floyd said that she makes an effort to book a weekly session in the Makerspace weekly whenever possible. “It helps them analyze and work on communication,” Floyd said. “The communication skills they learn here, they take that back to the classroom in academics. They’ve started working better together in both reading and math and are even helping each other. I love bringing them here … We talk about things that aren’t academic in here. I ask them about their family and weekend, and I get to tell them about myself, too.”

Hunt isn’t the only educator who is helping to bring the concept to local schools. Brandi Burton, Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District grants and innovative strategy specialist, has been working on expanding the program throughout the district: “Maker movement is pretty much across the nation, and we wanted to bring that to Starkville,” Burton said. “The libraries are supposed to be the hub of each of the schools, so that’s where we started.”

Librarians from each of the SOCSD schools met recently to discuss the project. The current hope is to bring a Makerspace, in at least some form, to every school in the district by the end of the school year. For campuses that are short on space, this may simply be a cart packed to bursting with materials, but it’s a start. Burton went on to say, “I think it’s so important for us to join this movement, so that the kids that are hands-on learners and out-of-the-box thinkers, that they have just as much of an advantage as the students that are just academic … We just need to make sure we have opportunities for every type of learner, and with the things that will be available in these spaces, every type of learner will be catered to in some way.”

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Local Businesses Stand Out During Holiday Season

The Purple Elephant employees Dixie Belue and Sherri Dyer decorate a Christmas tree with handmade ornaments Monday afternoon- Photo by Mary Politz, Dispatch Staff

COLUMBUS & STARKVILLE – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Many local stores have been doing gangbusters as the holiday season roars into full swing, thanks to the special services they provide and the superior customer service they offer – And THAT’S Good for Business!

Sarah Barefield, manager at The Purple Elephant on Wilkins Wise Road in COlumbus, reports that their customers come for the great pottery items from Mississippi crafters, and leave delighted by the staff’s impressive skill at gift-wrapping.

“We do a great job gift wrapping,” Barefield said. “A lot of people come and shop just for our gift-wrapping. We also just try to be as nice as possible. . .  It was just better this year. We were very happy with the customers that came in, and if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here.” 

Gloria Herriott, owner of Hollyhocks in Downtown Columbus, credits the strong economy:  “Small businesses know when it’s real. We’re off to a really good Christmas season. People have more money to spend and they feel comfortable spending it.” 

Main Street Director Barbara Bigelow  had this to say: “I’ve had great responses from our merchants from both days — Black Friday and Shop Small Saturday . . . We certainly appreciate people supporting them. It’s so good for our economy. Everything we spend with our local merchants, of course, stays in our community and it feeds our economy. That’s always good for the community. It’s just important to keep your money local.”  

In Starkville, George Sherman’s clothing store on Russell Street did well, despite the Egg Bowl being in Oxford this year. His Black Friday sales were such a success that he will be extending them through the end of the month of Novermber.

“We specialize in service. We really talk to our customers and find out what their needs are and meet those needs,” Sherman said. “We were pleasantly surprised. . . Shop local, because those dollars turn back to the community.”

The Lodge, an apparel store, fell a bit short of expectations, but they still did quite well for themselves. Owner John Hendricks said, “You just can’t beat that football traffic.” he went on to say that customers still poured in to purchase Egg Bowl victory t-shirts and cowbells for the holiday season.  

“We’re very excited about the holiday season,” Hendricks said. “We always hope (people) shop locally because it affects local people.”

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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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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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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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MUW Ranks Well in Recent Southern College Comparison

COLUMBUS, Miss. (Courtesy of WCBI) –

U.S. News and World Report recently released its ranking of the best public regional universities in the South, and the “W” did well, with a very respectable showing! Its overall ranking was #20, it came in at #11 as far as value for your dollar is concerned, and #40 for colleges for veterans. The report took sixteen measurements of academic quality into account.

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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 Looking to Beat the Heat with First Annual Lemonade Day

Starkville Looking to Beat the Heat with First Annual Lemonade Day

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Starkville will be taking part in its first annual Lemonade Day – an extension of National Lemonade Day – in conjunction with a bunch of young entrepreneurs and Cadence Bank. The purpose of the vent is to help parents and their enterprising children learn more about running a business – both the good (profits) and the not so good (dealing with loans and permits). Signup is at 9AM sharp at the Glo office at 419 419 East Lampkin Street in Starkville.

Cadence Bank will be offering small loans to the participants to help them get started, and the organizers are set up to accept a hundred or so applicants: “Loosely, we’re thinking it will be for ages K-7th grade, but we’re not going to limit that if an older kid wants to participate,” said Jeffrey Rupp, Director of Outreach for the Mississippi State Entrepreneurship Center. “This is fun.” MSU and seventeen businesses have agreed to let the nascent shopkeepers set up on their sites.

Registrants will also receive a backpack with an entrepreneur workbook and access to an online interactive program that teaches them the lessons that Lemonade Day was designed to impart.

To learn more or to register for Lemonade Day Starkville, visit: https://lemonadeday.org/starkville

Please click here for the full article.

 

 

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MS SoS Sees Educated Workforce as Vital for State’s Future

MS SoS Sees Educated Workforce as Vital for State’s Future

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of the Dispatch

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann speaks to Rotary Club members at the Starkville Country Club Monday – Photo by Luisa Porter, Dispatch Staff

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann spoke to the Starkville Rotary Club on Monday, emphasizing the importance of education in order to help further improve the state’s future workforce. He noted that this need not always mean a four-year college degree, and that proper training via career tech centers can be just as valuable for students who are willing to undertake whatever training suits them:”Taking that silo, where we have a university, junior college, a high school, all of that needs to be towards one goal and that one goal would be to have an educated workforce,” he said. “And about 60-70 percent of that educated workforce will not have a college degree. That’s critical — I want you to have that college degree if that’s what you want to do. If you want to work with your hands and be a plumber, you can come to Jackson in the winter and make a million dollars.”

Hosemann said that it is vital to expose students to as many different career path options as early as is practical in their education, to get youths interested in learning about career paths that suit their own interests and talents. He also noted that, while our Unemployment level is low at the moment, that number only includes adults who are actively looking for work, and have been doing so only up to a certain amount of time: “The most significant number that we have in Mississippi is not what our percentage unemployment is,” he said. “It is workforce participation. We are at 55 percent between 18 and 64 (years old). That number is one of the lowest in the country. . .If there were 65 percent working, we could build bridges everywhere,” he went on to say. “We could have schools everywhere. We’d have plenty of money to go around. We’d have another 100,000 or 200,000 people working in Mississippi.”

Please click here for the full article.

 

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