Category Archives: Caledonia

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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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.”

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Caledonia’s Market on Main a Success

Caledonia’s Market on Main a Success

CALEDONIA – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Amanda Boltwood (courtesy photo)

Caledonia has joined the Golden Triangle’s habit of hosting Farmer’s Markets this time of year, and they have been met with rapid success. Their first outing (on May 4) featured eight vendors of all kinds, and this number promptly doubled for the second one. Market on Main in downtown Caledonia is open on designated Fridays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The idea originated with Amanda Boltwood, who also chairs the annual fall Caledonia Days festival. “I just really love being involved in the town,” Boltwood said. “I thought this would be a great way to get everyone out on Main Street and bring the community together for the summer.”

Alderwoman Tammy McCool remarked, “It invites people into our town; they’ll visit our restaurants and our businesses here. It’s just another way to showcase Caledonia.”

Vendor Callie Shelnut remarked, “I was just amazed, for such a small town, the number of people who came out — but then, this town pulls together so well.”

Market on Main dates in downtown Caledonia are Fridays June 1 and 22, and July 13 and 27, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. If interest warrants, more dates may be added in August.

For more information, interested vendors may contact Boltwood at 662-251-2875 or visit facebook.com/marketonmaincaledonia. There is no fee to participate.

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GT Regional Airport Doing Record Business

GT Regional Airport Doing Record Business

STARKVILLE – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Warren Housley, left, visits with Golden Triangle Regional Airport Director Mike Hainsey. The airport director spoke to Starkville Rotary Club on Monday. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

Golden Triangle Regional Airport Director Mike Hainsey recently spoke to the Starkville Rotary Club, where he told them that the airport has been doing record business: “Last month, we put more people on airplanes than any other October in the history of the airport,” he said. “That was a big number — we were running 90 percent full. … This month, we’re doing the same, which means we’ll have another record month. We’ll have a record November, if it continues.”

The airport, has done about $3.5 million in improvements in the last 18 months. Hainsey said that the improvements include work on the commercial and general aviation ramps, as well as a taxiway renovation that should finish this week. GTRA is also replacing old ramp and terminal lightning with more modern, energy efficient lights.

A 4,000 sq ft expansion is also in the works:”Our plan for the future is, as the airport grows, we’ll have bigger airplanes and we’ll need jet bridges so we’ll move everything upstairs,” he said.

He did note, however, that a shortage of pilots for the major airlines is likely to cause business to suffer in the future – especially for GTR and other smaller, regional airports: “This is, for us in the business, the single biggest threat to air service at my airport,” Hainsey said.

 

While airports are able to offer incentives to get more flights coming through them, the issue isn’t that, so much as the fact that the pilot population is dwindling as more and more pilots reach the mandatory pilot retirement age of 65. “They told me they have no new markets out of Dallas this next year,” he said. “They don’t know if they can man their existing markets. They can’t grow if they can’t — until it’s sure what’s going to happen with the pilot shortage. It’s getting that bad.”

“The bottom line on all this–for us to get air service, we have to take it from someone else,” he said. ” … For us to get air service, we’ll have to convince the airlines they’ll make more money at GTR than they will at other places. So we’re working that. We have a good case.”

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Infinity Megasite Could Be an Excellent Car Plant Location, Says GTR LINK

Infinity Megasite Could Be an Excellent Car Plant Location, Says GTR LINK

Courtesy of The Dispatch

Toyota and Mazda announced just a few weeks ago that they are  looking and a number of sites nationwide to build a joint auto production plant. Our own Joe Max Higgins says that the recently-set up Infinity Megasite (IMS) right here in the Golden Triangle is the best candidate within the State of Mississippi for such a project. The IMS now controls 1,444 acres of the Golden Triangle Industrial Aerospace Park on Hwy 82 west of Columbus: “We believe that if Mississippi’s putting its best foot forward, we’re probably the first pick,” Higgins said.

Joe Max Higgins, left, and Harry Sanders

While the proposed plant is still in its very earliest days of consideration, Bloomberg seems to agree saying that the IMS could very well be one of the top few candidates for the $1.6 billion project, which is expected to bring roughly 4,000 jobs to the general area.

“Understand this –Toyota’s not an unknown commodity,” Higgins said. “. . .If Toyota knocks on your door, you open it and you offer them some coffee, some Coke, some pastries if you got them and you say ‘What can I do for you?'”

Lowndes BoS  President Harry Sanders said that, “The thing about it is, think what it would do for Lowndes County and this portion of the Golden Triangle, with all the high-quality jobs. I think it would be great to get an automotive industry here.”

“In Mississippi, look at the battles that have been won,” Higgins said. “If we roll the clock back 20 years, most people would tell you there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell Mississippi could get a car plant. But in 15, 16 years we’ve gotten two (Nissan in Canton, Toyota in Blue Springs). I think that’s a good testament to the state of Mississippi. Could we support a third one? Yeah, I think we could.”

He also stated his confidence in the region’s ability to meet the potential plant’s needs, and that its proximity to MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, could also be a major factor in any decision to be made: “Everybody wants to sell that their workforce can be retrained to make steel, or retrained to make cars or retrained to make tires,” Higgins said. “I don’t think most communities are selling that 20-, 30- and 40-year sustainable workforce. See, I’m not worried about where I’m getting my initial tranche of people to run my plant. These plants are worried about who’s gonna be running that son of a gun in 10, 15, or 20 or 40 years.”

 

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Southern Cross Seeks to Bring Eco-Friendly Wind Power to the Golden Triangle

Southern Cross Seeks to Bring Eco-Friendly Wind Power to the Golden Triangle

Courtesy of the Dispatch

From left, Denton Gibbes, Cecil Brown and Brandon Presley. Courtesy Photos

Southern Cross Transmission (SCT) filed a petition with the Mississippi Public Service Commission on Tuesday formally proposing a route for the company’s 400-mile, 500-kilovolt wind energy line. The project would still need to be approved by the Public Service Commission to OK the project; there is currently no timeline for when such a vote might take place.

SCT has been in talks with landowners along a proposed route that runs from Texas, through Louisiana and Mississippi, terminating near Caladonia. The project is anticipated to have a total cost of about one billion dollars, according to an independent economic analysis Southern Cross commissioned back in December.

“It’s taken a little extra time because we’ve done a lot of interaction with landowners and we have worked to find an acceptable route,” Southern Cross spokesperson Denton Gibbes said. “It always takes a little time when you’re trying to do things right.”

The proposed route enters the Golden Triangle in the western Oktibbeha County, then moves northeast into Clay County, and then north of West Point into Monroe County near Hamilton. Then it enters Lowndes County and ends at a converter station to be built near Caledonia.

The Eastern portion of the currently-proposed route, terminating near Caledonia

Gibbes went on to say that landowners along the potential route will soon receive letters from the company to let them know about the proposal, in order to give them time to sumbit any questions or objections they may have, and, eventually, to allow them to consider easements that would allow the project to take place.

Commissioner Cecil Brown said, “I think it’s an exciting project in general terms. . . It sounds like it will be good for the people in the state of Mississippi, but again I’ve got to look at the filings. We’ll probably have hearings on it. There may be some objectors. It can take a while to get through something like this.”

Until the project is approved, citizens can object by mailing letters with their reasons for intervening to PSC Executive Secretary Katherine Collier at P.O. Box 1174 in Jackson.

Public Service Commissioner for Mississippi’s Northern District Brandon Presley was unavailable for comment, but he has previously said that he would only support the project if the company built the converter station in Mississippi, if Mississippians have access to the power running through the transmission lines, and if Mississippi contractors are included in labor contracts.

“To me the trade-off is if you want to come in and do this, we’ll look at it, but you’ve got to meet a public interest burden,” Presley said in November. “The burden for that is what does the state of Mississippi — what do you get out of it? Are you just coming through our area or are we going to see development and real job growth?”

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The Importance of Community Banks

The Importance of Community Banks

As many people have weighed their large, regional or nationwide banks and found them wanting, more and more people are turning to smaller community banks. These smaller ones are often run by familiar members of the community, which helps to bolster trust in them in an era where the largest of the large banks still exist only because they were given vast amounts of taxpayers’ money. Community banks have their focus on the local people and heir needs – that’s good for their patrons, and that’s Good for Business!

CALEDONIA, Miss.(WCBI)—

Bank of Vernon CEO Andy Johnson (WCBI)

Bank of Vernon CEO Andy Johnson (WCBI)

Bank of Vernon recently opened its doors in Caledonia for the first time. “In rural areas there is a movement for community banks to do well,” said Bank of Vernon CEO Andy Johnson. “We have all the technology that the larger banks have. We focus on having all those things; mobile banking, online banking, good payment systems and we want all our customers to have all those items and it is an expense but it’s something that if you want to stay in business you have to provide as a bank.”

Bank of Vernon, like many other smaller banks, is striving to bring the conveniences granted by the big boys to their towns, while still maintaining the level of customer service and special attention that they community needs.

According to the Independent Community Banking of America, there are 92 community banks in Mississippi with 731 branches.

For more info and the full article, click here: http://www.wcbi.com/video-benefits-community-banks/

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