77-year-old “Miss Ann” Wozniak serves the public as Kroger’s friendly store greeter, and has been doing this sort of thing for a remarkably long time – since she was 11 years old. She has more friends than she can count because of this, and she’s beloved by many. The cheerful grandma doesn’t see herself giving up her position anytime soon.
“All the customers love her,” said Ty Sanders, one of the store’s assistant managers. “All the associates love her, too. She has a history with Kroger. She’s worked here before. That’s one of the reasons we decided to hire her back.”
“I play with kids and help customers,” Wozniak said. “When I’m working on the other end of the store, next to the pharmacy, I look out for the old people, even though I’m an old person myself. So many older people come to get their medicines and I’m always watching out for them, to see if they need help.”
Wozniak grew up on the South side of Columbus, and struggled to get by, as many still do. However, she had help: “My little grandmother was just the sweetest person. She worked like a dog to take care of all of us,” Wozniak said. “She had six sons that gave her a whole lot of trouble. . .It was just a hard life.”
“She’s become kind of a morale-builder for the store,” Sanders went on to say. “She’s a very positive influence. She always comes in with a smile on her face and ready to work.”
“I’ve had a good life,” she said. “I can’t say but what I’ve had to do in my life has helped me learn to appreciate what I have. Maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated things if I hadn’t grown up so hard.
“That’s what I want young people to know,” she added. “Maybe I can show them. I walked to work when I was 11 years old. I believe young people need to work and make their own money and not have to depend on anybody. At the end of the day, you can’t blame the kind of life you have on anybody else. It’s up to you.”
Former employees Debbie Putt and Janis Kertsetter are now the new owners of The Purple Elephant on Wilkins Wise Road in Columbus. The shop had been closed briefly after the prior owner, Marca Glenn, retired.
“We hated to see another store close in Columbus,” Putt said. “We just felt like jumping in and doing it. Everything comes full circle.”
Putt went on to say that the shop will be the same as always, though they are open to carrying new and interesting items for their clientele to buy; also, they have retained the crew that worked under Ms. Glenn. The gift shop is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt, next to CJ’s in Columbus, has announced that they are closing their doors after being in business for six years.
Construction work has officially begun at Grand Junction condos, 509 University Drive. They are hoping to open Phase I for new homeowners in late August of this year. Tabor Development’s VP of development, Kay Regimbal, says that about one third of the condos have already been purchased.
The units vary in size from 1~3 bedrooms & 750~1,500 square feet, and in price from about $200,000 to $445,000.
MSU’s Colvard Student Union had a couple of changes quite recently:
State Fountain Bakery, which is now across the union, has penlty of goodies on offer just in time for Valentine’s Day. Mediterranean restaurant Olilo is now open in the student union.
Popular downtown yoga studio Firefly on S Lafayette St has shut its doors, and appears to be on the market.
Mississippi native Dr. Scott Alsobrooks recently took over as President at EMCC, and he’s already excited about what he sees: “The people are just, you know, what makes it good. And uh, that’s a marvelous asset to have and we’ll get to work, and find students that are ready the you know [sic] get enrolled, and get into a program. And learn and go to work. . .
“Our goal is to put the proper programs in there that match up with the local industries, there’s gonna be a pipeline for them. You know, to produce students that are prepared for entry-level jobs, and-and that’s our goal to get people in there and get em training,” said Alsobrooks.
He is well-prepared, knowing that obtaining adequate funding from the state may be easier said than done in upcoming years. However, he also has faith in the school and in its hard-working students – both current and prospective.
Alsobrooks is a 15-year veteran of the community college system; he was previously the VP of Workforce Development at Pearl River CC.
Mossy Oak recently signed a multi-year deal with the NRA to offer a new camo design called “Overwatch,” to be used as the NRA’s official camoflage pattern.
The People’s Cup MicroRoastery is has opened its doors in Starkville. The shop, located at 12-1/2 Lummus Dr. near the Cotton District, roasts, brews, and serves its own hot, fresh coffee on weekdays from 7 AM to 2 PM.
The Greater Starkville Development will be holding its annual “SOUPerbowl” soup competition Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Main Street. Hungry visitors seeking a variety of nice, hot soups may do so for $15 in advance of the event, or $20 at the door. At the end, patrons get to vote on whose soup is the cream of the crop!
Huntsville, Alabama-based Hometown Lenders is preparing to open up shop in Columbus, making it their third Mississippi location. Their office will be located at Second Ave. N. They have nearly 80 locations nationwide. Appointments only, please.
John and his crew have been providing us with the best sandwiches in town for over a decade. They keep us fed and happy, and ready to face whatever may come at work. Even the Mayor says so — and we thank His Honor for going around and supporting our local shops, restaurants, and entrepreneurs of all types…’cuz that’s Good for Business!
PRESS RELEASE – COLUMBUS MAYOR’S OFFICE United Deli and Grocery in Columbus is Mayor Robert Smith’s Business of the Week. The business is located at 212 Tuscaloosa Road on the corner of Tuscaloosa Rd and Gardner Blvd. “It’s an honor to recognize United Deli as our Business of the Week,” said Mayor Smith. “John and his staff serve amazing food and work hard to take care of their customers every day. I enjoy every meal here.”John Musa is the owner. He opened United Deli in 2006. In the past 12 years, he has found the key to success in the food business. “Listen to the customers,” John said. “The best ideas for our sandwiches have come from the customers. We have changed our menu with feedback from our customers, and we are always listening.” John learned the restaurant business from his uncle in Washington state. “I worked with my Uncle for about eight years before coming here. He taught me a lot, and I use his lessons every day.” The deli serves a large variety of sandwiches on bread that is made in the store. “We cook our bread twice a day,” John said. “We also slice and prepare our meats. That is what keeps everything fresh.” When asked what his favorite sandwich was, John was quick to answer. “Our cheeseburger is amazing,” he said. “Everything here is good, but the cheeseburger is my favorite.” United Deli does catering for group meals too. They are open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. They serve breakfast too. “There is great satisfaction in cooking a great meal for others,” John added. “We love to do that here.”
Ida Smith starts preparing hundreds of fresh biscuits at Hardee’s every day an hour and a half before the store even opens, and has been doing so for nearly thirty years. She needs no recipe, she needs no help, she just does it all by heart.
“I like to be back there alone,” she said. “When there’s somebody else back there, they just get in my way. I know how I like to do things.”
Hardee’s assistant manager Bessie Allen interjected. “We all know better than to interrupt the process.”
Smith is an avid cook, and she credits her mother as the inspiration for many of her recipes. “We all cooked in my family,” she said. “My mom had 11 kids. We all were cooking.”
She is popular with customers and co-workers alike: “We love her here,” Allen went on to say. “Everybody loves Miss Ida.”
Smith loves them all right back: “I like working with people I like,” she said. “It makes the time go quick if you like who you’re spending time with.”
“I never would have imagined I would end up here,” said Kingdom McGee, a graduate of the Columbus school’s first-ever graduate class. “It’s sort of surreal going from things looking pretty bleak and ending up with a job that’s really a start to my career.” He went from being stuck at home with devastating health issues to a job with the Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, and all at a tuition-free vocational school.
The GTR Coding Academy in Columbus, an affiliate of MSU, is one of two in Mississippi (the other is in Jackson). The schools’ aim is to provide training and coding instruction for serious students and also to help them find jobs in the industry. Director Sarah Lee, MSU engineering professor, stated that their ultimate desire to expand students’ opportunity for success in technical fields.
“It’s to create more computing pathways for people in Mississippi,” Lee said. “Not everyone is the same so not everyone is on a pathway to college. We don’t all fit into the same mold. In order to increase the pool of technical talent in the state, we have to think outside the box.”
“They said, ‘we like what we see,'” McGee went on to say. “I was floored. Before, I thought that my opportunity was gone. That moment was life changing for me.” McGee said that wouldn’t have happened had it not been for his education at the coding academy, which taught him to never stop learning and to grow with technology as it progresses.
“There’s no telling where my job might lead me,” McGee said. “I’m pretty easy-going and I’m eager to see what else is out there for me. My past two years have been truly blessed. You can’t write or make this stuff up. I have a creative background and coding is another one of those outlets for me and people want to pay me to do this.”
“It’s life changing for those students who complete the program and are able to go into employment,” Lee said. “It’s also a positive thing for the state in that we are increasing the tax base and increasing the pool for qualified persons for technical jobs, which hopefully will result in more companies coming to Mississippi and providing those jobs.”
Lee said that the academy will be accepting applications for the next class which will start in July. Each applicant undergoes an interview & board review process. Those interested can apply online at mscodingacademy.org.
“When you’re working in a technical field, you have to be a lifelong learner because the technology is changing so rapidly,” Lee said. “The learning doesn’t stop after you graduate. It’s taken them from either unemployment or hourly wage employment to professional positions and working in a professional environment with a competitive salary in the state.”
Heritage Academy came within a hair’s breadth of missing out on its “Apple Distinguished School” designation this year, but they made it just in time; they are one of only two schools in the state to bear this distinction.
“All along the way, the primary focus was to enhance the learning experience for our students,” Headmaster Greg Carlyle said. “We were blown away. I immediately sent (the email) to Janet [Lewis, Director of Instructional Technology]. It’s one of those things, you work real hard and did all the leg work and you try to show what we are doing matters to our students. To have someone like Apple validate what we were doing, we were so proud. It just rises our standards and expectations. ”
A major part of becoming an Apple Distinguished School is to have one Mac or iPad for every student and faculty member for at least two academic years running. Another is to incorporate technological instruction into the curriculum, as well as meeting high standards for both Apple-certified teachers and administrators.
Each high school student must own their own iPad for classroom use, and it is well-incorporated into the curriculum: “You get to do research instantly,” Junior Lauren Short said. “We use our iPads a lot to do our broadcasts and graphic design and I do all that on iPad. I use it a lot for online books and quizzes. There’s no delay. It’s definitely a privilege. You look at some schools, they don’t have any type of iPad, so just to be able to (do) immediate research.”
“I’ve been in education 35 years,” Spanish and French teacher Hope Friesen said. “So I’ve seen from no computers in a classroom to one to one. It’s making them prepare for their futures. Their future is technology. I believe if they don’t learn to incorporate it they will not be successful.”