Category Archives: Columbus

MSU Holds Bulldog Bytes Camp to Help Encourage Young Women in STEM Study

The Dispatch – COLUMBUS

MSU is sponsoring their free Bulldog Bytes camp this week, with the help of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Columbus. The all-female summer camp is intended to bring in school-age girls who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. So far, 23 3rd~5th-grade girls are participating in the camp, where they are learning more about computer programming, problem-solving and cyber safety.

“The goal is to light a pathway for women in the state,” Sarah Lee, MSU computer science professor and director of the day camp said. “I think if you can engage them at an early age, they get that spark that ‘this is really cool. I like technology. I’m comfortable with it, and I can make this robot do things’ . . . It’s really problem-solving because programming is problem-solving,” Lee continued. “They’re learning to give commands to the robot … they’re learning the algorithmic (language).”

Campers are learning and implementing a programming language called “Snap!” to control their own “Finch” robots.

The purpose of the camp is ” . . . to teach these young women to be safe online, and to hopefully spark some interest in computer science and cyber security, so that they’ll go on to other programs and later to study it in school,” Lee said.

Winter Dismuke and Taylor Hairston, both 9, use algorithms to program a computer to command their Finch robots during STEM camp at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Columbus on Monday. Winter is the daughter of Shelia and Reginald Cullen. Taylor is the daughter of Nikki Mays and David Hairston. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

Litnay Lineberry, an MSU student pursuing a PhD in computer science with a focus in K-12 STEM education, has held a major role in bringing the project to life, setting up activities and preparing material for the students to use. “It’s good to see all these kids, young females, interested and engaged in robotics and what we’re teaching them here,” Lineberry said. “What Dr. Lee is doing here is really reaching a lot of kids that may not (otherwise) have this opportunity.”

According to statistics from the National Center for Women and Information Technology, women make up only about 26 percent of the computer science workforce, even though roughly half of the United States population is female. “If males are the only ones developing new technology,” Lee said, “then we’re missing out on half of the creativity and innovation that could come from having the other half of the population at the table.”

She believes that one way to help bring parity to the industry is to catch girls’ interest early in life: “If you try to reach young women once they’re already in high school, it’s really too late,” Lee said. “They’ve already formed the ideas about what they can and can’t do or about what they want to do or don’t want to do. These elementary girls catch on really fast, faster than some of the older ones. . . For (these young girls) to be out here programming these robots to do something, it’s not a threatening environment, and that’s one reason we have the gender specific — so that they can learn and don’t feel like they have to impress the guys,” she went on to say. “One thing that I’ve noticed, too, is the guys will try to do it for them if we have the mixed-gender environment.

“It’s important that you keep them engaged. We can’t just have a summer camp, and then they go home, and there’s never anything else,” Lee said. “They come to this. We make sure they know about other things that we’re having so they can come to (events) throughout high school and then when entering college.”

 

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Long-Running Kerr-McGee Lawsuit Bears Fruit

Long-Running Kerr-McGee Lawsuit Bears Fruit

Pastor Steve Jamison (courtesy WCBI)

COLUMBUS, Miss.(WCBI)— People of Columbus who were affected by toxic Creosote seepage from the former Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation’s plant are now beginning to receive settlements from a class-action lawsuit that was filed about fifteen years ago, around the time of the plant’s closing. KMCC agreed to settle the lawsuit, and has agreed to pay a sum of over five billion dollars in total.

“Getting the plant closed down was crucial. I saw the plant as a source for all this disease and all this death,” said Maranatha Faith Center Pastor Steve Jamison.

Creosote has often been used in the past for uses such as preserving railroad ties and other wooden products intended to last for many years, as a preservative. The chemical itself has proven to be toxic to humans and other animals when it seeps into the water table.

Jamison was exposed when he was working to expand his church on 14th Ave North, not far from the plant; he says that working in a ditch there gave him health problems for life: “When I came out of the ditch, I had a blood pressure that was so high, I had to take two pills, four times a day, to control it. I learned that my kidneys dropped in function, to almost a third of their normal function. At that point, I realized whatever it was, was deadly and dangerous,” said Jamison. He went on to say, “In Memphis Town, people were dying from cancers in clusters. Whole homes being wiped out. Whole families just die with the same thing. People had uncontrollable kidney disease and other things that can be related to Creosote.”

“All in all it was worth it. If I had to do it again, I would do it again. In the process I had a heart attack and my kidney failed. I’m yet grateful that God allowed me to stay here to see it done,” said Jamison.

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Palmer Home Hires Local for New Director of Development

Columbus – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Palmer Home for Children, Christian organization which offers education and shelter to children in need, has hired Columbus native Meryl Fisackerly as director of development at the regional children’s home.  In this role, her main role will be to handle relationships with donors and put together fundraisers.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” Fisackerly said. “I’m so far loving the job. Everyone there is great. I’m looking forward to getting involved in the community and establishing who Palmer is and what we’re about. … It’s a fabulous organization and everybody needs to know about it.”

PH spokespeople said that she has experience in both retail and commercial sales, and that she is deeply engaged with the community, making her a great asset,

“Meryl is one of those rare find,” Vice President of Engagement Sarah Hollis said. “She is integrated in the Golden Triangle community personally, professionally and through civic involvement, including tutoring children at Palmer Home. Meryl embodies our mission and will be vital to engaging this community to fulfill our call to care for vulnerable children.”

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Columbus’ Wingate Hotel Sold to Merchant Hotel Group

Columbus’ Wingate Hotel Sold to Merchant Hotel Group

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of the Mississippi Business Journal

CBRE Hotels recently announced that it has arranged the sale of the Wingate by Wyndham Columbus. The hotel complex is located at 129 Brickerton Street in Columbus.; the buyer is Merchant Hotel Group.

“We attracted tremendous interest from both in-state and out-of-state investors on this asset,” Michael Yu of CBRE Hotels said. “We received multiple offers and sold the asset for a considerable premium to the pricing guidance.”

“It was a truly pleasurable experience working with Mr. Yu and his team. I appreciate their guidance at every step of this transaction. I would not think twice about partnering again with this CBRE Hotels team for another transaction,” said Greg Posmantur, with LMF Properties.

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Columbus PD Recruiting New Officers

Columbus PD Recruiting New Officers

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of the Dispatch

From left, Assistant Chief Fred Shelton, new cadet Haley Lucas, CPD Chief Oscar Lewis, Mayor Robert Smith and cadet Shawn Neal spoke at a press conference in the Municipal Complex courtroom on Wednesday. Columbus Police Department is set to send 14 cadets to the police academy soon. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

The Columbus Police Department is ready to send fourteen trainees, five of whom are already slated to be hired, to the police academy. This will bring the total officer count up to about 60 officers, Mayor Robert Smith told reporters at a Wednesday morning press conference.

Police Chief Oscar Lewis said that the class will commence training at the academy starting May 21 in Moorehead. They will undergo a twelve-week course, after which the officers will return to Columbus to ride with veteran officers and take advantage of the field training program.

“The good thing with these guys now — they’ve been in the classroom before the academy,” Lewis said. “They’ve been put with officers and are riding around learning the standard operating procedure for the city and working with firearms and doing different things.”

Shaun Neal, 22, of Columbus, is one of the officers who will be part of this record-setting class.  Neal decided he wanted to become an officer late last year so he could make a positive impact in his community: “I want to be a police officer because I don’t want to be statistic — I want to be a changer, not to fit into what the news is saying about police because not every police officer is the same,” he said.

Haley Lucas, a 23-year-old officer trainee, is a military police officer for the U.S. Navy, and said she’s been interested in law enforcement since her early childhood. Lucas, who is from Caledonia but currently lives in Tupelo, told reporters she’s happy to come back to try to help improve her home area.

On Wednesday, Lewis said he’s thankful to see the department drawing closer to full strength, adding that measures the city took such as increasing officer pay and purchasing new vehicles were instrumental in recruiting more officers. He expressed his gratitude to the current officers on the force who have been working extra-hard to get the job done: “These officers have been working long and hard — some not even getting days off just to make this work –and I admire them for the job that they have done,” he said. “It’s been great to see the things they’ve been able to accomplish with the numbers that we’ve had during that time.”

“No one more than I would like to see us get to where we need to be, which was approved in the budget for 67 officers, because they’re really needed,” Mayor Smith said. He later added, “I see the city trying to immediately continuing to try to reach that goal of 77 (officers). That’s where I’d like to see us at.”

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Ceco MBS Property Sold to Grandview Investments

Ceco MBS Property Sold to Grandview Investments

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Ceco Metal Building Systems, which has operated a support office on Hwy 45, recently sold its property to Grandview Investments, LLC, after a year or more on the market. Ceco Operations Manager Gregg Smith has stated that Ceco will maintain a presence on the property, leasing the space from Grandview, while determining where locally to move its operations offices.

“We built metal buildings here for a number of years,” he said. “Back in 2008 or 2009 when the economy hit (recession), this location — the plant — was closed down. We’ve had a full operation staff here since then of around 50 or 60 employees. We’ve got full operations — customer service, engineering, estimating, drafting, purchasing, field service. There’s still a large group of people here that supports the operations of Ceco Building Systems . . . Our full intention is to be here in this area,” he said. “We just don’t need 329,000 square feet of space to do the operations side of the business.”

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New Process Steel Expansion Slated to Add Fifty Jobs

New Process Steel Expansion Slated to Add Fifty Jobs

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Joe Max Higgins, left, and Harry Sanders

During a recent board meeting, Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders confirmed that New Process Steel will start on its new expansion on the Steel Dynamics campus soon. Two loan resolutions were approved for the project on Monday – in addition to the approximately $1.7 million in grants and loans for the $7.5 million steel processing facility which were approved last month. In addition, it is expected that the project will require $750 thousand in Development Infrastructure Program grants from the Mississippi Development Authority for road improvements, and up to $1 million in a state loan to pay for a rail spur from the railway near the SDI campus.

“This just goes to show that Columbus is a good place for industry,” Sanders said. “It’s great that we can have some expansion from people who are already here. Most of the emphasis is on getting new people and new industry, but this is an older industry that’s been here and evidently they’re real happy with what’s here and they decided to expand their operation.”

The Board also discussed, and temporarily tabled, a proposal to hire former CLRA Executive Director as the county’s interim recreation manager. The matter will be taken up in their next regular meeting, once they are able to formulate a proper job description for the position.

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SDI Paint Facility in Columbus Now Open for Business

SDI Paint Facility in Columbus Now Open for Business

“The opening of this new paint facility is a significant milestone for Steel Dynamics and the people of the Golden Triangle region, as it represents the company’s commitment to doing business in Lowndes County and creating jobs for the area’s workforce,” Governor Bryant said.

“The Paint Line project will improve the Columbus Flat Roll Division’s competitiveness and sustainability in our steel markets,” said Madhu Ranade, vice president and general manager of Steel Dynamics, Flat Roll Group, Columbus Division. “We’re grateful to the state of Mississippi, MDA, Lowndes County, TVA and ARC for their continued partnership as we expand in Columbus.”

The Mississippi Development Authority helped with infrastructure improvements, rail construction and workforce training. The Tennessee Valley Authority, Appalachian Regional Commission and the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors also provided assistance for the project.

“Sustainable growth in economic development is achievable in our state when all levels of government work together to create a business environment in which companies can achieve their goals,” said MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. “MDA congratulates SDI and our partners at the Golden Triangle Development LINK, Lowndes County, TVA, ARC and the Lowndes County Industrial Development Authority on this momentous occasion.”

The facility’s new paint line has an annual coating capacity of 250,000 tons.

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Bargain Hunt, Vapezy Open; LA Shrimp Shack Shutters its Doors

THE DISPATCH

In mid-February The Dispatch brought us the news that Bargain Hunt would be opening in Columbus in the former Southern Family Market location next to K-Mart. The store is now preparing for a grand opening to be held on March 17. Their new Columbus location is in addition to their existing one in Starkville, and more than sixty others nationwide.

The store’s hours will be 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays. It will bring 25 new jobs to the area.

Highway 45 gained another new attraction in the form of Vapezy, a premium e-liquid and supply store located at 1909-B Hwy. 45 N.  Billy and Andrea Ezell opened Vapezy in September of last year.  The couple are originally from Webster County, where they became friends through the medium of vaping, that is, the enjoyment of vapor-producing electronic cigarettes.

“We want to present a greater sense of community than other shops,” Ezell said regarding the store’s future. “That’s what the vape scene is really about.”

While currently operating out of the store’s front section, there are plans to add a lounge into the 1,800 square-foot building. The store carries eight different lines of e-liquid and plans to expand to carry numerous vaping devices, from starter to advanced level, alongside additional e-liquids.  Vapezy is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Finally, the Louisiana Shrimp Shack quietly closed its doors on Feb. 21.  The Shrimp Shack originally opened Sept. 8, 2016, with Kenny Whitey, a fisherman from New Orleans, as owner. It was located at 1909-A Hwy. 45 N. and enjoyed much praise from locals for its fresh from the gulf seafood and “straight-outta-the-bayou” home-cooking.  Whitey said the travel to and from the shack was too much for the family to maintain.

http://cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=56789

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CPD Looking to Community for Involvement, Recruitment

K. B. Turner (courtesy photo)

CPD Looking to Community for Involvement, Recruitment
THE DISPATCH

At a series of public meetings held in each ward throughout the month of February, police consultant K.B. Turner and other city administrators heard from citizens about concerns and suggestions for improving public safety in the city: “I’m still very encouraged by what I have heard from the meetings during last month. Citizens have come out to express themselves and they honored my request … not to just talk about their frustrations but also to provide some recommendations and some suggestions as well,” Turner said.

“I think the meetings went well,” CPD Chief Oscar Lewis agreed. “There were different things that came out of the meetings. … It was far-reaching as far as community concerns.”

In order to best assess the local community’s concerns and ideas, Turner had attendees fill out surveys about crime and safety in the city, getting input on concerns ranging from concerns about drugs and gangs to the last time the person filling out the survey talked to a police officer to whether street lighting is adequate.  Turner got approximately 180 surveys back from the six meetings.

He spoke of his initial findings to date, pending a more in-depth analysis to come: “How was it different between Ward 1 and Ward 6, for example? How about people who are retired versus those who are working? What about those who are below the age of 30 versus those who are over age 30?” Turner said.

Turner says that he plans to keep getting civilians involved with CPD.  He was able to get roughly thirty volunteers signed up between the six meetings, though several others have also expressed interest in helping out. These civilians might be called upon to assist with traffic stops, clerical work, and other such things, so that they may help without placing themselves in danger.

“They would be in a non law enforcement capacity,” Turner said. “They will not have access to weapons or any other items that identify them as a law enforcement officer. A lot of (what they do) will be clerical in nature.”

In addition, he remarked that “We’re going to continue to engage in what I call this ‘aggressive’ form of recruiting for new officers.” About 50 people attended a CPD Career Day on February 25, Turner said. According to CPD’s Twitter, the department handed out 45 applications in about four hours. Before the day was up, 15 had been filled out and returned, City Public Information Officer Joe Dillon said, while more have come in since.  Turner plans to hold another career day on March 25 — and it won’t be the last, he added. Dillon said the department will coordinate with universities to determine a good time closer to graduation when potential applicants could attend a career day.

Turner also wants to recruit from universities and military bases and institutions. He wants everyone who might be interested to know CPD is hiring officers.

“In terms of the future, we are going to continue to look ahead,” he added. “…What can we do for 2017 to enhance conditions to make sure we improve upon our staffing numbers and make this place a greater place to live? In terms of the department, we’re going to make Columbus the department destination for folks who want to work as an officer.”

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