Category Archives: Columbus

Report Says CAFB has had $260+ Million Impact on Local Area

Report Says CAFB has had $260+ Million Impact on Local Area

COLUMBUS – The Dispatch

14th Flying Training Wing Commander Col. Douglas Gosney recently announced the findings of a report on CAFB’s economic impact on the area to the Base Community Council, showing an increase of over $11 million as compared to last year. Much of the increase came in the form of salaries issued to new civil service workers filling vacant positions on-base, and to raises for airmen who had increased in rank over the past year. Other sources included things such as new construction, street maintenance and repair, vehicle maintenance, and jobs created in the local area which are auxiliary to the base’s needs.

Col. Douglas Gosney, CAFB (photo credit: The Dispatch)

“These are jobs that come into the community as a result of the increased population of Columbus Air Force Base and our airmen living in and around the area,” Gosney said. “You need extra teachers, you need extra doctors, you need extra restaurant staff, just from the increased population.”

He went on to stress the importance of maintaining positive relationships with the people of our area: “As proud as we are of the economic boost that this base brings to the community, we’re really more proud of the relationships and the support that we show for each other,” he said. “Neither of us could be as good at what we do without the support from the other . . . [I]t’s nice that we bring a lot of money to the area, but we’re really just proud that of those relationships. We’re proud to be part of this community. We’re proud that you welcome us into your homes, your schools and your churches and we can’t thank you enough for that.”

For the full article: please click here

 

 

 

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MSMS Ranked as One of the Best Public High Schools in the Nation

MSMS Ranked as One of the Best Public High Schools in the Nation

Columbus, MS (niche.com)

Niche.com recently published their annual rankings for the top public high schools in the country, using data gather primarily by the US Department of Education. Among the standouts was Columbus’ own Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS), which earned a top-ten finish, coming in as the 8th best in the nation, beating out over 900 other public, charter, and magnet schools it was competing against. The hard work of the faculty, staff, and students all contributed towards this victory, and they should all be commended for it.

Among the criteria used were: Academic record of the students (based mainly on SAT/ACT/state assessment scores; this represents 60% of the total score); followed by teacher pay and ratings, cultural diversity, parental and student ratings of the teachers and the school, which all contributed to the score; as well as other criteria such as availability of clubs and other extracurricular activities, health & safety, sports, and the facilities themselves.

You can see the full ratings and reviews for all of the schools – not just MSMS – as well as a detailed breakdown of how the data was used and the scores were calculated by clicking here.

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MSMS’ Reserve Fund Running on Fumes, Thanks to State Budget Cuts

MSMS’ Reserve Fund Running on Fumes, Thanks to State Budget Cuts

Courtesy of the Dispatch –

Even as people recognize MSMS for its contributions to society and the excellence of its students, the state Legislature slashes its funding to dangerous levels.

Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science executive director Germain McConnell recently spoke to the Columbus Rotarians about the future of the school that has done so much for our community and our state. MSMS, which is located on the Mississippi University for Women campus, is a residential, state-funded school that aims to educate gifted 11th- and 12th-grade students from across Mississippi with emphasis in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies. The school is tuition-free, aside from a $500 per semester charge for room and board that only applies to students who don’t qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch program.

Germain McConnell, executive director of Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, talks with Roger Burlingame, right, after speaking during the Columbus Rotary Club’s meeting at Lion Hills Center in Columbus on Tuesday. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

McConnell stated that the school which normally operates at a loss of $100~150 thousand per year, was approved by the state legislature for a budget that was cut by $168,400 less to MSMS for 2017-18 than it did for the previous year. The school will need to make up for the difference from its reserve fund, which is intended for facility upgrades and emergency funding; the account is down to about $1.2 million as it stands: “If something catastrophic happens to our facilities, that (reserve) money is all we have to deal with that,” he said.

If the balance drops below $1 million, McConnel went on to say, the result could be cuts in faculty funding, which would mean a “drastic” reduction in the already limited number of students MSMS can admit; they have already had to lower admissions for the upcoming year, allowing for 235 total students out of their potential capacity of 300. The school had to eliminate three non-teaching staff positions to make up for the shortfall caused by the budget cut; he and some others are now redoubling their efforts to get the funding level back up to at least what it was in the 2016-17 level.

“People here (in Columbus) understand the value we add to the community, and we’re hoping they help us get our message to the ears of the people who make the (budget) decisions,” McConnell told The Dispatch after the Rotary meeting. “This school is a beacon of light for the state of Mississippi. We’ve utilized our resources wisely. If we want to continue doing what we do and offering those opportunities to students in the future, the state of Mississippi needs to begin investing in MSMS a lot more.”

 

Please click here for the full article, along with what YOUR elected state representatives have to say on the matter.

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MSMS Recognized For its Benefit to the Area

MSMS Recognized For its Benefit to the Area

Courtesy of WCBI –

Dr. Germaine McConnell, the executive director of the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science on Tuesday with regard to the positive effects the school has had on both its students, and on the area in general. MSMS is a specialized, college-prep school for advanced high-school students that enrolls them in college-level courses for college credit at The W.

“This is a life changing experiment,” said Dr. McConnell. “Not only are we providing them with challenging and rigorous course work, but the things that happen outside of the classroom makes such a big difference. The residential environment, them being around other students who are like them, like-minded and learning from each other, I think really adds the greatest value and that’s something that can’t be duplicated.”

For information about the school, visit www.themsms.org

For the full article, and a video, please click here.

 

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Local Port, Airports Among Grant Recipients Aimed at Improving GTR Transport Infrastructure

Local Port, Airports Among Grant Recipients Aimed at Improving GTR Transport Infrastructure

Courtesy of Carl Smith/The Starkville Dispatch –

Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert (courtesy photo)

Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert recently announced that the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) will be providing upwards of $660 thousand in grants intended to help with transportation improvements in the GTR area. Beneficiaries of these grants are to be statewide – e.g.,  railroads, public transportation networks, ports, local airports, and more; the local area had these four major recipients, alongside others:  Columbus-Lowndes County Airport, Golden Triangle Regional Airport, Lowndes County Port and Starkville-Mississippi State University Area Rapid Transit (SMART) system.

“Each of these modes of transportation plays a vital role in transporting people, goods and services that promote economic growth and development throughout Mississippi,” Tagert said in a release. “Mississippi no longer competes regionally, but on a global level. Investing in local and municipal airports supports global economic development and logistics. Improving our ports and rail system allows appropriate amounts agricultural products to be transported in a safer, more environmentally friendly manner, while reducing maintenance costs on roads and bridges.”

“Considering if there’s an incident at the airport, numerous agencies will be responding. This network is needed since it allows everyone to be on the same page,” GTRA Executive Director Mike Hainsey said. “The biggest thing we’re focusing on with it is the terminal, which has a lot of metal on the inside. We’re going to install a repeater system to make sure everything works as it’s supposed to there.”

 

Please click here to view the full article.

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Columbus To Get New Places To Go To For Fresh Burgers And Trucker Service

Courtesy of The Dispatch

BURGER TIME!

Wythe Rhett of Rhett Real Estate recently confirmed that Cook Out, the North Carolina-based burger chain that set up a successful location in Starkville about a year ago, plans to open a location in North Columbus. Cook Out recently finalized the purchase of the old Immanuel Baptist Church property on 18th Ave N, which had not been in use in the past two years.  Their current intention is to “demolish the (church) building and carve out enough of the property to put Cook Out on, then look at the possibility of adding another motel or strip (mall).”

Cook Out eateries are known for grilled burgers, barbecue and more than 40 kinds of milkshakes. The Starkville location employs approximately 50 and is open 10:30 a.m.-3 a.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10:30 a.m.-4 a.m. Friday-Saturday. This would be the fourth Cook Out location in the state, joining its over 170 brethren nationwide.

TRUCKERS’ HEAVEN!

The Volume Freight shipping company, owned by Doug Estes, is currently building a new steel structure on Hwy 82 near the Vibrant Church West location. The finished building will serve as a two-floor terminal with a three-vehicle bay shop to maintain Volume’s fleet of 65 trucks. Next up once that’s ready is a planned 150-thousand square foot warehouse and approximately 35 new trucks. The company employs about 80 drivers, who service the contiguous 48 states, plus about eight local mechanics; roughly half of the trucks  are based locally, as well. Volume Freight, a local company, has been in business since 1988.

 

 

Please click here to see the full article.

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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.”

 

Please click here for the full article.

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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.

Please click here to view the full video and read the full article.

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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.”

Please click here to read the full article.

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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.

Please click here to view the full article.

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