Category Archives: Columbus

LCSD Officials Tour Nearly-Completed Tech Center

LCSD Officials Tour Nearly-Completed Tech Center

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

From left, LCSD Superintendent Robin Ballard, assistant Superintendent Tina Younger, Superintendent Lynn Wright and Maintenance Director Greg Wheat tour the LCSD Technology Center on Lehmberg. Photo by Luisa Porter – Dispatch Staff

Several years after a narrow defeat on an (ultimately successful) bond issue, Lowndes County School District Superintendent Lynn Wright is now touring the fruits of that bond, a massive facility off of Lehmberg Road which will soon be accepting studentsfor its tech center and job training programs aimed at supplying a well-educated and well-prepared workforce for local industry. The Lowndes County Career and Technical Center is estimated to be about 55 thousand square feet in size, and it cost about $11 million to construct: The Lowndes County Career and Technical Center.

“I’d say it’s about 95 percent finished,” maintenance supervisor Greg Wheat said, as finishing touches were being applied by the workers. The facility is expected to open formally next August, and it is estimated that it will be able to comfrotably hold about 500 students. They are also in the process of acquiring the gear needed to fill the huge workrooms, and to hire faculty and staff. Nine separate fields of study — automotive service technician, construction core, teacher academy, health sciences, industrial maintenance, welding, polymer science, culinary arts and engineering/robotics — have their own dedicated spaces, and each has the room they will need to expand in the future.

Maintenance Director Greg Wheat checks out the kitchen of the new LCSD Career Technology Center – Photo by Louisa Porter – Dispatch Staff

“Right now, we have a little less than 100 students in our vocational programs at the three high schools,” Wright said. “Next fall, we expect to have 450 students enrolled in programs here. . .We’ve been working closely with Mississippi State on developing the polymer science program since it’s new for us,” he went on to say. “They are helping us find an instructor in addition to helping us put together the program. . .”We really see this as something the whole community can use. Programs like the (Greater Columbus) Learning Center are already showing interest. . .We’re not just talking about [interest from] the PACCARs and Steel Dynamics, but smaller industries, too,” he said. “We’ve really had interest from all over the county, from big and small.”

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Communiversity Reveals Some of Their Upcoming Programs

 

Communiversity Reveals Some of Their Upcoming Programs

East Mississippi Community College President Thomas Huebner talks about the schools’ preparations for the Communiversity, which is set to open in 2019. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

MAYHEW – Courtesy of The Dispatch

East Mississippi Community College (EMCC) recently held a session in order to reveal some of the curricula they have in mind for their Communiversity, which is already under construction in Mayhew near PACCAR and the school’s main campus.

EMCC President Thomas Huebner said the college and its accrediting agencies are working together to get a number of new Communiversity programs ready, such as a mechatronics program and an electro-mechanical program: “These are what we would call the next generation, equipping industries for their specific needs,” Huebner said.

The specialized school, which seeks to train people to fill existing jobs and prepare them for new ones going forward, is intended to serve about five hundred students, 19 instructors, and the accompanying staff and special personnel needed to run it properly.

“Being a community college means that we’re going to, by our very mission, be tied to our local community,” Huebner went on to say. “So we have to be thinking on a daily basis about how we can meet the needs for our community . . .With regards to business and industry, we know we’re a fundamental part to train their workforce and meet their needs, and we want to be the best at that we can.”

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Developer Interested in Purchasing Former Lee Middle School Site

 

Developer Interested in Purchasing Former Lee Middle School Site

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

A developer that has not yet been named has expressed interest in the former Lee Middle School property on Military Road near the Bluecutt Road intersection (photo courtesy of The DIspatch)

An unnamed developer has expressed interest in purchasing the former Lee Middle School property on Military Road.

John Acker, president of the Columbus Redevelopment Authority, said that the developer has entered an option with the CRA to purchase the approx. 15-acre site for commercial development. The potential buyer has requested anonymity for now, Acker said.

“They will be conducting due diligence and have until late May 2018 to finalize purchase or walk away,” Acker said in an email to The Dispatch.

Appraisal Services in Columbus estimates that the cost to develop the property could range between $1.1 million and $1.8 million.

 

The buildings on the property are known to have asbestos present, which any buyer would have to remove, which is quite expensive; however, the Mississippi Economic Redevelopment Act includes provisions which would allow the buyer to recoup up to two and a half times the clean-up costs over a period of up to 15 years.

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Allegro to Acquire North Columbus Medical Clinic & Lowndes Medical Clinic

Allegro to Acquire North Columbus Medical Clinic & Lowndes Medical Clinic

PRESS RELEASE (excerpt) – Courtesy of the C-L Chamber of Commerce

COLUMBUS, MS – November 28, 2017

Allegro Family Clinics, a subsidiary of Dutch Health Services, Inc., announced today that it will acquire two clinics in Columbus, MS from North Mississippi Medical Clinics, Inc. – the North Columbus Medical Clinic, located at 4508 Highway 45 North, and the Lowndes Medical Clinic, located at 56 Dutch Lane. The purchase will be effective December 1, 2017.

Patients should expect only a change in name, not in the care they have come to expect at these clinics.  Practitioners have stated that only the names have changed, and that they look forward to offering the same great service as always. The North Columbus Medical Clinic will become the Allegro Family Clinic of North Columbus, and the Lowndes Medical Clinic will be renamed the Allegro Family Clinic of East Columbus. Clinic telephone numbers will remain the same.

“Our addition of these two clinics strengthens our ability to provide families in the Lowndes County area with convenient, high-quality medical care focused on the needs of the patients. The providers and staff at the new clinics are exceptional and experienced,” said Joe Gillis, founder of Dutch Health Services. “This investment represents an important strategic commitment to improving the health of the people of Columbus and Lowndes County, and we look forward to collaborating with North Mississippi Health Services to achieve this mission for our patients.”

Please click here for the full text of the press release.

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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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Bring Your Kids, Bring Your Cameras, and Come on Out to the XMAS Tree Lighting and Caroling Downtown!

Bring Your Kids and Come on Out to the XMAS Tree Lighting Downtown!

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Tonight is the annual lighting of the biggest and best Christmas tree around, says Main Street Columbus Executive Director Barbara Bigelow: “Everyone is invited to gather from 5:30-7 p.m. at the east end of the Tombigbee pedestrian bridge where the city will have one of the beautiful magnolia trees decorated.”

Kylee Price, then 3, is held up by her father Eliot Price during the 2015 Christmas tree lighting at the Riverwalk. This year’s official lighting festivities are Monday from 5:30-7 p.m. Photo Courtesy of The Dispatch

Fourth graders from Cook Elementary will be singing carols starting at 5:30PM, and Mayor Robert Smith will light the tree at about 6:15 p.m. Kids will be able to make craft items to take home, and everyone will have hot chocolate and cookies; representatives will also be accepting new, unwrapped toys for children aged 3 to 12 for the community toy drive.

Santa & Miz Claus will be on hand, along with a professional shutterbug to help preserve memories of the night’s festivities. Local event sponsors include Rex’s Rentals; Colin Krieger, RE/MAX Partners, Starkville-Columbus; DMayfield Photography; Visit Columbus; McAlister’s; and Coffeehouse on 5th.

“We hope everyone will bring their friends and families and enjoy this free community event,” said Bigelow. “This beautiful evening will give all kids, young and old, a wonderful, joyous time together — a night of family fun.”

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Columbus Brick Vows to Stay Just the Way It Is After Sale

Columbus Brick Vows to Stay Just the Way It Is After Sale

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Al Puckett of Columbus Brick. Photo Courtesy of The Dispatch

Al Puckett, the latest generation of owners at Columbus Brick Company, recently sold the company to Tennessee-based General Shale, more than 120 years after the company’s original founding by his great-great-grandfather. Puckett sees all of his workers and managers as family, and the sales agreement will see to it that they all keep their jobs, and, in fact, will be vital to bringing the business forward into the 21st century.

“[General Shale’s people] want everybody to stay,” Puckett said. “They will not put a person here. I’m going to stay on for at least four years and our general manager, Ed Thebaud, will continue to manage the day-to-day operations. Nobody is going to lose their job. It’s Columbus Brick, and it will stay that way.”

Puckett notes that this decision has been under consideration for many years, and is not one he took lightly: “Sure, there are always things you want to pursue,” he said. “But life is life. You may want those things, but really, what you have to do is walk through the doors that are before you.”

From left, Columbus Brick Company employees Kenneth Webb, Carl Summerville and Randy Macon shape bricks. Photo Courtesy of The Dispatch

Today, the company cranks out 140 million bricks every month, a volume which would have been unheard of back in the 1800s. Back then, you could find brickmakers just about everywhere; these days, not so much. However, Puckett says that his company is thriving in a day when the industry itself is on the verge of dying out: “The company is in great shape,” he said. “It’s not like (the sale) was something we were forced into. . . Our industry is in dire straits, about 30 percent of the brick companies are sitting idle, so nobody needs to go buy more capacity,” he added. “I think probably the biggest thing we were known for is the people we have accumulated. I’m often told I have the best people in the industry. I think that’s what made us appealing to General Shale. They know us. We know them.”

 

 

For the full article, please click here.

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Atmos Energy Moving, Consolidating GTR Offices Into One New Location

Atmos Energy Moving, Consolidating GTR Offices Into One New Location

GTR Area – Courtesy of the Dispatch –

Atmos Energy, its Columbus office shown here, is working on consolidating its three Golden Triangle offices into one central location by spring.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

Michelle Whittle has stated that Atmos plans to consolidate three of their three existing “District 45” offices (The GTR plus Monroe & Tupelo Counties) into one new office, once funding has been finalized: “Our plans are for us to begin construction on our new office hopefully by spring,” Whittle said. “We most likely will sell the other three facilities.” The proposed new location is planned to be located next to Wade Construction on South Frontage Road, a few miles west of Columbus, and is expected to hold about fifty employees. The new location will serve Clay, Lowndes, and Oktibbeha counties.

The location is also a bit more centralized, and Whittle remarked that advancements in technology have made it easier to handle a spread-out service team more easily from a single dispatching area. The new office is intended to make much better use of space (for example, it will not serve as a showroom for selling heaters and similar products like the old office(s).

“All of us will move,” she went on to say. “Every one of us — we have about 28 employees. We all will begin reporting to the new office. We’re all excited about it. It’s going to be really nice.”

For the full article, please click here.

 

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C-L Chamber Announces New Members

C-L Chamber Announces New Members

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch – PRESS RELEASE (Exerpts)

From left, Matt Bogue, Greg Stewart and Jill Savely (courtesy photo)

Columbus Lowndes Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the results of the 2017 board election. The new members are: New CLCC Board members elected are Matt Bogue, The Dutch Oil Group; Greg Stewart, Aurora Flight Sciences; and Jill Savely, EMCC Golden Triangle Early College High School. Bogue, Stewart, and Savely will serve a three year term from October 2017- September 2020 and were elected by majority vote by the Chamber membership.

The CLCC Board Chair for 2017-2018 is Melinda Lowe, Director for the Office of Outreach and Innovation at the Mississippi University for Women.

“The Chamber would not be where we are today without their leadership, and I am grateful. I look forward to working with such a great group of inspiring leaders and a great representation of our membership,” said Lisa James, CLCC President. “Together with the staff, this group will help build a successful future for the Columbus Lowndes Chamber of Commerce.”

Board members serve staggered terms and are elected by the Chamber membership from a slate of 6 approved by the Executive Committee of the Golden Triangle Development LINK.

To see the full press release, please click here.

 

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Selling a Ton of the Best Fried Chicken Around…Every Day!

Selling a Ton of the Best Fried Chicken Around…Every Day!

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Fried chicken is just one of those foods that is synonymous with the South – and people flock from literally hundreds of miles around to get their fried chicken at Columbus’ own Food Goant supermarket, which has been supplying the all of their customers with tender, juicy birds for a decade or so.

Head fry cook Bobby Hill and Matt Critcher, one of Hill’s five fry cooks, batter chicken at Food Giant in Columbus Wednesday afternoon.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

Bobbie Reese, the store’s deli manager, says that ” . . . [We] sell about 3,800 pieces a day; more on weekends,” she said. “It’s hard to say. I do know we order 275 cases of chicken each week and by the time Monday rolls around, we’ll have two, maybe three cases left before the next order comes in.” That works out to over six tons of of chicken sold every every week, year-round – nor far short of a ton a day. On average, their deli has 1,400 customers per week, according to store manager Ty Dankins, who has been there from the beginning.

“Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Macon, West Point,” Reese said. “There is a church in Birmingham that comes in once a month to pick up an 800-piece order. They say they can’t find chicken that tastes like ours anywhere else.” To what does she credit such amazing customer loyalty? “It’s the batter,” Reese said. “That’s all I’m going to say. It’s a secret.”

The store uses four commercial-grade frying machines, each capable of cooking 112 pieces of chicken per hour from 7 AM to 6:30 PM daily. Each one is drained of oil, cleaned, and refilled twice a day with peanut oil to guarantee a fresh, clean taste, and an end product that is much less greasy than many place’s fare.

“There’s little bit of a lull until around 4,” Bobby Hill, the store’s head fry cook and manager of all things chicken-related, said. “Then people start coming in to pick up supper . . . I’ve been frying chicken since Day 1,” he went on to say. “When I came in for the job interview, they told me, ‘We sell a lot of chicken. Don’t let the chicken whoop you.’ I said, ‘No, I’m going to whoop that chicken.’ That first day, I couldn’t believe it. I came here from Flint, Michigan. People like fried chicken there, and I guess people everywhere like fried chicken. But it’s not like what it is here. It’s amazing.”

The store is well-equipped to handle unusually large orders, though they suggest that you call well in advance for the really big ones: “If you’re going to make a big order like 800 pieces, you better do it about a week ahead of time because the order book fills up pretty quick,” Hill said.  “If somebody walks in and orders 100 pieces, we tell them, ‘Sure, we can do that, but you might have to wait 10 or 15 minutes,'” Hill said. “I bet if you walk into one of those fried chicken order places and tried to order 100 pieces, they’d tell you you’re crazy.”

The display case is piled high with freshly fried chicken by 8 am each morning at Food Giant in Columbus – Photo by Deanna Robinson – Dispatch Staff

“Sunday is our biggest day,” Reese said. “We’ll have people lined up all the way to the back of the store. People don’t mind waiting.”

Food Giant, an employee-owned company, operates more than 100 stores across the Southern U.S., under names including Food Giant, Piggly Wiggly, Cost Plus, Pick ‘n Save, Market Place, Sureway and Mad Butcher. Their workers and managers are all allowed the opportunity to purchase stock in their own store, which tends to lead to a sense of pride in their store, and a personal investment in its success. This means that more of the money made literally stays right here in Columbus, in the hands of the people who work hardest to keep it running smoothly – and THAT’S Good for Business!

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