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4-County Electric Welcomes its New CEO

GTR Region – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Incoming 4-County Chief Executive Officer Brian Clark works at his desk Wednesday – Clark will replace Joe Cade, who plans to retire at the end of the month, as CEO and general manager Oct 1 – Photo by Isabelle Altman, Dispatch Staff

4-County Electric Power Association’s Asst General Manager Brian Clark has been named the non-profit cooperative’s new CEO in a recent press release; he will take over for outgoing CEO Joe Cade, who will retire at the end of the month. Clark first joined the company as a staff accountant about thirteen years ago, and worked his way up the corporate ladder to CFO in 2013m and then AGM in February.

Cade, who took over as CEO in 2010, is credited with working closely with the GTR LINK to help bring big businesses such as Yokohama to the area, as well as improving efficiency, work safety, and community engagement in the nine counties they serve. Clark means to continue and improve upon those successes: “I think 4-County’s in a great place,” Clark said. “I know that’s easy to say, but Mr. Joe and the board, they really have done the right things at the right time, which makes my job easy coming in. But it’s kind of like being a pristine athlete at a pro level. You have to work hard at staying in physical shape, so we have to work hard at maintaining what they’ve already built for us.”

Clark also serves as the LCSD board of trustees’ President, having been a member since 2010. Superintendent Lynn Wright speaks highly of him:  “He’s willing to ask good, tough questions and he expects solid answers,” Wright said.

“He’s well-educated, he knows what he’s doing and he’s been real good in his jobs here so I don’t have any doubts about him,” Outgoing CEO Cade said. “I think he’ll do a really good job. . . I’ve had over 25 years of good relationships with everyone I’ve worked with and I know Brian has got the personality to do very well,” he added. “He’s a rock-solid good Christian man.”


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New Construction Abounds Along South Frontage Road

New Construction Abounds Along South Frontage Road

GOLDEN TRIANGLE – Courtesy of The Dispatch

The next time you’re taking a trip from Columbus to Starkville (or realms beyond), keep a weather eye out for the service road to your left. A number of construction projects, new and old, are cropping up there like flowers in Springtime.

1521 S. Frontage Road, just past the Macon/Meridian exit, will house the new combined West Point-Starkville-Columbus office location for Atmos Energy, which will replace their existing offices in those areas once it opens its doors (scheduled for this September); existing employees will be shifted to the new office.

Kingdom Vision International Church is working on adding to its new building at 2467 S. Frontage Road. They hope to open up the new multi-purpose center and gymnasium in late 2019.

Exceed Technologies and Mississippi Alarm arecurrently building new structures at 2787 S. Frontage Road, and they hope to move in by mid-October.

A bit further on, nearer the GTR Airport exit, Stribling Equipment is building their own new facility. They sell heavy equipment, and have found the need for a more centalized, larger location in order to better serve their customers. They hope to complete the move by January.

Sunbelt Rentals opened its Columbus location 645 Highway 45 S., this past June. It offers rental construction equipment for everyone from large contractors to individual homeowners who need some special tools for their favorite project.

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Restaurant Tax’s Future Up In Air

Restaurant Tax’s Future Up In Air

Columbus – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Robert Smith and Harry Sanders – Courtesy photo

The fate of the joint Lowndes/Columbus 2% restaurant tax is currently being hotly debated, as it is due to expire at the end of June. It normally brings in about $2 million per year in tax revenue from restaurants that make over $325,000 per year in prepared food and beverage sales. One of the primary issues that caused the tax’s renewal to die in committee a few weeks ago was the debate over whether the $325K floor should be in there at all; without it, all restaurants would be assessed the tax; another is whether the city of Columbus should simply go ahead and assess its own version of the tax, should the State fail to reinstate it sometime soon. The tax revenue goes primarily to fund tourism, parks and economic development.

“My thing is that if our legislators aren’t going to take out the ($325,000) floor, we’d be crazy to send anything down there that says otherwise,” Columbus Mayor Robert Smith said. “Two-million dollars is at stake here. That’s what we have to remember. So if the only way to get this tax back in place is to have the floor, that’s what we would have to do. If that means the county isn’t a part of it, that’s their decision.”

Should the city move forward with its own tax, it may mean changing how the existing Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau’s is funded; the new tax, in this case, would provide said funding in lieu of the old one. Mayor Smith remarked that “[W]ith [CVB Executive Director Nancy Carpenter’s] contacts and experience, we’d be foolish not to use that. . . We’d have to do something about the board because if it were to be city only, we’d need a board with [only] city people on it. But as far as running tourism, I still think the CVB is the best way to do it.”

The county, in contrast, wants to remove the “floor” on the tax, but keep it the way it was – a joint county/city tax. Lowndes County Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders said, “The county has as much interest in tourism as anybody. . . We want to keep it exactly as it is, with the tax in place like it’s always been. … The only difference is taking away the floor because having that floor doesn’t make any sense. That’s been our position all along and I don’t see any reason why it would change.”

As it stands, if the tax is allowed to die later this year, any reinstatements or changes will have to wait until the Legislature reconvenes next January; this would mean losing out on a year or more of tax revenue. While it is theoretically possible to get a short-term, one-year version of the tax added to an upcoming State special session, it seems that it is unlikely that a local tax would be able to get onto the agenda at such a meeting.

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Please click here for a Dispatch editorial on this topic.

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BREAKING NEWS! Budweiser Clydesdales to Trot on Down to Columbus

Budweiser Clydesdales to Trot on Down to Columbus

Columbus – Courtesy of

The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales. Photo courtesy of the TCPalm/by Jamie Jackson

The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales will be coming to the Columbus area from April 17th to the 22nd. Sources indicate that they will most likely be touring in both Columbus and Starkville at various times during the week. Come on out and see these legends in person, and bring your camera!

Please note that both Super Bulldog Weekend in Starkville, and the Air Show at Columbus Air Force Base are also happening that weekend

Please click here for their official site

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Back Yard Burgers is on its Way Back, Baby!

Back Yard Burgers is on its Way Back, Baby!

COLUMBUS – Some info courtesy of the Dispatch

City building official Ken Wiegel reports that Back Yard Burgers is planning to reopen its Columbus store just off of Hwy 45 in front of Wal-Mart. While the location shut down in October of 2016, there is currently no formal re-opening date announced. However, Wiegel says that inspections of the property have been conducted. The company has dozens of locations open in the US, mostly in Tennessee, Mississippi, and the Midwest.

Originally founded in Cleveland, MS in 1987, the Back Yard Burgers chain has seen its ups and downs. A deal with Yum! Brands, owners of Pepsi and Taco Bell, in 2002~2004 ultimately fell through. Since going public, the company has passed through multiple hands, and even entered Bankruptcy reorganization in 2012; however, they emerged from this temporary setback and kept on going, thanks in part to investors who believe in the brand and want to see it thrive.

To this day, the company uses only Black Angus Beef in its burgers, and offeres a wide variety of optional sides (including vegetarian choices) for its more selective customers. Their menu also includes salads, turkey and chicken sandwiches, chili, potato soup, shakes, desserts, and a number of french fry and baked potato dishes.

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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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MEC Emphasizes Need for Workforce Development in Order to Help Improve State Economy

MEC Emphasizes Need for Workforce Development in Order to Help Improve State Economy

Courtesy of The Dispatch

Scott Waller, interim CEO and president of the Mississippi Economic Council, speaks to Starkville Rotarians Monday at The Mill at MSU. Waller addressed the need for workforce development to help improve Mississippi’s economy. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

Scott Waller, interim president and CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council (MEC) recently addressed the Starkville Rotary Club. While there, he stated that Mississippi, in order to improve itself economically and rise to its potential, must begin to find new ways to continue improving its economic development; he feels that a strong focus on workforce development is the key to our future. He went on to ask his audience what they believed were the most important factors in helping our state to improve. The results were: 58% said that we need a skilled workforce more than anything else; 27% emphasized the need to improve the state’s image; and fewer than 10% of respondents said that lowering taxes, improving infrastructure, or other concserns should be the top priority.

Waller then revealed that their responses were in line with many other groups he had met with across the state, and that most people agreed that we need to help our workforce grow more skilled: “Today alone, there are over 40,000 unfilled jobs in the state of Mississippi,” Waller said. “If we don’t work on having a skilled workforce, we definitely are going to miss out on those opportunities, particularly when it comes to population growth.”

Waller also addressed an umber of other concerns from those present, but he still feels that “…[W]hat we’re learning is workforce development is probably at the top of the list as it would stand.”

To close the meeting, Waller asked what audience members what they felt was the most important aspect to make a positive impact in the community. Forty-four percent chose improving schools, which was the highest of six choices. Improving the workforce, which drew 33 percent, was the second-highest choice by far.

Waller said that strengthening the workforce is a challenge that must begin early on in life, from pre-kindergarten to lifelong learning: “What it tells me when I see these results is at least I think we’re focused on the right thing,” he said. “We’re focused on the thing that’s going to make a difference and move the needle as we move forward.”

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EMCC Holds Their First Industry Day Job Fair

EMCC Holds Their First Industry Day Job Fair

MAYHEW, Miss. (WCBI) –

Students at EMCC have held a reverse job fair of sorts, and they’re calling it “Industry Day.” Unlike a normal such event, here, the students are showing off practical examples of what they can do, and have invited representatives of local industrial concerns to see who and what they will have available to work with in the near future. Students in Electrical and Automation Technologies got together with school faculty and staff to set it up.

“We had the idea for the industries to come in and see what the students were doing here in the program, and we came up with the industry day. Our students do projects for them and let them see some of their skills and their abilities, because in the future those same industries that come here are going to be the ones that hire them,” said Electrical Technologies Instructor, Bobby Johnson.

“We get a lot of young folks who don’t know how to network, don’t know how to approach someone who could be a possible boss someday. And so we hope to have our students have some experience networking and hopefully make some connections that will end up as jobs,” said Automation Controls Instructor, Joanna Alford.

Industry Day at EMCC 2017 – Courtesy of WCBI

“I think we live in a day and age where we’ve all got a brand, and those students have to build their brand and have to identify their brand. I think so many kids may go to school and hope they have something or hope they get picked. I think these events put them in a position of being educated where they know they’re going to get picked,” said Golden Triangle Link CEO, Joe Max Higgins.

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Sky Lake Breaking Ground on Second Starkville Subdivision

Sky Lake Construction, developers of the Bent Brook Ridge subdivision near Starkville High, have begun major work on their newest venture: a second subdivision on Academy Road.

Marketing Director Kate Millican said the construction crew began clearing the land a couple of weeks ago, and are now in the process of doing the dirt work. The new development is expected to add between 40 and 50 houses to the area, with 32 available floor plane on its website. They are open to new homebuyers now who wish to pick out and build the homes of their dreams now.

Millican said, “We built [Bent Brook Ridge] in Starkville, first, and we loved it … So, we thought, let’s go ahead and expand in Starkville . . . One of our favorite things to do is work with home buyers and find the right lot for them, the right floor plan, and let them choose cabinet color, flooring, paint, and some exterior details,” Millican continued. “That way, they can have exactly what they want and feel more at home.”

A ribbon cutting is being planned for the neighborhood potentially for the first week of May.

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West Point’s Old Waverly Golf Club to Host Major 2019 Women’s USGA Event

West Point’s Old Waverly Golf Club to Host Major 2019 Women’s USGA Event


Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss., will be the host site for the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. Scheduled for Aug. 5-11, this will be the third USGA championship contested at Old Waverly, which previously hosted the 1999 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2006 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur.

“The USGA is proud to bring one of our three oldest championships to Old Waverly in 2019,” said Stuart Francis, USGA Championship Committee chairman. “The U.S. Women’s Amateur attracts the world’s best female amateur players, and we are confident Old Waverly will provide a fair and comprehensive test that identifies a champion worthy of hoisting the historic Robert Cox Trophy.”

“It is an honor to host the 119th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Old Waverly,” said George Bryan, club founder. “We have a strong history of supporting competitive amateur golf, and we look forward to welcoming the best female amateurs in the game to our course and to the state of Mississippi in 2019.”

The 2017 Women’s Amateur will be conducted Aug. 7-13 at San Diego Country Club, in Chula Vista, Calif., and the 2018 championship will be held Aug. 6-12 at the Golf Club of Tennessee, in Kingston Springs, Tenn.

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