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  • August 2017

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    Hope Inspired Ministries (HIM) held the first ever Over the Edge event in downtown Montgomery in early April and raised more than $110,000. The fundraiser allowed men and women around the River Region to raise money for HIM in exchange for an opportunity to rappel down a 110-foot building, the 40 Four Building. Hope Inspired Ministries serves low-skilled, poorly educated and chronically unemployed men and women by preparing them to obtain and maintain employment. The VIP & Media Day was held on Friday where local businessmen and women and celebrities rappelled for HIM. These included Jim Massey, Rick Hendrick, Joe Hunk, Chief Ernest Finley, Chief Miford Jordan, Kim Traff, Lt. Col. Brian Copper and Big Mo. The following day, an additional 63 people rappelled, while spectators enjoyed local food and drink vendors. In total, 73 participated in Over the Edge. “We could not have been happier at how well Over the Edge went and how well it was received by the community,” shared HIM executive director Michael Coleman. “We saw that this event was unlike anything being done in Montgomery, and people got excited about that. We already have a list of people and businesses that want to participate next year.”



    Auburn University at Montgomery’s College of Education hosted an open house in early April to demonstrate its Virtual Avatar Lab (VAL) to state educators, as well as faculty, practitioners and students from other professions that rely on critical interaction skills. AUM’s COE is leading the implementation of VAL, a new, grant-funded virtual avatar reality system that will help prepare AUM’s teacher candidates for real-life classroom management. Currently, AUM offers the only mixed reality teaching lab in the state. The virtual environment, developed by Mursion, uses avatars to allow people to practice and master complex interpersonal skills without the possibility of harming real human subjects. The simulation may also be useful in improving the communication and social skills of children with autism spectrum disorder and in training the teachers, social workers and behavior therapists who work with them. Applications for VAL extend far beyond training teacher candidates, and AUM’s other four colleges are already interested in customized scenarios for their students. Nursing students could practice delivering a difficult patient diagnosis, a counseling student could experience speaking with a patient who is a suicide risk, or a business student could hone their sales-pitch skills.



    A Montgomery-based pharmacy will become one of the first in Alabama to implement new technology and equipment to streamline and secure management of medications for healthcare facilities. Turenne PharMedCo, a pharmacy and medical equipment supplier for long-term care, is one of the first to be approved by the Alabama Board of Pharmacy to provide remote dispensing technology and equipment. The machines and technology help facilities to safely manage medication inventory and distribution, while increasing security and tracking usage. The more secure and advanced systems reduce errors, lower costs for the facilities and patients and save time.



    Caddell Power LLC officially opened its new office in Atlanta last April with a formal ribbon cutting and reception. Caddell Power is a subsidiary of Caddell Construction Co. headquartered in Montgomery, with projects worldwide. Caddell Power President, Neil Riddle, has formed a team that is expanding Caddell’s construction and maintenance opportunities in the power and industrial markets. Current Caddell Power customers include Southern Company and Linde Gas. “We are very excited about the outstanding opportunities in the power and industrial markets. For more than three decades Caddell Construction has been an industry leader in building challenging and groundbreaking projects worldwide. We are now expanding Caddell’s footprint into new markets with Atlanta as an ideal business location,” said Riddle.



    The Knicker Knacker Market in downtown Montgomery celebrated 17 years back in June with a party including music, food and big discounts. This one-stop shop offers a diverse selection of products and services including bill paying (for a small fee), money orders and ATM machine access, free Wi-Fi, Montgomery souvenirs, greeting cards, ice cream, hot dogs, pizza and more.



    Jim Wilson & Associates, LLC (JWA) announced the sale of a one-acre parcel of land at Eastchase to Full Moon Bar-B-Que. The new restaurant location is a part of the Eastchase Central development on Eastchase Parkway directly across from Hampton Inn & Suites. Eastchase Central is a new JWA development under construction and includes Kirkland’s, Marshalls/HomeGoods and Five Below. “As the developer of Eastchase, a question long asked of us has been ‘when will you make barbeque a part of the restaurant selection’ and today we have the answer,” said Will Wilson, President of Jim Wilson & Associates, “as we bring Full Moon Bar-B-Que to Montgomery and Eastchase.” Full Moon has locations throughout Alabama with a large concentration of stores in the Birmingham metro area. The Montgomery Eastchase location will be the company’s 14th store and is scheduled to open late summer 2017.



    Starting at the first of April, The Shoppes at EastChase began offering access to free Wi-Fi on property. Shoppers and guests are now able to use the free Wi-Fi on mobile smartphones, tablets or laptops with usage limited to 100MB per second. The Wi-Fi enables shoppers to more easily and conveniently research products, view restaurant reviews, find promotions and post on social media while they are shopping. This is the most recent addition to The Shoppes’ guest amenities, including soft seating and pet-friendly shopping, which were introduced last year. Also coming soon: new directory signage, additional soft seating areas, retail giant H+M, which is expected to open late fall, and Carter’s, a children’s clothing store.



    ServisFirst Bank, a subsidiary of ServisFirst Bancshares, Inc., recently announced the addition of a member to the Board of Directors for their Montgomery territory. The ServisFirst Bank Montgomery

    Board of Directors welcomes Edward M. “Eddie” Stivers, owner of Stivers Ford Lincoln. “ServisFirst Bank Montgomery is proud to announce and welcome our newest board member,” said Carl Barker,

    President and CEO of ServisFirst Bank Montgomery. “Stivers’ community involvement and industry leadership will be beneficial to the future of ServisFirst Bank.” Stivers has served on numerous manufacturer and industry boards and councils including three terms on the Ford National Dealer

    Council. Stivers serves on the Board of Control of the Committee of 100 and the boards of the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce and the Jackson Hospital Foundation.



    Montgomery’s Chambless King is the architect of record for the renovation of Auburn University’s Broun Hall. An early 1980s building in the center of Auburn University’s campus and adjacent to the Ginn Concourse, Broun Hall was identified by the University for upgrades to both its interior functionality and exterior imagery. The layout will encompass a new two-story main entrance addition with upgraded public spaces that will include updated information technology, lighting, finishes, mechanical and electrical systems. In addition, new landscaping and exterior spaces will be provided adjacent to the Ginn Concourse.



    In May, The Montgomery Biscuits announced that the sale of the franchise was finalized by Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball and the Southern League to a Lou DiBella-led ownership group. The new owners quickly mobilized the Montgomery Biscuits staff to increase the organization's presence and reach throughout the city of Montgomery and surrounding suburbs and promised a renewed commitment to affordable family fun at Riverwalk Stadium by hosting a Grand Reopening Weekend, June 22-25, 2017. The five-game home stand against the Birmingham Barons brought

    24,084 fans through the gates, which was the most in any five-game series since April of 2013, and according to Stacy Long of the Montgomery Advertiser, the most since 2008 for any series taking place in June. The five-game set also featured the highest attended Friday and Sunday games of the 2017 season so far, and the second most attended Thursday, Saturday and Monday games (second only to Opening Night, Military Appreciation Night and Grand Slam School Day respectively). The new ownership group led by Lou DiBella praised the fans and the city of Montgomery for the warm welcome and great atmosphere at Riverwalk Stadium.



    Agape of Central Alabama held its 7th Annual Run for a Mom 5k & Fun Run on Mother’s Day weekend, Saturday, May 13. The race took place at the Vaughn Park Church and continued through the Vaughn Meadows community. All proceeds from the Run for a Mom 5k & Fun Run went to directly benefit Agape of Central Alabama and its mission to support women, children and families through foster care, adoption and crisis pregnancy counseling. The race is an annual effort to bring people together to honor the role of mom. The event featured family friendly entertainment, food and games.



    The Huntingdon College Department of Teacher Education and Dozier Elementary School have established a professional classroom at Dozier for the purpose of preparing future literacy educators. The partnership was recently celebrated at the school. Since January 2017, with six Huntingdon students and Dozier Elementary teachers participating in the pilot program, Huntingdon pre-service teacher candidates have tutored first-grade struggling readers using an approach similar to the Reading Recovery Program. The goals of the project are to reduce the number of first-grade students who have extreme difficulty learning to read and write and to reduce the cost of these learners to the educational system. College pre-service teacher candidates have also worked with small groups of third-grade students to improve reading fluency and comprehension. The initial pilot has been highly successful, resulting in increased reading achievement for both first- and third-grade students. Plans to extend and expand the partnership are underway for the 2017–2018 academic year.



    This past year, through the YMCA’s Y Achievers Program, over 150 underserved Montgomery public high school students participated in programs that prepared them for life beyond high school. Throughout the school year, students were mentored by adult professionals exposing them to various careers while building positive relationships and life skills. Students visited several colleges and universities as well as ACT workshops, scholarship and FAFSA seminars, and much more. These learning experiences gave them the tools they need to get accepted into an institution of higher learning and set high expectations for the future. At a recognition banquet, held this past spring, these students were rewarded for their hard work.



    Norstar Development USA, L.P. and its developer partner, the Montgomery Housing Authority (MHA), announced that they have secured $1,290,000 in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) awarded through the Alabama Housing Finance Authority (AHFA) to build Phase II of Columbus Square. The tax credit award will be used to finance 80 new apartments and townhomes equipped with amenities that complement today’s lifestyle. The total cost of the new community is estimated at $16 million. Phase II of Columbus Square is located at the intersection of Columbus and North Union Streets in downtown Montgomery. Evette Hester, Executive Director at MHA, explained that this is the seventh major construction project that the Housing Authority has developed or rehabilitated in partnership with the City of Montgomery and private developers since 2007. “In an environment of dwindling resources, these partnerships are vital to revitalizing communities. MHA has redefined its concept of affordable housing by building communities where families desire to live, empowering people and adding immeasurable value to quality of life.” Phase II of Columbus Square will be available for occupancy in the summer of 2019.



    Huntingdon College recently broke ground on the College’s southeast corner, where new soccer and softball fields will be constructed. “We are so pleased to support our student-athletes in these sports,” said Huntingdon President J. Cameron West. “The configuration of the soccer and softball fields — as it has been for many years — has the spaces overlapping, with the softball outfield in part of the soccer field’s space. The new configuration will provide a dedicated field for each sport, which will be helpful as one team runs practices simultaneous with the other team’s season.” Huntingdon offers men’s and women’s soccer and women’s softball among its 18 NCAA-Division III athletic teams. The new fields will debut in time for each sport’s season during the 2017–2018 academic year.



    Alabama Ag Credit, a rural lending cooperative serving southern Alabama, recently declared a $7.8 million cash patronage to its customers. This record amount was based on the co-op’s strong 2016 financial results and was approved by the Alabama Ag Credit Board of Directors. Patronage payments are based on the amount of business a borrower does with the co-op and lower the borrowers’ cost of borrowing. As a cooperative, Alabama Ag Credit is owned by its borrowers-stockholders. When the co-op performs well, it shares its earnings with its stockholders. The co-op has returned more than $58 million in cash to its borrowers since 2006.



    Admiral Movers President Scott McNelley is a proponent of giving back to the community. That’s why he donated close to $9,000 of services to help Cloverdale Playhouse renovate its facility. Admiral Movers donated the use of 10 employees and a truck to help the theatre move its stock from one warehouse to another. “We are part of the community and our success comes from the community. I’m glad to help such a worthy organization. The Cloverdale Playhouse helps make Cloverdale such a unique and special place,” McNelley said. Admiral Movers also heavily discounted its fee when it helped the Family Sunshine Center transport new furniture. Water damage at a Family Sunshine Center facility necessitated the purchase of the furniture, which Admiral Movers delivered. “The renovation was fairly extensive, and it was an expense that we had not budgeted for. So, we are deeply appreciative to Admiral Movers,” said Melanie Beasley, public affairs director for Family Sunshine Center.



    Know the Community greeters extended an especially warm welcome on their 3,000th newcomer home visit this past June. Know the Community is an outreach for newcomers started 10 years ago by local publisher Pam Mashburn. “We love helping new families to our community by connecting them with our local businesses quickly. By providing our resource guide, welcome events and a digital newsletter called eNewcomer, we hope we encourage our military, retirees, young professionals and relocating families to call Montgomery home for many years!” Know the Community’s greeters have plenty of welcoming experience; Rita Kafka and Jan Burette have been showing new families to the area some true Montgomery hospitality for more than five years by delivering baskets of goodies and coupons to their front door. The Jensen family (pictured) recently moved to Montgomery from Belgium and received a special commemorative basket.



    On August 28 at 5 pm, a bronze sculpture of the Rainbow Soldier from British sculptor James Butler, RA, will be inaugurated in front of Montgomery’s Union Station, and the community is invited to attend. One hundred years before on that date, the 167th Infantry Regiment left Alabama to join the Rainbow Division and sail for Europe where they served bravely in World War I. This gift to the city of Montgomery was made through the generosity of longtime community and business leader Nimrod

    T. Frazer. Another casting of this Rainbow Soldier was inaugurated in 2011 in Fère-en-Tardenois, near Chateau-Thierry, and it stands on the site of the battle of Croix Rouge Farm (July 26, 1918.) Frazer’s book “Send the Alabamians” recounts the amazing story of the 167th Infantry Regiment, from their recruitment to their valiant service on the bloody fields of eastern France in the climactic final months of World War I. After selling nearly 4,000 copies of the book from two printings, The University of Alabama Press announced earlier in the summer that it would soon print a third edition.


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