Women’s Leadership Summit Soars
On International Women’s Day – March 8 – more than 320 women joined the Junior League of Montgomery for its second annual Women’s Leadership Summit. The 2019 Summit’s theme, “Changing Forward,” was best summed up by keynote speaker Liz Huntley. “We can always get better. We can always learn from one another. Today, the women in the room were encouraged and uplifted, and those things give you new energy and a new fire to keep going,” she said.
Huntley’s moving address was a celebration of education and the role it played in her life. She capped off the day by sharing her re-markable story of overcoming the adversity of an abusive childhood to become a successful attorney, child advocate and member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees. In addition to Huntley’s powerful speech, those who attended split into breakout sessions after lunch, hearing from additional influential women including Leslie Sanders, Vice President of Southern Division, Alabama Power Company; Sharleen Smith, Director of Continuing Education for Troy University; Anna Buckalew, President and CEO of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce; Nicole Sloan, owner of Nicole Sloan Realty; and Ashley Morrow, founder and owner of Click Synergy.
In order to help women advance in their careers and personal lives, the Summit also provided information about a new grant opportunity called the EmpowHERment Grants. Through money raised during the shopping opportunities at the Summit, the Junior League will offer grants to League members and non-profits through an application process.
The Wellness Coalition Celebrates 20 Years
The Wellness Coalition (TWC), a nonprofit based in Montgomery, is celebrating 20 years of service to the River Region in 2019. In conjunction with this milestone, TWC is launching new programs to improve the health and wellness of residents in Montgomery, Lowndes and Macon counties as part of a five-year, $3.9 million cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “This is a big year for The Wellness Coalition,” said Molly Stone, Executive Director of The Wellness Coalition. “We are not only celebrating the vision of our founders, but we are also moving our mission forward with new programs as part of the REACH cooperative agreement.”
Giraffe Calf Makes Debut at Montgomery Zoo
The Montgomery Zoo recently announced the birth of a male reticulated giraffe calf who was introduced to the public on March 1. This male giraffe calf was born at the Montgomery Zoo on December 31, 2018, and is named Alvin, after Alvin Williams, a long-time Zoo employee who works at the Zoo’s Giraffe Encounter.
Montgomery Zoo Celebrates Education Docents
Annually, the Montgomery Zoo and Montgomery Area Zoological Society honors the Zoo’s Education Docents and Zooteen team. On February 5, a banquet and award ceremony were held in their honor thanking each of them for their dedication to the Montgomery Zoo’s Education Department. Those celebrating one year of service awards include: Sidney Antonelli, Cari Bundy, Erin Carmack, Jonathon Chappell, Peyton Courson, Hannah Cross-field, Emily Johnson, Alex Koda, Kathryn Leonardi, Jalen McDade, Molly Presser, Avery Sigmon, Jane Waters and Kristen Waters. The five-year service award winner was Jillian Betts, and the 10-year service awards went to Wayne Brantley, Emily Duke and Michelle Johnson.
The two biggest awards were awarded to Wayne Brantley, Docent of the Year, and Harley Gezzi, Zooteen of the Year. Both of these volunteers give countless hours of their time and talents to share their wildlife knowledge with Zoo patrons, schools, and community clubs and organizations. “Our Zooteens and docents are the true super heroes and ambassadors of the Montgomery Zoo,” said Montgomery Zoo Director Marcia Woodard.
CodingSolutions Gives Faulkner Students Experience
Faulkner students studying computer science are discovering mentorship and job opportunities through CodingSolutions, a new highly competitive job-readiness program in the Montgomery area. The students are joining networking groups with fellow peers, college students around the state and experts who have been in the tech and cyber industry for years. Together, the group is learning how to solve coding issues to accomplish a project. Four Faulkner students are currently involved in the program as a way to gain hands-on knowledge of the tech industry, create and complete projects for their resume and push them to the top of the hiring list with thriving companies.
Free Diabetes Prevention Classes Offered
For a second year, The Wellness Coalition is helping people in Montgomery, Macon, Lowndes, Elmore, and Autauga counties lose weight and prevent diabetes by offering free diabetes prevention classes. The program, known as “Change Your Life-style. Change Your Life” (CYL2) helps participants lose 5 to 7 percent of their body weight by eating healthier and being more physically active. This can improve health and cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Participants in the program got their own coach to teach them how to eat healthy foods and increase physical activity. Classes began in November 2018 and meet for a full year. In the first six months of the program, classes will meet 16 times. In the final six months of the program, classes will meet six more times to help participants maintain healthy lifestyle changes.
CYL2 is conducted in partnership with the Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
River Region Generals Finish First Season
Montgomery’s first men’s professional basketball team, the River Region Generals, finished its inaugural season with a 12-9 record. The team’s owner Syreeta Bailey also recently added a minor league team. The Montgomery Knights is affiliated with the Minor League Basketball Association and began play on March 30. The Montgomery Knights season continues through June. And in August, the city gets its first women’s professional basketball team, the Montgomery Lady Magics.
Caddell Construction Awarded New Projects
In late January, Caddell Construction announced it has been awarded a $143.5 million contract for construction of the Airman Training Complex Dorm #5 and Dining Classroom Building #3 at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Under the new contract, Caddell will construct a 1,248-person basic military training (BMT) dormitory and a dining/classroom facility that supports two BMT dormitories.
In February, the company announced it has been awarded a $224 million contract by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations to design and build the new U.S. Embassy Compound in Nassau, Bahamas.
Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar Opening at EastChase
Jim Wilson & Associates, LLC, recently completed the sale of a 1.5-acre site at EastChase, adjacent to EastChase Market Center near the intersection of Eastchase Lane and Eastchase Parkway, to Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar, a leading full-service family sports restaurant, new to Central Alabama. The hot spot aims to provide residents a go-to community restaurant that embodies the go-getter spirit of a walk-on athlete while providing superior service and mouthwatering “All-American” menu items with a taste of Louisiana. Walk-On’s is set to open in late 2019.
Mural Honors Nat King Cole
In March, community leaders dedicated a mural honoring Montgomery native and international music icon Nat King Cole on the eve of the late crooner’s 100th birthday. Local artists Sunny Paulk and Corey Spearman collaborated on the project made possible through a public-private partnership between the City, the Montgomery Public Art Commission, Midstate Advertising and Kyser Property Management, who offered the building at 435 Maxwell Boulevard for this installation.
Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange marked the occasion by presenting a proclamation establishing Nat King Cole Day in Montgomery to Nat King Society Chairman John McGowan and Rozelia Harris, widow of the Society’s founder.
“Legends like Nat King Cole are truly unforgettable, and as the birthplace of this musical icon, our community has the privilege of sharing his story, music and legacy with the world,” Mayor Strange said.
Titled “Unforgettable,” the mural is the latest in a line of art installations honoring Montgomery’s history to be completed thanks to the coordination of the Montgomery Public Art Commission and City and County leaders.
Faulkner’s Speech Language Pathology Program Provides Direction
Esther Barahona’s heart is in Honduras. As a student at Faulkner University, she plans to take what she learns in Montgomery and share it with the people of Central America. As one of the first students studying in Faulkner’s new department of speech and language pathology (SLP), Barahona is on track to become a licensed speech and language pathologist and return home to Honduras to serve. “I am really looking forward to taking what I learn back home to Honduras,” she said.
Barahona will spend much of her time in the newly opened SLP clinic, gaining crucial hours of hands-on clinical experience. She was especially impressed with Faulkner’s program and its mission to serve the whole person, not just their disability. The faculty’s goal is to train speech and language pathologists who have a humanitarian heart for serving others. “Interacting with the faculty, I can just see that they are excited to serve the community and to teach us, and that makes me excited to be a part of the program,” Barahona said.
Montgomery Business Aids Tornado Victims
In the wake of the devastating tornado that hit Lee County in March, Turenne PharMedCo, a Montgomery pharmacy and medical supply business, held a donation drive to collect items for tornado victims.
Employees donated money, personal hygiene goods, cleaning supplies, pet food and other supplies during the two-week drive. The effort collected 578 items. Turenne also reached out to one of its vendor partners for donations. The vendor contributed 37 cases of diapers and personal care items for children and adults. Lauren Wright, Human Resources Director at Turenne, said that there are employees with friends and family in the Lee County area who lost everything to the recent tornado. “The people of that area have gone through so much. The stories of devastation and loss are heartbreaking, and we knew that we wanted to help in any way we could,” Wright said.
Entrepreneur Combines Office, Pop-up Retail Space
The owner of LAF (Learn. Active. Fun), a company that rents gigantic board game pieces for children’s parties and adult gatherings, launched a second business in April on the one-year anniversary of his first business.
Julian Petty’s new venture is workSHOP, which combines pop-up retail space with both shared office work space, private offices and office suites. It’s located in the Hampstead community.
The front of the building is dedicated to small business owners selling merchandise by renting wall space, rack space or table space. Petty is locating his LAF headquarters in workSHOP as well.
In addition to coworking space and dedicated desks, there are private offices, office suites, a lounge area, common area, conference room, multipurpose area for business events or desk rentals, a breakroom, a sound room for webcasts, podcasts and recording commercials, as well as 24/7 access for members with one- or two-year leases.
Petty has scheduled several business owners for “Empowered Speaker Series” and plans to hold networking meet-and-greet events called “Meat and Treat.”
Petty, who is active-duty Army and currently working on a master’s degree at Auburn University at Montgomery, said the reason behind this business concept is his mother, Johanna Petty. “She was always there for her sons,” he said. “It’s just my way of giving back to my mom.”
POPEYES Coming to Wetumpka
POPEYES is being built on Highway 231. The Wetumpka store is the company’s first in the Wetumpka area. POPEYES was founded in New Orleans in 1972 and distinguishes itself with a unique New Orleans-style menu featuring spicy chicken, fried shrimp and other regional items. The chain’s passion for its Louisiana heritage and flavorful food has allowed it to become one of the world’s largest chicken quick service restaurants with over 3,000 restaurants. Gene Cody, CIIM Vice President of Moore Company Realty, said, “We are excited to help bring POPEYES to the Wetumpka market.”
HCS Group to Perform Engineering for Neonatal ICU in Zambia
Montgomery-based HCS Group has been selected to work with a team of professionals for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Mission to Zambia (USAID/Zambia) in support of the USAID Health Integrated Infrastructure Design Activity. The intent is to provide high quality facilities and infrastructure to improve maternal and neonatal health services. The new neonatal ICU facility will directly lead to a reduction of infection, improve quality of care and dramatically cut the neonatal mortality ratio in Zambia. HCS Group is serving as the electrical and mechanical engineering team lead.
Faulkner Law Provides Conflict-Resolution Classes
This academic year, the Faulkner Law com-munity stepped outside its classrooms and into the Montgomery Public Schools (MPS) to help equip students with communication and conflict-resolution skills through Words Work, a program designed to promote learning and civility among youth. As a part of the program, law students, professors and com-mission members volunteer for an hour and a half once a week.
One of the goals of the undertaking is to encourage students who participate to share what they learn with others at school, in their homes and in their neighborhoods. “In response to the rising levels of school conflict, we looked to incorporate conflict resolution in an authentic way,” said Camille Anderson-Finley, Director, Family and Community Engagement MPS. “We believed our efforts could help our students understand conflicts and how to manage them.”
Sixth and eighth grade students at Bellingrath Middle School are the first to participate in Words Work in Montgomery.