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  • November 2019

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    Bay Design Associates Architects Joins GMC in Pensacola
    Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood (GMC) and Bay Design Associates Architects (BDA) have officially joined forces in Pensacola, Florida. Led by managing partners Steve Jernigan, FAIA, and George Williams, AIA, the firm is an established architectural firm specializing in the design of educational, healthcare, commercial and office facilities.
    “As GMC Pensacola, we will continue our longstanding tradition of offering personal and responsive attention to our client’s specific program objectives, both new and existing,” Jernigan, now Senior Vice President of GMC Pensacola, said. “Our suite of services will continue to include those previously offered by BDA, while also expanding to include new and robust services made available by joining GMC.”
    GMC is one of the largest privately-held multi-disciplined architecture and engineering firms in the Southeast, with offices throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.
    “This merger fortifies GMC’s presence along the Gulf Coast and complements our current growth within the region,” GMC CEO Jeffrey Brewer said. “We have worked with the Bay Design team on several projects over the years and are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead through this new venture.”
    Bradley’s Efforts Drive Passage of Legislation Protecting Disabled Veterans
    For more than two years, attorneys at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP have worked pro bono to change U.S. bankruptcy laws to better protect disabled veterans. Known as the HAVEN Act, it was signed into law by President Trump in late August.
    Under former bankruptcy law, veterans’ disability benefits were included as part of their disposable income – even though comparable Social Security disability benefits are not. This was limiting financially distressed disabled veterans’ access to bankruptcy relief.
    Partner Jay Bender led Bradley’s efforts with respect to the HAVEN Act, working closely with Bradley partner David Stewart and other members of the firm’s Governmental Affairs Practice Group.
    The Shoppes at EastChase Announces Expansion and New Retailer
    Bath & Body Works recently underwent and expansion and remodel to now include White Barn Candle Co. Bath & Body Works, one of the world’s leading specialty retailers of personal care products and home fragrances, moved to a 3,770 square-foot space at The Shoppes at EastChase near Buckle. The upgrade provided Bath & Body Works additional square footage and a modern look. The new location includes its White Barn Candle Co. “store within a store” concept.
    Mountain High Outfitters will open its eighth Alabama location later this month at The Shoppes at EastChase. The Birmingham-based company offers apparel, footwear and gear for backpacking, bouldering, camping, caving, climbing, hiking, long-boarding, mountaineering, skiing, trail running, slack lining, paddle boarding, biking and yoga.
    “We are truly excited to be a part of the Montgomery community,” said Christopher Groom, Founder/CEO for Mountain High Outfitters, “It has been a long time coming, and we feel that The Shoppes at EastChase and the city of Montgomery are a great place to spread the MHO movement and be a part of the active, outdoor and everyday lifestyle.”
    In addition to retail, MHO commits itself to community engagement throughout all of its 14 locations in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.
    Caddell Construction Celebrates “Topping Out” of NNSA Facility
    Caddell Construction recently joined the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)-Albuquerque District in celebration of the Topping Out of the new NNSA Albuquerque Complex office facility. The new complex is being built on Department of Energy-owned land in New Mexico and will be certified as LEED Gold when finished.
    “Topping Out” is the tradition of setting the final piece of steel into place and is followed by a celebration for the project team. The new offices will provide a safe, modern and reliable workspace for approximately 1,200 federal and contract employees who support NNSA’s vital national security missions.
    The project is scheduled for completion in December of 2020 and includes offices, data and fitness centers, secure areas and more. It will be three stories and approximately 334,000 square feet.
    New Staybridge Suites® Hotel Opens Downtown
    PCH Hotels and Resorts announced the opening of the new 115-room Staybridge Suites Montgomery-Downtown. Conveniently located at the junction of Interstates 65 and 85, Staybridge Suites is an ideal location for business and leisure travelers, shoppers and civil rights history enthusiasts. General Manager George Sanders said, “Excitement has been building for our extended stay brand, and we are thrilled to start accepting reservations.”
    The new property offers spacious guestrooms, which include a mix of deluxe studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom/two-bathroom suites with communal living spaces. Guests enjoy fully equipped kitchens with a full-size refrigerator, microwave oven, cooktop and a dishwasher. The hotel has unique complimentary offerings such as a daily hot breakfast buffet, The Den for socializing, playing board games or reading, an outdoor pavilion that includes two infra-red grills, and evening receptions three nights a week with wine, beer and customized entrees. Additional amenities include a zero-entry outdoor saline pool, complimentary guest laundry room, guest storage rooms, 24-hour business center, a fully equipped fitness center and board room.
    Caddell Construction Awarded Limited Letter of Intent from University of Alabama 
    Caddell Construction has received a Limited Letter of Intent from the University of Alabama for Bryant Denny stadium renovations and additions totaling $84.6 million. The document signifies that the University of Alabama expects to execute a contract with Caddell and allows for work to begin as stated in the contract documents, including a litany of preconstruction activities meant to fast-track the project.
    “Fast-tracking will be absolutely critical for project success,” said the company’s Executive Vice President, Mac Caddell. “In fact, there’s not one part of this project that won’t be fast. It’s a fast-paced job, and we’re excited to tackle it.”
    The schedule is extremely tight. Demolition and other on-site work cannot begin until after the final whistle blows on the 2019 football season. And when the first game rolls around in 2020, Tide fans will expect their stadium to be as ready as they are for kickoff.
    Taking on complex construction challenges like this is one of Caddell’s hallmarks, according to President and CEO Eddie Stewart. “Our people thrive on the challenges presented by this project. We have assembled an outstanding team of construction professionals to undertake this endeavor, and I am confident they will be successful,” he said.
    According to the University, the stadium improvements are designed to enhance the student and fan experiences through additional premium seating opportunities, new social spaces and additional elevators to improve access to upper levels.
    New Pygmy Hippo and Andean Condor Exhibit at The Montgomery Zoo
    The Montgomery Zoo and Mann Wildlife Learning Museum announced the rare birth of twin female pygmy hippopotamus calves on August 4, to first-time parents, mom, Asali, and dad, Mikey. This the fourth birth of pygmy hippos in the last four years at the Zoo. Sadly, one of the calves only lived for two days due to a condition called brachygnathism, which made it impossible for the calf to nurse. The birth of twins is a major anomaly for the species. There are only 11 confirmed cases of twin hippo births from 1903-2015. Of these 11 births, there are only four cases where one of the calves survived and only one case of both calves living. With the high infant mortality rate of pygmy hippos, having a set a twins where one survived is significant to research and conservation of the species.
    Also, the Andean Condors have moved to a new exhibit in The Montgomery Zoo’s South American realm. Their new home is located near the front entrance and Monkey Island. Calling the Montgomery Zoo home since 1987, the two Andean Condors are growing more and more comfortable in the new, much larger, exhibit that contains features from their native habitat.
    Montgomery Zoo and Mann Wildlife Learning Museum Launch Augmented Reality App
    The Montgomery Zoo and Mann Wildlife Learning Museum launched a new opportunity for guests to interact with their favorite animals using an innovative new technology, augmented reality. Using the Montgomery ZooView app, guests will be able to bring a two-dimensional image to life on their smart phones or tablets. 
    The technology augments the real-world environment with computer-generated animated video, sound and other data.
    Using the app, guests will hover their smart phones or tablets over marked “trigger” images at habitat viewing stations. The two-dimensional images will come to life through animated videos that will educate guests.
    “Introducing this technology is just one more way we can enhance our guests’ experience here at the Montgomery Zoo,” said Steve Pierce, Program Services Manager for the Zoo. “It will benefit guests of all ages and be of particular importance to those who may have a disability that prevents them from getting the full Zoo experience during their visit.”
    Event Celebrates Book Bench Public Art Project Completion
    The Montgomery Public Art Commission recently hosted a reveal party for the Montgomery Book Bench Project. The event honored the 12 River Region artists commissioned to design and paint 12 benches that have been installed at libraries, schools and community centers within several Montgomery City Council districts and County Commission districts.
    The Montgomery Public Art Commission in collaboration with the Montgomery City-County Public Library, Montgomery City Council and Montgomery County Commission opened its call for proposals last March. This public art project celebrates beloved children’s and young adult books by using them as the base themes for the benches.
    The selected artists include Dianne Waites, Leigh Ann Clark, Julie Lowry, Saquia Evans, DeShuan Smith, Kelly Parvin, Oscar Wheat, Sujoung Pack, Joonwoo Lee and Silvia Deng; India Wilson, Sunny Paulk, Micheal Louis Arrington and Zoe Barker.
    The book bench project is the latest in a line of art coordinated by the Montgomery Public Art Commission and City and County leaders.
    Four Star Freightliner Takes White House Pledge
    Four Star Freightliner Dealer Principal Jerry Kocan joined the movement to put Americans to work by signing the White House’s “Pledge to America’s Workers.” In a statement recently released by the White House, Kocan stated his pledge to create opportunities and committed to training and developing workers.
    Four Star Freightliner, which operates seven locations in Alabama, Georgia and Florida, pledged to create career opportunities for 175 individuals over five years. Four Star began that commitment in October 2018. “Our commitment includes recruiting, training and developing potential employees to join the Four Star team as productive team members in our administrative, parts, sales or service departments,” said Kocan. “We also commit to partnering with local schools, both high school and colleges, to not only provide job opportunities but exposure to all the possibilities that the industry offers.”
    MGM Expands Business Travel Options
    Starting January 7, 2020, American Airlines will offer a new schedule for same-day, return flights between Montgomery Regional Airport (MGM) and Reagan National Airport (DCA). A welcome addition for business travelers, American began non-stop service from MGM to DCA in June 2018. The new schedule offers even greater flexibility for corporate customers who can depart on an early morning flight and return home in time for the nightly news.
    “When we announced the non-stop service to Washington, D.C. last year, we were confident that the flights would perform well. Today, we are pleased that MGM travelers can continue to enjoy access to our nation’s capital with the added convenience of returning home to Montgomery later on the same day,” said Tammy Knight Fleming, Montgomery Airport Authority Chair. Executive Airport Director, Marshall J. Taggart Jr., explained, “This flight is a milestone in providing a full day trip option for the government, business, and military traveling public. Our air service development is aggressively pursuing more ways to connect the airport to the region.”
    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama Awards Scholarships
    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama has provided medical scholarships to three Alabama College
    of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) medical students. As a condition of these scholarships, the recipients agreed to practice as primary care or behavioral health physicians in underserved areas of Alabama after graduation. The recipients are Callie Bennett, Sawyer Donald and Lauren Robinson.
    “Congratulations to each of these medical students for being selected for this scholarship,” said Tim Vines, President and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. “They are truly exceptional students who recognize the importance of this program.”
    MGM Encouraging Passengers to Secure REAL IDs 
    The Montgomery Regional Airport (MGM) is joining the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the effort to remind air travelers to ensure identification compliance with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005. Starting October 1, 2020, travelers presenting state-issued driver licenses and identification cards will be required to ensure identification is REAL ID compliant in order to enter airport screening checkpoints to board aircraft for domestic flights. REAL ID-compliant cards are generally marked with a star located in the upper portion of the card. Other forms of valid TSA identification, including U.S. passports, will continue to be accepted.
    For Alabamians, the state’s STAR ID is compliant with all federal requirements. The STAR ID is currently available only at Alabama Law Enforcement Agency driver license examination offices. Applicants for the STAR ID must provide four documents to verify identity.
    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama Sponsors Bike Share Program
    Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama has partnered with the City of Montgomery to help sponsor Montgomery’s bike share program, an innovative biking system aimed to improve the quality of life and increase tourism in downtown Montgomery. Blue Cross, Baptist Health and Wind Creek Hospitality collaborated to launch the new program.
    “We are proud to partner with the City of Montgomery as we work together to build healthier communities across Alabama,” said Koko Mackin, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Community Relations, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. “Montgomery’s bike share program is an excellent opportunity to provide workers, residents, and visitors a new and convenient way to get around and enjoy our capital city.”
    The micro-mobility vendor, Pace, is operating the bike share program.
    Bike stations are placed in prominent locations throughout Montgomery’s city-center, including the Rosa Parks Library/Museum, First White House of the Confederacy, City Hall, Renaissance Hotel & Spa, Old Alabama Town, Morgan Library, Kress Building, Wright Brothers Park, the Alley and the Intermodal.
    Starke Agency Celebrates 90th Anniversary
    Starke marked its 90th anniversary on September 5, 2019, which has been proclaimed Starke Agency Day with a “Block Party” to commemorate the special occasion. Highlights of the Montgomery insurance agency since its beginnings in 1929 include staying family-owned for three generations, being a Best Practices Insurance Agency for 14 years and counting and continued growth.
    Trey Starke, President and CEO, said, “We are delighted to have reached this milestone, especially in such a competitive market place, and are humbled to be able to celebrate with our valued partners, customers and friends from Montgomery.”
    Bojangles CEO and President Jose Armario Visits Montgomery Location
    Bojangles CEO and President Jose Armario visited the Montgomery Bojangles in Eastchase on September 18. Armario took on the new position in January of this year and has only had the opportunity to visit four franchise locations so far. Aki Henderson, Managing Partner said, “We were excited that he took the time to visit our store to give us lots of love and many words of wisdom! It was such an honor.”  Bojangles in Eastchase is owned by father-daughter team Randy and Aki Henderson of H&S Foods. The store reopened in May with new ownership and new management, and they have plans to open three more stores in the area within the next several years.
    Vintage Hospitality Group Establishes Scholarship
    Vintage Hospitality Group recently announced the establishment of a scholarship for students enrolled in the Hospitality Management Program at Auburn University named The Vintage Hospitality Blount-Rivera Annual Scholarship. In addition to assisting with the economic burden of tuition, the grant provides internships for three hospitality majors pursuing a degree to gain valuable professional experience and make important industry contacts in the industry. The scholarship was created to engage and encourage students by creating a bridge between Auburn and Montgomery hospitality industries. 
    “Providing this scholarship is our opportunity to invest in the future of hospitality,” said Executive Chef Eric Rivera. “We also want to honor students who are working hard to ensure that forthcoming hospitality success is rooted right here in the South.” Headquartered in Montgomery, Vintage Hospitality Group is dedicated to providing guests with the finest culinary selections, premium coffees, specialty teas, outstanding wines and spirits along with unparalleled customer service at The Vintage Year and Vintage Café.
    TROY Celebrates 30 years of Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr. as Chancellor
    Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. reached a milestone anniversary on September 1, 30 years serving in his position and leading the university. Three decades ago, few could have predicted Hawkins’ tenure would outlast his predecessor’s or have such an impact on the University.
    Under his leadership, TROY (then Troy State) became an innovator in the realm of online education beginning in the 1990s. Hawkins also served as the catalyst for the University’s evolution into an international institution, as TROY has attracted record numbers of students from other nations and established teaching sites around the world, alongside international partnerships in countries such as Italy and China. In the early 2000s, Hawkins spearheaded the University’s move to NCAA Division I-A athletics as well as the unification of the former Troy State University System into the modern Troy University. 
    For the students Hawkins championed throughout the years who have gone on to success after college, he remains a source of inspiration, and his influence has spread beyond TROY’s campuses and teaching sites into the surrounding communities.
    For the Chancellor, those lives define his legacy more than any of his other accomplishments. “I believe the only meaningful legacy for any university president or chancellor is the success of our alumni, which is the best barometer of success for any university,” Hawkins said. “The great thing about a career in higher education—no matter what your position— is your work can have a ripple effect that spans generations. We don’t make widgets, we educate students, and in the process, we shape value systems. We can help our students achieve great things in their chosen fields, be good citizens, and be leaders in their communities. That’s a legacy everyone who works at TROY can embrace.”
    When looking back at his 30-year tenure, Hawkins is proud of many things the University has accomplished, but one stands out above the rest. “If pressed to name one initiative of which I am most proud, it would have to be the internationalization of our University,” he said. “Over the last 30 years we have gone from enrolling 40 students from 13 nations outside the U.S. to enrolling students from 80 nations speaking 85 languages.”
    Design Mavens Launch Company
    Margaret Proctor’s ceramic creations appeal to both the contemporary and classic aesthetic. Her eye for design, detail and beauty is now broadening its focus through her latest venture, Fortunata Design. Based in Montgomery, Fortunata Design is a new partnership between Margaret and Lisa Gruwell, who specializes in visual merchandising, showroom and interior design.
    “Our focus is helping people downsize and choose their favorite pieces to incorporate into smaller spaces,” says Margaret.
    Fortunata Design also offers access to a long list of key contacts throughout the United States that can assist clients in selling antiques, art and contemporary furniture that do not transition well into smaller spaces.
    Wharf Casual Seafood Expanding
    Wharf Hospitality Group, Inc. is doubling the size of its company footprint over the next three to five years. Doing business as Wharf Casual Seafood, the company will open five additional company restaurants in Florida, Alabama and Georgia. In addition to company store growth plans, Wharf Hospitality Group, Inc. will immediately begin offering franchise territories throughout the Southeast in a three-phase approach. Phase I includes north Florida, Alabama and Georgia. Phases II and III will include expansion into Tennessee, Kentucky and the Carolinas, positioning the brand as a regional player. “The brand is poised for growth and ready to set sail. Furthermore, the unique and fast-casual approach to seafood is what sets us apart.” said Noah Griggs, Co-Owner.   
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