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  • September 2017

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    NSF FUNDS AUM RESEARCH A method developed at Auburn University at Montgomery to help students who are blind or have visual impairments learn algebra and other advanced mathematics has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant for further study by AUM and Rice University. The grant supports research to determine whether that method, called Process-Driven Math, can improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education for all students. AUM was awarded $298,000 in funding for its part of the project. The development of Process-Driven Math (PDM) began as “The Logan Project” at AUM in 2015, when psychology student Logan Prickett, who was almost completely blind and had severely limited mobility and a voice no louder than a whisper, began his undergraduate career there. Because of his disabilities, typical low-vision tools were not adequate for Prickett to demonstrate his capability in math. AUM’s Learning Center partnered with him to address his needs and, by extension, help others in similar situations.


    Lowder New Homes will begin building 55 new homes at Bristol Park Place located in New Park, a residential planned unit development by Jim Wilson & Associates, LLC in Montgomery. The venture marks a new relationship between two long-respected developers who have shaped the residential landscape of the River Region and beyond over the last six decades. “We are excited about this new relationship with Jim Wilson & Associates and the opportunity to build homes in New Park,” said Jimmy Rutland, President of Lowder New Homes. New Park was started in 2008 with a master plan of 1,160 acres and a projected 2,700 homes. Lowder New Homes will introduce new floor plans and designs of what it calls a “new generation of homes” to its New Park portfolio of plans developed by internationally recognized residential architectural firm BSB Design. Known for its innovative floor plans that capture the changing trends in living styles, BSB has designed floor plans and homes for Lowder New Homes in New Park that will live like today’s homeowner. Dan Swift, president of BSB Design, and Senior Partner Stephen Moore built a process to design for what the firm calls a Thoughtful House. “We have taken a fresh look at both existing designs and living style trends to develop plans that have spaces that are easy, relaxing and rejuvenating while being accessible, flexible and convenient to those that live in the home,” Swift said. Construction of these new plans began in July with move-in dates in the fall.


    The Alabama Farmers Federation has announced members can use the Alfa Perks smartphone app to access benefits at businesses, restaurants and attractions across the state. Alfa Perks locates and notifies users of local, county-specific benefits whenever they’re on the

    road. The app also allows members to save on popular brands like Ford vehicles, Express Oil Change services and Choice Hotels. The app compliments the local member benefits program the Federation launched last year. Alfa Perks offers savings at 840 retail locations statewide. To claim a benefit, show the Alfa membership card, which is available on the app.


    Long-time Montgomery business, Capitol Hill Healthcare has launched a new website aimed at educating the public about skilled nursing care options. This newly designed site has quick and easy access to essential information and features that offer a more comprehensive understanding of the company’s five-star long-term care and rehabilitative services. The site also has rich content focused on its commitment to residents. Additionally, online visitors will get a glimpse into resident life at the facility. “This is a future home for someone, so it’s always good to have as much information as possible to ensure this is the right place for their needs,” said Capitol Hill administrator, Sharon Baker.


    During the summer, Governor Kay Ivey appointed founding member and executive director of Montgomery’s Envision 2020 Lynn Beshear as Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health. “Through active participation in securing mental health services in the River Region, Lynn understands the complexities of the Department, and the importance of its work on behalf of the people of Alabama,” Governor Ivey said. 

    Beshear is married to Dr. Bob Beshear, a retired pediatrician. She graduated from North Carolina Baptist Hospital School of Nursing and worked as a staff nurse in the Intensive Care Nursery at Duke University Medical Center and was promoted to head nurse in the Duke Well-Baby Nursery. She moved from Kentucky to Montgomery in 1978 and has been a key player in the city’s positive development ever since. She has previously served on the board of directors for organizations and establishments including Montgomery Academy, United Way, First United Methodist Church and others. She currently serves on the board of Joint Public Charity Hospital, Montgomery Metro YMCA, and the AUM School of Liberal Arts Advisory Board. 

    “I did not seek out this position, but I am honored to be chosen to serve my fellow Alabamians,” Beshear said. “I am excitedto work with Governor Ivey, her Cabinet, the Legislature, and the professionals within the Department of Mental Health, to provide excellent services for Alabamians with mental illness, those who are developmentally delayed, and those who struggle with substance abuse.” 

    Beshear was named The Montgomery Advertiser’s Woman of Achievement in 1993 and received the Maury D. Smith Excellence in Professional Ethics Award in 2016, among other honors. As Commissioner, Beshear will work toward developing new policies and strive to better existing programs.

    MBJ asked her to share some of what she’ll be working on:

    MBJ: What was your reaction to your appointment? Complete surprise! I had done a presentation to a Montgomery civic club in mid- May and received a call that the governor had heard about it. My first reaction was, “Am I on Candid Camera?” On the other hand, the fact that the Governor was interested was affirmation of the entire Envision 2020 team’s collaborative work in the River Region to create a coordinated local system of access to mental health care.

    MBJ: What are some of the main things you and your team will be working on? It goes without saying that access to mental health care is a tremendous health-care access issue across the United States and particularly in rural states that have scarcity of both monetary resources and medical care providers of all types. In addition, the Department of Mental Health has two other broad areas of care in addition to mental health treatment; they are services for individuals with developmental disabilities and those with substance abuse disorders. There are several very specific action arenas, based from our experience in the Healthy Minds Network, which is the name given to the work in the River Region. They fall under the headings of Partnerships, Planning and Prevention with the over-arching goal being to establish permanent working relationships that are relevant and effective.

    A sampling of the big issues:

    • Stigma

    • Crisis care to avoid jail and ERs

    • Mental health care workforce recruitment and retention

    • Housing— as primary care intervention

    • Opioid crisis

    • Use of technology and data

    • Suicide prevention

    • CIT training statewide

    • Mental health first aid

    • Mental health and substance abuse courts

    • Autism services

    • Supporting people with disabilities and their families, including expanding self-directed services


    MBJ: What are a few things you’d like people to know about your department and the work it does? Just like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, mental illnesses are diseases—not character flaws. Twenty-five percent of the population will have a mental illness in any given year. No socio-economic group or race is “immune.” Most people with mental illness have depression or an anxiety disorder and function well with the proper support system, which can include medication and therapy.


    Jackson Hospital is pleased to be the first provider in the U.S. to offer bkFusion™, a groundbreaking solution for improving biopsy targeting for assistance in diagnosing prostate cancer. bkFusion is a powerful software advancement in diagnostic visualization that combines real-time ultrasound imaging with pre-exam MRI information. This technology is an innovative

    solution for improving biopsy targeting in prostate cancer and it is fully integrated onto a premium ultrasound system, the bk3000. “We are confident that with our state-of-the-art MRI system and bkFusion, we can better identify and target suspicious prostate lesions, giving our patients clear answers and peace of mind,” said Brian Richardson, MD, Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery for Jackson Hospital.


    Auburn University at Montgomery moved one step closer to full NCAA Division II membership this past summer, when the NCAA Division II Membership Committee notified AUM that its athletics program successfully completed provisional year one in 2016-17 and is now permitted to begin its second year of the membership process this fall. “This is an exciting time for AUM athletics,” AUM Chancellor Carl A. Stockton said. “I want to applaud our athletics staff and coaches, as well as the members of our campus community who have supported this university-wide effort. I look forward to making continued progress toward full NCAA Division II membership.” During provisional year two, the Warhawks will compete as a provisional member of the Gulf South Conference, which excludes participation in conference or NCAA postseason events. With the completion of all benchmarks over the coming year, AUM will move to its final provisional year in 2018-19, with the 2019-20 season marking its first full year of Division II membership and postseason eligibility.


    Doctors Fry, Barganier and associates at SmileMakers Dentistry have been serving patients in the Montgomery area since 1979. The doctors and staff are committed to excellent care for their patients with respect for their patients’ time, comfort and convenience. To accommodate a large patient base, the flagship office on Woodmere Boulevard is now accompanied by a new office on EastChase Parkway near the Shoppes at EastChase.


    Taylor Blackwell, President of brands Walker360, Fifth Advertising and Creative Printing, added another acquisition to his companies this past spring. Blackwell purchased Hudson Ink in April as a strategic acquisition to work in concert with his other businesses. Hudson Ink is a 16-year-old direct marketing company that services clients throughout the country. Blackwell said, “We believe the direct marketing expertise found at Hudson Ink will greatly contribute toward growing our companies at large.” The purchase of Hudson Ink represents a unique and strategic opportunity to enhance growth and expand client offerings. Hudson officially moved to a newly renovated space at Walker360’s East 5th Street location in July.


    Mac Papers, one of the largest merchant distributors in the Southeast U.S., announced in July that it completed the acquisition of Florida Graphic Supply, Inc. (FGSI), a Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor that specializes in the most advanced wide format technology available. “Mac Papers is proud to announce this acquisition, which is an important and strategic move for us in wide format,” said Sutton McGehee, President of Mac Papers. “Not only does the acquisition reaffirm the company’s commitment to offering our customers a broad, diversified product lineup, but it also affirms our focus on extending our capabilities in the sign and display market. We are pleased to welcome FGSI employees into the Mac Papers family.” This announcement follows a string of acquisitions the company has made in recent years.


    When teachers and students of Montgomery’s Loveless Academic Magnet Program arrived for the first day of school this year, they showed up at the school’s new 82,250-square-foot facility at its new campus at the One Center on McGehee Road. The spot gives the school plenty of space to continue serving it students and space to grow in the future—an additional 23,760 square feet are still available for development—and the move was welcomed by many. “The support of the local businesses and residents in the area is exciting to all of us in the LAMP family. We all realize the communal revitalization begins with bringing in great education into the area. With MPACT and now LAMP being right there, we are excited to see the area continue to revitalize and grow with us,“ said LAMP Principal Matthew Monson. Progress like this is made possible in part due to the Chamber’s 2017 Education Champions, who’ve earned a big “thanks”: Leslie Sanders of Alabama Power Company; Dr. Michael Williams of Faulkner University; Jackie Ragan of Information Transport Solutions, Inc.; John Curvey of SABIC Polymers; and Angela Cone of Trenholm State Community College.


    Caddell has been awarded the contract to construct a new state-of-the-art headquarters and operations complex for the 2nd Radio Battalion supporting the U.S. Marine Corps, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C. The mission of the 2nd Radio Battalion is to provide signals intelligence, electronic warfare, limited cyberspace operations and special intelligence communications support to the Marine Air Ground Task Force and Joint Forces Commander. Caddell has also been selected as the general contractor for the University of Alabama’s newest Freshman Residence Hall. The new four-story dormitory will feature 496 beds, and each room will accommodate two students with its own bathroom and kitchenette.

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