A rose to the Golden Triangle Regional Development LINK for its help in putting the Golden Triangle squarely in the middle of the emerging renewable energy industry. This week, the Florida-based solar energy company, Origis, was awarded a TVA contract to build a 200-megawatt solar facility in Clay County. It’s the third time Origis has contracted with TVA for solar facilities in the Golden Triangle in the past 15 months. The new Clay County facility will be built on 2,000 acres of farmland near the Yokohama plant in Clay County. LINK has secured options on another 2,000 acres adjacent to the property for future projects. In February 2020, Origis signed a TVA contract to build a 200-megawatt facility near the Infinity Megasite in west Lowndes County. In March, Origis was awarded a contract to build an adjacent facility to generate an additional 150-megawatts. These three plants will generate more than 550 combined megawatts of renewable energy. They will generate millions of dollars in tax revenue as well. We applaud Origins and TVA for bringing this growth industry to our communities while thanking the LINK, which was there from the beginning in facilitating the procurement of these facilities.
A rose to our hospitals — Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle in Columbus and Oktibbeha County Hospital Regional Medical Center in Starkville — for continuing to make the grade in patient safety.
This spring, both hospitals again earned an “A” in safety from The Leapfrog Group, an independent watchdog organization which uses 27 different standards to measure patient safety. Baptist has earned an “A” every year since Leapfrog began its ratings, which now rates 2,700 hospitals nation-wide, one of just 27 hospitals to have all “As” since the start of the ratings in 2012. OCH, meanwhile, has earned an “A” for the fourth consecutive year. Patient safety requires great commitment in normal years, but that’s been an even bigger challenge since the arrival of COVID-19. The “A” grade confirms that our hospitals continue to be up to the challenge.
A rose to the Columbus Municipal School District Board of Trustees, whose request for an independent audit has revealed potential savings of as much as $3.2 million in the areas of transportation, procurement, software programming and maintenance. The audit, conducted by the state auditor’s office with the assistance of educational firm Glance 12K , studied operational expenditures for the 2018-19 and 2019-2020 school years, analyzing not only spending but its “return on investment,” which helped identify areas where spending could be reduced with minimal impact on student performance. No doubt, some of the expenditures — especially in the 2019-2020 school year when schools were forced to make sweeping changes necessitated by the arrival of COVID-19 — were inflated by circumstance. But the overall data gives the district a clearer picture of its operational expenses. The board’s willingness to take a hard look at these expenses opens the door to increased efficiency. We applaud the board for taking this important step.
A rose for another example of the synergy that exists between the city of Starkville and Mississippi State University, this one coming in the form of a mural. Students from the MSU arts department began painting a 300-foot mural on a wall next to the Cadence Bank Building on North Jackson Street. The theme of the mural, “From City Hall to Lee Hall” will depict the iconic buildings in the city and on the MSU campus. Art students will paint the mural, which is being sponsored by the Starkville Area Arts Council with funds provided by private donors and the university. Upon completion this summer, the mural will stand as a visual reminder of the symbiotic relationship that exists between the city and its residents and the students, staff and faculty of the university.