A new Phenix City campus of Troy University is something we've all known about for some time now; it's long been a reality in every sense except physical fact. But that doesn't make last week's groundbreaking any less a landmark moment.
Troy and Phenix City officials and dignitaries assembled on the Alabama bank of the Chattahoochee last week to wield the familiar symbolic shovels and turn the first earth of what will eventually be an $8.6 million project.
It means that as early as 2014, higher education will have yet another important presence in the greater Valley community. There is no downside to that.
Troy has of course shared a campus with Chattahoochee Valley Community College for years, and the university also offers courses at Fort Benning. But the new downtown Phenix City building will have special significance for area higher education and the local economy. It will be specifically designed for courses in nursing, international business and water resource research, each of which is of obvious and particular importance here: This is a regional health care hub, a financial and retail center and a river community with longstanding concerns about water quality and quantity.
The Troy campus also marks a significant and long-awaited step forward in development of Phenix City's riverfront. Property that was once valued mostly for the power generating value the river provided early textile mills is now prime real estate. Yet development of that property in Phenix City has come, when it has come at all, in fits and starts, frustrated by politics, bureaucracy and inertia. Soon the riverfront will have a prominent feature other than public housing.
Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce President Mike Gaymon alluded to the importance of growth and change "by design and not by default." In a community (and we're not talking just about Phenix City here) where growth planning has not always been a prominent civic virtue, that distinction should not be underestimated.
Our man at Fort Knox
A lot of Fort Knox has relocated to the Columbus area in recent years. Now a former Columbus resident, Kendrick High School graduate and Columbus State University alum is headed to Fort Knox.
Maj. Gen. Jefforey A. Smith is the new commander of the famous Kentucky post, and also of the U.S. Army Cadet Command there.
Smith is a veteran soldier who has been deployed in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, in Kosovo and in the war in Iraq. Though he officially took command at Fort Knox last week, Smith directs the U.S. Army Accessions Command Inactivation Task Force here, a job he will see through to its completion.
Our loss will be Fort Knox's gain.