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Together 2016 announces first phase of community investment

Coming Soon: Little Free Libraries soon to appear in a neighborhood near you

A group of Chattahoochee Valley community leaders announced a $70,000 investment in the first phase of Together 2016 Wednesday afternoon in a Midtown Columbus park. The initial community neighborhood investment includes more than 55 Little Free Li
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A group of Chattahoochee Valley community leaders announced a $70,000 investment in the first phase of Together 2016 Wednesday afternoon in a Midtown Columbus park. The initial community neighborhood investment includes more than 55 Little Free Li

A group of Chattahoochee Valley community leaders announced a $70,000 investment in the first phase of Together 2016 Wednesday afternoon in a Midtown Columbus park.

Together 2016 is a collaborative effort sponsored by the Ledger-Enquirer that brought together 23 community partners to promote the region’s best assets and create new projects that help build a better region. The 23 partners, which include businesses, education, non-profit, foundations and community leaders, made a financial, resource and time investment in the campaign.

The announcement was made at Theo McGee park off MLK Boulevard near the A.J. McClung YMCA with representatives of many of the partnership organizations present.

The initial community neighborhood investment includes:

▪  Over 55 Little Free Libraries in neighborhoods throughout Columbus, Phenix City and Fort Benning. They will be installed beginning this month.

▪  17 Markers for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Learning Trail that will be installed as the trial develops.

▪  Five Together 2016 Scholarships for high school seniors residing in Muscogee, Harris, Chattahoochee, Russell and Lee counties.

▪  22 Please Be Seated Benches in neighborhoods throughout Columbus, Phenix City and Fort Benning to be installed beginning this month.

The four projects selected came from more than 200 public suggestions generated in part by an advertising campaign, said Rodney Mahone, chairman of Together 2016 and president and publisher of the Ledger-Enquirer.

“We decided these ideas had to fall into certain caveats to be considered,” Mahone said. “There had to be accessibility, sustainability, no programming type of ideas. ... Once we put the projects out there, we wanted different entities to own them. Columbus Parks and Recreation is going to help us with these little free libraries and the benches.”

The five scholarships are a one-time consideration that will be awarded early next year. The college scholarships will be $2,000 for each student. Columbus State University President Chris Markwood, CSU Associate Vice President for University and Government Relations John Lester and Troy University-Phenix City Vice Chancellor David White offered valuable advice in that area, Mahone said.

“Sometimes you think it has to be a $10,000 or $15,000 scholarship to make a difference, but a $2,000 scholarship can be the difference between somebody going to college and not going,” Mahone said. “John Lester, Chris Markwood and David White were emphatic about that.”

The markers for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Learning Trail will stretch from the intersection of Macon Road and Rigdon Road to Bay Avenue downtown, said Ronzell Buckner, director of Turn Around Columbus.

The markers will recognize important people, places and events in the Columbus African American community.

Next month, Together 2016 will announce a more than $100,000 regional project, Mahone said.

“Not that these neighborhood projects don’t touch Columbus, Phenix City and Fort Benning, but it will be a project that we hope will bring all parts of our region together in a common space,” Mahone said.

Detailed information about the Together 2016 campaign can be found at www.buildingabettercolumbus.com or on the Together Columbus Facebook page.

Chuck Williams: 706-571-8510, @chuckwilliams

Together 16 partners

▪ Rodney Mahone, president and publisher, Ledger-Enquirer

▪ Betsy Covington, president and CEO, Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley

▪ Terry Bell, general manager, managing partner, Headquarter Nissan

▪ Marquette McRae McKnight, president Media, Marketing ...and More!

▪ Dr. David White, vice chancellor, Troy University

▪ Audrey Boone Tillman, executive vice president, general counsel, Aflac

▪ M. Scott Hill, president and CEO, Columbus Regional Health

▪ Jason Cuevas, vice president, customer service and operations, West Region Georgia Power

▪ Mark A. Baker, CEO, Hughston Clinic, Jack Hughston Memorial Hospital

▪ Bill Becker, president, Naartjie Multimedia

▪ M. Troy Woods, chairman, president and CEO, TSYS

▪ Billy Blanchard, president and CEO, CB&T

▪ Chris Markwood, president, Columbus State University

▪ Jane P. Seckinger, president and CEO, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers

▪ Dr. Christine Senn, chief implementation officer, IACT Health, Columbus Regional Research Institute

▪ Tom Bode, general manager, Pratt & Whitney

▪ Tripp Wade, president, The Wade Companies

▪ Peter Bowden, president and CEO, Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau

▪ Steve Davis, president, Columbus Water Works

▪ Brian Anderson, president and CEO, Greater Columbus GA Chamber of Commerce

▪ Cecil Cheves, chairman, Lockwood Partners

▪ Jack Pezold, president, The Pezold Companies

▪ Marc Olivie, president and CEO, W.C. Bradley Co.

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