From awards to volunteerism to new jobs, good things happening here

Published 6:24 pm Monday, September 10, 2018

Good things are going on in Vicksburg with three groups being honored for their efforts in promoting healthy living.

On Saturday, Shape Up Vicksburg, founded by local resident Linda Fondren, the Vicksburg National Military Park and Merit Health River Region received the National Park Service’s Office’s “Healthy Parks, Healthy People Pioneer Achievement Award.”

“I am really honored to be celebrating this award with you today,” Fondren told the walkers assembled to watch the award presentation.

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Park Superintendent Bill Justice said the nation’s parks encourage walking through the national parks, adding the Military Park has had “a long tradition” as a venue for people regularly walking through the park.

And with the help of Shape Up Vicksburg and Merit Health River Region a program was developed that garnered the attention of those in the Washington office of the National Park Service.

Fondren said Shape Up Vicksburg and park officials worked together to develop this program to get people involved in walking in the park “to look the monuments as art; getting the people to look at the battleground as nature. Getting people to listen to the history, the narrative of the history as restored self-respect.”

“We are profoundly honored to be a part of this celebration, especially when we celebrate a pioneer like Linda Fondren who brought the whole conception of shape up and how we can become fit physically and spiritually,” said Mayor George Flaggs Jr., who also commended Merit Health and the Park for their efforts in earning the National Park Service award.

More positives in Vicksburg this week:

• On Saturday, Teams of AmeriCorps workers repainted street numbers on city curbs to make homes easier to find by first responders as part of AmeriCorps’ National Day of Service project in remembrance of 9/11. Randy Alghawi, programs support team leader, said other AmeriCorps workers across the country were performing public service tasks to help veterans and first responders.

“We painted the number on the curbs six years ago,” he said. “But they’ve faded, so we’re going back to paint them again so the first responders can find the homes and make their response time quicker.”

• On Thursday, more than 200 people attended the job Fair at Unified Brands’ building on Armory Drive in the Ceres Industrial Park surprising plant officials.

“It’s been fantastic,” human resources director Angie Owens said. “We had a line of 115 people waiting at the door before 9 a.m., and within just a couple of hours, we’ve logged in a couple of 100 people. We’ve extended some offers today.” As of now there are 30 available manufacturing jobs at the company, but Owens said the company anticipates hiring more positions in 2019.

• Through the partnership between the Vicksburg Warren Economic Development Partnership, Hinds Community College and the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg will soon have its own coding academy as a public/private initiative formed under the sponsorship of Innovate Mississippi and the Mississippi Development Authority. “The opening of Vicksburg’s Coding Academy is something that is included in our community’s strategic plan and that fits perfectly within the vision of the future of Vicksburg and Warren County,” Pablo Diaz, president and CEO of the Vicksburg Warren Economic Development Partnership, said.