by the Opelika Observer staff
The Opelika City Council unanimously approved resolutions authorizing submission of four separate grant applications to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) totaling almost $4 million. The projects would replace three bridges and upgrade/replace the four traffic lights along 2nd Avenue from N.8th St. to Pleasant Drive (Five Points) as well as install left turn lanes on Simmons St. at its intersection with 2nd Avenue.
The money would come from the third round of the ATRIP program, an ALDOT-administered federal aid highway program. The funds cover 80 percent of project costs with the local government required to pay 20 percent. The City of Opelika’s share, if all the applications were to be approved, would come to $678,184.
The three bridge replacements include the bridge over Halawakee Creek on Anderson Road just north of the railroad (Rough and Ready)($811,852); the bridge over Pepperell Creek just south of the railroad on Cunningham Drive ($980,170) and the one over Granberry Creek on North Uniroyal Road just north of US Hwy. 280 ($901,954). The 2nd Ave. project has a $696,942 price tag.
Funding for ATRIP comes through the use of GARVEE bonds (Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles Bond Program). Through the use of GARVEE bonds, the state is able to use future federal dollars now in order to pay for road and bridge projects that are needed immediately. With interest rates on municipal bonds at historic lows, the use of GARVEE bonds makes good financial sense as the low cost of borrowing is generally lower than the rising cost of inflation in construction projects.
In a 3-2 vote, the council voted to upgrade the city’s Purchasing Agent position to a new Purchasing-Revenue Manager position. Council members Patsy Jones and Larry Gray voiced their concerns with the resolution, with Gray comparing the position to “letting the fox guard the henhouse.”
“To me, you’re not having that room for checks and balances,” Jones said. “... I am concerned that we have hired people in this city that should have been cross-trained in a way that we could’ve moved them up to positions.”
The new position would have a level 24 paygrade, compared to the level 23 paygrade of the old purchasing agent position and the level 19 paygrade of the former revenue manager position.
Councilman Joey Motley said he was glad to see the city try to save some money by consolidating the positions.
“Any time we can combine jobs without an undue workload being added, that’s a savings to the city,” Motley said, “and we happen to have qualified people in place that can do the job.”
The upgraded position will be filled by Lillie FInley, the former revenue manager.
The council also:
- Approved expense reports for four city employees.
- Granted a travel advance for Nathan Brown of the Opelika Police Department to attend the law enforcement academy in Jacksonville.
- Assessed the cost of a weed abatement at 118 Chester Street.
- Accepted $20,000 in grant funds from ADECA to construct natural trails at the Siddique Nature Park.
- Refunded occupational tax fees paid in error to the city’s revenue department by a Tuskegee resident.
- Gave consent to an agreement allowing for self-service payment center kiosks for Opelika Power Services to be installed.
- Agreed to a change order for East Bay Electric with their work on the Frederick Road project.
- Awarded a special appropriation of $2,500 to Opelika High School’s Project Graduation for the 2013 class.
- Reappointed Walter Dorsey, Sr., to the AMEA Election Committe.
- Reappointed Dan Cannon to the Indian Pines Golf Authority.
- Appointed Richard Moreman, Jr., to fill the vacant position and unexpired term on the Lee County Youth Development Board that was vacated with the death of his father, Richard Moreman, Sr.
-Transferred $75,000 from the unassigned 7 cent gas fund to conduct street repairs in developments where the developer has defaulted and was unable to finish the roads projects.
by Donna Williamson
When Bill and Gwen Price, along with Rainer and Susan Meadows, purchased Victory Designs in 2010, they saw potential in the business, wanted to be more involved in the community, and thought the venture would be an enjoyable experience.
According to Bill, Victory Designs has already met all of their expectations and more. “We were wrong about our analysis for potential. There is far more potential than we ever thought.”
One thing that Bill and Rainer want the public to know about Victory Designs is “We sell a whole lot more than tee shirts.”
Victory Designs is the exclusive clothing provider for a defense contractor, which is located in another city and has over 350 employees. “The clothing has strict standards regarding non-static fiber. Static content cannot build up in these uniforms because one tiny spark from static electricity can create an explosion,” Bill explained.
“We have shipped items to Microsoft, Federal Express, Delta Airlines, and Wal-Mart,” Bill said. “Sometimes we feel we are recognized more away than we are locally,” he adds with a laugh.
The owners are very excited about their recent achievement. “We have received permission from the Collegiate Licensing Corporation to provide Auburn University trademarks for the Greek community,” Bill said. “It took us three years to get this deal and it’s huge. We believe we are the only licensed Greek provider in the area.”
The growth in the Opelika downtown area has definitely been an asset for Victory Designs. Bill said, “Now when we get calls from Auburn fraternities and sororities they know our location because they frequent the restaurants downtown. This makes it easier for us to market ourselves.”
Victory Designs now offers a catalog of promotional items and provides promotional product options. “We have become a company that helps other companies promote themselves,” Bill said.
Victory Designs now has sales representatives for the Gulf Coast, Montgomery, and the Auburn University Greek community. However, they still regard as their core business local schools such as Opelika, Beauregard, and Reeltown, plus local businesses, government agencies, and churches. Bill said, “Those core customers are the ones that got us to this place and we continue to strive to serve them with the best quality products and service. We will never forget them.”
The business has seen many changes since its beginning approximately 25 years ago. According to Bill, the first business, which was named Initially Yours, was owned by Donna Sue Jordan. She sold the company to Eric Fuller who changed the name to O/A Sports.
The next owners were Tim and Betsy Gore and Dennis and Susie Hamlet who renamed the company Victory Designs. The Gores and Hamlets moved the store to its present location on South Railroad Avenue.
Bill said, “Donna Sue Jordan is now our sales representative for the Gulf Coast. We purchased the store 22 years to the day after Donna Sue started it.
Victory Designs has come full circle.”
Victory Designs has continued to grow while many other individually owned businesses have endured economic hardships. Bill thinks that his background in software sales and Rainer’s background in banking and real estate have given them an edge.
“Most business owners know how to do the work; however, those who can combine that knowledge with marketing and sales skills have the potential for strong growth. That’s what we do. You can’t sit and wait for the phone to ring; you have to make it ring,” Bill said.
The Prices and the Meadows are proud of the fact that they “guarantee all of their products.” Bill adds, “We will reprint until the customer is satisfied.”
Customer satisfaction is very important and Bill says that he has had to learn to deal with a wide variety of people. “Whether it’s one person spending $9.00 or another spending $5,000, we treat everyone the same,” he said.
Bill does admit that in order to make money, one must spend money. He says they have invested heavily in new equipment. “We have one of the few direct to garment printers in the area. This machine allows us to take a photo and print it on a shirt. For example, we used a photo of the Opelika High School football team shattering the banner as they rushed onto the field. You can see every tiny detail, down to the players’ facial expressions.”
“We also bought an automatic screen printing press, which allows us to print 300 shirts in an hour where before we printed 300 in a day,” Bill said.
Other areas of growth include a bigger space. Victory Designs now has the space that once belonged to Victory Engraving, which has moved across the way behind Picket Fence. This expansion and renovation was completed in March. Bill said, “We wanted space to showcase our corporate wear, promotional products for businesses, and our other merchandise.”
A flat-screen television is in the future plans. “We can use it to show our promotional products and our screen printing process,” Bill said.
The Prices and Meadows enjoy the “incredible freedom that comes with owning their own business.” Bill adds, “We have complete control over what we do. However, we do work long hours and sometimes we agonize over how to accomplish things.”
Staff meetings are held at Victory Designs every Tuesday morning. Bill says they have a quote from the movie ‘Jaws’ that has become synonymous with these meetings. “In the movie, when the shark is seen, the comment is made ‘We need a bigger boat.’ That has become our motto when we discuss how to handle our growth.”
Even though they do a lot of business out of the Opelika area, Bill says, “We haven’t scratched the surface. There is so much growth in Lee County, along with economic stability and creative people. This is a great place to be.”