Special to the Opelika Observer
The Alabama State Council on the Arts will honor nine outstanding Alabamians at the 2013 “Celebration of the Arts” awards ceremony on Tuesday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m. The event will take place at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, 1 Festival Drive, Montgomery. A reception will immediately follow the awards ceremony in the lobby of the theatre. The event is free and open to the public but reservations and tickets are required.
The Council’s “Celebration of the Arts” shines a spotlight on the arts and artists in Alabama. Individuals are recognized for their contributions to the arts in Alabama and beyond. Al Head, Executive Director of the Council stated, “This awards program is an opportunity for the state to showcase the work and support of individuals who are a significant part of our rich cultural landscape and bring great credit to our state through their achievements.”
This year’s recipients include a Pulitzer Prize winning author, an internationally recognized poet, a professor emeritus and cultural historian, a university president and his wife, a dance instructor and artistic director, a playwright, a traditional band, a community arts volunteer and arts patron and a long-time leader in the state legislature. Their contributions to the arts are diverse and far-reaching. This year’s recipients are:
Lyndra Daniel, Birmingham - Jonnie Dee Little Lifetime Achievement Award
Rick Bragg, Piedmont – Alabama’s Distinguished Artist Award
Dr. Wayne Flynt, Auburn - Governor’s Arts Award
Gordon & Geri Moulton, Mobile - Governor’s Arts Award
Jean Prescott Pierce, Birmingham - Governor’s Arts Award
Sonia Sanchez, Birmingham - Governor’s Arts Award
Kitty Seale, Montgomery - Governor’s Arts Award
Excelsior Band, Mobile - The Alabama Folk Heritage Award
Senator J. T. “Jabo” Waggoner, Birmingham - The Special Council Legacy Award
In offering his congratulations to this year’s recipients Governor Robert Bentley noted,”Alabama’s arts community reflects a rich diversity of human resources and endeavors. The arts convey the personality of our state and communicate a unique “sense of home.” From traditional shape-note singers and quilters, to world-class theatre, to some of the finest museums in the Southeast, Alabama is truly a state of the arts.”
The Governor’s Arts Award honors individuals who have made unique contributions to the arts in Alabama. Five awards in this category will be given this year: Dr. Wayne Flynt of Auburn;Gordon & Geri Moulton of Mobile; Jean Prescott Pierce of Birmingham; Sonia Sanchez of Birmingham; and Kitty Seale of Montgomery.
Dr. Wayne Flynt is a masterful storyteller, an award-winning author of twelve books and a prolific writer. In his books Dr. Flynt examines topics like religion, civil rights, education, poverty and politics through the history of Alabama. He has written extensively and in great detail about these topics throughout his distinguished career.
Flynt focused largely on the historical, economic and social fabric of Alabama in his book, Poor But Proud: Alabama’s Poor Whites (1990). He co-wrote Alabama: A History of a Deep South State. Both books were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He is editor-in-chief emeritus of the online Encyclopedia of Alabama, a partnership of Auburn University and the Alabama Humanities Foundation. In his various works, Wayne Flynt has consistently documented the important artists, writers and musicians of Alabama, as well as, the impact they have had both nationally and internationally.
Another of the awards, The Jonnie Dee Little Lifetime Achievement Award, has meaning for this area. The award is named after past Council member, Jonnie Dee Riley Little from Auburn who died in 1988 after serving with great distinction on the Council and in support of the arts in Alabama.
by Fred Woods
This week’s Lee County Commission meeting began with the presentation of a proclamation to the Civil Air Patrol recognizing and thanking the Civil Air Patrol for their tremendous assistance to Lee County’s Emergency Management Agency and Law Enforcement agencies. Making the presentation on behalf of the county commission was county EMA Director Kathy Raines and receiving it, on behalf of the Civil Air Patrol, was Col. Brad Lynn, Alabama Wing Commander, who lives in Valley, Alabama. Maj. Chris Tate, who also serves EMA as Training Officer, commands the local CAP unit, the Auburn Composite Squadron.
Two specific recent instances of CAP assistance include the 2009 and 2011 tornados that swept through the county when CAP pilots helped EMA officials with aerial damage assessments and last December when CAP aided EMA and local law enforcement personnel in searching for a missing elderly man believed to be lost in the Lee County area.
Next, Gary Jones,Executive Vice President, Military Affairs, for both the Columbus (GA) Chamber of Commerce and The Valley Partnership provided an update on the impact of the U.S. Department of Defense drawdown (budget reduction) on Fort Benning and the economies of the area impacted by Ft. Benning. This planning area includes three Alabama counties (Lee, Russell and Barbour) and seven counties in Georgia.
Ft. Benning’s regional economic impact on the 10-county planning region is estimated, according to figures cited by Jones, at $4.3 billion annually. Including BRAC (Base Reduction and Closure) impacts gives an estimated additional economic boost of $1.65 billion annually.
Ft. Benning’s portion of the Department of Defense budget reduction projected for the next fiscal year will amount to the loss of 7,100 positions and 1,900 direct and indirect jobs supporting these positions. When family members are factored in, nearly 18,000 people will be adversely affected by the budget reductions.
Growth at Ft. Benning in the past few years has resulted in $3.6 billion in construction, the creation of 9,000 new jobs on post and 22,000 new people in the planning region.
The Valley Partnership, Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Ft. Benning leadership are developing a strategy for the installation’s future. They have accepted as a given that the Army will get much smaller and will continue to close installations. Ft. Benning now provides basic training to 35 percent of all new army enlistees. Part of the Ft. Benning strategy is to try and “grow” this concept for the future. The trend of base closures should accelerate the growth of BRAC. Lawson Army Air Field, with its 2,500 feet runways is seen as a real asset in attracting C-130 or C-17 base shutdowns. These are the large cargo/transport planes in the USAF fleet.
In other actions the commission approved the emergency replacement of a kitchen food steamer at the detention facility kitchen . It recently caught fire and was rendered inoperable. At the request rendered inoperable.
At the request of County Engineer Justin Hardee commissioners rejected a single bid for a used heavy duty back hoe and okayed Mr. Hardee to try and negotiate a better price for the equipment.
Commission Chair Bill English and Commissioner Ham complimented Mr. Hardee for his concern over saving the county money.
Mr. Hardee also recommended (and the commission approved) acceptance of roads in the Sentinel Hills Subdivision for permanent maintenance by the county.
Ordinarily this action might not even merit mention but Sentinel Hills (Phase A), located north of U.S. Hwy. 29 North just off Lee County Road 177 is the first county subdivision to be initiated, completed and completed the required two years of county supervision since the county’s subdivision regulations were adopted several years ago.