Roses and thorns 5/24/09




A rose to Robert McAllister, who "dedicated his life" to helping others and to his family members, many of whom were on hand Thursday, as the Columbus Air Force Base fire station was named in his honor. 


More than 40 Air Force firefighters and McAllister''s family members and friends gathered Thursday morning at the CAFB fire station as base officials unveiled gold lettering on the side of the station bearing the former CAFB fire chief''s name. 


McAllister, a Virginia native, died in 2005. He had served at the CAFB Fire Department between 1972 and 2002 during his more than 50-year military and civilian career with the Air Force.  


During his time at the base, McAllister served as a firefighter, crew chief, rescue officer, rescue specialist, station chief, assistant chief, fire inspector, training chief, deputy chief and fire chief. 


While serving in active Air Force duty, McAllister received a silver star, two distinguished flying crosses, two bronze stars, 33 air medals, a Vietnamese Medal of Honor, six meritorious service medals and six Air Force commendation medals. 


And although McAllister retired from active duty in 1980, he returned to CAFB a year later as a civilian shortly before being named the base''s fire chief. 




A rose to Terri Gooch, who Wednesday was presented with Columbus Municipal School District''s Star Catcher award. 


Gooch, physical education teacher and wellness magnet coordinator at Franklin Academy Medical Sciences and Wellness Magnet School, was honored for going "above and beyond" her duties and making "a difference in the lives of others," CMSD officials said. 


And Gooch is not only a teacher. She spends hours at home and on weekends, tallying students'' physical fitness results and also tutors third-grade math students. 


Her other ambitious endeavors include helping to secure a $30,000 Project Fit grant for the school and engaging community partners the YMCA and Mississippi University for Women with the school. 


The Star Catcher Award is presented through a partnership between CMSD and Cadence Ban and is given twice a year. 




Roses to West Lowndes Elementary School students, teachers, administrators and staff for earning Renaissance Reading Model School designation. 


The prestigious award shows the school''s dedication to utilizing the Accelerated Reader program, designed to encourage reading at level and then growing in reading comprehension and difficulty level. 


"It builds on success," school principal Robert Sanders said of the program. 


Caledonia Elementary School became Mississippi''s first Renaissance model school in 1998. 




Roses to West Point businessman Milton Sundbeck and others who''ve worked to restore West Point''s Ritz Theater to it former grandeur. 


The long dormant historic building, at 121 Commerce St., is now a peek into what West Point was more than 75 years ago. 


The theater was built in 1931 and served as an entertainment hot spot for the city. 


For many, the theater hails back memories from when America first fell in love with the silver screen. 


Sundbeck purchased the theater more than two years ago with plans to restore it. 


Crews first had to remove dozens of rows of water-damaged theater seats to repair years of mildew damage. 


Sundbeck''s success is a wistful reminder of a forgotten Princess in need of a similar champion.



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