Reps. Bradley Byrne and Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., toured Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (NYSE: HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division last Wednesday in Pascagoula, Miss.

The congressmen, both members of the House Armed Services Committee, met with shipbuilders and were briefed on the construction processes for the four different classes of military ships built at Ingalls. They also were given a tour of the amphibious transport dock John P. Murtha (LPD 26), which will launch later this year.

“These visits are important to show our regional congressional leadership the innovation we are implementing to reduce costs and the quality workmanship of our shipbuilders,” said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. “We spent time with the congressmen, talking about our build processes and the progress we are making across the yard, particularly on the LPD program. We have a hot production line and are benefiting from a strong learning curve on this program, making the ships more affordable and providing a complex and quality product for our sailors and Marines.”

“More than 2,000 residents of southwest Alabama go to work every day at the world-class Huntington Ingalls facility across the state line in Mississippi,” Byrne said.

While the newly elected Byrne was making his first visit to Ingalls, Palazzo has toured Ingalls multiple times.

“I want to take every opportunity to educate my colleagues on the importance of the shipbuilding work we do right here in South Mississippi. The more members of Congress who see how vital these ships are to our national security, the more they will support investments in future ships, like a 12th LPD 17 warship. I am confident Rep. Byrne will prove to be a staunch shipbuilding ally on the House Armed Services Committee, and I am pleased to welcome him to South Mississippi today,” Palazzo said.

WAVH 106.5 Talk FM marks five years on airwaves

According to co-owners Sean Sullivan, Wayne Gardner and Don Bigler, 106.5 Talk FM radio will celebrate its fifth year anniversary on the air effective May 1.

“Talk radio in the FM format was something of a novelty when we started this station back in 2009,” Sullivan said. “Today our programming includes news, weather, traffic, syndicated and live local talk radio with specialized segments such as fishing reports and outdoors,” Sullivan said.

Before WAVH, talk radio locally was relegated to AM stations and was not considered a viable format for FM. With a robust 50,000-watt signal, however, 106.5 FM is currently heard all along the central Gulf Coast.

“Since we were established in 2009, our ratings have steadily grown over the past five years. Currently, the top three talk radio format stations are 106.5 FM, 710 AM and WNSP, according to the most recent Nielsen ratings,” Sullivan said.

When starting, some of Sullivan’s biggest detractors said the local market didn’t have a reliable history of sustaining talk radio in FM format. “I knew that only 20 percent of the listening audience tuned into AM. However, we realized after six months of being on the air that there was a market for us. I’d daresay that we’ve even turned more local listeners on to talk radio that otherwise wouldn’t have considered it before,” Sullivan said.

“After graduating from Alabama, I wanted to be James Bond,” Sullivan said. “But after spending all of my professional life in the radio industry, first in front of the microphone for 92 ZEW and now as a business owner behind the scenes at WAVH, there’s nothing else that I’d rather do.”

Historic Midtown Mart Shopping Center facelift nearing completion

According to Ben Cummings of Cummings Architecture Corp., prior to the development of the Midtown Mart Shopping Center, the area near Dauphin Street and Sage Avenue was pastureland for Graf’s Dairy. 

“The Midtown Mart Shopping Center was constructed in three phases. The first phase began in 1972, with large anchor tenants of an A&P Grocery store and Eckerd’s Drugs. The other two phases, which were constructed in the next two years, contained a TG&Y and an Otasco retail store. All of these stores no longer exist,” Cummings said. “Although the tenants have changed, the property has been and continues to be a strong viable location. After 42 year of existence, however, the buildings have begun to show signs of wear and tear, with architecture of a bygone era.” 

The landlords, Cummings & Associates (the same family but next generation as the original developer), decided that in order to maintain good quality tenants, it was time to update the appearance so that the property continues to be a strong income-producing asset for another four decades.

The Cummings Architecture Corporation was hired to develop a plan for the new look. A more traditional design was developed, aimed towards a classic style with the goal of remaining aesthetically relevant as time progresses. After bidding the project, Witherington Construction was selected as the contractor.

“Witherington has had the challenge of working around operating businesses and keeping them dry as the front of the building is removed and reconstructed. Each tenant will install new signs, the parking lot will be resurfaced, and the landscaping will be replaced,” Cummings said.

Construction is expected to be complete in May. Mobile Paint is a tenant that moved in just as the work began and a new fitness gym is proposed to move into the center. The anchor tenants are Rite-Aid and Tuesday Morning. Several residents in the neighboring subdivisions have voiced excitement at seeing the final result.

Sam Winter & Company welcomes new agent

Mobile-based real estate sales firm Sam Winter & Company recently announced the addition of Elisabeth Ruscin Dindo.

While at Auburn University, Dindo earned her Alabama Real Estate License and worked as an agent at Ruscin Realty for her mother.

“Elisabeth is just the caliber agent I want to be attracted to my company. She is a career realtor with experience and professionalism that will offer our clients the exceptional level of service they deserve,” Winter said.

Commercial real estate moves

Prestige Partners LLC, founded by Donna Beech-Catron and Melissa Woolard, will open May 1 and be located at 308 Glenwood St. The property was previously occupied by CC’s Salon.

The company will specialize in major medical and supplemental health insurance products, offering the best benefit plan designs available for businesses in the current turbulent ACA climate. As a new member of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, Prestige Partners plans to hold a Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting in mid-June.