2018-2019 Annual Report

Envision Opelika Foundation, Inc.

Annual Report

October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2019

Board Members and Officers:  

Tommy Cummings                              Doc Dorsey                             JArthur Grubbs

Trip Garner, chair                               Jan Gunter                              Lynne Hammond

Vicki Hudson                                       Shealy Langley                        Cathy Newkirk

Bill Parker                                            Barbara Patton, executive secretary-treasurer

Sally Phillips, vice-chair                       Amy Rogers                             Lisa Ruffin

Tom Tippett, executive director

Mission Statement

The Envision Opelika Foundation, Inc., works toward improving the quality of life for all residents of the community through its citizens, organizations, and community partners.

A Vision Statement for Envision Opelika 2025

A City . . .

  • That is beautiful, vibrant and clean . . .
  • That has a unique and attractive downtown . . .
  • That is made up of safe, well-planned and attractive neighborhoods . . .
  • That provides an excellent school system . . .
  • That provides highly trained professional, affordable health care system . . .
  • That provides ample, safe roadways and carefully maintained green spaces and parks. . .
  • That provides outstanding cultural and entertainment opportunities and state-of-the-art recreation facilities . . .
  • That strives, promotes to have a safe environment for all citizens
  • That has a government that is open and fair and promotes long range planning . . .
  • That promotes the recruitment and creation of a wide variety of employment opportunities
  • That is actively working to preserve its heritage and history . . .
  • That supports healthy family initiatives . . . and
  • That enhances all aspects of life which promotes harmony among all its citizens.

Task Forces

            Publicity/Public Relations.  We continued to maintain the social and printed mediums for communicating our work.  We want to continue to look for ways to let the community know of our work.  The PayPal service on the web site was made functional.

            Downtown Development.  We continued to see a growing interest in businesses coming to Downtown.   Main Street named Ken Ward as the new executive director.  He made a presentation to the Board and gave these goals: 

            An electronic newsletter every Monday

            More public art within the City

            Maintain the character of Opelika (historic)

            Bring people to downtown for the first time (draft beer event in July; On the Tracks,                                October 18; Pep Rally – for the first time; Norma Rae film – Sept. 17; Christmas in               a RR Town – Dec. 13) 

            Opelika Character Council.  The Council continued to promote excellent in character in our city.  The Character Signs are displayed in all the City School buildings, the Opelika Police Department, the Sportsplex and the Covington Recreation Center.  Monthly character words are being displayed on the marques of OHS, SUSCC, CenterState Bank, and Four Seasons Credit Union.  The Council is funding a character scholarship with OHS and SUSCC.  The Unity Stampede continued to be the major fund raising event.  The Opelika Kiwanis Club began awarding an individual with excellent character.  The Opelika Character Creed was approved by the Foundation Board and accepted by the Opelika City Council, the Opelika Chamber of Commerce Board, and the Opelika Board of Education.  The Council was involved in awarding two character medals to youth who were helpful in the tornado recovery.  A luncheon was held for OHS students with perfect attendance.  A Character-in-the-Workplace Project was begun.

            Southside Center for the Arts.  We received a $13,000 grant from the Alabama Historical Commission which was used to paint the outside of the Center.  The renovation phase of the north side of the Center was completed, which included the hallway and two large meeting rooms.  Continued improvements was estimated to cost $34,000.  This would allow another room on the north side of the building to be completely renovated.  The lease agreement with Heritage Baptist Church was renewed.  The City Court began using the Center for court on Wednesdays.  The City had the Center treated for termites.  The Foundation assisted in the payment.  An A/C unit was repaired for $6800.  A security system is now in place for the building.  We received a $13,000 grant from the Alabama Historic Commission for painting the outside of the Center.  We also applied for another grant from the AHC for $20,000.  We continued to work on the design for a sign for the Center, along with securing a historic marker for the Center.  An open house has been scheduled for the Center.  A wall plaque is being considered that would register those who have contributed to the ongoing renovation of the SCA.  We continued to work with the AU Building Science Department in constructing a handicap entrance into the building.  The decision was made to move this entrance to the back.  Hazard materials were removed from the back of the Center.  

            Arts and Entertainment.  The East Alabama Arts Association completed their strategic plan. The goals are:

            1.  Encourage and provide for participation in the Arts.

2.  Stimulate learning about the Arts

3.  Provide a framework to support the Arts and to ensure the viability of the association

Lynne reported that the City has funded $50,000 for the AAEA.  The AAEA continued their performance series at the Opelika Center for the Performing Arts.  

            Education, Family, and Youth Development.  Circles Opelika was begun.  Regina Meadows was hired as director of Circles Opelika and began work December 1.  Money was raised by the Circles Advisory Group to fund this part time position and cover costs for affiliating with Circles USA and contract services with Circles of Troup County.  A poverty simulation was conducted along with a half-day presentation of Bridges Out of Poverty, both targeted to educate the community on the plight of living in poverty.  Two groups of Circle Leaders, those who are moving out of a life of poverty, have been trained.  Recruitment of Allies and other volunteers is ongoing. Southern Union is now offering a new program called ASCEND, a ready-to-work program, which will be a great benefit to Circle Leaders.  The weekly Circle meetings moved from the Southside Center to Southern Union.

            Neighborhood Development and Housing.  Our community continued to see a significant increase in residential housing.  This additional housing provides opportunities for families to move into our community.  There are multiple price points.

                        1. McWhorter Properties- Hidden Lakes Development. 

                        2. New phase at Emerald Lakes.

                        3. National Village – new phase – 17 small cottages

                        4. Camelot – new condos being built – 42 lots, large

                        5. Cannon Gate – more lots available

                        6. Windham is a large multi-use development.

                        7. Silver Oaks is a development just outside our city limits (Andrews Rd, Hwy 29)                                      – 30 lots

                        8. Waterford – 78 lots available.

            Recreation, Health, Wellness, and Green Space.  The Creekline Project was begun, a vision to connect multiple highlights in Opelika, offering the City an opportunity to embrace the area’s “greenway along the blueway.”  Or, more specifically, the Creekline.  A recreational project, the Creekline would be an ADA-accessible system of shared use paths that would line along the city’s creeks and connect greenspace.  The connections would serve to offer opportunities for outdoor recreational activities, attract new businesses and enhance the city’s quality of life.

            An Advisory Group was formed.  An application has been submitted to the National Park Service RTCA (Rivers, Trails, & Conservation Assistance) Program to draft a Master Plan for the Creekline Project.  The owner of the Waverly Bridge Parcel has been contacted about his intent for the property.

            The City was awarded the ALDOT Planning Grant via the Auburn-Opelika MPO.  It is an 80/20 match, with $120k awarded and $30k local match.  Funds will be used to hire a consulting firm to draft a Pedestrian/Bicycle/Greenway Master Plan for the City of Opelika.  This project was to begin October 1.  The application included statements that would seem to enhance the Creekline Project:

            “This masterplan will be an important tool to acquire alternative funding [for

increased pedestrian and bicycle facilities and a grassroots movement to

implement greenways along major streams throughout the city].”

            “This project is intended to provide a master plan for the development of

pedestrian and bicycle facilities in the City of Opelika, as well as a guide for the

development of greenways both on public rights-of-ways and private land. It is

intended that this document establish developmental guidelines, standards and

locations of greenways as well.”

            Goals for the website were determined:

            1. Effectively communicate and illustrate Creekline vision.

            2. Serve as a community resource via list/map of the area’s recreational activities.

            We looked into proposed changes at the Covington Recreation Center.  The changes are being viewed as a win/win by all groups. The overarching goal is to remove the preschool-aged splash park at the Sportsplex and replace it with a large outdoor pool, and likewise, to remove the outdoor pool at Covington and replace it with a state-of-the-art splash park that will serve a wider age range. Shirley Lazenby, a member of the P&R Board, said they have discussed basing designs off a splash park in Cullman, AL, that has water slides, etc., and serves children in the 3rd-5th grade range as well as younger children.

            Project Fund Raising.  The first annual Opelika Giving Day was held on May 1, 2019.  Wendy Bonner, Executive Director of Communications and Marketing for the College of Liberal Arts, Auburn University, directed OGD.  Here was her report:

            In the last 30 days (April 1 to May 1):

            Facebook posts reached 15,361 with 2,600 engagements.

The website had 1,014 new users with 3,749 page views.  The average session duration was 2:50.

Mobile devices accounted for 62% of the web traffic; desktop was 32% and tablet was 6%. 

67% of web users are female and 33% male.  Average ages are:

  • 18-24 (3%)
  • 25-34 (14%)
  • 35-44 (18%)
  • 45-54 (19%)
  • 55-64 (26%)
  • 65+ (20%)

            OGD Expenses:

            Logo Design                $100

            Go Daddy Website      $90

            Burgess Consulting     $700

            Posters and Flyers       $15

            Facebook Advertising $150


Organization                           No. of Donors             Amount Raised           % to Goal

Creekline                                 77                                $15,670                       104.47

East Alabama Arts Asso.         28                                $4,640                         46.4

Circles Opelika                        23                                $1,555                         6.22

OGrows                                   21                                $1,605                         53.5

Haddie’s Home                       17                                $1,650                         33

Southside Center                    12                                $1,100                         2.2

Theway2serve                         11                                $1,1930                       9.65

Exodus Ranch                          10                                $825                            3.3

Harvest Evangelism                8                                  $985                            1.97

East AL Youth for Christ          5                                  $400                            4

Totals                                      212                              $30,360

Nominating Committee Report

            Sally brought a proposal from the committee composed of Sally, Kenneth, Trip, and Barbara.  Their recommendation for officers for the Foundation Board for 2018-2019 were:

            Chair – Trip Garner

            Vice-Chair – Sally Phillips

            Executive Secretary/Treasurer- Barbara Patton 

            Executive Director- Tom Tippett

            Secretary/Recorder- Lisa Ruffin

            The Nominating Committee also recommended the addition of three new Board members:  Doc Dorsey, Cathy Newkirk, and Jan Gunter.  Their resumes were made available to the Board.  They will have three-year terms.   Kenneth, Richard, and Tom completed their terms of service.  We expressed thanks for their work on the Board. 

            b. By Laws Recommendation. The Nominating Committee also recommended a change   to the Foundation’s by laws.  In Article V, Section 3, the current by laws read:

                        The officers of Secretary and Treasurer shall be held by the Executive 

                        Director of the Corporation.  The Executive Director of the Corporation

                        shall be elected by the Board of Directors from time to time.

            The Nominating Committee recommended that Article V, Section 3 read as follows:

                        The offices of Secretary and Treasurer shall be held by the Executive

                        Director of the Corporation or the Executive Director may choose to ask the Board of Directors to have these offices elected by the Board of Directors. 

                        The Executive Director of the Corporation shall be elected by the Board of Directors from time to time.

            In the course of these changes, it was realized that, with Barbara relinquishing the position of Executive Director, she would need to become a Board member to remain on the Board.  The Board heartily approved of this change in Barbara’s status, so that she would remain on the Board.  She has a three-year term, along with Doc, Cathy, and Jan.

            Quality Pre-K.  The Foundation received grants for two classrooms from the Alabama First Class Pre-K Program.  The classes began in mid-August under the direction of Cindy Conway.  The classes were housed in the Opelika Depot, which was rented from the City.  Barbara Patton directed the grant application, negotiation with the City, and securing the faculty and staff.  This is the first First Class Pre-K Program for our City.  The name of the school is the Opelika First Class Pre-K Academy.  Public and private funding made this longtime goal possible for our City.

            Insurance.  The yearly cost to the Foundation for insurance on the projects was determined to be $8,641 (including workman’s comp, crime coverage, liability).  Insurance for Circles, $1,567.50; OGrows, $395.50; Pre-K, $4,593; SCA, $2,085.           

            The Quality Pre-K Academy began with a ribbon cutting on August 21, at 10:00 a.m. 

            O Grows.  This year marked the sixth and fourth year, respectively, of the Opelika Community Garden and O Grows Farmers market.  Through these efforts, O Grows has donated approximately 1,500 pounds of produce this year to the Community Market of the Food Bank of East Alabama and provided for materials and equipment that cannot be purchased with Auburn University funds.

            Since the fall of 2015, O Grows has collaborated with Opelika City Schools to staff and program an agriscience class for 9th – 12th graders at the Opelika Learning Center.  As part of the class, the students came to O Grows at least twice a week.  At the end of Spring, 2019, conversations with Superintendent Neighbors and Principal Carson about the future of the program led to an agreement to expand the existing course to incorporate greater work force development opportunities for the students.  In doing so, Opelika City Schools established three sections of the for-credit course and provides the salary for a full-time teacher and student/teacher transportation three days per week per class to multiple community sites (including O Grows).  This fall, 15 students are enrolled in the first of its kind classes at OLC.

            Donations to O Grows included $1,500 from the Opelika Giving Day donors and a matching commitment from Graham Hage of Zazus Gastropub, as well as $700 from an OHS student enrolled in the Philanthropy 101 program.