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Mike Copeland: Walmart's local energy; Lacy named to HOF; McAlister's remodel; Woodway Family Center; River Square progress; Slim Chickens

Mike Copeland: Walmart's local energy; Lacy named to HOF; McAlister's remodel; Woodway Family Center; River Square progress; Slim Chickens

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Engie North America is creating 100 wind turbines to create 300 MW of power for customers including Walmart. 35,000 acres are now under long-term lease for the project. Most of the towers are in Limestone County, with some in McLennan County around Mart.    > Read the full story

That 100-turbine wind farm sprawling across McLennan and Limestone counties has become a source of pride for Walmart. The nation’s largest retailer collaborated with Engie North America on the Prairie Hill Project, a cog in its plan to meet 100% of its energy needs with renewables.

That percentage now stands at 36%, said a news release.

Walmart now has access to more than 500 megawatts of renewable energy via three separate wind farms, including Prairie Hill’s 300 megawatts. Walmart hopes to “supply renewable energy annually to hundreds of stores, clubs and distribution centers across Texas, South Dakota and Oklahoma.”

That’s enough capacity to power 240,000 American homes for one year.

Lacy named to HOF

David Lacy, president of Community Bank & Trust and member of a longtime banking family in Waco, has been named to the Texas Bankers Hall of Fame.

He was among five bankers inducted during ceremonies on the campus of Sam Houston State University, site of the hall that honors the contributions of Texas bankers and recognizes pioneers in the industry, said a release.

William David Lacy began his 42-year full-time banking career in 1979, following graduation from Baylor University with a degree in accounting and finance. He worked as a teller and in the auditing, information technology and marketing departments before becoming a commercial lender. He was employed at RepublicBank and NationsBank before joining Community Bank & Trust in 1990, where has worked since.

Lacy’s great-grandfather, grandfather and father, Walter G. Lacy Jr., all served as president of Citizens National Bank of Waco between 1909 and 1971.

Best business state, again

For the 17th straight year, the nation’s leading CEOs have named Texas the best state for business, according to a survey by Chief Executive magazine.

Chief executives grade states on business climate, workforce and quality of life, said a release, adding Texas has topped the poll since its inception.

“Texas continues to dominate as the Best State for Business because of the unmatched competitive advantages we offer: no corporate or personal income taxes, a predictable regulatory climate, and a young, growing and skilled workforce,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in his response.

McAlister’s only remodeling

McAlister’s Deli at 1505 Hewitt Drive has closed temporarily for remodeling. It is scheduled to reopen with a new look on Friday, says its Facebook page.

Several readers had expressed concern in email messages that the restaurant was closing for good, having spotted work crews and materials.

Slim Chickens update

Slim Chickens is an Arkansas-based chain specializing in chicken tenders prepared with a buttermilk marinade. It offers several house dipping sauces and sides, and has introduced four chicken sandwiches.

It has grown to more than 100 locations, including several in Texas, and will open at Bosque Boulevard and Valley Mills Drive probably by May’s end, said Henry Noe, whose franchising group has rights to Waco, Tyler, Longview and Texarkana. He said Slim Chickens “continues to grow its brand.”

Noe said the chain will hire about 90 people in Waco. He invited potential hires to visit the restaurant beginning Monday to pick up applications.

Waco real estate agent Pat Farrar, who marketed the one-time Chili’s space, said Slim Chickens tried unsuccessfully to make the building meet its needs, but the “5,000-square-foot dinosaur” proved resistant to change.

River Square recovery

Writing this column from a cozy cubicle deep inside River Square Center, the mixed-use center flanked by Mary and Franklin avenues and home to Spice Village, Olive Branch, Cricket’s Grill and Draft House and Trojan Cork & Keg, among others.

The Tribune-Herald has moved here from its 70-year home at Ninth Street and Franklin Avenue, and an adjustment period has begun. Power saws and nail guns create a racket, as crews diligently install new wooden flooring on the third floor and elsewhere. The ice storm in February burst pipes, the spewing liquid inflicting heavy damage throughout. With repairs and remodeling in full swing, and with nooks and crannies blocked off here and there, the search for a restroom or water fountain can prove daunting.

A well-placed source who shared with me an elevator ride said the project may conclude by June 1. Until further notice, Spice Village’s shops will function at 924 Austin Ave.

New chamber faces

The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce cast its net well beyond Central Texas in hiring Houston’s Alivia Zepeda and San Antonio’s Ricky Vasquez.

Zepeda, who graduated from Baylor University with a degree in anthropology and forensic science, is the chamber’s new resource development manager, “with a focus on membership,” according to a chamber news release.

Vasquez, who graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a degree in sport, event and tourism management, was hired in April as the chamber’s new director of signature events, the chamber announced.

Personally speaking, Zepeda loves listening to the “Crime Junkie” podcast in her spare time, while Vasquez enjoys hiking, biking and weight training.

New Woodway Family Center

Woodway City Manager Shawn Oubre joined a Zoom meeting Thursday to discuss the Greater Waco Economic Index, a monthly snapshot of local fiscal trends prepared by Amarillo-based economist Karr Ingham.

Oubre used the forum to announce the aging Woodway Family Center on Estates Drive has outlasted the city’s patchwork approach to repairs and maintenance. The city has decided to replace it with a new building valued at about $6.5 million, and Oubre encouraged local contractors to bid.

He said generations have participated in sports and family-focused fun activities at the center, adding its replacement will be built nearby.

Linc Harris, with the First National Bank of Central Texas, said via Zoom the Woodway Family Center has well served area families, including his own.

Harris is senior vice president at First National’s Woodway banking center.

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