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Easy Does It 

Staying at the top in the highly competitive communications and entertainment industries requires an insight into how to make things easy and affordable for customers. That's the tack Cox Communications has taken in its ever-expanding offerings on cable television, high-speed Internet and other residential and business communications services. The company also has made itself a vital part of the city in which it operates, through its initiation and support for community projects such as area schools.

'As a company, our unofficial motto is 'to put our money where our heart is' and that is in the area of education,' says Brad Grundmeyer, manager of public affairs at Cox. 'We try to be a true business partner in the community and continue to give back to the public, private and parochial schools in the area with free cable service. &138; Teachers can take their students beyond what they can read in a book, accentuate what they are teaching in class.'

Cox has established a multi-dimensional Education Plugged In program through which it sends some 20,000 educators a newsletter every month that details education-related items of interest. Education Plugged In also includes a weekly hour-long television program on Cox Channel 10 in which school students act as reporters to tell the audience what is happening in education and reveal their thoughts on myriad subjects.

'It provides a forum for them to express their opinions, talk about topical issues,' says Grundmeyer, who moderates the show. 'Parents say they like to listen in to hear what young people are talking about.'

Cox's 12-year-old Inspirational Student Heroes program recognizes students who have overcome physical, emotional and other challenges to succeed in life.

As a service provider, Cox offers residential customers hundreds of cable channels to choose from, residential telephone and high-speed Internet services, digital cable and even special sports and entertainment events through Pay Per View as well as the new Entertainment On Demand (EOD) option that operates like a 24-hour movie rental without having to go to a store. All services customers buy from Cox are conveniently bundled into one easy-to-decipher bill, and the company offers discounts for multiple services.

'We're really proud that we're a leader in bundling our services all on one bill,' Grundmeyer says. 'We have something for everyone: golf, cooking, music, tennis, NBA, Internet service and now &138; Cox high-speed Internet.' The digital telephone service, he says, has a variety of packages and is about 37 percent less expensive than BellSouth.

EOD is available without a special subscription to anyone with digital cable and costs about $3.95 per selection. You simply choose a movie from the approximately 150 titles available and it is billed to you automatically. You can watch it immediately or anytime for the next 24 hours, as many times as you wish. The rented movie can be paused, rewound, started over or stopped at any time using your cable box remote control.

Toward the end of the year, Grundmeyer says, Cox plans to offer Digital Video Recorder (similar to TiVo), in which customers can tape a program and store it on their digital cable box for viewing later. Cox also has about eight channels for high-definition television and expects more to come on board.

For business customers in the four parishes it serves, Cox provides almost anything needed in the communications arena, including voice, long distance telephone service, Internet access, Web hosting, E-commerce, carrier access services, video and data networks. 'We truly are the value provider when it comes to providing quality technology services to our local businesses,' Grundmeyer says. 'It's like a one-stop shop for all your business needs.

Summertime Adventure

If you want an affordable culinary adventure close to home, stop in Cappita! Italian Bistro (2891 Hwy. 190D, Mandeville, 985-626-5752) on Mondays and get any bottle of wine on the ample wine list for half price when you purchase an entree.

'It gives people a chance to try bottles of wine, see what all the hoopla is about, and to realize we're a great restaurant,' says owner Darrin DeJohn. 'We have about 140 bottles of wine on our list; we have about every varietal there is. It's extensive and in every price range, from $18 a bottle to $300.'

'Cappita!,' which means 'how amazing,' offers traditional Italian cuisine with the flair of a French-Cajun bistro, DeJohn says. Among customers' favorites on the menu are steaks that are marinated and hickory grilled and salads featuring marinated salmon that's hickory grilled and presented on a bed of mixed greens, feta cheese, capers, diced tomatoes and fresh basil, all drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette.

To attract the younger set, DeJohn has initiated a special Children's Night on Wednesday in which kids can choose from a selection of 99-cent items that include lasagna, fried shrimp or chicken tenders, pizza, marinara or Alfredo pasta and more. "For some reason people don't think of us as a place to bring children," DeJohn says, "but we're totally kid-friendly and we have a great kid's menu."

click to enlarge Cox Communications director of public affairs Brad Grundmeyer reads a storybook to a local school class as part of his company's dedicated effort to improve and support the community.
  • Cox Communications director of public affairs Brad Grundmeyer reads a storybook to a local school class as part of his company's dedicated effort to improve and support the community.
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