Mar. 21—– A Kumon Math and Reading Program center is opening at 3380B North Valdosta Road, next to Kim's Kitchen. Kumon's website describes its centers as after-school academic enrichment programs for children. The Kumon company was founded in 1958 in Osaka, Japan. — A new gymnasium, Crunch Fitness, has had a "soft opening" for new members at its new Valdosta Mall location (the old Sears site), and is planning an official grand opening sometime in the next few weeks. The franchised fitness center chain, headquartered in New York City, has more than 300 locations nationwide. — Wharf Casual Seafood is planning to open in the old Southern Eggs building at 2953 N. Ashley St. sometime in April, said Cari Burt, spokeswoman for the restaurant group. Wharf Hospitality Group, Inc., the Tallahassee-based company which operates the restaurant, has six other seafood restaurants in Tallahassee, Marianna, Fla., Dothan, Ala., and Montgomery, Ala., she said. The Valdosta site will employ about two dozen people and will offer beer and wine, Burt said. — CarterParrott Railnet, a short-line railroad based in Madison, planned to launch its new tourist excursion train, the Azalea Sprinter, on its maiden run round-trip between Nashville and Willacoochee Saturday, March 13, with passengers on the inaugural 2.5 hour trip embarking at the Nashville Farmers Market. The Sprinter is the first passenger train in Nashville since 1947, the company said in a statement, and is the first paid passenger train service in South Georgia since Amtrak canceled its Chicago-Miami-St.Petersburg, Fla., train The Floridian (which had a stop in Valdosta) in 1979. — The old Ashley Cinemas at 2812 N. Ashley St. faces demolition. Gov. Brian Kemp recently authorized Valdosta State University's Board of Regents, which owns the property, to demolish the building. Ashley Cinemas opened as a three-screen facility owned by Litchfield Theaters in 1976, later expanding to six screens. When Litchfield went under in the 1980s, the cinema was taken over by the Georgia Theatre Company. With the opening of GTC's 16-screen Valdosta Cinemas by the Mall, the Ashley Cinemas was closed. — Andy's Wings and Things reopened Jan. 7 at its new location at 2525 N. Ashley St. The previous location, on Martin Luther King Drive, burned in October. Owner Aerique McRae said the old site was run for more than 30 years by his father, Andrew McRae.
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Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.