Monty Jones, the new general manager of Augusta's civic center complex, is so new on the job, most of the mementos that eventually will decorate his office are still in boxes.
Among them are photographs and trophies of the Little League team he coached that won the Super Bowl in Raleigh, N.C., five years ago. And there is the photograph of him and his grandmother all dressed up for prom night.
"I took my grandmother to my senior prom," he said. "My grandmother said she never went to her senior prom. My friend said his grandmother had said the same thing. So I said, 'Well, why don't we take our grandmothers to our senior prom?' We both had girlfriends, but they understood."
In the boxes there is also memorabilia from his days as a star athlete at Tarboro High School in Tarboro, N.C., where he lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track.
He's been too busy to unpack because he's been learning the ropes at James Brown Arena and Bell Auditorium with the help of Linda Roberts, who has served as interim general manager a half-dozen times at the facility.
He also has been planning to turn things around at the money-losing complex by building relationships in both the community and the entertainment industry.
"I'm looking to book some great shows to come here," said Mr. Jones, who was recommended for the job by Global Spectrum, the management company that took over civic center operations last month.
"It's all about relationships. Global Spectrum has great relationships with a lot of people. Once you build relationships, it's a continual base. It's a small world because somebody knows somebody that knows somebody else."
One of his immediate goals as manager of the day-to-day operations of the facility is to get the Augusta community more involved because it is there for them, he said.
"We want to utilize our meeting space," he said. "We could utilize it for weddings and wedding receptions, business and civic club meetings. It can actually be used for a lot of different things."
Mr. Jones said he had heard a lot about the Augusta civic center during three years as event coordinator and director of event services for Global Spectrum at the Colonial Center at the University of South Carolina. He was involved in opening the Convocation Center at the University of South Carolina Aiken, where he learned more about the Augusta facility, before leaving to become executive director at the Emil and Patricia Jones Convocation Center at Chicago State University.
After a year running the whole show in Chicago's cold climate, Mr. Jones jumped at the chance to go back to work for Global Spectrum in sunny Augusta.
"I love the South," he said. "Chicago's different. Growing up in the South, I had probably only seen snow a total of about 30 days of my 27 years, and I get to Chicago, and I see it for pretty much two to three months."
One vivid memory is the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers playing a football game when it was 30 degrees below zero.
Mr. Jones was born in Agana, Guam, when his father, a U.S. Marine, was stationed there, but he grew up in Princeville, N.C., the first town in the country incorporated by freed slaves, he said.
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EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in parks, recreation, tourism and sports management from North Carolina State University in 2002
BACKGROUND: Director of operations for the Carolina Cobras, an arena football team out of Raleigh, N.C., during his senior year of college; director of event services for Global Spectrum at the Colonial Center at the University of South Carolina; executive director of the Emil and Patricia Jones Convocation Center at Chicago State University
QUOTE: "I want to re-surge this building, because from hearing and just walking around and seeing the posters and a lot of things this building used to do ... Why can't it still do that?"