Brookhaven makes us welcome

Published 10:00pm Saturday, October 19, 2013

“Welcome to Brookhaven! You’re going to love it here!”

As you may know by now, my wife, Barbara, and I are moving here for me to serve as publisher of The Daily Leader and Prentiss Headlight. Every person we have met has offered the above greeting to us.

We are delighted to have the opportunity to lead the staff of the paper in its 131st year of service to this community. We enjoy communities the size of Brookhaven and Prentiss and believe that newspapers best serve when a community partnership is established. Meeting former owner and publisher Bill Jacobs and his wife, Amy, we learned of a close-knit community and a cooperative spirit.

Rick Reynolds and his wife, Patti, came to Brookhaven to handle the transition of ownership from the Jacobs family to Boone Newspapers Inc. and have been of extreme help and support to us this past week. They told us how warm and friendly you all are, and we are blessed to have them assist us with our transition.

For all you natives and longtime residents what I’m about to tell you might be hard to believe. We actually got lost our first night in Brookhaven. After checking into the Inn on Whitworth we went looking for that longtime favorite, Cracker Barrel. The GPS in our car directed us north on Highway 51.

Needless to say that was not correct and being tired and hungry we decided on another favorite, Subway Sandwiches, at a convenience store. Peggy Smith was busy making sandwiches and readily welcomed us to her counter. Not recognizing us, she welcomed us to Brookhaven.

I have been involved in economic development for many years and know that first impressions are important. Ms. Smith made us feel welcome and in so doing did the community a great service.

But she was just the first!

Sally Williford, innkeeper at the Inn on Whitworth, could be the Brookhaven ambassador of the year! Sally has quickly become a friend as she has given us advice on where to eat, shop, local people etc. She obviously loves the community and her job! It would be difficult to walk away from her not smiling.

I enjoy walking in the quiet of the early morning – it gives me an opportunity to pray and seek guidance as I organize my day. People I pass or see in cars offer a good morning or a friendly wave.

Sunday morning as I walked, I came upon Brookhaven police officer Sgt. Michael Harvey as he was checking doors on downtown businesses. Not wanting to startle him, I called out, “Officer I’m coming behind you.” He turned toward me with a big smile and hearty good morning.

He asked my name and I told him that I had recently arrived at the paper and his “Welcome, you are going to love Brookhaven” felt reassuring.

That same reception occurred when I met Johnny Parkman, retired NAPA owner sitting in front of his business. Spending about five minutes with Johnny, I again realized how proud you Brookhaven citizens are of your community. And you are not shy about recognizing it and saying so to newcomers.

If the chamber of commerce director is reading this I can testify that community pride and integrity here is real.

I don’t know if you have ever moved your family to a new town, but I can tell you that community pride and a welcoming attitude helps greatly. One of the most difficult aspects of moving, of course, is finding a home.

Sydney Wilson, of Betsy Smith Realty, has helped us greatly. We came here mid-September and began working with her, and she has not given up. As this is being written we are close to finding a home. Sydney is very knowledgeable and listens well to her clients’ needs.

The helpful and friendly Brookhaven residents this week also include Bill Sones at Bank of Brookhaven. Bill loves this community, as is evident in all the projects he supports. I think his greatest love is for his family and his grandchildren. We heard about his Sunday family lunches and think one day soon that might be an interesting story on the Sunday Lifestyles page of The Daily Leader. Keep reading.

Stan Foster at State Bank offered his welcome, and while walking into my office for lunch, my wife called to say she had just met his wife, Sarah, at Wal-Mart. Welcome to Brookhaven!

The Rev. Greg Warnock and the Rev. Jeff Doremus, the keepers of the keys at First Baptist, have been gracious with their time, as have been Trustmark bankers Mark Mathis and Brenda Henderson.

Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop and I feel like we might know one another as his son is pastor of a church in Bolingbroke, Ga., not far from our hometown of Griffin, Ga., and because our oldest son’s name is Tilman. He is engaged to be married in October 2014. We have another son, Will, and a daughter-in-law, Courtney. They live in Atlanta and Athens, Ga., respectively.

Good government requires good people! Having met Tillmon and Brookhaven Mayor Joe Cox, I think their leadership and community knowledge offers a great future for all of us.

Recognizing that medical technology and the new healthcare law is impacting delivery of medicine, this community is fortunate to have King’s Daughters Medical Center and many medical practices. KDMC CEO Alvin Hoover and marketing director David Culpepper are committed to staying on top of all the changes to guarantee the very best in medical care.

Education is important to every community, and Copiah-Lincoln Community College President Ronnie Nettles and Marketing Director Natalie Davis lead the efforts of educating the workforce for Lincoln County and the area.

Every community wants its own college. While that may not be possible today, Co-Lin offers many opportunities to the school’s service delivery area.

Jimmy Summers, a Daily Leader reader, stopped by my office to discuss a home delivery issue and our editorial page. Following our discussion, he agreed to stay in touch with his thoughts on our coverage. This is important to me and I want all of you to know that I welcome your comments and appreciate you reading The Daily Leader.

My office door is always open, and I welcome you just as readily as you have welcomed Barbara and me to Brookhaven. Call the office at (601) 833-6961, drop by, or email me at

Welcome to Brookhaven … we’re going to love it here!

Otis Raybon is the publisher of The Daily Leader. Contact him at or (601) 833-6961.