Some reflections on Brookhaven

Published 6:00am Sunday, December 1, 2013

I trust as you read today’s Daily Leader that you and your family are reflecting on a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving allows us all a time to individually and collectively consider how blessed we are, eat a lot of good food and, I hope, give thanks for all that we are given. We don’t have to look far to see many who are much less fortunate.

I have learned that the Brookhaven/Lincoln County community citizens have a history of supporting causes that help those in need. Just this past Wednesday the Bank of Brookhaven and Daily Leader continued a tradition of kicking off and sponsoring the annual Holiday Food Pantry Drive.

Between now and Christmas more local banks, businesses and individuals will share their blessings by donating to the drive. These donations will be used by several local ministries to help make Christmas brighter for many families. I have seen local churches give shoeboxes filled with items that will be given to the needy to make Christmas morning better reflect the true meaning of Christmas.

Brookhaven responds strongly to the admonition of Luke 12:48 that “to whom much is given, much is required.” Let’s not lose that spirit of thanksgiving, and even further understand, that the need to help others is present all year long.

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I have been asked by several people my first impressions or thoughts of Brookhaven. They want to know how this community looks through a fresh set of eyes.

This is a difficult question to answer because I know from experience that first impressions are not always accurate. You have heard that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

I have a few first impressions that I believe reflect the past and will contribute to a strong future for this entire community.

• A healthy respect for history:

The restoration of several businesses and homes in the downtown area illustrate that, while striving to improve, we don’t want to forget the contributions of those who came before us.

• The community is genuinely caring and friendly:

My wife and I have moved several times during our newspaper career, and we know it’s easy to be dismissed as newcomers to a community with a handshake and hello. Our experience here is nothing like that. We have been invited to dinner, Sunday school and church and to speak at civic clubs. Most of you remember our names and where you met us … now that’s something I have trouble doing. As Brookhaven grows with new residents, a sincere and true welcome is important.

• Commitment to education:

I didn’t put education at the top of my list today, but it really should be No. 1. There is nothing more important to any community than strong support for education. If we don’t insist that our children are educated, academically and spiritually, we are not preparing our community for the future. Without excellence in education, we are not preparing the community to compete in a global and technological community.

• Economic development:

There is a strong community and government interest in helping existing industry expand jobs while increasing marketing efforts to attract new industry. Brookhaven and Lincoln County are fortunate to already have good four-lane highways and rail service that help bring people to shop and work. (Really, do those trains need to blow their horns so long and loud?).

• Excellent health care:

King’s Daughters Medical Center and the combined medical community provide excellent and up-to-date medical care for a community the size of Brookhaven. This is important today and for future growth. The Affordable Care Act is changing the way we receive health care. This community is fortunate to have its medical professionals leading the effort of delivery of expert medical care.

There are certainly more impressions and issues that should make this list. You may have ideas of your own as to how to make a better first impression. If so, I hope you will share them with us.

By working together, we can all contribute to making that first impression of Brookhaven/Lincoln County positive.

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