Once again, area’s future linked to Whitworth

Published 5:00 am Sunday, July 9, 2000

It is an exciting time in the history of our area as Brookhavenis bursting at the seams with growth opportunities our forefatherscould only have dreamed about in the earliest days.

Like late 1800s when Whitworth College was the area’s focalpoint and what the prosperity of the community was built around,the campus will again become the focal point on which the communityand area will hang its prosperity.

We had the chance to visit with Dr. Vicki Bodenhamer, theexecutive director of the Mississippi School of the Arts, recentlyto hear her thoughts and ideas for the school and Brookhaven. Shehas not been here long, but it is evident that her vision of theschool and the community is one of which we can all be veryhappy.

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She is very historically-minded and wants to preserve theintegrity of the campus as best as possible. It would be easy –and probably cheaper — to ignore the historic past of the campusand push for newer, unsightly modern facilities. She is not doingthat.

However, she warns that the community must realize that the faceof the campus will change — but for the better. One major changewill be the construction of an 8-story dormitory. Dr. Bodenhamersays they are working to keep the building in character with therest of the campus, but it will be one that changes the landscapeof Brookhaven. The building will probably be visible from I-55.

Initial drawings show covered walkways connecting the buildingsand an iron fence around the campus with 82 pedestals to representeach county in the state.

Even more importantly, Dr. Bodenhamer is committed to building afirst-class school that will serve the state of Mississippi foryears to come. While she is now an administrator, her love ofteaching is evident as she speaks of the youngsters who will oneday walk the campus.

“These will be special kids — artistically talented kids,” shetold members of the business community during a chamber meetinglast week. “We have to remember they are not college kids, but highschool kids who need to feel a sense of community… We’ll needsomeone (the community) to love them.”

Dr. Bodenhamer said we cannot yet totally conceive the totaleconomic impact of the school on the community. She pointed outthat, with 300 kids, many needs will have to be met.

“Boys can grow six inches in a year (during their junior andsenior years),” she said. “Think of the number of pairs of bluejeans they will need to purchase. Think how much ice cream and fastfood they will consume.”

Adding that 300 kids means 600 plus parents, along with brothersand sisters, “Where are these families going to stay when theyvisit?” she said. “We do not have enough hotel space, not tomention parking space for the their cars.”

It is an exciting time and one can only imagine what MiltonWhitworth and A.E. Moreton would think as the school they plannedand built is again going to thrive and prosper — along with thecommunity they so dearly loved.

Brookhaven and Lincoln County have a lot to do to prepare forthis future, and much work will need to be done not only by thebusiness community, our city and county government, but also by us– the citizens of Brookhaven and Lincoln County.

It won’t be easy, but is it not going to be fun to see it allhappen?