WorldCom’s downfall hard to take at home

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 1, 2002

The news of WorldCom’s collapse last week has left our communityhanging its head. Allegations of fraud over questionable accountingpractices were shocking and left us all wondering how and why?

While the rest of the world shudders in anger and disgust overthe repercussions of the collapse, for many of us here inBrookhaven these events hit us directly — not just in thepocketbook — but emotionally because we know the key players. Likea proud parent, we watched this company grow from very humblebeginnings to a worldwide corporation in 19 short years. Like aproud parent watching a child work and succeed against the odds, wewatched WorldCom take on the big boys and win. And like the agony aparent feels when a child fails, we are feeling the same.

Stockholder or not, for area residents WorldCom is — or was –our company. It was a source of community pride, something thatgave us bragging rights. It was a source of pride in that WorldComwas a symbol of what can be accomplished if one is willing to takea risk.

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The entrepreneur spirit of those original investors — DavidSingleton, Max Thornhill, Carl Aycock, Danny Dunnaway and BernieEbbers — spurred others in the community to do the same. Thatspirit has helped to grow new businesses, helped grow thiscommunity and helped build a “can do” attitude.

We do not know what the future will bring as the WorldComsituation is sorted out. Bankruptcy may be on the horizon, or thecompany may be able to find a way to survive. Only time willtell.

Regardless of what happens, we have seen what success can cometo those who have faith, work hard, take risks and challenge thestatus quo.

It was a wonderful ride to the top, but the ride down has beennothing less than terrifying — not to mention humbling. We haveseen the top of the mountain, and we are now seeing the depth ofthe valley. But, oh, how lucky we have been to be able to be a partof it all. Few communities ever even have the chance.