Busy chamber pauses to celebrate good year

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 23, 2002

Community leaders and guests Thursday celebrated a successful2002 during the 70th Annual Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber ofCommerce Banquet.

During the briskly-paced event, held at the Lincoln CountyMulti-Use Facility, speakers recalled past year accomplishments andpointed to needs that will help the city and county continue togrow.

A new industrial park was mentioned several times. Six sites fora new park are being studied and a site recommendation is expectedsoon.

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“This is one of the most important projects that is now goingon,” said Nolan Earl Williamson, president of the board ofsupervisors.

Kenny Goza, outgoing Industrial Development Foundation chairman,urged city and county officials to be supportive as the new parkprocess goes forward. He hoped a site could be selected in thefirst quarter of 2003.

“Without land and without industry, we don’t have any jobs forthis county and this community,” said Goza, who will be the 2003chamber vice-president.

Goza saluted a “wonderful” 2002 that included the start up ofEPCO, Continental Carbonic Products Inc. and Sola Fide, andexpansions at Delphi Packard Electric Systems. He added that SolaFide, in the old Auburn Sportswear building, is looking toexpand.

Alderman at large Les Bumgarner touted a spirit of the city,county and chamber working together. He mentioned the city’s plansfor annexation and the Multi-Modal Facility, and the nearlycompleted Whitworth Fire Loop water project.

“We appreciate everybody’s tolerance in putting up with that,”Bumgarner said of the water line project that caused some streetclosures and other traffic issues earlier this year.

Among the evening’s awards and honors, Debra Smith wasrecognized at the chamber’s Teacher of the Year. Smith is a musicinstructor at C.H. Lipsey Middle School.

The John W. Norton family was honored at the Farm Family of theYear. The Nortons operate a beef cattle farm on over 1,400 acresnear in the Holly Springs community.

The Wal-Mart Distribution Center received the Industry of theYear award. Goza touted the company’s and employees’ communityinvolvement in presenting the award.

Danita Hobbs, outgoing 2002 chamber president, announced morethan $200,000 in contributions and pledges to the annual United Wayfund-raising campaign. This year’s goal was $202,000.

Among chamber honors, Catherine Dickey received the Ambassadorof the Year award. Dickey and JoAnna Sproles were recognized forthe contact club efforts to attract new members to the chamber ofcommerce.

Pam Cartwright, the chamber’s administrative assistant, receiveda special award for her 30 years of dedicated service to thechamber.

The featured speaker for the evening was Joe Jones, publisher ofthe Mississippi Business Journal. Jones spoke about the nationalrecession, potential setbacks in recovery and its impact on thestate.

Jones also stressed the importance of work force training andworking together for economic development. After years of patchingstate problems, Jones said the Mississippi Legislature is facingtough funding decision and even the possibility of state employeelayoffs.

“The problem is it didn’t get better, and we’ve pulled justabout all the rabbits out of the hat,” Jones said about pastlegislative approaches to problem-solving.

The evening concluded with the passing of the chamberpresident’s gavel from Hobbs to 2003 president David Phillips.

Also, the 2003 IDF chairman is Phillip Grady. New members of thechamber’s board of directors include Dr. Vicki Bodenhamer, CecilEstess, Rob Fisher, Lavelle Sullivan and Robert Tyler.