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Special section highlights great things in area

That big swooshing noise you may hear in the next few days isthe collective sigh of relief from our newspaper staff as the finalphases in the production of our annual FOCUS edition arecompleted.

“It’s FOCUS time,” is the phrase we hear around this officestarting in early January and ending in late April. It is usually afrustrated response to the pressure of FOCUS deadlines that have tobe met on top of regular daily deadlines. Many a late night overthe past three months has seen staff members working on a story,designing ads, laying out pages, fine-tuning some artwork, printingthe sections or inserting it all together.

It is a labor of love. But with the 130 separate FOCUS deadlineson top of the regular deadlines of producing a daily newspaper,sometimes that love is tested. Come Friday afternoon it is thesmiles on the faces of our readers that make it all worthwhile.

This year’s edition – our 13th – brings some new changes toFOCUS. We have added several new sections and consolidated others.We have a new editor in charge of the content and his stamp on theedition makes it very special indeed.

While secrecy is the name of the game when you put out such anedition, and our mail room keeps a close eye to be sure no copiesslip our prematurely, I will take some publisher’s discretion towhet your appetite on what is coming in Friday’s LEADER.

There are 73 stories prepared by our staff in the 98-pageedition. The stories reach out to all corners of our circulationarea to tell about the people, places and things that make thispart of Mississippi so special.

In the Faith section, readers will find out about many of thebeautiful stained glass windows which adorn churches in the area -windows that some may never have realized existed in ourcommunity.

In our Retirement section, there is interesting reading aboutthe activities of a growing segment of this area. We are nottalking nursing homes; we are talking about very active members ofthe community who are not content just to sit around.

Health care is an important part of every growing area and weare blessed with a strong and dedicated medical community. Readerswill find out what is available right here in SouthwestMississippi.

What strong community can survive without good and progressiveleadership? The torch has been passed to a new generation ofleaders whose goal it is to improve on the efforts of the past. OurLeadership section will tell you about some of those newleaders.

Another part of a good community is the quality of theneighbors. Our community is also blessed in that area. One does nothave to go far to enjoy the offering from these folks. Who knowswhat you might find, one of our staff members found an affectionatecamel!

Of course, it is the people who are the heart and soul of everycommunity. Our People section tells about some of them, including afascinating piece on the whereabouts of some who, although havemoved on, still keep the Brookhaven area close to their hearts.

The purpose of our annual FOCUS edition is a celebration of thequality of life here in Southwest Mississippi. It is also an avenuewhere we recognize some of the local heroes who have gone the extramile to make things just a bit better for everyone else. We ask fornominations every year from our readers – the standards are toughand not every nomination makes the cut.

This year we have a tremendous class and of course one of thoseis selected as the Citizen of the Year. I will not tell you who theperson is, but I can say, all will agree the honor is welldeserved.

FOCUS will be on the streets Friday afternoon.

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602,or send e-mail to bjacobs@dailyleader.com.