• 68°

Chamber marks great year

Chamber of Commerce and community leaders celebrated asuccessful year Thursday and remembered an old friend with thepresentation of the first-ever Jimmy Furlow Community ServiceAward.

During the annual chamber banquet at Copiah-Lincoln CommunityCollege, Program Director Kay Burton was chosen as the recipient ofthe Furlow award. It was named in honor of the city’s departmentalcoordinator who died in a dozer accident in April.

“He absolutely loved the city of Brookhaven and he loved thepeople of Brookhaven,” said friend Kenny Goza of Furlow.

Burton, program director for the chamber since 1997, said shewas in “total shock” when her named was called. She said it was anhonor even to be considered.

“He was an incredible servant,” Burton said. “He was a greatfriend and a great example for us all.”

In other activity, officials touted a strong year that saw thepurchase of 400 acres of land for a new business park and otheraccomplishments.

“That’s the first step in recruiting industry,” said outgoingIndustrial Development Foundation Chairman Anthony Bell about thenew business park.

Supervisors’ President Bobby J. Watts and Mayor Bob Massengillmentioned joint county, city and chamber efforts to secureinfrastructure funding for the park. In an upbeat address, Wattsvoiced optimism that new business and industry are on the way.

“You may as well move over because you know they’re coming,”Watts said.

Massengill highlighted strong sales tax collections for thecity.

“That is vital to our economy,” the mayor said.

Among other awards Thursday, Goza received the chamber’s SoapboxAward. The award is presented periodically to someone who isoutstanding in promoting Brookhaven and Lincoln County.

King’s Daughters Medical Center was named as the Industry of theYear. The hospital was singled out for its planned $9 millionexpansion and renovation.

Scott and Brett Smith, of Smith Lake Farms, Inc., received theAgribusiness of the Year Award. The brothers have dairy and beefcattle and forestry operations on 1,200 acres in the Heuck’sRetreat community.

West Lincoln language arts instructor Becky Smith was honored asthe Educator of the Year. Smith has been teaching more than 30years.

Catherine Dickey received the Ambassador of the Year Award.Also, Dickey was responsible for recruiting 18 of the chamber’s 68new members in 2005, which was the largest total ever.

United Way of Lincoln County officials Rita Rich and RobMcCreary announced the 2005 campaign had raised $145,000 toward itsgoal of $195,000. They cited the impact of Hurricane Katrina on thenumbers, but were pleased to have raised 76 percent of thegoal.

At the end of the evening, 2005 Chamber President LavelleSullivan passed the gavel of leadership to Rich, who will serve aspresident in 2006.