Wilson takes reins as supervisors’ president

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 10, 2008

A changing of the guard happened at the Lincoln County Board ofSupervisors’ Monday meeting when outgoing board president GaryWalker gave up his seat at the head of the conference table andswapped places with the Rev. Jerry L. Wilson, the new boardpresident.

There was little ceremony as each man moved into his new seatand the board carried on with business as usual.

Wilson wasted no time in explaining his plans for the future andthe importance of the supervisors seated around him at thetable.

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“I’m excited about the new opportunity; I hope that we will beable to bring more business into the area,” the new president said.”We’ve got a city board, county board, chamber of commerce …it’ll take all our boards working together; that’s the only waywe’re gonna accomplish anything. I can’t do anything by myself. Theboard lawyer, the chancery clerk, the administrator – everybody hasa part to play.”

Wilson, who was the county’s first black supervisor and now isthe board’s first black president, will come together with thoseplayers beginning immediately. He is scheduled to meet with thechamber of commerce twice during the next 24 hours.

Wilson said he knows he has a lot to learn, but he is ready andwilling to dive in.

“Everything is trial and error,” Wilson said. “I’m just gonnaplay it by ear and work hard at it. I’ve just got to wait and see,see what all is involved with my new duties. I’m gonna meet withthe chamber a few times during the next few days, see what they’retalking about and help push it on through.”

Wilson said learning the ropes as board president, and presidingover the board meetings, would require a helping hand from theAlmighty.

“I’m just gonna keep the Lord first and let Him will me andguide me,” he said. “If I do that, everything will falltogether.”

Walker said he has every confidence that things will “falltogether” for Wilson.

“He’s gonna do just fine,” Walker said. “It’ll take him a littletime to learn it all, but I was the same way – right up ’till theend I was still learning stuff. You just gotta learn it as you go;learn every day. But Wilson wants it. He’ll do good with it.”

Walker looks back with fondness on the accomplishments made bythe county during his tenure as board president, especially thedevelopment of the industrial park and the ongoing effort to builda road through Homochitto National Forest.

“I’ve got most of the easements in my truck right now,” he saidof the forthcoming road. “I’m gonna start gathering the signaturesof the property owners tomorrow.”

The former board president admitted there are pros and cons insurrendering his seat at the head of the table, the biggest conbeing the end of much camaraderie that came with the president’sturf.

“It was a heck of a ride,” he said. “Sometimes it was tough.Sometimes it was kind of like riding a bull; it’ll try to chuck youoff every now and then. But it was fun. I made a lot of friends,like down at the chamber of commerce, that I wouldn’t have had if Ihadn’t been board president.

“As president, you have people you can help all over the county,not just in your district,” he continued. “When you’re the boardpresident, people are gonna call you for help, no matter what partof the county they live in. They’re liable just to call you up totalk a little bit and ask a few questions. I’m gonna missthat.”

Walker was glad to leave one aspect of being board presidentbehind – the paperwork.

“The only part of the job I won’t miss is signing all thosepapers,” he said. “You sign your life away sitting in thatchair.”

Now that he is out of the paperwork chair, Walker said he plansto get back into his district and focus more on the people there.He is content to be back in his old position.

“After two years at the head of the table, it’s just my turn torotate out,” he said. “Time to swap it around, have a change.”