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City’s past, present celebrated in 2008 FOCUS

During the past four months the staff of The DAILY LEADER hasbeen busy preparing today’s special FOCUS edition – our yearlyproject to tell our readers a little more about the people andplaces that makeup the communities here in the southwest corner ofMississippi.

While we officially kick off this project during the second weekof January each year, with publication on the last Friday of April,the planning and scheduling start much earlier.

When we produced the first edition in 1992, the stories ideaswere easy to find – but some 17 years and some 900 stories later,the planning process is a bit more cumbersome. Our staff however,as they always do, dug a bit deeper, searched a little harder andfound some new ideas that we think you will find interesting.

For example, with a little snooping, we happened upon a Tuesdaynight tradition here in Brookhaven – a tradition that has beengoing on for some 80 years. The participants call themselves theMathematical Society and we found their weekly meetings were quitecalculating but a bit penny-ante.

A bit more scratching around and we came across a family that isin its third generation of helping area residents see the communityfrom a less blurry angle.

Wonder what’s behind those balconies going up downtown? We foundout a whole new community of folks helping to light up the cityafter dark.

What is the secret behind every good southern community? It’sstrong religious faith of course. We found some new and interestingactivities whose efforts are the glue that helps to keep this areaso well centered.

Every strong community has its volunteers who work to makethings better.

We have featured some of them in past editions of FOCUS. Thisyear is no different.

One we found this year is a local fellow who is determined togive back to his community what was given to him when he wasgrowing up – inspiration and leadership. His efforts accomplishjust that.

But our favorite part of FOCUS each year is recognizing specialpeople whose unselfish efforts make the community better.

For 17 years now we have recognized individuals who our readershave nominated as Unsung Heroes. These are individuals who go aboveand beyond, with little fanfare, to work for their community. Theycome from all walks of life with a common goal – to helpothers.

This year’s Unsung Heroes are Glenn Cliburn, Dr. Anne Henderson,Rev. Zack Moak, Robert Robinson, Ted and Cindy Ratcliff, Lance andAletha McCloud, James and Emma Godard, and Anne McGee. Each has awonderful story, which we tell in today’s FOCUS edition.

Normally, out of this group of community heroes, is oneindividual whose efforts earn the individual the honor of beingchosen Citizen of the Year.

In this year’s FOCUS, however, The DAILY LEADER staffcircumvented the process. We felt this special year deservedspecial recognition.

With Brookhaven celebrating its sesquicentennial, we felt therecognition deserving to more than to a single individual. We feltthe recognition belonged to an entire community – its citizens -who are this year celebrating the 150th anniversary of the foundingof our community.

Over the years, there are countless individuals who areresponsible for what we enjoy here in Brookhaven. Without thoseefforts of the past and of the present, there might not be acommunity so aptly named many years ago as A HomeseekersParadise.

Our salute this year goes to the citizens of Brookhaven for thecommunity’s success over the past 150 years. Happy BirthdayBrookhaven!

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