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Chamber honors Reed’s as top industry

Reed’s Metals owner Bernie Reed said diversifying his inventorymight have been a part of the 25 percent growth this year thathelped lead his business to garner Industry of the Year honorsThursday at the 2008 Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of CommerceBanquet.

Industrial Development Foundation Chairman Bill Sones saidReed’s Metals had shown other area businesses what it is to growfrom the ground up.

“Our industry of the year is a true success story,” he said.

Sones added that when the business opened up 10 years ago, itoperated out of a temporary building. It has now grown to be aviable, vital part of the Lincoln County economy.

“From where we started from, it’s almost unbelievable to me thatwe’ve gotten this far,” Reed said. “It means an awful lot tous.”

Sones said Reed’s Metals, in addition to its growth, is ontarget to make $12 million in volume this year.

“I never would have dreamed that we’d have gotten this far,”said Reed, who attributed his success to people who have helped himin Lincoln County. There are a lot of great people we’re workingwith, and some really good people who have helped me out throughthe years. I’m so proud of this county, they’ve been verysupportive of us.”

Among other honors presented during the chamber’s annual banquetat the Thames Center at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, theAgribusiness of the Year Award went to Bardwell Dairy. It is ownedby Leon and Debbie Bardwell.

Lincoln County MSU Extension Service Director Rebecca Bates saidthe farm has garnered many other honors in recent years, including2008’s Master Dairymen of the Year from the Dairy Herd ImprovementAssociation.

“They’ve won numerous honors, not just tonight,” Bates said,pointing out that in addition to upkeeping such excellence, theBardwells still milk 65 heifers a day.

The Soapbox Award, given for an individual who has doneoutstanding work to promote the community, was awarded to RobertaJohnston. Johnston, 87, was recognized for her years of service toKing’s Daughters Medical Center and Habitat for Humanity.

“This award is not given annually, but it is given at specifictimes to individuals of special distinction,” said SteeringCommittee Chairwoman Rita Rich.

Educator of the Year went to Bogue Chitto teacher Kathy McKone,who has taught science for 20 years and beat out three otherfinalists for the honor.

“She believes every minute is a teaching opportunity, no matterwhere you are,” said 2008 Chamber President Rob McCreary.

Ambassador Chairman Imogene Ryan and Chamber Membership ChairmanJim Jolly both received recognition for their service to thechamber in the past year as well.

McCreary told the group that the chamber has some new programsin the works for the coming year.

They include chamber gift cards, which can be purchased andspent at any participating chamber member business in town. This,he said, should help keep holiday money at home.

“We appreciate your Christmas shopping, and when you make yourdecisions we hope you’ll think about the businesses that supportedour children’s athletic teams, bought ads in the yearbooks,supported the civic groups and donated their time to thecommunity,” he said. “Fifty-six percent of Brookhaven’s generalfund comes from sales tax, and we as a community need to make aneffort to shop at home.”

McCreary also outlined some of the chamber’s victories since thelast banquet, emphasizing the fact that Brookhaven and LincolnCounty schools have become models for other school districts in theMississippi Scholars Program. In addition, he said, the chamberhelped to spearhead a leadership symposium simulcast program with10 national leadership speakers that was held in the spring atEasthaven Baptist Church.

Chamber officials also touted the Small Business Roundtable, thebrainchild of local businessmen George Faust and Jolly, who wantedto create an opportunity for small business owners to get togetherand listen to speakers and brainstorm ways to improve theircompanies and community.

Finally, McCreary turned the chamber reins over to 2009President Stan Foster of State Bank.

“I’m passing the torch to the very capable hands of StanFoster,” McCreary said as he thanked those who made his tenure aschamber president possible over the last year.