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LEADER family to be honored during ‘O’ Foundation VIP event

It takes a lot to keep a community pulling together in the samedirection, and Brookhaven’s ‘O’ Foundation recognizes and rewardsthe leaders who can do it.

In 2006 and 2007, it honored those who united the community withauthority – Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson and Mayor BobMassengill, respectively. In 2008, the foundation recognized theRev. Jerry Durr, who keeps the community close with kindness.

This year, the ‘O’ Foundation’s fourth annual Ole Brook VIPAward honorees are Charles and Bill Jacobs, a father-son team whohave used The DAILY LEADER to help keep the area well informed.

“Without the newspaper, no one would even know what’s going on,”said Rose “Polly” Powell, president of the ‘O’ Foundation. “It’snot news until it hits The DAILY LEADER. Without it, we wouldn’t beable to correspond with each other.”

The Ole Brook VIP Award Dinner will be held Thursday, Dec. 10,at 6 p.m. at the Lincoln Center. Admission to the black tie affairis $30.

Powell said the annual dinner is modeled after the VIPs ithonors, built to bring the community together to “enjoy the thingswe have together rather than focus on the things we don’t have incommon.”

In order to be named an ‘O’ Foundation VIP, Powell said anominee must be working, have lived in Brookhaven for at least 30years and be known and participate in both the black and whitecommunities.

Charles and Bill Jacobs fit the mold.

The Jacobs family arrived in Brookhaven in 1958, took over oneof the weekly newspapers and transformed it into a successfulregional daily newspaper that has only grown in the 51 years since.Through many local trials and tribulations, the father-son team haskept Brookhaven, Lincoln County and the area informed.

“It’s one of the responsibilities of being a communitynewspaper, to help a community know itself, communicate with itselfand grow stronger,” Bill Jacobs said. “We are very honored the OFoundation would select us and choose to have an evening dedicatedto the newspaper’s efforts over the years.”

Under the leadership of “Chuck” Jacobs and his wife Pat, theLEADER-TIMES went from a struggling twice-weekly newspaper, mergedit in 1961 with the other weekly newspaper in town to form theLEADER ADVERTISER, then to a five-day daily in 1969 with the namechanging to The DAILY LEADER, thereby doubling its output andpumping out information to a growing community. The newspaper addeda Sunday edition in 1996.

By refusing to sensationalize the times and urging calmnessthrough its editorials and news coverage, the newspaper helpedBrookhaven overcome adversity during the 60s and in the yearssince.

“The 60s were tough years for everyone including my parents,”Bill Jacobs said. “Tougher than people realize.”

Charles Jacobs was named the winner of the Brookhaven-LincolnCounty Chamber of Commerce’s Soap Box Award in 1968 for hispromotion of the community.

The senior Jacobs also loaned himself and his newspaper to localeconomic development efforts with the Brookhaven- Lincoln CountyChamber of Commerce and the Industrial Development Foundation. Hewas part of the team that helped bring Packard Electric (now knownas Delphi) and was chairman of the Industrial DevelopmentFoundation when the Wal-Mart Distribution Center began consideringlocating here. Both remain as two of the county’s largestemployers.

Bill Jacobs returned to the newspaper in 1980 as its managingeditor after receiving a Business and Journalism degree at OleMiss, followed by three years on the management team of McRae’sDepartment stores. He purchased controlling interest in thenewspaper from his family in 1995.

Under his leadership the newspaper continued pounding the drumfor the economic development of Lincoln County and SouthwestMississippi. The LEADER devoted much time and ink into uniting thecommunity behind stronger schools while keeping a watchful,well-informed eye on local city and county government.

One of the younger Jacobs’ proudest moments stemmed from thenewspaper’s efforts to tie the quality of local schools witheconomic development success – the opening of the MississippiSchool of the Arts in 2003.

“Our staff worked long and hard to build public interest in theold Whitworth campus, which set the stage for what eventuallybecame MSA,” Bill Jacobs said.

As a founding member of the Brookhaven Trust and one the group’searly presidents, Jacobs said the Trust succeeded in saving LamptonAuditorium and building public support for saving the historicWhitworth campus. He was also deeply involved in the organizationefforts that led to the introduction of the legislation to createthe arts school in 1999.

Today, The DAILY LEADER is a six-day publication that covers afour-county area. It is the 10th-largest manufacturing employer inLincoln County.

Besides producing a newspaper each day, the newspaper companyalso serves as a commercial printing facility, printing numerousnewspapers and other publications. The company also has a sisternewspaper in Prentiss that covers Jefferson Davis County.

The DAILY LEADER’s own publications include the Real EstateShowcase, Southwest Shopping Bag, Mature Times, Brides Magazine,Newcomer Magazine and the community-minded annual Focuspublication. The newspaper also has a presence on the Internet atwww.dailyleader.com.

“Beginning with dad’s efforts, we’ve tried very hard to producea newspaper that is fair and represents the entire community, botheditorially and through our news coverage,” Bill Jacobs said. “Aswith all good newspapers we have stepped on some toes and raisedthe ire of a number of folks.

“In our newsroom, accuracy and fairness is the main objective,”he continued. “And to gauge our success – when at the end of theday – if both sides of an issue are grumbling, I know we’ve doneour job.”

Apparently, the community agrees, as The DAILY LEADER inFebruary will begin its 127th year of continuous publication.

“While our family is humbled by the ‘O’ Foundation’srecognition, the real recognition however goes to the manyindividuals who make up the staff of the LEADER — today as well asthose who have been a part of the newspaper over the 51 years wehave owned the LEADER,” Jacobs said. “They are the ones whose hardwork and dedication allow the newspaper to be published anddelivered to our readers’ homes each day. They are the ones whodeserve the recognition.”