Chamber celebrates year’s successes

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, November 16, 2011

City, county, state and local businessleaders gathered Tuesday night for the Brookhaven-Lincoln CountyChamber of Commerce’s 79th annual banquet, held at the ThamesCenter on the campus of Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

    Alvin Hoover, King’s Daughter Medical Center CEO and 2011 chamberpresident, began the evening by mentioning some of the chamber’shighlights from the past year.

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    “Despite the hard economic times we had the best membership drivein recent years,” Hoover said.

    Local success despite a tough economy can also be seen in the 14ribbon cuttings held last year, Hoover said.

    Hoover also deemed this year’s Ole Brook Festival anothersuccess.

    “It is the best event of its kind south of I-20,” he said.

    Hoover also gave a brief update regarding renovations to thechamber of commerce building, the old city hall. Hoover saidrenovations are well under way and are going well.

    The highlights of the last year soon gave way to the highlights ofthe evening, with various awards given.

    The chamber named Rex Lumber its Industry of the Year.

    Bill Jacobs, incoming Industrial Development Foundation president,discussed the significance of Rex Lumber for the communityfollowing the loss of Columbus Lumber.

    “When we needed those jobs, the Rex Lumber Company stepped up tothe plate,” Jacobs said.

    Chamber Executive Vice President Cliff Brumfield said thesignificance and timing of Rex Lumber’s investment made them thebest choice for the award.

    “Rex became an obvious choice because of the number of jobs andtheir tremendous investment in the economy, particularly with thepossibility that the plant would have remained empty,” Brumfieldsaid.

    Plant manager Doug Boykin accepted the award for Rex Lumber.

    Angie Warren received the Soap Box Award, which is not given everyyear. Brumfield said it goes to a chamber member who has beennotable for pushing an idea forward.

    “Angie worked with the Best of Brookhaven,” Brumfield said. “Shehas been a primary figure in trying to support that.

    Cindy Hyde-Smith received the Agri-Leader of the Year Award.Hyde-Smith is the current District 39 senator and was recentlyelected as Mississippi’s commissioner of agriculture.

    “I never doubted you would win,” Hoover said to Hyde-Smith as heannounced the award.

    Educator of the Year went to West Lincoln Attendance CenterPrincipal Jason Case. Imogene Ryan took home Ambassador of theYear. The Membership Award was snagged by David Culpepper.

    In addition to accepting the Industry of the Year Award, Boykinalso accepted the president’s gavel from Hoover. Boykin will shareresponsibilities with Hoover over the next few weeks and takeoffice as chamber president beginning Jan. 1.

    Boykin welcomed five new members to the chamber’s board ofdirectors: Kathy Franck, Quinn Jordan, Brad Roberson, MichaelTanner and Josh Smith.

    Wildlife photographer Stephen Kirkpatrick provided the evening’skeynote address. The event was something of a coming home forKirkpatrick.

    “I’ve been doing speaking engagements for 25 years and my first wasin Brookhaven in January 1985,” Kirkpatrick said.

    Kirkpatrick discussed his recent book “Sanctuary,” which capturesphotos from the Mississippi Gulf Coast region, focusing on thePascagoula watershed, the long leaf pine and the actual coast.

    Kirkpatrick discussed how fragile this region is.

    “The Pascagoula watershed is the last major unimpeded water systemin the United States,” Kirkpatrick said.

    He also praised the community leaders for their apparent successover the last year.

    “Listening to all this almost makes me want to move to Brookhavenor Lincoln County, which is a great credit to all of you,”Kirkpatrick said.