Thursday, July 28, 2005

County leadership class wraps up with high marks

Staff Writer

Marshall County’s first LeadershipPlenty class graduated last week during a sweeping bus tour of the county. Graduates proclaimed the class a resounding success at a noon luncheon at Fitch Farms/Galena Plantation, the mid-point of the tour.

The goal of the class was to bring formal leadership training to elected officials from over the county. The class was open to some business people because not all elected officials could fit the classes into their schedules this time.

A second class will be called with some leaders who took the first course to serve on a steering committee to draft the next group, according to Susan Jordan with the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce. The Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce, the Marshall County Extension Office, and specialists with MSU Extension Service throughout the state also helped put on the county’s first class.

Byhalia Chamber executive director Sarah Sawyer, county administrator Larry Hall, Holly Springs’ Mayor Andre’ DeBerry and Angela Lindsey took the class two years ago in Jackson.

Sawyer said one feat accomplished by this first county class was to draw people from all over the county together to meet and learn together.

“It is not an easy task for such a large geographic area to pull people together,” she said. “I hope we can build on what we have started and keep learning. Every county I know that has a leadership program gets a lot done.

“I want to thank the board of supervisors, the extension office and the Chambers for allowing us the time and for supporting this program.

“The values of this program go to the individual, the citizen, the business person and even the family.”

Future classes will be now offered to people in the work force and some version of the course may eventually be offered to high school students, she said.

Hall was more than pleased with the first class as compared to his first introduction to LeadershipPlenty, a Pew Partnership Course provided to communities across the nation.

“I think this one is so much more effective and has accomplished more than the one we attended because of the binding effect,” he said. “It has brought a better understanding and leadership tools to people already in leadership positions.”

For Elizabeth Kriss, the camaraderie developed among the individuals was what she enjoyed most out of the class.

“I’ve made some good friends,” she said.

Betty Byrd agreed. She wants the course offered to other citizens, more elected officials and eventually school students.

“What I enjoyed most were the friendships, the relationships and learning how other people think about things,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it has been a positive thing for the county.”

Justice Court Judge Earnest Cunningham called the course “a barrel of fun.”

“I learned that when there is diversity and dialog in a group, things can work out,” he said. “We can talk about issues and things come together.”

R.C. Anderson liked the effort put forth in class and the action project the group selected.

“We worked hard from day one to say we are graduates,” he said. “I hope we can put into action our project to change the image of Marshall County.”

Potts Camp Mayor Jimmie Collins said he learned much better things he already knew something about.

“Everybody involved in class has one common goal: the betterment of Marshall County,” he said. “That’s the most important thing and I have enjoyed everybody.”

For Amy Presley of Byhalia, the class was a second turn at leadership training. She took the CREATE Foundation leadership class two years ago.

“It was just really inspiring more so for me,” she said. “I liked meeting people, learning about resources and I made some connections.”

Byhalia mayor Scooter Dempsey was most impressed by the group bonding that took place. This was his first leadership class.

“One of the biggest things I realized is that everybody wants to accomplish the same goal,” he said. “I will work to get some more Byhalia people into the next class.”

The tour of the county Wednesday by bus included visits to Chewalla Lake, Potts Camp, Waterford, Wall Doxey State Park, the Holly Springs downtown square and public and private schools, the Holly Springs Industrial Park, Laws Hill/Wyatt’s Crossing, Fitch Farms, Watson, Warsaw, Byhalia and Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park.

At each stop a member of the class who represented the area provided sketches of the community.

As the group ate lunch at Fitch Farms, Hall touched on the morning stops.

“We have shown you the best hunting and fishing spots in Marshall County,” he said. “None of us can really imagine where we are going in this county with the industrial and residential growth that has already started rolling.

“The old saying goes, ‘It’s hard to catch a train after it has left the station.’ But we will catch up.

“I am proud of the young people - the bankers taking this course. The young will be the future leaders of Marshall County whether they want to or not.”

Hall referred to a comment by Dempsey at the luncheon that Byhalia was expecting to be a bedroom community.

“He is going to have to slow down a lot of other stuff if he wants a bedroom community,” Hall said in fun.

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