Thursday, December 1, 2005

Report shows progress on county’s strategic goals

By SUE WATSON
Staff Writer

A summary of goals accomplished in two years of strategic planning in Marshall County shows some progress toward implementation in the five study areas.

A status report presented to the strategic planning committee by Larry Hall, county administrator, reflects successes.

The community development committee wanted to establish a countywide leadership training program, form a council of governments and get funding for a community foundation.

In the area of leadership training, a group of about 30 comprised of elected officials, business leaders and office staff graduated in June and the graduates are trying to form a second class to train more leaders. Pew Partnership materials (LeadershipPlenty) were used for the training.

“The people worked hard and, above all, became friends,” Hall said. “The goal of the class was to clean up the county (litter), thus creating a better image.”

A council of governments representing elected officials from Byhalia, Potts Camp and Marshall County met several times with the goal of sharing information. A meeting of the council with state representatives has been useful in sharing information top to bottom and bottom to top.

The leadership class failed to establish a community foundation. However, efforts to establish a private foundation to improve healthcare in Marshall County is in the working stages.

Alliance HealthCare Systems wants to provide a workshop for the new Medicaid Drug Card, according to Linda Logan with Alliance HealthCare.

The taxes and zoning committee set a goal to increase the tax base by making the county business and community friendly and improve efficiency of government.

To that end 50.6 miles of new paving was completed on gravel roads in year 2004-05. Plus, 3.4 miles of new subdivision roads were added.

“By developing skills and building a premier team, the Board of Supervisors has used tax dollars more efficiently,” Hall said.

Due to the corridor selection for I-269, northwest Marshall County and the town of Byhalia are poised for economic development. Large-scale developments in housing, condominiums, commercial strips and industrial or distribution industries are coming to that portion of the county. Growth was encouraged by a rezoning of land use areas and ordinances to promote the best balance for development in the entire county.

The City of Holly Springs is also poised for $50 million in growth on the south side. The relocation of Wal-Mart to the south end of the city started the building explosion there.

New and existing industries will thrive and the Governor’s Job Fair Network has held two job fairs to help prospective employees connect with employers.

Just last week TVA consultants conducted a Community Preparedness workshop to help the county get ready for growth it expects.

Marshall County added a website, www.marshallcoms.com to help promote the county’s image and provide useful information and services. The Byhalia Chamber website is www. GoByhalia.com. The Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce can be visited at www.hollyspringsmschamberofcommerce.org

The Tourism Bureau website is www.visithollysprings.org.

Progress on the education committee’s list of 12 goals has been slow but the committee has teamed up with other committees to get projects started, most notably the first education and business summit in the county for high school seniors.

The summit held last spring drew prominent business leaders as panelists and speakers. Their job was to inspire seniors to prepare for careers, continue their education, and be ready for what employers expect in the workplace.

Both county and city school districts sent seniors to the summit.

The Chamber of Commerce is also promoting better relations with area teachers through awards banquets.

The health and safety committee set goals to improve both measures in Marshall County communities.

School safety is a primary concern of both educators and law enforcement agencies. A cops program was implemented in county schools last year and this year three schools have school safety officers. The officers are important for school security and as role models for youngsters. The Holly Springs Police Department for several years has provided trained D.A.R.E. officers to educate Holly Springs/ fifth grade students about personal safety and drug awareness.

As the county population grows, the Marshall County Board of Supervisors has seen a need to open a satellite substation near high growth areas. A substation located north of Byhalia on Highway 309 is under construction. The station will provide space for the Sheriff’s Department, Tax Collector and Emergistat Ambulance Service.

A communications upgrade that will provide a better range of shortwave radio service to Fire, Police, Emergency Services and the Sheriff’s Department will be improved the award of a $286,000 Federal Emergency Management Grant to replace obsolete equipment. The equipment will enable law officers, fire teams and rescue personnel in the field to communicate better with one another and with E-911.

In the area of healthcare, Alliance HealthCare Systems, has teamed up with the University of Tennessee through a grant that provides telemedicine equipment and training at Alliance.

“This will expand healthcare in the county,” according to Linda Logan with Alliance.

A main objective of the business and industry committee is to create a business and industrial environment that allows residents to live above the poverty line.

This committee has seen good results in the area of expanding water and sewer services to growth areas, placing industry and business prospects in good sites and providing connecter roads to major transportation corridors.

Committee member Del Stover reviewed some recent progress in the area of business and industry.

An anticipated $50 million investment near the Holly Springs Commons on the south side of Holly Springs will spur retail and commercial/industrial growth, he said.

The addition of 700,000 square feet of warehousing space coming with the opening of the Exel distribution center at Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park will help attract more industries to that area. Mid-South Ag Equipment Company is one such manufacturing industry that will locate in the park.

Five or six more major industry prospects are interested in locating in the county, Stover said.

Residential growth in the northwestern portion of the county is booming. The rezoning of 2,700 acres as Residential Estate Districts will protect the investments of homeowners who have sunk their hopes and dreams on country estates in the county and is expected to attract many more homes in the $250,000 to $500,000 range, Stover said.

With that kind of investment, the county’s tax base will expand to provide much needed revenues for growth and services.

“We haven’t tackled things like downtown redevelopment in Holly Springs and Byhalia,” Stover said.

Lisa Cole, member of Holly Springs City Beautiful, expressed concern that the downtown areas are being overlooked in efforts to bring big projects to the county.

“Lisa, it’s all about money,” Hall said.

“With Holly Springs being an historic city, you would want to include downtown,” Cole said.

Hall said his hometown, New Albany, has worked on improving its business district through private investments.

“Basically, it’s family pride (in New Albany). For generations they’ve stayed with their local business. It’s mostly developed by local folks.”

Consultant Jack Russell said there are other types of assistance to business and downtown development outside of a Main Street economic development program.

Holly Springs Alderman Tim Liddy suggested that Marshall County Industrial Development Authority change its name to Economic Development Authority.

He said that would broaden the scope of the authority.

Stover said that has been one of the things considered because distribution centers moving to the area are really more a commerce than an industry.

“On what Lisa said, the city has to change things,” said Liddy. “Collierville spent $1 million renovating the square before development hit. You can spend $50 million but if your town dies, you don’t have anything.”

Cynthia Gentry, superintendent of education for Holly Springs, voiced concern that retention of new graduates as teachers could be hard if affordable housing and cultural and social opportunities are not addressed.

Fresh college grads are not positioned financially to pay high prices for housing, she said.

“Right now I’m having a housing problem,” she added. “I want to relocate.”

Hall said one of the goals of the strategic plan is to enhance the city by promoting tourism.

“Basically, what it needs is somebody to take it and go,” he said.

Russell asked if anyone is working on building community pride.

“We’ve had some small things - events,” said Cole. “We encourage merchants to decorate and promote the yard of the month.”

Stover noted that community pride is alive and well in communities like Byhalia, Potts Camp and Barton but that community pride is not expressed broadly so as to be inclusive.

“Part of it becomes human nature to become clannish,” he said.

“How do you make it (community pride) a countywide effort?” asked Sarah Sawyer, executive director of Byhalia Chamber.

Cole suggested that big corporations don’t get involved or give back to the community.


Report News: (662) 252-4261 or south@dixie-net.com
Questions, comments, corrections:
south@dixie-net.com
©2004, The South Reporter, All Rights Reserved.
No part of this site may be reproduced in any way without permission.
The South Reporter is a member of the Mississippi Press Association.

Web Site managed and maintained by
South Reporter webmasters Linda Jones, Kristian Jones
Web Site Design - The South Reporter

Back | Top of Page