Thursday, March 27, 2008
Heaton new leader of Holly Springs chamber
By SUE WATSON
The board of directors of the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce appointed Amy S. Heaton of Hickory Flat as its new executive director Friday.
Heaton has hit the ground running as the chamber is rebuilding its membership and charting an ambitious schedule this year to build community cooperation, involvement and spirit.
Heaton, 39, is the daughter of Lynn and Wendell Stewart who moved to Hickory Flat to live among her mother’s relatives while her father was stationed at the Millington Air Force base in Tennessee. She has lived in Hickory Flat 34 years.
She graduated from Hickory Flat High School, completed an associate degree in computer operations technology at Northwest Mississippi Community College and was graduated with a bachelor of arts in English education from Blue Mountain College with a minor in psychology and French.
Heaton taught with the DeSoto County Schools seven years at Horn Lake - six years as an English teacher at the high school and one year at Horn Lake Middle School. She taught English, French and creative writing one year at Hickory Flat High School.
During her teaching career, Heaton was involved in many projects. She was chosen as one of only four teachers to be a trainer for the Mississippi Tech Prep Initiative under the auspices of the state Department of Education during the summer of 2000.
She assisted with the development of the Tech-Prep pilot program in applied communication for DeSoto County.
During 1998-2000, Heaton was coordinator for the DeSoto County Work Quest competition.
She also served as a Beta Club sponsor and as advisor for the French Club and school newspaper.
Heaton established and sponsored the Creative Writing Club at Horn Lake High School.
She worked 18 months in the Farese Law Office in 1998-1999.
Heaton is also a medical transcriptionist of 15 years.
She heard about the position of interim director at the chamber through friends who knew she was looking for work.
“I was still doing transcription and the business had slowed down a lot, so I applied for the interim director position,” Heaton said. “I loved it so much, I put in my application for the executive director’s position. I just got in here and got really excited about the job.”
The chamber board of directors replaced some retiring members and added two new director positions in February for a total of 14 directors.
Heaton said the board “embraces progress and is dedicated to doing all that it can to serve our membership.”
“I am looking forward to working with the board, with the businesses and with the community to reach the heights I know we can achieve.”
Heaton is no stranger to the political or business environment. State Rep. Jack Gadd is her first cousin and Benton County Supervisor Ricky Pipkin is her first cousin through marriage.
Nor is she a stranger to Holly Springs.
“I spent many hours on the courthouse square with my friend (the late) Holly Tomlinson,” she said.
She joined the Ladies Auxiliary at the VFW this year.
She is a volunteer with Marshall County Youth Services where she teaches communication skills program called “The Write Way” to teens on probation. The skills foster clear thinking, community involvement and goal setting.
As far as politics, she has helped a few politicians to develop campaign material - drawing on her communication skills.
And through sponsoring of so many school clubs, Heaton said she has experience at event coordinating and writing for the school newspaper.
She has contributed articles regularly to The South Reporter since taking on the interim position.
Heaton has no fear of knocking on doors of businesses.
“Part of my responsibility in the early stages of Tech-Prep was to visit a business monthly to learn what education needed to improve upon to better prepare our workforce,” she said. “So that fits with what we’re doing now. Now I need to find out what business needs from the chamber.”
The board of directors will participate this year in meeting operators and owners at their place of business to ask how the chamber can serve the community, she said.
“All of us want the City of Holly Springs to know that their success is our number one objective,” Heaton said.
The chamber is charting an ambitious course of activities this year including the bringing of the Travelling Vietnam Wall to Holly Springs during the week of Thanksgiving. This was made possible by a joint effort of the chamber with the Collins-Hurdle VFW Post 5697.
“This is huge,” said Heaton.
The Wall will arrive with lots of fan-fare Wednesday, Nov. 24, and remain for about five days. The exhibition opens for viewing November 26.
The centerpiece of the Travelling Wall is an 80 percent size replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
Six other exhibits will accompany the Travelling Wall - a lighted memorial of the Twin Towers; the Cost of Freedom Memorial (includes the name of every life lost in military service since Vietnam); the Walk of Heroes (a history of conflicts the U.S. has been involved in); an original art exhibit depicting the Vietnam War; a Tribute Panel where dog tags of loved ones can be purchased to place on the panel; and a tribute to veterans of World War II.
In addition to the exhibits, each day of the visit, the chamber and VFW hopes to have a different ceremony involving local groups such as the ROTC, church choirs, military personnel, and law enforcement who will be invited to participate.
“From the moment they get here, everybody is going to know they are here,” Heaton said.
Upcoming events include:
Businesses are asked to participate by submitting one item that showcases their business product. The items will be on display and chances for drawings will be sold with proceeds going to support the chamber. Drawings will be made at noon and 5 p.m. each day of the Pilgrimage.
Chamber directors will meet business owners/operators during the event for fact-to-face communication with chamber members and community supporters.
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