Leader of Year
• Byhalia unveils 20-year plan
By SUE WATSON
The Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce held its top celebration of the year in November, selecting three for outstanding leadership and presenting the city’s 20-year plan to a crowd estimated at 200 or more.
Rep. Tommy Woods, who has served six terms in the Mississippi House, was tapped for the prestigeous Leader of the Year Award. The coveted Board Member of the Year Award went to Pam Thomas. Byhalia Fowers, Gifts and More received the Customer Service Award.
Woods said he was thinking of his dad when the chamber read the nomination for Leader of the Year. His father, the late J.P. Woods, served as a member of the board of supervisors from January 1952 through 1972, and was president of the board for 12 years beginning in 1960.
“I’m just overwhelmed,” Woods said, on receiving the honor. “It is just such a blessing to me for my folks here in Byhalia to honor me. I appreciate y’all and love you very much.”
Woods was cited by his nominee for “relentless commitment to our community, state and nation.”
His involvement to help Byhalia prosper and grow has made the town a great place to live, according to the nominee. Woods has spent many hours working to bring industries and business to Marshall County and the Byhalia area.
Some of Woods’ noteworthy achievements cited were;
Thomas was applauded for service on the board of the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce, including helping with all chamber-sponsored events, leading and planning, and for her behind the scenes volunteering.
Her nominee wrote, “Thomas has a great attitude and is always smiling and cordial. She provides many insights and solutions for community issues and has made a wonderful contribution as the chamber’s first vice president.”
Thomas is employed with WESCO Distribution, a chamber member.
Byhalia Flowers and Gifts and More was nominated for the Customer Service Award for providing special gifts and arrangements on the big flower days of the year, for working late and on weekends making sure arrangements are ready for sad occasions, and for great smiles as employees deliver gifts to hospitals, nursing homes and funeral homes. The business also does the door prize arrangements for the BACC luncheon meetings and special events.
Robert L. Barber, a community design and planning engineer, was the keynote speaker at the luncheon. He presented the 20-year plan for the town of Byhalia which coincides with the 20th year since the inception of the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce.
“The kind of decisions made in small town Mississippi really matters for you, for your children, and for all who come after,” he said. “The town has looked 20 years into the future...so you can maximize your ability to create a great small town.”
The plan consists of data, design, and determination phases, he said. The design and data phases are determined by the make-up of the community and its vision, while the determination step consists of adopting codes, ordinances and regulations to bring the vision into fruition, he said.
Barber acknowledged that the present time is uncertain and changing with respect to manufacturing, auto dominance, limitless expansion and private/public partnerships. Resource conservation and the environmental impacts of growth will matter greatly in the future. Quality of life issues will matter greatly.
The goals of the 20-year plan have a 90 percent chance of achievement providing the community has a “solid attitude and team approach,” he said.
Current data show the town’s population to be about 2,274 and about 6,000 in the greater Byhalia area. Two-thirds of the community’s work force commute 30 minutes to their jobs. Manufacturing, retail trade and educational services are the backbone of the town's economy.
By 2018, Barber projects the town will need more space - about 2,000 additional acres.
Transportation will affect the growth of the community with I-69 looming and the future designation of Highway 78 as I-22.
The historic district should be extended to keep the characteristics of the town consistent, he said. In residential growth, sticks and bricks housing should dominate, he said, in order to preserve property values.
The intersection of Highway 309 and Highway 78 is the major gateway to the town. The town should be extended from its core outward, he said, in order to generate construction income and to grow or increase business.
In looking at zoning, Byhalia should limit manufactured housing, develop standards for nuisance (junk-yards, auto and body repair shops, mini-storage), improve signage codes and design standards and assure future progress.
Barber expects growth patterns to develop at and around three nodes – the intersection of Highway 309 and Highway 78; the downtown core; and at the intersection of Highway 309 North and the future I-69.
“With patience and persistence, progress
will be made,” he said.
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