Thursday, July 2, 2009
Leadership program fosters communication, diversity
By SUE WATSON
A happy group of 22 county citizens revisited what they learned the last six months in Leadership Marshall 2009, the fifth class to graduate from this novel program to develop new talents and ideas.
The program is novel because it is basically “home grown” - put together locally by the Chamber of Commerce offices in Holly Springs and Byhalia, the Marshall County Board of Supervisors and the Marshall County Extension Service.
Local sponsorship helps make the leadership program work by paying for meals and providing scholarship money.
The heart of the class here in Marshall County is the way it fosters communication and diversity - strengths which Chris Berryman said affect the entire county. Berryman, employed with the Tennessee Valley Authority, presented a module on community and economic development which, he said, go hand in hand.
He said the payback in investing in leadership training is enormous.
“There is payback. It’s not about dollars, but there is value that impacts leadership and the community,” Berryman said. “Don't underestimate yourself.”
George Gwin, executive director for Alliance Charitable Foundation with Williams Medical Clinic and Alliance HealthCare Hospital, provided the numbers that tell where Marshall County and Mississippi stand with respect to healthcare, education, poverty and other public health indicators. He said in the last 16 years Mississippi has ranked on the very bottom at 50th for 12 of those years.
“When you talk about strengths, opportunities and threats, don’t forget to talk about healthcare,” he said.
Gwin said healthcare service is an important part of a healthy economy and “there is money to be made on it here.”
“Healthcare fits into every category when you are looking for new businesses for your community,” he said.
Gwin said the only thing holding up the construction of a new hospital at the new medical campus is financing.
The new Williams Medical Clinic already built and open on the campus is the result of growth since 1999 when Dr. Williams opened his first clinic in a manufactured home. A year later he purchased the hospital, Gwin said.
Some new services available at the clinic include a sleep lab clinic, nuclear cardiac imaging, weight loss management, diabetic clinic a radiology service, internal medicine and adult primary care, he said.
Class member Harvey Payne suggested to Gwin that since the population of the county is very nearly in balance racially, wouldn’t Marshall County be a unique population in which to do research.
“Very true,” said Gwin.
He said a comparative study in the incidence and causes of prostate cancer in blacks and whites would be an interesting study.
County administrator Larry Hall joined the class for lunch to thank them for becoming participants in this very important spinoff project from the Marshall County Strategic Plan. He, Holly Springs Mayor Andre’ DeBerry and Sarah Sawyer, executive director for the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce, helped start the Marshall County leadership program after they attended LeadershipPlenty in Jackson.
“It tied in with strategic planning and it has clicked more than any part of the strategic plan by bringing together people who want to be involved in the betterment of the community,” he said.
“The class was a success,” he said, “It gave each participant a chance to survey the community, meet new friends, see new territory - to think outside the box. Leaders come up with ideas and other people say - “Now why didn’t I think of that?” Success is when we become more than the sum of our parts. You can back that up as a couple or a community or anyway you want to look at it.”
Some of the first classes were composed of young bankers and elected officials.
“We have all contributed to the success of our community as a whole and to our future.’
Byhalia Mayor Scooter Dempsey, who is leaving office to go back to private life, is a graduate of Leadership Marshall, an experience he said he enjoyed. After his city was struck by devastating winds two weeks ago, Dempsey said he has a deeper appreciation for the people of Marshall County.
“I need you to hear that you are in a great place in this world, in this county, in Potts Camp, Holly Springs and Byhalia,” Dempsey said. “It’s about the heart of each neighbor. Nothing sheds light on it more than devastation. This entire county is a great place to live and call home. You all graduated from a place with honor and dignity in this world like no other. It’s not about government, its’s about each of you doing what you know is right.
“I got up Saturday and looked down the street and saw people I haven’t seen in years coming down the road with chain saws, bottled water, food - whatever was needed - to help. I thank you all.”
DeBerry said leadership is about having the vision and the ability to look beyond ourselves.
Rep. Kelvin Buck said the current leadership program is just an extension of a leadership program held by the city in the early 1990s when classes met at Wall Doxey State Park, of which he was a participant.
“There is much to be seen in our community,” he said, “and something to be said about small towns and people who join programs like this.”
Rep. Tommy Woods, a representative in the Mississippi House for 22 years since beginning in 1988, said leadership training is important and can influence the direction in life.
“I’m proud to speak to you and to congratulate you,” he said. “We reflect on who we are and where we are and what we do. God made us unique people giving us the ability to think for ourselves.
“If we think we are nothing, we probably won’t be. We can think positive for our future, ourselves and our nation and these positive thoughts and we can assert ourselves in our community and things happen.”
Woods said he visited the Legislature as a Boy Scout (Boys State) 50 years ago.
“That was 50 years ago and I’m there now,” he said.
Sponsors for the 2009 Leadership Marshall class include NorthCentral Electric Power Association, Citizens Bank, First State Bank, Fitch Farms/Galena Plantation, Marshall County IDA, Sonic, A2Z Signs & Printing, Champion Awards, Marshall County School District, Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce and Marshall County Extension Service.
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