Thursday, July 9, 2009
‘Start of a new day’
By BARRY BURLESON
Denise Anders-Modest challenged Holly Springs elected officials to forge forward, not backward, during their four-year term.
“The next four years will not be easy,” the pastor of Anderson Chapel CME Church said during the swearing-in ceremony Friday. “It will be a daunting challenge. Do not push back; push ahead.
“God calls us to shape an uncertain destiny. You’ve been called upon to shape the destiny of Holly Springs.”
Accepting the oath of office were Andre’ DeBerry, mayor; Johnnie A. Bagley, alderman-at-large; Russell Johnson, alderman, Ward 1; Calvin James, alderman, Ward 2; Garrie Colhoun, alderman, Ward 3; and Harvey L. Payne Sr., alderman, Ward 4. New to the group are Bagley, James and Payne.
Anders-Modest also encouraged unity.
“As we enter a new era, turn your vision into dedicated unity,” she said. “It’s time to implement all of our values, all of our dreams. It’s the start of a new day, and together we can bring about the change our citizens deserve.”
She urged the people of Holly Springs to hold their city government accountable.
“We pray that God will challenge this new leadership and give them wisdom that they may do what is best for this city,” Anders-Modest said.
Earnest Cunningham, county justice court judge for the Southern District, administered the oath.
“You’ve been elected to a powerful position which the people of Holly Springs have entrusted to you,” he said. “A lot of trust and a lot of respect come with this position.”
Mayor DeBerry, beginning his third full term, took the oath with his wife, Beautye, as his side and his left hand on a Bible which belonged to his late father, Roy Lee DeBerry Sr.
He said his core beliefs of fairness and consistency were instilled in him by his father.
“He taught me to look a man straight in the eye, say what you mean and mean what you say,” DeBerry said.
“And then there is my mother (Willie Mae, who was in attendance) who taught me to be compassionate and to work to improve the standard and quality of life for all those who do share the blessings of prosperity.”
He said during the past eight years he has labored to enhance the economic and cultural expansions in Holly Springs.
“We have, all of us, witnessed the social and economic gains of Holly Springs and have also uncovered some additional opportunities for change,” DeBerry said. “It is these gains as well as the additional opportunities for change that cause me to accept the oath as mayor of the city of Holly Springs.
“I am willing to answer the trumpeting call by the people of the city to continue the tasks that will create a new and better tomorrow for the city and, therefore, a brighter future for our children and future generations to come.”
He said his plan of action will continue to include – 1) building leadership; 2) changing attitudes regarding tradition and image; 3) improving education; 4) building institutional know-how and capacity; 5) achieving comprehensive approaches to solving problems; 6) improving abilities to function in a multi-cultural society, face race and class problems and bridge the gap; 7) build on and protect existing resources; 8) streamline institutional processes; 9) increase capital for development; 10) create and penetrate markets; 11) improve physical infrastructure; 12) build technical competence.
“These goals are related to the central needs of our city and its people,” DeBerry said.
He summarized accomplishments of the past eight years – including millions in federal and state funding to help with various projects. A few of the projects listed included natural gas and water expansion, Martin Street revitalization, the Regional Technology Center and the extension of West Boundary to the new Holly Springs Commons, where a new medical clinic has opened and a new hospital is in the works.
“These capital projects will take place without a tax burden on the people of Holly Springs,” he said.
He said in the 2001-02 city budget, tax millage was 77.23. For the 2008-09 budget, it is 77.58, a net difference of only .05 mills.
“This is, I believe, a validation of my attempt to improve services and the quality of living of the residents without the burden of heavy taxes,” DeBerry said.
He asked everyone to get involved in the betterment of the city.
“There are those who talk and then there are those who do; we need doers for the people and the city of Holly Springs,” he said.
Curtis Ferrell, pastor of First Baptist Church, had the invocation and the benediction at the ceremony, which was held at the Eddie L. Smith Multi-Purpose Building. Cequita Gillis, niece of Mayor DeBerry, sang a special musical selection. Sharon White served as emcee.
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