Thursday, July 23, 2009
Leadership Marshall grads believe in program’s efforts
By SUE WATSON
Leadership Marshall County just graduated its fifth class with this group said to be serious and determined, according to organizer Sarah Sawyer, executive director of the Byhalia Area Chamber of Commerce.
The best class size seems to be no more than 30 participants, she said.
Here are some comments this year’s graduates and some past graduates attending the recent graduation ceremony said about the Marshall County Leadership Program - an offshoot of the Marshall County Strategic Plan.
What has stuck with Judy Smith since she took the class several years ago is the hope she felt when taking the course. Smith said she attended the 1992 leadership program, studied education in the area and did reports.
“And I retired,” she said. “I”m always hopeful. I’ve been in Marshall County 30 years. It (a school or community) is as honorable as you make it. We can come together as a united force for Marshall County and for the children.”
She said communication in the community is not what it ought to be.
But with positive information, “we can applaud what happens in this community; that’s my hope,” she said.
“What has lasted for me is hope for the community and for the youth and the community buy-in,” she said.
Harvey Payne, a graduate this year and newly-elected member of the Holly Springs Board of Aldermen, said for him the class was about building relationships, adding new knowledge and trust building between the diverse members (race, occupations).
“It is all very important if we are going to grow as a community,” he said.
Chris Cothern, with First State Bank, thinks cooperation of the participants with each other was very impressive.
“We had an opportunity to meet leaders of the community, and our Leadership Marshall Youth Program, I think, is very important to the future of Marshall County,” she said.
Cynthia Brewer, a newcomer to Holly Springs and director of the city’s Main Street Program, liked the coming together of people of diverse backgrounds and employment in Marshall County and liked getting to meet new people.
“The people here in Marshall County are phenomenal,” she said.
Irma Jones, graduate of the class of 2008, said Leadership Marshall created a life change for her. She became an airline hostess as a result of taking the class and applies the tools she learned in class to her daycare business in Holly Springs, she said.
“I applied all these classes into one toolbox,” she said, “and I applied what I learned with my employees at Kings and Queens Christian Academy.”
Jones said it was helpful to teach her employees elements of leadership that they can apply in working with the parents.
“We have a more relaxed atmosphere,” she said. “I came back today to refresh and to encourage the people to use these tools and not just sit with the knowledge.”
Sawyer said leadership classes seem to run a cycle of about seven years before interest wanes.
“We need you to help keep it going,” she said. “We want you to help us to promote it. We learn a lot from you and every year the program gets better.”
She is impressed with the 2009 class which has initiated two projects - a beautification project in Byhalia and a youth leadership program for select students in grades 7-11 from area schools. Twenty-two students will be recruited for the youth leadership program, she said, which will kick off in September this year.
“Following through on projects is the hard part,” she said. “It is easy to get lots of ideas going. Sometimes something as simple as planting a tree makes a big difference.”
Carolyn Burrow, member of the 2009 class, said the most important thing she learned is that leaders are the carriers of hope.
“I feel a lot of hope that we will be able to do things in our community,” she said.
Joe Tunstall, newly elected alderman at the Town of Byhalia and guest at the graduation ceremony, was impressed by the spirit of teamwork that he saw in Byhalia following the storm of June 12-13.
“Streets were filled (with trees, etc.) and were cleaned up quickly,” he said. “And when I go inside the chamber of commerce office, I see personality.”
Pam Lewis, a graduate of the class of 2009, liked the sense of being a visionary or a dreamer best.
Chief Robert Pearson, head of the Holly Springs Police Department, liked meeting new people.
George Kahrs, a transplant from Florida, said he likes being good neighbors and getting involved in community life. He became involved politically by attending meetings of the Marshall County Board of Supervisors and ran for constable of the Northern District in the county. This year he joined Leadership Marshall to continue his involvement.
“I think we have community spirit and it is up to us to see it continues into the future,” he said.
Amy Heaton, a graduate of the 2008 class, liked the positive attitude of the 2009 class.
Alton Merchant, a minister, said the class “has energized me. I want to be a part of what’s going on,” he said.
Members of the 2009 Leadership Marshall Class were Felicia Autry, City of Holly Springs; Cynthia Brewer, Holly Springs Main Street Association; Carolyn Burrow, Curves for Women; Bobby Clayton, Byhalia Police Department; Rod Childers, FAA; Christine Cothern, First State Bank; Mary Giglio, M&F Bank; Casey Hillmer, Tax Assessor’s Office; Hunter Hollingsworth, Bank of Holly Springs; Maggie Holmes, retired; Ora Hubbard, deputy city clerk, George Kahrs, retired; Pam Lewis, Byhalia Elementary; Shawn McCarley, R&R Enterprise; Alton Merchant, minister/professor; Demetria Miller and Tamaiko Odum, Holly Springs Utility Department; Harvey Payne, self-employed; Robert Pearson, Holly Springs Police Department, Nancy Richmond, Byhalia Elementary; and Kisha Thompson, City of Holly Springs.
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