This community is not just happening, it is being carefully planned under our noses

Published 7:27 pm Monday, June 26, 2006

Several years ago I hung my rifle on the wall and took my safer double-barreled 12 gauge when I went into the woods because new houses were showing up in the area. Now that folks live all around us I haven’t even shot the 12 gauge in a long time. It was a few years later that about 150 individuals, in a program titled Partners for Pearl River County formed work groups to make plans for our rapidly growing community. Each of the groups dealt with different projects. The volunteers studied such down-to-earth matters as water, electricity, garbage disposal, sewage, roads and bridges, cemeteries, schools, the history of the area, and county government.

Today we are dealing with even greater challenges. Recently we have been joined by new citizens who, because of Katrina,. have come to live in this area. Pearl River County skipped the expected pattern of steady growth and simply doubled in population overnight.

The present demands, added to the community needs before Katrina, have called for uncommon effort on the part of us all. As we are repairing our storm-damaged landscape, our leaders are looking for resources and rallying the troops to accommodate the needs of our expanded population.

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An impressive number of our citizens are always willing to serve the community unselfishly. For example, several of the elected county and city officials attended the community development seminars and participated in the various projects of the work groups. This community didn’t just happen, it was carefully planned and diligently developed.

The natural leader of the movement and many of the projects to develop Pearl River County was not an elected or paid official but volunteer Glade Woods. He once handed me a list of the ten things that describe the best kind of leadership.

Ten things you must know about people.

— People are insecure. Give them confidence.

— They like to feel special. Sincerely complement them.

— They look for a better tomorrow. Show them hope.

— They need to be understood. Listen to them.

— They lack direction. Navigate for them.

— They are selfish. Speak to their needs first.

— They get emotionally low. Encourage them.

— They want to be associated with success. Help them win.

— They desire meaningful relationships. Provide community.

— They seek models to follow. Be an example.

As I reviewed the list I was impressed by the fact that it described Glade’s own personal style of leadership. He now serves as a member of the city administration and, I have no doubt, he was selected because he just naturally practices the ten things a leader must know about people.

Time changes everything and Pearl River County has changed. It remains a beautiful environment populated by honest God-fearing folks and it is strategically located to become a great thriving community. We old timers look back to the quiet rural days as King Arthur did in the musical, Camelot. “Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.” The towering piney woods, the huge pecan trees, even the tung nut orchards in full bloom still live in our memories but yesterday is gone and can never be repeated.

Today we must be wise enough to build on the solid foundation laid by older, wiser heads. They were people of faith who would advise us, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put into practice. And the God of peace be with you.” Phillipians 4:9