April 11, 2007 Edition

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Unity is the key

Bill Wilcoxson

When I was asked to be a guest writer on behalf of the Lawrence County Chamber, my first thought was: What can I say which has not been said? After a few days of deliberation, I began to reflect on my own past experiences in the community, as well as looking to the future.

My family were business people in Walnut Ridge and Lawrence County being involved in the furniture, clothing and marine sales business, as well as real estate. I am drawn back to memories of the 60's and 70's and even into the 80's of a busy downtown in Walnut Ridge and steady developments in housing and commercial real estate in the county.

The success and emergence of agriculture in the early 70's as a economic factor in the community were evident all around us. I, like many others, left the area after graduation from high school in 1978 to pursue an education and career. I spent time in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Paragould before returning to the area in the mid 1990's to work for Douglas-Quikut as a national sales representative. I traveled all over the United States attending various trade shows.

My wife, Pam, and I chose to return to this area along with our three children so that they could experience the advantages of being raised in a small community. I am now here on a full-time basis and engaged in banking, as well as participating in community organizations such as Kiwanis, Little League baseball, peewee football and the Chamber of Commerce.

An advantage I have had by living away from the area is to see how other communities both large and small strive to survive and grow in today's highly competitive economic climate. If there is one common factor I have learned to recognize it is the unity of the many community and governmental bodies working together to achieve a common goal.

We are truly blessed to live in an area with low crime rates, low pollution rates, many opportunities for outdoor activity in our parks, lakes and rivers and other family activities within our reach. We have an abundance of individuals willing to contribute in any way they can to improve our area. We have good schools with dedicated teachers who care about the influence they have on our children's lives. We have churches of almost all denominations available to us for worship and a top-notch medical facility in Lawrence Memorial Hospital and many highly-qualified physicians throughout the county. We are also fortunate to have a college such as Williams Baptist with a highly-qualified staff to attract many individuals to the area.

From an economic standpoint, we are fortunate to have three major U.S. highways that intersect here and two major railroad lines that also intersect. We have a modern and up-to-date airport facility, which can accommodate almost any size aircraft, and adequate acreage in the Industrial Park to expand.

We have capable leadership in our city governments and our county, as well as good representation at the state and federal levels. Also, our school districts are progressive and strive to achieve a higher than average academic rating.

The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce is made up of a diverse group representing several different segments of our population. We are currently striving to maintain a significant presence in our communities. The Economic Development Committee of the Chamber is constantly seeking new industry and business for the area, as well, and will continue to do so on a consistent basis.

In summary, I want to encourage all of the citizens of Lawrence County to unite as one in pursuit of better things for our area. Work with your local, county and state representatives. Let's pool our efforts to continue to cultivate the area as a thriving and progressive county and a good place to raise our children. This will provide a future for our families in this area and encourage others to make Lawrence County their home.

There are still many people who have been involved in some of the past successes of our Chamber and developments in the community who still reside in the area and possess a wealth of knowledge from past experiences. I urge those people to come forward and lend their advice and support.

Be open to new ideas and the things that may be necessary to achieve our goals as a community. Many attempts to accomplish our goals may be unsuccessful, but, with perseverance and a united community effort, many attempts will be successful. Let's work as a team and achieve victory!

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