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Jones, Barnes: Preparing to make a difference, again

By Staff
Jan. 21, 2001
Just looking over the local landscape after two important announcements were made last week …
Meridian and Lauderdale County received a real leadership shot in the arm with the naming of Wade Jones as president of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation and the announcement that Mac Barnes would join Lamar as principal and head football coach.
As Wade and Mac both told me, it was a matter of really good timing.
Right tools
Wade brings all the right tools to his new position with EMBDC. His predecessor, Slater Barr, did what he was hired to do bring stability and credibility to the new program. While the organization might have moved too slowly at times, you can't argue that being deliberate has positioned the group to take the next step up under Wade's leadership.
Successful organizations go through evolutionary stages of development and growth, and having the right leadership in place when it's time to break out is critical.
I think we'll see a new, more aggressive EMBDC in the next few months under Wade's direction and board chairman Glen Deweese's bold assertiveness. They will make a formidable team for developers and industry prospects to deal with.
Wade brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the most important area of industrial development  relationship building. People do business with people they like and trust, and Wade Jones will make it his business to know all the players personally. More importantly, he will make sure they know us.
Keeping Wade and his lovely bride, Wanda, in Meridian was an excellent move on the part of the EMBDC board. Its members are to be saluted for stepping up when it mattered most.
Right place
Like Wade, Mac is in exactly the right place at the right time. While we already know his commitment to the value of a good education, he will also assume command of a football program that has floundered for too many years.
Most of us who know Mac have suspected for some time that he missed the thrill, intensity and challenge of roaming the sidelines on Friday nights. exhorting his players to new heights.
But for all the success on the gridiron, what Mac brings to that group of kids who will be under his care both as students and athletes is his ability as a character builder.
As much as any educator I've ever known, he understands that character, with its noble virtues of selflessness and truth, will take a child far in life. Simply put, kids who learn and work and play under Mac Barnes' tutelage will become better individuals and more productive leaders in a society that sorely needs a confident new generation of leadership.
When Mac was selected The Meridian Star's "Person of the Year" in 1998, he was overwhelmed that we would put him in the category of our previous winner, Sonny Montgomery. He was humble and gracious, even saying to me, "Are you sure you've got the right guy?"
But when the paper hit the streets and the public became aware of his selection, the phones here rang off the wall. "You could not have made a better choice," was the common theme.
It is ironic that these two people from very different walks of life shift gears in their respective careers to take on challenges at this point in time that will truly make a difference.
And, yet, they will be affecting many of the same people … Mac in educating and coaching them, and Wade in working to insure that those fine individuals turned out by our schools both public and private have a place to work and a means by which to support their families.
Mac and Wade bring something else to the table, too a profound respect for this community and a deep desire to make it a better place to live. They will work hard to accomplish their goals.
As a community, we must support them, too, when and where we can. They will both make a difference in our quality of life for many years to come.
Paul Barrett is publisher of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at pmbpub@aol.com.

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