June 27, 2004

By Staff
Davis: A sterling tenure
As the tenure of East Mississippi Community College President Dr. Thomas L. "Tommy" Davis soon culminates, I would like to offer some perspectives as one of his colleagues in the Mississippi Community College System.
I first met Dr. Davis six years ago when I arrived on the scene in Mississippi. I knew relatively little about the state's community college system, and, to be honest, I faced my new job with some apprehension. After all, I was the first community college president hired in Mississippi from outside the state in more than 30 years.
I didn't know how I would be received. Dr. Davis was one of the first to extend the hand of friendship to me, and kind of became one of my mentors. He always encouraged me, and, in short, proved a tremendous ambassador for Mississippi. He made me feel welcome.
As I came to learn more about the history of the community college system, I marveled at Dr. Davis' accomplishments in transforming EMCC from an institution that some would argue came perilously close to having its doors closed to one of the nation's fastest-growing community colleges.
I'm certain that Dr. Davis' extraordinary success as a college president can be attributed to, among other things, a high intellect, experience and unyielding determination, the latter of which was formerly evidenced as a standout high school and college football player and later as one of the state's foremost gridiron coaches. But most of all, I observed that Dr. Davis possessed a wonderful knack for building personal relationships. He did so with colleagues in education across the state and, indeed, the nation, and with legislators and community leaders.
Most important, he did so with students. My own son, Scotty, played football at EMCC two years. Dr. Davis and his lovely wife, Miss Rita, always took a personal interest in Scotty's progress as a student and athlete. They went out of their way to make him feel valued, just as they did all students at EMCC.
For the last two years, Dr. Davis served as chairman of the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC). He provided astute leadership during some of the most challenging times in the Association's history. Dr. Davis untiringly carried the banner for the community college system to the Capitol and across Mississippi, keenly raising the level of awareness as to the importance of the state's 15 two-year colleges in economic and community development. He did a superlative job as MACJC chairman.
There are so many more things I could write about Dr. Davis if space permitted things that have impressed me such as his being one of the Southeast's leading authorities on higher education accreditation issues and his knowledge of American and world literature. Dr. Davis is such a multi-faceted man, one who can explain how the triple option should be executed in one breath and quote Robert Frost in another.
Suffice it to say that the other day I wrote Dr. Rick Young, EMCC's new president, a congratulatory note. I reminded Dr. Young that I already had something in common with him, that is, following in the footsteps of an icon in the annals of Mississippi higher education. I humbly followed Dr. Bill Scaggs at Meridian, and Dr. Young will now have the opportunity to follow Dr. Tommy Davis.
Both Dr. Young and I are really lucky guys. We both have and will benefit from the legacy of great, visionary leaders. You don't "replace" such men; you simply try to build upon their good work.
Scott D. Elliott
President
Meridian Community College
Soap Box Derby has great run
First, let me begin by letting everyone know who wasn't at the recent Soap Box Derby what a great time you missed. I realize there were many things going on in Meridian over that weekend, but the Soap Box Derby had to be the best. What a great day and wonderful fun.
The heat and humidity were awful, but the children, parents, grandparents and friends had a ball. The parents who helped the children build the cars are to be commended and also the children for the wonderful sportsmanship conduct they showed.
But there are others who worked long hours to bring this into being. Mr. Danny Hill of H&H Specialties is the one that I must thank first. Without his hard work bringing this all together, the Derby would never have taken place. Then, there is Structural Steel and those wonderful ramps they donated for the race. Those ramps helped to keep things going smoothly and with no delays.
There are so many others to thank: the mayor for taking time to come out and ride a car down the hill; the police department for ensuring that the barrels placed at various streets did in fact keep the cars out. (On practice day, we had cars that ignored the barrels and were driving down the street with our race car participants shame on you).
Thank you also to the sheriff's department for providing the trusties to help load and unload the cars, and to all the volunteers who helped in many, many ways.
My granddaughter participated for the second time this year and had a ball, coming in fourth. She is looking forward to the race next year, along with her younger brother.
Again, thank you to so many who helped make this a truly memorable day for so many.
Vi McBride
Meridian
A tribute to a simple man
On Jan. 30, 2004, a simple man died. Webster's Dictionary defines "simple" as easy to understand, not elaborate or artificial, not complex or complicated, sincere.
A simple man served in World War II and almost lost his life. Just a farmer boy sent halfway around the world. He did not live to see the World War II monument of which he would have been so proud. A simple thank you was enough for him.
A simple man loved to go to the Fox Pen as long as he was able to hear the dogs run. He also would drive all the back roads looking for any kind of animal tracks.
No one could love his family more than this simple man. The grandchildren simply called him Pa. He could make any story come to life and the grandchildren loved to hear him tell those stories. He loved his wife. He bragged about how good she looked and how she could cook peas, biscuits and blackberry pie. Just simple food for a simple man who never complained about what he had to eat, just thankful for it. We could all learn a lesson from this simple man just be thankful.
Psalm 21:3-7: "Through the victories you gave, His glory is great; You have bestowed on Him splendor and majesty. Surely you have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence. For the King trusts in the Lord; though the unfailing love of the most high, He will not be shaken."
We write this in loving memory of Jack Clary, our father.
Janie James
Roy Clary
Meridian
Cemetery care
I am sure you are concerned about your loved ones at Elewood Cemetery on 10th Avenue and 24th Street. I want you to be informed that there is someone to clean off your loved one's plot for a reasonable price and you rest assured that the job will be well taken care of, as I know you want to but have a limited time to do so.
Here is the name and number of the person to take care of it for you: Clicero Turner, 632-4475.
Louise Torres
Meridian

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