Community's power is in its business, civic leadership
You should have been there for the history lesson and for the celebration that helped those attending to better understand Decatur's roots.
Former Decatur resident and former Alabama governor, Albert Brewer, did his homework before coming home to be the keynote speaker at the annual Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce meeting Tuesday night.
He gave perspective to how local civic leaders took the lead in pulling the county out of the Great Depression and overcoming the closing of the L&N railroad shop that crippled the economy.
Civic and business leaders created markets for local grain, built a cheese factory to buy farmers' milk and opened a slaughterhouse to create jobs.
Over and over, he talked about the civic and business leadership that joined hands with the Tennessee Valley Authority to change things. He said today's civic leaders reap the fruit and drink from the wells of their forebears.
Mr. Brewer was governor from 1968 to 1971 following the death of Gov. Lurleen Wallace and went on to get landmark legislation through the Legislature. He was lieutenant governor at the time of her death.
While the speech was made to order for a Chamber gathering, it was a pep talk for our civic and business leaders. It was encouragement for them to make something good happen.
The chamber also gave its highest award, the Athylene C. Banks Decatur-Morgan County Citizen of the Year Award, to civic and business leader Jimmy Smith. That, too, was part of the history lesson because of Mr. Smith's many years of involvement in his community. Certainly, he helps carry on what those earlier leaders started.
The Chamber awarded its Rosie Hennessy Award for Commodore of the Year to Linda Robinson for her participation in Chamber activities. Commodores provide a vital service to the community.
The annual meeting is the time to change leadership and to tout the past year's accomplishments. Chairman Terry Roche reflected on the Chamber's role in bringing the Target complex to Decatur, its involvement in the campaign to recruit BRAC families to live in Decatur, workforce development and its support of the public school system.
He had a good year, on which his successor Donnie Lane pledged to build.
Again, Gov. Brewer talked from his experiences of growing up in Decatur and spoke to today's leaders: "You are planting the fruit trees and digging the wells for those who will come after. Can there be a more noble calling?"
Answering the call to civic duty is indeed noble. Our city's history proves it so.