By Matthew Breazeale
The Star Herald
Keynote speaker for the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce banquet was all about "trash" talk April 26.
Central District Commissioner for the Mississippi Department of Transportation Dick Hall addressed business and government heads from around the county on aesthetics and roadwork.
"For the life of me I can not understand why people casually throw some trash out the window of their vehicle," said Hall. "Some people who'd do that would say I guess 'Well, what's the big deal? It's just a little trash.' "
Hall cited a study that proposed littered and neglected neighborhoods tend to attract crime.
"The Mississippi Department of Transportation spends over two million dollars of your tax money every year dealing with litter," continued Hall.
"The good news is we have Sheriff Willie March helping us."
"We have a program where the sheriff of a county will agree with us," said Hall, "we have memorandum of understanding, that he will furnish a certain number of convicts, prisoners, for a certain number of days to pick up trash on our highways."
"A win-win deal," said Hall, a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi State Alum and an ex-officer in U.S. Army Field Artillery.
"Frankly, people like to see prisoners out working. They have it in the back of their mind that if they're not out there working they're in a bunk somewhere watching television," said Hall.
Hall said Mississippi ranks 16th in the nation for best highways.
"Number one in the mid-south," said Hall who is serving his fourth full term as central district transportation commissioner.
"You get in you vehicle and drive in any direction you want to go...you will leave a better highway than the state you're going into."
The first paved road built in Mississippi was in Leake County, 1914, according to Hall.
"So, where do we go from here and how does it affect people in Holmes County," said Hall.
"We still have some holes in our system, we still have highways to build and many more miles to maintain."
Outgoing Chamber President Pam Killebrew, vice-president of BankPlus in Durant, presented Wayne Bowling, general manager of Hunter Engineering in Durant, with the chamber gavel assuming the role of president.
"Holmes County has a lot to be proud of," said Bowling. "As president I want to bring the same enthusiasm that I carry throughout every aspect of the rest of my life into Holmes County Chamber of Commerce."
Bowling said he hopes to work toward a more favorable economic climate for businesses large and small to come into Holmes County.
"I look at Holmes County and we are sitting right here on (Interstate 55)," said Bowling. "We got Holmes Community College right here."
Bowling also cited 201 full-time employees and an increasing sales volume at Hunter Engineering as signs of economic prosperity for Holmes County.