Good food, good music, good speakers, a few laughs — it was all there at the UCDA annual meeting. It may be a trite saying, but a really ‘good time was had by all.’ The Union County Development Association Annual Banquet was Monday night, April 27th, at the New Albany Middle School cafeteria.
The New Albany High School Jazz Band played jazz and pop standards as the members and guests arrived and played throughout dinner. Anita Alef’s culinary class from the high school prepared the meal — roasted chicken breast with a sweet and savoury glaze, a pasta and vegetable salad, a light dessert and, of course, the signature drink of the American South: strong, sweet iced tea. Few plates were not eaten clean.
The main speaker for the event was former Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed, Jr., who was introduced by New Albany attorney and businessman Bill Rutledge. Reed talked about the role of government, saying the need is for right, effective government, not necessarily smaller government. He pointed out that there are some public needs that only government can provide. “When there’s a fire you want a fire truck to come,” he said.
Reed said that while he was mayor in Tupelo he shocked some Tea Party advocates who tried to get him to sign a “no tax increase” pledge. He refused to sign it. They expressed amazement because they had already persuaded many Mississippi mayors to sign the thing. He said he told them that if, for example, something catastrophic happened to the city’s sewer system, he would raise taxes as needed to meet a compelling need. ” I am proud to be a moderate,” Reed said.
Anne Stephens, a New Albany businesswoman, philanthropist and busy volunteer, was honored as UCDA Citizen of the Year. The award was presented by Dr. Tommy Barkley, a New Albany physician and UCDA board member. Members of Citizen of the Year’s family had traveled here from as far away as South Carolina to witness her receiving the award, a surprise to the honoree, but not to her children.
UCDA Executive Assistant Joanne Cousar Lesley was recognized from the dais for her tireless and effective work for the association. Among many other duties she has responsibility for planning and managing the annual banquet.
Outgoing UCDA President Gary Cooper was praised and thanked for his service.
Businessman Rusty Berryhill was installed as the association’s new president. Attorney Bob Cornelius, David Joiner of Joiners Cleaning Service and Aubrey Blakemore of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi were elected and installed as new board members
Decorations for the event were provided by the Pilot Club of New Albany.