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Clarke County picks up the pieces

By By William F. West / community editor
Oct.14, 2002
QUITMAN Clarke County is in the midst of carrying out a strategic plan to help the area recover economically from a series of plant closures.
Early this year, Clarke County residents met and decided something had to be done after the shutdown of the Burlington Industries Stonewall plant left more than 800 people out of work.
In May, the county board of supervisors received a $100,000 grant from the state to develop a plan. The Meridian-based Montgomery Institute took the lead in helping the county through the planning process.
Bill Crawford, president of the Montgomery Institute, said his organization put together a partnership of Jones County Junior College, the Mid Mississippi Development District and Mississippi Power Co.
He said the partnership held many planning meetings; members met in every municipality and the communities of Carmichael and Snell.
Crawford emphasized the importance of bringing in people from outside the county to help solve its problems.
Crawford said that meetings began in January and took place every Thursday for about 10 weeks. By May, he said, goals were listed on paper and task forces were established.
The task forces focused on issues and items that ranged from business development to education, physical infrastructure and early childhood planning.
Crawford also said a task force has been assigned to prepare a history of Clarke County so citizens will know the story of their county.
Crawford said he continues to meet with task force chairmen and provide coaching when needed.