Workers set up their ladders next to the Kemper County Courthouse in DeKalb as they do painting and restoration work to the building to address detrition that has occurred over time. Plans are to do some work on the roof later in the year to address some leaks.
Workers set up their ladders next to the Kemper County Courthouse in DeKalb as they do painting and restoration work to the building to address detrition that has occurred over time. Plans are to do some work on the roof later in the year to address some leaks.
By Steve Swogetinsky

Kemper Messenger

         

Kemper County leaders recently held their third retreat in as many years to discuss mutual goals, problems and plan for the future.

The most recent meeting was in April. There were 18 leaders to participating in the third annual Kemper County Planning Retreat held at the EMCC Lion Hills campus in Columbus. These included representatives from the board of supervisors, town of DeKalb, town of Scooba, school district, EMCC, Chamber of Commerce and the EDA. Andy Portera and Steve Fair with the Portera Group were the facilitators for the retreat.

First on the agenda was a presentation on the importance of the 2020 Census. It was presented by Kyra Roby, a Partnership Specialist with the Census Bureau. Following her presentation, the group was given an update on the county budget and the In Lieu of agreement between Kemper County and Mississippi Power.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent reviewing goals from last year's retreat and acknowledging accomplishments and short comings.

The following day, the group heard from Susan Morgan on the EMCC S2S program that she oversees. There was also a report from EMCC President Scott Alsobrooks.

Portera and Steve Fair shared from their experiences of working throughout the Southeast Region on what it takes to have success in economic development.

The remainder of the time was spent setting goals for the coming year that included continuing efforts on previous activities as well as some new opportunities.

The retreat was sponsored by the Kemper County Economic Development Authority.

“This was our third retreat,” Craig Hitt, executive director of the EDA, said. “We have made progress keeping the group together, primarily, and having the interest to come together and work together.

“We have been able to focus on somethings, identifying opportunity for growth and economic development as well as focusing on educational issues.”

A “to do list” was developed at the end of the program. That included:

-  Looking for ways for the Kemper County School District to collaborate with East Mississippi Community College

- Having Hitt meet with existing industries to see what needs they might have;

- Creating a regular council of government meeting to discuss issues;

- Finding ways to create more student internships; and,

- Finding ways to make Kemper County a S2S “Work Ready” community.

“S2S stands for Steps to Success,” Hitt said. “It is a program where people 16 to 24 years of age who are not enrolled in school, can come in (at EMCC) and do some work keys testing with the college. They get some tutoring if need be. Then they go through soft skills training and are placed in an internship here in the county for eight weeks. It has been really successful and the community has really bought into it.”