Grayson speaks about our own backyard at chamber banquet

ABERDEEN – The long stretches of pavement and gravel roads “Mississippi Roads” host Walt Grayson’s eyes have seen have shown as much prosperity as they have simplicity. There’s a similarity between the two in a string of tiny towns you’ve never heard of before and a host of bigger cities where you love to go.

RAY VAN DUSEN/MONROE JOURNAL MISSISSIPPI ROADS – Broadcast journalist and television host Walt Grayson treated guests of the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce banquet to a host of stories when he served as keynote speaker at the March 4 event.

RAY VAN DUSEN/MONROE JOURNAL
MISSISSIPPI ROADS – Broadcast journalist and television host Walt Grayson treated guests of the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce banquet to a host of stories when he served as keynote speaker at the March 4 event.

Before launching into a host of simple stories about his life and travels through Mississippi, Grayson hinted at that concept after six awards were given out to to industrial, entrepreneur and kind-hearted spirits from across our little corner of the state.
“It’s a joy when you have a community so high on itself. I love coming to an awards ceremony when it’s mentioned that it was so hard to pick a winner. Those are the places we love to come to with the show,” Grayson said.
The notable broadcast journalist and author spoke to a packed crowd March 4 as part of the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce’s annal banquet.
Born and raised in the Delta, the Greenville native was no stranger to these parts even as a child.
“My family would take several trips down dirt roads and on highways to get all the way from the westside of the state near the Mississippi River to my grandmother’s house in Itawamba County just 10 miles from Alabama,” Grayson said.
He joked about being confused as a six-year-old trying to verbally differentiate between Amory and its armory on Highway 25 and the dedication of the Smithville Police Department after finally getting a chance to pass a car after the frustration of miles of winding highway north of Bull Mountain bridge.
“I’ve always loved coming through this part of the country. It’s truly like a trip to my grandmother’s house,” Grayson said.
After stories of how he eventually came to marry his junior high sweetheart and work his way up in television, Grayson left the attendees with words of wisdom.
“The difference between living mediocre and successful lives is finding a plan and sticking with it. Time is going to pass either way so we may as well give these plans time to work their courses,” Grayson said.
Grayson’s words mirrored that of what the Monroe County of Chamber strives to continue. The chamber has stuck with its plan and helped net 920 new jobs for the county in return during the past 48 months.
According to chamber executive director Tony Green, Monroe County ranks fourth in the CREATE Foundation’s 16 county region in job growth.
“We’re excited about Toyota and everything coming into Columbus and we’re right here in the middle,” Green said.
As outgoing chairman Carter Naugher said, the chamber has laid out three primary goals with its plan.
“We want to find out what you expected and if we’re looking toward the same goals. We’re making sure you realize the success we’ve achieved and we’re maintaining effective communication. This chamber belongs to you, the citizens of Monroe County and it can’t be successful without you,” Naugher said.
Naugher passed the torch to incoming chairman John Allmond.
“We’re trying to utilize our talent by trying to set the course and stepping aside so they can run it. Quality of life is important, too, and we’re trying to steer the course,” Allmond said.
Kathy Seymour of the South Monroe County Community Fund stated this year’s silent auction at the banquet was the most profitable to date, which will help secure more funding for the SMCCF’s next round of grants.

2013 Monroe County Chamber of Commerce award winners:
Business of the Year – Bender’s Auto Parts
Industry of the Year – Axiall
Entrepreneur of the Year – Respiratory and Diabetes Care Center
Volunteers of the Year – Amory Humane Society and Aberdeen Animal Shelter
Community Focus Award – Fred Robinson
Community Leadership Award – Gilmore Early Learning Initiative

About Ray Van Dusen

I've been with the Monroe Journal since Aug. 2009 as a staff writer, but took the role as news editor in late 2012. I'm always looking for interesting story ideas from around Monroe County. You can reach me via email at ray.vandusen@journalinc.com.