The pleasure of saluting the Coast’s finest

South Mississippi may have its challenges to face, but Friday morning’s community and business leader awards breakfast at the Beau Rivage demonstrated once again that we’ve got the leadership resources to tackle them.

Ten community leaders, including Coast Electric’s Ron Barnes, Coast Coca-Cola division manager Dirk Barrient, Northrop-Grumman general manager Irwin Edenzon, Peoples Bank vice president Ann Guice, attorney Hugh Keating, Mississippi Power area manager Tommy Murphy, CPA Christy Pickering, WLOX-TV sales manager Linda Sherman, Singing River Health System chief operations officer Lynn Truelove and Mississippi Department of Marine Resources director Dr. William Walker were honored at the event.

Their community leadership records and those of more than 30 other nominees are impressive, especially when you realize they have full-time jobs and families. The awards recognize what they do in their “spare time.”

Ten young business leaders, including Boys & Girls Clubs director Sam Burke, Wetlands Solutions’ Jessica Crosby, Area Health Education Center assistant director Stacey Curry, attorney Jim Farrell, attorney Julie Gresham, Gulf Coast Community Foundation program manager Jay Huffstatler, Mississippi Power Co. Jackson County manager Jason Lee, Garden Park Medical Center CEO Tim McManus, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College vice president Dr. Jason Pugh, and Mississippi Power economic development director Arnie Williams were also honored at the breakfast, which is sponsored annually by the Sun Herald and the Journal of South Mississippi Business.

If you want to know more about them, visit the online Roland Weeks Leadership Hall of Fame at in two weeks. You’ll find this year’s honorees along with previous winners.

Before the awards were presented, former Biloxi mayor and Katrina housing director Gerald Blessey addressed the group, outlined his vision for a better South Mississippi and challenged these community and business leaders to pick up the torch and make it happen. (The text of his remarks is also available at

Blessey’s vision is exciting and his challenge a tough one.

But looking at the level and volume of leadership skills represented by the nominees and winners for the past several years, South Mississippi has the ability to meet the challenge.

If only South Mississippians have the will.

We congratulate the winners and all the nominees. And encourage them to keep Blessey’s challenge on their agenda.

This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board, which consists of President-Publisher Glen Nardi, Vice President and Executive Editor Stan Tiner, Opinion Page Editor B. Marie Harris, Associate Editor Tony Biffle, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Flora S. Point and Marketing Services Director John McFarland. Opinions expressed by letter writers, columnists and cartoonists are their own.

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