Good job, Mr. Welch – we will miss you

Good job, Mr. Welch – we will miss you!

District Four Supervisor Manuel Welch announced his intention to retire from the seat he’s held since 1985 earlier in 2007. During the election cycle of late summer, several candidates ran very good campaigns to take his place in that district. Finally, after a hotly contested run-off election in mid-August, Kenneth Ray Powell earned enough votes to become  Dist. 4 Supervisor-elect.

My, what big shoes you must fill, Mr. Powell!

Supervisor Welch, who was the longest serving supervisor among his current peers, spent his days solving problems in the way that one would expect their elected officials to follow: with discernment, with efficiency and with tact. Never one to consider himself a politician, he has served the people of his district with passion. Welch proved himself to be a tenacious guardian of the people’s tax money to which he was charged with dispersing and has–through his actions–over years helped to ‘train’ new supervisors and help in their development.

Never one not to thoroughly investigate the impact of the board’s decisions before making up his own mind, Welch rarely–if ever–made his decisions in haste.

In matters of economic development, Welch has been involved in fostering such deals–through his role on the Board and it’s funding of Copiah County Economic Development District– as bringing Discount Auto Parts/Advance Auto and DG Foods to Copiah County Industrial Park, major expansions at Georgia Gulf in Gallman and Sanderson Farms processing in Hazlehurst. Many of the major economic development projects, road construction and upgrading projects and other significant ones have been  funded through federal and state grants during Welch’s service on the Board of Supervisors. And, he will tell you just as straightly, that there have been some mis-steps along the way and some ventures which could have been, but just weren’t able to get off the ground, in spite of the his and the board’s best efforts.

Now, as a man in the community, Welch is no different. He has earned the repect of not only those in his district (who have elected him to six consecutive terms) but from throughout Copiah County, Southwest Mississippi and in the Mississippi and federal governments. Welch, by all intents and purposes, has been a mover and a shaker for Copiah County. Furthermore, he has been a humble servant throughout.

We certainly hate to you go, Manuel. We thank you for your years of dedication to Copiah County and wish you the best of luck in your retirement.  Godspeed on your travels and other endeavors.

We welcome you, Mr. Powell, as our freshman supervisor in Copiah County. May you have learned from one of the best and have been as effective a public servant as your predecessor during your time. We also wish you the best of luck as you take over the reins in District 4. Thankfully and blessedly, the others who will be seated with you are serving Copiah County’s interest with as much passion as Mr. Welch, and we don’t expect the county to skip a beat.

‘Cheers’ to Mr. Welch for a job well done, and we’re looking forward to 2008!

Joe Buck Coates

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