DRAFFENVILLE – The third class of the Leadership Marshall County program celebrated completion of the program at the monthly Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting Wednesday at Majestic House.
The program consists of nine one-day or overnight sessions from September through May, each focusing on some aspect of the fabric of life in Marshall County. This year’s program included education, law, local government and health care, state government, transportation, tourism and economic development as subjects.
The common theme sounded by the nine graduates was how much they learned about their community.
“It’s an eye-opening experience,” commented Tom Maher, manager of the Draffenville branch of US Bank.
Bruce Akin, a loan officer for First Kentucky Bank, added, “If you’re new to the community, there’s not a better way to learn who does what.”
Natives and long-time Marshall County residents found some of the same benefits in their participation in the program.
“We took for granted ... how much the plants mean to our community,” said Crystal Ethridge, a consumer loan officer for Lake Chem Community Federal Credit Union whose father worked at one of the Calvert City plants when she was growing up.
Other participants included Mark Olson, plant manager for Gerdau Steel; John Moon, Pella Corp.; Amber Joiner, Lake Chem Community FCU; Wes Smith, technology coordinator for Marshall County Library; Brian Harper, principal of South Marshall Middle School; and Ron Schwartz of Kemper Technology Consultants.
The program opened with a retreat at Crossings at Jonathan Creek in September and included visits to several schools in the Marshall County system; the Benton National Guard Armory; Marshall County Exceptional Center; the county judicial building, district court, sheriff’s department and 911 dispatch, and detention center; county road department, EMS, Property Valuation office, recycling center, health department and hospital and ambulance service, and Calvert City Hall, plus visits with local news media, including the Tribune-Courier.
The group also met with area tourism officials and Benton-based FLW Outdoors, the Silver Trail Distillery, Moor’s Resort and attractions such as Maggie’s Jungle Golf, Forgotten Past, Kentucky Shores, plus Kentucky Dam Village State Park and Kentucky Dam, with a tour of its hydroelectric generating facility, and a driving tour of the Calvert City industrial complex, with a tour of Gerdau Steel.
The schedule also included trips to the Kentucky State Penitentiary at Eddyville, the state capitol in Frankfort and Paducah’s River Discovery Museum, the VMV Paducahbilt railroad shop, state District 1 transportation department and Barkley Regional Airport.
Debbie Buchanan said the purpose of the program is to identify and develop leadership potential in the community.
A similar program was previously held in Marshall County in the 1990s, Buchanan said, and it was revived in 2011.