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Development Commission History

Hazel Wells Tyson
Washington County News

Holmes County Development Commission was formed in 1961 at a time when Holmes County was somewhat like it is today, underdeveloped, under-employed and losing population. Today, we aren’t losing population, but some of the same problems still remain. Don’t lose heart. Things are on the move. However, you will have to wait for some big announcements coming out in the next week or two and you won’t hear it from me.

As the cartoon the student at Bethlehem High School drew about history teacher Mr. Manuel a long time ago, “all i can give you (today) is history.” I will tell you that the commission has a new director, Joe Rone, who shared a lot of information about the formation of the HCDC and a lot of its activities since 1961.

The Holmes County Development Commission was enabled to be established through the passage of House Bill Number1593. Membership is made up of a member from each of the county commission districts and two members from the county at large. In addition each county commissioner appoints one from his (or her) district making the total membership twelve people. Exofficio members include the Mayor of Bonifay, the Chairman of the County Commission and the President of the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce.

The enabling legislation had become void due to the decline in population. Thus the new act allowed the incorporation of some desirable features including the addition of five new members and the assistance of the County Commision in providing office space and a secretary. Office space is provided now in the log cabin, the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce building on Byrd Ave. The office secretary is Madison Collins (Chamber Number 547 4682)

The Commission was organized in September of 1960 with Mrs Brooks Padgett (Marie) Chairman and Mr. Don E. Treadwell vice-chairman and secretary. Membership included Mrs. Mozellle Shepherd, Mr. Wayne O. Manning, Mr. Ralph Watford, Mr. J.E. Bush and Mr. Morris Brown. Staggered terms were arranged so as to provide continuity of operations.

The Commission was given the authority to acquire, hold, and dispose of personal property; to enter contracts; to acquire in its own name real property, easements, and etc.; to construct buildings; and many other broad powers too many to list here. (see document at the Chamber office to learn the scope of powers assigned to the Commission.

The committee assignments reads like a list of Bonifay and Holmes County’s “Who’s Who.” The only living members of committees that I know are John Brownell, Jack Tison and Carlton Treadwell. There may be others that I don’t know.

The Develop Commission is ON THE JOB, and many things are happening with more to come. As of today, Extreme Boats is under new management and has moved its operation to the HCDC site on East Hwy 90 in two of the new buildings you see there. They are now manufacturing boats that reach a world-wide market. Right now 13 locals are employed and they expect to go up to 25. Weather King Portable Buildings, a national company that builds portable buildings for a national market is also ready to start production and will be hiring local labor in the near future. Another good prospect was negotiating yesterday to use or build a building for a world class communication business out on Development property on Highway 90.

In addition to working to bring industry to Holmes County, the Commission is supporting Doctors Memorial Hospital’s efforts to sustain our hospital. Director Joe Rone and JoAnn Baker, Hospital Administrator are positive that our beautiful hospital is on financially secure grounds and hope to squelch rumors of its impending closure. The commission is also cooperating with the City Fathers in the planned “Downtown Improvement, as well as the Highway 79 Corridor Interlocal Agreement with Washington County.

There is optimism like I haven’t seen since the formation of the Holmes County Industrial Commission in 1965 when 2 clothing factories eventually came to Bonifay. We as citizens need to think and talk positively, support our local leaders, and believe that we are on the edge of positive changes in our town and county. Let us join our Holmes County Development Commission and be part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

Members include: Ricky Callahan, Chm, Doyle Majors, George Robertson, Brian Shultz, Rhonda Sapp, Kenneth Capps, Lance Medley, Jeremy Rolling, Russell Cole, Lee Ann Sharon, Rhonda Byrd-Lee,, and Judy Powell.