Leadership Shelby County Class of 2020 makes graduation official

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

The wait was longer than 2020 itself—but on Wednesday, April 14, the Leadership Shelby County Class of 2020 finally got to celebrate their graduation in a ceremony held at Columbiana’s Black Box Theatre.

Emerging from one of the most difficult years in the county’s history, members of the 2020 Leadership class recounted their accomplishments in spite of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Projects included trail signage in the city of Pelham, plans for a family-friendly rodeo event, and efforts to educate the community about mental health.

Aimee Barnes said Group 1 worked with Pelham Parks & Recreation and Alabama Graphics to install signage along Pelham’s trails, which focused on the history of the land and the families who donated it.

“We really hope as the trail continues to grow, more signs can be added to help with local pride and community connections,” said Barnes, the group’s spokesperson.

Group 2 partnered with American Legion Matthew Blount Post 555 of Pelham to create a space for families to hold a rodeo.

The inaugural event was slated to take place March 22-26, 2020, but obviously was canceled due to the pandemic. However, the group laid the groundwork for a future event to take place.

“It was a great opportunity for us to be able to come together,” said Group 2 spokesperson Martina Winston.

Group 3 worked with Central Alabama Wellness and other groups to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. They created a rack card with information to connect people with helpful resources, and coordinated “Be Well Shelby” and “Be Well Chilton” events in Shelby and Chilton counties. The events, which were rescheduled for 2021, have featured nearly 40 vendors and kid-friendly activities.

Richard Fallin of Group 3 said many people wait too long to seek help for mental health issues, and when challenges like the recent tornadoes come along, it gets put on the back burner.

“It is not a shameful thing to have to have help,” Fallin said.

The Leadership Class of 2020 was the last class with Carol Bruser serving as executive director, and Kendall Williams was announced as the incoming executive director. Williams said she was impressed that each of the three groups made their presentations before last year’s economic shutdown.

Following are members of the Leadership Shelby County Class of 2020:

Group 1: Doug Adair, Aimee Barnes, Floyd Collins, Crystal Etheredge, Peter Folmar, Brandy Hamilton, Grant Howard, Tamara Lewis, Kirk Mancer, Stacy Rakestraw, Jonathan Wilbourn and Casey Wilson.

Group 2: David Arias, Donna Bowles, Brad Davis, Gretchen DiFante, Stuart Griffin, Briana Harris Wilson, Daniel Listi, Daniel McBrayer, Amiee Mellon, Jamie Reed, Bryant Turner, Joel West and Martina Wilson.

Group 3: David Calhoun, Leah Eagle, Richard Fallin, Lynne Fountain, John Haggard, Latanza Harrison, Christy Hayes, Bobby Madison, Kyle Mims, Jason Myrick, Kira Thomas and Trey Woodrow.