Local business professionals learn about area, leadership skills
by Patrick McCreless
May 06, 2013 | 5488 views |  0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Leadership Calhoun County participants listen to Chris Wright of Rock 105.9 speaking. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
Leadership Calhoun County participants listen to Chris Wright of Rock 105.9 speaking. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
As an Anniston native, Jessica McCauley had considered herself quite knowledgeable about her community.

In recent months, however, her assumption has been challenged.

McCauley, marketing officer for Noble Bank and Trust in Anniston, was one of more than 30 area business professionals who visited The Star on Monday to learn about media through the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce's leadership building and education program. Called Leadership of Calhoun County, the months-long program gives participants firsthand knowledge of various aspects of the area while teaching leadership skills they can use to improve their businesses and community.

"I have seen things that I had no idea about ... I had never been out to the CDP and seen anything like that," McCauley said, referring to the Center for Domestic Preparedness training at McClellan.

McCauley said she learned leadership skills through team-building exercises early on in the program.

"We physically pushed ourselves," she said. "We had to put our heads together to achieve our goal."

Haley Gregg, program development coordinator for the chamber, said the program is currently in its 28th year and lasts from September through mid-May. More than 800 people have already graduated from the program, Gregg said.

"We get groups of business people to know Calhoun County on a whole different level," Gregg said. "It really opens your eyes."

Gregg said the program allows residents to learn about different aspects of the community, from industry and health care to local government. This year the program included a day teaching participants about local media. The 30-plus group packed inside a room at The Star and learned about the process of producing a local newspaper, from news gathering to business advertising, printing and delivery.

Bob Davis, editor and associate publisher at The Star, who spoke to the group, said that above all else, the paper wants to be trustworthy.

"If you believe what's in the newspaper, that's a big hurdle that's been crossed," Davis said.

Ben Cunningham, managing editor at The Star, talked to the group about the paper's efforts to correct mistakes as soon as possible. He encouraged all readers to report a mistake to a reporter as soon as they see one.

"We employ human beings and they make mistakes," Cunningham said. "We work with our reporters after a mistake occurs to prevent that same kind of mistake from happening again."

Keith Colbert, director of community activity at the Anniston Army Depot, said he learned much about the community and leadership participating in the program. Originally from Pensacola, has only been living in the area and working at the depot since 2012.

"This was a great opportunity for me as an outsider," Colbert said. "For me, the best thing was meeting all the leaders in the area ... getting the experience of all the leaders in the community and learning what they are doing."

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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