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Movers & Shapers, September 2012

People making a difference in Cullman County

Billy Coleman, superintendent for the Cullman County School System.

Billy Coleman, superintendent for the Cullman County School System.

Billy Coleman

Coleman has served in education for almost 32 years as a teacher, coach, principal and now as superintendent for the Cullman County School System. As principal of West Point High School, Coleman was selected as Alabama’s “Outstanding Administrator” in 1999. He assumed his duties as superintendent in January of 2011.  Coleman has written two books, “Called to Live” and “He Always Holds Up the Heavy End” and has been an inspirational speaker for most of his life.

Leah Bolin

Bolin is interim president of the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce. A Cullman native, she has devoted much of her career to promoting her community. With a background in event coordinating, marketing and development, she started her own consulting firm, Southern Solutions, last year. She has hosted her own weekly television show, been a small business owner and has been an advisor and board member to several organizations and businesses. Her family’s southern rock band, Day’s Gap, performs at festivals, private venues and community events in the Cullman area.

Jason Grimmett

Grimmett is director of lease administration for Drinkard Development, which owns, develops and manages commercial properties, shopping centers and government buildings throughout the southeastern U.S. A former Alabama State Trooper, who was awarded state trooper of the year and recognized for making the highest number of drug arrests for three years, he also served as an auxiliary officer with the Cullman police department for four years. He is chairman of the Cullman County Industrial Development Board, a board member of the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce, a volunteer basketball coach and vice president of the Cullman Cyclone Youth Football Organization and member of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Masonic lodge as a master Mason.

Dale Greer

Greer is assistant director of the Cullman County Economic Development Agency. He also coordinates special projects for the office, including construction of a new dam and reservoir. He serves on the board of directors for the Cullman Park and Recreation Foundation Board, fundraising chairman for Cullman Rotary Club, president of Wallace State Alumni Association and the Region 2 Workforce Task Force.

Garlan Gudger Jr. 

Garlan Gudger Jr.

Gudger is the second-generation owner of Southern Accents Architectural Antiques Inc. in Cullman, one of the largest reclamation companies of its kind in the nation. He also is a commercial developer who restores and repurposes properties into productive businesses. He has served as president of the Cullman City Council since 2004, is a board member of Cullman Utilities, the Better Business Bureau of Cullman County and has served on the board of the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce, was past president of the Cullman County Historical Society and is a past team leader of Young Life. He also is an appraisal consultant for the Alabama Historical Commission. He is a member of Leadership Alabama Class of 2011. He is a board member of First Community Bank, and was named a “Hero of the New South” from Southern Living for rebuilding efforts after the April 27, 2011 tornadoes.

Jan Harris

Harris is superintendent of Cullman City Schools. A former math teacher, assistant principal and principal, she heads a system that consistently ranks in the top three school systems in the state, and ranks in the top 10 school systems in the state in college ACT scores and the SAT10 evaluation. She is the recipient of several awards, including The Cullman Times Outstanding Educator. She is author of The Principal’s Office: A Primer, A Guide to Balanced Leadership.

Vicki Hawsey

Hawsey is president of Wallace State Community College, Hanceville. Appointed in 2003, she was the school’s first female president. She introduced WSCC to the Learning College concept, which has transformed WSCC through its emphasis on student learning and success via evidence-based decision-making and use of technology to enhance teaching and learning. Wallace State is one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the state, has one of the highest graduation rates among Alabama’s and the nation’s two-year colleges and earns national accolades in several areas.

John Hunt

Hunt is director of parks and recreation for the city of Cullman. His experience includes managing a health club, activities coordinator in church recreation, youth director in military recreation, and, prior to his current position, youth athletic coordinator for the Dothan Department of Leisure Services. He earned the Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award from the National Recreation and Parks Association and the Cullman County Lucille Galin Public Service Award. For the last three years, he has led Cullman City Parks and Recreation to Gold Medal Finalist as one of the best park and recreation departments in the nation.

Jerry Lawson

Jerry Lawson

Lawson is lead pastor of Daystar Church, which began in 2002 with 100 members and has grown to 2,500. Daystar is the largest provider of food for the needy in North Alabama and offers adult education, job placement, parenting classes and family counseling. Lawson also has started several retail businesses to fund church programs, including Cullman Area Dream Center and the new Daystar Preschool and Child Care Center, which employs 25 and has 150 students daily. He also is president and CEO of 24toDouble.org, a training program for church leaders.

Charles NeSmith

NeSmith has been president and senior lending officer of Merchants Bank of Alabama in Cullman since 2006. He has served in executive and management positions in other banks in Alabama, including Community Bank in Oneonta, Citizens Bank in Moody and Central Bank of the South in Birmingham. He is current chair of the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce, past president and treasurer of the Cullman Rotary Club, a board member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a youth basketball coach. He also has served on several other community boards and organization, including the Cullman Regional Medical Center Foundation Board.

Jeremy Oden

Oden, a vice president at Eva Bank in Cullman, also has served as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives, District 11, representing Cullman and Morgan counties since 1998. He is owner of Oden Farms and is an ordained minister. He has worked with his family’s businesses, Delta Discount Corp. and Precious Collection Florist, and started Oden Lumber.

Tanya Shearer

Shearer is the liaison among the 17 partner groups of Cullman Area Workforce Solutions, which helps develop a qualified workforce to meet the current and future needs of industry in Alabama.  She coordinates the Keeping it Real program for ninth grade students throughout Cullman County and the Educator Exchange program between local industries and educators in Cullman schools.

Peggy S. Smith

Peggy S. Smith

Smith has served for more than 25 years as director of the Cullman Economic Development Agency. Her office assists with local industry expansion, new industry recruitment, retail development and special projects. She has served on the board of directors for the Alabama/Germany Partnership and the Alabama Agribusiness Council.

Max Townson

Townson is mayor of Cullman and is running for a second term. A Cullman native, he has served in the U.S. Air Force, worked in pharmaceutical sales, taught and coached at West Pont Junior High School. He is a former member of the Cullman City Board of Education and served on the Pilot Light House Board of Directors.

Jim Weidner

Weidner has served as president and CEO of Cullman Regional Medical Center since 2005. A former steel industry executive, he changed careers in 1993. Since Weidner came to Cullman, the hospital has received several national honors, including a Triple Gold from the American Heart Association for Coronary Artery Disease, Heart Failure and Stroke, a distinction only 14 other hospitals had achieved at that time. Community activities include the Good Samaritan Clinic, the Cullman Healthcare Coalition, Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce and the March of Dimes.

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