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Supes appoint Lawrence to CVB board


Garthia Elena Burnett



The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors appointed a retired teacher to the Columbus-Lowndes County Convention and Visitors Bureau on Friday. 


District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks planned to nominate David Sanders, Columbus attorney and brother of District 1 Supervisor and Board President Harry Sanders. David Sanders also is a former CVB board member. But the supervisors denied, 3-2, Brooks'' request to use the nomination process for the appointment. 


In past appointments, such as appointing Scott Colom an interim justice court judge in March, the board agreed to take nominations. 


Harry Sanders made the motion to appoint Rissa Lawrence to the board; Lawrence gained the appointment with four supervisors voting in favor. 


Brooks did not vote on the matter and left the boardroom after his motion to take nominations failed. 


The CVB appointment actually was near the end of the agenda, but Brooks asked to have the item moved up, since he had to leave the meeting early. 


Brooks said he had promised David Sanders he would nominate him for the position and wanted to "be a man of my word." 


"I think she is very well qualified," Harry Sanders said of Lawrence. "She is a retired math teacher from Columbus High School, a lifelong resident of Lowndes County, she grew up here. She was head of the (math) department at Columbus High. She''s been very active in the historic renovation of downtown Columbus, and she had an interest in (serving on the CVB board.) It''s hard to find people who will volunteer their time to do this." 


Additionally, Lawrence, who lives in Caledonia, can represent the interests of northern Lowndes County, which previously had no representation on the board though its restaurant dollars help fund the CVB, he pointed out. 


"I just felt like someone from the county needed to be on the board to represent the county since it is the entire county, not just Columbus proper," Lawrence said, noting she has a knack for "level-headed decision making." 


Rissa Lawrence is the wife of former Caledonia Mayor Bill Lawrence. 


Harry Sanders also said he wanted new faces on the CVB board. 


"I really think it''s time for some new blood in the CVB board," he said. "After they''ve been on there for long periods of time, it''s time to have some new energy, some new blood, new ideas. And the old board got us into some trouble. We had to go to the Legislature. They weren''t following their own charter." 


Legislation to increase the Columbus CVB board from six to nine members was approved by Gov. Haley Barbour, April 26. 


The law also expands the scope of the CVB, so it is able to legally fund an array of events. The legislation makes clear that the CVB can support community events like Columbus Mayor Robert Smith''s unity picnic and includes a subsection allowing the CVB to contribute up to 15 percent of the local tourism tax to the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link. 


Lawrence will serve a four-year term, beginning May 15. 





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