Gala organizers thankful for help

Published 9:51 am Friday, March 2, 2012

by Holt and Judy Livesay

We’re so very glad the nearly 400 who attended the Franklin 50th Anniversary Gala on Feb. 17 enjoyed the party.

We did too, and the feedback has been very complimentary. It was a lot of work, but we think it was well worth it.

While we don’t want any more publicity personally — so many people have told us how much they enjoyed “our” party — we would love to communicate to others the hard work and dedication and teamwork of our committee members and others who did so much during the past year to bring about a fitting celebration of Franklin’s 50th Anniversary.

Our committee worked together as well as any I have ever witnessed. It seemed that whatever opportunity or idea the committee wanted to pursue, someone was familiar with the process and took the responsibility to get it done.

Our committee members were Teresa Beale, Bambi and Jim Councill, Pam Ellis, Dan Howe, Clyde Parker, Nancy Parrish, Victor Story, Diane Tobin, Luresa Tyler and Kathy Worrell in addition to the two of us.

In the early stages of our activity, we received several contributions from interested individuals, which assisted greatly with the initial funding.

The sub-committee that took care of the preparations for the Feb. 17 party included Ellis, Parrish, Tyler and Worrell, with some help from others.

I think all the members were at the Regional Workforce Development Center that Friday afternoon decorating and “setting up,” but those four were the planners and managers. Diane Tobin visited merchants and obtained 20 great door prizes for the Gala, and we thank the donors for their generosity.

Starting early in the year, Bambi Councill and Beale worked on identifying the City’s 50-year-plus businesses, organizations and churches. We presented each with a commemorative certificate and window sticker, which Bambi Councill obtained. Victor Story made the stickers.

Bambi Councill also took charge of having welcome signs painted and put up at three of Franklin’s main highway entrances. Story made and erected those signs.

Howe and Parker got the commemorative T-shirts produced for us in the summer; Ace Hardware, Franklin-Southampton County Area Chamber of Commerce, Cofield’s Auto, Downtown Franklin Association, Fred’s restaurant, Habitat ReStore and Simply Devine sold them.

Throughout the year, Parker researched and wrote about what was going on in Franklin 50 years ago, which your newspaper graciously printed. And The Tidewater News helped us frequently with publicity and advertising.

Bambi Councill arranged our participation in the Christmas Parade, along with help from Story and the loan of an antique automobile from Ray Smith.

Along with her many other contributions to the committee’s work, Parrish put together the handsome printed programs that were given to people attending the Gala. And when I say “put together,” that included typing the 19 pages of Franklin’s history contained in the back half of those programs.

And as if she weren’t busy enough — Parrish does actually hold down a full-time job — she wrote and published (and sold, with several re-orders) a Franklin cookbook during the year.

Not an official committee member but certainly a good friend, Susan Duke with Prime Media was a huge help by assisting with the television publicity for the Gala. And another friend, Mike Clark and WLQM radio, was a great booster.

We need to recognize Mayor Jim Councill for soliciting sponsors. Major sponsors were Dominion Virginia Power, International Paper, Prime Media, BB&T, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, SunTrust Bank, Bronco Federal Credit Union, Manry-Rawls Insurance, Southampton Memorial Hospital, The Tidewater News, WLQM Radio and Birdsong Peanuts.

There were nearly 20 other sponsors.

Through sponsors, we will be able to donate several thousand dollars to the Franklin Boys & Girls Club. They are the ultimate beneficiary of the party.

And speaking of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, the company sent three coffeemakers and various coffees for a complimentary coffee bar. Jerie Lankford and Betty Howe were hostesses.

Selling tickets for us were DFA, Chamber of Commerce, Fred’s, The Village at Woods Edge, Franklin’s City Hall and the Bronco Federal Credit Union, which also donated publicity with its electronic signage.

And last but far from least, the DFA was crucial to our yearlong efforts. This was not a DFA project, even though Howe was an active committee member.

We received no funding from the DFA or the City. But the DFA — in large measure Jerie Lankford — kept the books, handled the funds, wrote the checks, and served as the nerve center for the committee.

We’re certain we have left somebody out that contributed mightily to the success of the year, and we can only blame advancing age and failing memory as excuses and offer our apologies.

Holt and Judy Livesay served as chairs for the Franklin 50th Anniversary Gala and can be reached at