Sunday, June 01, 2008

First Class

(Red Bay, AL) I was in this very neat town in northwest Alabama on Friday night to speak for a community event sponsored by the Community Spirit Bank. The bank is celebrating their 100th year of being in business this year. The city of Red Bay celebrated their 100th year anniversary last year.

Since I get to meet a lot of folks traveling around to all corners of Main Street USA, it doesn’t take me long to size up people. Billy Bolton, who is the Chairman, President and CEO of Community Spirit Bank, takes his community spirit seriously. Not only does he head up the bank but he also is a former mayor. And according to some folks I talked to Friday night, he got as much done for their city as any mayor they ever had.

On this Friday night his bank invited the merchants of the county to a celebration dinner. About 250 Franklin County residents from towns like Russellville, Vina, Hodges, Phil Campbell and Belgreen showed up. And take it from a banquet veteran, this was a first class event.

Not only was there more food than one could eat, Mrs. Bolton personally baked 20 very delicious cakes for this event. It was very obvious this was not her first cake baking assignment.

The event was held at a beautiful facility in downtown Red Bay called the Arts and Entertainment Center. This is not your normal small town community center. The inside looks like the banquet facilities at a five star hotel. The building consists of a banquet room that seats 200, a Garden Room that seats 30 and a theater that seats over 170 people. Three times a year their local fine arts council hosts plays featuring local residents on the stage. Thousands of folks, not only from Franklin County but from surrounding counties and states have enjoyed these plays.

And you guessed it – the Community Spirit Bank owns the building. When they purchased the building several years ago it was an old movie theater and bowling alley. Through the foresight of Mr. Bolton and his Chief Operating Officer, Pat Nelson, it was turned into a first class place that could be used by the community.

If there was ever a bank that is named correctly, it would be Community Spirit Bank headquartered in Red Bay Alabama. Billy Bolton and his team may be the most community oriented organization I’ve seen yet.

For those of you wondering, Red Bay Alabama is alive and well. And I have a strong feeling that at least some of the credit for that goes to Billy Bolton and the Community Spirit Bank.

These are first class folks in a first class town.

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