Spotlight on Coffee, Dale & Geneva: Movers & Shapers

The individuals who help shape the communities of Coffee, Dale and Geneva counties

Trae Avant is a State Farm agent in Ozark, opening his business in 2016. He is a member of the Ozark Rotary Club, president of the board of Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Alabama; chair elect of the Wiregrass United Way board and a board member with Dale Medical Center, Dale County Ag-Plex and Dale County United Way. A Brewton native, Avant is a graduate of T.R. Miller High School and the University of Alabama.


Ben Baker is superintendent of Dale County Schools. He and his team have led the Dale County system to honors as the highest achieving county school system in the state, based on state and federal Report Cards, and numerous other state and national awards. Baker is a graduate of Ariton High School and Troy University. He volunteers with the Wiregrass United Way, is a member of the Ozark Rotary Club, and is an avid supporter of Vivian B. Adams School and the Southeast Alabama Boys Home.

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Terry Barnes, a registered Professional Engineer, is director of operations for Southeast Gas Central and Western divisions, overseeing operations and maintenance facilities in Andalusia, Brundidge, Daleville, Elba, Enterprise, Fort Deposit, Greenville, Luverne, Montgomery, Opelika, Opp, Ozark, Pike Road and Troy. Prior to his career with Southeast Gas, Barnes worked for seven years for CDG Engineers as a project engineer and project manager.


Mark Blankenship is mayor of Ozark. He previously served on the Ozark City Council and on the Dale County Commission. He has volunteered and served for many organizations over the years including the Wiregrass United Way Board, Ozark Boys and Girls Club Board, Ozark Downtown Committee, Dale County Performing Arts Board and the Friends of Fort Rucker.



Nicky Bull is an attorney in Ozark and serves as municipal judge in Ozark and Clayhatchee and prosecuting attorney in Daleville. Earlier, he worked in the broadcast industry and as a teacher. He serves as president of the Ozark City Board of Education, the Dale County Bar Association, the Dale County Court Services Board and the Dale County Republican Party. He also serves on the boards of Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Alabama, Wish Upon a Star Performing Arts Co., Dale County Children’s Policy Council and the Mary Hill Family Service Center.

Danny Dicus is president of ALFAB Inc., a metal fabricating company in Enterprise. He began as a material handler loading and unloading trucks, then as a metal stair project estimator, followed by 20 years in purchasing. He is a graduate of Enterprise High School and Enterprise State Jr. (now Community) College and attended Troy University. He is a member and past president of the Enterprise Rotary Club.


Erin Grantham is executive director of the Enterprise Chamber of Commerce. Under her leadership the Enterprise chamber has earned a 4-Star designation as an accredited chamber, awarded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and earned the distinction of an Alabama Accredited Chamber through the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama. Her community service includes the Medical Center Enterprise’s Healthy Woman Council, Coffee County Farm-City Committee, Coffee County Youth Leadership Council, AUSA Fort Rucker-Wiregrass Chapter, Main Street Enterprise board of directors, and the Enterprise High School technology information and education advisory committee.

David Hayes, a native of Geneva, has been mayor since 2020. He is a 40-year business professional and economic developer, serving as CEO of C&D Investment Properties, a commercial development company, and president of Center Plaza Shopping Centers Inc. Since Hayes became mayor, the city has undertaken projects including airport improvements, a new City Hall and downtown park, EV charging stations, street rehabilitation, new soccer complex and neighborhood revitalization.


Joey Hester is CEO of Medical Center Enterprise. Earlier, he was interim CEO for North Okaloosa Medical Center in Crestview, Florida; vice president of hospital operations at South Baldwin Regional Medical Center in Foley, and in various management roles at Flowers Hospital in Dothan. He serves on the Wiregrass Economic Development Corp., the state legislative committee for Alabama Hospital Association, and represents Medical Center Enterprise on the Southeast Alabama Regional Hospital Council.

Daniel Long is president of Enterprise State Community College after a 26-year career as a teacher and administrator. Under his leadership, ESCC has seen an increase in enrollment, with numbers now above 2,000; added more technical training programs to meet workforce needs in areas such as composites manufacturing and healthcare; and has seen the start of several renovation and construction projects on both campuses. Long holds bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degrees from Troy University.


Tom Maddox is mayor of Elba and superintendent of the Water Works and Electric Board. He has been a local business owner for approximately 40 years. A music graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, he also is a retired music educator. Prior to being elected mayor in 2020, he served as the District 4 representative on the Elba City Council. He sits on the boards of PowerSouth, Elba Chamber of Commerce and Elba Rotary Club.

Brian McLeod is a CPA and executive vice president/CFO/COO of The National Security Group Inc. in Elba. A Coffee County native, he is a graduate of Troy University with a master’s from Florida State University. McLeod serves on the boards of the Coffee County Board of Education, River Financial Corp., Wiregrass Economic Development Corp., Coffee County Habitat for Humanity and Wiregrass United and as president of the Association of Alabama Life Insurance Companies.


Gen. Michael C. McCurry is commanding general, USAACE and Fort Rucker. A former Army aviation officer and helicopter pilot, he is a graduate of the University of Idaho with master’s degrees from both the Navy and Army War Colleges. He has won numerous military awards and decorations, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with five oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal with Numeral 3, and the Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

Casey Moore is director of career and technical education programs in the Ozark City School District. She is an Alabama native and two-time graduate of Troy University. Moore is in her 13th year in education with experience as a teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal and principal. In her first year with Ozark City Schools, she has increased participation in dual enrollment, launched new programs, partnered with local industries and expanded opportunities for career exploration in the middle grades.


Jesse Quillen is executive director of the Wiregrass Economic Development Corp. for Coffee and Geneva counties. Earlier, he worked with projects in the chemical, aviation, distribution, manufacturing, pulp and paper and timber industries, creating more than 500 jobs and bringing investments of hundreds of millions of dollars. He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi with a master’s from the University of Southern Mississippi. Quillen worked for more than 20 years in the family insurance business and became owner. In 1999, he was elected mayor of Bruce, Mississippi, where he was introduced to the economic development field.


Toby Seay is Geneva County probate judge and County Commission chair. Earlier, he was chief juvenile probation officer in Geneva County. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and served in the Alabama Army National Guard, retiring as a major after 32 years. He is a graduate of Troy University and Columbia Southern University, past president of Geneva Rotary Club, a member of American Legion Post 59, Southeast Alabama Regional Planning Commission, the Wiregrass Economic Development Corp., and on the board of directors of the Geneva County Community Punishment and Corrections Authority.

Holle Hartzog Smith is president of the Ozark-Dale County Economic Development Corp. A graduate of Huntingdon College, she has additional credentials in economic development. She is a member of the Ozark Rotary Club, serves on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club of Ozark, Carroll High School career tech advisory committee, the Dale County Performing Arts Council, the Wiregrass United Way, the Dale County Youth Leadership Program, the Ozark City Schools Career Exploration Advisory Council and Grow Southeast Alabama. She is the local coordinator for Ozark as they participate in the Class of 2022 Alabama Communities of Excellence program.

Janet Smith is CEO at Wiregrass Medical Center in Geneva. She has more than 17 years of experience in healthcare administration and finance. Prior to becoming the CEO at Wiregrass, she served as the CFO. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She also is a licensed Nursing Home Administrator in the State of Alabama.



Philip Wilkes is market executive for Synovus Bank. A 39-year banking veteran, he is a graduate of Mid-South School of Banking at Memphis State University and Graduate School of Banking at LSU. Wilkes serves as chairman of Wiregrass Economic Development Corp., member of Enterprise Industrial Development Board and is a past board member of Enterprise Chamber of Commerce.


Sandy Bynum Williams is president of the Elba Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Elba. She is a University of Southern Mississippi graduate with a master’s from the University of Mississippi and additional credentials. She serves on two national boards — the U.S. Travel Communications Committee and the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Tourism Advisory Council. A Rotarian, she is currently assistant district governor. She won the Public Relations Association’s 2019 Overall Best Public Relations and Marketing Campaign Award.


Linda Young is president of Wallace Community College-Dothan. She is a graduate of Enterprise State Junior College and Troy University with a doctorate from Auburn University. She is a graduate of Leadership Alabama and will become chair of its board in 2023. In 2017, she was one of 19 college presidents in the nation to receive the Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction by Phi Theta Kappa. She was named a 2022 Alabama Woman of Impact by Yellowhammer News.

This appears in the March 2023 issue of Business Alabama.

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