Agriplex reception honors Jim Boyd and Dr. Tom “Big Doc” Williamson

Loretta Gillespie

Left to right: Jim Boyd, Dr. Tom "Big Doc" Williamson and Jim Boyd's brother, Burell Boyd

CULLMAN – You could almost feel the tangible emotions in the room as people watched former Cullman County Schools Superintendent, Jim Boyd, and local veterinarian, Dr. Tom Williamson, take their seats beside the podium to receive well-deserved accolades from a host of city and county dignitaries who came to pay homage to these two men who are stepping down from years of service to the agrarian segment of Cullman’s economic base.

Cullman Economic Development Agency Business Development Manager Jamie Troutman welcomed the assemblage, reminding them of the vision that the honorees had of what the North Alabama Agriplex could be back in 2000. “They worked tirelessly to see this through, in order to help young people understand the importance of agriculture, of preserving the values and significance of farm life, and being self-sufficient, and those lessons will go forward for years to come,” said Troutman.

Troutman went on to recognize Boyd and Williamson for their devotion to seeing their dream come to fruition, and for “opening the eyes of young people to the various jobs available in the farming sector.”

Alabama Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Fairview was also on hand to acknowledge the accomplishments of the two, “giants in our community, who had so many amazing ideas, and were so thrifty with the funds that built this beautiful building.”

Boyd, who is known for telling tall tales, said in a somber moment that he will continue to promote agriculture and farm life, and, introducing his large family, he went on to proudly commend them for their contributions to farming.

Shedd recalled a story that about Boyd’s father, who was also a farmer in Cullman County.

“He said that an insurance salesman called on him and was pointing out that he would need money if his barn burned or got blown away. Mr. Boyd looked at the salesman and said, ‘If I ever thought I lived in a place where my neighbors wouldn’t come and help me rebuild if my barn burned or got blown away, why, I’d move!’”

That shows in a capsule of a comment just what kind of people Cullman County farmers are. They do want needs to be done, they stop what they are doing to help their neighbors, pitching in when times are hard, lending whatever is necessary to get a job done.

Cullman County Commissioner Kerry Watson pointed out, “Certain people got us where we are in this community, and these are certainly two of them,” indicating the two seated men.

When Williamson, also a much beloved figure in the Cullman area, known affectionately as "Big Doc," stood at the podium with teary eyes and a tremor in his voice, he said that he felt very honored to have been a part of the Agriplex from its inception. “Thanks to everyone who came out here today,” he said, looking out over the crowd. “Most of you have had some part in making this all possible.

“Over 5,000 people used this Agriplex last year,” he said proudly. “There is a need for this program, now more than ever, showing farmers how to use best practices, because they are going to be feeding even more people in the future.

“Thanks for all of your support,” Williamson said to the audience, “It’s good to see everyone, good to see kids here; they are our future.”

Both Boyd and Williamson praised Agriplex Director Rachel Dawsey for her stellar job performance and for her willingness to go the extra mile.

In her turn, Dawsey promised to honor and continue their legacy.

Both honorees were presented with a proclamation from newly elected Mayor of Cullman, Woody Jacobs, and Williamson was (unbeknownst to him, until two men came walking out with a sign) honored by the Agriplex Board with a huge sign bearing his name, proclaiming the building the “Agriplex John T. Williamson Heritage Center."


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