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Cooley’s Ribbon Cutting

Hundreds gathered round as Norma Cooley (behind bow) prepared to cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open Cooley’s Mortuary’s new facility in Batesville Sunday afternoon. Employees, clergy, family, bankers, friends and neighbors including U.S. Congressman Chairman Bennie Thompson (shaking hands with Ernest Willingham in wheelchair) were on hand for the event. Thompson gave the keynote address during the service. The Panolian photo by Rupert Howell

Congressman touts Cooley’s success at Sunday dedication

By Rupert Howell

U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson told a packed funeral home chapel to look at their surroundings and asked, “Who wouldn’t want a facility like this in their community?” during Cooleys Mortuary’s dedication on Panola Avenue in Batesville Sunday afternoon.

The new facility will take the place of a smaller modular unit that now sits in the shadow of the colossal brick and mortar facility that Thompson said proves is owned by “somebody who has put some roots down and made an investment in community.”

Thompson, who represents Mississippi’s Second District, said that although his district no longer includes Panola County, he made lifelong friends here when it did and funeral home owners Jerry and Norma Cooley were two of them.

The nine-term Democrat served on the Agriculture, Budget and Small Business Committees before assuming the chairmanship of Homeland Security in 2005.

The Congressman said the new facility not only added to the tax rolls, employment and community investment, it also “says to boys and girls ‘you can be somebody.’

“This is a good example of what business can be. I’m going to take pride in it just like it was in the Second District when I get back to Washington and they ask me where have I been today.”

Thompson told the crowd that a former staffer of his office, Trina George, had been named Mississippi Director for Rural Development, the largest loan portfolio in Mississippi, and encouraged others to invest in community like the Cooleys.

Thompson also pushed President Obama’s health care agenda to the partisan crowd, warning them  that there were evil people out there, “who somehow say we shouldn’t take care of one another.

“You can’t be a Christian and not want to take care of your fellow man,” Thompson stated adding, “If nay-sayers had their way we wouldn’t have this facility.”

Thompson mingled and lingered following the service participating in the ribbon cutting ceremony and getting a personal tour from the funeral home owners.