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Homebuilders open headquarters
Builders keep Erk Russells spirit alive and well
Members of the Statesboro Homebuilders Association are seen holding the ribbon as Tim Durden, the association's current president, cuts it highlighting the dedication of the group's new headquarters in the Market District. Standing in front (l-r) are John Lamar, Donald Nesmith, Ray McKinney (representing the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce), Tim Durden, Jamey Cartee, Kyle Nesmith, and Keely Nesmith Fennell.
I think by nature, productive human beings hope that when they depart this earth, a legacy of the good they accomplished will continue on. That legacy can be in the form of their children, businesses they have been a part of, organizations they have served, or any number of things.
The good that most people leave behind is not always readily seen, and for most of us will go unnoticed altogether. And because of that, it has been a real treat for me to watch someone's legacy "in action" this past two weeks, to see their life's work honored in the actions of others.
    On Thursday, January 25, the Statesboro/Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce honored Erk Russell as their business leader of the century. During the presentation of the posthumous award to Russell's family, the impact that Russell had on the growth of our community and Georgia Southern became undeniably clear.
    With the presentation of that award, his legacy could have begun to fade, but it didn't. Not by a long shot. It is alive, well, and kicking.
    This past Thursday, I attended the ribbon cutting and official dedication of the Homebuilders Association of Statesboro's new headquarters located in the Market District behind East Georgia Regional Hospital.
     Tim Durden, owner of Tim Durden Construction and Building Design and the current president of the association, gave a very "Erk like" speech when he addressed the large crowd attending the ceremony.
     Durden praised all of those who had helped in the construction of the 5,000 square foot, debt free facility. He thanked all that had served as president before him pointing out the good in each as they stood in front of the packed room. He urged the new members to get involved and encouraged those in the room to support each other's companies.
    Best of all, he asked everyone to look around and see what they had accomplished as a group, stating, "I want to welcome everyone here tonight to our house, the house that you, and everyone in this room helped to build."
    I don't know that Durden even realized how much he sounded like his old coach.  A member of one of Russell's national championship teams, Durden has always been quick to thank Russell, Georgia Southern, and those who have helped him and his family along the way.
    I asked Donald Nesmith, one of Statesboro's long standing building contractors and a past president of the association, if he felt Russell had had an impact on Bulloch County's construction industry.
    He answered with an unequivocal, "Yes!"
    "This community grew and we sold houses because of Erk Russell and Georgia Southern football," Nesmith said. "I firmly believe that. The growth of the college carried the building industry here in the eighties."
    "I don't care what anyone says, Erk Russell and football is what started the motor running," he said. "We as builders really, really benefited from that."
    Not only is this group extremely proud of its new headquarters, they want to share it with the community. Nesmith said a committee has been formed to try and establish some guidelines for letting other nonprofits use the facility for special meetings and things of that nature.
    "We as a group feel very, very blessed," Nesmith said. "We want to give back by allowing other nonprofits to use our headquarters.  We are grateful, and this is one way that we can show that."
    Durden said the value of the building is estimated to be between $750,000 dollars and $1 million dollars.  
    "Our members got out and got after it, and because of that the building is paid for," Durden said. "This is a far cry from the days when our meetings were held in the back room at Snooky's."
    Russell's "can do" legacy, expressed in the heart felt words of Durden, filled the beautiful new building as those in attendance sat humbly in awe of what they had been able to accomplish in the course of a year. You can bet that Russell would have enjoyed every minute of it.
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