Merritt helping festival, United Way

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 9, 1999

VIDALIA, La. – With the Jim Bowie Festival a little more than a week away and the United Way’s fund-raising campaign just starting, you might expect Cliff Merritt to be pulling his hair out about now.

After all, Merritt is chairing the festival and co-chairing the United Way of the Miss-Lou’s annual campaign in addition to his job as president of Louisiana Central Bank.

Yet instead of fretting over details, Merritt looks relatively relaxed as he shuffles through a pile of United Way papers.

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But he does not take the credit for his calmness, saying it is only with the help of many others that he is able to wear two volunteer hats at the same time. &uot;With the festival, my wife Debra and (Vidalia chamber Director) Linda Gardner do a ton of work, and we have a committee of 15 volunteers,&uot;&160;Merritt said. &uot;I&160;just make sure everything gets done.

&uot;As far as United Way goes, (Director) Nancy Webster makes sure I’m informed, prepared and where I&160;need to be. She makes being a volunteer easy.&uot;

Both the United Way campaign, which he is co-chairing with Kevin Smith of Natchez, and the 11th annual Jim Bowie Festival, set for Sept. 18 at the old courthouse in Vidalia, are full-time jobs.

With more publicity and advance events such as a citywide &uot;knife hunt&uot;&160;next week, Merritt hopes to attract up to 3,000 people to the Bowie Festival – double last year’s attendance.

And he is enthusiastic about the chance to tell about the ways United Way helps people throughout the Miss-Lou. &uot;I’m not sure many people know all the United Way does for the community, … including how many agencies in Concordia Parish benefit from United Way funding,&uot; Merritt said. &uot;My job is to help get that message out.&uot;

The United Way of the Miss-Lou’s fund-raising campaign ends Nov. 30 and is seeking to raise $315,000 to help fund 27 agencies serving Adams County and Concordia Parish.