THOMASVILLE -- Blame it on the sun, fun and Southern hospitality. That's why one of Thomasville's newest residents, Barbara Cohenour, said she took the position of executive director at the Thomasville Cultural Center.
"I guess if it wasn't for air conditioning, I might not have moved here," she said, joking about the south Georgia humidity.
Cohenour, born in Oklahoma City on June 15, 1943, lived many of her adult years in Tulsa, Okla. She taught classes at Rogers State College in Tulsa, including art history and television. The college began its own television station in 1987 and Cohenour became interested in distance learning -- taking classes out of the school room and moving them to the home or another location. She was intrigued by the idea and eventually became the director of distance education at the college.
She taught at Rogers for almost 20 years before moving to PBS in Bethlehem, Penn., for nine years where she was the director of distance education and produced a number of programs for educational outreach including typical tele-courses for adults and programs for pre-k.
"I had a wonderful experience," said Cohenour of her time at the station. "I love PBS."
She is divorced and has one daughter, Allison, who is 31 and still lives in Bethlehem, Penn. Cohenour brought her two cats, Spot and Dash, with her to Thomasville.
Her connection to Thomasville began with Wallace Goodman (of Pebble Hill Plantation). He was the director of distance education at Rogers State College before Cohenour. When he moved to Thomasville, she took his job and Goodman and his wife have remained friends with Cohenour. She recently made her first trip to Thomasville to visit the Goodmans and learned about the position. She said the job intrigued her from the start because she had never held this particular kind of job.
"It's such a neat opportunity," she said.
Cohenour was a little uncertain about what to expect when she arrived at the Cultural Center. Goodman had agreed to temporarily step in while a replacement was found, but there had not been an actual director for a while. One of the first things she did was have an interview with everyone on staff and they gave her a great feel for what is happening and what she needs to tackle first.
"This is a terrific staff," said Cohenour of her co-workers at the center. "The ball has kept rolling. They're doing great jobs in contributing much to the community."
She also has a unique take on her position.
"I just sort of see my job here as the facilitator to help them do more and better stuff," she said. Cohenour has been in office since last Tuesday.
"If the rest is one-tenth as good as the first week, I'm going to be ecstatic," she said.
Cohenour has big plans for the future. She is looking forward to meeting more community members and hearing their opinions.
"I really hope that people out there in the community will give me a call or stop by and let me know what they'd like to see happening because this is the community's cultural center, it's certainly not mine," she said. "I'm just the facilitator for what needs to happen here."
Cohenour stressed that this is a true invitation for community members to come and talk to her because she really is interested in their opinions.
"I'm really looking forward to having the community up here and making sure we're fulfilling the needs because we are a community service," she said.
The Thomasville Cultural Center is gearing up for the fall. It will be offering various classes including dance, guitar and art. "I'm really excited about this because it is really a community place," said Cohenour of the projected schedule. She also promised to try to schedule classes where those who wish to attend can do so without having to rearrange their schedules.
"We're going to work real hard to schedule things at times so people can make them," she said.
So far, Thomasville has pleasantly surprised Cohenour.
"People have been so kind and generous and what a wonderful community," she said. "I couldn't ask for a more welcoming group of people."
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