Martin T. Smith named Poplarville Citizen of the Year

Published 2:54 pm Friday, October 30, 2009

Martin T. Smith named Poplarville Citizen of the Year

By DAVID A. FARRELL/Item Staff Writer

POPLARVILLE — Former State Sen. Martin T. Smith, who served five consecutive terms as a senator from Pearl River County in the Mississippi Legislature, was named the Poplarville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year at a noon luncheon on Thursday on the Pearl River Community College campus.

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He was the 60th recipient of the coveted award since the Chamber began naming a citizen of the year.

Said Smith in accepting the honor, “I am humbled and honored by the friendship of all of you; I am also honored by joining the members on this list. Many of them on this list, and many of you, have made some impression on and had input into my life and have contributed to my enjoyment of my life’s trip.”

“The experiences we have had through your support have been very rewarding for me and my wife, Delores; it’s been a good trip and part of that has been having Delores with me on my life’s journey,” he added.

Smith is 75.

He served 20 years in the State Legislature. Currently, he serves as the attorney for the Poplarville board of aldermen and for the board of trustees for Pearl River Community College.

As state senator his district was composed of Pearl River, Hancock and Stone counties.

Many of his friends refer to him as “Martin Travis.”

Little known, however, is the tremendous contributions Smith, along with his close friend and associate, the late State Rep. Lonnie Smith of Picayune, made in solving water diversion problems along the lower Pearl River. The two Smiths are not related.

They were both lawyers and legislators and their legal and legislative experience was essential to the fight to get diversion problems remedied and to get river water flowing back into the Mississippi side.

From when he was first elected, the then Sen. Smith was in on the efforts almost from the beginning to get water diverted back into Mississippi from where it was diverted years ago at what was known as the Wilson Slough diversion point.

He made many trips down the river assessing the situation and would return to Jackson and work on it for environmental interests in his district.

He and the late Rep. Smith, working shoulder-to-shoulder with local environmentalists, like the late Mansfield Downs and the late M.O. Pigott, were instrumental in getting enough water diverted back into Mississippi to save the Holmes Bayou water system on the Mississippi side.

After he retired from the State Legislature, his reputation for solid performance, forthrightness and integrity led to him being the first appointed director of the Administrative Office of Courts for the State Supreme Court, a position he held from 1993 to 1997.

In his remarks to the Chamber, featured speaker Beat Three Supervisor and candidate for governor Hudson Holliday pointed to the list of recipients of the award and told chamber members that the recipients are examples of dedicated and humble service.

“Those recipients and the recipient today set the standard for what citizenship really means,” said Holliday. “The people who received, and will receive today, this award is not based on just one good deed, but is based on a lifetime of service to his fellow man.”

Added Holliday, “Based on what these recipients have done for us, I want you to ask yourself, what can I do to make this a better community in which to live.”