Chamber Banquet heavily attended

Published 3:58 pm Friday, November 5, 2010

Two private citizens and a local civic club were honored for their many accomplishments and sacrifices for the community at this year’s Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet.

At the event, held Thursday evening at the Link, Huey Stockstill Sr. was announced as this year’s Citizen of the Year, Paul MacInnis was declared this year’s Volunteer of the Year and the Picayune Rotary Club earned the tittle of Civic Club of the Year.

This year’s guest speaker was Senator Roger Wicker who even took time to lend his vocal talents to provide harmony on a song performed by local music group Altered Heart during the event. In his speech, Wicker touched on a number of things affecting the nation and the state in the recent past, and what he foresees in the future. He used the title of the book “Forgotten Men” as a basis for part of his speech that focused on the current economic times.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The book focuses on the Great Depression, and he said the title is reminiscent of the American citizens at the bottom of the economic pyramid in this current economy.

“He works, he votes, generally he prays, but always he pays,” Wicker said.

With so much government spending recently, Wicker said he foresees hard times ahead, not for those who work now, but for the generation to which his seven month-old granddaughter belongs. In the past year and a half the national debt has risen from $10 trillion to $13 trillion, and Wicker said that level of spending needs to end. In the scope of it all, his granddaughter and her generation are the forgotten man, since they will be the ones who pay back that debt, he said.

The debt has risen in part to the $800 billion stimulus plan set forth by the Obama administration in an attempt to curb the rising unemployment, which has risen from 7.6 percent in January 2009 to 9.6 percent recently, Wicker said.

Wicker said he has always been against the new health care plan set forth by President Obama, because big government should not handle every aspect of health care since some people will still be left out.

“We don’t do comprehensive very well at Washington, D.C.,” Wicker said.

That new legislation will lead to tax increases to pay for the expanded Medicare plan, Wicker said.

Wicker said he hopes to work to get government spending back to the levels it was at in 2008, and at the same time work to ensure the spending that does take place still comes to Mississippi and Pearl River County.

However, he still sees bright spots in the nation’s future, and compared it to the national anthem. While he said he has heard some people suggest the nation needs a new anthem that is not so war-like, he believes the current anthem fits since it focuses on the question of whether the Star-Spangled Banner will continue to fly over the land of the brave and free when the dawn breaks. Wicker said it is because of the men and women that join the military and defend the nation that the flag will continue to do so.

At the end of the banquet, Chamber board members presented this year’s award winners.

Huey Stockstill Sr. was honored as Citizen of the Year because of his dedication to his business, which he started in the 1960s with one dump truck and a bulldozer. Even after suffering losses in the 1970s, Stockstill continued with the business, eventually growing the it to where it is now, employing more than 200 people. In addition to his business success, he has made many contributions to the city, holding true to his philosophy of “We make out living from this community, and we have to be willing to give back to the community.”

MacInnis was awarded Volunteer of the Year for his many hours of dedication and efforts at the Crosby Arboretum, Habitat for Humanity, Friends of the Library, Special Olympics, Pearl River County Historical Society, Pearl River County Genealogy Club and Pistols and Petticoats Square Dancers.

Picayune’s Rotary Club earned the Civic Club of the Year title because of the organization’s work with Christmas Basket Food Drive for the past 50 years, providing dictionaries to third graders at Pearl River Central Elementary Schools, proving appliances for Habitat For Humanity homes since 2005 and donating millions of dollars to help eradicate Polio internationally.