Moak honored for efforts on state tourism

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2011

While lawmakers ready legislation for submission in theirrespective chambers, two local legislators have some other businesson their minds.

District 53 Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, is enjoying the 2011″Friend of Tourism Award,” while District 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith,R-Brookhaven, is preparing to travel near the scene of a recentdeadly shooting in which government leaders were the target.

“It’s a very nice award,” Moak said of his trophy. “Certainly itmeans a lot to be recognized by the tourism industry around thestate. It’s a huge, $5 billion industry in this state, withprobably 80,000 direct employees.”

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The award the Mississippi Tourism Association presented Moak is adecorative glass tray commemorating Hurricane Katrina, adorned withan image of the eye of the storm. The piece was made at Pearl RiverGlass Studios and, as best he can tell, was given to him for hissupport of the tourism industry since the hurricane struck in2005.

“Tourism is not just Vicksburg, Natchez and Holly Springs. Tourismis also small bed and breakfasts in our little towns, ourhospitality – all of the aspects we just normally do here inMississippi,” Moak said. “If there’s a creek or an old barn, you’vegot a story to tell, and usually in the community there’s astory-teller to tell you about it.”

While Moak makes a place on the mantle for his award, Hyde-Smith isbeing briefed about security for an upcoming trip to Fort McDowell,Ariz., where the State Agriculture and Rural Leaders organizationwill meet on Thursday and Friday. Hyde-Smith is a charter member ofSARL.

Though Fort McDowell is a good distance from Tuscon – the site of adeadly shooting Saturday that injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords,D-Arizona, and left several dead, including a federal judge – SARLchiefs are following the lead of governments nationwide anddouble-checking their security measures before lawmakers fromacross the country attend the meeting.

“We’re trying to assure the safety and security of where we will beis adequate to make the people coming in from throughout thecountry feel secure,” Hyde-Smith said. “This year’s meeting justhappened to be in Arizona.”