For me, it’s a mixed bag as Bill Stone exits the Senate for his new job as general manager of the Holly Springs Utility Department.
As a weekly newspaper editor for three decades, I’ve dealt with many state legislators. That stems from Itawamba County, to Franklin County, Ala., to Monroe County to Jones County and then to Marshall County.
Some senators have been great to work with, always responsive; others not so much.
Bill Stone has been one of the best.
He is always accessible.
There’s no telling how many times I’ve called him over the last 10 years. He eithers answers immediately or quickly calls me back.
And it seemed Bill was everywhere across his district – meeting and greeting and responding to his constituents. Just turn around, and Bill would be there.
Be it a community meeting, a church function, a Chamber event, a festival, a ball game, whatever, Bill was there.
And no matter where he was, Bill was approachable.
He did not shy away from the tough questions. If he didn’t know the answer, he would find the answer and get back with you.
In my interview with Bill (published in last week’s paper), he said, “The thing I have enjoyed most is being able to help folks when they have a problem with a state agency. It’s something that meant a lot to them and it meant a lot to me to be able to help.”
Bill Stone is a helper. Bill Stone is a problem solver. Bill Stone is a communicator. Bill Stone is a people person.
And at the same time, Bill became a leader at the state capitol. He learned how to get things accomplished for the people of his district and the people of Mississippi.
As he steps down, he was serving as chairman of the Senate Democratic caucus, a well-deserved honor for Bill.
Personally, I hate to see Bill Stone leave the Senate. He has been a major spoke in the wheel of Marshall County’s progress.
But at the same time, I know what Bill brings to the table as the new general manager of the Holly Springs Utility Department.
And basically, it’s those same qualities – leadership, problem solving, communicating and simply serving the public to the best of his ability. I know he will keep turning the wheel of progress.
Here’s hoping Bill Stone can bring stability to the job as head of the utilities.
Another quote from Bill in my recent interview with him – “For me, it’s all about knowing the people and how to deal with people, more so than the mechanics of the utility.”
I’ve been known to eat my words before, but personally, if anyone can step in and lead the utility department in the right way and build a team, it’s Bill Stone.
I applaud the choice of Mayor Kelvin Buck and the board of aldermen.
I will miss Senator Bill Stone, but I’m excited about HSUD General Manager Bill Stone.