Staff members at The Pine Belt News – along with the teams at our sponsors, Southern Eye Center and Pine Belt Chevrolet – are proud to name area health care workers as the 2020 Citizens of the Year for Forrest and Lamar counties.
This year has brought unspeakable challenges to most of us, but health care workers have been uniquely affected.
The COVID-19 pandemic has required a new level of service and dedication, and it has also put these employees directly in the line of danger.
Despite the risks, we have heard countless stories of nurses, doctors and other workers – at all levels – volunteering for more hours and going above and beyond in often unrecognized ways.
The physical toll from long hours and grueling workloads has been difficult, but we often forget – or fail to properly recognize – the emotional toll behind such work.
We recognize the bonds these providers form with each of their patients, and we empathize with them over every single loss. We also celebrate with them over every single recovery.
As vaccines make their way through the distribution system, there is hope on the horizon. Health care workers have helped light a candle in the darkness this year, and we appreciate them.
During this difficult year, people like Toby Barker, mayor of Hattiesburg, have not only provided leadership but also comfort.
When he announced his mayoral bid several years ago, Barker surely was not expecting to confront such a crisis. However, he has done so admirably. His near-daily COVID briefings have been informational, and his decision-making process has been thorough, scientific and done in collaboration with a well-constructed advisory team.
Barker has made difficult – and painful – decisions, and he has led his fellow citizens with grace and honesty. The Hub City is lucky to have him at the helm.
Pine Belt Educators
In a “normal” year, educators – whether they be teachers, administrators, or other staff members – have difficult jobs.
When one adds a pandemic to this already stressful environment, it could be a recipe for disaster, but Pine Belt educators have risen to their new tasks in remarkable ways.
They have adapted to the unknown, adopting online learning environments and new technologies. They are flexible, switching back and forth between in-person, online and hybrid formats, and they are committed to the ongoing success of their students.
We salute them for their many fine efforts.
It has been a year to remember, and a number of hot-button political issues have absolutely added to that mix.
The November ballot was full of controversial items, such as the presidential election, the matter of a new state flag and even the potential relocation of the Confederate monument on Main Street in downtown Hattiesburg.
Voters had a lot to consider, and they also had to shoulder a health risk while exercising their sacred civic duty.
Difficult decisions were made, and time will tell if those were the right choices. We are thankful that people participated in the process.