Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Sid Salter: McCoy's Commitment to Improving Highways & Education Celebrated

In the pristine sanctuary of the lovely Gaston Baptist Church – a rural church in northwest Prentiss County roughly triangulated between Booneville, Rienzi, Thrasher and Jumpertown – family, friends, and political associates of the late Mississippi House Speaker William J. “Billy” McCoy gathered on June 14 to remember one of the architects of modern highways and modern public schools in this state.

The occasion was the official dedication of the “Speaker William J. ‘Billy’ McCoy Memorial Highway” by Mississippi Department of Transportation officials led by Republican Northern District Transportation Commissioner John Caldwell and Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn of Clinton. McCoy died in 2019 at the age of 77.

Gunn authored the legislation necessary to honor his Democratic predecessor with the naming of the highway in cooperation with the McCoy family. The memorial highway begins one mile north of the Highway 45 and State Route 356 intersection and ends two miles south of the intersection.

Although perhaps fewer in number today, there are still “yellow dog” Democrats like McCoy in his old House District 3. McCoy, a Christian educator and farmer who served his constituents for 32 years as their voice in the state government. Here in the foothills of the Appalachians, McCoy was known less as “Mr. Speaker” and more as just plain Bill.

McCoy’s former House colleagues in attendance included Gunn, former Reps. George Flaggs, Steve Holland, and Bo Eaton. Other former House members attending who went on to judicial careers included U.S. District Judge Mike Mills and former state Supreme Court Judge Randy “Bubba” Pierce. Former Attorney General Mike Moore and former Northern District Transportation Commissioner Zack Stewart were also present, along with current Democratic Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley.

Stewart, the aging but still tough-as-nails Marine who worked closely with McCoy and John David Pennebaker to achieve much of the statewide transportation expansion that McCoy envisioned, was there under his own steam.

The event had the feel of a funeral, but that was dispelled quickly by the smiles and laughter in the church sanctuary as speakers recounted McCoy’s accomplishments and his legacy in the Mississippi Legislature – where his passion for helping rural Mississippians, his reliable personal financial frugality, and his fiery temper fueled a lot of familiar stories.

McCoy was a second-generation state lawmaker, a college-educated vocational agriculture teacher, a Farmers Home Administration loan officer and briefly an auditor for the state – and yes, he was a farmer and one of his family’s successful cash crops was red wiggler worms.

McCoy’s detractors and critics played “the worm farmer” card often in talk radio rants and speeches designed to reduce a great man to a caricature of a hillbilly rube. To my great chagrin, I felt some inadvertent responsibility for that.

In 2004, McCoy invited me to his home in Rienzi along the Prentiss-Alcorn county border. During that two-day visit, I met his wife, Edith, daughter, Kim, son, Sam, some of his grandchildren and he took me to the home of his mother, “Miss Susie” McCoy, the widow of his legislator father, Elmer E. McCoy. She died at age 100 in 2009.

McCoy fought to better the lives of the state’s common people through bolstering public education at all levels, providing a true statewide corridor road program to provide farm-to-market access, and championing economic development projects that provided higher pay and better working conditions.

My lasting memory of Speaker McCoy is of riding the roads through his district with him – and he knew everyone, everyone he represented. That’s rare – and telling of his character. During his tenure as House speaker, McCoy was the target of irrational criticism as some sort of uber-liberal Democrat - a charge that cannot be justified based on his record.

Honoring McCoy with a memorial highway sures felt right. Stay on that road long enough and you will pass an improved public school. On the whole, that’s an appropriate monument to the life and work of Billy McCoy, a good and decent man who voted his conscience and let the chips fall.

 Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at



Anonymous said...

Fact- McCoy was FRONT AND CENTER of the "Missip" Beef Plant Debacle, Him along with the fool from Taylorsville MS Beau Eaton and Tommy Reynolds. Three assholes of the first order.

Anonymous said...

More absolute shit from Sid.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

My favorite worm farmer.

Anonymous said...

May McCoy rest in peace, and I'm glad Sid has survived cancer, and I hope he remains healthy and happy, but damn...
McCoy and Holland were bullies at best. They were out of touch with the world around them, and it's by the Grace of God McCoy didn't get smoked for his worm farm "investment" and the beef plant.

Anonymous said...

Sid is a closet liberal and Billy McCoys's days as speaker of the house were some of the darkest days in Mississippi history. Just another classic example of democrats trying to preach someone into heaven!!

Anonymous said...

Billy McCoy's days as speaker of house were some of the darkest days in our history. Liberal Sid just showing his true colors.

Anonymous said...

I didn't even knew there were "worm farms" until I read McCoy's obit.

I always thought worms were raised in the back of Mom & Pop redneck
boat launch/convenience stores at lakes and rivers.

Anonymous said...

How can you be triangulated amoung 4 (quadulated) towns?,
Well that’s Ole Miss degree is not worth a whole lot. BTW, remember Ms. State is in OMAHA world series

Worms Aside.. said...

I've always wondered what it is about that part of Mississippi that puts people like Holland, McCoy and Hob in office. I reckon if they had the chance, those people would vote for Bennie, or even Espy. Can somebody 'splain?

Tategaveusanewflag said...

Ok 6:47, I’ll bite. Where do I start? Can you explain what the hell you mean - “triangulated amoung 4 (quadulated towns)”? What does triangulated and quadulated even mean??? Not to be a grammar Nazi but, it’s among, not amoung. And what does the Omaha World Series have to do with the quality of one’s education at any school?

Anonymous said...

"roughly triangulated between Booneville, Rienzi, Thrasher and Jumpertown"

Hmm - a triangle with four sides. If only we had a word for that......

Anonymous said...

The quality of one's education can be evidenced by the fact that he has no clue what triangulated means. The roads up in that area don't lead to Omaha.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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