On the Road: Hattiesburg, Mississippi WIN Job Center
Mississippi Employment Security Commission
On the Road: Hattiesburg WIN Job Center
February 2004 - Article from "Directions" MESC's Employee Newsletter
The 11 Unemployment Insurance employees in the Hattiesburg WIN Job Center have an average of 16 years of in experience with MESC.
To office manager Jo Ann Bourne, that experience is invaluable. "This office could run is itself," Bourne said. "They don't need me most days. They know their job and they do it well."
Bourne is a 29-year employee of MESC and is responsible for the overall management of the UI office. She lives in Petal with her husband, B.J. They have two sons, Scott and Stephen. Scott is married and has two children, and Stephen is a student at Mississippi State University (MSU).
Bourne is a member of Central Baptist Church where she is involved in the music program. She sings in the choir, has a partner for duets and occasionally sings solos. In her spare time, she enjoys reading to learn more about health issues such as nutrition and vitamins. Each weekday morning at 5:30 a.m. Bourne can be found working out at the local YMCA. She also enjoys entertaining and cooking for her friends.
Carolyn Burton is an interviewer with nearly 22 years of experience at MESC. As part of her job she travels once a week to itinerant offices. Staff members serve locations in Beumont, Purvis, Prentiss, Columbia, and Mendenhall on a rotating schedule.
Burton lives in Hattiesburg. She has three children, Tonya, Melody and Wlllie, and five grand-children. She attends Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church. She sings in the church choir and on a praise team.
According to Burton, her favorite hobby is "spoiling grandbabies." She also enjoys reading novels and doing crossword puzzles.
Marlene Harper began her career with MESC in 200 I working in the delinquency unit in C&S. She began her current job as a field representative in October 2003. Harper has a bachelor's degree in business administration from MSU.
She now lives in Hattiesburg but frequently returns home to Florence to visit her mother and her three nieces. She is a member of First Baptist Church in Florence.
Harper spends her time outside of work going to the gym, working out and running. She also enjoys taking her nieces to the movies. They last went to see Steve Martin in "Cheaper by the Dozen."
Interviewer Kaye Hilderbrand worked for MESC in ES for eight years, took a ten-year break then took a job in VI in 1999. She is a graduate of William Carey College with a bachelor's degree in sociology and a minor in psychology. She also took counseling courses at the University of Southern Mississippi while she was working as an employment interviewer.
She lives on a farm in Moselle and raises large birds such as ostrich, emu and rhea. She also has a peacock. There are a total of 21 birds on the farm. "Right now it's just an expensive hobby," Hilderbrand said. "They all have names, so they're more like pets." She does egg-art with the large birds' eggs and sells eggshells to other egg artists.
While she was between her two jobs at the agency, she made money raising the birds, but when business went down, she returned to work at MESC.
Hilderbrand enjoys gospel music and goes to any concerts within driving distance. She also said she loves to read, mainly to keep up with the news.
Supervising Interviewer Felecia Huddleston has worked at MESC for more than 25 years. Three days out of each week she visits the itinerant points. She is a Jackson State University (JSU) alumna with a degree in social work.
Huddleston is married to Robert, who works in the ES office of the Hattiesburg WIN Job Center. They live in Hattiesburg and have two children, Robin and Dennis. Huddleston is a member of True Light Missionary Baptist Church. She serves as a deaconess, works with the children's choir and the Starlight Band, and is on the fellowship committee.
The Huddlestons have run a home catering business, Green's Grill, for four years. The business is named for her mother-in-law. She said the business is "a lot of hard work, but it's fun too. We have a very good crew working with us."
Alecia Kelly is a claims interviewer and has been with MESC for two years. She has a bachelor's degree from JSU in business management. She is married to Fred Kelly and they have two children, Adrienne and Candace. The family lives in Hattiesburg.
Kelly is a member of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Hattiesburg. As the youth group leader she coordinates youth church activities, leads in weekly youth meetings and puts together programs for Christmas and Easter. She also sings in the church choir.
Spending time with her family is Kelly's favorite leisure activity. Fridays are when the Kelly family typically gathers for pizza and movies.
Field Representative Mark King has 18 years of experience with MESC. He is a graduate of USM with a bachelor's degree in banking and finance.
King and his wife, Theresa, have three sons, Steven, Mark and Tyson. They live in Hattiesburg and attend East Jerusalem Baptist Church. King is on the church's board of trustees and is a member of the Brotherhood.
King serves in the Mississippi Army National Guard and holds the rank of staff sergeant. Spending time with his children is King's favorite pastime. He said they primarily hang out together, play video games and watch movies. They also enjoy taking trips to New Orleans to visit the Audubon Zoo.
Kaye Pearce, an employment security aide, and has been with the agency for almost 26 years. She works the front desk, running the phone system, doing intake, greeting clients and determining their needs.
Pearce lives in Petal with her husband, Mike. She has a daughter, Kasey Walker, and a son, Todd. Todd is in the U.S. Air Force and flies on the J-star. He returned to Iraq at the end of January. Pearce asked that he be remembered in prayer.
She also has three grandchildren, who are 4, 3 and 2-years-old. She attends Carterville Baptist Church. In her free time, Pearce enjoys reading, gardening and planting flowers. She also likes to travel to visit her son and his family in Georgia.
Interviewer Janis Riley has nine years of experience working for MESC. She interviews claimants, does investigations with employers, sends reports to the state office and visits itinerant points once each week. She is a graduate of USM with a degree in marketing.
She is married to Joe Riley and has two daughters, Kelly Franks and Allison Franks. She lives in Oak Grove. Riley attends Temple Baptist Church and volunteers to take food to ill and grieving members of her Sunday school class. She also volunteers with the Salvation Army each Christmas to put together packages for Angel Tree children.
Riley plays pokeno and bunco - card and dice games - each month with a group of friends. She has a business making cheesecakes, primarily for Panino's Italian restaurant. Each morning she rises at 4:30 a.m. to go to Anatomies Gym for a pre-work workout.
Mark Smith is an interviewer in his 14th year with MESC. He interviews applicants for UI benefits and gathers information to make the determination. Once a week he works at one of the itinerate points. Smith has a bachelor's degree in business administration from USM.
Smith and his wife, Wendi, have been married for 18 years. They live in Oak Grove and have three children, Joshua, William and Anna Grace. Smith attends Temple Baptist Church and works with his wife in the nursery once a month.
He is a strong supporter of Oak Grove High School football. He also likes to exercise by walking and working out.
Smith said he enjoys being able to help people through his job. "I've really grown to enjoy it over the years, talking to people," he said. "Everyone's got a story to tell. It's very interesting listening to their stories. Just let them talk."
Kay Veitch has worked with MESC a total of 20 years both in ES and UI. She now works part-time Monday through Wednesday as an employment security aide.
She is married to Jim Veitch and lives in Brooklyn. Jim is pastor at Grace Chapel Baptist Church. Veitch said it is great working part time at the job center because it gives her time to work at the church several days a week. Grace Chapel is a small country church, and Veitch performs secretarial duties, does visitation, decorates and plans activities.
She also assists her husband in leading a Boy Scout troop. They recently returned from a weekend trip to Camp Tiak. In her spare time she enjoys doing artwork and craft projects.
She has three children, two of whom, Jackie Hayes and Cory Brown, are grown and married; her "baby," 9-year-old Zack, is still at home. She also has one granddaughter, who will be a year old in March.