Mike McCarthy is Man of Year for Bienville

By Mary K. Hamner
Journal Correspondent

The Arcadia/Bienville Parish Chamber of Commerce named Mike McCarthy, life long resident of Castor, Man of the Year, in recognition of his years of service to Bienville Parish and his community. The award was presented at their annual banquet March 29. That he is dedicated to whatever job he undertakes and his family is a given. His sense of humor is legendary.

McCarthy's roots grow deep in the community and parish he serves. He and his wife Judy live on family acreage passed down through the years. "I've been a great husband," he said. Judy, smiling, declined comment on her life with Mike over forty five years except to say "It has never been dull." Mike and Judy have three children, Michael, Jason, and Melinda, and eight grandchildren. He is a Mason, a Charter Member of the Castor Historical Association, and a Member of New Ebenezer Baptist Church. Asked if he was a Deacon in the Church, he said, "No. I can't pray out loud."

McCarthy graduated from Castor High School and then attended LSU Technical School where he earned a Teaching Certificate. Soon after graduation, after hitching a ride to Shreveport, he hired on with Riley-Beaird Industries. He retired after twenty years from what he called the "real world of work" in the welding industry. From 1963 -1969 he also served in the National Guard. After his retirement from Beaird in 1981 he began his second career as a teacher, a Vocational Trade and Industry Instructor at Castor High School.

Danny Gour, former Principal of the School, said this about Mike: "He taught his welding students with an effortless blend of discipline and humor that we educators call "tough love." Through project based instruction he taught them "work-ethic", the importance of being present every day and on time, to work together, to take corrective criticism, to supervise and to be supervised on work projects, to value the quality of their work, and foremost to have pride in the final product."

"McCarthy's students completed and painted metal work projects such as picnic tables, lawn chairs, patio tables, hunters' deer stands, barbecue grills: and utility trailers. Through a VICA entrepreneur program his students planned projects, completed templates, cut from raw materials, welded, and painted the finished projects. The profits from the sale of the projects were used to replenish the raw material for additional projects and the remaining funds were saved. Over a period of twenty-five years McCarthy and his students accumulated in excess of fifty thousand dollars."

"As a reward for a "job well done", he carried his students on expense-free educational field trips at the end of the year to places such as New Orleans, to tour the Avondale Shipyards and Audubon Zoo; to Houston and Galveston, to tour the NASA Space Center; to Nashville, to see the Grand Ole Opry; to Orlando, Florida, to see Disney World; and to many other places. These trips were not only educational opportunities for students to grow through travel and to broaden their experiences but "fun" trips that the young men remember with pleasure throughout their lives."

"Many of McCarthy's "shop boys" are using the skills and work-values that he taught on jobs in industry. Many have careers as welders, and two have followed in McCarthy's footsteps and are T&I Welding Instructors in school systems, Joe Sanford at Castor High School and Rodney Doyle at Lakeside High School."

Danny Gour went on to say, "When Mike McCarthy retired from the Bienville Parish School System in May 2007 he left feeling good about the school system and what he contributed. He spoke to me recently and said, 'I have had a good ride.' I feel somewhat relieved to know that before he left he took the balance of VICA project funds and established a perpetual scholarship for a Castor High School vocational student to attend a Louisiana Vocational College and to carry on his remarkable tradition of hard work and giving back more than you take."

Mike McCarthy was unopposed in his first bid for Police Jury Member of District 6 when he ran in 1996. "Everybody else had more sense than I did," he laughed. Running unopposed for consecutive terms and fourteen years later he still serves as juror of District 6, and expects to 'serve one more term' if re-elected in 2012.

He often begins his day with morning coffee at the General Store where he greets his constituents with a handshake and "How's your can today?" Acknowledging that the juror job is 24/7 with problems that may arise over his District, McCarthy said, "I get more complaints about garbage cans than anything else."

Currently McCarthy serves the Jury as Chairman of the Economic Development, Tourism and Public Relations Committee. He also serves on the Public Works and Building and Grounds Committee.