Pierce Honored for Work

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Justin Wayne Pierce, an employee of Mississippi Industries for the Blind in Meridian was named employee of the year for Mississippi. Pierce operates a computer and robot-welding machine. He has been legally blind since the age of eight.

"Pretty much it was like you turned the lights off in the right eye," said Pierce. "In the left eye it pretty much remained the same, the vision has, where it was at the time."

Pierce works using touch and the remaining sight in his left eye. "Most of the time, I program the robotic welders and operate them. Loading the parts, putting the parts together, taking them off. I do some of the maintenance on the robot myself," Pierce said.

Pierce doesn't let his condition stop him from enjoying fishing, camping and even motor sports.

"I've got a dirt track car which I race every weekend out at Queen City in the cruiser class. I'm the gas person. Charles won't let me drive," he joked.

He learned his skills at a special school. "And if I could, I'd go back again, because I figure the more training I can get on it, the better I am. That's just one other step that I proved that somebody with a disability can do it," said Pierce.

Ronnie Salter, manager of the local facility, said the people there are special.

"People outside of the blind community have a hard time understanding how the folks do what they do here," said Salter. Salter said the term 'handicapped' is not used at MIB.

"We use ability, not disability," said Salter.

In October, Justin Pierce goes to Ft. Worth, Texas to compete for the honor of being National Employee of the Year.