Tuesday wasn't too out of the ordinary for Shane Smith. He came to work at 7:30 a.m. and began to log his usual six to seven hours.
"I operate the saw and do punch boards," said Smith.
Repetition is one of the key factors to making MIDD-Meridian a successful working environment for developmentally disabled workers. However, on this one day, something was out of the ordinary. Supervisors' candidates running in the next election stopped by for a visit.
"We are a Department of Health facility that serves adults with developmental disabilities," said Bryan Burt, director of MIDD Meridian. "We think this is a great thing that Lauderdale County has and we'd like to get word out to the community about the services we offer."
Something surprising to find out about MIDD-Meridian is all of the brown standard clipboards that are sold world-wide in Wal-Mart are made right here in Meridian. Just this summer alone, they will produce 2.2 million of them.
"Those clipboards are assembled here in the back. We also do a number of other processes," said MIDD Meridian board member Chuck Sanders. "We make packaging material here. We also wrap utensils, like forks and knives and napkins; a lot of that is done right here."
Many of the candidates say they were shocked to see the sheer number of products daily produced by these extraordinary workers.
District 4 candidate, Harry Routt, was particularly overcome with emotion. Seeing disabled men and women independently, earning a living, meant perhaps his son, who has autism, may one day do the same.
"This was very powerful for me," said Routt. "I was blessed to be able to take this tour. I know how important their mission is."
The mission is, of course, to give those with disabilities a chance to live a regular, adult life. Those who toured the plant said they hope more people get to know the faces behind those millions of clipboards.
MIDD Meridian will hold a similar open house for candidates in legislative races June 23.