St. Mary Chamber of Commerce bestows honors

St. Mary Parish Chamber of Commerce members, officers and staff gathered Thursday for their annual awards banquet and meeting held at the Pavilion at Cypress Bayou Casino and Hotel in Charenton.
Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, served as emcee for the evening highlighted by the presentation of six awards.
Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau Executive Director Carrie Stansbury presented the tourism panel’s Hospitality Award to Hampton Inn’s executive housekeeper Faith Trim.
Stansbury said she has been at the Hampton since 2010. Stansbury quoted Trimm’s supervisor, “She is reliable, punctual, easy to get along with and always willing to help with a smile,” she said. “Since her promotion the Hampton Inn has received four outstanding inspections.”
Franklin City Councilman Chuck Autin introduced this year’s winner of the Virginia Tyler Guillotte Award, Lisa Nezat Patterson, chamber marketing director.
Patterson was born in Opelousas but raised in Morgan City. Autin said she has been “a strong supporter of her dearly-loved home of Morgan City” after moving home after 22 years in Ohio. “She believes all things are possible with God.”
The late namesake of the award was an active member of the chamber who started the ambassador program and many other activities in the group. “She was always a trooper,” Autin said. “Virginia always did everything with a full heart. Anything she put her hands on it turned to gold.”
Non-profit Community Service Award honors went to the Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival. Past chamber chairman Jason Bailey made the presentation.
Bailey said the award recognizes an organization that “promotes strong community involvement and fosters the growth of business quality and community leadership through its programs.”
He said the festival began in 1936 when the first boat loaded with “jumbo shrimp from the deepest gulf waters” arrived in Berwick. It became the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival in 1967 when the oil industry became “firmly planted in the local economy.”
Accepting the award was festival board President Nathalie Weber. The board is composed of president Greg Price, vice president Rodney Grow, secretary Peggy Acosta, treasurer John Armato and directors Jackie Brown, Robert Dufrene, Lt. Mary Gilday, Kim Hernanez, Deborah Lodrigue, Ed Meyer and Louis Tamporella. Lee Delaune is executive director.
Weber said the festival “has been recognized statewide and nationally, but to be recognized on this local level is very rewarding. It shows that the community knows what we do and why we do it, and for this I am very thankful.”
The festival will hold its 79th event this year.
Citizen of the Year was presented posthumously to Carroll Thorguson. Chairman Scott Berry introduced the award.
He said Thorguson served 14 years on the St. Mary Parish School Board, serving also as president and vice president. He was a board member of Patterson State Bank, a long-time member of the Morgan City Rotary Club, coached baseball and a member of several realtor associations.
Hampton Inn & Suites of Morgan City received the Business of the Year Award, presented by chamber Treasurer Jessie Breaux.
General Manager Bob Harrison accepted the award. The inn opened in 2010 and is constructed with a steel frame to withstand Louisiana’s hurricanes. Breaux said the Hampton has received several distinctions and hosted celebrity guests. “They continue to maintain a close relationship with the chamber, assuring the best local accommodations for area attractions and events.”
Donna Meyer presented her President’s Award to 16th Judicial District Attorney Phil Haney.
Meyer said Haney has been a strong chamber supporter, particularly with the scholarship fundraising activity.
“You can’t imagine the amount of work it takes to put together that event,” Meyer said.
Haney has served as an assistant district attorney and handled numerous cases. He has been district attorney since 2000. He serves on the board of directors of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association and the United Way of New Iberia, also as campaign chairman for that agency in the past. He is a board member of the Boys and Girls Club of Acadian-Iberia Parish and served as its chairman, among many other organizations.
Meyer also presented a special award to Danny Titus for his help organizing and implementing the chamber’s Bayou Barbecue Bash event.

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