Chamber of Commerce hands out awards, elects officers

Published 5:18 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2006

On a stormy Tuesday, the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce held its 2006 awards banquet at the Magnolia Columns. In a well attended event, the program was opened up with President Claiborne “Buddy” McDonald’s remarks about the 2006 highlights for the Chamber.

He spoke of a 10 percent growth in membership, along with more corporate sponsorships. One of the highlights was the Welcome to Picayune Day in October to show the city’s hospitality to the newcomers in the area. The chamber published a 2006 directory, put out a Pearl River County map, promoted items for sale such as tee shirts and mugs that are now available on the chamber’s website, hosted a Small Business Administration Conference and continued with the successful Trade Days events.

The Civic Club of the Year award was presented by Linda Hanberry, the incoming chamber president. The award went to the Pearl River County chapter of the Master Gardener Association, which as accepted for the group by Delores Smith. This organization promotes responsible horticultural practices and education in accordance with the research and recommendation of the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Presently, there are 20 members and at the 9th Annual Statewide Master Gardener Conference one of their members was honored with “State Master Gardeners of the Year.” They work with schools, city, and county organizations to help improve knowledge of gardening and beautification. This non-profit organization was established in 2000.

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The 2006 Volunteer of the Year award presented by Buddy McDonald went to Sandra G. Houston. This volunteer was involved in many projects that deal with education, public affairs and home life. She recently organized a drive that collected 30 gallons of drink can tabs that enabled 30 cancer patients to have free chemo treatment. She served on a committee to organize a reception for G.E.D. graduates and organized Christmas gifts for the state hospital. In her church volunteerism, she participated in buying and delivering Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets; buying and delivering school supplies and lunch money to the needy children in local elementary schools. She chauffeured people who cannot drive to doctor’s appointments and for grocery shopping. She was presented the Civic Woman’s Club’s ideal Club Woman of the Year Award in 2004 and also the organization’s Volunteer of the Year for 2006. She is the wife of John Houston, Sr., and has a daughter Jennifer Houston and a son, the late Scott Maddox.

The Citizen of the Year award presented by Picayune Mayor Greg Mitchell to Donna Leverett Cooper. She is a retired a teacher in Pearl River County. She was a science teacher and a counselor, but most of her career was spent teaching Home Economics and Occupational Foods. She was coordinator for World Day of Prayer at her church and coordinator of three United Methodist Women Mission Studies in 2005 and 2006. She helped prepare food baskets after Hurricane Katrina. She has been a member of the Civic Woman’s Club for 10 years and has received honors such as the Civic Woman’s Club Extra Mile Award and Civic Woman’s Club’s Clubwoman of the Year for 2006. She has donated time and resources to many projects. She is the wife of Carle Cooper and has two children, Andy Cooper and Bryan Cooper.

The Chamber recognized incoming Board of Directors: Pat Carbone, H.E. “Trey” Combs III; Freida Dobson; Steve LeBlanc and Ina Legg. The outgoing members are: Sue Bounds, Billy Brunson; Andrew Failla; Claiborne “Buddy” McDonald.

McDonald passed the gavel to new president, Linda Hanberry who gave her remarks for the next year with encouragement for increased membership, to grow and work together as a team and to continuing promoting local businesses in 2006.

Entertainment was provided by pianist Jennifer Whitfield. Event sponsors were Bank Plus; Hancock Bank; First National Bank; First Southern Bank; Ted Musgrove State Farm Insurance Agency; and the First. Corporate sponsors were Pearl River County; City of Picayune; Hancock Bank; Coca-Cola Hattiesburg Bottling Company; Picayune Drug Company; Claiborne “Buddy” McDonald and Ted Musgrove State Farm Agency.