Chamber honors firefighter, police officer of the year

Published 2:22 pm Friday, April 30, 2010

The Picayune “Fireman of the Year” is a woman, Lt. Cathy Hunt, a 27-year veteran of the department who, Fire Chief Keith Brown said, “has earned … the respect of every fire department employee ..

“Our hope is that she has inspired other young girls who have visited the station, or who have come in contact with her (to) believe that they can truly be whatever they choose to be and that they can accomplish any goal they set for themselves.”

Brown noted that Hunt’s son, Jason Hunt, also is employed by the Picayune Fire Department.

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Police Chief Jim Luke introduced Capt. Chad Dorn as the Picayune Police Department’s Officer of the year, and said that he could not recall a time “… that this officer was ever too busy to help a fellow officer or a member of the community who was in need” regardless of what ever else he had to do.

Luke said that Dorn once expressed concern that he “was not moving up within the ranks of the department and met with a staff member about this concern.” The chief said Dorn was advised “Chief Luke was not interested in being just average, he does not care how many tickets you write or arrest(s) you make but wants to know what you have done to improve the police department and our community.”

Luke said Dorn then began helping to develop numerous programs for the department, including Crank-It-Up/Pay-Uup noise enforcement program, an out-of-state tag enforcement program, Win a Limo Ride to Prom essay program and many others. The chief said Dorn previously served as commander of the Traffic Enforcement Division and is currently patrol commander.

The police chief also recognized Thomas Clark, who received the American Police Hall of Fame Criminal Investigation award; Bob Gieger, Senior Patrol awardee; the Chief’s Award went to Ettienne Mixon, and Civilian of the Year was Lt. Bonnie Cousin.

Prior to the presentation of the awards, Sheriff Newell D. Normand of Jefferson Parish, La., addressed the crowd at the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce banquet to recognize the firefighters and police officers for their service to the community.

Normand said Picayune and Jefferson Parish have a great deal in common and one big difference, with the difference being that the Picayune Police Department is nationally certified, something of which he is jealous. He said that his department, though many times larger than Picayune’s, hasn’t achieved that goal yet, though his department is working towards meeting the standards to become nationally certified.

“More and more you’re finding the smaller communities are setting the standards we hold ourselves to,” the sheriff said.

He stressed community policing in his speech, saying that in years past, everyone knew everyone else in their community, but that is not the case today.

Normand advised those attending to “Only accept on your block what you accept in your home” and that way a community can be won back “a block at a time.”

He said a major problem in today’s society is that it has gone from being patriarchal to matriarchal, saying that men have a place in making a community work but many communities have now lost that leadership.

In a moment of humor, he noted that because he was elected sheriff of Jefferson Parish with about 92 percent of the vote, there was “only one way to go (from there) and that’s down.”

He also advised the audience that in economic development “you are your own best cheerleaders. …,” advising the group to promote the fact that the Picayune Police Department is nationally certified. “It’s what distinguishes you and sets you apart.”

He noted that he has been heavily criticized in some of his efforts to beautify his community and called the critics “cave people — citizens against virtually everything.”

He finished his speech with a quote from Winston Churchill: “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”