Chamber holds combine banquet

Published 10:59 am Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce’s 65th Annual Awards Banquet was held Thursday simultaneously with the Police and Fireman’s Award Banquet. This is the second year the two have been combined.

Claudette King, daughter of the great B.B. King treated the audience to a vocal solo prior to beginning the event.

Guest speaker for the event was Dub “Paw Paw” Herring, who just celebrated 50 years in the car business. Herring said he chose Picayune due to its location and proximity to New Orleans, Hattiesburg and the Northshore.

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Herring spoke on the importance of thinking outside of the box in entrepreneurship. He said he modeled his marketing after some of the more successful businesses in the beginning but then made his own ideas work.

Picayune Police Chief Bryan Dawsey presented Civilian of the Year Award to Jessica Esque. Since joining the department in 2004, her work ethic and generosity among co-workers have earned her high praise, Dawsey said.

The 2012 Police Officer of the Year was awarded to Detective Seth Ledet, who joined the department in 2007. Dawsey said his dedication to pursuing certification, excelling at his job and diligent work and contributed greatly to one of the department’s most successful years in its war on drugs. He has contributed also to the removal of several violent offenders for the community, making the streets of Picayune and surrounding communities safer for those who work and raise their families here, said Dawsey.

The 2013 Chief’s Award, usually presented to the outstanding rookie of the year who has gone above and beyond in their duties, was awarded to the entire department.

“This year, each and every employee went above and beyond the call of duty to make this the best, in all my years of law enforcement,” said Dawsey. “The men and women of this department worked, laughed and on occasion cried together. It takes teamwork to get the job done that we do each day. I am proud of each and every member of my team.”

Fire Chief Keith Brown awarded Firefighter of the Year to Jake Smith.

“Jake joined in 2004. He is a very positive employee,” said Brown. “He always has a ‘will do’ attitude without a question or second guess. He is all about the team and getting the job done to the best of his ability.”

The Chamber then awarded the 2013 Volunteer of the Year, Citizen of the Year and Excellence in Business Award.

Manna Ministries was awarded the Volunteer of the Year Award. Director Jameye Martin and Dr. D.L. Bolton accepted the award for the ministry that in the last year assisted 38,000 individuals through medical, dental, community education classes, assisting 72 families from being foreclosed on and with child care.

The organization says its goal is to meet the needs of those who would not otherwise be able to obtain basic life needs.

The Citizen of the Year Award was presented to Sherri Paul Thigpen of Paul’s Pastry. When Thigpen took over the business, her unique marketing and community volunteerism shot the business into the limelight. She has branched out in to architectural, large scale cakes.

In addition to developing an international clientele, Thigpen has been an active Jaycee member and past President of the Chamber Board of Directors. She was named the 2004 Entrepreneur of the Year by “Young Entrepreneur Magazine.”

When presenting Thigpen with the award, Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero said, “Mrs. Sherri Thigpen is very deserving of this award and the time has come to recognize all that she has done for the community.”

Finally, the newest award in the lineup of community recognition is the Excellence in Business Award. The award is chosen by a panel of their peers based on their demonstrated commitment to the business community.

This year the award went to McDonald Funeral Home.

The business was founded in 1917 by Claiborne and Helen McDonald, Sr. and now has the third and fourth generations of the family working side by side to maintain the highest of standards. The 96-year-old local company has nine full-time employees and eight part-time employees. In addition to the business, the family is active in local charitable organizations.

Steve and Ann McDonald said, “The McDonald family has made it a priority to buy from local businesses, help local churches and charities. We, along with our children, have attended Picayune and Pearl River central school Districts and community college.”

The event was heavily attended.

“The attendance was the highest we have ever had,” said Chamber Director April Lovelace. “I appreciate everyone coming out to show their support for the award winners who do so much for our community each and every day.”