Poplarville’s annual chamber luncheon
The Poplarville Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards luncheon on Friday at Scooter’s Restaurant on Main Street.
The theme this year was “Welcome Home, It’s a Homecoming Weekend.”
Mississippi’s First Lady Deborah Bryant, who has familial ties to the city, attended this year’s luncheon as the guest speaker.
Scooter’s Restaurant was decorated in a tailgate party theme with school pride items from Poplarville High School and Pearl River Central Community College. Both schools celebrated homecoming this weekend.
Chamber board member Pam LaHaye spoke of the many ways that the chamber influences the community including Poplarville perks, Trash to Treasure, merchants trick-or-treat, Trail of Trees, quarterly lunch and learn and much more.
Mayor Brad Necaise touched upon the momentum that is being felt in the city.
“I see so many people and new businesses, Poplarville would be not be moving at the momentum that it is without them,” Necaise said. “Each day my wife Michelle and I are extremely busy with activities and every morning we wake up renewed to make Poplarville a better place.”
The mayor introduced Bryant who spoke to chamber members about her platform H.O.M.E. and some of her childhood memories of Poplarville.
“This city is a special place to me, it is like coming home,” Bryant said. “I spent my youth here and remember riding bikes downtown in the middle of the night. I had the best time and have fond memories.”
H.O.M.E. is an acronym for healthcare, outdoors, mansion and military and education. A “V” for volunteerism will be added next year, Bryant said.
Bryant participates in many healthcare events including Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure, Be Active Mississippi, Autism Awareness, Little Lighthouse and Teen Pregnancy. She is also an ambassador for Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson.
Bryant said she encourages all Mississippians to spend time outdoors.
“I love being outdoors and bird hunting,” Bryant said. “Everyone should take advantage of the beautiful parks in Mississippi.”
The governor’s mansion, built in 1841, is the second oldest occupied mansion in the United States, Bryant said. “The mansion is open for tours Tuesday through Friday. We want people to feel at home when they come to the mansion.”
Education is a topic that Bryant said is near and dear to her heart.
The First Lady recently completed her Read Across Mississippi tour where she read to students in all of the state’s 82 counties.
“Mississippi has made great strides because of Mississippians and their efforts to bring businesses to this state,” Bryant said. “Our state is known for its residents and people want to visit here. Make Mississippi the best you can, get involved and make your community the best it can be.”
After the First Lady’s presentation, awards were presented in the following categories: Fall decorating contest winner, fireman of the year, policeman of the year, volunteer of the year and citizen of the year.
The following businesses placed in the fall decorating contest:
First place: Way Out West
Second place: Poplarville School District Central Office
Third place: Tie between Wells Insurance and Barbara’s Art Studio.
The fireman of the year was volunteer firefighter Camron Ladner. He has been a fireman since 2013 and is currently enrolled in the nursing program at Pearl River Community College.
The policeman of the year was Russell Miller. Miller has been with the Poplarville Police Department since 2009 and is a recipient of the Medal of Valor from the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department for his action in a police involved shooting. Within the past year he has worked 50 felony cases against suspected drug dealers.
The volunteer of the year was Dr. Caroline Tedford. Tedford has been an educator for more than 20 years and participates in a number of community projects including the Baptist Student Union at Pearl River Community College.
Wayne Alexander was named citizen of the year. Alexander served in the United States Navy and Derby Volunteer Fire Department. He was a Poplarville EMT. He has been involved in many community activites including Boy Scouts, the Lamar County and Poplarville Chambers, Rotary Club, PRCC Foundation Board of Directors, Brother’s Keeper Ministry and St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
A special award was given to Peggy Smith for her hard work and dedication to the sustainability of the chamber.
Learn more about the Poplarville Area Chamber of Commerce at www.poplarville.org or by phone at 601-795-0578. The Chamber is located at 101 North Main St.