On Thursday evening, the Greater Area Picayune Chamber of Commerce hosted its biggest event of the year.
The 66th Annual Awards Banquet and Police and Firemen’s Banquet was held at the Link.
The room was filled with the men and women of Picayune who put their lives on the line every day for the safety of citizens along with the business owners and dignitaries that strive to make Picayune a booming economic municipality.
The groups were gathered to honor the extraordinary citizens of Picayune.
The event’s guest speaker was Poplarville native, Master Chef winner and cookbook author Whitney Miller.
Miller spoke about the honor of receiving the honor of Master Chef at the age of 22-years-old and a lifelong passion for cooking instilled in her by her grandmother.
“I want to teach people and encourage children to achieve their dreams even at a young age,” Miller said.
Miller said that as she travels the world she gives people the best impression of southern hospitality. Miller is a graudate of Poplarville High School and Pearl River Community College.
After Miller spoke, the winners of the awards were announced.
Picayune Police Chief Bryan Dawsey thanked the men and of women of the department for their dedication and sacrifice to the community.
Dawsey presented the Civilian Employee of the Year Award to Dana Harrison.
“She joined the department in Oct. 2012 and her work ethic, generosity and helping hands to others in need has earned her the high praise of staff and co-workers alike,” Dawsey said.
The Chief’s Award was presented to Ptl. Joshua Stockstill.
“The first time I met him I was impressed with his positive attitude, squared away appearance and his strong desire to be a police officer,” Dawsey said. “This patrolman put himself through law enforcement academy at Camp Shelby and graduated in Dec. 2013. He is member of the of the Mississippi National Guard and has served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. This soldier has brought a sense of duty, professionalism and outstanding teamwork that qualifies him for this award.”
The Police Officer of the Year was Lt. Daniel Davis.
“He began his time with the Picayune Police Department in Oct. 2006 and has shown dedication, integrity and pride in his peers, management and the city of Picayune,” Dawsey said.
Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown awarded the Firefighter of the Year award to Josh Mitchell.
“He began working with our department in Nov. 2006. He is well liked and respected among his fellow firefighters,” Mitchell said. “He goes above and beyond the definition of a hero.”
Mitchell has served three tours of duty with the Army National Guard in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Senators Angela Hill and Tony Smith honored two retired Picayune Police officers whose combined service to the department totals 66 years.
Maj. Ricky Frierson and Deputy Chief David Ervin were honored with resolutions from the Mississippi Senate and Lt. Governor Tate Reeves.
Joey Temples awarded the Knights of Columbus chapter 6872 the Civic Club of the Year award.
“Over the past year they have raised and donated more than $10,000 to organizations such as St. Jude Children’s Hospital, CASA, Sav-A-Life and local citizens with intellectual disabilities,” Temples said.
Incoming Chamber board president Rob Porter presented real-estate agent Bobbie Shute with the Volunteer of the Year Award.
Porter said that Shute is responsible for the creation of the Animal Advocates of Pearl River County, which aims to keep animals safe from harm and abuse.
“There have been so many accounts of animal abuse in this county that this volunteer couldn’t sit on the sidelines any longer,” Porter said. “She called a meeting of concerned citizens and they started working right away.”
Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero presented Suzan Mums Wilson with the Citizen of the Year Award.
Wilson is a lifelong resident of Picayune and her roots can be traced back to her great-great uncle J.W. Simmons who was an original settler of the area, Pinero said.
“Her activities including being a founding member of the Picayune Amateur Softball League Association, Chamber of Commerce, Picayune Rotary and a board member at the Senior Center and Crosby Arboretum,” Pinero said. “Every time she’s involved in something she becomes the go to person because she gets things done.”
The Excellence in Business award was presented to The First National Bank of Picayune by outgoing chamber board president Tina Stockstill.
Their community involvement extends to a number of community organizations including Rotary Club, Kiwanis International, Picayune Main Street, Historical Society, Crosby Arboretum, little league and Puttin’ on the Pink, Stockstill said.
“This business has helped numerous generations of individuals, businesses and professionals achieve their goals,” Stockstill said. “The management and staff of the First National Bank of Picayune are committed to this community and take pride in offering competitive banking services with a hometown atmosphere.”
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