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Vidalia mayor receives hall-of-fame induction


NATCHEZ — It all started with a drainage problem.

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland was not getting anywhere in 1976 with the drainage problem on his property, so he figured it was time to solve it by running for political office.

And that was the start of Copeland’s 36-year political career for which he’s being honored for on the state level soon.

Copeland is one of six Louisiana political figures who will be inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum Hall of Fame Feb. 9 at the museum in Winnfield.

“I consider it one of the biggest honors I’ve ever had,” Copeland said. “I want to thank each and everyone, especially the citizens of Vidalia.”

Copeland, who has served as mayor of Vidalia for six terms, was nominated by a member of the public for the honor, and then Carolyn Phillips, the executive director of the museum, presented his application to the museum’s board.

“He’s done such tremendous things to advance the City of Vidalia,” Phillips said. “You look at the riverfront for instance and how it’s been developed.”

Copeland was one of six individuals chosen by the board, which is comprised of individuals from across Louisiana who are well versed in politics.

“It’s quite an esteemed honor to be selected,” Phillips said.

Along with Copeland, five others and the Chabert family will be honored during February’s ceremonies. They are:

-Charles Barham, an attorney from Ruston, La., Who worked in the Louisiana Legislature and later as a lobbyist for the banking industry.

-George Dement, mayor of Bossier City, La., for 16 years.

-L.R. “Pop” Hattaway, sheriff of Grant Parish for 32 years.

-Angelo Roppolo, a political consultant and former Bossier City mayor.

-Raymond Strother, a journalist who became the president of Strother/Duffy/Strother political consulting in D.C.

-The Chabert family: Leonard served as a state representative, Marty as a state senator, Norbert as a state enator.

For Copeland it is a huge honor, and he said he’s been grateful for the opportunity to serve his community.

“It’s been a good career and very challenging sometimes, especially being a small-town mayor,” Copeland said. “People will come and sit down and talk about their problems. You can’t solve all the problems, but at least if you sit down and talk with people, you’ve accomplished that much in life.”