Tourism workers honored for their special services

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 12, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; Some were obviously surprised, others overwhelmed, and some had to be fooled into showing up without suspecting something.

One was told he would be working at the bar &045; only there was no bar at the Wednesday ceremony marking National Tourism Week activities in the Natchez area.

Instead, Cedric McCoy of Dunleith was among 16 people who received framed certificates for being Tourism Superstars, as nominated by their fellow Natchezians. The only criterion: the person in question must go above and beyond their regular duties to help visitors feel at home in Natchez.

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In all, 23 individuals, two properties and one event received tourism awards in the ceremony, an annual event held at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center to honor those whose everyday efforts serve to boost the tourism industry on which Natchez’s economy heavily relies.

Six of those awards were received by the family members of local tourism notables who died in the past year and whose names will live on on a plaque to be stationed at the Visitor Center.

Those honored posthumously included Dr. Tom Gandy of Historic Natchez in Photographs, Kitty Koerber Shields of the Natchez Chamber of Commerce, Doris Kemp of Mammy’s Cupboard, Beth Rogers of the Natchez Convention Center, Dr. George Moss of Texada and Amos Williams, a City Hall employee.

The William Johnson House, which the National Park Service officially opened earlier this year to tell the story of a famous free black Natchezian of the 1800s, was named Property of the Year.

The Natchez Food Festival was named Event of the Year.

Mint Julep Awards, given to those who served in the tourism business for many years and have since retired, were awarded to Jean Simonton of the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians and Margarite Guercio of Monmouth Plantation.

In addition to McCoy, Tourism Superstars included Robert Watson, Rosalie gardener; Ivering Henry and Artie Catania of Natchez Pilgrimage Tours; Shannon Gatlin of the Natchez Chamber of Commerce; Pat Isaac, Days Inn front desk manager; Shashonda Bernard of the Natchez Eola Hotel front desk; Maria Posey of Tommy’s Convenience Store; Roscoe and Mickey of 95 Country’s Miss-Lou Must Do’s; Lawrence Smith of Bowie’s Tavern; Moe LeBlanc of Natchez Coca-Cola; Alan Gunn of Magnolia Carriage Co.; Stephanie Hutchins of Southwest Distributors; Jim Funderburg of Waste Management; B-Quik No. 10 on Homochitto Street; and Becky Nelson of the Visitor Center.

Also, awards were presented in the annual children’s art contest &045; this year, fifth graders’ drawings depicting scenes from the Natchez Trace, in honor of the upcoming opening of the Trace extension. Winners included Kevin Campbell, a first-place winner and the overall winner, of Adams County Christian School; first-place winners Chassadie Roberts-Ernst of Trinity Episcopal Day School, Caitlin Lofton of Cathedral School and Cierra Burns and Shaniqua Jenkins, both of McLaurin Elementary School; second-place winners McKenzie Cranston of Trinity, Christopher Perry of ACCS, Arricka Hawkins of McLaurin and Lauren Huff of Cathedral; and third-place winners, Ronnie Elery Jr. of McLaurin, Morgan Richmond of ACCS and Catherine Parker of Trinity.