Martin, Paul get top honors from Vidalia chamber

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 16, 2009

VIDALIA — The Vidalia Chamber of Commerce has named local sports writer Joey Martin as Vidalian of the Year for 2008.

Martin received the honor at the chamber’s annual award dinner Thursday night.

The award was an honor and a surprise, Martin said.

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“I am absolutely blown away,” Martin said.

Having lived most of his life in Vidalia, Martin worked as sports editor for The Natchez Democrat before going to the Concordia Sentinel, where he is sports editor and a columnist.

“He is president of the Vidalia Lions Club and a fine gentleman,” said Percy Rountree, who presented the award.

After receiving the award, Martin said he wouldn’t want to live anywhere other than Vidalia.

“There is not a better place on earth than Vidalia,” Martin said.

“If I had the opportunity to go anywhere that you could be, I wouldn’t take it.”

The chamber also recognized Vidalia High School teacher Tim Herndon as Educator of the Year.

Herndon has spent more than 20 years teaching physics, chemistry, biology and physical science and working as an assistant coach at VHS.

“If you think back to high school and think of your favorite teacher or coach, those teachers come readily to mind,” Vidalia Junior High School Principal Whest Shirley said when he presented the award.

For the last 22 years, Herndon has supplied those good memories for Vidalia students, Shirley said.

“I am totally, unbelievably grateful and appreciative (for the award),” Herndon said.

Vidalia business owner Ryan Paul, who works as an engineer at BASF, built a strip mall in Vidalia and owns Afterglow tanning salon, was recognized as Business Person of the Year.

Paul said he was honored to receive the award, and he thanked his wife Crystal for her support and BASF for giving him an opportunity to move back to Vidalia after college.

“I enjoyed coming back to Vidalia,” he said. “The key to this community is the people.

“I hope we can work and pull more youngsters from the colleges back.”

Local radio station KFNV-FM The River was given the distinction of being Bowie Business of the Year.

The call letters of the station stand for Ferriday, Natchez and Vidalia, and they — along with the surrounding areas — are who the business looks to serve, co-owner Mike Smith said.

“We will continue to do everything we can to promote the community,” Smith said.

Comfort Inn and Suites was recognized with the Hospitality award, and Sales Manager Clara Nell Brown accepted the award for the company.