Faircloth wins top Vidalia honor

Published 12:01 am Friday, January 22, 2010

VIDALIA — Sports is certainly king in Vidalia and this year retiring Vidalia High School coach Dee Faircloth is wearing the crown.

The Vidalia Chamber of Commerce named Faircloth Vidalian of the Year for 2009 at its annual awards banquet Thursday night. Local sportswriter and last year’s recipient of the award Joey Martin presented Faircloth with the honor.

Faircloth started at Vidalia High School 42 years ago, and coached the football team to 249 wins, but Martin said his service extended far beyond the football field.

“Coach Faircloth has gone way beyond the call, and this entire community is better for that,” he said. “The title of Vidalian of the Year has never been more significant.”

Faircloth said he was not expecting the award, and had been lured to the banquet under false pretenses.

“They knew I probably wouldn’t come,” he said “I didn’t come the last time I got an award here. They told me I was going to be here to introduce (VHS vice principal) Jana Lincecum.”

After coming to Vidalia, Faircloth said he did not originally intend to stay as long as he did.

“My plans were that I was going to coach here a year and then I would move down the line in coaching circles to bigger schools,” he said. “But a funny thing happened to those plans. I found out this was a great community filled with great people and great parents who raised great kids.

“This is probably the highest award I have ever gotten, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

As it was, Faircloth hadn’t been completely misled about Lincecum receiving an award, because she was presented with the Educator of the Year award by 2008 recipient Tim Herndon.

“As we all know, a good school system is a key element in building a good community. (Lincecum) is a person who is a big part of VHS, students and faculty success,” Herndon said.

“She is an excellent administrator and a very positive person who passes on her great attitude to the hundreds of students she sees every day.”

Lincecum said she was honored to receive the award, and that she accepted it on behalf of all the educators she has worked for and with for the last 28 years.

“Anybody who works in the school system knows you are only as good as those you work around,” she said.

“I look around this room and I see those I have taught, and parents of the ones I have taught, and it is amazing the lives you touch over 28 years.”

The hospitality award was presented to Mike Smith.

“(Smith) is always there,” presenter Guylyn Boles said. “He is such a great person.”

Smith wasn’t able to be there to accept the award in person, but his wife — Desiree Smith — was, and she called him on the phone from the stage to let him know.

The Bowie Businessperson of the Year award was given to Comfort Suites owner Virgil Jackson.

“I certainly appreciate this, from the bottom of my heart, but I never expected this,” Jackson said. “Anyone can invest in a program, but what really makes it go is the people.”

“I have been very successful with the people I have picked.”

The Bowie Business of the Year award was presented to The Riverfront Royale Salon and Med Spa, which Jackson also owns, and he again credited the success of the business to the people who worked there.

The chamber also presented special recognition awards to Concordia Parish Library Board members Eleanor Talley and Renard Chatman for their work with the board.

Chamber President Ryan Paul praised Talley and Chatman for their dedication to the library, saying they were dedicated to educating the entire community.

A special recognition award was given to outgoing Chamber President Sam Jones, who said the chamber is a way for the business community to have more clout.

“You can be a small business, and when you are with the chamber you are with a large group of people, and you can go to (Vidalia Mayor) Hyram Copeland or even the governor of Louisiana and say we are the people and we pay the taxes, and we are the ones you need to listen to when we’re talking about regionalism, when we’re talking about getting things done,” Jones said.

Paul said the chamber has plans to team up with local political, educational and civic leadership in the next year to further the cause of regionalism, an effort to market the area as an entire region rather than just as local municipalities, and some of the initiatives the Vidalia chamber is taking on have the stated goal of merging the area chambers.

“The vision and work of local business leadership make this area great in the good times and in the challenging times,” Paul said.

Before he handed over the chamber presidency to Paul, Jones said he was glad to have had the chance to serve as president for the last two years, and thanked the board of directors and Chamber Director Jamie Burley for the work they have done.

“In recent weeks, I have had people come up to me and say, ‘You did a great job,’” Jones said. “I have to admit something to you all. I did not do a great job, these people — the board from the last year — did a great job.”