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Concordia chamber honors longtime leaders

VIDALIA — The first Concordian of the year is certainly no stranger to life behind a podium, nor to many residents of Concordia Parish for that matter.

Yet, Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland was still shocked when Concordia Parish Chamber of Commerce President Mike Smith called his name Thursday night.

“This award means more to me than any other award I have ever received,” he said. “To be the first Concordian of the Year is an honor.”

The title is a new one, created for Thursday’s first official meeting of the Concordia Parish Chamber — a joint group composed of former Ferriday and Vidalia chamber members.

Smith said Copeland was an obvious choice.

“He has devoted his time, energy and most of his adult life to economic development, and in doing so has raised the quality of life for all residents in the parish,” Smith said. “He looks out for all municipalities and lends a hand when needed and is never afraid to ask for help or money.”

Copeland said he hopes to continue the spirit of unity through the regionalism efforts of Adams County and Concordia Parish.

“We have all been meeting with the regionalism committee to do what we did here tonight, to join together,” he said. “Our next goal is to have the Miss-Lou Regional Chamber of Commerce.”

The 2010 Business Person of the Year was awarded to Joseph J. Bazile III as recognition for his work as a true entrepreneur.

Brazile started by opening a snowball stand in Ferriday in the 80s that still stands, and is currently

“This award could not be possible without the help from everyone in the parish,” Brazile said. “I hope 2011 is just as successful as 2010 was.”

Home Hardware Center was awarded business of the year in the parish, for 26 years of thriving in the community.

Smith said the store started in 1984 with four employees and one store and now houses more than 200 employees and 17 stores.

Educator of the Year was awarded to Mignonne Ater for her active work with students in the community.

The Bryant O. Hammett Conference and Convention Center received the Hospitality Award for providing the parish with the best opportunity to showcase the area.

“The staff members are easy to work with,” Smith said. “They help in making everyone comfortable.”

Patricia Anderson received the Vidalia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Choice Award and Lena Bateman received the award for Ferriday members.

Concordia Parish Chamber Executive Director Jamie Burley also received special recognition for all of her hard work spent on both the Vidalia Chamber and the newly-formed parish chamber.

The Concordia Parish Chamber of Commerce Annual Award’s Dinner marked the first official meeting of the newly-formed chamber.

Concordia Chamber board member Ryan Paul said the evening was all about the dinner’s theme, “Honor the Past…Celebrate the Future.”

“The joint chamber was a great effort by both communities,” he said. “I can guarantee the newly formed chamber is ready to go to work for you and your business.”

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