Holyoak, Hyland and Gardner named Natchezians of year

Published 12:13 am Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — John Holyoak, left, Ginger Hyland, center, and David Gardner congratulate each other Tuesday night after the Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce gala awards ceremony. The three were named Natchezians of the Year.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story contained an error. John Holyoak is the general manager of Dunleith. The story below is correct. We regret the original error and are happy to set the record straight.

NATCHEZ — Natchez stars lit up the Natchez Convention Center Tuesday night at the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce annual membership gala.

The chamber honored some of Natchez’s best and brightest stars at the gala, including this year’s Natchezians of the year and businesses of the year.

Ginger Hyland, owner of The Towers, received the Natchezian Woman of the Year award.

Chamber President Debbie Hudson commended Hyland on the success of The Towers, as well as Hyland’s continued desire to serve Natchez through the Christmas in Natchez committee and the Natchez-Adams County Community Alliance.

“Through Ginger’s clear vision and actions, she not only demonstrates true leadership as she inspires others to work together for a common goal, but she also demonstrates, in a dramatic way, her love for her community as well,” Hudson said.

Natchez City Engineer David Gardner and John Holyoak, general manager of Dunleith, shared the Natchezian Man of the Year award for their leadership of the Community Alliance.

Hudson dubbed Gardner and Holyoak Natchez’s dynamic duo. Hudson said the men have combined their talents, generosity, community pride and dedication to the future of Natchez and the Miss-Lou and joined forces as co-chairmen of the non-profit community action group.

Hudson noted the major success of Gardner and Holyoak’s partnership in getting the Natchez Trails Project off the ground, as well as the community organizations both men support.

“Both of these gentlemen can be seen giving back to their community at every turn,” Hudson said.

Moreton’s Flowers was honored as the chamber’s small business of the year, and Supermarket Operations — owners of the Markets — won the title of large business of the year.

The chamber also launched its “Natchez Grows Greatness” campaign with a short documentary at the gala

The documentary featured the history of Natchez, landmarks, economic development, events and various other aspects of the city.

The documentary also showcased some of Natchez’s most well-known natives in fields ranging from music and acting to writing, sports and science.

The New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley was featured in the documentary and was among the famed Natchezians at the gala.

Ridley said he is always committed to the future of Natchez and enjoys coming back to his hometown and seeing what a wonderful support base he has in town.

“I am fully committed to this town and trying to put it own the map,” he said. “It’s a very special town, and I am out there trying to do special things.”

Miss America 1960 Lynda Lee Mead Shea was also in attendance at the gala along with actor Ritchie Montgomery.

Jennifer Ogden Combs, who was featured in the documentary for her Emmy-winning career in theater, film and television, spoke after the video about Natchez’s greatness and the hard work that must be done to maintain its greatness.

Combs said the Natchez Grows Greatness campaign is not just about the famous Natchezians the town has grown.

“It’s about the people who have continued to work hard and had a dream and never stopped,” she said. “We want to also inspire the dreams of people in Natchez now.”