Chamber of Commerce hosts annual banquet

Staff Report @ThePostSouth
James "Fry" Hymel (left) with Executive Director Hank Grace receiving his Spirit of Iberville Award.

There was another packed house at the Iberville Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet and recognition ceremony held at Nottoway Plantation Resort on Thursday, January 26. The banquet kicked off with opening remarks by Hank Grace, Executive Director of the Chamber and an invocation by Stacey Barber Gautreau of The Dow Chemical Company.

Jolain Landry recognized the outgoing board of directors and presented them with a plaque at the banquet for their years of service. Recognized were: Outgoing treasurer Arron Pierre, A. Wilbert’s Sons LLC; Grace Cryer, Syngenta and Hayley Brown, Axiall, A Westlake Company.

Ms. Landry then recognized the Taskforce Chairman for 2016 Economic Development Commission/Roof tops Chairperson, Christina Cedotal, The Dow Chemical Co.; Skilled Workforce Chairperson, Grace Cryer, Syngenta; Member Services Chairman, Arron Pierre, A. Wilbert’s Sons, LLC; and Loan Committee Chairman Bubba Beatty, Plaquemine Bank.

Hank Grace then presented the "Spirit of Iberville" award which is considered to be the Iberville Chambers most important award and is given annually to an individual who has exhibited strong involvement with the Chamber, and just as important, has had a high degree of community involvement. 

The individual receiving the “Spirit of Iberville” award must also exhibit the highest level of integrity in his or her actions, be involved in both Chamber and Community projects, and have a record of service to others, leadership in action, and dedication to making Iberville a better community.

The Chamber’s past Spirit of Iberville Award recipients  are: 2012-Mr. Ivan Cabrera; 2013–Mr. Mickey Rivet; 2014–Mr. John W. “Johnny Boy” Wilbert, Jr.; 2015–Mr. Ed Middleton; 2016–Award presented to the Gulotta family in memory of the late Mayor of Plaquemine, Mayor Tony Gulotta. 

Mr. Grace then presented this year’s prestigious award to Mr. James G. “Fry” Hymel. Mr. Hymel is a native and life long resident of White Castle, La.  He is a U.S. Army Veteran and now is retired from Shell Oil Company, having served as Division Supervisor of Mechanical Operations of Louisiana and Mississippi regions.

Mr. Hymel has served as a City Councilman for the Town of White Castle from 1982-1990.  He has volunteered much of his time to making Iberville Parish a better place for all. He has served on the Iberville Economic Development Committee, which led to the establishment of the Iberville Tourist Commission, where he served as Chairman from 1990-1992. Mr. Hymel has served as Secretary of the Home Rule Charter Commission from 1995-1996, this commission worked to create the Home Rule Charter form of government for Iberville Parish.  

He has served as an original member of the committee to create the Iberville Zoning Commission, and has been a team leader for a couple of Habitat for Humanity Program homes in Iberville Parish. After donating his time to being a volunteer for the Iberville Museum, Mr. Hymel has gone on to serve as Vice-Chairman and now serves as Chairman of the Iberville Museum Association. 

Mr. Hymel has written and published two books with ties to Iberville Parish.  A Human Interest Look at the Carrie B. in 2006 and The Impact of Oil on Iberville Parish in 2011. He is a member of the American Legion Westside Honor Guard, and serves as Master of Ceremonies of the Salute to Veterans Program on Veterans Day. He has accomplished all of this while being a recipient of heart transplants in both 1993 and 2010. 

Jolain Landry with The Iberville Parish School Board was also recognized as outgoing chairman of the board, and presented with a plaque and gift for her years of service. Ms. Landry passed the chairmanship gavel to Arron Pierre of A. Wilbert’s Sons, LLC as the incoming chairman of the board. 

Mr. Pierre then announced the officers elected for 2017 to serve on the executive committee: Jolain Landry, Past-Chairman, The Iberville Parish School Board; Christina Cedotal, Chair-Elect, The Dow Chemical Company; Bryan Casebonne, First Vice-Chair, Shintech Louisiana and McKenzie Wille Treasurer, Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Arron Pierre  announced the Board of Directors for 2017: Edward Earl Comeaux, Comeaux Brothers Construction; Chris Daigle, Daigle’s Market; David Hall, Iberville Parish Sales Tax Office; Joycelyn Lamothe, Citizens Bank & Trust Co.; Tonya Orcino, St. John School; J. Mitchell Ourso, Jr., Parish President of the Iberville Parish Council; and Larry Rouse, Individual Member.

Mr. Pierre Chairman’s Board Appointees for 2017 include: Brad Guerin, Fusion Architecture; Leman Raphael, City of St. Gabriel; and Chandler Smith, Iberville Parish School Board.

Dr. Jon Taylor a comedy hypnotist, provided the entertainment. Recent performances include the United States Air Force, Bush Gardens, LSU Greek Life, The Children’s Miracle Network and The Rio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Chamber board members Executive Director Hank Grace, 2016 Past-Chairman Steve Smith and 2017 Board appointee Leman Raphael were all hypnotized as part of the entertainment.   

Sponsoring the event this year as the Platinum Sponsor was The Dow Chemical Company.  The Gold Sponsors for the event were the Iberville community banks which include Anthem Bank; Citizens Bank & Trust Co.; Guaranty Bank; Iberville Bank, A Division of The First; Plaquemine Bank & Trust Co.; and The Bank of Commerce. 

The Silver Sponsor for the event was Plaquemine Truck Stop & Travel Center.  The Bronze Sponsors for the event were Axiall, A Westlake Co.; Essential Federal Credit Union; Excel Group; Iberville Parish School Board; NRG Energy, Inc.; Ochsner Medical Complex-Iberville; Olin Corporation-Louisiana Operations; SGS Petroleum Services; SNF Flopam Inc; Shintech Louisiana; Tiger Truck Stop, Inc. and A. Wilbert’s Sons, LLC.

Photos courtesy of Guzzardo Photography, LLC.