By Brittany Wilson

Bastrop Enterprise

The Bastrop-Morehouse Chamber of Commerce celebrated local businesses with their annual Chamber Banquet held Tuesday, February 26.

This year’s banquet, with the theme “There's No Business Like Local Business,” was catered by ETC catering and recognized the important businesses and individuals in the community.

“This is the night where once a year we get to recognize important people in our community,” said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dorothy Ford. “These businesses are sponsoring little league teams and community events,” she said.

After the meal, several Community Awards were given out to honor those who the Chamber recognizes as playing a big part in the city of Bastrop.

The Outstanding Deputy for Morehouse Sheriff's Office Award was presented to Lieutenant John Davis. Davis began his career with the MPSO in 1996 and has served for 21 years in various departments. He was promoted to Second in Command of Morehouse Parish Sheriff's Office Civil Department in 2017.

Chief Timothy Williams received the Outstanding Fireman, Bastrop Fire Department Award. He started working with the Bastrop Fire Department in 2000 and is now Fire Prevention Chief. Williams has worked hard to improve all areas of the department and ensure safety.

Outstanding Police Officer-City of Bastrop was awarded to Sergeant Jamie Wages. He has worked with the department since 2016 and was recently promoted to Sergeant. It was noted that he has been of great service to the department and city.

The award for Educator of the Year for Prairie View Academy went to Lisa May. She has been in education for 26 years and has taught 5th grade at PVA for 14 years.

Annette Corder was recognized as the Outstanding Teacher for Morehouse Parish. She began teaching in Bastrop in 2017 and also sponsors the Magnet School 4-H. It was stated that she encourages her students to keep learning and believes they are all capable.

Candy Nugent received the Chamber Board Member of the Year Award. Ford noted how helpful she was and said she was an asset to the board.

Morehouse Community Medical Centers received the Business Innovative Leadership Award this year. Founded in 2002, MCMC now has eight clinics with a ninth one soon to be built. MCMC offers healthcare to the community, the low income and uninsured in particular, and Ford noted their importance to the community and the good care they give to locals.

The J.D. Kelley Memorial Award was given to Rick Duplissey, a certified public accountant. He is a certified public accountant. Ford noted his hard work and impact in the community.

Ford also presented former Chamber President Angela Gladney with an award thanking her for her service and dedication as 2018 president.

Ford congratulated all of the winners and noted how the community’s officials, teachers, attorneys, and others are just as important as retail businesses.

“We want to honor not only our retail businesses but our other businessmen such as attorneys, realtors, and insurance agencies,” she commented.

After the presentation of awards, attendees heard guest speaker Dennis Epps, Chancellor of the Louisiana Delta Community College. He discussed the importance of supporting local business and getting others to do the same.

“Our Communities are built on the strength of our business and industry,” he explained. “I encourage you to get others to do business here because that is how you build the economy and strengthen your community.”

He also spoke on attracting new businesses. He noted that businesses look at the possibility of making money and the quality of life when looking to start a business somewhere. Epps also noted the importance of taking care of businesses that are already in place.

“We need to know who's in need and what they need,” he said. “If you don't take care of your employers then you don't deserve new ones.”

He mentioned the need for quality workers. He explained that people need more skills for jobs today and that Louisiana Delta Community College is doing its best to impart those skills to its students.

He ended by saying he believes Morehouse can create quality workers and be a great community to live in.

“Let's make a community that can keep your children and grandchildren here,” he encouraged.

Ford and the Chamber of Commerce thanked their sponsors including the City of Bastrop, Rick Duplissey, CPA, Morehouse Community Medical Centers, Northeast Tel, Origin Bank, Parish Printers, and Red River Employees Federal Credit Union.

Ford congratulated the honorees, thanked those who attended, and reminded everyone to buy local in support of the community.