By Jeffra DeViney
The DeQuincy Chamber of Commerce’s 72nd Annual Banquet was held Thursday, Mar. 7, at First United Pentecostal Church’s T. D. Cardwell Center. Approximately 100 persons were in attendance.
Josh Foster, 2019 Chamber President, welcomed everyone and gave an accounting of the Chamber’s 2018 projects and highlighted future plans for 2019.
In 2018, the Chamber attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for Fausto’s Restaurant Re-Grand Opening; sponsored “Breakfast with the Easter Bunny”; hosted a Fourth of July Hometown Celebration with fireworks; co-sponsored a Political Forum; and sponsored DeQuincy Christmas Parade and Christmas Downtown DeQuincy, which featured vendors’ booths, carriage rides, Santa in the Park and a fireworks display.
Foster thanked everyone for their support of the Chamber and announced that with 56 Chamber members the coming year plans include: maximizing member growth; an annual fish fry/auction; and promotions to celebrate 4th of July and Christmas festivities once again.
Emcee Harry Methvin presented former Mayor Lawrence Henagan with a plaque in recognition for all his service to the Chamber and the City of DeQuincy. Henagan remarked that he had 20 years of enjoying public service to DeQuincy and in helping people around the state; and that it had been his pleasure to serve.
Mayor Riley Smith, outgoing Vice President of the Chamber, presented former resident Robie Touchette of DeRidder with the 2019 Distinguished Person Award. Touchette, Beauregard Regional President of FNBD Bank, acknowledged that it had been a pleasure to have grown up in a community like DeQuincy, where people support each other. He said, “I will always be a Tiger; DeQuincy is a special place to me.”
Nominees for the 2019 Civic Service Award were introduced. They were: Tim and Lynne Treme, nominated by Jeanette Teeter and Janice Brown; and Sissy Carter, nominated by Josh Foster.
2019 Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors were recognized, they are: President Josh Foster, First Vice President Darlene Hooker; Treasurer Jerry Bell, Manager Lillian Karr, Jeffra DeViney, Amos Jones, Peggy Copeland, Sherri Breaux, Lakin Mazilly, Diane Engle, Ellen Guilbeaux, Heather Royer, Carolyn Dowers, Jordan Mothershed, Anthony Kennon, Kyle Carlson, Tricia Busceme, Nickie Wall and Mayor Riley Smith, ex officio.
Lillian Karr presented the 2019 Business of the Year Award to Carolyn Dowers, owner of Shop Around the Corner, whose retail clothing store is now celebrating its 10th year anniversary.
The guest speaker was George Swift of the Southwest Economic Development Alliance. He told of the unprecedented growth going on in Southwest Louisiana with $44 billion in economic development. Swift sited the expansion of LNG plants, including Cheniere LNG, Cameron LNG and another four now under construction, to bring in another $35 billion this year. $109 billion is sited to be used for construction issues. Jobs created during the construction phase will bring about 1,800 workers, as plants grow, about 20,000 permanent jobs will be created, assuring long term growth from the industries.
He said that DeQuincy had all the favorable ingredients for growth: faith; an A rated school; DeQuincy Memorial Hospital; nine historic homes and other historic sites; it is rich in history; a local newspaper; retail outlets, including Nichols; restaurants; DeQuincy Railroad Museum; Louisiana Railroad Days Festival; Old Town Hall Museum; and a downtown mural project.
Swift reiterated that DeQuincy is a positive location to live and work (and not have to cross over the Lake Charles bridges); the largest boom in the economy is only 25 minutes away.
He urged that attractions be developed for DeQuincy such as: recreational projects; work to certify sites at the DeQuincy Industrial Airpark and initiate a clean-up DeQuincy campaign to show pride in the city. He said “with focus, DeQuincy can grow and be a #1 choice for residential growth in Calcasieu Parish. Changes are required. Can we embrace the changes necessary for the future?”
Tim and Lynn Treme were presented a plaque for the 2019 Civic Service Award. Letters written for their nominations were read focusing on the fact that the Tremes give freely of themselves to improve all functions of DeQuincy – civic, education and church related.