Foreman, Woman of the Year, and Soileau, Man of the Year, at chamber’s annual banquet

By: MICHAEL BORDELON

News Editor

The Ville Platte Chamber of Commerce held its annual banquet Tuesday, April 29, to honor its Man and Woman of the Year, Business of the Year, Business Person of the Year and Farmer/Rancher of the Year.

The event also served as a birthday party for Ville Platte. Chamber Executive Director Camille Fontenot led the audience in singing Happy Birthday in honor of the city’s 150th year.

Guest speaker for the event was Mike Strain, newly-elected Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry. He spoke about the sad state of agriculture in Louisiana in this day and age, and vowed to work hard to help bring farmers back and get children interested in farming. He said the average age of farmers in Louisiana is 55.

“We need to find ways to get our young people interested in the agricultural field,” he said. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to change this state. We want to change laws to make this state more business friendly and promote, protect and advance agriculture.”

The first honoree receiving his award was Walter Tortorich, who was chosen as the Farmer/Rancher of the Year. Tortorich said he was honored to be chosen, but said all farmers still in the business after so many hardships are also deserving of the award.

Business Person of the Year honors were bestowed upon Toni Hamlin, Evangeline Parish School Board Superintendent. Presenter Rob Easton said Hamlin was chosen because of her hard work and dedication to the Evangeline Parish school system. Hamlin said she was very touched and grateful to receive the award, but her staff and the school board also deserve tremendous credit.

Business of the Year honors went to the Bonne Nouvelle. Presenter Armand Coreil said the Bonne Nouvelle was chosen because it is a publication that focuses on the positive aspects of this community. Bonne Nouvelle owner Bobby Dardeau, said the Bonne Nouvelle has been so successful because it is about the people. He also thanked his staff, Cindy Soileau and Debbie Lafleur for their hard work.

For Woman of the Year, presenter Nick LeBas said the honoree, Mable Foreman, truly deserved the award after spending 33 years helping people in the medical field. Foreman said she was honored to receive the award and added the people she works with at Ville Platte Home Health are the best people she could hope to work with.

Man of the Year honors were given to Grant Soileau. LeBas said Soileau is an incredibly hard worker who still manages to find the time to coach his grandson’s baseball team. Soileau, an employee of the Ville Platte Housing Authority and volunteer firefighter, said he would be nothing without his wife and children and he was thankful to receive the honor.

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