The Donaldsonville Chamber of Commerce held its annual dinner reception for 140 members and guests at Palazzo Bernardo on the evening of February 15.

The Members and Awards Banquet featured Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley as the guest speaker. Wiley, on his 6th term as Sheriff, said he applauds the parish for having a "dialogue when things are stressful."

Wiley shared some recent accomplishments of the Sheriff's Office, including $2.3 million obtained for the patrol of CF Industries' expansion. APSO has achieved a substantial surplus under Wiley and has one of the finest police training facilities in the country.

"We are building a park," Wiley said. He added that the park will have picnic areas and a basketball court for the community and families to benefit from.

"It's bigger than jail, tickets . . . I run the department like a private business, and our product is service," Wiley said.

He highlighted the fact that his department aided Baton Rouge police last year in the wake of turmoil following the death of Alton Sterling on July 5, 2016. He said the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office is now working on 360-degree cameras to be installed on patrol cars in the near future.

Moreover, Wiley mentioned that the department receives 55,000 emergency calls each year. His department is working on an expansion of emergency response that will allow Ascension to get on the line more quickly.

Next, Attorney Marvin Gros received the honor of Citizen of the Year by the chamber. Gros, who is also a member of the Donaldsonville Rotary Club, shared an overwhelming sense of positivity towards the city of Donaldsonville.

"We have the smallest community with the biggest heart in the country," Gros said.

The award for Business of the Year went to Ace Hardware at 301 Railroad Ave. Manager Joey Thibodeaux accepted the award.

"We appreciate the award, and we do accept it," Thibodeaux said. "We thank the customers, the people of Donaldsonville, the Lord and all that stuff."

The award for Teenager of the Year went to Tamiko Stroud of Donaldsonville High School. Stroud had tough competition from outstanding teen nominees Breanna Bernard, Jordan Diez, Paige Joseph, Katelyn Brown, Darell Honore Jr, Josephine Pollard, and Grace Villa.

Stroud is a Bayou Classic Scholarship recipient and is on her way to Southern University in Baton Rouge in the fall.

Mayor Leroy Sullivan gave a blessing of the food, a savory meal consisting of roast, potatoes, bread, salad and cake. Hailey Wysingle led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem.

Lastly, 2016 President John Daigle passed the torch to Jeff Henry. He offered Henry this piece of advice: "Never miss a meeting."

Follow Greg on Twitter: @ascensioneditor