Donaldsonville at its best

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @DeRonTalley
Wayne Sotile, PhD, was presented with a key to the city by Mayor Leroy Sullivan at the Chamber Banquet last week.

For the last 30 years Dr. Wayne Sotile has studied resilience. Being a native of Donaldsonville and understanding what it takes to come from humble beginnings, as the speaker of the 2014 Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet Sotile was glad to see his hometown thriving.

“It’s Thursday night. Everybody’s busy. And 250 of you are here. It means something to be part of a community,” Sotile said to the crowd at Palazzo Bernardo’s last Thursday. “Life gets complicated but it’s always nice to know there is a place you can always come back to and call home.”

As a husband to Mary, father of two girls, business owner, author and much more, Sotile is well accomplished. However his memories of Donaldsonville remain strong.

Sotile, who lives in North Carolina, reflected back to the passing of his father in 2012 where he remembers more than 400 people attending the funeral service. He said that doesn’t happen everywhere.

Sotile also talked about some of the best memories he’s had growing up and dished out a few punch lines that drew some laughter from the crowd. The moment for Sotile came after he finished his talk when Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan gave him his “ruby slipper.”

“I’m reminded of the Wizard of Oz when little Dorothy just wanted to go back home and all along all she had to do was clack her ruby slippers together to get back,” Sullivan said after Sotile’s speech. “I want to give you your ‘ruby slipper’ in the form of the key to the City of Donaldsonville. Whenever you’re lonely and you feel there is no place like home, you can always come back or at least look at this key and have something to remind you of this city.”

Sullivan presented Sotile with a key to the city.

Before Sotile took the podium, the Chamber announced the winners of the year in categories of Teenager of the Year, Business of the Year and Citizen of the Year.

In the Teenager of the Year category, Ascension Catholic High School senior Marie Matirne won the honors.

The other nominees for Teenager of the Year were: Donaldsonville High School’s Kaitlyn Cayette, Macy Warr and Kaitlyn Oatis; and Ascension Catholic High School’s Peyton Joffiron and Lee Oubre

Security Plan Life Insurance Company was named Business of the Year, with Sidney Harp accepting the award.

Charles “Chuckie” LeBlanc of Bourg Insurance was named Citizen of the Year. LeBlanc is also the 2014 president-elect for the Donaldsonville Rotary Club and a founding member of Leadership Ascension.

The Chamber of Commerce also announced its 2014 president as Paul Landry IV of Foti Financial Group, succeeding Allison B. Hudson of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office. Hudson now assumes the role as vice president. Malissa Boudreaux will continue serving as the treasure, Pam Gregoire serves in tourism and Becky Katz remains as the executive director.

The 2014 Board of Directors were also announced and recognized as the following: Donald Alleman (Community Acceptance), Marvin Gros (Law Office of Marvin Gros), Karen Hartman (Plantation Antiques), Missy Jandura (Donaldsonville Downtown Development District), Mike LeBlanc (Postlethwaite and Netterville CPAs), Frank Marcello (Marcello Distributors), Mike Medine (Action Oilfield Services), Barbara Ourso (Ourso Funeral Home), Loretta Tempet, Eron Thomas (Edward Jones), DeRon Talley (Donaldsonville Chief), and Sidney Vega V (Vega Produktions).