Chamber of Commerce to honor local leaders

Four citizens and a local school will be honored at the upcoming Greater Grambling Chamber of Commerce annual banquet.
The awards will be given Oct. 23 in the Black and Gold Room of the Favrot Student Union at Grambling State. Tickets are $25 and tables of eight are $180. The banquet begins at 7 p.m. and a wine and cheese reception is at 6 p.m.

The title sponsor for this year’s event is the American Legion Post 593 and the theme is “Celebrating Community Contributions.”

“This year, we are instituting a new format in which the chamber will be acknowledging several outstanding individuals and businesses in our community,” said President Barbara McIntyre.

“This highlight of individual contributions is done not only in who we chose to honor, but also in the naming of the different categories of the awards.”

McIntyre said new addition to the chamber banquet is a silent auction.

“We’ve gotten some excellent contributions to our silent auction,” McIntyre said.

She said some of the items donated so far include a Tiffany Vase, a handmade quilt, a dining out package including area restaurants, a gift package of GSU memorabilia and a package of Juneteenth memorabilia.

Each award is named for longtime Grambling citizens who made major contributions to the advancement of the community.

David Wright will receive the Calvin Wilkerson Award for overall achievements. Wright is a retired educator who has served on the University of Louisiana board of trustees, Lincoln Parish School Board as president and as assistant principal of Ruston High School.

The late Calvin Wilkerson was a local businessman also active in the social and political affairs of the community.

He was elected to Lincoln Parish School Board and appointed to the University of Louisiana Board of trustees among other honors.

Valena Lane will receive the Thelma Smith Williams Community Service Award. She is retired as an educator, executive director of the Grambling Housing Authority and executive director of the community Coordinating Council, covering a three-parish area.

Thelma Smith Williams is a retired university professor and high school teacher who worked at Grambling State and Grambling State Laboratory High School. Some have calledher Grambling’s unofficial historian. She has written a book on the community and has an extensive collection of historical Grambling documents.

Charles Henry Owens III will receive the L.D. Land Government Award. Owens is the director of auxiliary services for the Lincoln Parish School System and served on the Lincoln Parish Police Jury for 24 years.

The late L.D. Land was an educator and one of the defendants in the lawsuit that created single-member districts in Lincoln Parish. This action in the early 1970s opened the door to black representation on elected boards throughout the South.

Dr. Rhonda Pruitt will receive the A.D. Smith Business Award. Dr. Pruitt and her clinic, True Dental Care in Grambling contributed to many community projects. A.D. Smith owned an insurance business in Grambling, was on the city council and was principal of Grambling High School.

The Grambling Magnet School will receive the R.W.E. Jones Education Award for 100 percent passing rate for the 8th grade LEAP standardized test scores for the academic year 2008-2009. The late R. W.E. Jones served as president of Grambling State for 41 years.

For more information, contact Cathy Douglas, 274-2200; Nettie Goree, 247-8442 and Barbara McIntyre, 243-1858.