La Grange Chamber names citizen, small business of the year
The La Grange Chamber of Commerce 2018 Citizen of the year is Pastor John Wiggins of La Grange First Missionary Baptist Church. Presenting the award is Chamber president Tyrone Morgan. Photo by Jon Dawson / Neuse News
LA GRANGE — The La Grange Chamber of Commerce held its 33rd annual banquet on Tuesday at the La Grange Community Center, 410 E. Washington Street.
After opening remarks by Jeff Howard of Howard Insurance Agency and an invocation by La Grange NAACP President John Miller, the 226 attendees dined while being entertained by Patricia Murphy's P&D Fitness Line Dancers.
The banquet's guest speaker was Baylor University Professor and former Walmart USA CEO Bill Simon. During his speech, Simon made several references to his wife Tammy, daughter of Ernie Thornton who owned/operated the Ideal Barbershop in La Grange for many years.
"America isn't New York, America is La Grange and thousands of towns like La Grange," Simon said. "Small towns have been through some hard times, but if we wait for the conditions to be perfect to take a risk and follow our own vision, nothing will happen."
While making his point for the necessity of risk, Simon referenced a high-profile failure from his past.
"Remember Crystal Pepsi?" Simon said. "That was me. When Saturday Night Live parodies your product, you know you've hit rock bottom."
Among Simon's many successes was the introduction of $4 prescriptions for generic medications during his tenure at Walmart.
"I thought it was wrong that Americans were having to purchase their medications from Canada, so we did something about it."
The first award of the night - Young Citizen of the Year for 2018 - was presented to Fawn Creech, a fifth-grader at La Grange Elementary School.
"If the teacher was unavailable, Fawn would have no problem running the classroom," said presenter Zachary Fritz, a teacher at La Grange Elementary.
C&S Laundry was named Small Business of the Year, with owner Cornell Mewborn accepting the award after introductory remarks from Mewborn's granddaughter Shamiya Mewborn.
La Grange Chamber of Commerce President Tyrone Morgan introduced Citizen of the Year Winner John Wiggins, Pastor of La Grange Missionary Baptist Church and a key member of the Change4LaGrange organization.
"When I was being considered for the job of pastor at La Grange Missionary, I told them I didn't want ours to be a white church or a black church or a Hispanic church, but a community church that anyone should be able to enter and feel welcomed, loved and safe."
The program ended with special remarks by Charmaine Morgan Sutton of the La Grange Chamber of Commerce.
"We had a great turnout tonight and a wonderful banquet," Howard said.
For more photos and video from the event, please visit the NeuseNews.com Facebook page.
Contact Jon Dawson at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.jondawson.com.