Oceaneering named St. Mary’s top chamber business

Pauline Kirbo Thames
February 10, 2009
Julia H. Richard
February 12, 2009
Pauline Kirbo Thames
February 10, 2009
Julia H. Richard
February 12, 2009

The St. Mary Parish Chamber of Commerce awarded Oceaneering International of Morgan City its Business of the Year award, and named Franklin activist Didi Battle its Citizen of the Year.

Also honored at the chamber’s ninth annual banquet on Jan. 22 were former St. Mary Chamber Director Emile Babin, St. Mary School Board Safe and Drug Free Schools Coordinator Jacki Ackel and the parish’s Boy Scouts of America.

The Cajun Coast (St. Mary Parish’s Tourism Office) honored Raven Minor, a Best Western Morgan City hotel desk clerk, with the Hospitality Employee of the Year.

The banquet drew roughly 450 people at the Pavilion inside Cypress Bayou Casino.

Jerry Gauthier, vice president of Oceaneering, accepted the award on behalf of the 45-year-old company.

Oceaneering employs more than 7,500 employees worldwide.

“We enjoy St. Mary Parish because of the work ethic of the people here – it’s just amazing,” Gauthier told the crowd. “You just don’t replicate this anywhere – it’s unparalleled in the world.”

Last year, Oceaneering expanded its Patterson and Bayou Vista operations in St. Mary Parish with a $20 million investment. The upgrade is at a remote operating vehicle manufacturing facility in Morgan City, the site of Texaco’s former operations on Railroad Avenue. There, they added 300 new professionals to its staff.

Battle was named the 2008 Citizen of the Year. She is a member of the chamber, the Rotary Club of Franklin and the Franklin Republican Women. She also is a commissioner for the Franklin Foundation Hospital, and was member of the steering committee for the restoration of the lampposts along Main Street in Franklin.

In accepting the award, Battle encouraged people to “enjoy the many tourist attractions St. Mary Parish has to offer, particularly in Franklin with its parks and The Teche Theatre attractions.”

Babin, who was director of the St. Mary Parish Chamber from September 1991 until April 2004, was also honored for his service. “Your time, your talent and your treasures make this community better, and it’s something I will never forget,” he said.

Ackel nabbed the Virginia Tyler-Guillotte Award as the chamber’s citizen of the year.

Ackel is a 27-year veteran of the St. Mary Parish School System. She also serves as a board member of the Claire House, the St. Mary Parish Substance Abuse and Prevention Committee, St. Mary Parish MADD Chapter, and the Louisiana Safe and Drug-Free Schools Organization.

The chamber awarded the St. Mary Parish Boy Scouts of America as its non-profit organization of the year because of its work with more than parish 400 youth.

Boy Scouts of America Chitimacha District Commissioner Bobby Cline accepted the award for the organization.

Carrie Stansbury, executive director of the St. Mary Parish Tourist Commission, otherwise known as the Cajun Coast and Visitors Bureau, awarded Minor with the group’s Cajun Coast Hospitality Employee of the Year award.

“According to her bosses, she is an absolute jewel and takes her responsibilities very seriously,” Stansbury told onlookers. “As a desk agent, she calls guests by their first name and makes their stay very memorable.”

Oceaneering Vice President Jerry Gauthier and 2009 St. Mary Parish Chamber of Commerce Board Chairwoman Rose Arceneaux are pictured at the recent awards ceremony. * Photo by HOWARD J. CASTAY