By Dave Rogers
For The Record

She shined a spotlight on her hometown and now Bridge City is returning the favor.
Historian Charlotte Schexnider Chiasson, whose latest work – “The History of Prairie View – Bridge City” – is undoubtedly sitting under many Orange County Christmas trees, has been named Citizen of the Year by the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce.
Chiasson will be honored at the Chamber’s Taste of the Bayou annual banquet set for 6 p.m. Jan. 9 at Bridge City Elementary School, 1031 W. Roundbunch Road.
Bridge City Radiator & Auto Repair is being honored as Business of the Year.
Local restaurants will provide the food and the Gulf Coast Playboys Band will handle the entertainment at the banquet, a family-friendly event open to the public.
Tickets are $15 per person. Sponsored tables for eight people are $160.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit the Chamber at 150 W. Roundbunch Road between 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., call 409-735-5671, email bcchamber@bridgecitychamber.com or download the printable reservation form at www.bridgecitychamber.com.
In an interview in advance of her book, Chiasson said it was her work at a former Orange County newspaper named “The Orange Countian” that developed her passion as a story teller.
Prairie View was the name of the town that became Bridge City in 1941, she said.
“The original settlers called it Prairie View because there were no trees,” Chiasson said. “You could see for miles and miles.”
Chiasson went to work for the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce in 1987. That 15-year association naturally brought her into contact with many of Bridge City’s movers and shakers.
“Whenever I’d talk to civic leaders, I’d take notes,” the author said. “I always thought, ‘Someday, I’ll write a book.’”
Stories in the book emerged from a variety of sources: a man she met during the 1991 dedication of the Veterans Memorial Bridge had fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II; naturalist Sue Bailey relayed to Chiasson things her grandmother had shared with her about life before electricity; Robert Kibbe told stories about his heirs who were the Blands, one of the first big landowners in the Bridge City area.
Bridge City Radiator & Auto Repair has been in business for 38 years and is owned by Kirk Roccaforte.
In 2008, Roccaforte was named Citizen of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce for his part in rebuilding Bridge City after Hurricane Ike.
At the time, he was Bridge City mayor. He sits on city council now.