Simonton takes reins at BC Chamber
Usually in a new year “incomings” mean “out-goings” but that is not entirely the case at the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce. Several officers will change seats but the 2009 board of directors remain intact for 2010. Chamber officials say that’s a good thing.
Robert Simonton will become chamber president in the new year as 2009 president Mark Dunn becomes 2010 immediate past president.
Simonton is a three-term Bridge City Councilman and owner of Simonton Construction. He served as president-elect the previous year. Building upon several initiatives begun in the 2009, Simonton intends to move the chamber forward and he’s got the same core group of chamber directors to work with.
“I would like to thank the board of directors and the Ambassadors for their hard work this past year”, Simonton said, “I’m looking forward to working with them in the coming year.”
A top priority will be to hire a new Chamber Director. An initial search brought in 21 applicants in December but none that fit the much esteemed and high profile position.
Evelyn Brandon became acting director in July and holds the position as the search to fill the directorship resumes.
“I want to continue improving on what Mark started and see our chamber grow,” Simonton said, “Our membership involvement can be improved and that will be a key area of concentration, along with building our Ambassador membership.”
“I would like us to do a better job of promoting our hometown businesses,” he said. “Bridge City has a tremendous array of businesses that need the support of our community. When complete, our new web site will highlight local businesses and membership.”
Simonton said Bridge City has bounced back from Hurricane Ike.
“Most of our businesses have re-opened and we have new businesses that have opened, with more coming. We as a community need to support them. They are the ones that help keep our town viable.”
Other changes on the executive board include the election of Eric Andrus as president-elect. Andrus is the third-generation owner of Central Office Supply. Claudine Hogan will become vice president. Hogan is an owner of Hogan Steel and Erectors. Debbie Britnell with the Port of Orange remains treasurer.
Rounding out the board are Becky Andrews, Workforce Solutions; Ricky Land, Acadian Ambulance; Jerry Jones, city manager; Jerry McInnis, BCISD school board; Donna Scales, Orange County Parks director; Bette Smith, Bette’s Gift Shop; Robert Sullivan, Walmart; and Christy Teague, Capital One Bank.
“We dealt with several critical internal issues in 2009,” Dunn said, “We addressed them and moved on. The only time we looked back was to learn from our experience.”
In the 50th anniversary year, the chamber brought back an updated version of a formerly successful chamber event not held since 2002, the Orange County Celebrity Roast that cooked Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux on his birthday in October.
The year also included two “first-ever” chamber events. The Bayou Bowl Scholarship Banquet raised funds for two $1,000 scholarships to be awarded this spring to a Bridge City and Orangefield senior.
The Christmas Lights Parade highlighted the year, including the first night parade and a toy drive that provided new toys, food and clothing for nearly 700 area children in need.
“Also one of our biggest accomplishments was attaining the nonprofit status for the Historical Museum of Bridge City,” Dunn said. “Funding is available for local historic preservation, education and the creation of a real museum for Bridge City.”
Claudine Hogan chaired the committee that accomplished the goal assisted by daughter and son-in-law, Paige and Chuck Williams.
“It was one of the most rewarding years of my life,” Dunn said, “I was blessed by being surrounded by good people. By the end of the year most of us had become close friends. We ended 2009 by leaving the chamber better than we found it.”
The 2009 board also voted to donate $2,000 to the underfunded BCHS Project Graduation last spring. New employment guidelines and duties were approved. The board also made necessary revisions to the BCCC constitution and by-laws.
“The best part is that the same dedicated people are coming back and ready to jump into 2010,” Dunn said. “The chamber is in very good hands.”
Next up on the BCCC program of action is the 2010 annual banquet and installation of officers set for Nov. 20. The banquet will celebrate the 2009 Citizen of the Year, Business of the Year and Ambassador of the Year. The honorees will be announced later this month.
Simonton is married to attorney Joy Simonton; they have four children; Michael (25) and wife, Tina Simonton; Hayley (23) and husband, Kenny Cook; Christian Simonton (14) and Adley Kathryn Simonton (3 months). They have one grandchild, Mackenzie Grace Cook.
Alternate-elect to the 2010 chamber board is Adrienne Colletti, owner of Colletti Photography and Design. Other alternates include Marlene Desallate, Bobby Vincent, Ted Tolleson, Tom Orozco and Sarah Briggs.