By Julia Arenstam Staff Writer
Former Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet received The Courier’s Most Useful Citizen Award during the Houma-Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce’s 89th annual banquet tonight.
“I almost didn’t come tonight,” the stunned businessman and former public servant said after being given the award.
Claudet, who served two terms as parish president from 2008 to 2016, said his work to head-off rising flood insurance costs was one of his crowning achievements.
In 1996, he was given the Volunteer of the Year award for his work creating the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center and his role in the construction of the Terrebonne Parish Main Library in Houma.
Claudet also received the Tri-Parish Hall of Fame humanitarian award in 2006 for his work to restore downtown Houma.
“I’d like to thank those who nominated and voted for me and who worked with me,” Claudet said.
He was given the award by the 2017 recipient, Yolanda Trahan, the Terrebonne Foundation for Academic Excellence’s first director.
Among the night’s other honorees were the American Legion Teenager of the Year, Adeline Martin of South Terrebonne High School; the Distinguished Diplomat, Katherine Theriot of the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority; the Chamber Star, Dr. Gary Wiltz, CEO of Teche Action Clinic; Community Champion, Mike Barker of Barker Buick GMC; and HTV’s Eugene J. Folse Outstanding Veteran, Jack Croaker.
The chamber’s 2018 Chairman Jason Bergeron also welcomed his uncle, Pastor Phil Roop, of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to deliver the keynote address.
Roop told the crowd of over 500 guests about finding his passions, his battle with cancer and the need to persevere through hardships.
“Live to make a difference,” he said.
Whether that difference is in a single family member or friend, or a whole city, making a difference in other people’s lives is what organizations like the chamber are about, Roop said.
Relating to the story of David and Goliath, he said that it’s important to remember that dreams should be greater than their giants.
The chamber also recognized the 2018 Board of Directors: Bergeron, Chairman-elect Chad Hebert, Treasurer Chuck Weaver Jr. and Immediate Past Chair Kate Theriot.
The 2018 division chairs include Community Development Division Chair Michael Garcia, Chamber Development Division Chair LaDonna Cruse, Infrastructure and Economic Development Division Chair Mitchell Marmande and Government Activities Division Chair David Rabalais.