Society

A night in old N’Awlins

Awards flow at Chamber ‘fais-do-do’ Thursday


Clockwise from top left: Mike Brown, Citizen of the Year; Brad and Rose Owens accept Outstanding Citizens Award from Rebecca Vasquez, Chamber Chair; Mike Walko picks up Organization of the Year Award for Rockdale; Masonic Lodge 414; Charlie and Viva McGregor, KRXT, Business of the Year; Betty Backhaus, Ambassador of the Year. Clockwise from top left: Mike Brown, Citizen of the Year; Brad and Rose Owens accept Outstanding Citizens Award from Rebecca Vasquez, Chamber Chair; Mike Walko picks up Organization of the Year Award for Rockdale; Masonic Lodge 414; Charlie and Viva McGregor, KRXT, Business of the Year; Betty Backhaus, Ambassador of the Year. Rockdale’s KC Hall turned into New Orleans French Quarter for an evening Thursday as the Chamber of Commerce revitalized its annual banquet.

An estimated 285 persons attended, many in Mardi Gras costumes. They ate Cajun food from BB’s in Houston, heard Dixieland music from the Communities in Concert Band and had a rollicking good time.

What didn’t change was the annual awards.

Mike Brown picked up the Citizen of the Year plaque, the Outstanding Citizens Award went to Brad and Rose Owens. Rockdale Masonic Lodge 414 was named Organization of the Year, KRXT-FM was Business of the Year and Betty Backhaus was Ambassador of the Year.


Reporter photos by Mike and Sue Brown Reporter photos by Mike and Sue Brown CITIZENS—Ann King, former Chamber Chair Rebecca Vasquez and Terri Sandoval, current chair, presented the awards.

King said Brown “could have gone anywhere” but chose to come back to his home town and has worked for The Rockdale Reporter for 43 years, the past 19 as editor.

“He can paint a picture with words. He is fair and honest when reporting the news and saves his opinions for the editorial page,” she said.

Sandoval noted the Emmaus Project, found- ed by the Owens to provide free meals, recently served its 30,000th meal.

“Each meal has been delivered with a smile and a caring attitude,” she said. “They help with yard work when people are unable to do it for themselves, build handicap ramps, and place ice chests on streets so neighborhood kids can have a bottle of water and a sandwich during the summer months.”

MORE PRAISE—Last year the Masonic Lodge held an event which honored 112 persons.

Volunteers from the lodge supported the Chamber’s Buckin’’ Bulls BBQ Cookoff, Masons partner with the Chamber to provide free heaters during the winter months and the lodge awards a pair of $2,000 scholarships each year.

Mike Walko accepted the award for the lodge.

KRXT was lauded for being “all about Rockdale. They have a genuine concern for people and show that by the way they conduct business and conduct their personal lives.”

Station owner Charlie and wife—and on-the-air personality—Viva accepted.

Backhaus was termed “a soft spoken, genteel lady who has been the backbone of the Ambassadors (volunteers who assist the Chamber) since their inception.

“If you need a cake, give her a call and she will bake two. Need someone to answer phones at the Chamber, she’s there. Need someone to take tickets, you can count on her.”

UNITED WAY—Paul Dixon, South Milam County United Way board member, listed that organization’s annual awards as follows:

• W. H. Cooke Award (outstanding support by a business or organization), presented posthumously to Kathy Cooke.

• Continuous Supporter Award, Luminant/Luminant Diversity council

• Business support, Perry & Perry Builders.

• Special support, Gaye Bland, Lee’s Landing, Abiding Choice.

RECOGNITION—Sandoval handed out some personal “special” awards as follows:

• Eternally Late Award, Mike Pruett.

• Delegator Award, Rev. Adam Straznicky.

• Duct Tape (Fix Anything) Award—Kenny Svrcek.

STUDENTS—Leadership awards were presented to groups of two South Milam County schools by Allen Sanders and Julie Sulak as follows:

Rockdale High School— Yesica Acosta, Daniel Banda, Annie Hasselbach, Cameron Mireles, Esmerelda Salcedo, Trace Phillips.

Milano High School— Bailey Baggerly, Xoe Broussard.

Former chair Cynthia Zindars was presented an appreciation award.

Invocation and benediction was by Ron Boswell, interim pastor of Meadowbrook Baptist Church.



Reeeealy in the spirit of Mardi Gras Night, new Chamber Chair Terri Sandoval and husband Andy could have been strolling down Bourbon Street instead of an aisle at the KC Hall. Theme extended to the food with Cajun cuisine from BB’s in Houston, owned by Rockdale native Brooks Bassler. Reeeealy in the spirit of Mardi Gras Night, new Chamber Chair Terri Sandoval and husband Andy could have been strolling down Bourbon Street instead of an aisle at the KC Hall. Theme extended to the food with Cajun cuisine from BB’s in Houston, owned by Rockdale native Brooks Bassler.



Young scholars honored: (L-R) Daniel Banda, Annie Hasselbach, Trevor Knesek, Cameron Mireles, Esmeralda Salcedo of Rockdale, Bailey Baggerly and Xoe Broussard of Milano, Not pictured, Yesica Acosta, Trace Phillips. 
Reporter/Mike Brown Young scholars honored: (L-R) Daniel Banda, Annie Hasselbach, Trevor Knesek, Cameron Mireles, Esmeralda Salcedo of Rockdale, Bailey Baggerly and Xoe Broussard of Milano, Not pictured, Yesica Acosta, Trace Phillips. Reporter/Mike Brown

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