The West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce celebrated several firsts and honored West Side residents and members at its annual banquet held at the Addis Community Center on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

During 2018, the chamber developed its first strategic plan, earned board accreditation, launched an internship program for local high school students, and hosted the state’s inaugural economic development tour via drone. 

Its members make every success possible, Executive Director Jamie Hanks said during her address. The chamber awarded several members and businesses for their impact on the community. 

Brusly native and town clerk Blaine Rabalais earned the most prestigious individual award—the 2018 Pride of West Baton Rouge. 

Rabalais, formerly known as “Mr. Nextel,” is an integral member of several local organizations and has been a member of the chamber for nearly two decades. He and his wife Ashley are raising their two children, Tyce, a 6-year-old Brusly Elementary student and Ainsley, 2. 

He serves as the president of the Brusly Elementary Parent Teacher Organization, a WBR Relay for Life committee member, a riding member of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Krewe of Endymion and member of St. John the Baptist church in Brusly. As a loyal Brusly High School alum, he is also a member of the Brusly High Football Gridiron Club. 

Best of Business awards were presented to Easley Builders, named the New Member of the Year, Merle Norman and Studio Too, named Small Business of the Year, and Cox Business, named the Large Business of the Year. 

The Chamber named Brusly High alumna, Port Allen Rotary Club President, and Certified Personal Accountant Melanie Clouatre the Young Professional of the Year.  

Two members were honored for their dedicated service to the chamber. Real estate agent Kim Blanchard was named the Chamber Ambassador fo the Year and Danielle Gueho was named Volunteer of the Year. 

The 2019 Executive Committee are Glen Daigle, Sandra Hughes, Patrick Hobbins, Mary Arrasmith, and Aaron Pierre. The 2019 Board Members are Abby Cook Barden, Branden Barker, Paula Bernard, Nick Cicero, Scott D’Agostino, Ben Graham, Jason Hammack, Heath Morris, Katreena S. Moses, B.J. Militello, Ash Patel, Rawlston Phillips, III, Chris Reeves, LeAnn Stelly, Brittany Weaver, Devin Zito, and Kevin Durbin. Members of each were sworn in by Judge Will Kleinpeter. 

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