For the first time, two people were chosen Concordians of the Year by members of the Concordia Chamber of Commerce
Concordia Parish School Superintendent Whest Shirley and Director of Concordia Parish libraries Amanda Taylor shared the award.
The announcement was made at the chamber’s annual awards dinner and celebration held March 21 at the Vidalia Riverfront Center.
A lifelong Concordian and educator, Shirley credited his success to the support he receives from his family.
“I had all of the support in the world,” Shirley said. “I grew up in a hard-working Christian home. I married my best friend. When you marry into the Probst family, you marry into a posse. I just have a great support system.”
Shirley’s love for his parish showed in his acceptance speech.
“When we graduated high school, most of my buddies were trying to get out of Concordia Parish,” Shirley remembered. “I was fighting tooth and nail to stay. It’s a great place. A wonderful place to raise a family.”
Shirley’s career in education began in 1991 at Adams County Christian School. In 1995, Shirley moved to Vidalia Junior High as a teacher/coach and in 2006 moved up the ranks to school principal where he received the Concordia Chamber Educator of the Year the following year.
During his leadership at Vidalia Junior High, the school obtained the recognition of National Blue Ribbon School in 2009.
Shirley, a licensed minister, is in his fourth term with the Concordia Parish Police Jury and served two years as president.
Amanda Taylor, the co-winner with Shirley, has served children, adults, businesses and non-profits in Concordia Parish for more than 45 years. She began her librarian career at Lincoln Junior College after receiving her master’s degree in library science from Louisiana State University. In 1977, she accepted the position as public library director for Concordia Parish libraries.
In her service, she has been recognized statewide for her “innovation and contributions to her community,” said chamber member Brandy Spears, award presenter.
Taylor has received awards from Louisiana Endowment for Humanities and Louisiana Library Association. She was also 2012 Concordian of the Year.
Under her tenure, Taylor has spearheaded the renovation of both Vidalia and Ferriday libraries and the construction of the new Clayton library.
Not only has Taylor drastically improved the exterior of Concordia Parish libraries, she has improved the interior workings of the libraries. Due to her forward vision, Concordia Parish Libraries book database has been converted from a card catalogue system to an internet based automated system.
Additionally, Taylor played a key role seeing the Old Concordia Parish Courthouse being placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“I love my job,” Taylor said. “It has been a pleasure. Most of all, the people of this parish are so special.”
Business of the Year
The 2018 Business of the Year, Duck’s Nest II, is the “best kept dining experience in the Miss-Lou,” said Chamber president and award presenter Tance Hughes.
Located on Lake St. John, the restaurant offers patrons steaks, seafood and burgers along with great service, Hughes said.
“Although ownership may have changed over the years since it was first opened in 1997, this family-owned and operated business has consistently offered great food and serves customers from all over Louisiana and Mississippi,” Hughes said.
Partners Josh Johns’ and Ryan Boyles’ vision for Duck’s Nest II is a restaurant that not only they can be proud of but the entire community of Concordia Parish can be proud of.
“Thank you to our employees and customers for supporting us,” Johns said.
The duo also thanked their wives, Brandi Boles and Sylvia Johns, parents and extended family for supporting them and working hand in hand in making Duck’s Nest II a business to be proud of.
Fifty-year Service Award
For 50 years Supermarket Operations have been serving patrons of the Miss-Lou area and was awarded a 50-Year Service Award by the Concordia Chamber.
With over 300 employees, the company has eight stores in five towns.
“The Markets are known throughout this area for community service,” said presenter Josh Wilson.
Since 1995, the Markets have raised over $420,000 for Relay for Life. Other nonprofit organizations the Markets support are Natchez Young Professionals, Boy Scouts, Natchez Music Festival, St. Jude, Natchez Stew Pot and Catholic Charities. The Markets also show support to area schools.
“They have always been a sponsor and help for the Concordia Chamber of Commerce,” Wilson said.
Educator of the Year
Amber Passman was named the 2018 Concordia Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year.
Passman is a 20-year teaching veteran and a teacher at Monterey Elementary School where she won Elementary Teacher of the Year. She is very active in her school where she is a 4-H leader and active in her community.
Farmers of the Year
Brothers Barrett and Brannon Arthur were named 2018 Concordia Chamber of Commerce Farmers of the Year.
The brothers farm 11,000 acres in Concordia and Tensas Parish in soybeans, corn, wheat, milo and cotton.
“In 2016, they planted their first crop of rice which has been a dream of their father,” said presenter Stephen Dawkins. “These farmers are up to date with the latest farming technology which enables them to manage a large farming operation.”
First Responder of the Year
Nolen Cothren was named the 2018 Concordia Chamber of Commerce First Responder of the Year.
Cothren has served Concordia Parish for more than 40 years. Cothren was named fire chief of Concordia Fire District No. 2 in 1991. Prior to the chief position, he worked as a dispatcher.
Under Cothren’s guidance the district covers the entire parish not covered by Vidalia, Ferriday and Monterey. He was instrumental in establishing fire stations at Deer Park, Poole Road, La. Hwy 84, Lake Concordia, Lake St. John, Dunbarton Road, Clayton and Ridgecrest.
“You can’t do this by yourself,” Cothren said as he thanked all of his support personnel.