Chiasson named Citizen of the year at Bridge City Chamber 57th Annual Banquet
Published 9:25 am Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Special to The Leader
The Bridge City Chamber of Commerce held its 57th Annual Banquet Monday, January 9, 2017 at the Bridge City Elementary School. The Chamber strives to make this event fun and lively every year. Good old Cajun music provided by the Gulf Coast Playboys Band set the tempo for the “Taste of the Bayou” as attendees sampled food from several local restaurants. Don Bonnin provided a Sports Memorabilia Auction with a wide variety of items for guests to bid on. Boudreaux Da Gator from Sabine River Ford made an appearance to the delight of young (and not so young) guests. Neches Federal Credit Union provided their photo booth for everyone to take selfies which were then emailed or texted to them. Madison Juneau wowed the crowd with her amazing vocals while singing the National Anthem. Master of Ceremonies was Kirk Ellender for the second year in a row.
The first award of the evening Bridge City Citizen of the Year went to Charlotte Anne Schexnider Chiasson. Charlotte Anne Schexnider Chiasson is the granddaughter of Theodore and Ella Broussard Schexnider and Edvar and Alice Trahan Hebert, all of Kaplan, Louisiana. Her parents are Leo and Lula Mae Hebert Schexnider, originally of Kaplan, LA. Her parents were part of the Louisiana migration in the late 1940s that left the rice fields of Kaplan for work at the oil refineries in Jefferson County. Her family soon moved to rural Bridge City where her father Leo grew a large garden, a big fig tree and raised ducks, rabbits and a sundry of other things to supplement meals for his eleven children.
Charlotte began first grade in 1957 in the old Bridge City school building on Texas Avenue that housed first through twelfth grades, then at mid-term her class moved into the brand-new Roy M. Hatton Elementary School on W. Roundbunch. She graduated from Bridge City High School in 1970 where she was active in the Future Homemakers of America club serving as president, then immediately after graduating attended Atlantic Airline Training School in California. In the fall of 1970 it was the height of the women’s liberation movement and airline stewardess were on strike so Charlotte returned to Bridge City. Over the years, Charlotte has been very involved in the Bridge City Community as a former member of the PTA, a little league team mom, served as a clerk and judge for the Bridge City ISD since 1987 and was the charter president of the Friends of the Bridge City Public Library in 1988 and continues to serve as an officer and volunteer. Charlotte received an award from the Texas Historical Commission for her work on the ceremony for the 50th Anniversary of the Rainbow Bridge in 1988. She then co-chaired the dedication of the Veterans Memorial Bridge in 1990 and co-chaired the rededication of the Rainbow Bridge in 1997. Chiasson also served on the Board of Directors for The American Red Cross for three years and as secretary for 2 years & was a Disaster Core member. In 2003, she received an award from the Third Battalion-Second Marines-The Warpigs of Weapons Co. 3/2 for her collection of 1,200 pairs of white, cotton socks that were mailed to the battalion during Operation Iraqi Freedom. From 1993-2003 she was a member of Team Cities of Texas committee. Charlotte served on two bond issue committees for BCISD in 1995 and again in 2001. She also served on the Wal Mart Scholarship Committee for five years.
She was on the City of Bridge City Beautification Committee in 1989 when it was selected as citizen of the year. She has worked as a substitute teacher, reporter-typesetter and cooking columnist for the “Orange Countian Newspaper”, then 15 years as the executive vice president of the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce where she began to interview pillars of the community hoping one day to write a book about local history. She began working for Lamar State College-Orange in 2003 in the Education-Mathematics and Leisure Learning Division. Charlotte volunteers as aSunday school teacher, she loves to read, quilt and travel especially with her six sisters who plan “sister trips” at least twice a year. They call themselves “Les Sept Soeurs”. Charlotte just completed writing “The History of Prairie View-Bridge City” with proceeds to benefit The Friends of the Bridge City Public Library expansion project.
Charlotte has two daughters. Kristi Prejean lives in Cypress, Texas with her husband, Mike, and her two granddaughters Ashlee and Shanna Prejean. Her daughter Brooke Rogers, lives in Orangefield, with her husband, Jason, and two grandsons, Asher Addison and Hudson Rogers. Charlotte’s siblings are Brad, of Kaplan, La., Larry lives in Orange, Gwen Dubose, lives in Beaumont, Annette Fontenot and Marian Small live in Bridge City, Therese Levins lives in Spurger, Tim lives in Lumberton, Cecilia (Cil) Dixon lives in Bridge City, Regi lives in Dublin, TX and Trudy Wennekamp lives in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. Their mother, Lula Mae Schexnider, is 87 and lives in Bridge City, in their former duck barn restored after Hurricane Ike as “her cottage”. Lula Mae has 31 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren and expecting two.
Bridge City Radiator & Auto Repair began business in 1979 as Roc’s Radiator, a part time business owned by Kirk and Shirley Roccaforte. They purchased City Gulf in 1982 and became Bridge City City Gulf and Radiator Inc. This location was sold in 1987 and moved to Texas Ave. and Farm Dr. doing business as Bridge City Radiator & Auto Repair. After years of hard work and planning, Kirk and Shirley Roccaforte built and moved to their current location – 1665 Miller Dr. (FM 408) in July 1997. In 2015 the Roccaforte family suffered a great loss when Shirley was called home. She is fondly remembered by the Bridge City community and beyond. Well known for her unique customer service abilities she will not soon be forgotten as is apparent by a memorial in her honor at Bridge City Radiator. This family business started by Kirk and Shirley Roccaforte continues to flourish today with Aaron Roccaforte, and employees Tara Crone and Kyle Manuel.
“We are proud to be part of Bridge City”, said owner Kirk Roccaforte. Kirk continues to show his tremendous support of Bridge City and Southeast Texas as a current City Council Member, previous Bridge City Mayor, Bridge City Chamber of Commerce Board member, Past President and active Member of the Bridge City-Orangefield Rotary Club, andPresident of the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission.
Bridge City Radiator works on all domestic brands and some imports. They can do anything from replace a radiator to fix your electric window. Repeat customers are the heart of Bridge City Radiator’s business. Fair, honest, reasonably priced, great customer service, and a A+ rating from the BBB. Just a few reasons why Bridge City Radiator and Auto Repair was named 2016 Business of the Year.
Shirley Zimmerman received the honor of becoming a Lifetime Ambassador. She also holds the Treasurer position on the Board of Directors. Zimmerman has chaired and co-chaired many events of the years such as the Celebrity Roast, National Night Out and The Taste of the Bayou Annual Banquet. Her cheerful attitude is always a delight to her fellow Ambassadors.
Michael Hanneman, owner of Whitetail Construction Services, received the Ambassador of the Year award. Michael works tirelessly on every event, puts up the outdoor Christmas lights and decorations at the chamber every year along with many other tasks.
2015 & 2016 Ambassador Chairperson Elyse Thibodeaux handed over the position to Beth Arnold for 2017. Beth is the Marketing Director for Wellspring Credit Union. Arnold held the position of Vice-Chairperson in 2016 in preparation for the upgrade.
Bridge City Chamber of Commerce President Scot C. Shaffer, owner of Farmers Insurance Agency on Texas Avenue, handed over his gavel after presiding as president for two years in a row, 2015 and 2016. 2017 President, Elyse Thibodeaux, owner of Tiger Rock Martial Arts of Bridge City.