The Bastrop-Morehouse Chamber of Commerce held it's annual banquet, and this year the Chamber honored agriculture in Morehouse Parish. The banquet was held at the Municipal Center on Feb. 15. The guest speaker for the event was Louisiana Agricultural Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain.

Strain stressed the importance of trade in the United States, and agriculture being the leading industry in Morehouse Parish.

"Trade fuels the heartland of America," he said. "Agriculture is the largest industry in America. Profit lies in trade."

Strain reviewed commodities and crops in Louisiana agriculture, stressing the importance of infrastructures, such as rails and roads that go through rural areas.

"We need to get commodity prices up," he said. "That is how we will move education and commerce forward. There is not an easy way, but the future of Louisiana looks bright."

After dinner, Dorothy Ford, Executive Director of the Chamber opened the program with the presentation of several door prizes.

Becky Darsey, 2017 president, and Angela Gladney, 2018 president, presented the Chamber's Annual community awards and recognitions. Those awards were:

J. D. Kelly Memorial Award- Dr. Glen Melton was honored with the J.D. Kelly Memorial Award. The Chamber's highest award is given to a Chamber member who goes above and beyond to assist the community and the Chamber.

Outstanding Teacher for Morehouse Parish Schools- Mrs. Ashley Allen-Moreland was named the 2018 Outstanding Teacher for Morehouse Parish Schools. Moreland currently teaches Biology 2 at Bastrop High School. She is also the JumpStart Ambassador for BHS and senior class co-sponsor.

Outstanding Fireman for the Bastrop Fire Department- Captain Jeremy Defee was named the Outstanding Fireman for the Bastrop Fire Department. Defee has been serving on the Fire Department for 10 years. He was recently promoted to Fire Prevention Officer. He graduated from the Police Academy and is the only Fire Prevention Officer to ever go through the Fire Post Certification to become a Fire Police Officer.

Outstanding Police Officer for the Bastrop Police Department- Sgt. Gerald Givens II was named the Outstanding Police Officer for the Bastrop Police Department. Givens is a two and a half year veteran of the department and is currently assigned to the department's Patrol Division as a Patrol Sergeant.

Outstanding Deputy for the Morehouse Sheriff's Office- Sgt. Jeff Philley was named the Outstanding Deputy for the Morehouse Sheriff's Office. Philley began his affiliation with the Morehouse Parish Sheriff's Office in 2003, where he was assigned as Louisiana National Guard counter drug field agent. In 2006 he joined the department as investigator and was assigned to the narcotics division. After serving 10 years in narcotics, Philley transferred to the Criminal Investigations division where he investigated all types of felony crimes.

Educator of the Year for Prairie View Academy- Kathy Williams was named the 2018 Educator of the year for Prairie View Academy. Williams has 39 years of teaching experience. After retiring from Bastrop High School, Williams joined the Prairie View Academy staff where she teaches English and ACT prep.

Chamber Board Member of the Year- Christy Merriweather was honored as the Bastrop-Morehouse Chamber of Commerce Board Member of the Year.

The sponsor's for this year's banquet were the City of Bastrop, Cypress Grove Behavioral Health System, Rick Duplissey, CPA, Northeast Tel, Origin Bank, Parish Printers and Simmons Sporting Goods.