Louisiana legislature to honor Prejean

Wade McIntyre
Rep. Mert Smiley presents a certificate of appreciation to outgoing Louisiana Regional Airport Chairman Gerald “Nicky” Prejean during the regular commission meeting Tuesday.

Outgoing Chairman of the Louisiana Regional Airport Gerald “Nicky” Prejean will be honored in March 2010 with a concurrent resolution in an official act of the Louisiana State Legislature.

Prejean received a certificate from Rep. Mert Smiley at the Tuesday regular meeting of the airport commission.

The certificate from the House of Representatives honors Prejean for exemplary service to the airport during his eight years as a commissioner and three years as chairman.

Prejean has served as chairman since 2006.

Another certificate from Sen. Jody Amedee and the state senate was presented Tuesday by commission member George Rodeillat, who was subbing for Amedee who was unable to attend the session.

Members enjoyed red beans and rice and pastries while waiting for Prejean to arrive and chair the commission meeting for the last time.

Prejean was surprised by Smiley’s presentation. He jokingly asked the representative if he would have to wear a suit and tie to receive the concurrent resolution next year.

Smiley said he would not have to do that.

Members freely reminisced about the Prejean years on the commission during the light-hearted meeting Tuesday.

Calvin Narcisse from St. James remembered the early years when he and Prejean and others worked on the commission without pay.

“We came a long ways,” he said. “I want to commend, Nicky.”

“Every since I have been knowing you, what I like about you is you tell it like it is,” said member Curtis Deroche.

Prejean promised he would not just fade away from the airport commission because he was stepping down as chairman.

“This is a big, long part of my career,” he said, “least for the last 25 years.”

In his last remarks as chairman, Prejean commended the group for its understanding that the success of the airport relies heavily on self-generating funds.

He said he had never made a trip to Washington, D.C., or even the state capital in Baton Rouge to ask for airport funding.

Telephone text messages and other forms of communication are more efficient than a personal trip to lobby for funding, he said.

As the meeting drew to a close, one member jokingly suggested that a petition be placed at the door for everyone to sign. The suggestion would have had the petition ask Smiley and Amedee decline to appoint anyone to replace Prejean.

The suggestion was for laughs, of course, meant only to re-emphasize how much Prejean has meant to the little regional airport that now houses around 100 planes.

Beginning in January, member Rodeillat will serve temporarily as vice-chairman until a permanent chairman is appointed.