Businessman Ashley takes home chamber Citizen of the Year honor

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An owner of multiple businesses and active community participanttook home the Wesson Chamber of Commerce’s highest honor at Tuesdaynight’s annual banquet.

Larry Ashley, a busy Wesson businessman and former chamberofficer, was named the 2009 Wesson Chamber of Commerce Citizen ofthe Year. Chamber officials remembered Ashley’s service in theirorganization, his commitment to his church and his success andexpansion of his local businesses, which consist of two conveniencestores and a construction company.

“When you look back at what Larry has done for the community, Ilook back at the time he spent as chamber president – he could getthings done,” said outgoing chamber president Jerry Brewer. “Whenwe couldn’t come to terms, he was the one who stepped forward. He’sa strong force in the community.”

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Ashley said the award was a compliment for the work he’s done inWesson, which he said was the only place fit to live.

“That’s what it’s all about – from God to your family to yourschool and your community, Wesson is one of the best places thereis to be living and raising a family,” he said.

The Mississippi State University graduate was honored as citizenof the year in part for the work he does in his church. Ashley isan active member of Zion Hill Baptist Church, and recently broughtthe resources of his construction company to bear on Brookhaven’sSouthway Baptist Church, where he helped build a new fellowshiphall.

As a businessman, Ashley’s Shop and Wash convenience store islikely the most-visited gas station in Wesson, and he recentlyexpanded his operation by purchasing and renovating downtown’sformer Wesson Shopping Center.

As a former president and vice president of the Wesson chamber,Ashley’s proudest moments came in two years of successful FoundersDay celebrations that raised money for local causes. Theimplementation of “Deal or No Deal” raised money for a music classat Wesson Attendance Center, while the second Ashley-directedFounders Day helped support the chamber’s growth.

Ashley’s plans for 2010 call for another year of work and growthin his beloved town.

“You get out and about in other parts of the world, and it makesyou realize Wesson is where you want to raise your family,” hesaid.

Other award winners at the 2009 Wesson Chamber of CommerceBanquet included:

* Los Lobos restaurant – Business of the Year.

* Bill McQuire – Teacher of the Year (Wesson AttendanceCenter).

* Ashley Bond – Teacher of the Year (Copiah-Lincoln CommunityCollege).

* Susan Alsbury – Communtiy Service Award.

* Terry Munn – Leadership Award.

* Joy Wesbrooke – Ageless Hero.

Long-standing businesses were also recognized for their success.Jerri Bland’s Jerri’s Beauty Salon was awarded for 40 years ofbusiness; Nena Smith’s School of Dance was awarded for 35 years ofbusiness; and Joe Butler’s Custom Seed Processor was awarded for 30years of business.

The Clarion Ledger’s nationally known editorial cartoonist,Marshall Ramsey, was the banquet’s guest speaker.