Petal residents presented the city’s top citizens Thursday in the first virtual banquet of the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce.
Honorees who received the awards were:
Police Officer of the Year Award – Officer Aaron Jernigan
Firefighter of the Year Award – Will Bullock
Bobby Runnels Leadership Award – Drew Brickson
Spirit of Petal Business Award, the first time it was presented – Allen Flynt
Chuck Parrish is the PACC President and leads HomeCare Hospice, the Presenting Sponsor. He said the virtual banquet included recorded presentations and acceptance speeches from each award winner.
“This is the pinnacle of our event,” he said. “This is the thing that we're gathered here to do, and I'm honored to be part of this, in the sense of these are the folks that take care of us. These are the folks that basically have our back. These are folks that you don't want to have to call them, but you know if you need to, they're there.”
Jernigan said he moved to Petal in 2013.
“It's the best community I've ever lived in I love it here,” he said. “I love my job, I love what I do, and I love my motorcycle every day. The community has really supported their police department. This is very much appreciated, very much appreciated.”
Bullock, who was named Petal Firefighter of the Year, said working in the cigty has made a difference in his life.
“The impact on this job changed my life a lot when I started here,” he said. “I never expected to be where I'm at. I never expected to be like this. There's a brotherhood here that you can't get anywhere else. So, anybody out there who has ever wanted to be a firefighter, this is the best thing ever you could do.”
With the Bobby Runnels Leadership Award, Brickson said he was humbled to be nominated and selected.
“Looking through the last list of the winners in the past show the foundations of what the Petal community is about,” he said. “It means a lot to be even mentioned in that same paragraph. You go through and a lot of those are my mentors and my people I respect, and it means a lot to be even be considered. So, I appreciate all those who said or voted or whoever selected me. I hope I don't let you down.”
Parrish said the first-ever Spirit of Petal Business Award is important to the community. “The award is to recognize that business that has made that contribution to our city and to our community,” he said.
The Spirit of Petal Business Award was exciting for Flynt.
“Petal is my community; I was raised here and went to school here,” he said. I love this community and love the people. I always had wonderful people working for me or working with me. I've always thought that our employees worked with us, not for us.”
Flynt said he started his business in 1980.
“My entire monetary investment in my business when I started in 1980 was $2,000,” he said. “Then I also remember the day a few years after that, where I realized that my company would spend $2,000 a day. This is a long ways from being one investment to spending this much money. It has been great to me.”
Parrish said the people who attend the banquet are Petal’s community.
“The Petal businesses work like a family, and we're used to seeing each other,” he said. “Without all the fanfare and all the big glitz of a major city, we have the benefit of connecting; that makes community. When you know your values, you're intentional, and adding value to your community, that's what makes it great to be part of the Petal chamber. Every day, we have the intention of making someone's day better.”
The award-winning Spark Show Choir of Petal Middle School provided entertainment during the banquet under the direction of Tammy Carney and Katie Barr.