Feb. 4, 2013


For Immediate Release

CÚline Alis
(337) 365-1540

(888) 942-3742

Iberia Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau

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Jeanerette Chamber to honor outstanding citizen, achievers at Feb. 7 banquet

Kenneth Kern, Outstanding Citizen
JEANERETTE, La. --- Kenneth Kern has been named Outstanding Citizen by the Jeanerette Chamber of Commerce. He will be honored along with winners in several categories at the Chamber's 58th Outstanding Achievers Awards Banquet to be held at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7 at the Ward Eight Recreation Center in Jeanerette.

Kern was born and raised in Jeanerette and is a graduate of Jeanerette High School. He graduated from SLI, which is now UL Lafayette. He earned a bachelor of science in mathematics with a minor in chemical engineering.

While in college, he served as editor of Jet Trails, the ROTC newspaper. He was also a member of the Chemical Engineering Society. Upon graduation, he married Betty Charpentier. The couple has four sons: Kent, Kirk, Kevin and Keith. They also have seven granddaughters and two great granddaughters.

Kern served his country as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force. He was a statistical services officer where he attained the rank of captain. Since 1961, he has managed Jeanerette Electric Company, which was founded in 1924. He launched Kern's Furniture Company in 1962 before obtaining a Radio Shack franchise in 1987.

Kern has been a member of the Jeanerette Chamber of Commerce, the Knights of Columbus, St. John the Evangelist Church, Ragin' Cajun Club and UL Lafayette's Alumni Association. He has been a member of the Jeanerette City Council for three terms. As a member of St. John the Evangelist Church, he has been a lector, a eucharistic minister and a member of the Cemetery Committee.
Other achievers selected to receive awards during the banquet include Mae Willow Jean-Batiste, Outstanding Senior Citizen; Jacques Larroque, Outstanding Professional; Maria Robicheaux, Outstanding Educator; Fernest Martin, Outstanding Public Servant; Ronald Sovine, Outstanding Volunteer; Darlene and Wilton Gibson, Outstanding Couple; and Madison Switzer, Outstanding Student.
Mae Willow Jean-Batiste

Mae Willow Jean-Batiste has been named Outstanding Senior Citizen. She worked as a health unit aid for more than 30 years at the Iberia Parish Heath Unit in Jeanerette. She also served as a certified nursing assistant at various health agencies including Complete Home Health Care and AB Family Agency of Lafayette.

Jean-Batiste is the co-founder of the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary Court No. 184 where she has actively served as secretary and former grand lady. She has participated in the planning and fundraising for her church, and she has served as the eucharistic minister chairperson, altar society secretary, Legion of Mary chaplain and has taught CCD for 15 years.

Her involvement in the community includes working with the March of Dimes, Labor Day Telethon, Ministers' Alliance Prayer Breakfasts and Food Pantry distributions.

She also served on the Council of Aging for 23 years and Iberia Parish Jail Ministry. She is a member of the Dauterive Hospital Volunteer Organization.

Jean-Batiste received the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award from the Lafayette Diocese and a 50 year certificate of membership from the National Office of the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary.

Jacques Larroque

Jacques Larroque, a pharmacist at Larroque Pharmacy, has been named Outstanding Professional. He has worked at many pharmacies including Lydia Pharmacy, Baldwin Drugs, Frere's, Dees Pharmacy and Standard, as well as other places of employment.

Larroque serves on the Board of Community Advisers for the Jeanerette Rural Health Clinic. He is a member of the Louisiana Pharmacists Association, the Louisiana Independent Pharmacists Association and the National Community Pharmacists Association.

He is Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus Council 1425 of Jeanerette, a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church and the Jeanerette Chamber of Commerce.

Larroque is a former member of the St. John the Evangelist Parish Council, Jeanerette Museum Board of Directors, Jeanerette Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the former treasurer of the Jeanerette Landmark Society.

Larroque graduated from St. Joseph Catholic School and the College of Pharmacy at Xavier University in New Orleans.

Maria Robicheaux

Maria Robicheaux has been named Outstanding Educator. She teaches at Catholic High School where she has served as an elementary teacher for the past six years. Robicheaux worked as a middle school teacher for nine years at St. Joseph Catholic School where she was named Teacher of the Year.

In addition to her teaching duties at Catholic High, she is the lead teacher for the social studies department for the elementary and middle school. She also serves on the Academic Awards Committee, is the Hospitality Committee Chairperson and is the moderator for the 4-H Club for grades 4-12. Robicheaux is a volunteer for the 4-H horse shows at the parish and district levels, and has also served as a moderator/volunteer for the 4-H summer camp. She is also a member of the International Society for Technology in Education.

Robicheaux attended St. Joseph School and graduated from Jeanerette Senior High School and the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now UL Lafayette). She is married to Brent Robicheaux and is the daughter of Linda and Al Carlos.

Fernest Martin

Fernest Martin, Jeanerette's city marshal, has been named Outstanding Public Servant. He is the president of the Marshal Association.

He serves as lead drill instructor for the Alternative Center for Education in New Iberia and has mentored students while assisting teachers. He was a school resource officer and a lieutenant as a criminal patrol officer for the Iberia Parish Sheriff Department.

Martin served as the Policy Council's president for Smile Head Start/Early Head Start and was head football coach for 10 years for the Youth Football League. 

Martin received the Pace Setter Award from First Church of God and Christ, the Magnificent Men of Jeanerette Public Service Award and the Sterling Fatherhood Initiative Award.

Martin is majoring in criminal justice at South Louisiana Community College and has majored in criminal justice at both McNeese State University in Lake Charles and the College of Eastern Utah. He is a graduate of Ovey Comeaux High School.

Ronald Sovine

Ronald Sovine, the chamber's Outstanding Volunteer, has been an active member of the community, serving on many boards through the years.

He is a certified local government coordinator for the city of Jeanerette, serves as chairman of the Jeanerette Historic Advisory Commission where he has been a commissioner since 2005, and serves on the board of directors for the Jeanerette Bicentennial Park and Museum.

His dedication to the community has led him to aid in many non-profit organizations including serving since 2005 on Jeanerette Historic Preservation Foundation's board of directors, and as a treasurer on the Jeanerette Landmark Society's board of directors.

Sovine is currently employed as an IT consultant for the oil and gas industry and was employed as an IT professional by Atlantic Richfield Company.

He holds a bachelor of science in zoology from Louisiana State University and a Master of Science in computer science from the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He is a graduate of Woodlawn High School in Baton Rouge and is married to Elizabeth Bourgeois Sovine. The couple has three children and two grandchildren.

Darlene and Wilton Gibson Jr.
The Outstanding Couple are none other than Darlene and Wilton Gibson Jr. They are active members of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church where they serve as Eucharistic ministers, members of the Liturgical Committee and in many other capacities.

They are members of the Knights of Peter Claver and past board members for the Teche Central District III Committee. They have received the Silver Award from the Knights of Peter Claver for more than 20 years of service and the Teche Central District III Board Members Award.

Wilton Gibson Jr. is a superintendent for McDermott Inc. where he has been employed for 38 years. After 32 years of service, he retired as command sergeant major with the Louisiana Army National Guard. Darlene Gibson has been a para-educator for 12 years with the Iberia Parish School Board.

In 2006, Darlene and Wilton reigned as King and Queen Ezana XIII for the Jeanerette Mardi Gras Association. Wilton is a member of the Masonic Lodge No. 31 and is a Metric Rider. Darlene is a catechist for the First Communion class.

The couple has three children: Dwan, Dawn and Wren'nel.
Madison Switzer

The Outstanding Student is Madison Switzer who will also receive the Arthur L. Verret Memorial Scholarship.

Madison is the daughter of Matthew Switzer and Amanda Buteau. She is currently a senior at Catholic High School where she holds a 4.0 GPA. She plans on attending college in the fall as a marketing management major.

She is a member of the BETA Club and the National Honor Society. She earned copious academic letters, and received the Highest Average Award in Religion III and Chemistry Honors. Madison was also awarded a spot on the Principal's Honor Roll. 

She placed fifth in District Literary Rally in Algebra I, third in the Catholic High Social Studies Fair and received the Highest Average Award in Algebra I Honors and Fine Arts Survey.

Madison received the Torch of Knowledge Award and the Serviam Medal during her freshman, sophomore and junior years. She currently serves as student body president and has been a member of the Homecoming Committee. She has planned the annual fundraiser all while being a member of Alive Campus Ministry Team, along with serving as a catechist, lector and eucharistic minister at St. John the Evangelist Church in Jeanerette.

Madison served as president of the Octagon Club and is a member of the Kiwanis Key Club and the Light Ministry Team. She also participated in events to raise funds for the American Cancer Society and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Tickets to attend the banquet are $25 each or $200 for a table of eight. They are available for purchase online at 
For more information, contact the chamber at 337-335-0721, or 



The Iberia Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau is the official parish marketing agency promoting New Iberia, Avery Island, Jefferson Island, Jeanerette, Loreauville and Delcambre as a destination. Marketing programs target leisure travelers, business travelers, media, entertainment industry, and the travel trade including group tour planners, meeting planners, sports planners and special event planners. The bureau operates a parish welcome center located at 2513 Hwy. 14 in New Iberia.


For more information on parish events and tourism assets, call the Iberia Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau at 337-365-1540 or visit

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