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Port Arthur Chamber turns 120 years young

More than 800 people attended this week’s Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet.

Numerous attractions added to the crowded gathering, led in large part by President/CEO Pat Avery and staff members’ efforts to highlight numerous personal and community success stories.

Wednesday’s celebration doubled as the Chamber’s 120th birthday celebration — ninth oldest Chamber in Texas — prompting a video message from Gov. Greg Abbott.

A theme this year was a celebration of Port Arthur industries, which were dubbed the “MTV Awards,” detailing the positive impacts of refineries Motiva, TOTAL and Valero.

The Greater Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet Thursday night celebrated the organization’s 120 years. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Attendees listen to a video statement from Gov. Greg Abbott celebrating the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Community heroes were spotlighted with video features on Staff Sgt. Lucian Adams, Andre’ Nguyen Van Chau and Mack Hannah Jr.

The Chamber also launched a new recognition — the John Warne Gates Award — that went to Robert Bilnoski of Golden Pass LNG.

The award recognized Bilnoski as a leader who spearheads business initiatives, displays integrity and develops revolutionary ideas to help small business.

The evening closed with the Arthur E. Stilwell Award winner, given annually to someone who exhibits the vision and dedication of Arthur E. Stilwell, the founder of Port Arthur.

This year’s recipient is Verna Rutherford.

Chamber President/CEO Pat Avery, left, hugs Arthur E. Stilwell recipient Verna Rutherford Thursday evening. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Vicki Derese, left, and Barbara Phillips right, pose with Arthur E. Stilwell recipient Verna Rutherford, center, who they helped honor during the banquet. (Mary Meaux/The News)