A longtime friend is moving the focus of her work in St. Tammany to the west side of the parish and I couldn’t be happier for her.
Kim Bergeron, whom many of you know for her six years as director for the Slidell Cultural Arts Department and recent years marketing other local arts-related projects, has been hired as the new executive director for the St. Tammany Arts Association (STAA).
Kim won a ton of national awards during her years in Slidell creating great projects to support the arts, and truly elevated the arts culture on the eastern side of the parish to a new level that has remained since she left.
After leaving the city position a couple of years ago she continued heading various projects to help artists and musicians in general, but none bigger than working with the Eastern St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity a couple of years ago when she managed to get Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr of Beatles fame to sign a painted piano for the annual Habitat auction. Trust me, getting those superstars to sign the piano was no easy chore—she was jumping in her car and carting this piano around the country every time she heard she might get the signatures.
The piano, painted by Lori Gomez, brought in almost $100,000 at a national, online auction! It was the biggest thing ever seen in St. Tammany Parish where we have one auction event after another for the many non-profits and charity groups here.
The way Kim took on that project and was determined to make it something so special that no one would ever forget was a perfect example of the passion and determination she puts into everything I’ve seen her do.
While eastern St. Tammany will not have the same presence of her working here with as many local groups or projects, the western side of the parish is going to learn what they have with her in a short time. And believe me, they hit the jackpot in hiring her as the new STAA executive director. No telling what great arts programs will be coming to St. Tammany before you know it.
Congratulations Kim on the new position and while you will be missed in Slidell, something tells me you will hardly disappear from the local scene. The parish as a whole is fortunate to have you working so hard to build our St. Tammany arts scene.
I have been known to make a few comments in this column space about my feelings when it comes to public events and the apparent need by too many to recognize public officials.
I don’t understand why so many people want to make such a huge deal out of the fact that we have certain public officials attending different events. Sure, it’s nice to see them. Sure, they are my friends. But why do we elevate them in a way that suggests they are so much more special than the hundreds of other people who turn out to support fundraisers or charity events? For that matter, I would venture to say that many public officials do far less than the business leaders in our communities when it comes to putting up their own resources for these important organizations. If anyone deserves recognizing it is the individuals in our parish who dig deep in their pockets to support our key groups.
So now that I have the public officials in the parish mad at me, I can’t help telling you about a great comment I heard from someone who was heading a recent meeting.
Rather than taking up a lot of time to get each public official to stand and be named, he simply said, “as for the public officials here, well, there are a lot of public officials.” And then he moved on with the program.
Just had to tell the story. It might have been one of my most favorite comments ever at the many public events I attend.
I want to give you a heads up about a new restaurant that will be opening around May 1 that sounds like a great place.
Durango Joe’s Western Style Steakhouse will be opening in the former Mi Patio space out near the mall on Hwy. 190—the strip mall at 2170 Gause Blvd. West to be exact—and after talking with owner/operator Tom Treser I thought it deserved a special mention.
Tom is 72 years of age and the guy is running circles around people half his age in bouncing around the country to open his restaurants one at a time after he struck on a great concept for the steakhouse.
After he retired from 20 years in the Navy, Tom said he was looking for his next career and answered an ad looking for an assistant manager at a restaurant. He had never done anything close to that, but got the job.
Tom learned everything about the business to a point of opening his own steakhouse in the Midwest, eventually starting over 10 of them with a neat concept to make it more than a great evening out with a great steak dinner. He created an atmosphere of fun just as much as offering what he promises is a top-notch steak.
Watch the pages of The Slidell Independent in the coming weeks for more details, but plan on giving Durango Joe’s a shot since I can tell it’s going to make a quick name for itself in Slidell.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.