Business and community leaders were honored at the recent St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce’s Installation luncheon. Hosted at the beautiful Tchefuncte Country Club in Covington, more than 200 guests gathered to recognize local community leaders in business.

Cliff Bergeron of the Covington Business Association received the Community Leadership Award, sponsored by Resource Bank. Mark Benfatti of N’tini’s was the recipient of the Member of the Year Award and Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney of Painting with a Twist were recipients of the Tammany Award sponsored by Netchex.

Honored as Board Member of the Year was Merrill Lynch employee and Mandeville City Councilman Rick Danielson. This year’s Ambassador of the Year was John Reynolds of Heartland Payment Systems. The Committee of the Year Award went to the Northshore Rising Professionals Committee, chaired by Maryellen Kanode.

Larry Manshel was sworn in as the new Chairman of the Board for the Chamber at the luncheon, and joining him on the board are: Bret Kolman, Rick Dennie, Jennifer Messina, Danielson, Paul Myers, Christina Chifici, Benfatti, Scott Delacroix, Patti Ellish, Doug Ferrar, W.L. “Trey” Folse III, Andrew Gibson, Patrick Gros, Melissa Penzato, Barry Salsbury, Cynthia Thompson, Townsend Underhill IV and Phoebe Whealdon.

Guests at the event were welcomed by outgoing chairman John Donahue and the invocation was led by the Rev. Lamar Oliver of North Cross United Methodist Church. District Attorney Warren Montgomery served as the emcee for the event.

Opera on Tap a sell-out

In 2007, The New Orleans Opera Association partnered with the New York association, making New Orleans the first official “Opera on Tap” franchise. Now in its eighth season, Opera on Tap – New Orleans has attracted people from around the world by presenting the finest young local and regional singers in casual, 90-minute concerts of opera, Broadway and more.

The Abita Brew Pub in lovely Abita Springs hosted “Opera on Tap” on the north shore this month. This free event sold-out the restaurant and bar.

Carol Rausch served as the accompanist for the event, which featured several local singers providing entertainment. The warm and cozy pub was the perfect venue to feature everything from Italian “drinking songs” to selections from “The Pirates of Penzance” as well as “The King and I.”

Cara Williams, Brindley McWhorter, Jesse Nolan and John Giraud kept the crowd riveted with their professional, yet welcoming performances. Beer and bard battled to keep the audiences’ attention throughout the night.

Following a rowdy version of the well-known toasting song, “Viva,” the audience divided into sections to sing along with the talented ‘cast’.

The next “Opera on Tap” on the north shore is scheduled for March 18 at the Abita Brew Pub. Reservations are recommended by calling the pub at (985) 892-5837.

Missie Arata Noel is the society and features writer for the St. Tammany Advocate. She can be contacted by email at