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Citizen and officer honored at award banquet

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / June 24, 1998

LAPLACE – Two local citizens were honored for their outstanding achievements Saturday by the LaPlace Rotary Club.

1997-1998 Rotary President Mike Coburn presented the award plaques to the recipients, while welcoming the new officers and board.

Detective Sgt. Carl Baker Jr., of the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’sOffice, was honored as the Policeman of the Year, and Stephanie Nikki Wilking, founder of Kids for Kops, was honored as the Citizen of the Year.

Wilking, 14, is the daughter of Paula and Kevin Wilking of LaPlace. Sheattends Reserve Christian Academy, where she is active in Tae Kwon Do, swimming, basketball and softball, and she is an eight-year honor roll student.

After the tragic death of St. John Parish Deputy Barton Granier, Wilkingfounded Kids for Kops, a fund-raising organization which aims to purchase bulletproof vests for all police officers.

Her efforts have gained her state and national recognition and the respect of police agencies across the country. She attended the National LawEnforcement Memorial Service for slain police officers in Washington D.C.,where Kids for Kops was recognized by Pres. Clinton, Attorney-GeneralJanet Reno and House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Locally, Kids for Kops raised more than $25,000 to buy vests for deputies, and more is being raised to equip part-time deputies and correctional officers.

Her latest cause is “Fatal Vision Goggles,” a program that gives students the sensation of being disorientated and nauseous, in an educational effort against driving while intoxicated and teen drinking.

Baker, 28, is a native of Metairie, a 14-year resident of St. John Parishand a 7 1/2-year veteran of the department.

He graduated from East St. John High School in 1988, where heparticipated in track and field, Drama Club and as a charter member of the service organization, “Dames and Cavaliers de St. John de L’Est.”He joined the law enforcement profession in February 1991 and, in September 1992, graduated with honors from the LSU Police Academy.

His law enforcement career has seen service in narcotics and in the Criminal Investigations Division for the past 3 1/2 years. This year, hewas selected by Sheriff Wayne L. Jones as Deputy of the Year, mostly forhis leadership role in the Arcuri and Brock murder cases, which developed into the arrest of Daniel Blank, now awaiting trial.

Baker is also pursuing a criminal justice degree at Southeastern Louisiana University, where his wife of nearly eight years, Paige, is also completing her nursing degree while working as a nursing technician at River Parishes Hospital in LaPlace.

Baker maintains a 4.0 grade point average and recently joined the GammaBeta Phi national scholastic honors fraternity.

In other activity, new officers were welcomed on board, including President Ann Tatje, Vice-President Mark Gyan, President-Elect Bobby Hymel, Secretary Sallie Herrle, Treasurer Pat McTopy, Sgt.-at-ArmsHarold DeGruy, Club Service Chairman Ann Kuss, Vocational Service Chairman Mike Coburn, Community Service Chairman Barbara Jacob and International Service Chairman Delton Arceneaux.

Current board members are Earl Jackson, Dennis Murphy, Barbara Jacob, Owen Sand, Dean Torres, Howard Falick and Delton Arceneaux.

Past officers were President Mike Coburn, Vice-President Delton Arceneaux, Secretary Mark Gyan, Treasurer Herman Deslatte, Sgt.-at-ArmsBobby Hymel, Vocational Service Chairman Whitney Hickerson, Community Service Chairman Dean Torres, International Service Chairman Delton Arceneaux and Club Service Chairman Jolyn Johnson.

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