Chamber’s 57th annual dinner honors community’s finest
The Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 57th annual Community Awards dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf Inn May 30. Six awards were handed out to businesses and people. The keynote speaker was Laura Honey.
President of the Board of Directors Ken Rayle and Executive Director Patricia Royall kicked the night off by recognizing and thanking the Chamber’s Board of Directors and Board of Advisors as well as all businesses, leaders and employees of the region for keeping the peninsula a happening place on the Maine coast.
“Tonight is about community,” said Royall. “It's not about politics or anything else, it's about celebrating the individuals and businesses that make such a big difference in our community and we love living here because of these people … that just go above and beyond making our lives so much better and richer here in the Boothbay region.”
Pinkham’s Gourmet Market won Business of the Year. Other nominees included Boothbay Harbor Country Club and Brady's Restaurant. Russ and Cathy Pinkham launched their new operations across from Hammond Lumber at the beginning of last summer, moving from their old storefront formerly Lisa’s Lunchbox on Route 27.
“We really appreciate all the support from the community, all the people in town. It's been quite an undertaking compared to where we were and it's still a work in progress, but thank you everybody.” – Russ Pinkham
Brady's Restaurant, Topside Inn, Lafayette Group and Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens were the nominees for Tourism and Hospitality Business of the Year. Topside Inn owners Mark Osborne and Buzz Makarewicz won and while accepting their award they said they are once again featuring their food pantry fundraiser breakfasts.
“Come on over. Most of you never get to see us and it would be nice,” said Osborne. “Thank you very much.”
The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor won Most Notable Nonprofit next to nominees Boothbay Region Community Resource Council, Rebuilding Together and Boothbay Region Land Trust. Vice President of the Board of Trustees Ken Fitch accepted the award.
“I don't think there is any organization that I've ever been a part of that is more fun to be working for,” said Fitch. “It's not work, it's fun. All the people who work there make it a pleasure for all of us who volunteer and work on the board, so thank you everybody.”
Cody Mitchell won Young Professional of the Year out of a field of candidates including Anya Reid, Michelle Amero and Shannon Schmelzer. Because Mitchell was not present, his mother, Tancy, accepted the award on his behalf.
Nominated for Citizen of the Year were Honey, Paul Coulombe, Giannoula Rigas and Larry Brown.
Royall announced, “This award recognizes an individual, who through his or her own unselfish commitment to the community, embodies the best characteristics of community citizenship and serves as an example to all … This year's Citizen of the Year award goes to Officer Larry Brown.”
Brown said he was honored simply to be mentioned next to the other nominees who he felt all deserved the award.
Said Brown, “People live in our area because they want to and when you live in an area that you want to, it's your community … We're all here because we care about the Boothbay region and we want to make it the best that it can be … I want you to know, folks, that this award might be for me, but it's for everyone here. Thank you very much and I am so very appreciative of this award.”
A new award was added: Teacher of the Year. The award is designed to encourage and acknowledge the great things that happen in the classroom, Royall said. “And I'm proud to present this award to Chip Schwehm.”
Schwehm was presented with a $1,000 check in addition to the award which he accepted with gratitude, but he wanted to also recognize the great work other teachers do daily at Boothbay Region High School.
Gov. Janet Mills had been going to deliver the keynote address, but was forced to limit her time to the first hour of mingling. Honey said she was asked by Royall to give the speech, and replied that though she may be a talker, she is no speaker.
However, the audience – always the judge of how true that may be – decided by intermittent rounds of applause, that Honey was more than just a speaker of words, but one of history, truth and feeling.
Honey asked the audience to “take a trip down memory lane” as she recounted her time in the Boothbay region from 1957 when her husband got out of the service and they moved to the area.
“I was so impressed with the peace and beauty of this region and I still find it an exceptional place to live … This peninsula is unique and there are very, very many interesting people here.”
Honey continued chronicling the Boothbay peninsula from when the four towns shared the same umbrella under “Townsend” to present day. Then Honey looked at the history of Fisherman’s Wharf Inn, particularly her 50-year adventure working for it.
“Always a joy and never a job,” she said. Many of the people Honey met and worked with created lasting memories and friendships.
“My only regret in my 50 years working (here) is that I didn't keep a log, I didn't keep a diary, I didn't keep a record. We had wonderful guests here … The stories and the history (Fisherman's Wharf Inn) has to tell.”
From ushering an incognito Jim Cagney to Monstweag via a pickup truck to strategically seating Jimmy Dean at brunch to conceal his identity only for him to announce to people who he was, Laura Honey has seen pretty much everything the hospitality industry in Boothbay Harbor has had to offer.
Adding to her legend, Honey recounted when she needed to eject a patron who had too much to drink.
“Do you know who I am,” the man asked on his way out the door.
“Yes, I do. You're Senator Ted Kennedy from the state of Massachusetts,” Honey said.
Ultimately, the most important thing for a community to remember are the four P’s of life, Honey said: To preserve, to protect, to promote and to have great pride.