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Chamber announces awards to honor community leaders

Each year The Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce honors a number of organizations and individuals for their significant contributions to our communities. This year’s awards will be presented on Thursday, February 9 at the Chamber’s 124th Annual Meeting at the Ramada Conference Center in Lewiston.

The Business Leadership Award for a larger company will be presented to Agren Appliance. In 1969 the Agren family business consisted of a phone and two repair trucks. Routine weekday calls for appliance repair, emergency responses on weekends and over critical holiday periods helped build Agren’s reputation for reliability with many Maine families.

Their first store was established in auburn in 1978, the fourth store opened its doors on Foden Road in South Portland in 1993, and the fifth was established along the Mid-Coast in Damariscotta in 2000 (later moved to a busier Route 1 in Waldoboro in 2006).

The Business Leadership Award for a smaller company will be presented to Baxter Brewing. Baxter Brewing began brewing in January of 2011 and by the fall doubled their capacity to keep up with growing demand. The brewery, which is in the historic Bates Mill complex in Downtown Lewiston, is open daily for tours and tastings as well as many special events (birthdays, post-wedding rehearsal dinner get togethers, company outings, you name it!). The brewery also features an in-house retail shop.

The prestigious Ray Geiger Award will be presented to Steve Closson of Androscoggin Bank for his long standing support for and leadership of The Chamber and the community. After seven years on the Board of Directors, including a term as chair of the board, Steve continued illustrious service to The Chamber by assisting with the building campaign, leading the bank to sponsor five of The Chamber’s annual meetings, and being a volunteer in the annual membership drive. In 2011, Steve was one of the leading recruiters of new members.

Two Community Service Leadership Awards will be presented. The first will be given to the L/A Cash Coalition, which has helped the L-A area lead the state in filings for the Earned Income Tax Credit. In the last eight years, over 7,500 local individuals have received assistance in filing their taxes resulting in over $13 million in local and state tax refunds and almost $4 million in Earned Income Tax Credits.

The second community service award will be presented to the organizers of the L/A Art Walk, a group led by Mike Dostie of J.Dostie Jewelers. From May through September, hundreds of people were drawn to Downtown L-A on the last Friday of the month to visit art exhibits all over our downtowns.

The Poland Business Award will be presented to Pike Industries. Long a fixture in Poland, Pike industries put into operation a new, state-of-the-art asphalt production facility, allowing the company to produce warm mixed asphalt, which saves fuel and is easier to use by paving crews. They operate on the premise that quality work, good service and dedicated employees are the basis for their long history of success. They continue to train employees and research better methods and products.

The Public Service Leadership Award will be presented to Auburn Police Chief Phil Crowell. Most recently Chief Crowell held multiple roles with the city. While serving as police chief, he also served as assistant city manager and acting city manager. He also serves children in our communities.

The Education Award will be presented to Healthy Androscoggin. Healthy Androscoggin is a community coalition dedicated to improving the health of Androscoggin County citizens. The coalition has four main community goals: supporting tobacco free lifestyles, increasing physical activity, promoting healthy eating, and preventing substance abuse. They are a healthy Maine Partnership, funded in part by the Fund for a Healthy Maine.

Two years ago The Chamber introduced a new award, “Cool Chamber Award,” which is presented to an organization that has made a significant difference in reducing energy usage and preserving resources. The 2012 award will be presented to Industrial Roofing, which has been a leader in helping customers build and retrofit their facilities for increased energy efficiency.

The Ken Additon Small Business Advocate award will be presented to the Lewiston CareerCenter. The CareerCenter works with local businesses to assist in recruitment, job postings, hiring, office space and more, all free of charge. They also work with businesses to coordinate training resources for employees.

The 2012 New Member of the Year award will go to Center Street Dental for their incredible support of The Chamber and many other community organizations, including the Franco American Heritage Center, The Central Maine Community College Foundation, and the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival.

There will be two winners of the prestigious President’s Award. The first will be awarded to Northeast Charter and Tours and owner Scott Riccio for the incredible growth of the company and all they do to support our communities.

The second award will go to The Library Café and owners Daphne and Bill Berta. Opening in 2009, the café has developed an incredible presence not just at the auburn library but as a caterer serving the community. More than that, they have established a presence by volunteering support for a large number of community events.

The 2012 Annual Meeting will feature the awards program, emceed by Chamber Board Chair Kurk Lalemand of Next Level Business Coaching. Those being recognized include The Chamber’s new members in 2011; past and present chamber leaders; and the distinguished community members who will receive The Chamber’s highest awards.

The evening will begin at 5 p.m. The cost of the evening is $50 per person; reservations are required. Call 783-2249 or see www.androscoggincounty.com. Special recognition will be given to organizations that are table sponsors. The prime sponsor of the annual meeting is Androscoggin Bank and cosponsors are Oxford Networks, Poland Spring Bottling Company and Procter & Gamble.

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