Chamber honors local businesses, leaders

ADDISON COUNTY — The Addison County Chamber of Commerce honored businesses, organizations and individuals at its annual meeting and awards ceremony on this past Thursday at the Middlebury Inn.
More than 100 local professionals were in attendance to watch the chamber grant four main awards: the Business Education Partnership Award, the Business of the Year Award, the Buster Brush Citizen of the Year Award, and the Community Achievement Award.
To kick off the evening, Robin Huestis of Round Robin Upscale Resale Shop presented the Business Education Partnership Award to the Addison Repertory Theater. This award is given to the business that best bridges “the gap between the workforce of today and the one we will need tomorrow,” said 2010 chamber board chairman Kris Merchant of Champlain Valley Telecom.
Steve Small, Addison Repertory Theater program director, accepted the award.
“If you love your kids, even if they’re not your own … if you give them love and you raise the bar and you say, ‘Let’s work on something together, let’s work on something collective, let’s work on something that’s larger than you and me.’ Then the kids will go to that place and they’ll impress the hell out of everybody,” Small said.
“I get to see this every single day … This (award) is really recognizing what these kids have brought to this community and what this community has brought to these kids.”
The business of the year award was presented to the Middlebury’s Vermont Hard Cider Company, famous for Woodchuck Hard Cider and previously known as Green Mountain Beverage. The award is given to a local business that exhibits noteworthy business development and a positive impact on the local, national and international economies.
Bill Townsend of J.P. Carrara and Sons presented the firm’s honor and recounted its history.
“A group of employees purchased the company in 2004, assumed ownership and has never looked back. Since that time they’ve nearly tripled in size. They’re continuing to grow …You can find their products in every state in the country,” said Townsend, whose company won the same award in 2010. “All of which brings money and good jobs back to Addison County, and that’s what business of the year is all about.” 
 Rep. Diane Lanpher of Vergennes presented the Buster Brush Citizen of the Year Award to the co-founders of the Lake Champlain Bridge Coalition, Lorraine Franklin of Addison and Karen Hennessy of Crown Point, N.Y., for their efforts to ensure that the Champlain Bridge was rebuilt and to cushion the economic blow of the bridge’s closure for local businesses and workers.
The citizen of the year award is presented to an individual or individuals in the community who make contributions without the expectation of acknowledgement.
“They’ve demonstrated the necessary spirit to achieve success by using these tenacious efforts to hold their communities together,” said Lanpher about Franklin and Hennessy. “Without their efforts I believe our area’s businesses and workers would have fractured into less-than-effective entities. They showed extraordinary leadership, refusing to settle for anything less than full unity.”
Lynn Coale of the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center presented the Community Achievement Award to Helen Porter Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center. This award is given to a nonprofit that demonstrates “outstanding services and leadership to the community,” according to the awards description.
“They’ve made great strides in poor economic times,” said Coale.
In annual business, the 2011-2012 slate of board directors and other official positions was announced. Directors serving a one-year term on the board are:
•  Sam Cutting IV of Dakin Farm Inc.
•  Don Devost of Addison Advisors.
•  Kelley Mills of Hannaford Career Center.
Board members serving a three-year term, which will expire at the annual meeting in 2014, are:
•  David Donahue of Middlebury College.
•  Robin Huestis of Round Robin.
•  Grover Usilton of the National Bank of Middlebury.
•  Tim Buskey of Vergennes Residential Care.
Other board members who were not up for reelection are:
•  Dan Brown of the Swift House Inn.
•  Jeff Costello of Costello Home Works.
•  Andy Mayer of the Addison County Chamber of Commerce.
•  Kate McGowan of the United Way of Addison County.
•  Merchant.
•  Steve Misasi of Misasi and Misasi.
•  Townsend.
The following board members finished their term on Thursday:
•  Coale.
•  Mike McLaughlin of Bread Loaf Corp.
•  Paul Richey of the Basin Harbor Club.
Merchant passed on the torch of chairman of the board to Jeff Costello. The other officers include Buskey as vice chair, Steve Misasi as treasurer, McGowan as secretary and Mayer as president.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected]

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