Penobscot Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Names Deb Meehan Community Personality of the Year

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The Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce of the Year Awards Gala was held at the Samoset Resort on Friday, May 20. More than 200 member companies of the Chamber, elected officials and representatives of the local community were present. The Year in Review Awards Gala was an opportunity to recognize those who have made extraordinary contributions to our community over the past year.

All of the winners, with the exception of Community Personality of the Year, had been announced at an earlier date. The most prestigious award of the evening, the coveted Community Person of the Year Award, was presented to Deborah Meehan of Camden.

Deborah Meehan has been a passionate education leader and advocate in Knox County for decades.

In 1980, she became the first director of a satellite of the University of Maine Midcoast system when an office was established in downtown Rockland. Her work later included starting a nursing education program that provided the majority of nurses at Pen Bay Medical Center at the time.

In the early 1990s, Deb was recruited by University management to create 11 off-campus centers around the state using the model established in Rockland.

In 1995, Deb was recruited by local community leaders to lead the “Friends of CSD” to lead a private fundraiser to improve the construction of Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport. Under Deb’s administration, the Friends of CSD raised over $9 million, enabling additions to the high school such as the Strom Auditorium, a track, an expanded cafeteria and music facility, and a lecture hall.

Deb returned to the local WBU campus in 2006 and retired last year after a distinguished career leading what is now known as ‘URock’. Among his many accomplishments was the establishment of a college program at Maine State Prison. Deb has always gone above and beyond the responsibilities of her role and has dramatically improved the lives of countless local residents who have continued their education under her guidance.

Once again, the Chamber presented the Milestone Anniversary Awards to Maine businesses and organizations with local ties (or to a local office of a business based outside of Maine) celebrating anniversaries in 25-year increments. Winners celebrating 25 years in 2021 or 2022 included Bay Chiropractic Center, Grasshopper Shop of Rockland and Rockport Automotive. The Apprenticeshop, Coastal Opportunities, Dorr Woodcarving & Sign Co., The Leather Bench and Margo Moore Interiors are celebrating 50 years in 2021 or 2022. Eastern Tire & Auto Service, Graffam Bros. Seafood, Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District and Maine Lobster Festival are celebrating 75 years in 2021 or 2022. Schooner Ladona was recognized for celebrating 100 years in 2022. Celebrating 150 years in 2021 or 2022, schooner Lewis R. French, the schooner Stephen Taber and Union Fair. Lincolnville United Christian Church was approved to reach its 200-year milestone in 2021.

Congratulations to the following individuals, businesses and organizations who were celebrated as Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce Year in Review award winners:

Small Business of the Year – Craignair Inn by the sea and the Causeway restaurant

This award is given to a company with fewer than 25 employees that has been in business for at least five years, is recognized as a leader in its field, and is making a positive contribution to communities in the Camden-Rockland area.

Over the past two years, throughout the pandemic, owners Lauren and Greg Soutiea have renovated Craignair Inn by the Sea and The Causeway restaurant, transforming the property, cuisine and guest experience.

Community Service Award – Organization – The medical center of the inhabitants of Pen Bay

This award recognizes an individual, business or organization whose activities have resulted in significant community improvement and/or a positive contribution to the quality of life of local community members.

Covid-19 has impacted our lives in a variety of very significant ways. Collectively, the nurses, doctors, staff and management of Pen Bay Medical Center have been at the forefront of caring for our communities and guiding us through this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Our communities salute their dedication to keeping us safe and healthy.

Community Service Award – Individual – Shari Closter

This award recognizes an individual, business or organization whose activities have resulted in significant community improvement and/or a positive contribution to the quality of life of local community members.

Shari Closter has been an integral part of Knox County for decades and has dedicated herself to serving our communities both professionally and personally. Shari is a tireless volunteer for efforts to retrieve lost dogs and reunite them with their families, as well as single-handedly leading roadside clean-up efforts in the area. Shari has also lent her talents professionally to community-serving nonprofits, including the Chamber of Commerce and Trekkers.

Public Improvement Award – Rockport Public Library

This award recognizes a person, company or entity that has made a major tangible improvement to a property or program that benefits the general public.

The City of Rockport has partnered with generous donors to build a beautiful new home for the Rockport Public Library which opened in late 2020. The new library is a true community center for showcasing the library’s collection, providing community meeting space and expanding technology availability.

The evening also included a social hour with hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar and plated dinner served by the Samoset staff.

The Year in Review awards were created by Maggi Blue of Warren, and the Community Person of the Year award was created by Richard Remsen of the Foundry & Glass Studio in West Rockport. Camden’s Proforma Marketing Essentials produced the Milestone Anniversary Awards. Gala photography was provided by Carol Miller Photography of Rockland. The awards videos were created by Sean Hennessy/Reel+Co (videography), Brian Goding/LaunchRamp (editing) and John Viehman (direction and production).

Several companies provided prominent support for the gala: Camden National Bank (Gold Sponsor), Eaton Peabody (Social Hour Sponsor) and LCI (Wine Sponsor). Honored sponsors included Allen Insurance and Financial and First National Bank. Supporting sponsors were Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, Flowers by Hoboken, Fiore Artisan Olive Oil and Vinegards, The Lahner Group, Maritime Energy and the Samoset Resort.

The Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce serves as the primary business channel for the Camden-Rockland region, which encompasses 27 municipalities in and around Knox County. The Chamber provides a variety of platforms and opportunities for nearly 800 business and non-profit members to promote themselves to area residents and visitors. To learn more, visit www.PenBayChamber.com.

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