The Damariscotta Region Chamber of Commerce celebrated its new executive director, honored community members, and spoke about its plans for a permanent home during its annual meeting at The 1812 Farm in Bristol Mills the evening of Thursday, Oct. 1.
The chamber’s annual meeting usually takes place in the spring. This year, the board and members agreed to postpone the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees wore face masks and maintained physical distancing during the outdoor event.
During the ceremony, John Roberts, president of the chamber’s board of directors, gave an update on chamber achievements, including the promotion of Lisa Hagen to executive director. Hagen originally joined the organization as marketing and membership coordinator in October 2019.
Roberts referred to the hiring of Hagen as “probably the best move our board has ever made.”
Chamber members reelected Terri Herald, of Coastal Car Wash & Detail Center, to the board for a second three-year term. Kristy Battles, of Newcastle Realty, and Jim Gallagher, of Gallagher, Villeneuve and DeGeer, were elected to the board. Outgoing board member Jim Jarvis was recognized.
The chamber took a new approach to the annual awards ceremony this year. Each award recipient was introduced with a recorded interview produced by Lincoln County Television.
Marva Nesbit received the Individual Community Service Award. Nesbit serves as vice president of the LCTV Board of Directors, secretary of the LincolnHealth Board of Trustees, and president of the Miles Memorial Hospital League Board of Directors.
In her interview with Roberts, Nesbit encouraged others to get involved in their community.
“I cannot say enough how rewarding it is,” Nesbit said. “We have such a talented community, and I always say I might not be what I used to be, but I still have something to contribute because I’m free!”
The Organization Community Service Award was presented to the Damariscotta-Newcastle Rotary Club. Hagen interviewed Lorraine Faherty, the club’s 2019 president, about the Rotary’s involvement in the community, including an effort early this spring to purchase gift certificates from local businesses.
Rotary members and friends spent more than $11,000 on certificates, which the Rotary then donated to LincolnHealth, Faherty said. The intent was to support businesses and thank health care workers during a difficult time for both.
Broad Arrow Farm won the Business Enhancement Award. Located on Benner Road in Bristol Mills, Broad Arrow Farm raises livestock, delivers products to restaurants around the state, and has an on-farm market, owner Dan Sullivan told Hagen in his interview. In 2019, the farm opened a commercial kitchen and started The Suppah Club, a membership-based program that offers meals for customers to heat and eat.
Robert Clifford, former president of Colby & Gale Inc., received the Business Person of the Year Award. Throughout the years, Colby & Gale has given more than $2 million to local schools, community organizations, nonprofits, and sports programs.
“We felt it was really important to give to the local charities because that dollar bill turns and turns and turns in this community,” Clifford told chamber board member Jane Oliver-Gravel in the recorded interview. “It’s very important to continue to take care of the organizations that took care of me and my family when we were growing up.”
In addition to the four traditional awards, the chamber introduced a special award for 2020. The Pandemic Hero Award went to Oliver-Gravel for coordinating meal delivery in the early days of the pandemic, helping start the Lincoln County Food Initiative, and offering grocery delivery throughout Lincoln County.
To close out the meeting, Roberts spoke about the chamber’s plans to acquire, expand, and relocate to the Damariscotta Region Information Bureau building, between Main and Vine streets in Damariscotta. When the board polled members about the idea in the spring, the plan received overwhelming support, Roberts said.
The board has an “aggressive” goal to relocate to its new headquarters for 2021 and is in the process of raising funds for the project, Roberts said.