AUGUSTA — The Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce handed out awards to local businesses and their owners at its annual awards banquet Friday night at the Augusta Civic Center.

The banquet, attended by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, recognized the award winners following a reception and dinner.

Pine State Trading & Beverage, named the Business of the Year, has more than 800 workers and is on the brink of moving its convenience store distribution operation, which has been housed off State Street on the Augusta/Hallowell line, to a recently acquired building in Gardiner.

The company started 70 years ago in Augusta by Charlie Canning. The family-owned distribution company serves about 5,000 clients with divisions for convenience stores, food service, beer and wine and vending.

John Finnegan was recognized as the Business Person of the Year. He started as a secretary working at Macomber, Farr & Whitten 36 years ago, and he worked his way up to become a partner and president of the Augusta insurance agency.

Finnegan also helped organize the annual Whatever Family Festival, teaches at the University of Maine at Augusta in a financial services program that he co-founded, serves on UMA’s Board of Visitors and more.

Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award was William H. Perry, president and co-owner of Maine Instrument Flight and president of Maine Beechcraft, both of which are based at the Augusta State Airport.

Three businesses received President’s Awards: Kennebec Dance Centre in Augusta; Renys Department Store, which operates a local store in Gardiner; and Steve’s Appliance Service and Sales in Sidney.

Kennebec Dance Centre is run by Keltie McCatherin Collins, whose Augusta business has grown to include three studios and other dance teachers.

Renys Department Store, which was started by Robert H. Reny in Damariscotta in 1949, maintains 16 stores with more than 500 employees. John Reny, R.H.’s oldest son, is the company’s president, and his 28-year-old daughter, Faustine, is the company’s assistant vice president.

Steve’s Appliance is owned by Steve and Darcy Barrows, who began the business out of their garage in 1992. In 2010, the Barrows built an 18,000-square-foot store from scratch at the intersection of routes 27 and 23 in Sidney. The new appliance and furniture center opened last year.

A longtime volunteer, Carolyn Neighoff, of Augusta, and the Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center in Gardiner received the Community Service Award.

Neighoff opened a downtown Christian bookstore in Augusta and began the Bread of Life soup kitchen and homeless shelter. She was also assistant principal at Cony High School and principal at Farrington Elementary School and is now a service learning coordinator for Augusta schools.

Judy Lloyd, is executive director of Johnson Hall, which offers professional shows and children’s programs for 7,000 guests each year. A restored 110-seat space on the first floor also is rented out to community groups.

And Tobias Parkhurst was named the chamber’s Young Professional. The 33-year-old owns two buildings on Water Street, and he works at Oakes & Parkhurst Glass and with several civic organizations. He was recognized for helping stimulate activity in downtown Augusta.

THE AWARD WINNERS

* Business of the Year: Pine State Trading & Beverage

* Business Person of the Year: John Finnegan, of Macomber, Farr & Whitten

* Lifetime Achievement: William Perry, of Maine Instrument Flight

* President’s Awards: Kennebec Dance Centre, Keltie Collins; Renys Dept. Store, John and Faustine Reny; and Steve’s Appliance, Steve and Darcy Barrows

* Community Service Awards: Johnson Hall, Judy Lloyd and Carolyn Neighoff

* Young Professional: Tobias Parkhurst


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