Neal, owner of Waterville’s Loyal Biscuit Co., wins national SBA award

Heidi Neal, owner of the Loyal Biscuit Co. in Waterville, has been named state winner of the Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Loyal Biscuit, 99 Main St., is part of the family-owned dog and cat supply boutique store chain, which also has locations in Belfast, Camden and Rockland.

A panel is reviewing the 54 winners, according to a press release from the SBA announcing Neal’s awarded, and a national winner and two runners up will be selected and announced in the coming weeks. The national winner will be recognized as the 2015 National Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration this year in Washington, D.C., May 8, according to the release.

“Small businesses created nearly 2 million of the roughly 3 million private-sector jobs generated in 2014,” according to the release. “More than 7 million of the 11 million jobs created during our recovery have been generated by startups and small enterprises” and they “represent the backbone of our economy.”

Readfield’s Gagne-Holmes wins ACLU’s Scolnik Award

Sara Gagne-Holmes, of Readfield, is the recipient of the American Civil Liberties Union’s 2015 Justice Louis Scolnik Award. The award will be presented at a dinner and celebration on Thursday, April 30, at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, the organization announced in a press release.

The Scolnik Award was established in 1989 to honor members of the legal community who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the protection of civil liberties.

“The ACLU of Maine has been fortunate to work with Sara and her colleagues on several cases aimed at securing the rights of all people in Maine,” said Alison Beyea, executive director of the ACLU of Maine, in the release. “She truly represents the undeniable intersection of economic justice and civil liberties.”

Gagne-Holmes is a senior program associate with the John T. Gorman Foundation, “whose mission is to advance ideas and opportunities that can improve the lives of disadvantaged people in Maine,” according to the release. Before joining the foundation, she was executive director of Maine Equal Justice Partners for eight years. Under her direction, the organization joined the ACLU of Maine in Juma v. Mayhew, on behalf of Maine immigrants wrongly denied access to General Assistance, and Bruns v. Mayhew, on behalf of an immigrant denied MaineCare coverage, the release said.

The award is named for former Maine Supreme Court Justice Louis Scolnik, a co-founder and the first president of the Maine Civil Liberties Union (now the ACLU of Maine). Scolnik, 92, will play the saxophone at the awards ceremony, along with his jazz band, the Smedley Trio.

Boehmer joins Maine Huts & Trails Staff as marketing associate

Kate Boehmer was recently hired as marketing associate at Maine Huts & Trails in Kingfield.

Boehmer, a writer with a local food marketing background, is a lifelong Mainer with a passion for outdoor adventure, according to a press release announcing her hiring.

Boehmer grew up in Aroostook County and attended the University of Maine. She has lived in the Carrabasset Valley for the past three years.

“I’m so excited to be joining such a great organization,” she said in the release. “Between the environmentally sustainable huts, fantastic local food, and dynamic trail system, Maine Huts & Trails represents everything to love about life in our great state.”

Maine Huts & Trails is a nonprofit organization “that manages a system of four backcountry eco-lodges and more than 80 miles of trails in Western Maine,” according to its website.

As marketing associate, Boehmer will create content for all social media outlets, take photos, film short videos and perform general marketing tasks for the organization. For more information on Maine Huts & Trails, visit

Gold Pond Wealth Management hires Huff, enhances Languet’s training

Golden Pond Wealth Management has announced that Kelly Huff has joined its staff as an administrative assistant.

Huff was an employee of the U.S. postal system for the past 20 years, according to a news release from the Waterville firm.

She is a lifelong resident of Burnham and enjoys photography and outdoor activities.

Gold Pond also announced that Bert Languet, CFP, recently attended the SeiniorSafe Seminar hosted by the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention and LPL Financial.

The training was originally designed for the staff of banks and credit unions, and Maine LPL advisers are the first to receive the training, though it’s expected to expand throughout the country, according to the release.

The goal of the training is to educate advisers on the growing problem of elder abuse and to help prevent the financial exploitation of Maine’s senior population.

Choice Investments’ Forsley recognized for outstanding client service

Managing owner and financial adviser Rick Forsley at Choice Investments has earned the distinguished Pinnacle Club award from Investors Capital Corp., an independent broker/dealer in Lynnfield, Mass. The Pinnacle Club award is presented to registered representatives of Investors Capital Corp. who demonstrate a superior level of commitment to personalized client service, and provide comprehensive financial education and investment management to investors within their community, according to a press release from Investors Capital.

“I’m excited to have received this honor,” said Forsley in the release. “This is a reflection of our company goals; helping our clients understand their financial situation, so they can make the best financial decisions for themselves and their loved ones. We establish deep, trusting relationships that create a comfortable atmosphere for our clients to share their financial concerns. Together, we address all concerns and find solutions.”

A central Maine native, Forsley graduated from Thomas College in Waterville with a B.S. in business administration and has been a financial adviser since 2006.

He works with individuals, families and small businesses primarily in the central Maine region. Before entering the financial services industry, Forsley owned businesses and was a company business manager.

Disability Rights Center is now Disability Rights Maine

The Disability Rights Center, Maine’s statewide protection and advocacy agency for individuals with disabilities, is now Disability Rights Maine.

The change is to “reflect the new reality of our expanded mission and professional staff, board President Richard O’Meara said in a press release announcing the name change. “Our organization is a robust network of 28 staff, including 14 attorneys and nine advocates, with offices in Augusta, Bangor, Caribou, Lewiston, Rockland, and South Portland. In addition, we have staff based at Dorothea Dix and Riverview Psychiatric Centers, Maine’s two state run psychiatric hospitals, and at the privately run Acadia Hospital in Bangor.”

Executive Director Kim Moody pointed out the name change advertises the center is “part of a nationwide network.”

Through its operation of multiple federal and state funded programs, DRM advocates for individuals with disabilities. Since 1977, DRM has directly represented people with disabilities whose rights have been violated, who are at risk of abuse or neglect or who have faced discrimination on the basis of their disability, according to the release. DRM seeks redress where rights concerns arise related to housing, education, physical access, rehabilitation, health care, community supports, and employment. Additionally, DRM works toward public policy reform through training, outreach and systemic advocacy, the release said.

Building and design company Unique Concepts opens in Waterville

Unique Concepts, a building and design company, has returned to Maine after 20 years in Arkansas.

The firm, located in Waterville and owned by Michael and Karyn Bournival, offers services ranging from architect with 3D animated design to contractor to staircase and wrought iron specialist, according to a release from the company. The Bournivals have more than 30 years of experience in Maine, North Dakota, Arkansas and California.

Unique Concepts specializes in custom work, providing affordable design options, consulting and construction for home or business, according to the release. While located in Waterville, the firm services most areas in Maine.

For information, go to

Compiled from contributed releases

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