SKOWHEGAN — Skowhegan Selectman Darla Pickett is the 2015 recipient of the Alton W. Whittemore Award for outstanding service, according to Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce Chamber Executive Director Cory King.

King said the Chamber’s “most dignified” award is the Whittemore award, named for a man who dedicated much of his life in service to the community.

“Alton Whittemore was a great proponent for our whole region and to our Chamber,” he said. “He really believed in the Chamber, and the award goes to someone who has given a lifetime’s worth of work to it.”

Pickett’s award was announced by King at a recent Board of Selectmen’s meeting and took her by surprise.

“Alton Whittemore was such a fine, community-minded citizen, it is an honor to be mentioned in a service award that carries his name,” she said later. “Alton was such a good example of what it means to give unselfishly. I am pleased that the Chamber considered me for this honor.”

Pickett is a former Morning Sentinel reporter. She retired in 2008.

Nominees for the award come from Chamber membership and are selected by the Awards and Recognition Committee, which is made up of past winners of the awards.

Pickett is completing a one-year term on the Board of Selectmen, filling the seat vacated last year with the retirement of Selectman Donald Lowe. She is a member of the Executive Board of Friends of the Library, Skowhegan Free Public Library; a member of the Skowhegan Economic and Community Development Corp.; Somerset Community Television — CATV-11; Concerts in Park; and has been a Lakewood Theater volunteer usher. Pickett is a member of the Skowhegan Budget and Finance Committee, Skowhegan Women’s Club, Somerset Press Women, Rotary Club and a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, Minerva chapter, for 47 years.

Pickett was a reporter for the Morning Sentinel for 24 years and Skowhegan bureau chief for eight years. Previously, she was a reporter for the Bangor Daily News, a reporter and editor for the weekly Somerset Reporter and did public relations work for two years for Margaret Chase Smith. Pickett served as chairman of The Newspaper Guild. She sold real estate for two years, owned a restaurant for a year and is the mother of two daughters, Lori and Trisha, and has three grandchildren.

These are past winners of the Whittemore award:

• 2007 Katie Ouilette;

• 2008 Betty Austin;

• 2009 Denise LeBlanc;

• 2010 Karen Hart;

• 2011 Chris Perkins;

• 2012 Greg Dore;

• 2013 Mickey Powers;

• 2014 Shirley Whittemore.

King said this year the Chamber’s board of directors created a new set of awards, Community Impact Awards, that can be given annually in addition to the traditional awards and the Whittemore award, which has supplanted the original citizen of the year award.

“Essentially, what was decided is that the four awards we do give annually is not enough to recognize all of the great things happening in our communities,” King said. “So the slate of awards was increased from four to seven this year, and seven awards puts us more in line with how many awards many regional chambers of commerce award annually.”

These are the 2015 winners of the other three original awards:

• Large Business of the Year: Bangor Savings;

• Small Business of the Year: Lynch Landscaping;

• Chamber Volunteer of the Year: Lisa Thorpe;

These are the 2015 winners of the Community Impact Awards:

• Community Impact Award — Citizen: Cathe Jencks-Ayers;

• Community Impact Award — Organization: Main Street Skowhegan;

• Community Impact Award — Business: Dionne & Son Builders.

The awards will be handed out at the Chamber’s annual banquet later this spring.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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