AUGUSTA — When the members of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce convene on Jan. 22 for their annual awards banquet, they’ll see something different.

Ross Cunningham, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer, said with the change in leadership and location in the last year, the chamber had the opportunity to make some changes, too.

“Our largest and most popular event, the annual awards dinner, was one event where our members were asking for some variety,” Cunningham said. “We felt the excitement of presenting awards on the night of the event, and the ability to highlight the numerous nominees for the awards and recognize the work they had all done was a small but exciting change.”

That led chamber officials to develop the Kenney Awards.

“It’s more of a red carpet social event as well as a recognition of some amazing individuals and businesses,” he said.

While the winners of the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement, Large Business of the Year and Small Business of the Year awards already have been announced, the winners in three other categories — President’s Choice, Community Service and Cynergy Young Professionals — will be announced at the annual dinner.

Here’s a brief look at the nominees in those categories.

PRESIDENT’S CHOICE

“These organizations have not only developed a great corporate culture but have each provided a very valuable service to the community and have continually put the customer first, creating long-lasting relationships and a great reputation in the Kennebec valley,” Cunningham said.

A-COPI Imaging Systems, based in Gardiner with an office in Bangor, offers printing, copying and faxing services from York to Orono. Under the ownership of Robin Spencer, the company has become a leader in its field with $5.5 million in sales and 30 employees. The company has supported the community through its support of if the YMCA, the A-COPI Tennis Center and many other organizations.

With a centurylong history in the region, the Augusta Country Club hosts more than a dozen fundraising golf tournaments each year at its facility, which offers tennis courts and a private beach in addition to its 18-hole golf course for members. Director Jason Hurd said the club’s service sets it apart, and he credits the staff with creating a warm atmosphere for its members.

Augusta Orthodontics is known throughout the region for its annual Christmas light display at 132 State St. Darryl Zeleniak and his staff make the procedures they offer pleasant and fun, and they take pride in the smiles they are able to provide to the Kennebec valley community, according to the chamber.

COMMUNITY SERVICE

“The nominees in this category have been instrumental in improving the lives of the residents of the Kennebec valley,” Cunningham said. “They have each worked tirelessly in their communities and areas of specialty to give back”

Serving more than 18 communities throughout the region, Healthy Communities of the Capital Area was created nearly two decades ago when a group of community service organizations merged. Led by Joanne Joy, the organization exists to get people, organizations and communities to collaborate on quality of life and public health issues, including ensuring the Kennebec River Rail Trail is smoke-free and creating a program that employs inmates to glean excess crops from fields for school cafeteria programs and providing community forums on opiate addiction and its effects.

Karen Kearney MacGillivray moved to the area with her husband, Bruce, after they had applied to be owners of a Tim Hortons restaurant. She works as a Realtor for Coldwell Banker Rizzo Mattson Realtors and credits her upbringing for her desire to contribute to the community. She serves on the board of directors for The Children’s Center, the Augusta Boys and Girls Club, the United Way of Kennebec County, the Kiwanis Club of Augusta and the Kennebec Valley Humane Society. Bruce lends his support for her efforts and willingly accepts the tasks she nominates him for.

The Kennebec Land Trust acquired its first conservation agreement with the Vaughan Woods in Hallowell in 1990. It was formed, as many other land trusts are, to ensure local natural resources remain accessible and available for future generations. Today, the land trust, led by Theresa Kerchner, provides 5,169 acres of public-access preserved land in the region, with more than 40 miles of walking trails. The Kennebec Land Trust provides education and outreach while working to ensure that communities grow in a thoughtful manner while helping to preserve the natural beauty of the Kennebec valley.

CYNERGY YOUNG PROFESSIONAL

“Each of these nominees stood out to us this year,” Cunningham said, “as they have shown a repeated desire to put community first and not only excel in their careers but to sacrifice hours of personal time to improve the communities in which they live and work. We could not be more impressed with the efforts and accomplishments of these young professionals.”

Nathan Cotnoir believes in contributing to the welfare of his community. When he settled in Gardiner after college, he began to serve on a number of boards and committees in the Kennebec valley area. Volunteerism is important to Cotnoir and his family. His wife, Jamie, supports him in donating his time and energy to the causes he supports, and they are instilling the value of volunteerism in their son. Cotnoir’s goal is to work toward helping the Kennebec valley region thrive so that successive generations are able to secure rewarding careers here.

Sara Bangs started her career in banking while still in high school, working for Gardiner Savings Bank, now Camden National Bank. As she moved into management, she started volunteering for company events and building connections in the community and became more involved. Bangs serves on the boards of the United Way of Kennebec Valley, the Red Barn Cares Foundation and Lithgow Public Library. She also volunteers her time to work with other community organizations. She and her partner, Ryan, are promoting the spirit of service in the next generation, their three sons.

Sarah Fuller has been active in civic groups and community organizations since she attended college at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., but her sense of civic duty and love of the outdoors ignited years before in her time as a Girl Scout in Albany, New York. Married to a professional geographer, she traveled extensively, spending summers in Winthrop and eventually settling there permanently. In addition to serving on many regional and local boards, she’s an avid triathlete.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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