AUGUSTA — At large, public events, people often are asked to turn off their mobile phones.

At the Kenneys, the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet scheduled for Friday, people will be asked to bring them charged and keep them handy.

This year, attendees will be asked to vote for nominees in three award categories, the President’s Choice, Community Service and Cynergy Young Professional awards, and those votes will be tallied in real time and the winners will be announced at the event.

Katie Doherty, program director for the chamber, will be monitoring the voting backstage and will deliver an envelope with the winner’s name to the stage.

“This will be the first chamber event where it will be OK to be on your phone,” Doherty said.

The process is a fairly simple one, thanks to Poll Everywhere, which provides instant audience response data using Web technology. Those at the dinner will be instructed via table tents and video screens how to register their phones. Once that’s done, they will be given a test question to familiarize them with the voting process, Doherty said. Then they will be asked to vote on the nominees in the three categories.

While the system is easy to use, it’s also secure. Doherty said the program is set up to limit voting to those present at the Kenneys, and each person will be able to vote only once.

Sponsored charging stations will be available for anyone who arrives short of battery power at the end of the workweek.

Stacey Morrison, chief executive officer of Ganneston Construction and the 2017 chairwoman of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce board, said preparations are on track and attendance is expected to be the same as last year. So far, about 700 people have said they will attend.

“The staff has been doing a great job, and we’re expecting an exciting event,” Morrison said.

The search for a chamber president is ongoing, following the departure in October of Ross Cunningham. Among other changes Cunningham introduced, he remade the annual chamber dinner into the black-tie-optional Kenney Awards last year in a bid to give the event a more celebratory air.

Morrison said no announcement about the position is being made to keep the focus on the event and the award winners.

Winners already have been chosen for three other categories.

Mark Johnston has been named the 2017 Peter G. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

Performance Food Service — Northcenter has been named the 2017 Large Business of the Year.

Emery’s Meat & Produce has been named the 2017 Small Business of the year.

Tickets are still available for Friday’s event at the Augusta Civic Center, which starts at 5 p.m. with a social hour. Dinner and awards follow at 6:30 and the evening will end with a live band and dancing, starting at 8 p.m.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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