The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce annual dinner celebrated with a theme of “Our Members Shine” at its annual meeting dinner Oct. 25 in the North Dining Hall of the University of Maine at Farmington. Approximately 150 members and guests attended, according to a news release from Penny Meservier, executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce.

The evening was kicked off with a social hour featuring a slideshow showcasing members participating in the past year’s events. Stand-up comic Johnny Ater was the evenings entertainer.

Board president Mike Blanchet talked about the chamber’s progress over the past year. Some of the year’s highlights include 10 ribbon-cutting ceremonies, 10 Business After Hours events, selling more than $7,000 in “Chamber Bucks” gift certificates, which encourage customers to buy local, hosting workshops and increasing the chamber’s social media presence.

The chamber promoted Franklin County and its member businesses through the distribution of 12,000 Welcome Guides and more than 5,000 member brochures at the chamber’s two kiosks. The chamber also co-hosted events such as Entrepreneurs Connect and the Tri-Chamber BBQ.

Meservier recognized the evenings gold partners as Franklin Savings Bank and Senior Planning Center along with the silver partners Dead River Company, Skowhegan Savings Bank, United Insurance Shiretown Agency, Comfort Inn and Suites, Carrier Welding, Mills & Mills, Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice, Work First, Coca Cola, Austin Associates and Seniors Plus, according to the release.

Before the evening’s transition to the annual business meeting, a buffet dinner was held. Blanchet recognized outgoing board members Ken True, Greg Patterson, Tammy Hutchinson, Chuck Ellis and Sue Atwood for their dedicated service to the chamber.

Chrissy St. Laurent introduced the 2017-18 board members President Mike Blanchet of Sun Media, Vice President Chrissy St. Laurent of Franklin Savings Bank, Membership Chairman Shannon Smith of Wilton Blueberry Festival, Treasurer Pam Dixon of Franklin Savings Bank, Secretary Heidi Elliott of Bangor Savings Bank, and Board Directors Kirk Doyle of Kennebec Wealth Management, Scott Foster of Franklin Memorial Hospital, Al Kaplan of Wilton Historical Society, Patty Ladd of WMCA Career Center Services, Angela LeClair of University of Maine at Farmington, Shelly Lowell of Skowhegan Savings Bank, Susi Pearson of Allied Realty and Bill Rider of Western Maine Wireless.

According to the release, the evening culminated with the presentation of the chamber’s annual business awards. The top three nominees in each category were recognized with a certificate. The overall winner from each category was announced and presented with a plaque from the chamber for their commitment to excellence. Nominees and awards were presented as follows:

• The Rising Star is awarded to a business or organization that joined the chamber within the last three years and shows evidence of success, potential for growth and being a part of the vibrant business community.

The Rising Star nominees were Food City, Origin BJJ and Azulene Day Spa.

The winner of the Rising Star award was Azulene Day Spa. Azulene Day Spa was nominated for the unique quality services offered to the residents of Franklin County and as a business that looks forward to serving the area for many years to come. This year saw expansion which doubled their space and expanded the variety of services.

• The Community Service award honors an outstanding chamber member business or organization that generously gives time, resources or expertise to the community making a difference in Franklin County. Community Service nominees were Bangor Savings Bank, Farmington Emblem Club 460 and Coldwell Banker/Sandy River Realty.

The Community Service Award was presented to Bangor Savings Bank. Comments submitted via the nomination process described Bangor Savings Bank as a business whose employees do a great job of getting out into the community and serve on many different boards from Rotary, United Way and the Chamber along with a few others. They provide support and resources to many local non-profit organizations. They participate in many of the local events either as a participant or as volunteers. The Community Matters More program gives to local programs voted on by community members.

• The Business of the Year award recognizes a business or organization that maintains good employee relations, demonstrates exceptional customer service, exhibits evidence of continued success and future growth, and promotes and contributes to the economic growth of Franklin County.

The Business of the Year nominees were Reny’s, Expenet Technologies and Upright Framework.

The winner of the Business of the Year Award was Expenet Technologies. The business was nominated as a business that first started out in a basement by two local guys and has grown into two offices one in Farmington and one in Wilton. It provides a friendly yet professional environment for anyone looking for computer services. They have great skills and want to make the Franklin County community the best it can be by bringing in interns from Foster Tech program to help those who are interested in computer repair and networking gain experience. This organization has accomplished a great deal for the community.

• The President’s Award is presented to a business with a combination of achievements, community service, chamber involvement and business leadership. The President’s Award allows recognition of one of the chamber’s members that is deserving of having its overall efforts acknowledged.

The President’s Award was presented to Food City for the investments made to improve their building, seeking to make connections within their community, supporting many projects through donations, supporting Chamber activities and demonstrating excellent customer service.

The annual dinner also was the kick off for the chamber’s annual Gerry Wiles Holiday basket food drive with balloons being sold to represent a pledge to sponsor a food basket. By the end of the evening the room was decorated with more than 100 balloons. As the evening concluded the silent auction winners were announced. Door prize winners were presented with a seasonal centerpiece as a door prize gift, courtesy of Robin’s Flower Pot, according to the release.

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