FAIRFIELD — The rain and overcast sky Thursday were not enough the dampen the spirits of the hundreds who crowded into Kennebec Valley Community College gymnasium, where nine individuals, organizations and businesses were honored for their community involvement and service to central Maine.

The 55th annual Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce Annual Award Ceremony, now in its third year at KVCC, recognizes the award recipients while also giving attendees the chance to network and socialize over drinks and appetizers.

Chamber President and CEO and Central Maine Growth Council Executive Director Kimberly Lindlof said at the beginning of the ceremony that she was grateful for the support the chamber receives, and she praised the board of directors for all their effort. She also praised the award recipients, saying they all were dedicated to their communities and showed dedication to the region.

Gary Levesque, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors, said this year’s recipients were “a testament of what Mid-Maine has to offer.”

“We have seen what can be accomplished when we work together,” Levesque said.

This year’s winners included a number of either notable or long-standing businesses or individuals. The Business of the Year award went to the Harry J. Smith Co., an auto repair shop that has been doing business in Waterville for more than a century. Today the shop employs 13 people, handles all forms of vehicle repairs and specializes in wheel alignment, suspension, brake repairs and state inspections. That’s from its humble beginnings in 1917, when Harry J. Smith was doing blacksmith work. He later worked on wagon wheels and horse-drawn carriages before shifting to automobiles.

Jeff and Rusty Damon, two brothers, were named Business Person of the Year. The two own seven stores in the area, including Damon’s Beverage Mart in Skowhegan. They have more than 100 employees, including nine family members. The two consider their business a family business. What started as just the Skowhegan outpost has grown, including two stores in Augusta, two in Skowhegan, one in Bangor and two in Waterville, including the former Jokas Discount Beverage on Front Street and the now-closed Bob-In tavern attached to Jokas on Temple Street. They also built a new College Quick Stop on West River Road in Waterville.

The Elias A. Joseph Award, which is handed out to individuals with significant volunteering commitment, was presented to Kennebec Savings Bank Senior Vice President Dave Roy. Roy, who praised the award’s namesake for his tireless commitment to the Chamber, has a long history of volunteering with the chamber over the years. In 2008, he was recruited to join its board of directors. In those years, he was chairman of the Membership and Marketing Committee, was a member of the Investment Committee, and was a member of the Executive Committee for five years, eventually becoming chairman in 2016. He also volunteered with the Central Maine Youth Hockey Association.

Kathy and Jeff Corey, who own Day’s Jewelers on Main Street in Waterville, were awarded the Distinguished Community Service Award. The Winslow couple has seven stores in Maine and New Hampshire after 34 years in business, with 140 employees. The two have a long history of community service, including Jeff Corey’s involvement in co-founding two popular downtown events — the annual Taste of Waterville and Kringleville and the Parade of Lights, which take place during the holidays.

Jeff Corey, who is the company’s vice president of marketing, also was named 2017 Citizen of the Year in Central Maine by the Boy Scouts of America. Kathy Corey, who is vice president of merchandising and production distribution, is on the Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems board of directors and has been on the boards of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, Inland Hospital, Kennebec Valley Community College and the Waterville Development Corp.

Phil Bofia, a business analyst for CGI, was named the winner of the Rising Star Award. Bofia is chairman of KVConnect, a networking group of young professionals; a member of the Waterville Rotary Club and the Waterville Airport Advisory Committee; vice president of Waterville Area Habitat for Humanity; a trustee of Kennebec Valley Community College; and a member of both the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce’s Marketing and Membership Committee and the KSW Federal Credit Union board of directors.

Attorney Daniel Bernier was recognized as the 2017 Outstanding Professional. The Waterville attorney is an active community member. He’s a leader with local Boy Scout and Cub Scout groups. He is on the chamber’s board of directors and is its chairman of public policy. He is a member of the local Knights of Columbus and has been on local housing boards.

Holly Caron, a longtime customer service associate at Golden Pond Wealth Management, was presented with the Customer Service Stardom Award. Caron helped start the financial planning office in 1996 and has worked there for 22 years. She is also a volunteer at the Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area, which she got involved with 10 years ago, after she and her husband lost a daughter to cancer.

Caron, the first to accept her award, said the first time she attended one of the chamber ceremonies was when her grandmother was given an award in the late 1980s, presented to her by then-U.S. Sen. George Mitchell.

“Our family learned a lot from our grandparents,” Caron said, later adding that she viewed the award as a collective recognition for Golden Pond.

“Our guiding principle is to treat our clients like family and friends,” she said.

Finally, two organizations were recognized as the Community Service Project of the Year. The Alfond Youth Center and the Waterville Youth Empowerment Supports program were both named recipients. The Alfond Youth Center is an organization that develops programs promoting economic development in the city while also creating programming for children. The Youth Empowerment Supports program is offered to homeless youth through the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter in Waterville.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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