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Local & State
Updated January 24, 2020
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Kennebec Valley Chamber honors its members in annual awards event in Augusta

More than 800 members of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce turned out Friday to celebrate the recipients of the 2020 Kenney Awards, which recognize their commitment and contributions to the Kennebec Valley area.

AUGUSTA — About 800 members of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce turned out Friday to honor 2020 award winners for their accomplishments.

Chamber board President Alec Rogers greeted those gathered for the annual black-tie gala at the Augusta Civic Center with words of thanks for the membership.

“Because of each of you showing up and taking advantage of what your chamber has to offer, we’re looking forward to an amazing year,” Rogers said.

As part of the festivities, Christine Durgin was named Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year.

Three of the awards have already been announced.

Central Maine Pyrotechnics, owned by Steve Marson, was named the Large Business of the Year.


Large business award winner Central Maine Pyrotechnics owner Steve Marson, center, chats with Mary Thompson, left, and Peter Thompson on Friday before the Kenney Awards at the Augusta Civic Center. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

Zardus Art of Massage & Wellness Spa, owned by Teresa Zardus, was named Small Business of the year.

Rob Gordon, who retired last summer after three decades at the United Way of Kennebec County, was named the Peter G. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

Winners in the other three awards were determined by live voting via text message by the members attending the event.


Cynergy Young Professional Award 

This award recognizes people with a long-term commitment to the betterment of the Kennebec Valley and is open to people 21 to 40 who have shown exemplary leadership throughout the region.

Natalie Tortorella

Natalie Tortorella  was named 2020 Cynergy Young Professional.

Tortorella has parlayed her experience teaching in Boston through Teach for America and her passion for sales — learned when she began selling insurance for her uncle — into her own business. She launched the Study Hall of Manchester in 2017. The Study Hall offers tutoring for hundreds of students weekly, customized to their individual needs.

Tortorella has volunteered as a board member for Uplift, which provides services for people with developmental disabilities, and Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center.

Peter Quigley of Key Bank and Kaleb Pushard of Sky Box Holiday and Event Lighting were also nominated.


Community Service Award 

The Community Service Award recognizes nominees who are active in bettering the Kennebec Valley and are recognized by their peers for their integrity and performance.

The Augusta Elks Lodge #964  was named 2020 Community Service Award winner.

The Elks Lodge serves its community through fundraising, donations and support given through a variety of programs.

Augusta Elks Lodge #964

Since 1987, the Maine Elks have donated $4.7 million to the Maine Children’s Cancer Program — it’s major program — and expects to reach the $5 million mark this year. Among its other initiatives are music festivals that it has held to benefit organizations, including the Travis Mills Foundation and K9s on the Front Line.

The organization has also extended its support for community youth by sponsoring athletic teams, contributing to the Boys & Girls Club of Augusta, providing supplies to 450 students through a backpack program, and awarding scholarships.

Club members also support a local kinship group for grandparents raising grandchildren and make the lodge available for events and meetings.


Townsquare Media and Aveda Institute Maine were also nominated.


President’s Choice Award

Cushnoc Brewing Co. was voted the winner of the President’s Choice Award.

This award recognizes chamber members who have had an effect on the region through revenue growth and job creation. They are industry leaders and maintain an exemplary business image in the community.

Cushnoc Brewing Company

Cushnoc Brewing Co., which opened its craft beer and wood-fired pizza business on Halloween in 2017, is the result of a partnership among Casey Hynes, Tobias Parkhurst, James Bass and Chris Geerlings. Since then, the partners have sold more than 100,000 pizzas and expanded from supplying to draft lines at the restaurant to being available in more than 630 locations on draft and in cans across the state.

Since then, Cushnoc has grown from a one-barrel brewhouse to one with 10 barrels, with the addition of the Cushnoc Annex on Route 3, where they can beers for distribution. It also opened a Tasting Room on Front Street in Augusta where it hosts private parties and sells beer to go. In 2019, the company produced 72,450 gallons of beer, enough beer for every Augusta resident to have 42 beers per year.

Cushnoc has partnered with or supported a number of local nonprofit organizations, including the Colonial Theatre, the Travis Mills Foundation and the Kennebec Valley Humane Society.

Augusta Fuel Co. and TRC Companies were also nominated.

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