WATERVILLE — The Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce will be handing out awards this week to eight local recipients for its 57th annual ceremony, which recognizes deserving businesses and business professionals in central Maine.

With the coronavirus pandemic still in full swing, the ceremony will have increased health and safety restrictions to mitigate a potential outbreak, chamber officials said.

Those attending the Wednesday ceremony at the Waterville Grand Hotel will be split up into three separate rooms, where they will watch a livestream of the ceremony as they wait to receive their award.

Kim Lindlof, president and CEO of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, welcomes guests to at a previous Mid Maine Chamber of Commerce annual awards dinner. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

“Safety is our top priority,” said Kim Lindlof, president and chief executive officer of the chamber. “Everyone is entering through one door, exiting through another door. And we have three separate and distinct rooms, so we will have no more than 50 people in each room. Everyone is also required to wear a mask.” 

Lindlof raved about this year’s award winners.

“I think we have a blockbuster of a lineup this year,” Lindlof said. “Some really, really worthy people. I could say something wonderful about everyone. They just excel at what they do, they shine and that’s why we selected them. In groups of outstanding people, this group of recipients really stood out.”

Because of the modified ceremony, Lindlof hopes to bring this year’s winners to the 58th annual ceremony next year to be honored in front of a larger crowd.

“This will be less than half the size it usually is, but it’s the best we can do,” Lindlof said. “Because we won’t have the numbers of attendees, we’re hoping next year we will have everyone come back and take a bow in front of a larger crowd.” 

BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR

Chuck Hays has been named Business Person of the Year for his contributions to the health and welfare of the Kennebec Valley over the last 24 years.

Chuck Hays

Hays currently works as president and chief executive officer for MaineGeneral Health, which operates two flagship hospitals — the Alfond Center for Health in Augusta and the Thayer Center for Health in Waterville — as well as many other local practices and services in a nonprofit health care system.

In 1995, Hays, a Massachusetts native, moved his family to Maine, where he began working as the director of engineering at the Mid-Maine Medical Center in Waterville.

In 2007, Hays became the president and CEO of MaineGeneral Medical Center and was promoted to his current position as president and CEO of MaineGeneral Health in 2012.

Hays has been a part of multiple projects in the Waterville area including enhancing services at the Alfond Youth & Community Center and Colby College and providing athletic training at local high schools.

Hays has also sponsored projects like the RiverWalk, Quarry Road and the Paul J. Schupf Art Center.

RISING STAR AWARD

This year’s rising star award was given to Heather Thorne, of Winslow.

Heather Thorne

After working as a receptionist at Higgins and Bolduc Insurance, of Oakland, Thorne studied for and earned her Sales Agent and Realtor designations. Since 2016, she has worked as a realtor for Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate, of Waterville.

Thorne has sold more than $14 million in real estate over the past four years and is a two-time International Diamond Society Member and an International President’s Circle Member.

Don Plourde, owner of Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate, said Thorne is one of the company’s top producing agents.

Thorne also serves as a director for the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, a committee chairperson of the Marketing and Membership Committee and is a member of the chamber’s executive board.

OUTSTANDING PROFESSIONAL AWARD

Kennebec Valley Community College President Dr. Richard R. Hopper is the recipient of this year’s outstanding professional award.

Richard Hopper

Since 2013, Hopper has overseen major investments in the Fairfield college’s infrastructure and programming including the construction of the new 600-acre Harold Alfond Campus in Hinckley and the new KVCC Center for Science Education.

Hopper has also led the college’s strategic planning process and has overseen the implementation of several multi-million-dollar grants that have been put toward technology, academic facilities and programming.

Hopper earned degrees in economics, education and policy from George Washington University and Harvard University. Hopper also studied international affairs in Geneva, Switzerland.

Prior to KVCC, Hopper was a senior education specialist for the World Bank where he conducted analysis on education investments and reforms.

All together, Hopper has 35 years of experience in teaching, higher education administration, economics of education and international development.

DISTINGUISHED COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD          

Thomas Longstaff was named this year’s recipient of the distinguished community service award for his extensive work in public service.

Thomas Longstaff

After leaving Maine to earn a doctorate at Columbia University in New York, Longstaff returned to his home state in 1969 to accept a faculty appointment at Colby College in Waterville, a position he held until his retirement in 2002.

When Longstaff left Colby College, he decided he wasn’t ready for full retirement and was elected to serve on a city charter commission for Waterville, then went on to serve on the city council for five years.

In 2010, Longstaff was elected as the representative of House District 109 in the Maine House of Representatives and served until 2018.

Longstaff’s current community activities include serving on the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter Board of Directors, the Board of Directors of Kennebec Behavioral Health, working with the Coalition Against Sex Trafficking and Forced Labor and serving as committee chair and board member for the Waterville Rotary Club.

CUSTOMER SERVICE STARDOM AWARD 

This year’s customer service stardom award was given to Tracy Warren, of Skowhegan.

Tracy Warren Photo courtesy of Todd Wentworth

Warren currently serves as the vice president and loan officer for Kennebec Savings Bank, where she has worked for the last 17 years. During her tenure, Warren has worked as a teller, customer service associate, head teller, receptionist, loan processor and loan servicer.

David Roy, senior vice president and chief risk officer for Kennebec Savings Bank, wasn’t surprised that Warren received this designation.

“I have seen first-hand how she treats each customer the way that each one of us wants to be treated,” Roy wrote in a prepared statement. “She is a very compassionate person, understands her customer’s needs and goes the extra mile to exceed their expectations.”

Warren has also been involved with United Way of Mid-Maine for 10 years and is currently a board member.

ELIAS A. JOSEPH AWARD

Those nominated for the Elias A. Joseph award put service above self in their private and business lives.

Gary Levesque

This year’s recipient is Gary Levesque, a Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce director at-large.

From a young age Levesque felt that his calling was to serve others which he’s done through his service as a board member of Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area and as a Trustee of Oakland United Baptist Church.

Currently, Levesque is a member of the Waterville Elks Lodge 905 and a Mason with the Oakland Lodge 113.

During his time at the chamber, Levesque has served on every committee and as chairperson for the Chamber Golf Committee.

Levesque has also served on the Professional Board for the National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors. Beginning with the regional board for Kennebec Valley, Levesque was promoted to president, served on the state board and then served as president there from 2013 to 2014.

Levesque earned his bachelor’s degree from University of Maine at Orono and is currently a financial services professional with New York Life Insurance Co., where he’s been employed for the last 22 years.

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD

Standard Waterproofing in Winslow has been named business of the year.

Theresa Thompson Angimarie Photography

The company, owned and operated by Theresa Thompson, specializes in services that emphasize the “health” of buildings by protecting them from water intrusion, heat and air conditioning loss, and fire damage.

Beginning in China, Standard Waterproofing was originally purchased by Tom and Marie Michaud in 1991.

Thompson joined her parents Tom and Marie at the company in 2005. Since then, she has expanded the company to 15 lines of service. The company recently moved into a larger facility in Winslow to accommodate its growth.

The company is currently working with Landry French Construction on the Lockwood Hotel Project and Colby College Athletic Center, both in Waterville.

COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECT AWARD 

The town of Oakland has been selected for the community service project award for the multiple revitalization projects it has embarked on over the past six years.

Gary Bowman

These projects include the construction of a new fire station, the completion of an overall comprehensive plan, the formation of a flower committee that has planted flowers around the town, and revamping the town’s boat launch area with a new gazebo, picnic tables, signage and landscape work.

The town also created OakFest and the Oakland Music Series.

Town Manager Gary Bowman continues to develop plans for a new town office, a third town park, the town’s solar array project and the Oakland Broadband Initiative.

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