AUGUSTA — More than 700 people turned out Friday to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce and to honor the people and businesses recognized at the Kenney Awards, the chamber’s annual awards banquet.

Friday’s event at Mill Park marked the return of the in-person event, after 2021 when chamber officials took the Kenneys online for a virtual award ceremony.

Of all the awards presented, winners in two categories were determined Friday by those attending the event.

In the live voting, Johnny Swan was chosen as the Cynergy Professional of the Year. The award acknowledges the recipient’s long-term commitment to the betterment of the community.

Swan, a Realtor with Brookwood Realty, said the contest was not a competition in his eyes, because he and his fellow nominees are doing the best they can to better their community.

The other nominees were Victoria Abbot, executive director at Bread of Life Ministries, and Hillary Roberts, executive director of the Kennebec Valley Humane Society.


“It’s an honor to be brought up in the same conversation as them, so keep doing all that you guys are doing,” Swan said. “It’s also a huge honor to be recognized amongst a group of such successful businesses and individuals who have all given so much to our community.”

He said there’s no greater satisfaction or feeling than knowing that he’s helped someone, whether in their backyard or in a real estate transaction.

The chambers members chose Elliott Office Products as the winner of the President’s Circle Award. The award honors the recipient’s impact on the Kennebec Valley through their revenue growth and job creation.

Jamie Elliott credited her father-in-law, Charles Elliott III, who founded the Farmingdale company as a copier dealer, where her husband C.J. learned the ropes working there as a teen and eventually taking over and bringing a new vision to the community of what the business could be.

“We’re just so humbled that you choose us every day and make your vision come to life,” Elliot said. “We appreciate you, and we appreciate our employees; we wouldn’t be here without you.”

The other nominees were Gardiner Family Chiropractic and Mid Maine Generator.


In awards that were previously announced, Charles “Wick” Johnson was given the Peter G. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award in appreciation for his contributions as a leader in the region for many years.

The Large Business of the Year is Smart Eye Care, an optometry practice with 56 employees in three locations offering a wide range of services. It is honored for its excellence in its industry through innovation, unparalleled customer service, staff development and marketing service. Its impact is measured through its community involvement and economic impact.

Community Service Award winner David Dostie, left, chats with Heather Pouliot and Sen. Matthew Pouliot, R-Augusta, on Friday during the Kenney Awards in Augusta’s Mill Park. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The Small Business of the Year is KV Tooling Systems, with five employees in its relatively new facility on North Belfast Avenue in Augusta. The company, which makes carbide cutting tools and offers sharpening services to manufacturing companies across New England, was  honored for its excellence in its industry through innovation, unparalleled customer service, staff development and marketing service. Companies are measured by its community involvement and economic impact.

Dave Dostie received the chamber’s Community Service Award.

The Kennebec Valley YMCA was honored with the chamber’s Special Service Award for the wide range of programs it offers for community members, from child care to group exercise classes and from swimming lessons to diabetes prevention.

The chamber’s executive board also made an unscheduled award Friday. At the start of the event, the board took time to acknowledge the work of Katie Doherty, the chamber’s president and CEO, who since her appointment five years ago has stabilized the organization’s finances, strengthened its core programs and expanded the chamber’s outreach through special events and service to its members.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: