Guests brave storm to attend PIACC dinner

17 years ago
By Kathy McCarty  
Staff Writer

    PRESQUE ISLE – Mother Nature attempted but was unsuccessful in her effort to keep participants from the 2007 Annual Recognition Dinner hosted by the Presque Isle Area Chamber of Commerce March 2 at the Presque Isle Inn & Convention Center.

   Following a welcome by PIACC Executive Director Allen Deeves and invocation by Rev. Dr. Bob Grove-Markwood, PIACC President Dawn Poitras provided the 2006 Chamber review and 2007 vision statement. The Chamber hopes its membership continues to grow in coming years.
    Dr. Dick Graves, known to many as the town historian, provided a slide presentation of various scenes from Presque Isle’s history, making the audience laugh from time to time with his comments.
    “With half the audience not from Presque Isle originally, I might as well be talking to turnips,” quipped Graves.
    An audience member promptly added, “or potatoes.”
    Deeves thanked Graves for his presentation, adding, “Every time he speaks, I learn something.”
    Sue Brown was presented with the Volunteer of the Year Award by Sharon Campbell.
    “Sue lives by the Rotary motto of ‘service above self,’ whether its at church suppers, a Sunday morning greeter or countless charity events. Where would we be without her?” asked Campbell.
    “I try to be active and want to make a difference,” said Brown as she accepted her award.
    The Community Recognition Award was presented by Tim Doak to his friend, Max Saenger. Doak noted Saenger was leaving the area soon for a job in Vancouver, so to get Saenger to the dinner, Doak and Saenger’s wife had to concoct a story.
    “He had an event at the Maine Winter Sports Center tonight, so we had to concoct something to get him here,” said Doak.
    Doak credited Saenger with being instrumental in making the center what it is today.
    “He’s (Saenger) is leaving pretty big shoes to be filled.
    “I’ll take this plaque with me to Vancouver. It represents the cooperation between the community and the MWSC and the healthy outdoor lifestyle the two have developed,” said Saenger. “When they ask where I’m from, I’ll have to say Northern Maine. That’s where I’ve made friends and business acquaintances.”
    Derik Smith was selected as Board Member of the Year for his dedication to events like the Balloon Festival.
    “Derik has been very engaged in fund-raising,” said Deeves, as he introduced Smith.
    “I’m amazed to get an award for work other people (played such a big role in performing). It takes money and volunteers to get this project in the air. Thank you, all,” said Smith.
    Next, Ken Arndt, Presque Isle’s planning director, presented Rodney Wohlford, manger of the Presque Isle Lowe’s Home Improvement Center, with the Economic Development Award.
    “This is an honor for myself, the store and its staff,” said Wohlford.
    Business of the Year went to Sinawik, for its continued efforts in making affordable housing. Laurel “Sonny” Green presented the award to Dan Lee.
    “A snowstorm doesn’t bother us when it’s a social event,” said Green, going on to explain a bit about Sinawik’s work. “This began as a combined effort between Northern Maine Vocational Technical Institute – now NMCC – and Kiwanis. Sinawik is Kiwanis spelled backwards. The projects provide real-world experience and participants are held accountable for their work.”
    Upon accepting the award, Lee expressed gratitude for those involved.
    “Thanks to the staff and administers of the program. And thanks on behalf of the board. It’s nice to be recognized,” said Lee.
    Timothy McMahon was presented with the Citizen of the Year Award by Kiwanis President Diane Green.
    “I’m fortunate as the current president of the Kiwanis Club to present Citizen of the Year to Tim McMahon. Tim and his wife, Deidre, have a long history of commitment to Kiwanis and The Aroostook Medical Center. He’s been involved in teaching and a number of volunteer roles including Boy Scouts and hockey league,” said Green.
    McMahon acknowledged he was not a native of Aroostook but admired the neighborly attitude he’s witnessed since living here.
    “I’m not a native of the County. Neighbors helping neighbors can be a fulfilling lifestyle,” said McMahon. “Thank you for this honor.”
    The last, but probably the most noteworthy presentation was for the Lifetime Achievement Award – this year presented to Caroline Gentile by City Councilman Calvin Hall.
    “For more than 56 years, Ms. Gentile was instrumental in building the physical education program at UMPI. Promise never to stop teaching something new every day of your life,” Hall said, speaking directly to Gentile.
    Gentile was escorted to the podium by UMPI Pres. Don Zillman. Once there, she gave a brief thank-you speech.
    “Thank you all for being here and for the Chamber. It does wonderful work. Keep up the good work,” said Gentile, as Hall presented her with her award.
    Following the presentations, Bert Winslow went into auctioneer mode, raising a few hundred dollars as dinner guests bid on framed photos of scenes from Presque Isle.
    The evening concluded with guests returning to their vehicles in the parking lot, having to take a moment to clear windows of fresh-fallen snow that had accumulated during the evening.