Chamber of Commerce celebrates volunteers, businesses at annual awards

4 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce honored individuals and business owners who have made significant contributions to civic organizations and projects throughout The County during its annual awards ceremony on Thursday.


Past chamber president Sherry Sullivan kicked off the evening by giving the President’s Award to Floyd Rockholt, who has stepped down as a chamber board member after serving for 25 years.

Sullivan named the numerous Chamber events that Rockholt has dedicated his time to over the years, including the Holiday Light Parade, Aroostook County Brew and Wine Festival, the strawberry shortcake sale and the Crown of Maine Balloon Festival, among others. 

Sherry Sullivan, past president of the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce board, presents Floyd Rockholt with the President’s Award on Jan. 23. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star-Herald)

“When there’s a chamber event, you know Floyd will be there,” Sullivan said. “He’s not someone who would ever ask for praise. He just wants everything to be the best it can be. Tonight we honor the dedication, wisdom and knowledge he’s given to the chamber board.”

While accepting his award, Rockholt thanked the chamber board members who have done their own part in making local events successful for Aroostook communities.

“You are the ones that have made me want to do what I do,” Rockholt said. “Thank you for this honor.”

The chamber named Deirdre McMahon of Presque Isle the 2019 Citizen of the Year for being an  “active volunteer” on behalf of many organizations. McMahon, who recently retired from Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital after 38 years as a echocardiographer, is a board member for the Presque Isle Historical Society, Homeless Services of Aroostook and Crown of Maine Quilters.

McMahon previously served as the treasurer for the Presque Isle Kiwanis Club and still dedicates time to Kiwanis fundraisers and events such as the Swing Into Spring Showcase, Monster Mash Halloween dance, the Christmas basket project and annual gala with the Presque Isle Rotary Club. She regularly volunteers for the Grace Interfaith Food Table in Presque Isle and is an IRS-certified tax preparer for United Way of Aroostook’s free tax preparation program.

After receiving a standing ovation from the hundreds of audience members in attendance, McMahon spoke of the importance of people contributing time to their communities.

“I encourage all of you to volunteer to enrich your life and help others,” McMahon said.

During the ceremony, the chamber also honored S.W. Collins Company and Tweedie, Inc. with the Business of the Year Economic Impact Award and Community Impact Award, respectively.

Longtime S.W. Collins Company marketing manager Leslie Jackson and Carl Soderberg, owner of Soderberg Construction in Caribou, spoke of the extensive history of the company and their commitment to serving Aroostook communities. 

S.W. Collins celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2019 by launching a community grant program in which local organizations can place tokens — which they receive at the time of a sales purchase — toward a cause of their choice. Each organization has the potential to receive up to $1,000 in community contributions during four quarters each year.

Attorney Frank Bemis (right) presents colleague Richard Engels with the Lifetime Award from the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce Thursday during the Chamber’s annual awards dinner. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star-Herald)

The company has also donated to numerous local organizations over the years such as Homeless Services of Aroostook, veterans groups, animal shelters, snowmobile and ATV clubs, the Aroostook House of Comfort, school athletics and performing arts programs, among others. 

Company president Sam Collins and vice president Gregg Collins have served on numerous local boards and are the fifth generation in their family to own the lumber and home improvement business.

“Being a positive influence in the community means giving back and we feel an obligation to continue to give back,” Sam Collins said. “What we’ve been able to accomplish is due to our amazing team of employees and all of our family members.”

Aroostook County Sheriff Shawn Gillen presented Josh Tweedie, owner of Star City IGA in Presque Isle, Hillside IGA in Fort Fairfield and Mars Hill IGA, with the Community Impact Award. Tweedie’s family has owned all three IGA stores since 2017 after many years of operating Big Rock Transportation in Mars Hill.

“Josh has put countless hours into running the stores, even when it means working nights and weekends,” Gillen said. “He has donated generously to local clubs, the Boy Scouts, schools, Meals on Wheels and many more.”

When reflecting on what the award means to him, Tweedie expressed gratitude for his employees and the community members who support all three grocery stores.

“I may be the voice and the face of the company, but you guys are the heart and soul,” Tweedie said. “All of you make the 12-hour workdays worth it.”

Local attorney Frank Bemis closed the evening by presenting Richard Engels with the Chamber’s Lifetime Award. Engels has practiced law in the region for 50 years and previously served on the Presque Isle City Council. 

Engels has been a member of the Presque Isle Industrial Council, the Maine Community Foundation Board, the Northern Maine Community College foundation, the University of Maine at Presque Isle Foundation and the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce. He has received two Paul Harris Fellowships from his time in the Caribou and Presque Isle Rotary Clubs.

A native of New York, Engels became the first member of his family to attend college when he entered Bowdoin College in Brunswick. He settled in Aroostook County after attending law school at Columbia University and serving in the Vietnam War.

“I’m grateful to have become a part of this community over the last 50 years,” Engels said.