Meaford's business and volunteer communities were recognized Saturday night at the annual Meaford Chamber of Commerce Community Awards Dinner which was held at the Meaford and St. Vincent Community Centre.
The community centre welcomed more than 200 guests for the celebration which was catered by Meaford's own Christine Collins Catering.
As has become a tradition in recent years Meaford resident Gunter Neumann entertained attendees with more of his mostly self-deprecating humour as they dined and awaited the presentation of awards.
For the third straight year the Rotary Club of Meaford joined with the Chamber event to present their Rotary Citizen of the Year which went to tireless community volunteer Heather Handy.
“Our 2011 recipient became a citizen of Meaford just seven short years ago. In that short time she has undoubtedly contributed more volunteer hours in this community than many have in a lifetime,” Rotary representative Rick Galbraith said of their selection for 2011, citing Handy's volunteer work with various community groups including the BIA, Scarecrow Invasion, United Church, and the annual Run-Walk-Stroll fundraiser for the Meaford Hospital Foundation.
Handy could not attend to receive her award, however Marilyn Morris along with Carolyn Letourneau were on hand to accept on her behalf.
The awards presented by the Chamber of Commerce were as follows:
Most Improved Business presented by K.D. Solomon Insurance Brokers:
This award is presented to an existing business that has significantly expanded its operation and/or improved or enhanced the business premises making the community more attractive.
“Cheryl is back! Once the owner of the “Little Boutique” Cheryl took a few years away from the business to devote time to her family. Not only has she returned, she has purchased a building and renovated it in keeping with the historical facade and in so doing has set an example to others on the Main Street. Ashyrah Clothing Boutique adds a stylish appealing storefront to our main street and offers unique ladies fashions at affordable prices” says one nominator. Another said “What an amazing addition to our downtown area. The clean and bright colours in each area make it a really great experience to shop. Her window displays are always interesting and eye catching,” read the award citation.
Customer Service Award presented by Knight's of Meaford:
In this category there was a tie for 2011 with Blossom Health Club for Women and Simply Unique Flowers sharing the award.
“Our winner this year shows what Customer Service is all about. From the moment you enter her premises the owner is there to greet you and make you feel welcome. She has gone out of her way to create a beautiful environment for her product line by using antiques as the mainstay of her design both inside and out of her business. She has been known on many occasions to donate floral arrangements for special occasions and not want acknowledgement for her actions. She quite often will speak to husbands indicating a special arrangement or plant in which their spouse showed interest,” said presenter Tyler Knight of Simply Unique.
“Meaford has a contemporary “state of the art” fitness centre for women. It is open seven day a week, with selective hours on the weekend. It is impeccably clean and attractively decorated. All of this is very important, however, the staff is really what makes the difference. They are warm and welcoming to clients at all times. Special requests regarding classes or equipment are investigated and if possible are made available to the clients,” said Knight of co-winner Blossom Health Club.
Tourism Award presented by Scotiabank:
The tourism award this year went to the Meaford Museum.
“The recipient of the Community Award for Tourism is a booster for local tourism as well as a tourist destination. The tourist can journey into the past or learn where to journey in the present. The recipient has just celebrated 50 years of promoting the history, people and events that make the heritage of Meaford and area come alive. “It is a magnet for tourism” wrote one nominator. Over the years this recipient has expanded and has become a professionally run operation. The welcoming atmosphere and ease of access to the exhibits and information makes it a winner. Its active participation in tourism activities within the municipality has made it an integral part of the tourist scene. Reading the guest book reveals the respect and appreciation visitors have for our small but picturesque community museum,” read the citation for the Tourism award winner.
Agri-Business Award presented by TD Canada Trust:
The award for Agri-Business went to David and Lynn Freeman of Bay Organics Inc.
“This year’s winner have been farming in Meaford for 25 years and have created a line of certified organic freeze dried garlic which preserved the valuable enzyme and allicin of garlic that disappears when cooked. In 2007 their pharmaceutical grade freeze drying facility won the Ministers Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. They are now trying the process on a variety of fruits and vegetables. Their organic garlic farm is a model of environmental sustainability encompassing solar power, recycling and composting practices. He has successfully intertwined organic gardening with new technology to provide this incredible health conscious product,” read the citation.
Special Merit Award presented by the Municipality of Meaford:
This award is presented to a volunteer organization or service club for exceptional effort over the past year that has enhance the quality of life within the community. The winner for 2011 was community activist group, Meaford Against Gasification Group (MAGG).
“This organization is a grassroots citizen movement committed to safeguarding the quality of life for the community by constructively criticizing government policies believed to be detrimental. As written by one nominator “The organizers of this community group showed how a community can rally together and initiate respectful debate over an issue that was important to many people in Meaford. There is always room for respectful debate, and these folks showed that the community can respond positively even to a contentious issue,” said Meaford Mayor Francis Richardson in presenting the award to Jenean Lush who represented the community group at the awards.
Another nominator noted “Moving well beyond mere complaining, these citizens organized, thoroughly researched the issues and built alliances with other like-minded organizations elsewhere. They politely but firmly refused to accept half-truths and unsubstantiated claims from either municipal officials or the private sector company that was in partnership with the municipality.”
Peter Francis Memorial Award presented by the Meaford Chamber of Commerce:
This award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated exemplary volunteer leadership over many years and who has made a significant contribution to community development in the Municipality of Meaford. This individual must exhibit strong leadership through example. This is a lifetime achievement award.
For 2011 the winner of this award is local businessman and pharmacist David Glass.
“A husband and father, a busy and successful businessman in downtown Meaford and Thornbury, he has also, over many years, quietly involved himself in the life of his community in a volunteer capacity, most often in a leadership role and always for the betterment of others. He is totally committed to Meaford and its well being,” read the citation for the award which also cited several of Glass' contributions to the community including his roles with the BIA, Meaford Hospital Foundation, and Community Living.
Business Owner of the Year presented by the Meaford BIA:
The final award of the evening went to the Business Owner of the Year, and for 2011 Jim and Isabel Almond of Almond's Farm Market were recognized for their outstanding achievements.
“This dynamic, hardworking duo has been operating a diverse and successful farm operation in Meaford since 1963. At that time the main focus was dairy farming, orchard crops and an on-site ski hill business. On many a snowy Saturday or Sunday afternoon (for $1.50) the rope tow, that darkened your ski jacket, pulled you up the hill for a great run right into the parking lot. Afterwards you would be treated in the snack shack with a hot dog and a steaming coffee or hot chocolate,” read the citation for the award, “They have been huge supporters of many local events and in particular the Scarecrow Invasion of which they have been a major sponsor since the beginning of the Big Weekend. Corn stalks are donated to beautify the downtown and the Market is transformed into a haven for the many homemade scarecrows that folks admire and photograph. The Market has been featured many times in local magazines and has won numerous prizes for their decorations. This is a wonderful draw for tourists to view. They are generous towards the Chamber of Commerce events as well as those held at Meaford Hall, the curling club and the Anglican Church.”
The Meaford Independent would like to extend congratulations to all of this year's winners and nominees.
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