By: Benjamin J. Gohs, News Editor
The winners of this year’s annual Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce Awards banquet were presented with their honors on Thursday Jan. 17, at Boyne Mountain.
The event, which drew a crowd of more than 300 civic leaders, business owners and other public officials, honored people in categories including business leadership, community pride and entrepreneur of the year.
“It’s an honor to do something for Boyne City,” said Volunteer of the Year Award winner Gail Farley. “I’m going to quote Ghostbusters: ‘I love this town.’”
According to Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Baumann, Farley is the main driving force behind the Northern Michigan Cancer Crusaders, she is also active with the 4th of July Committee, Mushroom Festival and Relay for Life.
“One person who nominated Gail said that she is the first person to call if you need help, and she’s the first person to give it,” Baumann said.
Winners were voted upon by a group of over 200 community leaders, residents and seasonal visitors.
The Sally Roselli Business Leadership Award went to Becky Harris for what Baumann referred to as “vigilant and enthusiastic promotion” as the new manager of the Boyne City Farmers Market, which is now open year-round.
“Becky was also a vital member of the Branding Committee that developed a new website, logos and branding for the Main Street program and its projects, including Stroll the Streets, Farmers Market and Boyne Thunder,” he said. “In her spare time, Becky also volunteers to help organize the Chef’s Challenge and the Kiwanis Classic Car Show.”
The Sally Roselli award is named for a former chamber board president who died of cancer, and the award was presented by her sister Julie Wellman.
The Community Pride Award—for a local organization or non-profit—went to the Boyne City Eagles Club.
“This organization not only donates money throughout the year to area food pantries, the girl and boy scouts, Community Christmas baskets, school backpack programs, the free clinic and many other organizations, they also donate their meeting hall to anyone or any group that needs it for a benefit for community fund-raisers that help individuals, groups and organizations in need,” Baumann said.
Entrepreneur of the Year Award for starting or expanding a business went to Brett Cuper of Morel’s Bistro who took a closed business that had been inoperative for four years and turned it into a high-end destination restaurant.
“The improvements Brett and his crew made to the building were extensive,” Baumann said.
Cuper said, “It’s an honor to be recognized by a group that I wanted so badly to be a part of.”
The Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award went to Joshua Grove and Michael Koteskey of Boyne Parasail.
“This dynamic duo worked for months ahead of time, planning and training to start a business that made a big splash right away, adding to our reputation as a fun and exciting community,” said Baumann.
The Heritage Award for ongoing contributions to the community by a long-time business leader went to two recipients this year because there was a virtual tie between them.
Lynda Christensen of Lynda’s Real Estate Service was awarded for not only running a successful business but also constantly helping others in the community.
“She is active in the Boyne City Booster Foundation, St. Matthew Church and she runs the Loan Closet, which loans medical equipment such as hospital beds, walkers, commodes and shower chairs to those returning home from surgery or perhaps who are at home for their final days,” Baumann said. “She is constantly helping the elderly. Some of them have nowhere else to turn and she always does it with a smile.”
The second winner of the Heritage Award was Hugh Conklin of the Boyne City Main Street Program. “Hugh and his wife Susan first came to Boyne City as the owners of the Boyne Citizen,” Baumann said. “Lately, he has taken our Main Street program to a new level and helped bring our community national recognition.”
He added, “He would say it is because of all the volunteers, his board, and city and chamber staff, but it is his quiet leadership and passion for the people in Boyne City that produces such wonderful results for our downtown.”
Baumann said Hugh is strongly committed to projects like the Dilworth Hotel, the Boyne Theatre and helping all local businesses.
“He is one of our most important leaders and Boyne City would not be what it is today without him,” Baumann said.