2016 Boyne Chamber Award winners

The Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting and awards banquet was held last night—Thursday Jan. 21—at Boyne Mountain.

This year’s winners included Ed Vondra, posthumously awarded for his volunteer efforts, Mary Palmer who helped start Magnum Hospitality, and Bob Grove and Mike Dow who worked to turn the former Devlon construction mess on the waterfront into a public open space.

The following information is courtesy Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Baumann:

This year’s runners up for the Volunteer of the Year Award were:

• Susan Conklin of the Good Neighbors Food Pantry

• Alice Marshall of the Charlevoix Area Humane Society

• Jackie Wollenberg of the Boyne Arts Collective

• Ed Vondra, former school board member and active community member

And the Volunteer of the Year award went to…

Ed Vondra, long-time member of the Boyne City School Board, who died unexpectedly in September at the age of 66.

Accepting the award is Ed’s son Chuck Vondra. Ed is remembered in and around the community for his extensive capacity for caring and involvement in a many, many community events – especially those related to our schools.

This year’s runners up for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award were:

• Jessica Bell of Resort Rentals North

• Ivette Dixon of Smitten Designs

This year, the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award went to… Courtney Angell Sumpter of Northern Michigan Equine Therapy.

Her work with at-risk young people through the non-profit organization she started is dramatically changing lives. Autistic children have become more outgoing and verbal.

Kids who were chronically in the juvenile court system have made a 180-degree turnaround, almost to a level of being a modern-day miracle.

Honorable mention nominees for this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year award were:

• Lori Herrington of 52 Weekends

• And Brian Kozminski of True North Trout Guide Service

There was actually a tie vote for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award this year.

The winners were Jim and Jill Habasco of Big E’s Smoke Shack and Mark Warner of Northern Table Restaurant and Boyne Pub.

The Habascos started Big E’s Smoke Shack in Boyne Falls. Right after they opened, they won first prize in the Project Greenlight new business competition for their unique new store. They sell smoked fish, shrimp, pulled pork and homemade fish and salmon dips – all made fresh on site.

One of the nominations said “Jimmy and Jill Habasco have invested a lot of time as well as energy and they employ lots of local folks in their two business ventures.”

Mark Warner and his chef, Meghan Wruk, opened Northern Table restaurant last spring and they have made it a success. As one nomination stated, “They brought a brought a fresh new idea – “farm to table” – to downtown Boyne City and the business is doing well.”

Another nomination liked the fact that it is “a new dining option and it is busy all the time.” A few months after opening Northern Table, they opened Boyne Pub, an upstairs sports bar specializing in wood-fired pizzas.

This year’s Runners-up for the Community Pride Award were…

• Eta Nu Charities

• First Presbyterian Church

And the Top of Michigan Mountain Bike Association

And this year’s winner of the Community Pride Award was …

The Good Neighbors Food Pantry for starting a new, larger community pantry, collaborating with other pantries, mobilizing volunteers and creating a partnership with the Boyne Free Clinic, which provided a great space for the pantry.

I’d like to ask the pantry’s director, Susan Conklin, to come up and accept the award.

This effort was spearheaded by Susan – along with Deb Noblet of the Manna Food Project.

The pantry is now open to serve the community every Tuesday. They will celebrate their first anniversary this September by hosting a Business After Hours.

This year’s Runners-up for the Heritage Award for ongoing contributions to the community by a long-time business leader were:

• Tom Johnson of Landmark Development

• Michelle Cortright of Harbor House Publishers

There was a tie for the winner of the Heritage Award – Ed Barden of F.O. Barden & Sons Lumber and Mary Palmer of Magnum Hospitality.

Ed and his family have donated countless hours and properties to the community and schools. As one nomination said: “You would need to look for a long time to find a family that has been a pillar of the Boyne business community for as long as the Bardens.”

It was 1997 when Mary and her Magnum Hospitality partners supercharged the Boyne City dining scene by opening Red Mesa Grill.

Five years ago they opened Café Sante just a couple of blocks away.

These businesses draw 250,000 diners per year to Boyne City and have left a legacy of supporting numerous worthy community non-profit projects.

Runners up for this year’s Sally Roselli Business Leadership Award were:

This year’s honorable mention nominees were:

• Dr. Cathy Wonski of Boyne Area Medical Center

• Lori Meeder of the Boyne City Main Street Program

• Bud Shear of Industrial Magnetics

And the award winners were Mike Dow and Bob Grove.

This past spring, Mike and Bob purchased the 4 acres of lakefront property across from Family Fare and offered it to the city at their cost so it could be preserved as open space.

Just in time for the 4th of July, the long-hated unsightly fence came down because, like the rest of the community, Mike and Bob were tired of looking at it.

The city is leasing the property for $1 and exploring grants and other funding options so it can be public open space forever.

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