Boyne area community leaders, givers honored at chamber awards

ashley cousens chamber awards 2017

The Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce, led by its new executive director Ashley Cousens, held its annual community awards banquet on Thursday Jan. 19 at Boyne Mountain.

Pictured in the featured image is Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ashley Cousens.


“This was my first year conducting these awards, as you know,” said Cousens. “And, I got to learn a lot about the community in this way. There were many incredible nominations and it was very informative and fun to review them all. The nominees this year were nominated by you, and the winners were also chosen by you—in voting by 355 Chamber members and local residents who responded to our online surveys.”

She added, “These are all really great, and hard, choices. There are so many great things and people it is very tough to pick one winner. But there is only one winner, the Boyne Area Community.”

Volunteer of the Year
Presenting Volunteer of the Year Award was Kristen Austin, who was also sworn-in on awards night as the new Chamber Board Treasurer.
Nominees in this category included:
Susan Conklin of Good Neighbors Food Pantry
Jackie Wollenberg of the Boyne Arts Collective
Scott MacKenzie of Kiwanis Club
Cindy Janssens of Boyne Appetit
Mike Sheean, for work on non-motorized trails
But, the Volunteer of the Year award went to Scott MacKenzie, “For being a long-time major ambassador and cheerleader for Boyne City,” Austin said. “He is a member of Boyne City Kiwanis and volunteers as auctioneer at many events, including this one. He is always willing to spend his time helping any project that benefits Boyne City, including the Mushroom Festival. He is present at just about every event in Boyne.”

Entrepreneur of the Year
New Boyne Chamber Board Member John Cool presented the Entrepreneur of the Year award, which is given for starting or expanding a business.
“The Boyne Area has been lucky to have some excellent entrepreneurs over the years,” Cool said. “This year is no different. The nominations that came in made for a difficult choice, as all of them were more than deserving. Fun fact: most of this year’s nominees’ businesses are located in buildings in Boyne that were in need of some renovations. Each nominee this year worked hard to renovate existing space to suit their needs while taking care to preserve history and architecture unique to Boyne.”
He added, “We greatly appreciate all of our entrepreneurs who helped the Boyne Area grow this year while taking care to preserve our unique heritage.”
This year’s nominees included:
Shelley Bush of Up North Imagewear
Rich Bergmann of Boyne City Taproom
Jim Smolak/Matt Cozzens of 7 Monks Taproom
Chuck, Joel, Jeff Smith N. MI Sports Medicine
And, the winner of this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award was Rich Bergmann of Boyne City Taproom.
“Rich has made a success of a restaurant location that has struggled in the past,” Cool said. “He is strongly invested in the local community, as evidenced by a strong entertainment lineup, their showing videos of Ramblers football games, hiring local young people and training them, and advocating for more affordable housing to address needs expressed by his employees.”
Cool added, “Rich has brought a nice new energy to the local restaurant scene and is also known to be environmentally conscious.”

Young Entrepreneur
Boyne Chamber Board Member Kelly Woodard presented the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
“The Chamber feels it is important to encourage and honor young entrepreneurs because they represent the future of our business community,” Woodard said. “Having won this award myself, the first year we opened Bella Vita, this is an award that is near and dear to my heart.”
This year’s nominees included:
Donnie Towns of Friggy’s SOBO Pub
Mike Dunlop of Boyne City Taproom
Sara Manchester, Create Community Arts Studio
Michael Cortright, North Country Cycle Sport
And, the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award went to Sara Manchester of Create: Community Arts Studio!
“Sara orchestrated an amazing transformation of the old Depot building and started Create as a non-profit organization this year,” Woodard said. “The studio not only greatly improved a historic building that had fallen into disrepair, but also provides creative space for the entire community. With a specific focus on school children, Sara has designed artist-in-residence style experiences for kids to participate in after school.”
She added, “This beautiful building and the programs it houses will benefit Boyne Area kids for years to come.”

Community Pride
Boyne Chamber Board member Jennifer McAndrew presented the Community Pride Award.
“This award goes to a local non-profit organization that has made important contributions to the community in the past year,” said McAndrew.
This year’s Nominees included:
Eta Nu Charities
Boyne Valley Lions Club
Challenge Mountain
The Mushroom Festival Committee
Northern Homes Community Development Corporation
This year’s winner of the Community Pride Award was Challenge Mountain.
“Challenge Mountain, led by Elizabeth Looze, invested in the community in a big way when they purchased the mostly empty building on M-75 and within eight months opened a new resale store,” said McAndrew. “The renovated building exterior is a great improvement to the M-75 corridor and the store is meeting a need to provide gently used quality household items, clothing, furniture, books, and sporting goods. Proceeds from the store support year-round adaptive recreation opportunities for children and adults living with disabilities at no cost to participants, families, or schools.”

Heritage Award
Boyne Chamber Board member Shari Culver presented the Heritage Award for ongoing contributions to the community by a long-time business leader.
“This year, the community had an equally tough choice, with another fantastic list of nominees,” Culver said.
This year’s Nominees included:
Michelle Cortright of Harbor House Publishers
Mark Kowalske of Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors
Gary Deters and Jeff Wellman of RE/MAX Resort Properties
Mike Cain of the City of Boyne City
“And for the second year in a row, we have a tie for the winner of the Heritage Award—Mark Kowalske of Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors and Mike Cain, City Manager for Boyne City,” Culver said. “Mark Kowalske of Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors has been involved in the Boyne City community for 40 years. He came up with the idea for Buff up Boyne, a spring cleaning initiative that helps our community prepare for the busy tourist season. He was one of the founding members for the DDA/Main Street program, is one of the main sponsors for Stroll the Streets, wrote a motivational book called The Boyne Advantage, which one lucky winner will walk away with tonight, since it was in the Silent Auction, and sponsored a song contest that produced over 55 songs written about Boyne City.”
Culver then introduced Mike Cain, who has been the city manager for 14 years.
“He has brought in over $9 million in grant funding to help improve buildings, infrastructure, and community programs over the years and most recently secured a grant for $2.4 million to go toward purchase of the Open Space on Lake Street, which will remain a public park open space forever,” she said. “He has been a constant advocate for business and economic development in Boyne City and shows no signs of slowing down.”

Business Leadership
Lastly, the Sally Roselli Business Leadership Award was presented by Sally’s sister Julie Wellman.
“I am proud to present this award as it makes me think of my sister and all that she contributed to the Boyne Area,” said Wellman. “Each year, there are so many of you who embody my sister’s entrepreneurial and community spirit, which is what makes Boyne such a great place to live and work. Thank you for all of your work and dedication to Boyne.”
This year’s nominees included:
Jane MacKenzie of Northern Homes
Michelle Cortright of Harbor House Publishing
Pat O’Brien of Pat O’Brien & Associates
Elizabeth Looze of Challenge Mountain
And, the 2016 Sally Roselli Business Leadership Award went to Pat O’Brien.
“Pat O’Brien gives more than money to the community. He is the chair of the Main Street Board, an active member of Team Boyne, sponsors numerous events including the Chamber Expo, 4th of July race shirts and much more,” Wellman said.
“He supports almost every event in Boyne City and gives cash and sponsorships to many organizations. He and his team are consistent cheerleaders for Boyne City and active participants in community events.”

Also during the meeting, the 2017 Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors was announced by board president Mike Doumanian.
Board members include:
Greta Zumbaugh, Vice President
Kristen Austin, board Treasurer
Chris Bandy, board Secretary
And, directors Jennifer McAndrew, John Cool, Tony Williams, Kelly Woodard, and Shari Culver.