It rained, it poured and then there were the bolts of lightning, but the show went on under the tent at the Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce’s 65th annual meeting and awards night June 30. What a joy it was to gather alongside other community members after a year so difficult it was best not to dwell on it at a party, remarked Chamber Executive Director Gretchen Wilson.
For those who had not attended a large event since the onset of COVID-19, it was a night of reunion and of celebration. Last year’s meeting was held virtually so it was also an opportunity to honor — in-person — last year’s award recipients alongside the 2021 winners. Hard work and commitment to the community were common threads among all the businesses and individuals recognized. This and last year’s Top Drawer Award winners, Stanley Subaru and the Union River Lobster Pot, were prime examples. Both are family-run, civic-minded and put customers’ needs at the forefront of all decision making.
Citizen of the Year honorees Fred Ehrlenbach (2021) and Stu Marckoon (2020) have the kind of the resumes and schedules that make the rest of us feel tired just hearing it all rattled off. They wear many hats, including a firefighter’s helmet in Marckoon’s case and caps with the Ellsworth Police and Hancock County Sheriff’s Office in Ehrlenbach’s. Marckoon is town administrator in Lamoine; Ehrlenbach is chairman of the Board of Selectmen in Trenton. Both have logged countless hours as volunteers with various committees and causes. Small towns cannot run without people like them. Not well, anyway.
Receiving the Directors Award were Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital employees, who met the challenge of a pandemic on top of already demanding jobs. We can think of no one more deserving.
Other award recipients were selected by community vote. There was not a bad choice on the ballot. Winners were chosen, but there were no losers. Each of the nominees brings something special to the Ellsworth area.
Since last spring, many local businesses have pivoted so hard it is a wonder they did not get whiplash. Most are still here, surviving — even thriving — and that alone is something to celebrate. Those that held on while still finding ways to grow and give back have earned a round of applause.
“This is your community,” Ehrlenbach told the crowd. “Leave it better than you found it.” Words to live by for us all.