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Written by Macklin Reid, Press Staff

Honored with awards at last week’s Chamber of Commerce annual luncheon were, from left: Charnez Perkins and Dr. Jeannie Kencare of Urgent Care, Nancy O’Connell of nancy O, Geoffrey Morris of Ridgefield Magazine, John J. Farling of Laurel Ridge, Kevin Nolan of Winters Brothers and Jerry Benziger of Benziger Family Winery. -Macklin Reid photo
“The Ridgefield Chamber’s mission is to grow commerce, culture and community,” Executive Director Marion Roth told the Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards luncheon a few weeks ago.

In Silver Spring Country Club’s spacious dining room, Ms. Roth addressed a crowd of 116 local business leaders – sprinkled with a few political leaders, such as former Fourth District Congressman Christopher Shays, now seeking the Republican nomination for Senate, Board of Finance member Paul Sutherland, and First Selectman Rudy Marconi, who gave his State of the Town address
“We need each other,” Ms. Roth said. “The future of our community, and what happens here in America, depends on entrepreneurs like you.”
The Chamber’s 2011 Chairman Shane Casey of Casey Energy introduced his successor, 2012 Chamber of Commerce Board Chairwoman Jill Maguire of Fairfield County Bank, invoking the liveliness and vitality of Ridgefield.
“The new library, Schlumberger, affordably housing and various budgets are all topics debated in our local press,” he said.
And with Ridgefield’s array of cultural attractions “tourism will continue to be a strong, important draw to our community,” he said.
Ms. Maguire was cautiously optimistic.
“There is some light at the end of the tunnel, I think we’d all agree,” she said. “However, we are in extremely challenging economic times. That’s why it’s even more important to be a member of the Chamber of Commerce.”
She touted the chamber’s offerings of programs, seminars and networking get-togethers.
“Your participation in these events is the key to getting the most out of your chamber membership,” she said.
“That you for joining us today, and thank you for supporting the Chamber.”
Six Chamber awards were presented by award sponsors.
Jane Tullo of Neumann Real Estate presented the Innovation Award of Geoffrey Morris, publisher of Ridgefield Magazine.
“It really helps me sell our town,” Ms. Tullo said the magazine.
Matt Mitchell of Mitchell Fuel presented the Green Award to Winters Brothers Waste Systems, has introduced “single stream” recycling.
The company had shown a commitment to recycling “long before it became law, trend, or the ‘right thing to do,’ ” he said.
Accepting the award on behalf of Joseph and Sean Winters was firm vice president Kevin Nolan.
Chamber Office Manager Suzanne Brennan presented the chamber-sponsored Local Hero Award to Jerry Benziger of the Benziger Family Winery, for his combined efforts as a volunteer firefighter and generous philanthropist .
He has donated to and help raise money for organizations such as the Keeler Tavern, the Ridgefield Playhouse and Western Connecticut Regional Hospice. He had also been honored in 2004 with the Secretary of the State’s Public Service Award.
“Whether it’s auction gifts, or the gift of life, Jerry Benziger is a steward of great responsibility,” Ms. Brennan said.
With Sponsor Dr. George Amatuzzi unable to attend, Ms. Roth of the Chamber presented the New Business Award to Urgent Care of Connecticut. In September the group opened Urgent Care of Ridgefield, a walk-in medical facility, at 10 South Street – it’s fourth location in the state.
The office brought 16 jobs to town, she said, and in its five months of operation has served some 3,000 patients.
“My family’s been helped by them, Suzanne’s family,” Mr. Roth said. “We hear a lot of good things about quality of care.”
Also sponsored by the chamber was the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to John F. Farling III of the Laurel Ridge Health Care Center on Route 7, which has 126 resident and 190 staff members.
“According to the staff, what makes John stand out is his interest in and involvement with his staff,” Ms. Roth said.
Mr. Farling, true to that description, offered the chamber crowd his own understanding what “achievement” as a business leader means.
“You move the goal forward, and it’s the team,” he said.
Sponsor Charles Rio of State Farm insurance presented the Volunteer of the Year award to Nancy O’Connell of the shop nancy O on Big Shop Lane.
Ms. O’Connell was recognized for her “ability to bring people together and lead them” and for having “worked tirelessly” on chamber projects such as Destination Ridgefield and Summerfest.
“She led our organization in getting Destination Ridgefield off the ground,” he said,
“It’s more than one person when you have a committee,” Ms. O’Connell said. “I’m honored to receive the award, but I receive it on behalf of everyone who’s worked on these committees with me.”
Luncheon guests also saw the chamber board of directors sworn in. Officers are: Jill Maguire of Fairfield County Bank, 2012 chairwoman; Shane Casey of Casey Energy, 2011 chairman; Nancy O’Connell of nancy O, secretary; Mary Kate Gobleck of Reliance Merchant Services, treasurer.
Newly elected board members are: Arnold Light of Arnold Light Consults, Nita Mohler of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty, Lou Ann Smith of Hamilton Ladd Home Loans, and Tish Vredenburgh of Practically Green and Catoonah Street Associates.
Continuing board members include: Pat Alexander of Webster Bank, Allyson Cantazaro of All Destinations Inc, Pat Carlson of Craig’s Fine Jewelry, Tony Cerreta of Winters Brothers Waste Systems, Patty Dyer of Union Savings Bank, Ray D’Amico of Minuteman Press of Danbury, Rich Hanel of IT Difference, Pamela Miles of Pamela Miles LLC, Rich Vazzana of Vazzana Management Consulting, and Bruce Yuen of Tiger Sports.
Original Article appeared on acorn-online.com

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