Originally published in The Weekly Packet, April 3, 2014
Blue Hill Peninsula Chamber of Commerce welcomes new faces and honors the outgoing
Outgoing executive director Kurt Stoll was presented with a gift honoring his four years of service at the Blue Hill Peninsula Chamber of Commerce annual meeting. The event was held on March 27, 2014 at Parker Ridge, Blue Hill, Maine.
by Anne Berleant
The sign of a healthy chamber of commerce is change, Board President Scott Gray told members of the Blue Hill Peninsula Chamber of Commerce at the chamber’s annual meeting on March 27.
As representatives of local businesses, small and not-so-small, filled the Parker Ridge event room, nibbling on crab cakes, mini-spanakopita and other hors d’oeuvres, Gray spoke of recent and upcoming changes at the chamber.
First, was the chamber’s move to TradeWinds Crossing on South Street.
“If anyone looked for us [at our former location on Main Street], you probably couldn’t find us,” Gray said. “We’re much more visible [now]. With that, comes more challenges.”
He asked for more volunteers, especially to help in the chamber office, who know the area, and can “tell some poor guy how to find the Deer Isle Bridge.”
“This is a small town chamber of commerce…and for us to act like a big town chamber of commerce, everyone’s going to have to pitch in,” he said.
An upcoming change is the chamber’s executive director Kurt Stoll, who held the position for four years, is stepping down for health reasons. After re-entering the room with his wife Verena in a procession complete with drum roll, he spoke of his experiences at the chamber and on the Peninsula.
“In our 18 years, we’ve seen so many people come and go…it’s a tough area,” he said. “We have to make sure that [people] feel at home…and can make their living.”
“A beautiful pristine environment is not enough,” he added. “It’s the people.”
The new executive director, Johanna Barrett, officially begins July 1, but will have “a hand in” before then.
“I want to hit the ground running,” she said.
Barrett is completing a master’s degree in Applied Economics from the University of Maine, Orono. Her interest is in “the intersection of small business and community development with economics,” she said in an informal interview before being introduced to the chamber-at-large.
To them, she joked that “economists were invented to make astrologers look good,” before striking a more serious tone.
“The chamber of commerce and director are there to meet your needs,” she told the members.
The annual awards followed, with Non-profit of the Year awarded to New Surry Theatre; New Member Business to Millbrook Bakery and Café, “by a landslide,” said Gray; Business of the Year to Sunset Acres Farm and Dairy; and Chamber Champion (person of the year) to Lisa Veazie of Bar Harbor Bank & Trust.
Two board members will leave the board: former Board President Cullen Schneider of Fairwinds Florist and Zoe Alexis Scott who left the area a few months ago.
“[Schneider] leaves the board in excellent shape and will continue to be a fierce advocate of the chamber,” noted Gray.
New board members named were Jill Smith of Millbrook Bakery and Café and Lisa Arhontes-Marshall of Beehive Development.
“I’d like to thank all of you for showing up and being part of this Peninsula,” Gray concluded.