North Quabbin Chamber Annual Awards
The North Quabbin Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau is pleased to announce the recipients of its annual awards for 2017. The awards will be presented at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony being held on Tuesday, May 23rd at the Quabbin Retreat in Petersham. The event begins at 5:00 PM. Reservations are required for entry.
Citizen of the Year—Heywood Healthcare
The Heywood Healthcare Group, spanning campuses from Gardner to Athol and Petersham, has shown out-standing commitment to the communities they serve. Alongside exceptional quality of care, Heywood has em-barked on a mission of facilities and services improvement that will help transform the North Quabbin Region. It would be impressive enough to say that Athol Hospital has seen millions of dollars of upgrades for the last sever-al years and will be the site of a new Emergency Department and Medical Arts Building soon, however, their vi-sion does not end there. The acquisition of the former sisters of Assumption campus in Petersham and its conver-sion to a critically needed Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Facility as well as the nearly completed construction of an Urgent Care Facility with doctor’s offices at the North Quabbin Commons in Athol combine to create an atmosphere of change and hope for the citizens of the region and beyond.
North Quabbin Inspiration—Vincent ‘Bill’ Purple
Born in Athol, Bill enlisted in the Army Air Corp at the age of 17 and by the age of 20, had been promoted to Cap-tain. As a B-17 pilot, he lead 35 bombing missions over Germany; responsible not only for his own crew but for those in the squadrons behind him. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters. He left military service in 1951. After his military service, Bill worked for the Union Twist Drill Company until the company moved from Athol in the mid-1980’s. During those years he was president of the Pe-tersham Country Club, a founding member and president of the Petersham Curling Club, president of the North Quabbin Chamber of Commerce from 1995-1998, a member of the Petersham Finance Committee for 19 years, a Petersham Selectman, president, L.P. Athol Corp (1986 – present)president, 379th Bomb Group Association and president, Athol Veterans Park Development Corp, (1999- present.) At 60 years old, when most people are thinking of retirement, Bill and a business partner purchased the sprawling mill complex which was formerly the Union Twist Drill and formed the L.P. Athol Corporation. In his late 80s, Bill was the driving force behind Operation Kimbolton, an event which brought three WWII aircraft to Orange Airport in 2012 and 2013. A variety of activities occurred along with each of these two events. In Aug 2013, at the age of 89, Bill was awarded France’s Legion of Honor Medal, for his service in WWII in defense of France. Now in his 90s, Bill serves as Petersham’s Veteran’s Agent and is still President of L.P. Athol Corp. Bill frequently gives talks about his WWII experiences to various organizations, schools and individuals. He has given talks at Mahar, Monty Tech, Barnes Air Force Base, the Fitchburg Pilots Association and has participated in events at the New England Air Museum and the Collings Foundation.People constantly come to visit him to hear his WWII stories, told with amazing detail. He has friends young and old and regularly uses his email as well as Facebook. Bill still goes to work every day, still drives a car and has an amazing attitude. He wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror and tells himself how great he feels.
Special Lifetime Achievement Award—Athol Savings Bank
For 150 years the Athol Savings Bank has served the communities of Central Massachusetts with distinction and care. Created in 1867 by a group of local men in Athol who saw the need for deposit and lending services for the residents of this small New England town, the bank has grown to serve the entire North Quabbin and much of the North Central region. While the face of banking and its services and products has changed greatly over the last 150 years, Athol Savings Bank has always maintained its commitment to personal service with a small-town, friendly banking environment. In the early days many banking relationships were formed around the kitchen table or out in the farmer’s pasture, when the banking employees went out into the community to seek new relationships. Banking, in those days, consisted of verbal agreements sealed with a handshake. The same principles and philosophies remain a constant part of the ASB culture, and its employees are as dedicated and committed to providing quality customer service as they were 150 years ago. ASB is a mutual savings bank, owned by the customers of the Bank. They have offered financial strength and stability that has never wavered over the course of many years. Through the Great Depression, World Wars, and bouts of economic instability, ASB has remained strong and well-capitalized. ASB now offers eight convenient branches located in Athol, Baldwinville, Winchendon, Ashburnham, Gardner, and Barre and is committed to offering products and services that are based on their customers’ needs; and as those needs change, they continue to develop enhancements and new technology to serve them. Throughout their history, Athol Savings Bank has been an unwavering supporter of the Chamber and business organizations that have served the towns of our region. There has been a chamber or business organization in the region nearly as long as they have been in existence and they have had an instrumental role in creating and nurturing the business community through those organizations. The North Quabbin Chamber of Commerce wishes to recognize their deep commitment with the greatest of appreciation, to both itself and the entire community.
Business of the Year—Orange Innovation Center
The Orange Innovation Center, more commonly known as the “OIC”, is a jewel in the heart of the North Quabbin region. With over 40 businesses under their roof (and growing), including manufacturing, retail, food and beverage, artisans and non-profit agencies, the OIC is a community unto itself. The OIC is more than a traditional business mall. In addition to its vibrant and eclectic mix of shops and services, the collective has a strong business development and support network designed to nurture startups, providing excellent common services including fiber optic internet access, meeting rooms, a health club, laundromat and café. The OIC promotes bartering, partnering and collaborating between its resident businesses as well as outside its campus. The state of Massachusetts has recognized it as successfully defining the concepts of innovation and incubation. The center has recently been granted state funds to improve parking and for the ongoing development of its new, non-profit LaunchSpace. The space will feature tools, equipment and services designed to further leverage the advantages of common materials and the exchange of ideas for the creation of new businesses. In keeping with its commitment to green energy and better environmental quality the OIC turned on a new, 93 kWh rooftop solar array at the beginning of this year that provides 75% of its annual electrical usage. The OIC is located in the former Minute Tapioca factory at 131 West Main Street in Orange MA.
Outstanding Municipal Recognition—Town of Athol/Economic Development Industrial Corporation (EDIC)
The town of Athol through its EDIC has invested untold time and resources in making the North Quabbin Commons project a reality. Situated along Rt 2 at exit 18, the complex has been under development for over 10 years with the fruits of labor fully visible in the last 3 years. Development projects of this scale require deep dedication over a long term. From concept to acquisition, relationships must be developed and nurtured not the least of which is finding the right investors willing to stay with the project for years. The North Quabbin Commons development owes its existence to dozens of people encompassing municipal and private groups and individuals with the Athol EDIC at its core. The tireless efforts of its members and especially Jim Meehan as its chairman, have endured through ups and downs including the ‘great recession’ when, without vision and continuing effort in the face of likely failure, the project would have most certainly stopped. Today, two developers are onsite and continue to expand the complex adding retail, medical and entertainment businesses. The EDIC continues to play a pivotal role in helping to acquire new tenants including a potential new hotel and conference center.
Outstanding Municipal Recognition—Town of Erving/Usher Re-Use Committee
The town of Athol through its EDIC has invested untold time and resources in making the North Quabbin Commons project a reality. Situated along Rt 2 at exit 18, the complex has been under development for over 10 years with the fruits of labor fully visible in the last 3 years. Development projects of this scale require deep dedication over a long term. From concept to acquisition, relationships must be developed and nurtured not the least of which is finding the right investors willing to stay with the project for years. The North Quabbin Commons development owes its existence to dozens of people encompassing municipal and private groups and individuals with the Athol EDIC at its core. The tireless efforts of its members and especially Jim Meehan as its chairman, have endured through ups and downs including the ‘great recession’ when, without vision and continuing effort in the face of likely failure, the project would have most certainly stopped. Today, two developers are onsite and continue to expand the complex adding retail, medical and entertainment businesses. The EDIC continues to play a pivotal role in helping to acquire new tenants including a potential new hotel and conference center. The town of Erving and its Usher Re-Use Committee have worked tirelessly over the last 3 years to put in place a riverfront park on the site of the former Usher Mill complex in the center of Erving. A volunteer committee came together to first research uses, then upon reaching the concept of a park along the banks of the Millers River sandwiched between the rail lines, successfully sought funding from the community to attract a matching Massachusetts PARC grant. PARC grants are not easily acquired, especially for smaller communities, and the positive result shows the commitment of the committee as well as the residents of Erving. The riverfront park becomes another in a series along the Millers including Athol and Orange, providing a truly regional experience for recreation enthusiasts including hikers and paddlers.
Presidential Service Award - Chris Milusich
Chamber Service Award - Brian Hunton
Director of the Year
Will be announced at ceremony.