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ToBM Chamber Awards (Posted On: Saturday, March 01, 2008)

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On Wednesday, February 27th, The Blue Mountains Chamber of Commerce hosted their 2007 Annual General Meeting and Recognition Awards at Lora Bay. Approximately 130 members attended this social and business evening which included guest speakers Glen Gretzky and Joe Feijo, organizers of the Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic being held June 23rd through 29th at the Georgian Bay Golf Club and the Raven at Lora Bay. Peter Lush from the Thornbury Horse Park also updated everyone on the plans for this fantastic addition to the community. The following Business Recognition awards were handed out:

Entrepreneur of the Year - sponsored by Meridian Credit Union (presenter Lynda Wilson).  Presented to a business owner, new or existing, who in the last 12 months has developed their business to meet changing community and consumer demands. They will have provided a high level of business service, a product or service needed in The Blue Mountains, as well as being involved in the community.

Lora Gibson of BeMused certainly fits the criteria for "Entrepreneur of the Year". Lora has successfully recognized a business need in the community to provide a fine arts supply shop where there was previously no other local alternative. Considering the number of area artists, both in the Town of the Blue Mountains and surrounds, her retail operation is an excellent business solution that fulfills the requirements of artists in relation to the procurement of art supplies that funnels local dollars back into local businesses. Her beautiful storefront is a welcome addition to Clarksburg and further assists in the recognition of Clarksburg as an artists' and art lover's destination.

Site Enhancement - sponsored by The Blue Mountain Village Association (presenter Don Braden) Presented to existing businesses that have significantly improved the landscaping and/or facade of the business premises.

Jane Grahek and the "new Furbelows". If it's IN fashion, it's at Furbelows. Ladies fashions, accessories, jewellery and footwear and your new location is a great addition to Bruce Street. We know that Jane and her team worked tirelessly during the process, resulting in a new building, store front and beautiful window displays all adding a level of sophistication to downtown Thornbury

Centro by the Hill Located at the top of Events Plaza in the Village At Blue Mountain, owners Armando Mano & Bruce Woods' have transformed this location "the ski barn" with a touch of French Bistro, a dash of Italian Trattoria and a pinch of Centro Toronto. Armando and Bruce have approached Centro by the Hill with love and dedication in hopes of portraying a quality brand name, a comfortable environment, a welcoming décor, exceptional service and extraordinary cuisine.

Largo Restaurant Owner and General Manager, Pat Penic's experience and business knowledge has led her to open Largo Restaurant in the spring of 2007. Offering superb cuisine & Mediterranean ambience, formerly the Harbour Hill Pavilion, this land mark location has been transformed to an extremely elegant venue that is perfect for casual fine dining, business meetings, after work cocktails or gala events. Largo offers superb, locally sourced & seasonally driven menu options, both lunch & dinner service. Largo not only has a fabulous view, but the cuisine to match such a stunning location.

Customer Service Excellence

TD Canada Trust, Carol Kortds – Customer Service Excellence - (presenter Kathy Uram)
Will recognize a local business, its management, and staff for successfully demonstrating quality customer service. An organization that is appreciated for its helpful and efficient service, dedicated to customer satisfaction and willing to go the extra mile.

Orchid Restaurant - Welcome back to Jennifer White and her staff of the Orchid. In 2007 Jennifer was able to reopen her popular breakfast restaurant on the west side of Thornbury and for those who have been served can attest to the friendly and efficient staff who serve up an all-day breakfast menu and a popular lunch menu.

Echo Trends and Tingle Lingerie & Loungewear - Dana Gunn opened her ladies store, Echo Trends in 2004. 70% of her business is now repeat business and a large percentage of the remaining patrons come from word of mouth. Dana noticed the need for a ladies lingerie store that would also feature an undergarment sizing service during her first few years operating Echo Trends. She opened Tingles in 2006 to meet that need and has put many smiles on many women's faces since! Congratulations, Dana!

Business of the Year Award - sponsored by Lora Bay - (presenter Mark Woodburn)
This Business has experienced outstanding achievement in growth in sales, innovation, excellence in leadership, increased productivity and has had a positive impact on the community through good business citizenship.

The recipient of the Business of the Year Award for 2007 is Firehall Pizza Co. Located in the Village At Blue Mountain, Firehall is owned by Bill Vomvolakis, Jimmy Mavrakakis & Steve Xanthopoulos. This year, $10,000 was raised from pizzas sales to purchase the Jaws of Life for The Blue Mountains Fire Dept. Firehall also hosts an annual firefighter event raising funds for breast cancer and sponsors a local soccer team. Seeing the need for a great Mediterranean restaurant in the area, Bill, Jimmy, Steve & Jim Owen opened Tholos in the Village. With the old world charm and warmth of the Greek island of Crete, this dining experience features equal parts exquisite food and visual excitement with live weekend entertainment, including Greek Bouzouki and Guitar, Latin music, and the always popular Belly dancing performances. Bill Vomvolakis also volunteers as a director for the BMVA representing all commercial business in the Village. He sits on the BMVA Events Committee, which organized the Taste of Blue - a special community event featuring restaurants from the region as well as the Village. Congratulations Bill, Jimmy and Steve! Your business accruements and community minded spirit is a welcome addition to our community.

Special Merit Awards - May be presented to a business or a non-profit organization or individual that has had a special or unique impact on the community (presenter - Michael Martinson)

Special Merit - Organization

Cindy Wheeler representing the Children's Aid Society has been nominated for the Special Merit award for an organization. The Angel Tree Campaign encompasses the entire County of Grey, including our local area, and sees upwards of 12 businesses host official "Angel Trees" covered with gift tags anonymously describing the particular needs of children and youth in the care of the Agency. The history of this campaign goes back over fifteen years now. This past December the Angel Tree campaign helped wishes came true for over 500 children and families.

These wishes are not funded under the conventional funding framework of the Children's Aid Society, however the Board of Directors and Senior Management of Grey CAS place a high priority on raising the necessary dollars to provide these extras in an attempt to help disrupt the cycle of poverty and dysfunction many of these individuals endure throughout the year. This campaign is a huge undertaking that incorporates the resources of agency staff, foster parents, Board of Directors, and volunteers; however, the driving force resides in the Fund Development office and in the hands of the Fund Development Coordinator, Cindy Wheeler.

Cindy is an energetic, passionate woman whose greatest pleasure comes from seeing the expressions on people's faces when they receive an unexpected gift that has come from their own community. These gestures often result in the exchange of a renewed sense of humanity amongst our community members.

Special Merit - Business

Amy and David Wilding Davies set up a roastery in Thornbury, to roast and sell Ashanti Coffee to the public. To ensure freshness, Ashanti roasts several times a day in custom batches for retailers, restaurants, and individual coffee lovers. Ashanti is one of the few unique places in North America where you can buy premium coffee at the peak of freshness, and shake hands with both the roaster and the grower the same day your coffee is roasted. The Ashanti Coffee that you buy is grown by Amy and David on eastern facing slopes in the Chipinge region of Zimbabwe in beautifully rich red soils. Amy and David have made the effort to ensure that 50% of the Ashanti estate is maintained in its natural state for conservation of the indigenous forest. Great addition to downtown Thornbury! Great coffee and atmosphere as you can see, smell, hear the beans being roasted, visit with the owners and enjoy the baked offerings in a comfortable setting! Great job!

Special Merit - Individual

Bob Comish has been a full time resident since 2000, owning a chalet for numerous years in the Town prior to that. He is an avid skier, a member & past President of Craigleith Ski Club, enjoys tennis at every opportunity & has contributed to numerous community activities over the years.

Even before he became President of the Blue Mountain Village Association, Bob Comish's involvement in the Town of the Blue Mountains was exemplary. Bob was the lead on a Private Members Bill that set up the BMVA. This Act and the subsequent BMVA by law provided the legal framework for the Village Association, which ensures that all stakeholders, including more than 2000 Town rate payers upon build out at the resort, will have their interests protected within the overall objects of the Resort. He also set up the VA as a key regional destination marketing force. Other destination resorts in Ontario and elsewhere are now copying this framework.

As President, Bob's undaunting leadership was responsible for the Town being the successful recipient of the federal/provincial Super Build grant of $ 9.9 million. This initiative helped finance the Thornbury CAUSE program, Craigleith Depot & Marsh Street Centre renovations as well as the construction of the Gondola ride, Conference Centre and Plunge Aqua Centre in the Village at Blue Mountain. The completion of this grant & funding requirements is expected this year.

In 2003, Bob spearheaded the initiative that lead to the reversal of a provincial property tax reclassification that stalled the condominium hotel build at the Village. The establishment of a preferential property tax class for short-term resort rental properties benefited 883 Town ratepayers and was later extended to include nearby condominium owners at the Village. This reversal restarted property sales and construction in the area.

Now as past-President, Bob continues to be the lead for developing detailed regional and provincial studies of the economic benefits resulting from the Village at Blue Mountain development. This study and its update have been presented to all tiers of government re-enforcing tourism as an economic engine for the region.

It is for all these reasons that Bob Comish is our recipient of the Individual Special Merit Award for 2007.

Honourable Mention - The Chamber of Commerce, the citizens of the Town, the drivers on Hwy 26 entering Thornbury, and their neighbours would like to welcome and acknowledge the owners of the Thornbury Village Apple Cidery for locating in our community and giving the historic Mitchell's Apple Juice plant a new lease on life. Welcome to Andre, Doug, Marilyn...We look forward to seeing your company grow.

For more information about the Town of the Blue Mountains Chamber of Commerce, please visit their website.

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