Chamber names Stephen “Steff” Gagne 2020 Citizen of the Year

FORT KENT, Maine — The Greater Fort Kent Area Chamber of Commerce named prolific community volunteer Stephen “Steff” Gagne 2020 Citizen of the Year at its 73rd annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony on Friday, Feb. 5. 

Members of the public are invited to submit nominees for the annual Citizen of the Year award, the winner of which is ultimately determined by a Chamber subcommittee composed of past recipients of the award.

George Dumond, 2006 Citizen of the Year, announced the award during the ceremony, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dumond pointed out Gagne’s decades of volunteer efforts as a former Chamber board member as well as his efforts as a Jaycee’s chairperson, Lonesome Pine Trails board treasurer and president, service on the University of Maine at Fort Kent Foundation and Board and Buildings and Grounds Committee, a quarter century of service on the Fort Kent Public Library Board of Trustees, and as a longtime member of the Fort Kent Lions Club. 

“Looking back at everything that I was involved in, I don’t think I’d want to change a thing; it was all a learning process, and it was my pleasure to give back to the communities that I lived in……” Gagne said. “That being said, nothing happens without the rest of the community being involved.” 

Gagne and his wife Diane are parents of three adult children, Corey, Casie and Charles.

The Chamber also recognized local businesses and organizations during Friday’s ceremony. 

Treasurer Connie Ouellette announced these awards, but first recognized others who have helped keep the greater Fort Kent area community going strong throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We owe so much gratitude to so many people, especially health care workers, first responders and essential workers who have faced more risks than most,” Ouellette said. 

The 2020 Fort Kent Lion’s Club and Boy Scout Troop 189 Chicken Barbecue fundraiser took place Thursday, Aug. 13 at Riverside Park in Fort Kent. From left, are, Eric Bouchard, Lion’s Club member; Joey Ouellette, Troop 189 volunteer; Kris Malmborg, Lion’s Club President; Zach Voisine, Lion’s Club member and BBQ Chairman; Travis Duval, Lion’s Club member; Mel Hafford, Lion’s Club member and Cody Dubois, Lion’s Club member and Troop 189 Liason. (Jessica Potila | St. John Valley Times)

Ouellette presented the Member of the Year Award to the volunteer service organization Fort Kent Lions Club. 

“They raise funds through selfless volunteering and ensuring all proceeds directly go back into the community and surrounding areas for education scholarships, community betterment projects and vision care,” Ouellette said. “They are giving individuals who continually strive to make positive changes and strengthen the ties within the community.”

Fort Kent Historical Society volunteers received a Heritage Award. 

“Not only do they help us to reminisce on the good old days, but remind us of how far we’ve come and what we’ve accomplished over the years and what has made us who we are today,” Ouellette said. 

Tech N Trenz of Fort Kent celebrated a new location with a Greater Fort Kent Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting celebration on Tuesday. From left are Patricia Caron, Pamela Pelletier,  Krystal Pelletier,  Julian Kidney, Karen Kidney (holding Christian Kidney), and in front is Camden Kidney. (Courtesy of Dona Saucier)

A Community Betterment Award went to Tech N Trenz. 

“This business joined our community in August 2016 and has added local shopping access to many of our necessary items that we use daily,” Ouellette said. 

All Seasons Lakeside Cottages received a Hospitality Award. 

“From its inception, the mission of this lodging business has been to provide their customers with a unique, relaxing and exceptional vacation,” Ouellette said. 

Ouellette also recognized Small Business Award recipient Jake “Break” Snack Bar of Allagash “for providing a valuable addition and unique service to our communities.”

Also at the ceremony, outgoing Chamber president Leonard “Darnell” Oliver presented the President’s Award to incoming president Dawn Daigle, and Ouellette received the Director’s Service Appreciation Award. 

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, shown here on Wednesday, Nov. 4, was the guest speaker for the Feb. 5 chamber event. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Fort Kent Town Manager Suzie Paradis introduced the guest speaker, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. 

“Known for her Maine work ethic, Sen. Collins has cast more than 7,500 consecutive votes and holds the longest perfect voting record in the history of the U.S. Senate,” Paradis said. 

“The spirit of the Upper St. John Valley and its hard-working and caring people is a good model for the new Congress and the new president,” Collins said. “The challenges facing our nation are great, but it’s the can-do spirit of Fort Kent that I’ve always loved, that our country should embrace.”

To view the 73rd annual Greater Fort Kent Area Chamber of Commerce Meeting and Awards Ceremony, visit the WFKTV Channel 4 Facebook page or tune in to Channel 4 for broadcasts of the event.

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