Chamber of commerce celebrates resilience at annual dinner
MADAWASKA, Maine — The St. John Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual dinner on June 25, packing an event room at the Lakeview Restaurant in St. Agatha for a celebration of the year’s accomplishments.
For many Valley businesses, including the Chamber itself, 2020 was a year of hardship. At Friday night’s event, speakers celebrated the resilience of the community to not only survive, but to rise and meet the needs of their neighbors.
“Maybe it was the stubbornness of the Acadians we have up here — but it worked,” Chamber president Gail Beaupre said.
The main speaker for the event was Greg Letourneau, the Reed & Reed superintendent for the international bridge project. The event also featured an awards presentation for business of the year: Paradis Shop ’n Save, and for outstanding community service: Paula Gendreau.
Letourneau gave an overview of Reed & Reed’s history, a rundown of what’s to come on the bridge project and an update on the current progress of work. As of now, alongside Ed Pelletier and Sons, the company has finished building the access road and soon will begin work in the river in earnest.
The same progress has been made on the other side of the border, where New Brunswick’s Greenfield Construction is building the Canadian abutment.
During the awards, the group cheered the special efforts the Madawaska grocery store manager Brian Dubois and his staff made to accommodate restrictions and fears during the pandemic.
“Our department managers were on the phones all day to secure meat and cleaning supplies, which Hannaford did not have any of that,” Dubois said. “If you walked into a Hannaford store … they would have no meat. Well, our meat cases were full. We kept everybody fed.”
Then, Gendreau, who is also a member of the Chamber board, earned a standing ovation for her efforts to give back to the community through her work at Ridgewood Estates and on the beautification committee.
“I couldn’t do what I do without my Ridgewood family … and my kids, bless their souls,” Gendreau said. “They’re always right there.”