On Friday, March 8, the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber held the 2019 SMMC Annual Awards Dinner presented by One River CPAs and Mechanics Savings Bank.  It was a beautiful evening at the new St. John’s Community Center in Brunswick with 175 business leaders enjoying food and drink from The Odd Duck while the chamber honored nine recipients of their annual awards.  Previously in this column we have highlighted our Harry C. Crooker Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Lois Skillings, our Citizen of the Year Tamara Lilly, and our Large and Small Businesses of the Year, Bath Savings and The Brunswick Golf Club.  Brian Robinson, Bruce Van Note and Matt Barbour were also honored that evening. Below are excerpts from the speeches delivered that night in honoring them.

Brian Robinson:
Young Professional of the Year

Brian grew up in Maine, graduating from St. Dom’s in 2005 and four years later he collected a B.S. in Business Administration from Bryant College.  During summer breaks, Brian would come home and work for Northeast Bank.  He would commute to whichever branch had the biggest need- be it Bethel, Harrison, Augusta, Brunswick or Portland- and he’d get them through their busy times.  Often he would be in multiple branches during the same week, and all the while he was the courteous friendly face we all know him to be.

After graduation, he started full time with them and in 2011, Jeff Wright recruited Brian to the Brunswick branch.  Soon after recruiting Brian, Jeff was leaving as a volunteer board member of Oasis Free Clinic and he told their Board that he had someone in mind to replace him.  Brian met with their team and dove in to be a part of it.

Around this same time in his career, Amanda Lemieux and Nick Favreau recruited Brian to be a part of the Midcoast Edge, our region’s Young Professional group.  Brian jumped on the steering committee with them and Kelly Dorsey, Tim Sardano and several others and they launched several programs that garnered statewide awards and recognition.

After completing his Masters of Business Administration from USM in 2014, Brian began looking for new challenges and he found an opportunity with Mechanic’s Savings Bank.  He began as a Credit Analyst in Auburn in March of 2016.  He moved up to being a Business Service Specialist at the Brunswick Branch and just last week was named an Assistant Vice President and Banking Center Manager of that branch.

Brian is a remarkable person, who makes a conscious effort to put others before himself.  It’s not just what he does, but how he does it.  Always positive, always classy, always smiling and unfailingly supportive.  Any loss is only a setback, any roadblock an opportunity.  He views the world in a way that makes it brighter for those around him.   As he likes to say, “It’s the responsibility of every citizen to use their personal strengths to help their communities grow.”

Bruce Van Note:
President’s Award

The President’s Award is given each year at the choosing of the outgoing President of the Board of Directors for the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber.  The criteria is simple, select a citizen or organization that has contributed or been impactful to the community and/or the Midcoast region. This award was given by outgoing Chamber President Kevin Clark.

This is a story of local boy done good.  Bruce Van Note was born in Houlton and grew up in, and was educated in, the public schools of Bath. He currently resides in Topsham with his wife Susan.

Bruce went on to study at the University of Maine, graduating (with honors) with a degree in Survey Engineering. He later graduated (also with honors) from the Maine School of Law and became one of a handful of practicing Attorney/Land Surveyors in the State. Bruce founded Maine Land Services, and later joined the Maine Department of Transportation and worked his way through the ranks to attain the position of Deputy Commissioner and after a stint at the Maine Turnpike Authority, he has just recently been confirmed as the Commissioner of DOT.

Bruce’s local contributions include: Chair of the Master Reuse Plan for the Topsham Annex of the Brunswick Naval Air Station from 2005 – 2007; Member of the Topsham Planning Board since 2013; Chair of the Brunswick-Topsham Bridge Design Advisory Committee from 2016 until last month; the Board of Directors of International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association; and In 2017, the Sagadahoc County Commissioners selected Bruce to receive the Spirit of America Award for “outstanding community volunteerism.”

Matt Barbour:
Volunteer of the Year

For those that have been engaged with the chamber over the last decade Matt is a familiar face.  Matt went to work for McLeod |Ascanio in the Fall of 2004 and by 2007 they had opened a branch in Brunswick.  One of Matt’s clients, Gil Buthlay, recruited Matt onto the Finance Committee in 2007 and got him engaged in the chamber as a way to increase his business connections.

Matt’s engagement on the Finance Committee developed into a Board member seat in 2011 and for the next 7 years Matt was intimately involved in the development of the chamber.  He was President for two of those years and Treasurer for another three while being a constant member of the Executive Team.  His years were marked by two leadership transitions that he was actively involved with and his efforts required literally hundreds of volunteer hours per year.

Matt is always willing to help and do the work, even during his busy tax season.  He has been a coach and coordinator of BAYFL, the Brunswick Area Youth Football League, for the past four seasons and he just picked up a new Treasurer position for the Arts Are Elementary program in the Brunswick school system- because as he likes to say he “is terrible at saying ‘no’ when someone says they need help.”

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