Brad Nadeau, owner of Stars and Stripes Brewing Company in Freeport. Stars and Stripes is hosting a cornhole tournament Friday and fundraiser Saturday to raise money for the Summit Project, a Maine-based nonprofit dedicated to honoring fallen veterans. (Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record)

FREEPORT — When Brad Nadeau opened Stars and Stripes Brewing Co. on Veterans Day last year, he knew he wanted his business to “have more meaning than just selling beer.”

As a former Marine, he wanted to make sure his brewery could be a place for veterans, their friends and families, to come to relax and get to know one another.

The military theme is evident throughout the tasting room, from the bullet beer taps and the giant dog tag on the wall to the beers themselves, which have names like “Semper Fi.P.A” and “Platoon Pale Ale.” The brewery’s motto, “Enjoy your beer, that’s an order” is emblazoned on T-shirts that hang above the taps.

But it’s about more than just decor for Nadeau and his wife, Nancy, who make regular efforts to support veteran-geared or veteran-run organizations through events, fundraisers, raffles or special brews.

After seven members of the JarHeads Motorcycle Club, a Marine Corps and FMF Corpsman Motorcycle Club, were killed in New Hampshire on their way to a charity event in June, the brewery raised more than $8,200 for the families.

A pickup truck had collided with motorcyclists on June 21. The driver, 23-year-old Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, of West Springfield, Massachusetts, pleaded not guilty to negligent homicide. Officials say Zhukovskyy’s license in Massachusetts should’ve been suspended because of a drunken driving arrest.

The crash led to the firing of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles director after it was found the agency stored 45,000 convictions and suspensions levied on out-of-state drivers since March 2018, rather than acting on them.

A preliminary audit found that a motor vehicles employee missed an opportunity to revoke Zhukovskyy’s license because he did not know how to add convictions to driving records. After being notified of Zhukovskyy’s May drunken driving arrest in Connecticut, the employee briefly reviewed the notification from Connecticut but did not change Zhukovskyy’s record.

As part of an ongoing review of the motor vehicles department, the registry this month suspended the licenses of another 869 drivers. The suspensions were in addition to the more than 1,600 people in Massachusetts who had already had their licenses suspended.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire plans to suspend the licenses of nearly 4,000 drivers in the latest fallout following a June crash that killed seven motorcyclists, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said Wednesday.

Next fundraiser

The next fundraiser, a cornhole tournament Friday and fundraising event Saturday, supports Maine-based nonprofit, The Summit Project.

The Summit Project honors fallen service members from Maine who have died in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001, by carrying memorial stones on tribute hikes.

According to the Summit Project website, “Surviving families unearth and donate stones that uniquely represent their loved ones (and) volunteers discover the lives of our heroes and then carry these stone and their stories on treks throughout Maine and across the world. We literally share the burden shouldered by our fallen heroes and their families. Each trekker must learn about the fallen hero they choose to honor; carry his/her tribute stone through a physical challenge, and compose a post-event reflection letter addressed to his/her surviving family.”

The cornhole tournament is 4-7 p.m. Friday and there are still available slots. The entry fee is $20 per team and half the proceeds will go to the winning team, with the other half going to the Summit Project.

Saturday’s fundraiser will feature live music, raffles, and a food truck. Nadeau is brewing a special “Summit Gold” beer for the occasion, honoring the gold star families that have lost loved ones in the service, and will donate $1 from each pint sold.

“We believe in supporting vets any way we can,” Nadeau said.

Stars and Stripes Brewing Company is located at 8 Varney Road, Freeport.

With reporting from Michael Casey of the Associated Press.

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