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A butcher, two dancers, a pet trainer, and a local family that has been helping customers stay warm and cozy for many winters represented the crop of 2017 Business of the Year honorees that rose to the top of close voting as the local Chamber of Commerce and Rotary held their annual celebration of excellence on Monday, March 27, at the Newtown Country Club.
After a nomination period, and a subsequent opportunity for customers and others to cast online votes, all the nominees were honored with citations going to the top three contenders in each category. But only one among those four trios received the majority of votes and captured one of the fancy engraved crystal trophies, which will undoubtedly be displayed prominently in those respective businesses from this day onward.
The categories and nominees for the 2017 Business of the Year Awards included:
New Business — Ashurst Academy of Irish Dance; Nouveau Monde Wine Bar + Bistro; and Red Rooster Pub.
Longevity — Black Swan Fireside Hearth & Home; Clavette & Company financial services and accounting firm; and Masonicare at Newtown.
Philanthropy — Big Buddha Cigar Lounge; Newtown Savings Bank; and The Exceptional Pet.
Overall Achievement — Butcher’s Best Market; Newtown MediSpa; and The Exceptional Pet
The March 27 event opened with welcoming remarks from Chamber President Brian Amey, and Rotary President Mary Griffin.
“Here at the Chamber, our primary goal is to promote the Newtown business community and create more opportunities for our local economy to grow,” Mr Amey said. “What better way to foster this growth than through a communitywide recognition of Newtown’s best businesses?”
“We as Rotarians see this event as an important part of Rotary’s Vocational Service, which seeks to promote high ethical business standard,” Ms Griffin said. “I feel confident that the winners and all the finalists exemplify that standard. My congratulations to all the nominees.”
Mr Amey reminded the overflow crowd of attendees that The Business of the Year Program is in its 14th year, and that this year marked greater community involvement than ever before.
“We saw a tremendous effort from the community to voice their opinions, casting almost 1,700 votes and making three out four races come down to the wire,” Mr Amey said, adding that two of the categories winners nudged out their closest challenger by a single vote.
Before the guests and businesses learned the identities of the winners, First Selectman Pat Llodra gave brief remarks keying in on the concept of excellence.
“Excellence is a lifelong endeavor,” Mrs Llodra said, adding that no one who constantly strives for excellence “really ever gets to the end of the journey.”
She also spent a few minutes updating attendees on the ongoing budget process, and the challenges facing the town as lawmakers in Hartford craft final policies on municipal and educational reimbursements. Mrs Llodra also briefed the audience on the upcoming referendum, which for the first time will require voters to endorse or reject a number of critical capital initiatives.
Then it was time to break the suspense.
The first person called to announce the New Business award was Bryan Roth of Edward Jones. After introducing the finalists and noting the category winner bested the runner-up by one vote, he called Craig Ashurst of the Ashurst Academy of Irish Dance to the podium.
Mr Roth was followed by Dan Rosenthal, who presented the Longevity Award to Carrie Swan of Black Swan Fireside Hearth & Home. Then it was time for last year’s winner in the Philanthropy category — Jim Marcucilli of Berkshire Motors — to pass on the honor to Abby Hill of The Exceptional Pet.
Finally, the 2016 winner for General Excellence, Pat Caruso of Associated Refuse headed to the front of the room to honor this year’s winner, Steve Ford of Butcher’s Best Market, which was the second business to take the trophy by a single vote.
As the event ended, many of the attendees stayed to watch another group of winners on the large screen monitor in the bar area: the UConn Women’s basketball team, which was wrapping up its game against Oregon and heading to the 2017 NCAA Final Four.