John and Maureen Ward of Brasher Falls accept the 2012 Commitment to Community Award from St. Lawrence County Chamber Executive Director Pat McKeown, right, at the chamber’s annual dinner Thursday evening at SUNY Potsdam. (Jennifer McCluskey Photography)
CANTON -– Nearly 230 people at the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Annual dinner Thursday night looked on as the Chamber presented its three highest awards.
Canton-Potsdam Hospital was named 2012 Business of the Year, John and Maureen Ward received the Commitment to Community Award, and David Swanson, President and CEO of North Country Savings Bank, was honored as Volunteer of the Year.
The Canton-Potsdam Hospital award had been announced previously, while the volunteer and community commitment awards were surprises until they were given out during the dinner at SUNY Potsdam.
St. Lawrence County Administrator Karen St. Hilaire presented the Commitment to Community Award to Brasher Falls’ John and Mary Ward, for their “vigorous organizing and promotion of St. Lawrence County community celebrations.”
The couple ran Erin's Isle for many years and started St. Regis Realty in late 2005, bringing investors together to revitalize downtown Brasher Falls.
Today, Tri-Town IGA, Spirits of Downtown wine and liquor store, a medical clinic, and the Riverview Bar and Restaurant are among the businesses on Brasher’s main streets, and a tradition of community events and celebrations has taken hold.
Most recently, the Wards were instrumental in organizing the first Hometown Heroes Muskie Challenge, a nationally-recognized event that brought soldiers from Fort Drum to fish the town’s nearby rivers for a day in September.
David Swanson, President and CEO of North Country Savings Bank and Canton resident, was honored as Volunteer of the Year for his “passionate and steadfast support of angling initiatives in St. Lawrence County and beyond.”
Don Meissner, host of PBS’s Streamside and coordinator of the county’s FISHCAP initiative, presented the award to his longtime friend and fellow fisherman.
A member of the FISHCAP advisory board and a devoted angler, Swanson has taken on a range of roles – from videographer to advisor to fishing guide to fundraiser – in helping promote local fishing and fishing events.
Canton-Potsdam Hospital was named the county’s 2012 Business of the Year, in acknowledgement of its “extraordinary and selfless dedication to the health care needs of the St. Lawrence County community, our businesses and our people.”
In presenting the award, County Chamber Executive Director Pat McKeown said “no one likes getting sick, but when something does happen, you don’t call Ghostbusters – you call Canton-Potsdam Hospital.” The independent not-for-profit facility continues to spearhead expansion projects, even as it has operated in the black for the past five years.
Vice President of Administrative Services Marlinda LaValley accepted the award on behalf of Canton-Potsdam Hospital, noting that “our progress would not be possible without our community.” She also thanked the businesses, hospitals, and the county colleges and universities that have been key partners with the Potsdam-based hospital.
Canton-Potsdam Hospital employs 916 people – including more than 700 full-time employees and more than 65 physicians – making it one of the county’s largest employers. Its main 94-bed facility annually serves a primary and secondary service area of 55,000 residents.
Local angler Don Meissner, left, and St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Pat McKeown presented North Country Savings Bank President and CEO David Swanson of Canton with the chamber’s 2012 Volunteer of the Year Award. (Jennifer McCluskey Photography)