Former West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka was honored with the Chamber’s prestigious Noah Webster Award at the annual dinner Monday night at the Pond House Café.
By Ronni Newton
The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce honored member businesses for their outstanding work in several categories at its annual dinner Monday night, and presented its top honor – the Noah Webster Award – to former mayor Scott Slifka.
“Scott has always been about the team, and not just the political team,” said Christine Looby, former Chamber of Commerce marketing committee chair who nominated Slifka. The Noah Webster Award is recognizes individuals or institutions “for exceptional community involvement and advancement.”
Under Slifka’s support and leadership of the Town Council, so many of the “if only’s” became reality, Looby said, among them the Field of Dreams, Delamar Hotel, and Johnny’s Jog for Charity.
Slifka, who resigned as mayor in May 2016 due to business commitments with his new position as deputy general counsel with the LEGO Group, said it was strange to be the recipient of the award. During his 12 years as mayor – the longest anyone has served in that position in West Hartford – Slifka was involved in the presentation of the award.
“For many years I’ve seen this award given to people who were pillars of the community. They always seemed much older,” Slifka joked.
Slifka said he considered the Noah Webster Award an incredible honor – the highest one he has ever received, and said he was “dumbstruck” to be honored.
“West Hartford doesn’t have a hall of fame but if it did it would be comprised of people who won this award,” he said.
The annual dinner was sold out, with 150 people filling the room at the Pond House Café at Elizabeth Park, and increased membership and engagement is something Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Barbara Lerner highlighted as one of the organization’s major achievements this year. Ninety-six new member have joined, and the total membership is now 526, she said.
Lerner said that the Chamber’s new grant committee is pleased to now have raised resources and will be able to offer a $5,000 grant to a local business this year.
Several other businesses and individuals were also honored with awards at the annual meeting, including Bob Kulakowski of Cedar Hill Home Inspection who received Volunteer of the Year. Bob Newbold of Thomas Fahey Insurance was honored as Ambassador of the Year and Jennifer Van Beckum of Melaleuca The Wellness Company received the New Member Award.
The Chamber’s six major committees chose recipients of “Spotlight” awards, recognizing the outstanding work of local businesses. Those recipients were: Ronni Newton of We-Ha.com (marketing committee), Chuck Joseph Jr. of ShopRite (health and wellness committee), Mike Kijak of Legrand Wiremold (economic development committee), Erin Tracey of ADNET Technologies (technology committee), and Chris Conway of Bearingstar Insurance (gold committee).
Kevin Kickery of Farmington Bank received the youth to business committee’s award, and also had the honor of awarding the Chamber’s 2016 Youth to Business scholarship.
David Higgins, a 2016 graduate of Hall High School, received the $2,000 scholarship. Lerner said that Higgins, who also attended automobile technology classes at Conard High School, will attend the New England Institute of Technology in East Greenwich, RI, where he will major in auto technology and high performance.
West Hartford Business Districts – the West Hartford Center Business Association, Park Road Association, Elmwood Business Association, Bishops Corner Neighborhood Association, and the Home Design District were recognized for their work in branding and attracting consumers and commercial activity to their areas of town.
Chamber of Commerce Associate Director Morgan Hilyard announced a $1,000 donation to the Elizabeth Park Conservancy.
Also at the annual meeting, the Chamber elected its 2016-2017 board of directors. The new executive committee includes Chairman Dave Calibey (BigThunk), 1st Vice Chair Robert Kulakowski (Cedar Hill Home Inspections), 2nd Vice Chair Carrie Titolo (ShopRite Markets), Treasurer Michael Thibodeau (BlumShapiro), Secretary Mike Kijack (Legrand Wiremold), and Immediate Past Chair Cynthia Cicchetti (People’s United Bank).
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