By JEN CARDINES
The Southington Chamber of Commerce presented “a night of excellence” last week as officials honored members of the business community in various capacities. The 79th annual dinner, which was held Thursday, April 27 at the AquaTurf, had a slightly different agenda than previous years.
Five of the awards given during the ceremony were a surprise to their recipients because, for the first time, the chamber announced nominees for each category, and the winner wasn’t announced until the dinner. The change gave all honorees their moment in the spotlight.
The chairman’s award is given annually by the outgoing executive board chair to someone they feel is deserving. Dave Pestillo, now past chair on the board, presented the award to Attorney Matt O’ Keefe.
“This person is someone I consider a friend and mentor,” Pestillo said. “I asked for advice, and always came away a little more knowledgeable.”
Chamber executive director Liz Hyatt also presented her executive director’s award to Kimberly Selvaggi, executive director of LISA Inc. This year, eight local businesses were recognized for exterior work done to their properties throughout 2016. All Dolled Up, Bradley Mountain Soaps, Chili’s, Ductworks HVAC Services, Ideal tavern, Mount Southington Ski Area, Southington Community Cultural Arts, and the YMCA all received “beautification” awards.
Amanda Roberts, who is on the board of directors and co-chair of the annual dinner event, was named Chamber Woman of the Year.
The Gail DePaolo Community Spirit Award was presented to Dolores Fanelli and Joanne Alfieri for their work in the Village of Plantsville Association. At the presentation, Val DePaolo spoke about her mother, Gail, and her contributions to the business community.
Town Council chair Mike Riccio presented the Riccio Brothers Business Person of the Year Award on behalf of his family. Riccio presented Julie Wallace of Bloom Yoga Fitness with the plaque, coincidentally just hours after Wallace sold out her new “goat yoga” class.
“I’m not exaggerating, it literally sold out in 45 seconds,” she told the crowd.
Kate Sirignano presented the Ann Hauver Employee of the Year Award to Patty Gugliotti. Like the previous two awards, Gugliotti beat out two other finalists to claim the prize.
Chamber members also recognized their outgoing and incoming leadership during the dinner, including past directors Steve Giudice, John O’Donnell, and Mark Sciota.
Committee chairs were announced for this year’s chamber functions. Amanda Roberts and John O’ Donnell (annual dinner); Mike Baker (Chamber Cup Classic); Sandy Fehrs (Ladies Night); along with Kelly Stuper and Lauren Dziedzic (pizza and wing fests) were announced as event leaders.
The event also announced the 2017-2018 chamber board of directors: Andrew Garstang, Shirene Hazel, Ralph Holyst, Maria Huff, Cheryl J. Moran, Paul Pelletier, Lou Perillo, John Rivers, Amanda Roberts, Bryan Stolz.
The 2017-2018 executive board includes Sirignano (chair); Atty. Matt O’Keefe (vice chair); Rob Flood (secretary); Atty. Anthony Sheffy (legal advisor); Lucia Chubet (treasurer); Dawn Miceli (director at large); and Dave Pestillo (past chair).
Sirignano said that Southington’s chamber has been actively working with the town over the last few years to enhance the business community and the economic development, and that work will continue.
“The chamber will be looking at new ways to market business, new ways to work with our legislators, and new ways to work with our members’ employees,” Sirignano said. “As chairman, I am committed to growing our chamber as a resource for every business in this town.”
Pestillo said that since Hyatt became the executive director, the chamber has invested in a new website, moved into a new office space to cut monthly expenses, updated the by-laws, re-wrote the employee handbook, and implemented a new pricing model.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.