2020 Award Winners
2020 Award Winners
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Norbert X. Dowd Award – Carol Epstein
Carol Epstein’s civic involvement, charitable giving and contributions to the region were among the reasons cited by those who nominated her for this award. Epstein is the owner and President of Epstein Commercial and Epstein Properties.
While she is best known for running successful commercial real estate businesses, giving back to the community always tops her priorities.
Epstein’s community involvement spans decades and includes helping the University of Maine Museum of Art relocate to downtown Bangor, serving on Acadia Hospital’s Board and being a key Board member for the Maine Discovery Museum before it became a reality in 2001.
She currently serves on the Board for the Foundation for the Maine Community College System, after having been a trustee for many years.
“I’ve learned over the years that there are many ways to help support a project that is worthwhile. As a community we need to maintain our involvement. We’re just as needed when community efforts aren’t as obvious. You need to stay involved every day and every year.”
Business of the Year: GE Gas Power
The GE Bangor plant opened on St Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1969, as a three-building manufacturing facility with 70 employees. Since then, GE Bangor has been a leader in GE innovation – starting with small team turbine components. Over time, the capabilities, scope, and staff of the plant have grown significantly.
Today the Bangor shop utilizes the most advanced technologies available to support the GE Gas Power product lines. The Bangor facility is especially critical for rotor repair and manufacturing of spare rotors for the GE Industrial Steam Turbine fleet, producing turbines that power over 1 million homes, with customers all over the world.
Those original 70 employees have grown to 400. GE works collaboratively with area educational institutions to create career pathways for students through job shadowing, internships, tuition reimbursement and direct hire.
GE employees volunteer with many area non-profits and honor veterans by annually placing American flags on the graves of veterans at Mount Pleasant Cemetery and sending care packages to service members deployed.
NEW Arts and Culture Award: The Nite Show with Danny Cashman
Dan Cashman grew up watching Johnny Carson and David Letterman (he wanted to be them). Tune in to “The Nite Show with Danny Cashman” and you will see a similar format to the one perfected by Letterman, Carson and Conan.
In front of a live studio audience the show features a monologue, comedy, guests and a house band. Since it first aired in 2010, the show has routinely ranked as the #1 Saturday late night television show in Eastern Maine.
The show is produced by students and staff at NESCOM (New England School of Communications) at Husson University, giving them real world experience and on the job training.
The show features famous celebrities and noteworthy guests, but having the opportunity to shine a spotlight on talented performers from Maine is what means the most to Cashman and his crew.
“We would not be here were it not for our talented team, our partners, NESCOM and everyone who comes out to be part of the taping and tunes in on Saturday night.”
Catherine Lebowitz Award for Public Service: Carol Woodcock
Carol Woodcock has spent nearly 30 years in the U.S. Senate working for Maine’s Senators and the people of Maine. She began as a staff assistant and then legislative assistant to William Cohen in Washington D.C. For the last fourteen years, she has served as Bangor State Office Representative for US Senator Susan Collins.
Woodcock spends her days working on issues that affect our region and serving as Senator Collins’ eyes and ears on the ground. She enjoys meeting with different people, learning about what they do, the struggles they face and how she, the Senator and their staff might help.
Some of the projects Woodcock has been involved with include working with Maine’s forest economy, UMaine’s offshore wind initiatives, assisting communities after the loss of a major employer and assisting employers with workforce challenges.
“Senator Susan Collins, was the first recipient of the Catherine Lebowitz Award. Kay Lebowitz and Senator Collins have both inspired me. It is a true honor to be recognized as following in their footsteps.”
M. Jane Irving Community Service Award: Norm Heitmann
Norm Heitmann retired at the end of 2019 after serving the City of Bangor for 24 years, first as the Assistant City Solicitor and then as the City Solicitor for 20 plus years. Although he has left his office in City Hall, the impact Norm Heitmann has had on Bangor and the region will continue for generations to come. Heitmann played a significant role in numerous projects and economic development initiatives including the development of the Bangor waterfront, the creation of Hollywood Casino and the development of the Cross Insurance Center.
Heitmann credits the Bangor City Manager, engineer, planner, code enforcement, department heads and every member of the staff who take great pride in making sure these projects are done right to benefit the people of this city and our region.
“In all of these years, I’ve had the privilege to watch Bangor go through a lot of changes. I’ve watched the highs and the lows. But we get through it. We find a way. We are Bangor.”
Non-Profit of the Year: Bangor Public Library
The Bangor Public Library began in 1830 with seven books in a foot locker, kept in the publishing office of John S. Sayward on Exchange Street. It was the first library of the Bangor Mechanic Association. Members could check out two books at a time. As the collection grew, it was moved to larger reading rooms in several downtown locations. By 1911, the library had grown to 70,000 volumes until the fire that ravaged downtown Bangor wiped it all away.
In 1913, the newly constructed library opened in its current location. Today the library welcomes 780 visitors daily, from newborns to senior citizens. The library carries an impressive inventory of reference materials and databases, houses a business center and hosts a variety of programs, exhibitions and cultural events.
Since it all began with a few books in a foot locker, the Bangor Public Library has risen from the ashes and continues to thrive while preserving its history, remaining relevant in the present and preparing for the future.
Arthur Comstock Professional Service Award: Lee Speronis
Dr. Lee Speronis has served in a variety of leadership capacities with organizations including the Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau, Cross Insurance Center Advisory Board, Saint George Greek Orthodox Church, Eastern Maine Community College, Eastern Maine Medical Center, Maine Tourism Association, Hospitality Maine and more.
Speronis has contributed significantly to the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce since he began serving on the Board in 2010, recently completing his term as Board Chair. In 2020 Speronis assumed the role of Chair of the Bangor Region Community Council to oversee the Chamber’s programs, FUSION:Bangor, Building Bridges and the Bangor Region Leadership Institute.
When he is not volunteering, Speronis works as the Director of the School of Hospitality, Sport and Tourism Management at Husson University in Bangor. His message for others when it comes to getting involved in the community, “Find something you like and if you don’t know what you like, explore as many options as it takes.”
Bion and Dorain Foster Entrepreneurship Award: Wilcox Wellness & Fitness
Step into Wilcox Wellness & Fitness and you will see an open space with an assortment of gym equipment. You will also see people who are there to improve their lives. That mission is accomplished through individual and group training sessions, along with tools and resources to develop healthy habits.
Wilcox has structured their services to accommodate busy professionals by offering 120 training sessions each week tailored to those who have worked out for a long time and those who are working out for the first time.
Mike and Paige Wilcox established Wilcox in 2012. Today their team serves 300 clients in their Bangor location on Union Street. In January of 2019 they opened their first franchise location in Brunswick, Maine.
“When we hear stories from clients about the confidence they gained, the mountain they climbed, how their posture and strength has improved, or how much happier they are because of their experience at WILCOX, that is everything.”