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  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Hudson Fire Capt. Dave Morin makes some last minute adjustments to his speech during the Hudson Chamber of Commerce Awards Dinner, Wednesday evening where he was named Citizen of the Year.
  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Hudson Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, Capt. Dave Morin cavorts with the color guard, his colleagues at the Hudson Fire Department, before the start of Wednesday night's awards dinner at The Castleton Banquet and Conference Center in Windham.
  • Staff Photo by GRANT MORRIS

    Editor in Chief of the Area News Group, Len Lathrop grabs his seat at his table, Wednesday evening at the Hudson Chamber of Commerce Awards Dinner at The Castleton Banquet and Conference Center in Windham. Area News Group was named Small Business of the Year at the event.
Sunday, April 1, 2012

Honors, community celebrated at 43rd Hudson Chamber event


Staff Writer

HUDSON – Dave Morin is a career firefighter, a profession that by its very nature has strong ties to community service.

But it’s when someone like Morin, now a captain with 28 years on the job, takes on the leadership of something like the town’s Sept. 11 memorial project at Benson Park that he earns accolades, such as the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Citizen of the Year Award.

At a ceremony held Wednesday, Morin became the 43rd Hudson resident who, by virtue of his “dedication to the community through his leadership, community involvement and volunteerism,” earned the coveted Chamber award. The honor was first presented to the late Carl Leaor in 1969, the year the current Chamber was founded. Previously, the organization was known as the Hudson Board of Trade, which was founded in 1952.

Morin was one of three people and two business entities in the spotlight at Wednesday’s annual dinner and awards ceremony, themed “Pay It Forward” and held at the Castleton in Windham.

“When I looked at all he’s done, I was humbled, I was overwhelmed at Dave’s commitment to community,” master of ceremonies Marie Mayotte said, calling the Sept. 11 project that Morin spearheaded “one of the largest and most beautiful 9/11 memorials in New England.”

A humble man, Morin directed the credit for the memorial and other community-based projects to what he called “the team named Hudson community.”

“I belong to a team. Everyone, from rookies to the seasoned veterans, brings something to the team,” he said.

Morin’s community commitments run wide and deep, including founding or leading charity fundraisers and annual drives, fire service-related causes including its Explorer program and Relief Association, and the annual Old Home Days, not to mention his annual role as Santa Claus.

Alvirne High seniors Ashley Felch and Cheyenne Tessier were named the Chamber’s Junior Citizens of the Year, marking the eighth time since the award debuted in 1971 that two winners were selected.

In the business category, Area News Group, which publishes three weekly newspapers covering five Hudson area towns, was selected 2011 Small Business of the Year, while Enterprise Bank, a community-focused institution that founder George Duncan brought to town several years ago, was honored as Large Business of the Year.

Keynote speaker was Tom Boucher, CEO of Great New Hampshire Restaurants, a business group that includes T-Bones, Cactus Jack’s and The Copper Door restaurants.

Felch and Tessier, honor students whose resumes overflow with volunteer, civic, school- and community-based activities and affiliations, learned Wednesday they have something else in common. Both happened to be nominated by Alvirne social studies teacher Jeff Peterson.

“It’s great that Alvirne has an award that recognizes citizenship, because too often we get wrapped up in our grades and forget about how important community involvement is,” Tessier said. “It’s awesome to be recognized for doing what we love.”

Felch said she likes to look beyond the typical volunteer opportunities that come up at school, ones that “look good on college applications” but have a short life.

“Those are fine, but they’re usually just a one-time thing,” she said. “We really do care what’s going on in our community, and want to get involved in a lasting, meaningful way.”

Tessier agreed. “We volunteer for causes that don’t go away,” Tessier said.

Guest speaker Boucher, meanwhile, spoke on courage. “Not the kind our police, firefighters, soldiers have, but the second definition of courage,” he said.

“That’s having the conviction to act in accordance with one’s beliefs,” Boucher said, no matter the circumstances.

He held up as an example Hudson T-Bones server Melissa Hegarty, who began the restaurant’s annual “Tips for Toys” holiday campaign.

“Fifteen years ago, Melissa had the courage to rally her co-workers to start this great event,” Boucher said. “Not only do they donate all their tips, the staff goes out and shops for the toys.

“It’s wildly successful, they’ve raised $150,000 in 15 years. That’s the kind of giving back to the community we talk about at Greater New Hampshire Restaurants.”

Boucher said since philanthropic giving and community involvement have become part of the company’s marketing strategy, that encourages staff and customers to get behind causes.

Co-owner Len Lathrop accepted Area News Group’s award “on behalf of (co-owner) Robin Rodgers and all of our staff.”

Founded in 2000 with the purchase of the Hudson-Litchfield News, ANG has since added the Pelham-Windham News and Salem Community Patriot to its family of “hometown news” publications.

“‘Bringing the stories home’ is very important to us,” Lathrop said. “Our success has been built with the hard work and dedication of a committed staff.”

Community service is also at the heart of large-business honoree Enterprise Bank, whose Hudson branch is one of 19 throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

“This is an amazing event, an evening that is very special for me and my colleagues,” vice president and branch manager Alvin Oasan said in accepting the award. “We are very honored that Enterprise Bank is recognized for our leadership practices and (connection) to the communities we serve.”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or