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Amherst chamber honors Rotary Club, O’Keeffe, Maroulis

AMHERST — A long-time community service organization and two people who contributed to strengthening the business community are being honored by the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber announced Thursday that the annual A+ awards will be presented during a dinner at the Hadley Farms Meeting House Oct. 2 to the Rotary Cub of Amherst, former Select Board Chairwoman Stephanie O’Keeffe and Tony Maroulis, the former executive director of the chamber who left in February to become director of community relations at the University of Massachusetts.

“We feel that the recipients that we have selected represent the best, the brightest and the most outstanding of the terrific partners that the chamber is fortunate to be associated with,” said Donald Courtemanche, who succeeded Maroulis as executive director

The selections were made after a nomination process and review by a subcommittee, Courtemanche said.

The Rotary, which will receive the community service award, sponsors the annual community fair in the spring, the COVAC bike ride in September and an auction in November. Money raised at these events is used to fund one $25,000 community grant each year and several scholarships for graduating seniors. The Rotary also makes other donations to worthwhile projects and has contributed to worldwide efforts to eradicate polio.

O’Keeffe is earning the legacy award for her work on the Select Board. During her six years on the board, she prioritized economic development as a goal for the town manager and supported creation of the Amherst Business Improvement District.

“It’s a great honor,” O’Keeffe said. “I really appreciate that people value the work I did.”

The most valuable player award is going to Maroulis for elevating the status of the chamber and its involvement in the community.

Maroulis said the award is humbling and that it was a privilege to work for the chamber for more than five years before departing for the job at UMass. “It’s wonderful to feel appreciated for that time,” Maroulis said. “It means a lot. The day Don told me I was selected I kind of got teary-eyed.”

April Williams, chairwoman of the chamber’s dinner committee, said in a statement that the meal will feature an amazing “Farm to Table” menu.

“This year’s dinner will celebrate a culmination of that work and we look forward to gathering the business community together for this annual event,” Williams said.

Courtemanche said the venue offers a ballroom, an outside deck and great views of the Mount Holyoke Range. “If the weather cooperates, it will be spectacular,” he added.

Tickets go on sale starting Sept. 2 and may be ordered by calling the chamber office at 253-0700.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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