There was a true Grand Island flavor to the Chamber of Commerce's 47th annual Citizens of the Year Awards - from the heartfelt thank you speeches by award recipients - to the delicious filet of sirloin dinner served by the staff of the Holiday Inn Grand Island, under the direction of Islander and general manager Scott Swagler.
Master of Ceremonies Luke Moretti of WIVB-TV Channel 4, an Islander himself, intrigued the sold-out crowd of 280 by raising a provocative question: "What do you have to do to be a 'true Islander'?"
The honorees were, in essence, the best answer to that question, with their dedication in service to the community and their many accomplishments.
The 2012 award recipients, honored on Thursday, April 25, are:
•Business of the Year - Wavelengths Hair Design
•Civic Person of the Year - Paul Leuchner
•Educator of the Year - Martin Allen
•Performing Arts Award - James Watz
•Community Service Person - Beverly Kinney
•Ministry Award - Rev. Kevin Backus
•Lifetime Achievement Award - Linda Tufillaro
According to the chamber, the event "could not be possible without the help from our local businesses stepping up as sponsors. Their contributions make it possible for one of Grand Islands largest community events to continue."
The chamber thanked the following businesses: Platinum sponsors were Fuccillo's Hyundai, Toyota, Scion and Chevy Dealerships; the Holiday Inn Grand Island; and Niagara Frontier Publications (consisting of several papers including the Island Dispatch, Niagara-Wheatfield Tribune, Lewiston-Porter Sentinel, the Grand Island PennySaver and www.wnypapers.com).
Gold sponsor was Life Technologies.
Silver sponsors were Toshiba Business Solutions and Key Bank.
Bronze sponsors were Aceti's Wine and Spirits, Sam Long Landscaping and Excavating, Liz Wilbert of Realty USA, Creative Leather Concepts and Island Ship Center, McMahon's Family Restaurant, Mr. Best Wrench, Riverside Federal Credit Union, Citizens Bank, SNAP Fitness, First Niagara Bank, Grand Island Optical, Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Elderwood Health Care at Riverwood, Tops Markets, Certified AutoBrokers and John's Pizza.