Despite uncooperative wintry weather, the annual Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce 58th annual awards dinner drew a crowd of almost 200 Friday night to honor a half-dozen award-winners at Point Lookout.

Most award recipients were announced in advance, but the identity of the Citizen of the Year remained a surprise. It went to Belfast attorney Lee Woodward in recognition of his "outstanding positive impact" over the years on the greater Belfast community.

In presenting the award, Woodward's friend and Rotary-mate Ed Varney of Damariscotta Bank & Trust, award sponsor, teased the waiting audience by describing the as yet unnamed winner as someone who has contributed to the community in many ways and “is never at a loss for words.”

Recalling their high school years in a humorous video tribute, real estate broker Marjorie Crowley said "Woody" in those days was "a dork." He wore white socks, black shoes, black horn-rimmed glasses, and — always — a pocket protector.

Later in life he shed the white socks, black shoes, horn-rimmed glasses and pocket protector, Crowley said, and became a lawyer — and more. Among the public service accomplishments she and others cited:

He started Belfast Rotary's 100 Fund and became Rotary's "speediest Santa" ever, ensuring that needy Waldo County children have a good Christmas.

He was the longest-serving Waldo County General Hospital board member in WCGH history and is now president of the Coastal Healthcare Alliance board of trustees.

He has long served a number of Waldo County towns as town meeting moderator, injecting lighthearted humor into the annual sessions. "He's a great moderator," Searsmont First Selectman Bruce Brierley said in the video.

Toward the end of the video, Crowley quipped, to laughter all around, "My only concern now is that this award may go to his head."

When his turn came, Woodward responded in kind — as he is known to do, ribbing several attendees as well as himself.

Following a "cardiac moment" last spring, Woodward said he was told he had to cut back to working only two hours a day — to which he said a colleague replied, "Well, that's twice as much as you usually work."

When asked what community work he would be willing to give up — Rotary, town meetings, hospital — he said he faced an impossible choice.

"What they don't understand," Woodward said, "is that we get a lot more out of it than we put into it."

The annual award dinner is both a celebration of the economic community and the chamber's yearly membership meeting. Executive Director Steve Ryan led the group through a bylaw change, a progress report, and the announcement of new officers. For 2019, Pamela Stanford becomes president; Alex Hawthorne, vice president; and Lisa Phillips, treasurer.

Ryan also thanked the event's sponsors: Camden National Bank, Bangor Savings Bank, Bank of America, Dutch Chevrolet, Nordic Aquafarms, Point Lookout, and Damariscotta Bank & Trust.

The Growth Award, sponsored by Maine Chevy Dealers and Dutch Chevrolet, was presented to Bell the Cat, which recently expanded its Belfast location by moving from Starrett Drive into and improving the old Pizza Hut building, notably with an outdoor patio. In his remarks, owner Jojo Oliphant said his purchase of Bell the Cat just three years ago realized his dream of owning a restaurant. "I'm so thankful that I can call this (area) my home," he said.

The New Business Award, sponsored by Proforma Marketing Essentials, went to Lincolnville General Store, whose co-owner Briar Lyons described the many challenges of restoring the old building, told how much she enjoys being behind the counter, and acknowledged her staff and the community as "instrumental" in the venture's success. "Our mission is love and our approach is food," she said.

New this year was the Waldo County Business Award, sponsored by DownEast Credit Union, to emphasize the chamber’s role across the county. Belmont Boatworks, owned by Dan Miller, earned the award as "a highly accomplished business located outside the city of Belfast" that has demonstrated sound business development, civic involvement and support for the overall business community.

The Hometown Heritage Award to a long-operating business, sponsored by Rollie's Grill & Catering, was presented to Colby Horne, owner of Colburn Shoe Store, the oldest shoe store in America — established in 1832 and now in its 186th year of business. Horne said the business' longevity testified to the old adage that "If you keep your employees happy, and you keep your customers happy, growth and profits will follow."

Jim LeClair of Smart DataMap Services received the Chamber Appreciation Award for his technological assistance to the chamber this year. The Republican Journal/Courier Publications sponsored this award.