BELFAST — Dozens of people ordered drinks from the cash bar and socialized in the large room inside the warmly lit Waldo County Shrine Club at the 61st annual Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce Awards Nov. 17. Retired Belfast Police Officer John Gibbs was named Citizen of the Year.

Gibbs is known for starting the Keeping Belfast Beautiful community cleanup that now occurs every year. He spent 31 years on the Belfast Police Department, where he served as a bridge between the community and police force, Belfast Police Officer Jonathan Guba said in a video shown at the event.

In the video, people close to Gibbs described him as a community-oriented man who enjoys hunting and outdoor activities. At the event, he said he was honored to have won the award and he thanked everyone who helped him with his projects and ideas. “I’m exceptionally honored and I really need to thank everyone that helped and all the projects that we got done. It means the world to me, so thank you.”

Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dorothy Havey said the organization did not hold a ceremony last year because of the coronavirus, so she was excited to have it this year.

Norm Poirier accepts the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce Appreciation Award from chamber Executive Director Dorothy Havey Nov. 17 at the Waldo County Shrine Club. Photo by Kendra Caruso

The event took place during a Business After Hours event hosted by Rollie’s Bar and Grill. Prior to 2019 the event included a formal dinner, but after Point Lookout was closed, the organization lost its venue, so it pivoted to a cocktail-party-style ceremony.

There were a record 1,638 votes cast this year, up from last year’s 1,100 votes, Havey said.

It was a big year for New Business award winner and lobsterman Sadie Samuels, who owns a food truck called Must Be Nice Lobster Co., which she started in 2019. She sells lobster rolls and other food items along the Harbor Walk in the summer. Samuels was featured on “Good Morning America” this summer and won third place in Down East Magazine’s lobster roll contest. She hopes to open a downtown storefront soon.

Stanley Chevrolet owner Mark Politte, left, stands with business partner Greg Dutch, right, and Sadie Samuels as Samuels accepts the New Business award Nov. 17 during the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce award ceremony at the Waldo County Shrine Club. Photo by Kendra Caruso

Other award winners were: Marshall Wharf, which received the Business Growth award sponsored by Camden National Bank; Belfast Free Library, which received the Hometown Heritage award sponsored by LCI; Waldo County General Hospital, which received the Innovation award sponsored by Nordic Aquafarms; Friends of Sears Island, which received the Waldo County Business award sponsored by First National Bank; and Belfast Parks and Recreation Director Norm Poirier, who received the Chamber Appreciation award, sponsored by Front Street Shipyard.