Friends of Midcoast Maine Announces 2013 “Local Heroes” Awards

Posted June 12, 2013, at 2:23 p.m.

[Camden and Bristol]: At the June 11, 2013 Friends of Midcoast Maine (FMM) Annual Meeting, three Community Heroes awards were given to individuals who have made a difference in their communities. Nominated by community members and reviewed and approved by the FMM board of Trustees, these recipients were honored at an elegant Community Congress in Bristol.

The award recipients were Karen Kleinkopf of Damariscotta, Don White of Camden and Michael Tomko of Boothbay Harbor. The prestigious Smart Growth Awards are an annual event at FMM’s meeting but this year they honored the unsung heroes and change-makers in our communities. FMM Executive Director Jane Lafleur noted “This year we launched our Community Ambassador Program in an effort to get closer to our communities, to learn about what is happening on the ground level, and to give our Ambassadors a “behind the scenes” understanding of FMM. Through our Community Ambassadors Program, we realized it is only fitting to recognize the Local Heroes in our communities, people who are the change-makers, the zealous nuts, the sparks who ignite the productive fires in their communities, the optimists and the people who are making a clear difference for the greater good.”

Michael Tomko of Boothbay Harbor was recognized for upholding the principles of smart growth by immersing in community development & local improvement initiatives, pursuing a passion for civic participation by joining numerous volunteer organizations and serving on a variety of local and regional committees including the Boothbay Harbor Planning Board and Chairman for the past 3 years, the Executive Board of the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission, the Boothbay Harbor Comprehensive Planning Committee, the Bicycle Pedestrian Plan Committee, the Route 27 Corridor Committee, and the Lincoln County Sea Level Rise Committee. He assisted in bringing a national expert, Dan Burden, to Boothbay Harbor for a Walkability Workshop with Friends of Midcoast Maine to help grow the local economy and enhance the community; and applied for and received a $2,000 grant, along with monies pledged by Boothbay Harbor, to launch the recommendations from the Walkability Workshop. Lafleur noted that “Every few years we meet a person who moves us unexpectedly by their passion, their dedication, their quiet leadership and unassuming nature. Mike Tomko is that person.”

Don White of Camden was honored for upholding the principles of Smart Growth by serving as a tireless, dedicated and exemplary leader, and acting as a key driver behind smart growth efforts in the Midcoast region while serving as a volunteer in several key leadership capacities, as chair of the Gateway 1 corridor regional cooperative planning initiative, chair of the Camden-Thomaston regional transit work group known as the Midcoast Transit Committee, and Selectman of the Town of Camden.

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Karen Kleinkoppf of Damariscotta was recognized for upholding the Principles of Smart Growth by creating the FARMS Program—Focus on Agriculture in Rural Maine Schools program and teaching young people about healthy food choices, bringing together their teachers, cafeteria staff and local farmers to create a new approach to school nutrition, thereby engaging a range of local stakeholders, bringing locally grown foods to children, and by extension, to families in our community and strengthening existing farms and preserving local infrastructure and sense of place by supporting local food producers. FMM Chairman Stephen Ryan noted that “Karen’s tireless efforts to change the way communities, families and children think about the food they eat and their personal health is having a lasting impact on the region.”

The FMM Annual Meeting also focused on major issues facing our region. Six panelists spoke about Community Collaborations (Mary Kate Reny of the Twin Villages Alliance), Creative Economic Development (Brian Hodges, Camden Economic Development Director), Aging Issues for Communities (Carla Dickstein, Coastal Enterprises Inc.), Innovative Community Development Strategies (David Whittlesey, Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative), Local Farms and Foods (Jan Anderson of Coastal Farms and Foods) and Strengthening the Village Center (Rosey Gerry of Lincolnville Center). The meeting participants heard descriptions of these grassroots and community efforts and learned new strategies, collaborations and tools they can share with their own communities. One participant noted that “this was the most positive and empowering meeting I have attended in many years” and praised the work of these communities and Friends of Midcoast Maine.

Friends of Midcoast Maine is a smart growth organization serving communities and citizens from Brunswick to Bucksport, including peninsula and in-land towns. FMM works to build healthy communities by connecting and making linkages between communities, businesses, natural resources and open spaces, transportation, working waterfronts, affordable housing, energy, viable downtowns and village centers, historic assets and people and fully engaging all citizens in these efforts. For more information visit www.friendsmidcoast.org or call 236-1077.

Caption: Friends of Midcoast Maine 2013 Local Heroes Awards, Left to right Executive Director Jane Lafleur, Don White, Camden; Karen Kleinkopf, Damariscotta; Michael Tomko, Boothbay Harbor; FMM Chairman Stephen Ryan of Belfast

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