Story and photos by Lyn Ring, Contributing Writer
The Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce annual banquet and awards dinner was held March 29 at Wilkersons Restaurant in Colonial Beach. The Dockside Restaurant and Blue Heron Pub was awarded the Business of the Year Award.
After recognizing honored guests, including Mayor Fred Rummage, Town Manager Val Foulds and others, Carey Geddes introduced the guest speaker, Congressman Rob Wittman.
Wittman represents the First District of Virginia in the U.S House of Representatives. Wittman lives with his wife, Kathryn in Montross and has two grown children and two grandchildren. The Congressman gave a speech discussing the impact of fuel prices, strides made towards the restoration of the Chesapeake, and his feelings on current budget cuts and their effects before answering questions posed by those attending.
In speaking about the high fuel prices he noted that one thing raising prices is the lack of refineries within our country. It seems there is a great deal of fuel available here , but it must be shipped by tankers to sources outside our country to be refined and then shipped either back here or in many cases shipped to other countries. There has not been a new refinery built on U.S soil in over 30 years. The ones we did have that have been closed were incredibly antiquated. Wittman is also in favor of the development of a new pipeline, an issue that has been hotly debated in congress. On a positive note as a leading advocate for the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, he discussed the improvement in both crab and oyster population in the Chesapeake, but stressed there is still more to be done.
He spoke briefly on the issue of budget cuts and emphasized it must not be on the “backs of our military and our seniors.” As chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on the House Armed Services Committee, he is well aware of the needs of the military. The congressman spoke without a written speech in front of him and was very responsive to questions posed.
Geddes presented the Congressman with a t-shirt from the jet ski races and a gorgeous famed picture of a sunset on the Potomac photographed by local photography artist Linda Weaver.
The Business of the Year award went to Shannon Lupo and Jordan Grimly of the Dockside Restaurant and Blue Heron Pub.
“In spite of the down economy,“ said Geddes, ”Jordan and Shannon have been creative in remaining open year round while many restaurants closed during the winter months.”
He gave examples of their creativity such as Friday Night Trivia that has turned the establishment into the ”place to be on Fridays.” He noted that Lupo and Grimly have provided major support for the town and Chamber for such events as The Rockfish Tournament, The Potomac River Festival Boat Parade, Santa’s Winter Wonderland Lighted Boat Parade and the International Jet Ski Races. As well, they participated in the corporate challenge of the Jet Ski Races putting up money for the event and acting as the main host of the activities that made the event successful. Geddes also mentioned their partners Mark and Donna Donovan of Blue Ridge Seafood.
The award for Business Person of the year went to Caitlin Davis of the Tides Inn Market.
”Caitlin graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and opened the Tides Inn Market,” said Geddes.”As an excellent chef she has delighted people of this town and visitors with her freshly made sweet and savory items, her friendly service, and the inviting atmosphere of the market.”
In discussing her hands-on cooking classes, and catering, he mentioned that Davis’s menu also gets people to try new healthy creative dishes.
“Michelle Obama,” he joked, ”would be proud.”
Geddes then called Police Chief Kenneth Blevins to the podium to present the Chamber’s Colonial Beach Policeman of the Year Plaque.
“The Chamber recognizes the importance of having a safe environment for the community,” said Geddes. “Therefore, we are sponsors of this award.”
Blevins smiled broadly as he held the plaques in his hand. He said if he could, he would present one to each and every officer he had since they were all hard working and deserving. When it came time to select one for the award he put it to the officers themselves to vote on one and Sgt. James “Lee” Felts was the choice for the honor.
The chief gave examples of times Felts gave up his day off or turned around in the middle of a family outing to come to work in emergencies. Felts was recently promoted to sergeant and the chief said the Chamber could not have made a better choice for the award.
A special award was then given to Sylvia Bufkin, who served on the Chamber for 14 years and is retiring.
“We will miss you,” Geddes said, “We want to thank you and Union First Market Bank for providing your valuable services to the Chamber and for continuing to provide support to the Chamber through your employee, Carey Paradis.”