Ocean City Chamber Announces 2023 Awards Celebration Honorees

OCEAN CITY – Local community members, including John Fager, Glenn Irwin and Bob Rothermel, will be recognized at the 2023 Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Celebration.

On March 3, the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual awards celebration – which honors business leaders, nonprofits and volunteers who represent the area’s best – at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award will go to John Fager of Fager’s Island.

“This award recognizes an individual for a lifetime of consistent community leadership and philanthropic endeavors that have made a lasting impact on their community,” a news release from the Chamber reads. “Their actions, achievements and contributions evoke admiration and respect. The nominee should have an exemplary community service record in the area and their influence and contributions will have made a tangible impact on the lives of those around them, their communities, and their place of business for many years of their lifetime and in the future.”

Fager visited Ocean City when he was a child and then moved to the town permanently in the early 1960s. He started his entrepreneurial journey with the Purple Moose Saloon and grew his empire over the years to include Fager’s Island, The Lighthouse Club Hotel, Edge Hotel, Bad Monkey and Atlantic Hotel in Berlin. He is also on the Ocean City Life-Saving Museum Board and the Rackliffe House Historic Trust Board and was a founding member of the Atlantic General Hospital Board of Directors.

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“Fager has been a monumental part of Ocean City’s growth and is always positively impacting tourists,” a news release reads.

This year, the Chamber will also recognize Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) Executive Director Glenn Irwin as the 2023 Business Person of the Year.

The award recognizes someone who is the founder, owner, CEO or president of a business that is a member in good standing with the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber reports.  The nominee exhibits business leadership and vision, displaying a significant commitment to the success of both business and the area. The honoree serves as a positive role model for others, demonstrates a commitment to their community and is widely recognized as a successful business manager or owner.

“Irwin is the fearless leader of downtown Ocean City, with more than two decades of experience working to revitalize and develop the area,” a news release reads. “Whether spearheading projects or working with officials at city hall, Irwin is one of the most well-connected and busiest people in town.”

Under Irwin’s helm, OCDC’s Façade Improvement Program has allowed for improvements at more than 270 downtown buildings since 2002. Irwin has also worked to improve downtown Ocean City through public art projects and special events such as the Shorecraft Beer Fest and the Sunset Park summer concert series. He also helped create design standards for both downtown and uptown Ocean City and worked to provide a new home for the Ocean City Beach Patrol.

“Irwin has strengthened the downtown Ocean City community and has gone above and beyond his day-to-day job,” a news release adds. “Glenn frequently volunteers his time to help other organizations. He truly cares about this community, and it can be witnessed in his commitment to making Ocean City a better place to live, work and enjoy.”

Bob Rothermel, Jr., owner of T.E.A.M. Productions, will also be recognized as the Citizen of the Year at this year’s annual awards celebration.

“This award recognizes an individual who, through his or her unselfish commitment to the community, embodies the best characteristics of community citizenship and serves as an example to all,” a news release reads.

Rothermel was active at Ocean City Elementary School as vice president and president of the PTA.  This led to 16 years of elected service on the Worcester County Board of Education, nearly half of which he served as vice president and president.

Rothermel was also actively involved with Cub Scout and Boy Scout Troop 261, and has served in various leadership roles at St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. He has served on countless committees and initiatives including the Ocean City Art League, Ocean City Museum Society Foundation and the Wor-Wic Community College Foundation, as well as held leadership roles in the Ocean City-Berlin Optimist Club, the Downtown Association, and the Worcester County Arts Council.

The Chamber will also recognize Ocean City Fire Department’s Galen Curtis as the 2023 First Responder of the Year.

This award honors one first responder from the 21842-area code for exemplary acts of valor and outstanding community service, as well as going above and beyond the call of duty.

“Paramedic Curtis’ focus and direction during the COVID pandemic through today kept OCFD personnel safe, healthy, and provided the ability to maintain staffing for emergency responses to COVID-sick patients,” a news release reads. “His actions have saved and protected the lives of personnel, residents and visitors. OCFD career and volunteer members were directed to contact any one of the COVID Safety and Health Officers at any time of day if they were exposed or had COVID symptoms. Curtis provided information on protocol regarding exposure protection and or treatment based on their situation.”

The Chamber will also honor Rush Stehley of the Taustin Group as the 2023 Young Professional of the Year. The award recognizes a person between the ages of 21 and 39 who is employed by or owns a business that is a member of the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce. The nominee is someone who has gone above and beyond to grow personally and professionally through community involvement, who exemplifies leadership skills and exhibits exceptional vision that contributes to success in the workplace.

Stehley, beverage director for the Taustin Group and a partner in the Captain’s Galley Crab Cake Shack, is also known for his commitment to local charities.

His involvement with the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House by the Sea led to his recognition as “Prom King” in 2020, raising more than $50,000 for the organization. He also worked on the recent Scunny McCusker mini-golf fundraiser and has raised money through the Taustin Group for United Way’s Dine United campaign. Stehley is currently chairing the United Way Holiday Ball, held in December.

The Chamber will also recognize the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation as the 2023 Non-Profit of the Year award winner.

The award is presented to an active 501c3 organization that has made a notable impact on the quality of life for those who live and work in the area while adhering to their nonprofit’s mission statement.

Since its establishment in 2007, the foundation has focused on making the arts accessible for all and has impacted more than 750,000 people through its arts programs at the Freeman Arts Pavilion in Selbyville, Del., as well as its Arts Access Initiative, including over 120,000 residents and visitors annually.

This year’s honorees will be recognized at the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Celebration, held on Friday, March 3, from 5:30-10 p.m. at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center’s bayfront ballroom.

Tickets are $110 per person, which includes cocktail hour, plated dinner, professional photos by Kyle Hughes and Dana Marie Photography, and music by Teenage Rust.

Visit bit.ly/OCCCAwards and click “Register Now” to purchase tickets and view sponsorship opportunities, or contact events coordinator Colby Noble at 443-664-3052 or [email protected].

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.