Berlin Chamber Presents Annual Awards

Berlin Chamber Presents Annual Awards
The Berlin Chamber of Commerce presented four annual awards at an installation dinner Thursday. Pictured from left to right are Zach Parnes, Garrett Neville, Garrett Neeb and Megan and Brett Hines. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

BERLIN– The Berlin Chamber of Commerce recognized a variety of valued community partners as it kicked off 2023 with its annual installation dinner.

Close to 80 merchants, chamber members, local officials and community residents attended the Berlin Chamber of Commerce’s annual installation dinner Jan. 26. The event, held at 410 Social, recognized the chamber’s incoming and outgoing board members and showcased annual award winners.

“It was so good to see the whole neighborhood come out to celebrate what we’ve accomplished this year and what we look forward to in the coming events season,” said Ryan Nellans, the chamber’s executive director.

Renowned local artist Patrick Henry kicked off the evening by recalling the history of Berlin’s commercial district. He described the lively business community of the early 20th century that began to fade with the rise of shopping malls and fast-food restaurants in the 1960s. He credited the group that got together to renovate the Atlantic Hotel in the 1980s with spurring the town’s latest resurgence.

“The wisdom and the vision, I’m in admiration because we’re talking 35 years ago,” he said, adding that the hotel now was as fresh and vibrant as it had been when it was built in 1895.

Henry said the “America’s Coolest Small Town” title the town won in 2014 was evidence of the town’s most recent success and had also helped ensure that success continued.

Henry encouraged merchants to stay focused on their efforts but reminded them of the importance of community.

“Keep it small, keep it focused,” he said. “Always focus on not only selling your product but on building relationships.”

Chamber officials recognized several outgoing members of the chamber’s board of directors and welcomed new members.

“It was just a couple of us for a couple of years and now we’ve got this really strong board,” said Mike Poole, president of the chamber. “I’m expecting a lot of really good things.”

The evening culminated with the presentation of four awards. Megan Hines of Jun & Juice, the new juice and smoothie shop on Pitts Street, was presented with the “Emerging Business” award.

“If you have something and people see that you believe in it, that really comes through,” Nellans said.

WBOC and Delmarva Sports Network received the “Bright Idea” award for televising last summer’s Berlin Bathtub Races. Zach Parnes of WBOC and Delmarva Sports Network said calling the bathtub races had been one of the most fun times he’d had while wearing a headset.

“I think my entire team is looking forward to being back out here and seeing who takes home the trophy this year,” Parnes said.

Nellans and Poole presented the “Chamber Partner” award to D3 while “Volunteer of the Year” honors went to Garrett Neeb. Ivy Wells, Berlin’s economic and community development director, said she’d nominated him for the recognition. When she found out the farmers market that used to be held on Berlin Fire Company property was no longer happening, she reached out to Neeb. Together, they launched a new rendition of the market on Artisans Green.

It was also Neeb she reached out to when the town needed a cottage for Santa’s December visits to Berlin.

“Garrett built the house, renovated the house and brings it every year on an antique tractor every year,” she said. “I don’t know what I’d do without Garrett. He’s an inspiration to all of us.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.