March 05, 2014SHELBURNE — Richard Merrill who was described by Chamber vice chairman Mark Belanger as a tireless, self-motivated and inventive volunteer who worked over a seven-year period on maintenance issues at Berlin's Northern Forest Heritage Park, was presented with the 2014 BoomPier Award by U. S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen at Friday night's annual Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce dinner meeting.
"This year's recipient worked quietly and steadily behind the scenes, never seeking recognition of any type," Belanger said before calling Merrill to the podium. "This stealth approach has helped him fly under the radar until now! During the period of time when the Heritage Park's ownership was in transition to the Tri-County Community Action Program, many buildings and grounds maintenance issues started to surface.
"Like a marathon runner, steady and sure, this year's recipient could be seen repairing, improving, and organizing all facets of the Park in ways never before seen.
"The ingenuity and processes he created to go about his work amazed many of the volunteers that he mentored, passing along his knowledge and expertise to others. While there are many others who contributed to making the Northern Forest Heritage Park the gem that it is today, Richard Merrill won the overwhelming support of the decision-makers who named him as this year's BoomPier Award recipient."
Belanger explained that the Award was created to recognize volunteers who meet a high standard that is consistent with the Chamber's focus and mission.
Merrill moved to Berlin in the late 90s with his wife Joan, who came to work for this newspaper. A zoology major who graduated in 1967 from Cornell University in Ithaca, N. Y., after spending a two-year leave (1964-1965) doing scientific research in the Pacific Ocean for the Smithsonian Institution, Merrill's career included being a zoologist for 10 years at the Cleveland Zoo and also teaching high school science, most recently at Gorham, Berlin and White Mountains Regional High Schools.
His seven-year commitment to the Heritage Park began by his serving as a pontoon boat captain on the Androscoggin River, he explained. Merrill learned about its deteriorating condition, and he then turned his head, hands and heart to the task.