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Chamber reviews a year of success and adversity

88th annual dinner

Littleton High School senior Katie Boivin, far left, accepts the student of the year award from LHS principal Alan Smith and Nancy Reitsma during the 88th annual Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce dinner last Friday at the Mount Washington Resort. Art McGrath. (click for larger version)
January 13, 2010
BRETTON WOODS—In the ballroom of the Mount Washington Hotel, around 225 people turned out for the 88th Annual Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce dinner to review a year of hardships and triumphs.

Chamber officials and board members reflected back on the year and looked ahead to a brighter one.

Outgoing President Neil Stafford said the purpose of the organization was to promote Littleton as the best place to live, learn, work, play and retire in the North Country. The collaborative efforts of the people in that room were what made it possible.

He reflected on Chad Stearns, the chamber's executive director, who has run the chamber about a year and been an employee of it for about two years. He said he had known Stearns since he was a child and that he was quite proud of him and the man he has grown into. When Stafford mentioned Stearns, there was widespread applause throughout the audience.

After an invocation from Pastor Mark Clements, asking God to bestow His grace on the gathering, Stearns spoke, reflecting on events of the past year, noting they were tough times for the world, the nation and the local area. Littleton did not wait for things to happen, however.

"When the going gets tough the tough get going," Stearns said. Main Street reconstruction, especially its effect on traffic, was a struggle, he noted, though that was not something he would not have admitted when construction was ongoing, as the Chamber has kept a bright face on things. Getting across the street and finding a crosswalk was a challenge at times too, he said.

Now that it's over Littleton has "a fully functional and safe Main Street," Stearns said.

The rain over the summer got to be annoying, and he noted that during one 30-day period it rained 25 days.

A positive that came out of that was spectacular foliage, one of the best foliage seasons in years, Stearns said.

Stearns joked that it seemed federal Stimulus money was being spent everywhere but in the North Country, and it also seemed the same with money from the state government.

In the end it didn't matter though, "in the end we took care of ourselves," Stearns said. One way of doing this was pushing to get a camera installed on Main Street by WMUR, which will be accessible online to anyone who will want to view Main Street. Though there has been criticism inside and outside Littleton that the camera smacked of Big Brother, it will bring tourists to Littleton and put the town on the map.

"Littleton will be in front of tens of thousands of people online, and not a far away shot but up close of people walking and shopping," Stearns said.

The Student of the Year was announced not long after. The winner was Katie Boivin, who in addition to excellent grades, being in the top 5 percent of her class, and playing basketball and soccer, has performed over 112 hours of community service, according to Principal Al Smith, who read the announcement.

A number of outgoing board members were honored, including George Kirk, Dennis Hartwell, John Alberini and Alycia Vosinek, after which Boston comedian Jimmy Dunn regaled the crowd with humor and tales of his antics.

Stafford returned to the podium briefly to note that in another month or two, a group would be forming to raise money to finish restoring the Opera House, which he called "the jewel of Main Street." He asked for everyone's help to finish the job. Soon the space for the Chamber of Commence would start to be built in there and to get into the Opera House and have the space finished, the chamber would need the help of everyone there.

Littleton Chmber
Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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