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A season of change and gratitude in Waterville Valley

The Waterville Valley Region Chamber of Commerce honored Tony Pierce of Tony’s Italian Grille and Pub in Thornton as Business Person of the Year during the 38th Annual Awards night this past weekend. Pictured: Business Manger Denise Siraco and chef Tony Pierce. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
November 23, 2010
CAMPTON—On the cusp of the "ski season," the members of the Waterville Valley Region Chamber of Commerce gathered this past Friday evening to mark the change of seasons with gratitude and excitement.

In defiance of the cold weather to come, the theme for the 38th Annual Waterville Valley Region chamber of Commerce Awards Night gala was Hawaiian Luau. Chic casual attire for the event consisted of Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops.

The truly diehard members showed up wearing shorts. But it was snow that was on everyone's minds.

The keynote speaker for the gala event, held at Waterville Community Estates, was Bob Fries, the new President of Waterville Valley Ski area. He delighted his audience with his obvious sense of excitement about the potential for revitalizing the Waterville Ski Resort and the entire business community.

Not to be upstaged, Denis Cahill from Waterville Estates announced the upcoming opening of Campton Mountain on Jan. 15, with plans for a major event to kick off the Massachusetts winter vacation week with fireworks and a big party.

Waterville Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce President Frank Cocchiarella presents the Volunteer of the Year Award to Campton Elemenatry School teacher Paul Yelle. Pictured: Paul Yelle and Frank Cocchiarella. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
The new leadership team at Waterville Valley Ski Resort is making big plans for the future, as well.

Now under the ownership of the Sununu family, the new management is making changes already, with some renovations already underway. Waterville ski area will open the day after Thanksgiving (Friday, Nov. 26), and visitors to the mountain can expect to see a difference. But that is just the beginning.

Waterville Chamber Executive Director Chris Bolan introduced Fries, outlining his extensive career in the ski industry, which began in the Bob Corcoran era in the 1970's at Waterville Valley.

Fries spent 19 years at Waterville during that very exciting era before moving on to management positions at Breckenridge, Stratton in Vermont, and most recently at Ragged Mountain.

Members of the Waterville Region Chamber expressed their gratitude to retiring Executive Director Chris Bolan for 13 years of exemplary service to the business community. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
"Great things are happening in the Valley," said Bolan. "We are looking forward to a strong connection between the ski resort and the Valley as we go forward. Welcome home, Bob Fries."

Fries said that he was "thrilled to be back" at Waterville after all these years.

"Waterville has always been my favorite ski resort and my favorite place to live," said Fries. "I come back with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of passion. Our goal is to make Waterville the best place to ski in the east."

The other order of business for the evening was the presentation of annual awards, presided over this year by Waterville Chamber President Frank Cocchiarella of Plymouth State University.

The Business Person of the Year Award was presented to Tony Pierce of Tony's Italian Grille and Pub in Thornton.

"Since he opened his restaurant in 2008, and even before, Tony has been an asset to the local business community and the Chamber," said Cocchiarella. "He is always the first to volunteer for anything that is needed, and he has sponsored some of our greatest bashes."

Pierce accepted the award on behalf of the "whole business team" at Tony's Italian Grille and called business manager Denise Siraco up to the podium to share in the spotlight. His entire crew was present to cheer him on with evident enthusiasm and appreciation.

The Volunteer of the Year Award this year went to Paul Yelle for his able efforts "above and beyond" at the Campton Elementary School, where he is a teacher, and at the Campton Historical Society.

Yelle has also been instrumental in revitalizing Campton Old Home Day observances in recent years.

"He is incredibly dedicated to the community," said Cocchiarella. "He is one of those humble, behind the scenes individuals who really gets the job done. He is always going out of his way to do every extra thing you can imagine. There are so many who are very grateful for his work."

After acknowledging the hard work of the Waterville Valley Region board members over the course of the past year, Cocchiarella closed the evening with a tribute to retiring Executive President Chris Bolan for his 13 years of service to the Chamber of Commerce. He called chamber member Danny Desrosiers to the podium make the presentation to Bolan and deliver a few remarks.

Desrosier said that Bolan has served as an "able ambassador" for the Waterville region since the Chamber had the foresight to hire him in 1998.

"He has been diligent in implementing programs and member services to support our area businesses over the years," said Desrosiers. "He has enhanced fundraising, events and publications. Through his leadership, and a result of his hard work, the Chamber has grown. We want to say thank you to 'the Chamber Guy.' You will be missed."

For his part, Bolan said he felt honored to serve the Waterville Region.

"The past 13 years have been the most fun I have ever had in my life," said Bolan.

He asked everyone who had ever served on the Board of Directors to stand and be acknowledged.

"You have provided the direction. You are the ones who have made this region great," said Bolan.

Martin Lord Osman
Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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