Chamber awards return with a splash

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“It doesn’t matter who takes home the awards this evening, you are all winners tonight,” said Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce executive director Bob Gaudette as he kicked off the organization’s 2022 Business and Community Achievement awards, at the Bonnie View Inn Nov. 19. Returning for the first time since 2019, the event is held to recognize entrepreneurs and businesses from across Haliburton County that have gone above and beyond while serving the community. Gaudette said he was happy to share an evening with some of the community’s biggest and brightest business minds.

 He paid homage to all those in attendance who have stepped up in recent years to reduce the impacts of the pandemic in the Highlands. “The work you all do matters. Don’t let that bounce off you, like a reflex. Just sit with it for a minute,” Gaudette said. “The work you do makes a difference. That’s what we are here to celebrate tonight.” There were 13 awards, including: Highlander of the Year; Best New Business; Tourism and Hospitality; Young Professional; Innovation and Creativity; Not-for-Profit; Customer Service Business; Customer Service Employee; Industry and Trades; Business Achievement; Entrepreneur; the Warden’s Award; and Employer of the Year.

 Robin Carmount, a police officer with the Haliburton Highlands OPP, took home the Highlander of the Year award, beating out Andria Cowan Molyneaux, Rick Lowes, Lindsay Mellor, Marina Thomazo, Shay Hutchings and David Zilstra. Carmount was nominated for the award by former Algonquin Highlands mayor Carol Moffatt in recognition of his volunteer efforts with local youth. Carmount founded the Haliburton County Youth Sailing Association in 2019, offering kids across the community the chance to get out on the water and learn how to sail. 

The program runs at no cost to participants. He has also launched, and still runs today, after-school youth programs at Archie Stouffer Elementary School and Wilberforce Elementary School. “They say it takes a village [and for programs like this] it really does,” Carmount said. “I want to thank all of my volunteers… without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do this and make it stick, so thank you.” 

Nick Folco, owner of Haliburton’s The Noble Barber, took home two awards – for best new business and best young professional. Folco launched his barber shop in 2020, shortly after relocating to the Highlands. He could not attend due to a prior engagement, with the awards being accepted by his wife, Kirstley Dams. “This was a pipe dream for Nick for a really long time… he knew one day he wanted to own his own shop, and that he wanted it to be in Haliburton,” Dams said. “This means the world to him, so thank you very much.” Non-profit Point in Time also took home a pair of awards, the annual warden’s and splitting best not-for-profit with CanoeFM for its work through the Youth Wellness Hub. 

Executive director, Marg Cox, said it has been a big few years for Point in Time, which has established a new transportation program providing rides for youth in and out of town, a fund designed to help better connect youth to high-speed internet, and a drop-in program in Haliburton that focuses on improving mental health and wellbeing. 

“The community has really gotten behind us with our endeavours, particularly at the Youth Hub, so this award [is for you too].” 

2022 award winners: Highlander of the Year – Robin Carmount 

New Business – The Noble Barber 

Tourism & Hospitality – Abbey Gardens Community Trust 

Young Professional – Nick Folco, The Noble Barber 

Innovation & Creativity – Haliburton Forest Biochar 

Not-for-Profit – TIE – Youth Wellness Hub – CKHA Canoe FM 

Customer Service Business – Lakeview Motel & Resort 

Customer Service Employee – Rebel Grooms, Timber Mart 

Industry & Trades – Minden Auto Care 

Business Achievement – Linda Baumgartner 

Entrepreneur – Amy Joanu, Beauty Basics 

Warden’s Award – Point in Time Employer Award – Haliburton Electric