(Photo courtesy Penobscot Bay Chamber of Commerce)
(Photo courtesy Penobscot Bay Chamber of Commerce)
Reade Brower, who founded The Free Press in 1985, was named Community Person of the Year at the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony on Saturday, November 3. The other annual award winners had been announced in advance of the dinner, but the Community Person of the Year is kept as a surprise announcement until the evening of the awards.

The Community Person of the Year award is presented annually to a person who, through professional and civic deeds, has greatly enhanced the quality of life in the community. Tom Peaco, executive director of the Chamber, presented the award to Brower.

A video celebrating Brower was shown. It included statements from his wife, Martha Brower, among others, along with an enthusiastic tribute by U.S. Senator Angus King, who said that Brower’s use of sustainability and common sense could serve as the motto for the state of Maine.

From his early days selling coupon books when he was first in Maine in 1980, he went on to found The Free Press in 1985, and now owns six daily and 23 weekly newspapers and a commercial printing company, creating employment for hundreds of people throughout Maine.

Brower was also recognized for his extensive, long-standing and often behind-the-scenes community involvement and fundraising efforts, including Go! Malawi and One Community, Many Voices, which helps people on a very individual basis.

The night’s other award winners, who had been announced previously: Pies on Parade received the Beacon Award for attracting regional or national attention to the area; Robin McIntosh received the Community Service Award for contributing to the quality of life among local community members; Alison McKellar received the Environmental Leader Award for diligent work to preserve, protect and enhance the environment; schooners Boyd N. Sheppard and Ladona received the Heritage Preservation Award; Bixby & Co. received the Innovation in Business Award; Lincolnville General Store received the New Building Award; Doris and Dennis Norton of Save Oceanside Fields received the Public Improvement Award; and Laugh Loud, Smile Big received the Small Business of the Year Award.