The Highland-White Lake Business Association (HWLBA) doled out honors to its 2011 Community Award winners on Nov. 17.
Awards were given out for Business of the Year, Business People of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and One Step Beyond.
Nominations for the awards are submitted and then a committee from the HWLBA chooses the winners while trying not to duplicate the winners in any category two years in a row.
According to Heather Marquis, membership and sponsorship director for the HWLBA, the Business of the Year Award honors the business that is involved in a variety of activities in the community and deserves to be recognized for its involvement and recognitions.
This year the LaFontaine Automotive Group netted Business of the Year recognition.
“They are very supportive of the HWLBA,” Marquis said. “They do a lot of good in the community and with causes that hit close to them, such as cancer benefits. They are very active and supportive of our events, being major sponsors of Sparks in the Park, Women’s Enrichment Day, and other events.”
The LaFontaine Automotive Group is also involved in other events and programs in the area, including Milford Memories, parades and Christmas tree lighting events, Community Sharing, the Red Box Food Drive, and the Huron Valley Business Expo, among others.
“We like to give back to the community,” said Kelley LaFontaine of her family’s business.
“We were ecstatic to win the award,” LaFontaine added. “We’ve been a part of the Highland community for the past 26 years, and this was a proud moment for us. My parents and brother believe in the family business. We lived and grew up in the Highland area, so this award is very special and very meaningful for us.”
According to Marquis, last year the LaFontaines also took home the Business People of the Year award, which goes to those people personally involved in community causes.
The honor of Business People of the Year was bestowed this year upon Mike and Deb Maher of Highland Feed, located on Livingston Road in Highland Township. Highland Feed has been a fixture of downtown Highland for the past century and offers a variety of products to feed both animals and lawns.
“The Mahers have been really supportive of our events in Highland, including HeyDays,” Marquis said. “They are good people to go and ask to help. They are wonderful.”
The Mahers hold a square dance every year to benefit a good cause, and this year was no different when the event supported Project Pink, which provides free mammograms for those who can’t afford them. They also supported the Aicardi Syndrome Foundation, which is a non-profit dedicated to providing information and comfort to those coping with the rare genetic disorder that targets children.
“The recognition is great,” said Mike Maher, who is a Highland Downtown Development Authority (HDDA) board member, and along with his wife serves on the Highland Equestrian Conservancy board. “We try to make sure that customers have a great experience when they come into our store. We’re just making sure our business stays community-centric. We hope that the award shows that we are doing several things very well.”
Greg Morris of Huron Valley Recreation and Community Education was presented the One Step Beyond award, which honors a person who “goes above and beyond in the community,” according to Marquis.
“He is constantly figuring out (how) he can do things for families, kids, and the schools,” Marquis said. “He is on a lot of different committees.”
“Receiving the One Step Beyond award is an honor,” Morris said. “It means a lot to be nominated and to receive an award from business owners in the community. I love working in the Huron Valley area and I hope to continue my work with Huron Valley Recreation and Community Education for a very long time.”
Dick Russell earned the Volunteer of the Year Award for his work with Friends of the Highland Recreation Area, the Huron Valley Optimist Club, the Rotary Club, and other endeavors.
“Volunteer of the Year (award winners are) somebody in the community that will go and volunteer at any event they can,” Marquis said. “They don’t expect anything in return.”