RUMFORD – After being named Business Person of the Year Saturday night, Brad Adley told a crowd of about 100 the time had come to invest in the River Valley area.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said to members of the River Valley Chamber of Commerce at its annual dinner and awards night at the Rumford Eagles Club in Rumford.
“The worm’s turning. Look around, it’s a great area. Don’t be afraid to invest. We did, and it’s paying off now,” Adley said.
Adley, who grew up and was educated here, worked for his father’s business, Adley’s Auto Sales, then, in 2001, took it on after his father passed away.
Last fall, the Prospect Avenue business was expanded when Adley took over and renovated the former Mobil service station atop Falls Hill.
Adley talked to the crowd and thanked them following a standing ovation when Chamber President Cheryl Dickson presented him with a plaque and trophy.
His brief message echoed that of guest speaker Stephen Eldridge, Rumford’s town manager, who kicked off the evening with a prepared speech at Dickson’s request.
Eldridge commended the resiliency of the River Valley people “who started a movement that is quite obvious to all that live her, and, to other regions of Maine.”
“I have heard many times throughout the state, What is going on in the Rumford area?'” Eldridge said.
He answered it, saying communities here asked for change and took the initiative, seeking ways to stimulate the economy and control their own destiny.
“Their expectations were set high, and they wanted people to know that the Western Maine region was truly a great place to live and do business. We are seeing new faces, and Maine has become fifth in growth in population growth in the country,” he added to applause.
Eldridge mentioned merchants, government officials, volunteers and citizens all working together as one to help each other grow.
“I have seen the interest of local merchants participating on the Downtown Revitalization Committee in Rumford, who feel empowered to make a difference in this region. The arts community, unknown for many years, has evolved, and become a major economic force,” he said.
The movement and its continued success, he said, depends on everyone here.
“It will not succeed without the Chamber and its merchants, Growth Council, citizens and government officials working hand-in-hand. We must all continue down this road of cooperation, growth, change and prosperity, and protect the values and beauty that we share in common,” he said.
In closing, Eldridge added, “But, most of all, we must have fun along this road, and cherish what we have in the River Valley.”
He was followed by Mexico Town Manager John Madigan and Dixfield’s new town manager, Jeff Jacobson, formerly of Minnesota.
Madigan and Jacobson gave much shorter speeches, winging it.
Madigan spoke about the need to provide recreation in the River Valley “for our children,” while Jacobson said about relocating to the area, “It feels really like I hit the jackpot in finding a place to move my family to.”
“This is a great place to live, a great place to raise my family,” he added.
Others winning recognition and awards were, Tom Bourret, owner of The Maine Press, for Customer Service of the Year; Joe Sassi as Volunteer of the Year; and the Greater Rumford Area Ministers and Priests Association food pantry at the Mexico Congregational Church as the Non-Profit Organization of the Year.
Each recipient received a standing ovation.