PITTSFIELD -- The 101st annual meeting of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce paid homage to two men whose work and ethics have served as cornerstones in the county.
The highlight of Wednesday's Chamber meeting was the annual presentation of the Francis H. Hayden and Esther Quinn awards, given to Stephen "Steve" G. Crowe and Eugene "Gene" A. Dellea, respectively.
Both men have been longtime activists and advocates for community development in the Berkshires. A full ballroom of community members, business people and legislative leaders attended the meeting and tribute to the men Wednesday at the Crowne Plaza in Pittsfield.
Crowe officially retires at the end of this month as president and CEO of MountainOne Financial Partners -- an institution he created and will continue to serve as its chairman.
The award Crowe received was established in May 1968 to honor the memory of Francis H. Hayden, a two-term president of the Northern Berkshire Chamber who made significant contributions to the community as president and through his involvement with several other organizations.
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts President Mary Grant presented the award to Crowe, who currently chairs MCLA's board of trustees. Crowe also sits on the board of directors of Savings Bank Life Insurance, the Massachusetts Bankers Association and the American Bankers Association, among his many affiliations.
"It is very easy to be involved in Berkshire County. None of us, however, can do these things without a team," Crowe said.
Dellea is president of Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington and the Hillcrest Campus of Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield. He is affiliated with numerous other organizations, such as the Berkshire Community College Foundation and the American Hospital Association's Government Relations Committee.
"But I'm no Esther Quinn," Dellea said, lauding the legacy of his award's namesake. The award was presented to him by previous recipient Mick Callahan.
Now in its 13th year, the award was established in 1999 to honor the memory of Esther Quinn, a former Chamber volunteer and an advocate for volunteer efforts to make the Berkshires a better place to live and work.
During his opening remarks, Berkshire Chamber President and CEO Michael Supranowicz focused on the theme of building a new economy in the Berkshires.
Supranowicz listed six, multimillion-dollar projects -- from the $22 million worth of Pittsfield Municipal Airport renovations to the $145 million renovation and expansion of the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown -- that are currently under way in the county despite a downturned economy in the last few years.
"Now's the best time to build our future in Berkshire County," said Supranowicz.
"I do believe we're coming out of this recession," he said. "We're probably one of the few areas in the United States that has more than $340 million worth of investments happening here, now."
In moving forward, the Berkshire Chamber voted on and approved its new slate of directors.
Outgoing board chairman Gerard Burke of Hillcrest Educational Centers Inc. welcomed new chairman Peter Stasiowski of Interprint Inc.
Stasiowski's fellow 2013 officers include chair elect Linda Gaspardi Febles of Coakley, Pierpan, Dolan & Collins Insurance Agency; treasurer William Wheelock Jr. of Adams Community Bank; assistant treasurer Chip Moore of Pittsfield Cooperative bank; and clerk Vicki S. Donahue and assistant clerk F. Sydney Smithers, both of Cain, Hibbard & Myers.
Stasiowski said the new board's primary focus will be to work on a strategic plan to foster and sustain the local economy.