Riverhead Chamber of Commerce hands out its annual awards

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce gave out awards to six worthy recipients Friday night.

The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce honored the best of the Riverhead business world Friday night with an awards dinner at the new Hotel Indigo on Route 25.

Check out who took home the hardware with our roundup and slide show below:

Linda Dieterich — Linda Dieterich Gold Key Award

Annually the Gold Key award is presented to an individual who made a significant contribution to the Riverhead Community. This year is the first it will be named for Ms. Dieterich, who died suddenly in August at 47 years old.

Ms. Dieterich, an attorney and lifelong Riverhead resident, was also a member of the chamber’s Executive Board, a past president of Riverhead Rotary, past trustee of the Riverhead Free Library Board and past president of the East End Women’s Network.

“She was always present,” said award presenter Monique Gablenz, first vice president of the chamber. “Linda dedicated herself to the service of her community.”

Said chamber director Tom Lennon: “If there was an organization that needed help, Linda was there.”

He said renaming the honor in Linda’s name this year, one year after she was named Director of the Year, was “a no-brainer.”

Ms. Dieterich’s award was accepted by her mother and two sisters.

“She would be so honored for this, and for that I thank you,” said sister Carol Graff.


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Tracy Stark-James —Director of the Year

Another lifelong Riverhead resident, Tracy Stark-James served the chamber in 2010 as its treasurer. She has been a chamber director since 2004.

Tracy’s community service record is extensive, having served on the East End Arts and Humanities Council, Riverhead Rotary, Suffolk Theater Advisory Committee, Riverhead Small Business Advisory Committee and the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

She is the New York State Empire Zone Coordinator of the Suffolk County/Riverhead Town Empire Zone.

“Tracy’s voice on the Chamber Board of Directors in the areas of finance and planning and her constant willingness to be involved has earned her recognition as its 2010 Director of the Year,” the chamber’s awards night program states.

Accepting her honor, Ms. Stark-James said: “I encourage everyone to get involved because it’s for the better of the community and your town.”

Dee Muma, Dark Horse Restaurant —Business of the Year

The Chamber’s award for Business of the Year was presented to Dee Muma, who opened the Dark Horse Restaurant on the corner of Main Street and Peconic Avenue in 2010.

In a News-Review article earlier this year naming Ms. Muma as our 2010 Business Person of the Year, reporter Tim Gannon wrote: “Riverhead officials have spent much of the past few years waiting for big development companies from the city to revitalize downtown with huge projects that encompass most of Main Street and involve tearing down old structures to replace them with new, modern buildings.

“But one of the projects that actually is revitalizing the downtown was built by a local resident who’s been here for years. It occupies a building that’s been here for 82 years and had sat largely vacant over much of the last decade. Now, the place started jumping.”

As chamber secretary and News-Review staffer Tim Kelly said when presenting the award to Ms. Muma, “1 East Main is back and better than ever.”

Ms. Muma said that when she was filing paperwork to open the Dark Horse she had to identify the building’s previous use on a form. “I wrote pigeon toilet,” Ms. Muma said, adding that she dragged 240 tons of “stuff” out of the abandoned space.

Ms. Muma says she believes Riverhead’s downtown revitalization will be a success, saying that when she means it when she says Riverhead will have a renaissance.

Richard Stabile, Long Island Vodka — Agricultural Green Key Award

The founder of Long Island Spirits and LiV Vodka, Mr. Stabile’s love for wine and spirits was born as he grew up in Long Island’s North Fork Wine Country.

His distillery is located in a renovated barn on Sound Avenue in Baiting Hollow.

A business executive for more than 20 years, Richard has a track record of proven entrepreneurial success, according to the chamber’s awards night program.

“He has developed an expertise for motivating teams to foster excellence in product development, fulfillment, key account acquisition, new market penetration, customer relations and ongoing support,” the program states.

In 2010, Long Island Spirits and Peconic Bay Winery unveiled the region’s first legal brandy, Sono Rinata, which in Italian means, “We are reborn.”

Mr. Stabile was travelling and unable to attend Friday’s gala, but his parents accepted his award for him.

“His proud mama and papa are here for him and I’m positive he’ll make you all proud of him, too,” his father said.

Said County Legislature Ed Romaine: “He’s given us a different way to enjoy the produce of Long Island.”

Drew Achilich — Spirit of Riverhead Award

The night’s youngest recipient, Drew is the Riverhead High junior behind the Horton Avenue t-shirts that raise money for Riverhead flood victims.

Drew made up the shirts after seeing the damage done to Horton Avenue following the storm last March. He sells them for $10 and then gives the money to the Horotn Avenue Flood Fund. The shirt sales have raised more than $3,000 to date.

“The residents of Horton Avenue are so thankful for your support during our time of need,” said resident Linda Hobson in a letter to the chamber congratulating Drew.

A frequent volunteer, Drew’s idea was partially born out of his past experience traveling to New Orleans to help Katrina flood victims with his church, Trinity Lutheran Church in Rocky Point.

“The main idea behind the T-shirt was thinking of others and putting yourself aside,” he said Friday.

Connie and Jim Lull — Persons of the Year

The longtime Riverhead couple was honored for the nearly 30 years they served as organizers of the annual Riverhead Country Fair. The Lulls stepped aside from the monumental task this year, after organizing the historic event since 1983.

The tradition was handed down this year to a host of successors, which includes their son Jim, who accepted the award for them after his father had open heart surgery this week.

“If they were here tonight, they would be honored and embarrassed,” Jim said. ” They are willing to accept any criticism leveled at them, but they manage to deflect all the credit.”

The Country Fair, which brings more than 400 vendors out to downtown Riverhead each year, is just one of many services the Lulls provide the community. They  are active members of the First Congregational Church in Riverhead, where they edit the monthly newsletter and have developed the Bread & More outreach program.

Jim, a former Riverhead councilman, and Connie also helped the town organize its bicentennial.

“The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce applauds Connie and Jim for the personal sacrifices they have made on behalf of their community,” the chamber’s awards night program states. “Because it is certain Riverhead is a much better place because of all that they do.”

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