Originally Published on Wednesday, February 06, 2013

By Chris Stevens / The Daily Item

LYNNFIELD   —   Brian Kelly, president of Kelly Honda, and Shawn Potter, president of      All Care VNA & Hospice, were both honored as Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce’s Businesspersons of the Year Tuesday.  “It’s nice to be appreciated,” Kelly said following the LACC’s annual Meeting and Business Excellence Awards dinner. “In 2006 we made a significant investment in the city … and it’s worked out well for us.”
Potter said without his staff he would never have been nominated for the award because “we never would have been able to build that building.”

David Solimine Jr., who was also named LACC’s new president during the event held at Spinelli’s function facility, said it was the first time they decided to split the award into two categories recognizing a for-profit as well as non-profit company.

Nearly 220 business people and city officials turned out to see 16 men and women receive honors from the chamber. Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy was on hand to introduce keynote speaker Barry Bluestone, director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at the Northeastern University. Bluestone has been working with the LACC and city officials to determine the communities’ strengths, weaknesses and marketing capabilities.

On the award side of the evening, Lizete Alcalai of Sagan Realtors took home the Carol Vasapolli Volunteer of the Year Award, Sean Crowley, who along with his family owns and operates Lynnway Sports Center, was given the David Solimine Sr. Community Service Award and Scott Manninen, manager of Sonny’s Car Wash, picked up the Multicultural Business Leadership Award.

“It’s no secret that it’s been the trailblazing definition of multiculturalism for decades,” said LACC Executive Director Leslie Gould before handing Manninen his award.

Town Pride Award recipients included retired Lynnfield Selectman Al Merritt and Nahant Selectman Michael Manning for their dedication to their respective communities. Donna Hanlon, also from Nahant, took home a Pride award for her creation in 1996 of a single page newsletter, The Harbor Review, that evolved into a 24-page printed tabloid before recently going online.

From Swampscott, Recreation and Parks Department Director Danielle Strauss and Todd Flannery, proprietor of Flannery’s Handyman, took home Pride awards for their dedication to service, and Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger and Inspectional Services Director Michael Donovan were both honored.

Gould said Coppinger’s willingness to partner with the LACC and his accessibility despite having “probably one of the most important jobs” were just two reasons he was singled out. She also praised Donovan for his guidance and accessibility along with his devotion to attending LACC Government Affairs meetings.

“Seriously, we should have a chair named for you,” Gould quipped.

Buddy Fennell Hall of Fame Awards were also handed out to Jim McGlaughlin of McLaughlin’s Care & Truck Repair, John Olson, proprietor of Columbia Insurance, and James Sherman and Adam Sherman from the Brotherhood Credit Union.

John’s Roast Beef owner Taso Nickolakopoulos picked up the last award of the evening, the Chairman’s Award, given to him by outgoing LACC President Ralph Sevinor. The award is given out at the chairman’s discretion with no input from anyone. He handed it to Nickolakopoulos for his unwavering support of the business district and the city, he said.

“He never says no, he is a true gentleman and a rising star of how things should be done,” Sevinor said.

Chris Stevens can be reached at cstevens@itemlive.com.