BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont, Northstar Fireworks, Cody Chevrolet, and Cooperative Insurance Companies may not show up on the leader board, but they are the stars of the 2014 Chamber Challenge being held at the Country Club of Barre on Friday, May 9. They are the foursome that makes this year’s event possible.
BlueCross Blue Shield is the tournament sponsor, Northstar is gift sponsor, and Cooperative Insurance Companies is awards banquet sponsor. Cody Chevrolet is risking a vehicle for a hole-in-one on the par-three seventh hole.
Along with nearly two dozen hole and specialty award sponsors, these companies provide critical financing for the 21st Annual Chamber Challenge tournament, the first of the year on the Barre course that opened this weekend.
“Cooperative Insurance Companies is pleased to join these other great companies as a sponsor this year,” said Randy Roy, vice president of marketing.
BlueCross and Northstar were sponsors last year, and Cody Chevrolet has long been a fixture on the seventh hole.
Dennis Cahill, captain of the BlueCross team, said he’d love to have his team win its own tournament. “We may not be where the smart money is bet, but we’d be delighted to take home a trophy.”
Corporate bragging rights are at stake. Winners can boast all season, and eighteen teams are scheduled to compete. Additional teams can register through Friday of this week.
Granite Financial, last year’s low gross winners, and Northfield Investment Services, first low net in 2013, are returning to defend their crowns from Cahill and others.
Northfield Savings Bank has some internal competition going. A team from the bank will try to oust their financial services team. They will find plenty of external competition as well. TD Bank, Community National, and VSECU also have teams. NSB’s bank team captured low gross honors two years ago.
Cahill’s BlueCross team may find it challenging just to win the “insurance sector” with the Insurance Agency of New England and the Cooperative in the hunt.
There are also three construction companies: Copping Construction, Norway & Sons, and E.F. Wall & Associates. E.F. Wall holds a mythical “chamber trophy” as the only company to field a team in all 21 Chamber Challenge tournaments.
Northstar, Rock of Ages, Fothergill Segale & Valley, Casella, and Valsangiacomo, Detora & McQuesten round out the field so far.
Roger King, golf pro at the Country Club, reported the course is in great shape. “We’re delighted to have a partnership with the Chamber for the first tournament; it’s a great start to the season,” he said.
Teams can obtain registration information online at central-vt.com/chamber/golf14 or by calling the Chamber office at 229-5711. Individuals who’d like to play can also call as some prospective teams may need a player to complete a foursome.
In addition, more than 100 members and friends of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce gathered at the Canadian Club for dinner Wednesday evening, and Midstate Dodge was the last business standing in a post-dinner draw-down.
Gary Clark, of Bates & Murray Inc., was present to claim the $500 runner-up prize, but Midstate Dodge won the grand prize in absentia, barely outlasting a Capitol City Automart, the third place finisher. Formula Ford’s number had been drawn earlier, along with scores of others.
Mid-state owner Mitchell Jay got word of the win Thursday morning.
Bellavance & Sons placed fourth, and Marion Milne and friends won the fifth-place prize.
Leslie Sanborn, chair of the Chamber board of directors, welcomed everyone to the Chamber’s annual dinner drawing before turning the program to past chair Steve Gilman and announcer Mike Donovan who quickly eliminated 75 participants from grand prize contention.
Gilman thanked everyone who sold or purchased tickets. He noted that Milne was the top salesperson in 2014 as she has been every year since the inaugural event in 1983. Other top salespeople this year were Gary Hass, Bob Lord and Al Jacobs as well as both Gilman and Donovan.
After a very nice family-style roast beef dinner and dessert, 73 more ticketholders were eliminated, leaving just Bates & Murray and Midstate Dodge with a chance at the grand prize. Clark left with the final consolation prize as Midstate captured the $4,000 top award.
The annual dinner provided the key financing for the Chamber’s purchase of its building at “Beaulieu Place” in Berlin 25 years ago and its expansion a decade later. In addition to the Chamber’s own office and meeting rooms, the complex houses Green Mountain United Way and six other smaller businesses, professionals, and organizations.
Sanborn said the Chamber’s office complex now serves the Chamber and the community much the way Milne envisioned it when the event was introduced more than three decades ago “so the Chamber can have a place of its own someday.” At that time, the organization rented space in the Vermont Chamber building, less than a mile from Beaulieu Place.
Wednesday’s other consolation prize winners included Sanborn, Sandy Gascon, Heather Shouldice, Peter Hood, and Al Perry.
Helen Ruel, Hass, and 2013 grand prize winner Jim Breer assisted with the dinner and drawing.
George Malek is executive director of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.MORE IN Central Vermont
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