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Chamber seeks nominations for citizen of the year

The Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce is seeking nominations for the 2011 Don Duso Citizen of the Year Award.

The award, established in 1975, honors an area resident who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the quality of life in Saranac Lake, according to Sylvie Nelson, executive director of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

In 2010, officials renamed the award in honor of Don Duso, former chief of the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department and long-time chair of the Winter Carnival committee.

Past recipients of the award will select this year's winner from the pool of nominees. The winner will be announced at the chamber's annual dinner in June.

This year's dinner is being held in Lake Placid at the Golden Arrow Resort. Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau reacted with surprise when he learned that the Don Duso Citizen of the Year award would be handed out in Lake Placid.

"Holy cow, what are they thinking of?" he asked. "The Don Duso award and annual Saranac Lake chamber dinner being held in Lake Placid does not make sense to me whatsoever. We've got plenty of places here in the greater Saranac Lake area without traipsing off to Lake Placid, where they've got their own Olympic goldmine. Stay in Saranac Lake, that's what you're called, the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce - do your business here."

But Nelson called that "provincialism," noting that the Golden Arrow is a chamber member. She adds that it was difficult to find a large enough venue in Saranac Lake.

The last several chamber dinners have been held at Hohmeyers Lake Clear Lodge, Nelson says.

"I think that we, as an organization, look at it from an 'area' perspective," she said. "The Golden Arrow has been a chamber member for years and years and years. What we try to do is support the members who support us, first and foremost."

"The other thing is that we have a large group and we're very limited in the area in terms of where we can host it, especially when you're looking at only doing business with your members," Nelson added.

Nelson says building partnerships with other communities is a necessity when it comes to marketing the area.

At the June 8 dinner, the chamber will also announce the recipients of the chamber's business and volunteer of the year awards.

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