PLATTSBURGH - Dr. Celine R. Paquette is this year's North Country Chamber of Commerce Irishman of the Year.
The honor was bestowed upon the director of the Samuel de Champlain History Center, former county legislator and educator during the annual North Country Chamber of Commerce St. Patrick's Day Breakfast at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh Angell College Center March 17.
Master of ceremonies Kevin J. Killeen made the declaration, which gives surprise recognition to those who continue to make contributions to the community. Killeen hinted at who the honoree was with terms like "hails from the north," "has provided leadership and legislation," and "entrusted to ensure the quality of higher education." However, it was when he said the honoree has had a "close relationship with the founder of our lake and its past," referring to Samuel de Champlain, Paquette said that's what gave it away for her.
"I've always referred to Champlain as my boyfriend," said Paquette, laughing. "So, that was a hint."
When receiving the award, Paquette thanked the chamber of commerce and those in attendance, adding she was "humbled to join a very distinguished list of past honorees."
"I had no idea," Paquette said after receiving the award. "I'm overwhelmed. I mean really, what a surprise. This is wonderful."
Paquette served as a county legislator from 1995 to 2008 and has served on several boards and committees, including the St. Michael's College board of trustees, SUNY board of trustees, Battle of Plattsburgh Association, and Diocese of Ogdensburg Investment Committee. She also served as vice-chair of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission in 2009 and was most recently appointed by the governor to serve on the New York State Archives Partnership Trust.
Paquette took her admiration for Champlain one step further when she opened the Samuel de Champlain History Center in 2009. The center, located on Elm Street in the village of Champlain, houses more than 300 books and a host of items directly-related to the region's history.