A local photographer was named the Don Duso Citizen of the Year last night during the 90th annual meeting of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber doled out three awards during last night's dinner, held at the Golden Arrow Resort in Lake Placid. This year's theme was "Roaring Twenties."
Mark Kurtz, a photographer from Saranac Lake, received the Citizen of the Year award, named for Don Duso, a former fire chief and dedicated volunteer. Duso was perhaps best known for his extensive work in organizing the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival.
The award honors an area resident who has made a "significant and sustained contribution to the quality of life in Saranac Lake," according to the chamber's executive director, Sylvie Nelson.
Kurtz was nominated by a past recipient of the award and approved by other former recipients who are responsible for choosing the winner annually.
"Mark is the perfect example of what the Don Duso Citizen of the Year award is all about," Nelson said.
"His life has been dedicated to volunteering for causes he deems important and, in turn, it has benefited the residents of Saranac Lake," she added. "His accomplishments are not only numerous but very important to our community."
Kurtz is involved with numerous local organizations and causes, but is most famous for his work as the official photographer of Winter Carnival. Some of his work has been featured in popular publications like National Geographic.
Nelson says his slide shows, presented annually during the carnival's closing ceremony, are considered "legendary."
The chamber also handed out its Volunteer and Business of the Year Awards last night.
"These awards were created four years ago to give tribute to an individual who goes beyond what is required of being a volunteer at the Chamber and to a business which has an impact on our community," Nelson said.
This year's Volunteer of the Year is Roger Steinbrueck, owner of Scott's Florist on Woodruff Street in Saranac Lake. Nelson says Steinbrueck was honored for his tireless work in making the community beautiful.
He can often be seen planting flowers in village parks.
"Roger's work is priceless for the chamber," Nelson said. "We are fortunate to have someone who, without being asked, will come and ensure that our building is as welcoming as possible."
St. Joseph's Rehabilitation Center was named Business of the Year for 2011, specifically for its recognition as one of the Top 20 Best Places to Work in New York State.
The organization has also been instrumental in doing the leg work for Homeward Bound - formerly known as Patriot Hills - a planned rehabilitation and reintegration center for veterans.
This year's chamber dinner wasn't without controversy, as some Saranac Lake officials criticized the decision to host the event in Lake Placid.