The Madison honored personal achievement, business longevity and commitment to community at its annual Awards Picnic held Thursday night at the Hamilton Park Hotel and Conference Center in Florham Park.
More than 100 small business owners, friends and local government officials came out to see awards presented across 10 categories including Best Renovation, Historic Business Awards and the Best Comeback Award.
"This turnout shows the commitment that the chamber and the businesses have to Madison," said Chamber President John Morris. "And it shows that businesses are joining and staying."
Notable award winners included Chef Loryn Dagon, owner of who was presented with the Comeback Award. Dagon's kitchen was destroyed by fire in March, 2010.
"I said to myself that there is no way a fire is going to prevent me from coming back," Dagon said.
Dagon said that over the seven months of rebuilding, she was honored at the outpouring of support from people in the Madison business community who lent her resources to carry on. One such neighbor was , which offered Loryn use of their kitchen. And friends, Dagon said, were instrumental in helping her raise funds for the renovated restaurant.
"It was wonderful to have the support of the community," Dagon said.
Other recipients included families and individuals who have given many years of service and commitment to Madison. The Historic Business Achievement Award for Longevity and Service was given to the Iossa family, owners of ; the Pappas family, owners of the , and the Cocuzza family.
The Awards Picnic also included recipients of this year’s Jack Morris Memorial Scholarship Award. Named after the late Jack Morris of Stewart-Morris Awards, the scholarship was designed for seniors with plans to continue higher education in the field of commerce or business. The application process includes personal achievement, an essay, a phone interview with a member of the chamber, letters of reference and academic performance.
All five students receive $600 in college assistance. All have elected to pursue a career in business.
The recipients were Mary Johnson, who will attend Elon College in North Carolina; Jessica Barretti, who will attend the University of Tampa; Rebecca Fastiggi, who will attend Rutgers University, New Brunswick; Taylor Michael, who will attend Arizona University and Teddy Bogdanski III, who will attend Lehigh University in the business/engineering honors program.
"I never thought I would receive this award so its an honor," Bogdanski said.
For Bogdanski, who works part time at in town, the award is a reflection of the all the recent work he has done with the Madison community.
Bogdanski recently became one of several Madisonians to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest honor in Boy Scouts. As part of the program, Scouts are required to complete an Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project, which is essentially a project that provides a lasting benefit to the community.
At the suggestion of Mayor Mary-Anna Holden, Bogdanski's project involved adding 3-D buildings on the Google Earth rendering of the downtown district.
"With 35 volunteers, we were at the high school computer lab for three weekends and three representatives from Google [came in] to train us in using the software," Bogdanski said. "We modeled about 60 buildings and uploaded them to Google Earth and now, anyone in the world with Internet access can view them."
Bogdanski said he selected the project because Mayor Holden was "talking up a storm about what a great planning tool it would be." The application allows prospective business owners to log in to Google Earth and walk around downtown Madison through buildings in a virtual environment.
"The mayor said that it saved the town $30,000 in consulting fees," Bogdanski said.