People & Business: Jan. 18

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PHA receives top award from Avesta Housing

Avesta Housing has awarded its 2016 Mike Yandell Award for extraordinary work in the field of affordable housing to the Portland Housing Authority. Avesta President & CEO Dana Totman presented the award along with Avesta Board members Tony Cipollone and Chomba Kaluba to PHA Executive Director Mark Adelson and Board Chairperson Shirley Peterson on Jan. 5.

Avesta selected PHA because it has been a key partner in the creation of Avesta’s Housing First (housing for persistently homeless individuals) developments – Logan Place, Florence House, and Huston Commons. PHA has also provided strategic financing to enable Avesta to develop and improve affordable properties in Portland. In presenting the award, Totman talked about the long history of collaboration between the two organizations. He pointed to a recent partnership to develop Bayside Anchor, a 45-unit affordable apartment building in East Bayside for individuals and families. In addition, Totman noted, “They have joined with us in many advocacy efforts, and we’re honored to have such a vibrant, capable, and supportive partner in our affordable housing efforts in the region.”

Since 2005, Avesta Housing has recognized an individual or organization for their service and dedication to the affordable housing industry. The award is named for the late Mike Yandell, a former Avesta Housing board chair and the former president of Gorham Savings Bank, who is remembered for his commitment to improving the community.


Maine’s oldest and largest retail hot tub company, Mainely Tubs, announced last month that it has converted to an employee stock ownership plan company.

Founded in 1978, Mainely Tubs was the first business in Maine to use “Mainely” in its trade name. Since then, there have been a number of firsts for the company. In 2004 it became the largest volume single store dealer in the entire HotSpring Spa network when it sold 888 new hot tubs, an award the company has  received 13 times. In 2006, Mainely Tubs was the first two-time winner of what owner Jim Van Fleet described as the Vince Lombardy trophy of the hot tub industry – the Locksin Thompson Award – and in 2015 it won the same award for the third time. HotSpring Spas, known as Watkins Wellness, is the largest manufacturer in the hot tub/portable spa industry. Forty current Mainely Tubs employees are now represented by a retirement trust under the guardianship of Portland-based Spinnaker Trust. Van Fleet, 68, longtime president, has been laying the groundwork for his succession for the last five years, and while he will remain the CEO for the foreseeable future, much of the responsibility for day-to-day operations of has already been handed to current staff, led by GM/COO Diana Locke.

Clark Insurance, which is now 100 percent employee owned, was founded in 1931. The ESOP retirement plan was established in 1992 as part of a business perpetuation plan started by former agency President Richard Clark  In the 25 years that Clark has had its ESOP in place, the agency has grown to become one of the largest independent insurance agencies in Northern New England with over 100 employees in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

The Clark Insurance ESOP, which previously owned 54 percent of the company, has purchased the remaining shares of the company from the current shareholders, including Gorham Savings Bank, who became an owner in Clark through the 2013 merger between Clark and Turner Barker Insurance.

Arts & Literature

Two local artists are among the five named by The Maine Arts Commission to its Teaching Artist roster. Brigitte Paulus, of Portland, specializes in dance and theater, while Kimberly Bentley, of South Portland, teaches visual arts. The roster includes Maine artists whose work reflects their expertise and commitment to learning opportunities for students and/or teachers  from pre-K up to grade 12. The Teaching Artists are available to conduct learning opportunities for students in schools, as well as for community organizations that offer arts education.

The Harlow Gallery announced 13 artist/farm partnerships for the Community Supporting Arts project taking place across Maine in 2017. The following local artists and/or farms were matched: Karen Merritt, of Portland, with Crystal Spring Farm in Brunswick; Anna O’Sullivan, of Portland, with TheFarmME in Saco; Tim Ouillette, of Portland, with Hancock Family Farm in Casco; Jessica Rhoades, of Thomaston ,with Whatley Farm in Topsham; and Rebecca May Verrill, of Portland, with Frith Farm in Scarborough. Participating artists will create art inspired by their farmer’s lives, work, and landscape. The resulting body of artwork will be exhibited at three venues in the fall 2017, at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, at Maine Farmland Trust’s gallery in Belfast and at Engine in Biddeford.

“The Boston Castrato,” by Colin W. Sargent, founding editor and publisher of Portland Monthly Magazine, has been selected as runner-up in the General Fiction category of the New England Book Festival. Sargent is a novelist and playwright originally from Maine. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he has an MFA from Stonecoast and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. He is a relative of John Singer Sargent, who strides through The Boston Castrato among a host of true-life characters.

Avesta Board members Tony Cipollone and Chomba Kaluba join Avesta Housing President/CEO Dana Totman to present Avesta’s Mike Yandell Award for extraordinary work in the field of affordable housing to Portland Housing Authority, represented by Board Chairwoman Shirley Peterson and Executive Director Mark Adelson.