Ficke, Cleveland and Mountain Garden Club to be honored at annual chamber meeting Oct. 30

CONWAY — Dick Ficke, George Cleveland and the Mountain Garden Club are this year's recipients of the White Mountain Treasures awards and will be honored at the annual meeting of the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 30 at the North Conway Grand Hotel.

The annual meeting starts at 4:30 p.m., followed by social hour and silent auction at 5; and dinner, keynote speaker and presentation of the White Mountain Treasures awards at 6.

Keynote speaker is Christopher Clement, commissioner of N.H. Department of Transportation.

The annual meeting is a "chance to gather with chamber members, elected officials and guests and review how the chamber has advanced the local business environment over the past year and impacted the community," states chamber publicist Marti Mayne in a press release. "An overview of chamber's programs and marketing initiatives for the year ahead will also be unveiled at this meeting."

A silent auction featuring donated items including trips, ski tickets, services, gift certificates and more will take place throughout the night.

North Conway Grand Hotel will host a complimentary open bar from 5 to 6 p.m.

The White Mountain Treasures award recognizes individuals in the Mount Washington Valley who have given a lifetime of "time and talent" to the valley and their communities. This year's recipients are Mountain Garden Club, George Cleveland and Richard (Dick) Ficke. They were nominated by community members and will be honored during the annual dinner.

There is no fee to attend the annual meeting. All those interested in attending the social hour and dinner must pre-register by Oct. 23. Cost of the dinner is $45 per person.

The 101st Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce annual meeting is hosted by the North Conway Grand Hotel. Platinum presenting sponsors include Memorial Hospital, WMWV/Magic104FM and Valley Originals. Supporting sponsors include Northeast Credit Union, TD Bank, UBS, KLEOSSUM advisors, Fairpoint Communications and Boston Globe Media.

To register for the annual meeting, or to donate a silent auction item call Matt Parker at (603) 356-5701.

White Mountain Treasures

The White Mountain Treasures award program was established as a way to "thank and honor individuals and organizations who, by their demonstrated commitment and example, exemplify that success is not measured by what they accomplish in life for themselves but by what they do for others."

The following is information about the White Mountain Treasures from nominations received.

• Mountain Garden Club

The White Mountain Treasures Award is given to the Mountain Garden Club for the club's dedication to promoting horticultural, education, civic beautification and conservation through volunteerism and friendship in the Mount Washington Valley. The club's civic improvement projects in roadside beautification and conservation add pleasing environments that are highly valuable for daily commuters and well as visitors to the Mount Washington Valley. "For a motorist who may have had a stressful day at work or traveling, nature goes a long way toward easing tension."

The Mountain GardenClub is now in its sixth year of assisting Mount Washington Valley Habitat for Humanity homeowners in the planting of trees along Robert Morrell Drive. The Mountain Garden Club also sponsors events such as flower sales for cancer awareness (Jen's Friends), scholarship funds for an eligible Mount Washington resident) and boutique/plant/flower shows at various times of the year to support MGC community projects.

The garden club works with local nursing homes in their "garden therapy." Club members are currently working with Merriman House at Memorial Hospital. The club also works with local schools on their horticulture programs. The club selects one school each year to plant a "Memory Tree" with the local students. The tree is dedicated to "all children for the perfect world." In addition, the club holds a Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl poster contest for elementary school children, with the goal of teaching them about conservation and preventing wildfires.

The Mountain Garden Club's Children Unlimited Rain Garden Project was a multi-year project that was started in September of 2009, designed in September of 2010, planted in June of 2011 and completed in August of 2012. It was designed to acts as an infiltration device for runoff materials that ordinarily flow into our lakes and streams and as an educational tool for child. The club was awarded the National Garden Club President's Project Award in May 2013 for the Children Unlimited Rain Garden Project.

• George Cleveland

George Cleveland, the grandson of President Grover Cleveland, has been a valued and lively presence in the Mount Washington Valley for many years, and one of its most visible and influential leaders. Serving originally as program director at WMWV Mount Washington Radio and Gramophone, he quickly became known as "The Voice of the Valley" and in that capacity conducted more than 3,500 interviews with newsmakers from all parts of the world. In this capacity he was the recipient of three Golden Mike Awards from the N.H. Association of Broadcasters. He remains a popular voice actor, auctioneer and speaker who frequently dons the apparel of his grandfather to present an entertaining living history program. 

Currently and for the last 12 years, as the executive director of the Gibson Center for Senior Services, he runs one of the most complex organizations in the valley. The Gibson Senior Center is also one of its most successful and important institutions in the valley, providing meals, transportation, and social and educational programs to seniors in the greater Mount Washington Valley area.

Cleveland is also a former board chair of the Evergreen Center for Wellness, vice president for the N.H. Coalition of Aging Services, and a board member of the Tamworth Foundation, the Kekumano Foundation, and the Friends of Recovery. Formerly, the board chair of The Barnstormers Theatre in Tamworth, one of the longest running professional summer theaters in the country, he is often its community "face," as well as a masterful fund-raiser known for his creative and irresistible solicitations. One of his more unusual fund-raising endeavors was posing wearing only a hat in the 2003 "Tamworth Men in Hats" calendar, which raised more than $75,000 for local charities. With a keen sense of history and place, he has also been guiding tours throughout the White Mountains for more than 20 years and currently is an interpreter with Raven Interpreter Programs. An avid collector of tales and legends and the self-appointed "Interpreter of the Bizarre in History and Local Surroundings," he writes frequently for local publications on people and places of interest. "Generous with his time, colorful and charismatic, naturally supportive and collaborative in spirit, he is indeed a true Valley Treasure."

• Richard (Dick) Ficke

Ficke is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel with over 20 years of worldwide service and has been a part of the Mount Washington Valley since the 1980s. He is the past president of Kiwanis Club of Mount Washington Valley and currently the district lieutenant governor.

Since 2005, Ficke has been the chair of Angels & Elves, a project of the Kiwanis Club of the Mount Washington Valley that provides gifts to more than 500 children in Carroll County who might not otherwise received presents. Kiwanis members coordinate a valley-wide network of generous individuals, organizations and businesses who contribute their time, money and resources.

Ficke serves as counselor and chapter chair for Mount Washington Valley SCORE, providing free and confidential business counseling to entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

He also serves on the board of directors for Arts in Motion Theater Company, a community theater education and production company that provides youth and adults of the greater Mount Washington Valley area with opportunities to learn basic performing arts skills while promoting the development of self-esteem, creativity and self-expression.