ST. ALBANS CITY — The Franklin County Industrial Development Corp (FCIDC) paid tribute to local businesses and the people who define them at the FCIDC’s annual reception Thursday evening, a two-hour gathering at City Hall.

Mark Lareau, the chair of FCIDC’s Board of Directors, began the ceremony with an impassioned tribute to the organization’s executive director, Tim Smith. Smith could not attend the reception due to a recent surgery.

“Generally, because he’s the speaker at these kind of events, you never get to hear about Tim,” Lareau said.

He noted that the much-anticipated expansion of Ben & Jerry’s in St. Albans has come under Smith’s leadership, as well as projects like the expansion of the Swanton industrial park housing one of the area’s largest employers, Vermont Precision Tools. He said a 1 a.m. email from Smith even while he’s away is not uncommon.

“It’s part of his life,” Lareau said. “He’s breathing and living this Franklin County industrial development… suffice it to say, FCIDC would not be what it is today without Tim’s best efforts.”

Lareau also honored former FCIDC director Bill Cioffi, who passed away in September and received a round of applause in his memory at yesterday’s ceremony.

“I know that he’s looking down and watching us with great expectations,” Lareau said. He noted Cioffi was “greatly optimistic” about the shared future of FCIDC and Franklin County.

STEM Challenge Initiative (SCI) board member Lise McDonald announced forthcoming grant opportunities from the science-technology education organization. Jan. 24 is the application deadline for SCI’s next round of grant opportunities, ranging from $700 to $1,000. McDonald directed those interested in applying to

For communities to thrive they need a population that’s trained and excited about science and technology, she said.

FCIDC board member Kathy Lavoie presented the FCIDC’s Business Award to Phil Condon and his daughter, Coleen, who will assume management of the Franklin County Rehab Center in Fairfax now that Condon is retiring.

Lavoie celebrated the Condons’ 40 years in health care. Condon purchased the Holiday House Nursing Home in St. Albans in 1982 with his late wife, Tressa, a registered nurse. Coleen formally joined the business in 1998, when the family decided to create the Franklin County Rehab Center, which finally opened in 2004.

“The Condons recognized early on the challenges and changes in health care,” and the need for additional health centers in Franklin County, Lavoie said.

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