SACO - Bob Hamblen, Saco’s city planner and president of the Eastern Trail Alliance, recently received the Community Celebrity Award from Cabot Creamery, which has honored 40 people across the country with this special recognition.
As part of the award, Hamblen received a seven-day Alaskan cruise, which leaves from Seattle in early September. The other community celebrities will also be on board for what Hamblen referred to as an opportunity to “mix and mingle and swap ideas.”
He’s “pleased as punch” with the award, as well as “absolutely flattered and honored.”
Hamblen received a certificate of recognition on Saturday, July 7, in Portland as part of the Cabot Community Tour, which consisted of three bicyclists riding the entire East Coast Greenway trail from Florida to Maine.
Hamblen, and several others from the Eastern Trail Alliance, caught up with the through riders as they passed through Saco and escorted them up to Portland’s Payson Park for the end of their long journey.
Tony Barrett, a former trustee of the East Coast Greenway, who lives and works locally, nominated Hamblen for the Community Celebrity Award, and referred to him as “truly the hidden hero of the Eastern Trail Alliance.”
Barrett said it was 14 years ago when the Eastern Trail Alliance held its first public meeting, which was focused on the their “modest proposal for a Saco to Scarborough trail.”
Today, Barrett said, the Eastern Trail in Maine is a well-traversed, 65-mile section of the East Coast Greenway.
In the nomination form, he called the section of the Eastern Trail between Saco and Scarborough “a showcase for the state of Maine – both in terms of the actual trail on the ground, but more importantly by the steadfast advocacy and community outreach of its dedicated volunteers.”
Barrett said that while John Andrews is “the recognized face of the Eastern Trail . . . Bob is the detail person and sage of common sense and considered thought.”
“(Hamblen) navigates the complexities of municipal government, contractor bidding, permits and construction oversight with aplomb,” he added. “With a full-time job, some of which he could devote to the trail, (Hamblen) spent countless volunteer hours working on the promotion and construction of the trail.”
In addition to the Eastern Trail, Hamblen also serves on the board of trustees for Gorham Trails, is an honorary trustee of Saco Bay Trails and has volunteered with Maine Handicapped Skiing, as well.
Barrett said Hamblen was the only trails volunteer selected by Cabot Creamery for the Community Celebrity honor, which he said is “a testament to the community benefits of the Eastern Trail and the East Coast Greenway.”
Hamblen first became aware that he’d been nominated for the Community Celebrity award when he received a phone call last week from the creamery.
In an email from Cabot, Hamblen was told he was chosen “based on the exemplary contribution that you have made in your community.”
According to Cabot, the general criteria for being nominated and chosen for the celebrity award consists of “demonstrating a commitment to the community through volunteer service with an organized nonprofit.”
“Examples of a community celebrity might be those who volunteer for a food bank, a children’s charity, help out at a homeless shelter, read to kids in school, or deliver meals to the elderly and has done so for a long time without recognition,” the creamery said.
In addition, winning the award also depends on the number of years of service and the beneficial impact of the volunteer service to the community.