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Harden is Rockland Rotary's Community Person of the Year

Jul 01, 2019
Outgoing Rockland Rotary President Fred Newcomb, left, listens to remarks by Community Person of the Year winner Brian Harden.

Rockland — The Rockland Rotary Club honored Brian Harden as its 2019 Community Person of the Year at its recent Change of Command ceremony Thursday evening, June 27.

At this ceremony and dinner, the position of club president was transferred from outgoing President Fred Newcomb to incoming President Eric Hebert. The Community Person of the Year is bestowed upon an individual who is not a Rotarian, yet has performed exemplary community service to his or her community. This year’s honoree has an extraordinary record of service to his community.

Harden is a true Rockland native, born at the Knox County General Hospital in Rockland, and has lived here nearly his entire life. Community service was instilled into him at an early age by his parents, Fred and Inez Harden, when they brought him (then age 5), and his brother, David, to serve hungry patrons at the Maine Lobster Festival. As a side note, Harden's father, as a member of the Rockland Area Junior Chamber of Commerce (the Jaycees), was a moving force that brought the Lobster Festival to Rockland after its debut in Camden.

His civic work began with his appointment to Rockland’s Charter Commission in 1974. In 1975, Harden was appointed to and chaired the city’s Bi-Centennial Commission, which planned city celebrations of America’s 200th birthday. He was appointed to the city’s Comprehensive Planning Committee, and he served as chairman for his entire tenure on the committee from 1993 to 2000. While on the Comprehensive Planning Committee, he was instrumental in crafting new commercial zoning in the early 1990s to promote business development at a time when Rockland’s economy was facing significant challenges. Under his leadership, the committee drafted updates to the city’s Comprehensive Plan. That plan, on which he had a major influence, was eventually adopted in 2002, and with only a few amendments since then, is still in effect today.

Harden's civic duties hit a high point when he ran for City Council in 2000. Because of his experience from his past civic and community work, he handily won a seat on the council, a seat he would win four consecutive times, for a 12-year stint on the council. He served as mayor for four of those 12 years. His record was progressive, voting time and again to promote commonsense ideas to improve city services, and to promote sensible development while protecting residential neighborhoods. His time on the council was marked by controversy, but through it all, he led with conviction, and with a deep-seated belief that Rockland is a great place to live and work.

Despite having leadership roles in many organizations, with the notable exception of his time on City Council, much of Harden's work has been done behind the scenes and away from the limelight. While others often received the accolades for many of the positive changes that have occurred in Rockland, many of those changes have his fingerprints all over them.

Rotary’s Motto is “Service Above Self,” and Harden epitomizes this ideal. In accepting this award, he shared this guiding philosophy about his service to the community as follows:

“You can accomplish great things if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Rotary members thanked Harden for his years of continuing service to our community.

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Comments (5)
Posted by: SUSAN THOMAS | Jul 02, 2019 11:01

Congratulations Brian, very well deserved for all you have done and continue to do for Rockland.

Posted by: Richard Harold Walton | Jul 02, 2019 08:24

Proud to know you, Brian!  You continue to  provide leadership in our church as well.  It is a rare person who can accomplish great lifetime achievements so quietly. Congratulations on a well-deserved honor to a respectful, humble and brilliant leader!  Dick and Pam



Posted by: Jane Karker | Jul 02, 2019 08:03

Congratulations Brian. A well-deserved award to a truly good person.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Jul 02, 2019 07:34

Congratulations cuz a well deserved honor for a lifetime of dedicated service.  Other achievements worthy of mention.  Brian's work on the "Shore village story"  a history of Rockland and the many years serving on Rockland's historical society.

Posted by: Gerald A Weinand | Jul 01, 2019 21:11

I've known Brian for years. Not only is he one of Rockland's strongest advocates, his institutional and historical knowledge is a treasure to the rest of us. Congratulations - very well deserved!

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