Two Cent Bridge Kotlas - Waterville Area
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Waterville, ME 04903-1747
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Philip Gonyar Chosen as Volunteer of the Year

Carl Daiker and Phil Gonyar

Carl Daiker and Phil Gonyar (right) listen as Master of Ceremonies Eric Rolfson (not shown) reads Gonyar's award citation.

The Kotlas Connection honored Philip Gonyar as its volunteer of the year in a public ceremony at the Waterville Opera House. The ceremony was held November 5, 2005.

Gonyar has been involved with the Waterville-Kotlas sister city exchange since 1990 when he was asked by Waterville Mayor Judy Kany to chair an ad hoc committee preparing the arrival of the first official delegation from Kotlas that June. During that visit, Judy Kany's successor, David Bernier, and Kotlas Mayor Victor Zverev signed a proclamation formalizing our sister city ties, and Zverev invited Bernier to lead a reciprocal delegation to Kotlas. Gonyar was a member of that delegation, which traveled in June 1991.

Since then he has visited Kotlas four more times, including this past summer as a part of this year's official delegation lead by Mayor Paul LePage. These visits have led to many lasting friendships.

Gonyar is a past co-chairman of the Kotlas Connection and continues to serve on its executive committee. He has been involved in most of its activities including the Russian Sampler and the Voices of the Kennebec Festival.

Retired since 1991, Gonyar taught history for 33 years, including thirteen years (1978-1991) at Waterville High School. He previously taught at Bangor and Bucksport High Schools. Among his former students is Maine's current governor, John Baldacci. A native of Orono, Gonyar has degrees from the University of Maine. He moved to Waterville in 1978.

Besides the Kotlas Connection, Gonyar is active in various educational, historical, and civic organizations. He has served as president of both the Maine Education Association and the Maine Retired Teachers Association. He is currently president of the Kennebec Retired Teachers Association, and for seven years, was a member of the Waterville Board of Education. He is also a past president of the Joshua L. Chamberlain Civil War Round Table and a former member of the boards of directors of the Fort Western Museum in Augusta and the Mid-Maine Global Forum in Waterville.

On learning of Gonyar's honor, Timothy Dial, a fellow former history teacher at Waterville High School and member of that 1991 delegation, wrote, "Phil is the perfect diplomat. If he were in charge of foreign policy, we would be at peace. He truly deserves this honor."

The Kotlas Connection was one of twelve area nonprofit organizations honoring volunteers at this year's REM Community Awards Ceremony. This annual ceremony allows nonprofit organizations that have partnered with REM to recognize publicly individuals from within their ranks for outstanding service. REM is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Central Maine.