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What’s the best place to get seafood? Or subs? Where are the best festivals, fine dining, and financial institutions? These answers and more are found in the 2023 Stars of Salisbury, presented by the Salisbury Independent.
This comprehensive readers’ poll features hundreds of restaurants, parks, businesses and individuals who serve their customers and community each day. Readers voted all summer on everything from health and beauty to food and home services.
The Stars program is part of the newspaper’s mission to strengthen the community by publishing unbiased journalism and growing local business. “We are really excited that we are able to honor people and business. And one of the things we found is that readers are passionate about businesses in their community,” said Publisher Konrad LaPrade. He encourages people to read the magazine, check out the winners and perhaps find a new favorite spot.
The winners have now been made public, and the finalists gathered at Wicomico Youth & Civic Center to celebrate on Sept. 28.
The party featured great food, a signature cocktail and live music by the Joe Baione Jazz Trio. Sponsors include Chesapeake Utilities, Sandpiper Energy, Bath Planet of Delmarva/Coastal Bath Company, Kuhn’s Jewelers and TidalHealth.
A special highlight is the Stars of Salisbury Person of the Year award, meant to celebrate good deeds and service to the community. Jeffrey “Jeff” Merritt was named the 2023 Star for ongoing service as an entrepreneur, volunteer and now elected official.
“I love what I do. It’s cool to get out here and help people wherever we can,” Merritt told the audience. He and his wife, Diana, founded Operation We Care, which has donated tens of thousands of care packages to the U.S. troops worldwide, plus local first responders and healthcare professionals. “I don’t do what I do with the goal of being recognized for something. I do it because I was brought up to be a contributor to whatever community I live in,” Merritt said in an interview.
Finalist Jacob “Jake” Day is a familiar face in local government, as past mayor and current Maryland Secretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development.
“I have dedicated much of my life … trying to make equitable, just, loveable and sustainable communities in Salisbury and beyond,” said Day, a father, volunteer and member of the Maryland Army National Guard.
Finalist Dustin Thomas is an elementary school teacher who notices the children who truly need support, and he works to bring them joy.
“I’m trying to create an environment where children feel safe, feel loved …,” said Thomas, who has created and fundraised for afterschool activities that started as a way to help children feel a sense of peace or belonging.
For a full list of winners and finalists, plus Person of the Year interviews, look for the Stars of Salisbury 2023 publication, inserted in the Salisbury Independent on Tuesday, Oct. 3, and online at BaytoBayNews.com/Wicomico/SpecialSections. More event photos are also posted at BayToBayNews.com/Wicomico.