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Will’s Shop ‘n Save owners honored as Valley Grange Citizens of the Year

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GUILFORD — Husband and wife business owners who have given back in numerous ways since coming to the area a half dozen years ago have been honored by the Valley Grange with the 2017 Community Citizens of the Year honor. Will and Melissa Wedge, owners of Will’s Shop ‘n Save in Dover-Foxcroft, received the recognition on the evening of May 19 at the Grange Hall.

Valley Grange Lecturer Walter Boomsma said he had not met Will and Melissa Wedge before that evening, but he did know of them by reputation.

One particular project that “blew me away was the food shelf they just started.”

He explained that earlier in the year, an elementary school student and her younger sister had an idea for a shelf of non-perishable food items — purchased and placed by customers — that those in need stopping by Will’s Shop ‘n Save could take from with no questions asked. After the youngsters met with Will Wedge, the store owner worked to make the concept a reality.

“I think it’s so cool we reinforce altruistic behavior in kids,” Boomsma said.

The Wedges also were presented with a Legislative sentiment from Sen. Paul Davis of Sangerville and Reps. Norm Higgins of Dover-Foxcroft and Paul Stearns of Guilford, which also was sponsored by lawmakers representing the Wedges’ hometown of Glenburn — Rep. Stacey Guerin of Glenburn and Sen. Andre Cushing of Hampden, all Republicans.

Higgins, who also is a trustee at Foxcroft Academy, said, “The one thing we know about this couple is any time the kids at Foxcroft Academy need someone to support them, this couple supports them. Some people step forward some of the time, these people step forward all of the time.”

Brian Woodworth said he serves on a number of committees with Will Wedge and “we were really blessed when Will and Melissa came into the community.

“In reality Will has a great knack for prodding the other businesses in the community to come together,” Woodworth said.

He also referenced Will Wedge’s involvement in a backpack program at the SeDoMoCha School in Dover-Foxcroft that provides students in need with food for weekends and school vacation.

“Will is always there to make that program work,” Woodworth said.

“I just want to thank you guys for everything you do to make this a better place to live,” he said.

Later in the program, Woodworth said he once was dealing with a gluten issue and he talked with Wedge about an item that he would be able to eat.

“The next day it was on the shelf in Will’s store, and he would do that for anyone for sure,” Woodworth said.

Wedge was appreciative of the award.

“On behalf of Melissa and I, thank you for this honor. It means a lot to us and the community means a lot to us,” Wedge said.

“We are doing what we are passionate about and we are passionate about giving back to the community,” he said.

Wedge provided some background on his family, saying his wife is a licensed clinical social worker and oversees 150 clinicians across the state. The couple, who will be celebrating their 30th anniversary in several weeks, have two daughters.

Wedge said his daughter Emily has her doctorate of physical therapy and she is expecting the Wedges’ first grandchild in September. Wedge said his younger daughter Abby is a Hannaford Supermarket manager in New Hampshire.

The Will’s Shop ‘n Save namesake said when he worked for Hannaford he was in charge of dairy and the related bi-products, which ties into the Grange. “My roots go back to this also and what this organization was built on,” Wedge said.

“When I bought the store, there were 30 core associates, 15 are still there,” he said.Other employees have left to better themselves with the help of college scholarships offered to students who work at his store, he said. Four more are to be presented in early June.

“My whole goal is when you come into my store, you are going to feel good about coming into my store,” Wedge said.

“My job is to take care of my customers in a greater way,” which is why he added that he often can be found out in the community

Wedge was asked about what brought the family to Dover-Foxcroft. He said that in January of 2011 previous store owner Dana Edwards — who Wedge had met two decades earlier — called him up out of the blue and said, “Dover-Foxcroft deserves you.”

Edwards told Wedge that with several stores in eastern Maine, he was only in Dover-Foxcroft several times a month and he only knew a small percentage of the associates’ names.

“We came up here and all Dana said was, ‘Dover-Foxcroft needs somebody like you,’” Wedge recalled.

Several months later the ownership changed hands, and the Wedges have been in town ever since.

Previous recipients of the Valley Grange Community Citizen of the Year this decade were: 2010, the Guilford Primary School; 2011, Dodie Curtis; 2012, Brian Woodworth; 2013, the Piscataquis Observer and WABI-TV; 2014, Julie Orton; 2015, Matt Hackett; and 2016, Sherry French.

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Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
COMMUNITY CITIZENS OF THE YEAR — Will and Melissa Wedge, owners of Will’s Shop ‘n Save of Dover-Foxcroft, were presented with the Valley Grange’s 2017 Community Citizens of the Year honor at the Grange Hall in Guilford on May 19. Since taking over the store in 2011, the two have given back to the community in many ways over the last half dozen years.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
LEGISLATIVE SENTIMENT — Rep. Paul Stearns, R-Guilford, reads a Legislative sentiment for 2017 Valley Grange Community Citizens of the Year Will and Melissa Wedge during a presentation at the Grange Hall in Guilford on May 19. From left are Stearns, the Wedges, Sen. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, Grange Master Jim Annis (sitting) and Rep. Norm Higgins, R-Dover-Foxcroft.

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