By Steve Jusseaume
Hampton Union, Friday, June 13, 2003
[Staff photo by Jackie Ricciardi]
NORTH HAMPTON - Joe Kutt can usually be found behind the meat counter, slashing away at slabs of beef, running to the refrigerator in the back room, hauling out another cut of meat, or answering questions from inquisitive customers.
But this week Kutt, who owns and operates Joe's Meat Shoppe in North Hampton, found himself the guest of honor at a breakfast at the Ashworth Hotel.
The Hampton Rotary Club awarded Kutt its "Citizen of the Year" Award Tuesday.
"We are delighted to be able to honor Joe Kutt for his many contributions to our Hampton and North Hampton communities. Joe has been an early and active voice for our veterans and has helped to make the Hampton/North Hampton area a better place to live," said John Adams, president of the Hampton Rotary Club in his introduction at the 7:30 a.m. breakfast.
The Citizen of the Year Award is given annually to that individual who lives or works in Hampton or North Hampton and who has "demonstrated excellence in his or her business, has contributed to the general benefit of the Hampton/North Hampton community and who best exemplifies Rotary's motto of "Service above self," said Rotary member Bob Casassa in announcing the award.
Kutt was joined at the ceremony by his wife Nancy, daughter Jennifer and her husband Chris LeClair, a Portsmouth firefighter.
Previous Citizens of the Year include Byron Kirby of North Hampton, Dr. John Kaminski and nurse Sandy Lupoli, both of the Free Clinic at Hampton Beach, and Hampton's cable TV advisory committee.
Recipients are chosen by a five-member panel, and cannot be members of the Rotary, Casassa noted.
The owner of Joe's Meat Shoppe on Atlantic Avenue in North Hampton for the past 20 years, Kutt is also the former commander of American Legion Post 35 in Hampton.
Kutt was also "instrumental in developing Knowles Field in North Hampton," Casassa said. The field is home to the North Hampton Youth Association and hosts school sports as well.
"Joe should be recognized for his efforts on behalf of the youth in North Hampton, and his volunteerism in the school, teaching young students about the American flag," Casassa said, noting that last month Kutt spent time in the school in conjunction with Memorial Day observances.
Casassa also commended Kutt's community involvement.
"Joe's Meat Shoppe is one of those places that defines community," Casassa said. "It offers a gathering spot for the community that is rare."
Part of the award included a $1,000 donation to a charity of Kutt's choice. He chose the Seacoast Visiting Nurses Association. During recent heart surgery, the Nurses Association gave "great comfort" to Kutt during his convalescence, according to Casassa.
"I was shocked when I heard the Rotary had invited me to their breakfast," Kutt said this week at his shop. "I was very surprised. It was a great honor to be chosen for such an award by your peers.
"I do it all for the good of the people," he continued. "But the recognition makes you feel good. All my customers have been coming in congratulating me. It's nice to be recognized."