Best local band: Part Time Blues Band

Since forming in 1990, the Part Time Blues Band has become a sensation performing at nightclubs, weddings and as special guests at many local events throughout the Carolinas. They’ve opened for the Neville Brothers and played with Santana, Dixie Dregs, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter and John Hammond Jr. The band consists of Rusty Barkley and Mike Federal on guitar, Bob Dunlap on drums, Dennis “Big Swingin” Johnson on bass guitar, Jimmy “Uncle Grubb” Thornburg on keyboard. You can see Mike and Rusty covering B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix or hear their originals Tuesday nights at The Sports Page in Mooresville and Wednesday nights in The Sports Page in Denver. – John Papadopoulos


Best Veterinarian: North Mecklenburg Animal Hospital

North Mecklenburg Animal Hospital offers a wide variety of services including routine complete physical exams, veterinary dentistry, and nutritional and behavioral counseling. Open seven days a week and 365 days a year, the hospital is always prepared for clients in any condition. The staff abides by the hospital’s philosophy, “We love the people we serve as much as we love their pets.” The Cornelius clinic acquires its able-bodied crew by investing in education and the newest medical and surgical equipment. State-of-the-art surgery, radiology, even boarding and grooming services are available at the North Mecklenburg Animal Hospital. – Bailey Huebner


Best local official: Jill Swain

What makes Jill Swain the Lake Norman region’s best public official? Probably the way she connects with voters. She has served four terms as a town commissioner and four terms as mayor. She was even encouraged to seek a seat in the N.C. House of Representatives. “I believe there’s a difference between public service and politics,” she told The Herald during the last campaign. “Public service means giving back, not having higher aspirations for greater public office or having greater power or making more money. I believe public service is what I was intended to do.” – Justin Vick


Best contractor: Denver Construction Company

With more than 30 years of construction experience, Kenneth Tucker leads the company with licenses in nine states, taking on renovations, expansions, general contracting, emergency maintenance and turnkey projects, or buildings constructed and sold to any buyer as a finished product. DCC has built medical centers, dentist offices, churches, high schools, fire departments, town halls, banks, warehouses, retail centers and residential homes. The company focuses not only on building structures, but also on building confidence, as employees believe that earning trust is important in keeping “customers for life.” – John Papadopoulos


Best real estate agent: John Mikesh (Roost Real Estate) 

You may know him as the owner of Roost Real Estate at Langtree at the Lake, John Mikesh of Mooresville provides high-quality boutique real estate brokerage services in and around Lake Norman. Originally from upstate New York, he uses his background in construction, architecture and interior design to assist potential homebuyers even further in picking the right home. His passion, negotiation skills and customer focus have earned him a perfect score on of five stars given to him by 50 of his clients. His firm’s customer-oriented focus is to enhance the client experience by being creative and excellent at everything they do. – John Papadopoulos


Best insurance agency: State Farm Insurance

With more than 15 State Farm agents in the Lake Norman area, State Farm is a leading insurance provider for home and car owners. After 90 years of operation, State Farm insures more cars and homes than any other agency in the country. They use hybrid cars and paperless billing, give grants to charitable nonprofits that focus on education and safety, and promote home and recreation safety by partnering with organizations that support the installation of fire sprinklers in homes and advocate improved construction practices to make homes less prone to damage from natural disasters. – John Papadopoulos


Best Photographer: Deborah Young Studio

The Deborah Young Studio in Cornelius has built an incredible portfolio over the 23 years it has served the Lake Norman region. You can find samples of the Denver resident’s work on Facebook and at, where she has posted photos of families, children, horses, commercial jobs, beach portraits and sailing on Lake Norman. In 2013, she received the Women in Business award. She’s also been recognized as a nominee for the Lake Norman Diversity Award. You can find some of her scenic art displayed at Aquesta Bank’s new downtown Cornelius branch. – Justin Vick


Best Chiropractor: Lakeside Sports Chiropractic Center

Dr. Jen Lidstrom at Lakeside Sports Chiropractic Center in Cornelius offers services in chiropractic care, massage therapy, acupuncture, diet and nutrition counseling, rehab, motor sports rehab, and digital X-rays. After 12 years of practice, Lidstrom is known for her friendliness, care and compassion, as well as for her work with muscles and bones. The website offers first-time customers a preview of what to expect on the first visit as well as paperwork. The company posts health and wellness tips on its Facebook page. – Jasmine Madjlessi


Best Dentist: Welborne, White & O’Leary           

Winning Best Dentist may not come as a surprise to patients of Welborne, White & O'Leary, a dentistry based in Cornelius. The company posts reviews from more than 2,250 patients on its website. Of those, 98 percent of patients would refer their friends and family to the practice. The company specializes general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry, as well as endodontics, crowns, porcelain veneers, teeth whitening, dental implants and tooth extraction. Neil Welborne, Martin White and Thomas O'Leary are each award-winning dentists. – Jasmine Madjlessi


Best Orthodontist: Hill Orthodontics

Dr. Brett J. Hill is known to be extremely experienced. He received degrees in chemistry, dental surgery, and orthodontics at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he graduated first in his dental class and achieved the highest score on the American Board of Orthodontics written examination in 1994. Aside from book smarts, he has people skills. His goal at Hill Orthodontics is to provide quality patient care in a fun and enjoyable environment. His team is known for their skill, teamwork and ability to make patients feel more like family, rather than patients. – Jasmine Madjlessi