The Chamber of Commerce annual meeting and awards ceremony was held Jan. 24 and it was a special evening in so many ways.
The venue at Winslow on the Shire impressed attendees; the work that has gone into the renovation of the facility is staggering. There was plenty of room to mingle, mix and wander and, for some, to do a little business. Alley House Grille served its usual stunning fare, providing excellent service, and no one was in want with tasty shrimp, beef tenderloin, decadent desserts, and other foods in abundance. The evening was graced by the beautiful music of Rada Neal. We thank all the vendors who made this event a special evening.
One of the highlights of the evening was the announcement of the Pagosa Pride Awards and of the Volunteer and Citizen of the Year.
Volunteer of the Year
The Volunteer of the Year nominees — individuals or organizations — gave thousands of hours of service to this community. They contributed monetary gifts as well as generous volunteer efforts. They furthered the causes and passions of various non-profit organizations.
The 2008 candidates for Volunteer of the Year included Loaves and Fishes, Bob and Mary Hart, Kelly Fisher of Operation Helping Hand, the Archuleta County Citizen’s Financial Task Force, Terri House and Janis Moomaw.
For her tireless efforts and qualities, we were pleased to name Terri House Volunteer of the Year for 2008.
Terri is a very involved contributor to this community. Along with owning a major business in Pagosa — The Pagosa Springs SUN — Terri somehow finds the time to work with numerous organizations including Rotary Club, United Way, Western Heritage, Reach for the Peaks Balloon Rally and Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS).
Terri is passionate about her involvement. Whenever one of these organizations had an event, she was usually there working. She almost single-handedly coordinated the Reach for the Peaks balloon rally in 2006 and 2007 after having “helped out” for years. She is out the whole Fourth of July weekend taking pictures everywhere, especially at the Red Ryder Roundup. She worked at any number of Party ‘Round Pagosa United Way dinners. She was instrumental in organizing the BBBS Bowl for Kids Sake in Pagosa Springs and sits on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Colorado regional board. In working with other volunteers and staff, this year’s winner has increased “Big” matches in Archuleta County by 57 percent.
She provides the services of her paper whenever possible and heartedly promotes community organizations. In 1996, she and her sister, Shari, were awarded Citizen of the Year for their work coordinating Operation Helping Hand, which this year served more than 350 people at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Citizen of the Year
This year’s nominees for Citizen of the Year made it a difficult choice. The nominations included Kelly Fisher of Operation Helping Hand, Pagosa Outreach Connection, Mounted Rangers, Bob and Mary Hart, and Southwest Organization for Sustainability.
The Citizen of the Year is awarded based on specific criteria. The individual, couple or group must be a leader in the community, they must have lived here or have been an active organization for at least three years, they need to give of their time as well as qualify in at least one of the following categories: economic, philanthropic, cultural and lifestyle.
Due to their work in the community, their gifts of time and financial donations, and the economic impact of their businesses, Bob and Mary Hart were named 2008 Citizen of the Year.
Economic: Bob and Mary Hart are one of the larger employers in Archuleta County. They own several businesses in Pagosa that operate year round. Their diverse businesses offer job opportunities in Pagosa for residents at all skill levels — from manual laborers, to specialized contractors, to multi-faceted administrative workers.
Philanthropic and Cultural: The Harts serve on numerous organizations, including the Lodging Association, Builder’s Association and Archuleta Economic Development Association (AEDA), and they work as visitor center diplomats. Currently, Bob chairs the Town Tourism Committee, while Mary represents Pagosa on the Music in the Mountains (MITM) board and is chair for the Pagosa MITM benefit concert for 2009.
They frequently donate lodging accommodations to house a visiting speaker, family or dignitary for numerous organizations. They also donate giveaways to their facility to non-profit fund-raisers and auctions.
The Harts are often asked to donate equipment, material or manpower to assist with various community functions. They gladly contribute whenever possible to the numerous non-profit organizations, posting only a sign for their business, which prompts even more non-profits to seek them out and become recipients of their generosity.
Hart’s Construction and Hart’s Rocky Mountain Retreat have sponsored a Music in the Mountains concert for the past three years, adding to the couple’s philanthropic profile.
Several years ago, at their annual company party, the Harts started a pie auction. The proceeds were designed to go to the youth of this community. Attendees are asked to bring a toy for a child. Over the years, the pie auction has grown and has become so successful that it has provided many thousands of dollars to benefit Pagosa youth.
Pagosa Pride winners
The Pagosa Pride Award was created to recognize business owners and other entities who contribute to the community by enhancing the esthetic value of their businesses or holding, and thus improve the visual appeal of the community. By investing in themselves, they improve the look and feel of the town.
The Town of Pagosa Springs won first place for the redesign and reconstruction of the 400 block of Lewis Street. The project won, based on the design features as well as potential and vision for activities on the block. Just as the young trees planted will grow and mature, the vision of the street as a focal point for events and future business will mature as well. The Overlook Mineral Springs Spa was the second-place winner with the redesign of the entrance facade, as well as the creation of a rooftop soaking facility. Jeff and Addie Greer are the owners. Third place went to Winslow on the Shire for the redesign and expansion of the exterior of the building. The deck, with beautiful mountain views, offers a new outside venue for parties and weddings. Pagosa Vacation and Deborah Kerns manage the facility. Honorable mention went to Pagosa Brewing Company, Black Swan Antiques and Collectibles, and the Ruby Sisson Library.
While you may not agree with all the award winners or nominations, hopefully everyone will see the value of the time and commitment these people, groups and businesses donate to our community. Congratulations to all nominees and winners, and thank you to those who took the time to nominate some very worthy people and organizations in Pagosa Springs.
We have one new non-profit business to welcome aboard this week. GECKO, owned and managed by Morgan Murri, is more than the Mountain Chile Cha-Cha. GECKO’s goal is to give every child knowledge of the outdoors, providing scholarships and funding to get kids unplugged, off the couch, and outside. They sponsor awesome trail races and events that support their mission and fight “nature deficit disorder.” If you would like to assist with GECKO or find out more, give Morgan a call at (303) 475-6053.
Our renewals include the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park and Lobo Outfitters; Kim Hamilton with Custom Creations by the Decorating Lady; Directory Plus; Ensignal; Jeff Bouwer and The Flying Dutchman; the Art and Framing Center; Pagosa Fire Protection District; Archuleta Seniors/Silver Foxes Den; Square Top Theatre; the Wolf Creek Trailblazers Snowmobile Club; and Mountain Heights Baptist Church.
We have two associate members to welcome back this week: Lee Riley and John Smith.
We hope everyone who attended the annual meeting had a great time. In the next issues we’ll be talking about the new activities and projects the Chamber will be taking on in 2009.