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Board members elected, awards presented

Saturday, Jan. 23, was a festive evening at Winslow on the Shire, filled with sobering business news and plans for the future, as well as lots of giveaways and awards, then dancing to the lively sounds of Leadfoot Ruthie.

As always, Alley House Grille provided excellent food and service and no one went home hungry.

Here is a recap of the evening’s surprises.

We congratulate the three new Chamber Board members who were elected by the membership to serve three-year terms. The new board members are Paul Boyd, business banker with Wells Fargo Bank; Thaddeus Cano, manager of Ski & Bow Rack; and Madeline Lyons, owner of Wild Spirit Gallery.

We are excited to have these members join the board and look forward to some great new ideas and a dedicated team.

Volunteer of the Year

Every year it amazes me to see the new volunteers who surface in our community and who are nominated for this award. Just because some nominees don’t win this award does not diminish the contribution these groups and individuals have made to our community. The nominees for the 2009 Volunteer of the Year were the Mounted Rangers; Ernie Karger, overseeing the renovation of the Methodist Church; Jana Ranson and Kelly Fisher with Operation Helping Hand; Gloria Smith, the Red Hat Society, Red Cross, and Oktoberfest; the Community United Methodist Church wreath makers; and Janis Moomaw — Chamber president, Music in the Mountains local chair and vice-chair of the organization, Festival of Trees, Town Tourism representative, Habitat for Humanity board and Socorro Senior Living Board.

Most people who win Volunteer of the Year are in the forefront of the community and people’s minds. This year’s winner, while prominent in his job and known throughout the community for his work, is involved in numerous community organizations. Some of the organizations he is affiliated with are Archuleta County Incident Management Group, the Archuleta Economic Development Association, the joint utilities, the 2011 Air Show executive board, and the Safety Expo.

However, this person often flies under the radar with his volunteering activities. There aren’t many times he says “no” when asked to participate in an activity or to help out. He has been the coordinator of the annual Kid’s Fishing Derby for four years, a past member of the Pagosa Springs Rotary Club, a volunteer with the annual Women’s Shooting Sports for four years, a member and president of the Turkey Federation, and president of the LPEA annual golf tournament.

Every year just before Christmas this volunteer, unbeknownst to most people, takes it upon himself to make sure our star on Reservoir Hill and the cross on the east end of town are lit. He checks to make sure that each display is in working order, replaces all the lights, maintains and then pays the electric bill out of his own pocket just so Pagosa residents and visitors can enjoy these two beautiful fixtures. There are also numerous organizations that are the recipients of his time or financial gifts, including Seeds of Learning, ColorFest, Archuleta County Victim Assistance, Relay for Life and United Way.

It is a pleasure to award Mike Alley the 2009 Volunteer of the Year award. His service to this community has been exemplary.

Citizen of the Year

We had some fabulous candidates nominated for Citizen of the Year. We had several groups and individuals nominated this year, including the school bus drivers, the Mounted Rangers, Pagosa Outreach Connection, Michael Whiting, Gloria Smith and Mike Alley.

When choosing the Citizen of the Year, there are several criteria the candidate must satisfy. One is that the winner must have lived in Pagosa Springs for at least three years.

This year’s winner meets that criteria, as he has lived here twice and both times for more than three years — once from the ’30s to the ’40s. As a matter of fact, this gentleman was a night clerk at the Los Baños Hotel, which is now the Bear Creek, where he worked for room and board so he wouldn’t have to go all the way home and could get to school every day. This year’s winner then returned to make his home in Pagosa in 1983.

Then there are four areas in which the Citizen of the Year must have had influence in one. This year’s winner has performed in all four categories. Philanthropic: Our Citizen of the Year donated the organ for St. Patrick’s Church and also the land for the new Trinity Anglican Church, just recently completed. He was instrumental in fund-raising for the new Pagosa Mountain Hospital, and has served on numerous boards throughout the years including Citizens Bank, the Dr. Mary Fisher Clinic, and the Chamber of Commerce. Economic: Even though he retired from the corporate world, through his business he has brought tourists into town. Also, through his volunteer efforts, he has been able to streamline emergency services and, at one time, he was the station manager for the local radio station that was at risk of losing its FCC license. He assumed this position for several years, until new radio station owners were found. Had the FCC license been lost, it would have been near impossible to obtain another one!

Cultural: This year’s winner created a historic museum dedicated to his father’s art work. This museum is known internationally and is also on one of the heritage tours for the Southwest Colorado Travel Region. We have a rodeo named after the comic strip character as well as streets, goods and other events. The Museum has put Pagosa on the map for the lover of western memorabilia. As the curator of this museum, our Citizen of the Year has greatly affected the economic and cultural aspects of our community.

Lifestyle: How did we even exist without 911 and emergency services here in Pagosa — a rural area and land mass about the size of Rhode Island? Our volunteer used his extensive radio knowledge and experience to coordinate emergency services. An avid ham radio operator, he gathered some of his friends to create a network of emergency services and also created Search and Rescue. Being an operator was not his only job, though he has physically participated in many searches and rescues in Archuleta and neighboring counties. This year’s winner worked communications (and still does) for Incident Management even before it was assigned that name. In the early 1990s, our Citizen of the Year was instrumental in building the local dispatch center and was on the E911 board, where he helped secure funding for our enhanced 911 service. This citizen was also instrumental in bringing television cable capability to the Fairfield area and eventually, into the town of Pagosa Springs.

There is also a little known accomplishment that is very important: If you pull up the weather on your computer, in particular the National Weather Service or NOAA report, you can thank this year’s Citizen of the Year for his reports, for he walks out every day, measuring stick in one hand and pole in the other, to report snow accumulation to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

We congratulate and thank Fred C. Harman III for his accomplishments and award him the 2009 Citizen of the Year.

Another award given out Saturday was the Pagosa Pride Award, given to the business that has improved the esthetics of their establishment through renovation or cleanup. This year’s winner is Happy Camper Campground and RV Park for their extensive cleanup and renovation program. Honorable mention was given jointly to the Pagosa Springs Arts Council and Pagosa Mountain Hospital for the tree-carving project.

We thank everyone who attended the Chamber annual meeting and we look forward to a productive year for our organization and the community.

Membership news

We have three new members joining the Chamber this week.

The first one is an addition to the already popular pub and restaurant, Pagosa Pub Works. Frank and Robin Schiro are adding Pagosa Pub Works Brewery. This brewery system will be located at the pub, and they will be able to make small batches of brew for in-house consumption, as well as a special brew for your special event, complete with labeling. We’ll keep our fingers crossed in the hopes they will be up and running by their SunDowner, Feb. 24. If not, we’ll still have a great time at Pagosa Pub Works.

We have a Durango-based group also joining this week — RSA9C, or the Regional Service Area 9 Council. This group’s mission is to improve educational outcomes for students by connecting what happens in school to what happens in our workplace and communities. This is a regional council that includes Pagosa’s Mark DeVoti. The council consists of economic development groups, school systems (high schools, community colleges and boards of education), Region 9 and related industries. Projects this group supports are BETR (Business & Education Talent Readiness Project), Tuesday Tours and the STEM program. For more information on the group, go to their Web site, www.sjbocs.org/rsa site/home.htm.

Another new member this week is associate member Katy Deshler.

We welcome another batch of renewals to the Chamber this week, including Curb Appeal; Exit Realty Pagosa Advantage; United Way of Southwest Colorado; Durango Credit and Collection; and AAA Travel and Insurance in Durango.

Don’t forget to submit your applications to the county if you are interested in participating on the County Tourism Commission. Applications are due by Feb. 4. You can get more details online at www.archuletacounty.org.

Thanks again to everyone for their support, membership renewals, and attendance at the annual meeting. We are looking forward to a brighter year.