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Nominations due for Citizen, Volunteer of the Year

Happy New Year, Pagosa!

The Chamber of Commerce has lots in store for the community this year, including business and tourism events and new programs and seminars to help your business. We are always excited to grow successful programs and find new ways with which we might help improve your business and give your Chamber membership more value.

One of the first orders of business is to host the Chamber Annual Meeting and Celebration on Jan. 22. This marks the 35th year the Chamber of Commerce has served Pagosa Springs.

Our theme for the annual meeting, therefore, will be an anniversary celebration. There are many activities planned for the night, including a sumptuous buffet dinner of aged prime rib, along with salads, vegetables, potatoes and scrumptious pies for dessert. Festivities will be held at the Pagosa Lodge, where there will be plenty of parking, room to move around and visit the different activities, and plenty of seating.

The evening will start off with a silent auction, social time and a cash bar, followed by the dinner. Awards will be given out near the end of dinner and desserts. After the awards, stick around and dance to the live music sounds of Groove Kitchen. This is an evening not to be missed.

In preparation for the annual meeting, several deadlines are fast approaching. The first is for submission of nominations for Citizen and Volunteer of the Year. Nominations are due Friday. There are many people in this community who work for the betterment of our lifestyles and they should be rewarded.

The Volunteer of the Year needs to have donated time and talent outside of the workplace to community events. Their efforts must also have produced a significant impact on the community.

The Citizen of the Year award is similar in scope — the contributions made to the community are voluntary with the donor expecting nothing in return for his or her time and talents. In addition, the nominee must have been a Pagosa resident for at least three years. They must also have made a specific contribution in at least one of the following categories: economic, lifestyle, philanthropic or cultural. Nominees in either category can be an individual, couple or group.

A new award this year is sponsored by the Southwest Organization for Sustainability (SOS) — the Green Business Leadership Award. This award will recognize businesses that have taken the lead in demonstrating environmentally responsible, healthy and profitable business practices. Businesses can self nominate or can be nominated by someone else. We are excited to add this new award to our ceremony, one with which we can recognize some of our businesses.

Another new aspect of the annual meeting is the silent auction. Businesses have been extremely responsive donating items or services. Already available for auction are several trips out of town, advertising opportunities, merchandise and services. There will also be a “bucket or brown bag raffle” with some fantastic chances to win services or merchandise.

Also new to the annual meeting will be the opportunity for business owners to offer discount coupons for any time period they determine — most likely during our slower spring months. Owners of member businesses can drop off 150 coupons to the Chamber by Wednesday, Jan. 19, advertising their discount. The coupon should specify what the incentive is, any restrictions and the time during which the coupon is valid. In this way, businesses will hopefully garner some extra revenue during the slower months and annual meeting attendees will get the benefit of a specialized coupon and savings later on in the year. This is a win-win situation for all businesses, not just restaurants and retail stores. It is also a great way for businesses that do not have store frontage to get their name out there. Except for printing cost, this opportunity is free to Chamber businesses and annual meeting goers can walk away with amazing savings. If you have questions about the silent auction or the coupon promotion, call the Chamber.

Buy a whole table or join with other businesses to reserve a themed table at the celebration. You are also welcome to decorate your own table; awards will be given out for the best decorated table. Imagine a competition between the Board of Realtors, Builder’s Association, Lodger’s Association, tourism committees, retail merchants and even the banks! Get your thinking caps on and let’s have some fun! There will be everything from the whimsical to the elegant and the tables will seat eight. Tickets are on sale now for the annual meeting and are still only $35 per person for a fantastic evening out on the town.

Chamber board nominees

The opportunity to vote for three of six candidates running for the Chamber Board of Directors will also come to a close at the annual meeting, Jan. 22. Every year, three board members leave the Chamber board to be replaced by three new members. This is a fantastic way to keep your board fresh with ideas and to keep a well-rounded slate of representation on the board.

This year the candidates include: Pam Barsanti with Prudential Triple S Realty; Jennifer Burck with Wind Wranglers Balloon Company; Mark Monaco with Liberty Theatre; Bob Moomaw — friend of the Chamber; Todd Stevens with the Alley House Grille and Farrago Market Cafe; and Aurora Wright with Mud Shaver Car Wash. These candidates represent small and large companies, home-based businesses, and various sectors of our business community. Please read the candidate bios. Copies were included in your last Chamber newsletter. We also have bios available at the Chamber.

Voting will continue until Jan. 22, where you have a last chance to vote at the annual meeting. There is only one vote per membership allowed.

All the candidates are qualified and each one will bring many talents to the board. If you have any questions regarding the board of director voting process, contact me at the Chamber.

Going off the board this year will be Vice-President, Brent Christians, Steve Kuhlman and Todd Starr, who ran for the board last year and filled a one-year position vacated by Brooke Kitchens. Come help us say goodbye to them at the annual meeting and thank them for their service.

Penguin Plunge

As temperatures drop well below zero, the river continues to freeze, making perfect conditions for the Pagosa Penguin Plunge to be held Sunday, Feb. 20.

Hearty souls will jump into the San Juan River to raise money for their favorite non-profit or community organization. Last year, 13 plungers braved 34 degree waters as they entered the river and actually floated over “the wave.” No dipping in of the toes or just lowering part of your body in. Plungers face a full body shock in the freezing waters.

Plungers can obtain sponsorship forms at the Chamber. The cost to plunge is $25 and a minimum of $50 must be raised. Sponsorship money and the registration form are to be turned into the Chamber by Friday, Feb.18 in order to qualify to plunge. Youth who are interested in plunging need to be 15 years old and have parental consent. There will be prizes for the best plunge costume and all plungers will receive WinterFest T-shirts, soaking passes and other fun swag.

This event will close out the WinterFest activities, which will also include the Anything Goes Downhill Sled Race to be held on the newly improved sledding hill on Reservoir Hill; the Snow Sculpting Contest to be held this year on the Visitor Center lawn; Soup for the Soul; the Rotary Follies for one night only; and multiple days of Nordic events. The Nordic Club will host cross country and skate ski races, relays, and fun competitions all weekend, including a paint gun biathlon. Stay tuned for more information on WinterFest, but get planning as February will be here before we know it!

Leading Edge class

The next session for the Leading Edge Entrepreneurial Class will begin Wednesday, Jan. 12, and continue until March 30.

This 12-week intensive course covers many aspects of running a business. The goal of the class is to produce a business plan for your business or “want-to-be” business.

Class is held every Wednesday, 6–9 p.m. at the Ross Aragon Community Center. The cost is $280, $50 if you only want to take a particular session, or $435 for the class plus college credit. This year there will be three scholarships available, donated by Region 9, the Small Business Development Center, and the Lindblad Group. There will also be a Leading Edge registration available at the annual Chamber meeting, either as a raffle or auction item.

Registration forms and applications for the scholarship are available at the Chamber or online at the SBDC website, If you are interested in applying for a scholarship, submit a one-page, written narrative describing your business background, why you need the scholarship, and how it will help you achieve your business goals. Submit the application and narrative to Lynn Asano at the SBDC. Questions regarding the Leading Edge class can be directed to Lynn at 247-7009.

Membership news

Congratulations to Wildflower Floral and Gift Shop for their ribbon cutting just held on Wednesday, Jan. 5. What a great job they have done renovating the building both inside and out. Stop by their store and see what is available for birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions and holidays.

We welcome the following Chamber renewals, kicking off our 2011 season: Ramon’s Mexican Restaurant and the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs and the Humane Society Thrift Store renewing. Congratulations to Mike Stoll who is the new executive director, replacing Robbie Schwartz. We thank Robbie for her years of service and commitment not only to this organization, but to the whole of the community. Her hard work and dedication are commendable and organizations should give her some time to decompress before requesting that she sits on their volunteer board.

Remember, we are also looking for digital photographs of events and the community for several projects we will announce later this month. For questions about the photography required, please contact the Chamber.