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Celebrating 35 Years of Business and Community Service

What do Mardi Gras, Parrots, Cowboys, Grass Skirts and Black Ties all have in common? Simply a representation of a few of the themes that the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce has had over the past 35 years celebrating community events.

From annual meetings to ColorFest celebrations to Passport to Pagosa festivals, the Chamber has been providing events to draw tourists to our community and providing venues to highlight some of the our community’s achievements and residents.

The Chamber was incorporated in mid July of 1976, with the intent to promote the business environment and, at the same time, to market Pagosa Springs as a tourism destination. Many people wonder why it is the Bob Hand Visitor Center. It was this past director’s vision, community spirit and persistence that created and built this replica of a mineral bathhouse landmark in our community back in the 80s. The chamber has seen other directors such as Mamie Lynch and the iconic Sally Hameister at the helm over the years, always creating and growing the organization.

Back in 1988, the Stith Citizen of the Year award was created with Bob Black, original owner of Pagosa Glass, being the first recipient. The award has continued over the years with winners such as Lenore Bright, Father John Bowe, Don and Mary McKeehan and organizations such as the Beta Sigma Sorority, who maintained the star that we so love at Christmas time and keeping it lit for so many years. Now primarily Mike Alley takes care of this tradition and it is one of the reasons that this gift to the community earned him the Volunteer of the Year in 2009.

The Lee Sterling Volunteer of the Year award was started in 1996 with Mary Jo Coulehan being its first recipient. The shock of winning when so many others are so deserving still makes me realize that just to be nominated is such an honor. Other deserving recipients such as Lisa Scott, Joanne Irons, Barbara Rosner and Lee Sterling remind us that there are so many people that work extremely hard to make our community great and never expect anything in return.

Throughout the years, the Chamber has also sought to grow business opportunities. From the creation of Pagosa Perks, local spending dollars, to being the executor of the county lodging tax dollars to moving into the technology age with websites, data bases and social marketing, the Chamber continues to stay on top of business and changes.

Through two bad recessions and good years of business and real estate booms, the Chamber has been there because of the support of the businesses while supporting the business community. More than just a referral source, the Chamber provides educational and informational opportunities to businesses, community services and tremendous exposure. With new programs being rolled out this year offering more classes, community and business exposure and events, the Chamber of Commerce continues to try and offer membership value for your hard-earned dollars.

On Saturday, Jan. 22, the Chamber will host their annual meeting and celebration. The evening consists of a silent auction, delicious prime rib buffet dinner with extensive side dishes and dessert, a cash bar, door prizes, the awards ceremony and dancing to the live music of Groove Kitchen. Tickets are available at the chamber for $35 and tables of 8 may also be reserved. Businesses will also have coupons available for the attendees to take and use in the upcoming months bringing savings to the meeting goers and revenue to the participating businesses.

Don’t miss out on all the fun that will be happening on this evening. Be the first to know who the recipients of the Citizen and Volunteer of the Year awards are, as well as the new Green Business Leaders. For more information, contact the Chamber at 264-2360 or stop by to pick up your tickets.