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Chamber hosts an award-winning evening

The Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce held its 36th annual meeting on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Pagosa Center for the Arts.

It was a magical evening, with numerous groups and individuals receiving community achievement awards. The annual meeting was festive and informative with wonderful silent auction items donated by generous businesses, plenty of room and time to dance to the music of Tim Sullivan, and lots of surprised people winning awards.

Citizen of the Year

This year, Pastor Don Ford and Barbara Hendricks, co-founders of the Pagosa Outreach Connection (POC), were awarded Citizen of the Year.

The third person in the founding membership was Rev. Annie Ryder with St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church. Joanne Irons, Citizen of the Year winner for 2010, was the mistress of ceremonies for this award and regaled the crowd with comparisons between winner Pagosa Outreach Connection and Citizen finalist Morgan Murri.

Pagosa Outreach Connection has assisted individuals and families with emergency needs in this community to the tune of over $385,000. This organization remains non-denominational and non-governmental and consists of approximately 14 groups representing various organizations including church, civic and governmental groups

Meeting the Citizen of the Year criteria by affecting our community in Philanthropic, Economic and Lifestyle categories, this group was recognized for efforts to work cross-culturally, cross-denominationally, and without governmental controls. This group is the heart of this community, utilizing the skills of numerous organizations to help meet the emergency needs of residents of Pagosa Springs.

Morgan was recognized for his efforts to bring tourism-related events to our community, his contribution in sitting on a number of community boards, including the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation and the Town Tourism Committee, and his generosity and involvement concerning the youth of Pagosa. Morgan has also been instrumental in attempting to bring a leg of the Colorado Pro-Cycling Race to Pagosa Springs.

Other nominees for Citizen of the Year included Kelly Johnson and her staff at the Pagosa Mountain Hospital, Parelli Natural Horsemanship and Carmen Hubbs for ACVAP.

Volunteer of the Year

Although not in town for the event, Nikki Alley, owner of Higher Grounds Coffee was the winner of this award. Janis Moomaw, winner of the 2010 Volunteer of the Year award, commended all the nominees and gave special kudos and encouragement to Nikki and the “younger” volunteers of our community.

Paraphrasing Moomaw, we say they are the future of our community as business owners and volunteers; this is their community also and we commend Nikki’s involvement. Some of Ms. Alley’s accomplishments are her involvement in the GECKO series events — taking care of all non-athletic aspects of five to six events, solely as a volunteer. Nikki also sits on the boards of the Friends of the San Juan River and Cruise-a-Thong. Nikki is involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters as a Big, offering her little sister many fun and supportive opportunities. The other finalists included Roy Melius, involved with the veterans of our community as well as youth, and James Dickhoff, being instrumental in developing the Nordic Club and all its activities.

Other Volunteer of the Year nominees included the Community United Methodist Church wreathmakers, Chimney Rock Interpretive Association, Kenny Daniels and Larry Fisher.

Green Business awards

This year, Southwest Organization for Sustainability gave out Green Business Leadership awards. Four companies received recognition.

For the Most Improved Business, Pagosa Brewing Co. won the award, as well as a gift basket from La Plata Electric Cooperative. If you visit www.pagosabrewing.com, they have a website detailing all their proactive ecological measures. Pagosa Brewing is focusing on how they can run their business with even better environmental practices and these ideas are listed on the website as well.

For the Small Business — under five employees — Step Outdoors and Stacy Boone was the winner. Not only conducting outdoor excursions, Boone teaches “leave no trace” on her trips, as well as providing tips for a sustainable environment and using earth-friendly and sustainable products.

The Mid-Size Business award went to Piedra Car Care, with Bill and Susan Schwab. Piedra Car Care recycles almost everything automotive from oil, tires and batteries to using recycled heating oil.

The Large Business award went to Growing Spaces and owners Udgar and Puja Parsons. Growing Spaces is known for its focus on the environment and sustainable growing practices through their product. However, they also practice what they preach in their daily work environment and even try to recycle older growing dome models to assist organizations and communities.

All the winners are model businesses in our community and would be happy to help you move your business to more “green” practices.

Chamber board

Congratulations go out to the three new Chamber members who were elected to the board. Joining the six existing members are Stacy Boone with Step Outdoors, Kimberley Siler-Bradshaw with Southwest Elegance, and Chris Smith with Visiting Angels.

These three will hit the ground running at a board retreat and at a strategic planning session in the upcoming months. We want to thank all the members who took the time to vote for the board nominees. Next year, the Chamber will offer an online voting system, making it even easier for our members to participate in the process. Please congratulate and support these three new board members as they start their three-year tenures.

Chamber survey

While the Chamber has received a good amount of responses to the survey, we would like to see even more input from our businesses. Therefore, we have extended the Chamber Membership Survey to Friday, Jan. 27.

It is critical we have more input from our members. The feedback will help the staff and board develop goals and plans to better assist our businesses and offer services that have the greatest impact. It is important for us to know what we are doing right and what we need to improve upon. We ask the members to take a few minutes to go online to the Chamber website and complete the survey. The survey is located on the home page on the lefthand side of the screen. Once you enter your user name and password, don’t forget to click the “GO” button, which is rather nondescript. If you have problems with your user name and password, give us a call so we can assist you.

We also want to thank those businesses that participated in the Chamber’s telephone poll regarding the upcoming Wal-Mart and potential tax abatements. We appreciate your participation, taking a few minutes of your time to answer our short three questions. Our goal is to conduct more of these short surveys to better give our officials our view of the business community. Most of the polls will be online and will take just a few minutes to complete. It is important the voice of the business community be heard, so please take a few minutes in the upcoming months to voice your opinion when we conduct a poll.

Positive About Pagosa

Don’t forget that the Positive About Pagosa Contest is still going on until Wednesday, Feb. 15. The contest is open to all youth who are active Pagosa Springs students and reside in our community. This includes students at online schools such as G.O.A.L. Academy, the Education Center or Southwest Colorado Community College. Students can also develop a team with up to four members. Participants can sketch, use computer graphics, Photoshop or any other graphics or combination to design a logo. The logo must include the phrase “Positive About Pagosa” in the design sketch or artwork.

The winner, or winning team, will receive $500 and will be announced at the March Community Development Corporation meeting.

For more information about the contest, contact the CDC at 731-1443.

Membership news

On behalf of the Chamber, we would like to thank all the new members who came to the annual meeting. I know there were many who braved the snowy conditions and came from other areas in the county and region such as Arboles and Durango. We hope all the new members made some good contacts and acquaintances and will be involved in our organization.

A new member joins us this week — the San Juan Shootists. This organization is about “Cowboy Fast Draw” and focuses on safety first, fun second and competition third. It’s about handshakes, camaraderie, a man’s word, morality and friendship, fair play and honest competition. They are committed to teaching and promoting firearm safety. They would like to promote a sport and events that are based on the spirit of the Old West. Look for them at the Archuleta County Fair and other events this summer. To find out how you can be a part of the San Juan Shootists, give Dave (Mongo) Miller a call at 731-9140 or e-mail him at sanjuanshootist@hotmail.com.

We have a high number of renewals to mention this week: Matt Yoksh and Pagosa Ski and Snowboard Rentals; Plaza Grille; High Country Lodge; Lori Simi with Safer Living; Black Swan Antiques; the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office; Bayfield Gardens; Directory Plus; AAA Colorado; and M3 Insurance Solutions. Closing out the renewals are Janis and Bob Moomaw and we appreciate their continued support.

Take time to congratulate all the award winners and nominees. Just because an individual or organization wasn’t a winner doesn’t mean they are not appreciated. Pagosa would be hard pressed to function if it wasn’t for the work of all of these dedicated people. Stay tuned to learn how you can get involved in an organization and find out more about the groups in our community.

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