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By Jan Santopietro
Special to The SUN
The Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce has announced its slate of 2014 board of directors nominees.
Eligible Chamber voters should take a moment to learn about each of the nominees. Voting begins Monday, Jan. 6, online or at the Chamber office. Please go online or stop in to vote for your top three candidates. Each membership account is allowed one ballot.
Following is a brief statement by each nominee.
Nicki Alley — Higher Grounds Coffee
My name is Nicki Alley and I am applying for the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce board member position. Nine years ago I saw great potential for business in Pagosa Springs. I have owned and operated Higher Grounds Coffee since that time and Pagosa Springs is my home.
I believe I possess the business knowledge and experience to understand the significance tourism plays in our town’s economy.
I am dedicated to the community and in 2011 was awarded Volunteer of the Year. I also sit on the GECKO and Friends of the Upper San Juan boards. Additionally my younger perspective of the community and what events, activities and opportunity attract people like me to our town is perhaps my biggest asset to the board, as well as my background in finance, marketing and business.
Owning and operating a thriving small business in our community through both strong and weak economic times has taught me many lessons about what it takes to not just survive here, but thrive here. I understand the challenges businesses face and I believe I have significant knowledge and skills to help existing businesses as well as guidance to offer in attracting new business.
My experience and success is an asset to the Chamber, its members and community as a whole. I look forward to sharing my skills and experiences with you and the membership.
Peggy Andrews — Mountain Mist Soaps LLC and independent real estate broker
I have lived full time in Pagosa Springs since 2002. Prior to that, my husband and I owned a cabin and came to Pagosa frequently for skiing, fishing, etc. I worked as an engineer in various capacities for 22 years before making a career change to real estate. I have owned my own computer business, and real estate brokerage. I am currently serving as the Treasurer of the Pagosa Area Association of REALTORS. I also helped create the Pagosa Springs REALTOR Community Outreach Initiative, which does fund-raising for local charities. I have been a volunteer at Pine Ridge nursing home and a driver for Loaves and Fishes meal delivery.
Additionally I have a home-based business, Mountain Mist Soaps, in which I hand-make and sell my all-natural soaps and other products. The Chamber is the backbone for business success in Pagosa Springs. In serving on the Chamber board, I feel that I can be a voice for the real estate industry and small business needs in our community.
Michael Beckel — Wilson, Rea, Beckel & Associates, CPAs, LLC
My name is Michael Beckel. I have lived in Pagosa Springs for about three and a half years. I am an owner/member of the public accounting firm Wilson, Rea, Beckel and Associates, CPAs, LLC. Prior to moving to Pagosa Springs, I was the Corporate Manager of Income Tax for CenturyLink for five years, and practiced in public accounting for 16 years prior to that in Louisiana and Texas.
I feel as though I have found home living in our community and would like the opportunity to serve our area as a chamber board member. As a local CPA, I have experience with many local clients whose businesses spread across various industry areas, business types, and sizes. I believe that experience provides insight as to the area’s economic health, and could be an asset to the board. Additionally, as a part owner of a local business, I appreciate the importance of involvement within our city and surrounding area.
I appreciate you considering me as a potential board member.
Jessica Bilazzo — Growing Spaces
I am Jessica Bilazzo and I am on the Leadership Team at Growing Spaces as the Resource Coordinator and have been with the company since 2008. Growing Spaces was recognized as one of the” Colorado Companies to Watch” in 2010. I am a team builder that nurtures relationships on all levels. I believe I am a natural, compassionate leader that understands how to work within a community of people to encourage their strengths and gather key resources to accomplish goals. I am all about taking action and being of service. Currently I sit on the board of the S.T.E.M. Internship Program (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) for southwest Colorado representing Pagosa Springs and was instrumental in bringing the first intern to Archuleta County. I have lived in Pagosa Springs since 1998 with my husband and now 12-year-old daughter, Camille. Summer is our favorite time of year and we spend a great deal of time outdoors camping and boating, but winter allows us to get out and enjoy Pagosa’s natural backyard on our snowmobiles.
I know the importance of small business in our community as my husband is a self-employed roofer. I feel my management, human resources, bookkeeping, finance, scheduling, and procurement background would be a valuable asset to the board. I hope I get the opportunity to work with the Chamber team and continue to move the organization and community forward.
Mary Hunt — Team Pagosa Realty Group
I am no stranger to the value of active membership in the Chamber of Commerce. Prior to 2007 I was involved with the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce near Seattle, chairing the Welcome Committee. I built a strong record of dedication to new business recruitment and utilization of members’ services.
I am a Cal State Northridge grad and brought more than 17 years experience to Team Pagosa Realty Group, gained from my work as a REALTOR in the Pacific Northwest markets of Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash.
I learned the ropes of premier real estate sales, new construction and land development with The Equity Group and Edwards Development in Lake Oswego, Ore. In Bellevue I became a top producer with John L. Scott Real Estate. My successful real estate business was exclusively by referral. My community contributions were focused in partnership with the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce.
When Ron Trujillo’s Durango Alpine Realty office that I managed closed in 2009, I earned my license in health insurance sales. In addition to real estate services, I provide sales and consulting with individuals and small business in health insurance with US Health Advisors.
I am a multi-business owner in Pagosa Springs and appreciate how important it is to thrive and live in the most beautiful place in the Rocky Mountains! My Colorado travels as a sales agent gave me a valued perception of just how special Pagosa Springs is!
Jeannie Sinkie — Mountain Landing Suites and RV Park
I am a Colorado native, born and raised in Denver. My passion for the Colorado mountains led me away from the city over 25 years ago. My husband and I moved to Pagosa Springs 11 years ago after spending 14 years in Crested Butte, Colo. During the years in Crested Butte I worked in retail and the ski management business. In addition, for eight years I was general manager of a base area restaurant and nightclub, which featured a live music and special events venue. During our last three years in Crested Butte, my husband and I owned and operated a property management company. I have spent the last ten years in Pagosa Springs as the general manager of Mountain Landing Suites and RV Park. Our success at Mountain Landing is due to our focus on exceeding visitor expectations, paying close attention to customer needs and providing consistent, quality service. This philosophy bolsters our reputation and is what helps us sustain a strong, long-term customer base.
My experience in the hospitality and service industries provides me with the insight to help the Pagosa Chamber continue to grow in the tourist industry and position Pagosa Springs as a premiere tourist destination in the competitive state of Colorado. As a member of the board, I will strive to work with other volunteers in a collaborative effort to meet our goals for the tourism industry in harmony with the needs of local citizens.
I have a passion for all the outdoor activities our area has to offer. I am a life-long skier, both downhill and cross country; and enjoy mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing and camping. My experience in mountain tourist towns will provide a positive and insightful addition to the Chamber Board of Directors.