Lake City Volunteers Praised as “Champions of the Community”

Lake City’s best of the best were warmly applauded last Tuesday evening, April 17, during DIRT, Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce and Lake City Arts’ annual Celebrate Lake City volunteer celebration.
Repeated applause and standing ovations greeted announcement of an unprecedented three lifetime achievement awards which went to Terry Hall from Lake City Continental Divide Snowmobile Club, DIRT’s Ruthanna Hall, the late Brenda Wagner from Lake City Library, and Nancy Zeller who received a lifetime achievement award from Pioneer Jubilee Women’s Club.
Terry Hall’s lifetime achievement award recalled his enthusiastic commitment — including generous financial donations for snow grooming equipment and attachments — dating back to the snowmobile club’s inception in 1979.
“Terry has guided tours, guided friends and given his time selflessly as an ambassador to anyone who has shown an interest in seeing what the trail system and a high country winter is like.”
Hall is now a resident of Gunnison Health Care Center in Gunnison and was present from his wheelchair to accept the award. Among those standing for his ovation were his niece and her husband, Danielle and Jeff Worthen, snowmobile club president Tom Carl, and long-time friends Robert and Karen Hurd.
DIRT’s lifetime achievement award went to Ruthanna Hall and was accepted by her niece, Danielle Hall. Hall’s association with the immensely popular Uncorked Wine & Music Festival dates back to the festival’s inception 18 years ago. Crediting the wine & music festival as “part event and part family reunion,” DIRT credited Hall for “creating and implementing the vision of the Festival, continuing to share her ideas, support and critical thinking skills with the DIRT board and all efforts with which she is involved.”
In a nomination letter from Pioneer Jubilee Women’s Club President Peggy Berg, Nancy Zeller was hailed not only for her decades-long work with the women’s club but also recited Zeller’s commitment to Lake City Area Medical Center dating back to 1983 when the medical clinic was located in 750-square feet in what is now Silver Street Fine Arts Gallery.
Recalling the initial medical center, Berg stated that when Nancy would lean against a wall in the miniscule clinic, “the wall moved… obviously the situation was not ideal.”
Zeller’s ongoing work with Pioneer Jubilee Women’s Club, including a past term as president, includes hot dog sales on July 4, garage sale, cooking for various events, selling cookies and many other club activities.
“Not all communities have the good fortune to have caring, energetic, dedicated, capable residents who are willing to unselfishly give their talents and time to make their chosen home a better place. Lake City has been blessed to have Nancy Zeller… her love and influence continue to live on today and into the future, and to touch the lives of many.”
A posthumous award accepted by Scott Creel went to the late Brenda Louise Wagner for her dedication as a board member of both the Wagner Public Library and later member of the Friends of the Library organization.
Wagner served on the library board for a remarkable 17-year stretch beginning in January, 1997 and continuing through June, 2014.
In presenting the award, Virden read a selection from Shel Silverstein’s ‘A Light in the Attic,’ “There are no happy endings. Endings are the saddest part, So just give me a happy middle, And a very happy start.”
Another posthumous award was accepted by Leslie Nichols on behalf of her late husband, Hinsdale County Building Officer Jack Nichols.
In presenting the award which was made by Hinsdale County, Nichols’ “passion” and “behind-the-scenes work” were noted benefiting recreation and historic preservation in the county. He was particularly noted for his work on the Ute-Ulay Mine complex, county boat dock facilities, Wupperman Campground, and courthouse renovation.
In addition to the four well-deserved lifetime awards, longevity service awards by Hinsdale County Sheriff’s Office for three-decade-plus dedication went to Keith Chambers for his long-standing commitment to Hinsdale Search & Rescue dating back 33 years, and to veteran sheriff’s office dispatcher Bobbi Vickers McDonald whose remarkable law enforcement career as sheriff’s assistant dates back over 35 years through the tenures of six Hinsdale County sheriffs.
McDonald, according to Sheriff Bruce, “is the glue that keeps the sheriff’s office together.”
Chambers’ award, which was accepted by his wife, Nancy, cited the fact Hinsdale County Search & Rescue “has come very, very far” during his tenure with the volunteer organization.
“With Keith at the helm and with the help of some very capable deputy directors, Hinsdale County Search & Rescue is a professional organization that stands out as excellent in rural Colorado.”
Well-deserved pats on the back went to a variety of community volunteers for their perseverance to community goals, these including Joe Hearn of Utah’s Sanit-ation from Friends of the Bears for his “countless hours volunt-eering delivering bear-proof trash carts and signing up new users.”
Hinsdale County Commissioner Susan Thompson was called back to the podium by emcee Phil Virden to receive an Investing in History award from Hinsdale County Historical Society and DIRT reflecting Hinsdale County’s multi-year commitment
adding a new foundation and renovating historic Hinsdale County Courthouse.
Commis-sioner Thompson had earlier opened the annual gala, noting the “passion” of so many volunteers who make up the Lake City community.
Hinsdale County awarded Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety Project Manager Tara Tafi for her ongoing involvement in the Ute- Ulay Mine project, specifically thanking Tafi for her agency’s assistance in portions of the original mine waste capping, closure of abandoned adits and mine shafts for increased safety, hosting a HistoriCorps crew, and stabilization of the mine complex’s rare timber headframe.
Patty Crotwell and Peter Nesbitt of High Country Market were repeatedly honored with multiple awards, the first being an appreciation award from Lake City Community School, Booster Club, and Parent Teacher Student Assoc. based on their participation in the inaugural first federally-funded National School Lunch Program.
Crotwell & Nesbitt, according to Virden in his prepared remarks, daily serve up “incredible, healthy meals that have been described by Colorado Dept. of Education as the best in the state.”
Toward the end of the awards’ evening, Crotwell and Nesbitt returned yet again to the awards podium after receiving Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce’s coveted Business of the Year.
Community Schools’ Volunteer of the Year award went to Carol Murphy who variously serves as account-ability committee chair, school
improvement committee parent member, driver for cross-country, basketball, track and Knowledge Bowl events, Crested Butte ski days chaperone, driver and organizer, and chairperson of PTSA.
Other school volunteers receiving applause were dependable middle school basketball coach, school trip chaperone, and hot lunch server Amanda Hartman; Amy Hartman, described as a “stellar hot lunch server”; and Toni Painter who was extensively on the road as a driver to out-of-town middle school events, and served as assistant for the middle school Knowledge Bowl team.
In addition to handing out awards on behalf of the school, Hinsdale School District’s Leslie Nichols was also on hand to receive several awards, among them children’s colorful artwork and award from WeeCare in Lake City for her “extraordinary service, passion, unconditional commitment and dedication to WeeCare and early childhood education.
Nichols’ dedication “has made an immeasurable difference in the lives of Lake City children.”
DIRT’S annual Silver Shovel Volunteer of the Year award went to seasonal resident Kathy Koehn for her innovative “Lake City Blooms” project beautifying the downtown business district with 30 hanging flower baskets and six barrel inserts. According to DIRT, downtown Blooms expands with 50 hanging baskets in summer, 2018 as a result of private donors, women’s club, and Lake Fork Valley Foundation.
Hinsdale Chamber’s bevy of awards, which the organization has annually presented for decades, included Organization of the Year, in 2018 going to Lake City Downtown Improvement & Revitalization Team and accepted by board member Elaine Gray, and standing ovation for retiring Hinsdale County Sheriff Ron Bruce who was named Lake City’s 2018 “Citizen of the Year.”
In his nomination, it was noted Sheriff Bruce is retiring in January next year after 12 years as Hinsdale Sheriff and a four-decade law enforcement career. “Overseeing a department of 14 dedicated personnel operating at the highest professional standard,” Sheriff Bruce’s professionalism has resulted in making both Lake City and Hinsdale County “a safe place to live.”
DIRT as Organization of the Year was lauded as an “important part of the community” with efforts “to improve both the look and economy of our town.” The award was based in part on programs which DIRT sponsors, including Youth Corps, boardwalk projects, and the Wine & Music Festival.
High Country Market, owned and operated by Peter Nesbitt and Patty Crotwell, received Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year. The market, according to the nomination, “is a year-round business with great quality items,” an added bonus being the market’s work to offer a quality four-day hot lunch program at the school.
Youngest awards’ recipient on Tuesday evening was Lake City Community School 7th Grade student T.J. Wonnacott. Wonnacott received Hinsdale Chamber’s Volunteer of the Year award based on “constantly volunteering at events, exhibiting outstanding dedication, positive energy and an outstanding work ethic.”
In addition to specific awards handed out during the evening, a majority of Lake City’s service and non-profit organizations provided a recap of their activities and expressed graditiude to their boards of directors and volunteers who make their mission possible.
These organizations included Friends of Bears, Friends of EMTs and San Juan Solstice Run, Hinsdale County Emergency Medical Services, various Hinsdale County committees and posts: weed control, marketing committee, cemetery board, planning commission, trails commission, lodging tax board, veterans’ service, zoning adjustments, Club 20 representative; Hinsdale County Historical Society, Lake City Area Fire Protection District, John Wagner Public Library, Lake City Arts, Lake City Stinger Band, Lake City Community Choir; Lake City Community School, PTSA and Booster Club; Continental Divide Snowmobile Club; Lake City DIRT, Lake Fork Community Foundation, Lake Fork Health Service District and Lake City Medical Center Endowment, Lake Fork Valley Conservancy, Pioneer Jubilee Women’s Club, Silver Thread Public Health District, Town of Lake City historic preservation commission, planning commission, ski hill (including John Paulus for his trail building work), and Ice Climbs; WeeCare in Lake City, and Lake City/Hinsdale County Chamber of Commerce, and Stickhorse Show Committee.