The Durango Chamber of Commerce named Steve Short the Citizen of the Year for his commitment to the well-being of Durango’s economy, schools and culture Thursday at Durango Rocks, the annual awards ceremony.
He was one of 12 honorees at the annual event held at the Fort Lewis College Community Concert Hall.
Short, former president and CEO of First National Bank of Durango, was honored for his work with numerous nonprofits and schools.
Short attributed his desire to be involved in the community to his deep roots. His family came to the community 120 years ago as pioneers.
“I feel like I’m on the stage really because of the circumstances of good fortunate,”he said.
He thanked his wife, Jane, and his former colleagues at the bank for their support.
“Very little in life happens because of the efforts of one single individual,” he said.
He is chairman of the Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees and serves on the boards of Durango Industrial Development Foundation and the Hundred Club of Durango, a group that donates to families of first responders who die or are injured on the job.
He also served on the boards for the chamber, Durango School District 9-R, Fort Lewis College Foundation, Music in the Mountains, La Plata County Fair, Mercy Health Foundation and many others.
The other nominees were Tom Compton, Hesperus rancher and director of La Plata Electric Association, and Meredith Mapel, general manager of Coca-Cola of Durango-Farmington.
The Morley Ballantine Award was given to Stephanie Moran, a teacher at the Durango Adult Education Center and the secretary and treasurer of the Durango School District 9-R board.
“She instills in each of her students a profound sense of self-worth,” Pat Murphy said.
The Morley Ballantine Award honors women who support other women and girls in the community and demonstrates excellent and creative leadership.
The Barbara Conrad Award was bestowed on Tara Kiene, the executive director of Community Connections, an organization that serves with adults with intellectual and development disabilities. She is also a belly dancer and the owner of Al Mafra Four Corners Belly Dance.
The award is given to graduates of Leadership La Plata and chosen by former award winners. It is named for the founder and first director of the Durango Arts Center.
Seasons Rotisserie and Grill won the Business of the Year for the company’s generosity to many organizations, including The Hundred Club, Fort Lewis College, Women’s Resource Center, United Way and Music in the Mountains among many others.
Karen Barger thanked the community for its support through the 2008 fire that destroyed Seasons.
“I just encourage everyone to be involved and support your community,” she said.
The other nominees were Zia Tacqueria and Serious Texas Bar-B-Q.
Laura also volunteers for the United Way and on the Parade of Homes Committee with Home Builders Association of Southwest Colorado and serves as a volunteer for United Way.
“If you Google the word ‘volunteer’ you are bound to see the name Laura McKinney listed somewhere in the description,” Charles Spence said.
McKinney explained that when she moved here and started working for First National Bank of Durango, the company encouraged them to find out what the community needed. She discovered that housing was a major need, and all of her efforts have been focused on that.
The other nominees were Ryan Lowe and Pam Miles.
Spirit of Durango Award was given to Four Leaves Winery, a wine bar and production facility. The business hosts book clubs, knitting clubs and Durango Tango.
“In some small way, Four Leaves Winery is able to help contribute to the experience that is Durango ” owner Dean Fagner said.
The other nominees were Black Bear Carpet Cleaning and Pura Vida Natural Health Care.
The Small Business of the Year is Evenings Porch Assisted Living, a company that has given generously in its three years.
It has supported nonprofits such as Mercy Health Foundation, Mercy Hospice, Southwest Center for Independence, Alzheimer’s Association and more.
Jan Neleigh spoke on behalf of her son and the Evenings Porch owner, Lee McCutchen.
“I wanted to create a facility good enough for my own mom, which I believe we have accomplished,” she read.
The other nominees were Matlock Furniture and UltraStream.
The Durango Adult Education Center was named the nonprofit of the year for its excellence and service to its students.
“I would like to dedicate tonight’s award to each and every student that we have ever served,” said Teresa Malone, the executive director.
Mark Thompson, the founder of Phoenix Recycling, was named Entrepreneur of the Year for pursuing a business he was told was impossible in a rural area and for being the first in the nation to recycle construction materials in bulk.
“For 15 years, Mark and his employees worked out in Three Springs without a building sorting recycling materials outside in the cold, heat, snow and rain. It was just this year that he constructed his current facility,” Ernie Lau said.
The other nominee was Tim Turner founder of Zia Tacqueria.
Cream Bean Berry won the Green Business Leadership Award for its commitment to sustainable practices such as bicycle delivery, compostable cups, locally sourced ingredients and returnable glass growlers for ice cream, Kent Ford said.
“Green practices are infused in every business decision,” he said.
Owner Katie Burford started her company with a tricycle and passion, he said.
“It is none too surprising to find out that people do love ice cream and are willing to pay a premium for ice cream that is made in an environmentally responsible way,” Burford said.
The chamber also honored Mitch Dye as Diplomat of the Year for his commitment to chamber events.
Krii Black, who runs Leplatt’s Pond, a wedding venue in Bayfield, was honored as The Young Professional of the Year. The chamber’s young professionals group helps bridge the gap between college and professional life.
“It allows me the opportunity to shine bright and give back to my community,” she said.