The mood was celebratory and heartfelt as the Durango Chamber of Commerce honored community members and businesses at its annual awards ceremony Thursday night.
More than 400 people filled the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College to see who shined this year.
Former Durango mayor and current city councilor and board of education member Joe Colgan joined 30 years of recipients as the Citizen of the Year.
Hes a man who knows the journey is more important than the destination, presenter and former honoree Joel Jones said in presenting the award. Hes a good, all-around Joe.
In his acceptance, Colgan referred to the words of Amy Wendland, the graduation speaker at FLC in December.
You dont start improving the world by fixing the problems between Israel and Palestine, he quoted. Its how we treat the clerk at Walmart or the person who serves our food at a restaurant. If its how we treat the people we run into every day, were doing pretty well here.
Jerry and Karen Zink and their business Sunnyside Meats received Small Business of the Year. Both come from multigenerational La Plata County agricultural families.
Having heard horror stories about slaughterhouses, one (Leadership La Plata) student arrived in tears to interview Jerry about his business, presenter Keith Brant said. She left smiling after seeing the humane treatment Jerry and his staff gave the animals. And she was no longer a vegetarian.
Jerry Zink said his wife, Karen, was the most dedicated wife in the room.
Who else here helped build an 8,000-square-foot slaughterhouse in her front yard?
The most touching moment of the evening came when the late Dr. Tom Grams, who was killed in Afghanistan while on a humanitarian dental mission last year, was named the Bill Mashaw Volunteer of the Year. His longtime friend Sandy Bielenberg accepted the award on Grams familys behalf.
He felt lucky to have a skill to offer, she said of Grams many missions to Third World countries. The Dalai Lama said to set your compass on compassion and get busy. Please make a difference in Toms honor.
Liz Mora, the executive director of the Womens Resource Center, which won the Nonprofit of the Year, said her organization depends on many other organizations to make a difference in La Plata County.
Thanks to all the other nonprofits who provide the services we refer our clients to, she said. Were so glad youre there.
Everyone who received awards thanked their supporters, clients and fellow community members.
Denny Wetmore, who won the I Love Durango Video Contest with his entry, Durango is Rad, was no exception.
The word Ive heard used a lot here tonight is community, Wetmore said. If this was a drinking game, wed all be schnockered. But this community is what has kept me here in town, kept me moving back every time I moved away.
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