STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald
In its annual quest to recognize the leaders of Durango, the Durango Chamber of Commerce named Peter Marshall, the general manager of the DoubleTree Hotel, as Citizen of the Year on Thursday night.
“Peter Marshall is an individual of absolute integrity and profound community commitment,” said Joel Jones, a former honoree in the category, presenting Marshall with the award. “Peter exemplifies what is too often missing in our contemporary world – a form of selfless, quiet leadership, one characterized by integrity, sustained energy and, most of all, humility.”
Marshall displayed that humility in his acceptance.
“There’s something about Durango, whether it’s the air, whether it’s the mountains, that makes you want to be the best you can be,” he said, “There are many, many people in this audience who could be standing up here. But don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it’s me.”
The DoubleTree also is a finalist for the Green Business of the Year, along with Durango Natural Foods and Zia Taqueria. That award will be presented at the Green Business Roundtable luncheon Feb. 12.
The chamber’s Awards Committee has the option of presenting an award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community when it sees a worthy recipient. This year, the committee recognized Mercy Regional Medical Center for outstanding contribution by an organization and its recently retired CEO, Kirk Dignum, for contribution by an individual.
“My wife told me I had to come to cheer on Mercy, which is up for Business of the Year,” said Dignum, a self-described introvert. “We’re going to have to talk when we get home.”
There were some firsts for the evening.
For the first time in 16 years, the Barbara Conrad Award, which honors those who are graduates of the Leadership La Plata program and demonstrate the same committed and creative leadership as the late Conrad did, honored a couple, John and Cissy Anderson.
“Individually, they are tremendous assets, but together they are truly a power couple,” Christi Zeller, last year’s honoree, said as she presented the award to the couple, who are longtime volunteers with LLP, the Durango Arts Center and Music in the Mountains, among other organizations. “We are so grateful they decided to make Durango their home.”
While the Andersons have consistently volunteered for LLP since they were members of the Class of 2001-02, they’re grateful to the organization with their involvement in the community.
“We’re standing here because of Leadership La Plata,” Cissy Anderson said. “It opened doors, and introduced us to the people and organizations that make this the beautiful place it is.”
The Young Professionals of Durango gave its first ever Young Professional of the Year to Mandi Davis, who is raising two young children, co-managing the Ore House and providing leadership to YPOD.
“During the past 23 years, the Durango Arts Center has gone through many transformations,” said Paulette Church as she presented the organization with Non-Profit of the Year. “Yet during all of these years, it has been a tremendous and invaluable asset to the whole region.”
Accepting on behalf of the DAC, Executive Director Peggy Zemach said three years ago, when the center was teetering on the brink of closure, it had 300 members. Now it has more than 900.
Nick Spence was named Diplomat of the Year by Diplomats President Mary Jo Paxton, who alluded to his ability to “light up a party.” The Diplomats represent the chamber at numerous openings and events.
Alpine Bank, after being a finalist three times, finally struck the mother lode and was named Business of the Year.
“I don’t know if it was patience, persistence or we just wore out the judges,” said President Mike Burns. “We have now donated more than $500,000 in direct support to the community because we believe we should leave this world and this community better than we found it.”
Vicki Romero Coe got one of the big laughs of the evening when she accepted the Morley Ballantine Award for her almost three decades of volunteering to improve opportunities for youths in La Plata County.
“I’ll be short,” the petite woman said as she tried in vain to reach the microphone.
Jon Sigillito, owner of Durango Party Rental, credited his staff for helping make his company the Small Business of the Year, while Ann Morse, owner of Lost Dog Bar & Lounge, said it was the community supporting her business that allowed her to support the community and win the Lost Dog the Spirit of Durango Award.
And Cheryl and Chuck Carson thought winning the Bill Mashaw Volunteer of the Year Award was almost too much of a good thing.
“It’s kind of like getting a prize for eating ice cream, where the ice cream is the real prize,” Chuck Carson said, “In this instance, the volunteering is the prize. We’ve made a lot of friends, a lot of connections and found a lot of purpose in this community.”