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Community service applauded at Chamber Gala PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 11:38

Community pride was prevalent at the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce 21st annual Gala held Monday, Feb. 3 at the Phillips County Event Center.

Family and friends shared in the acknowledgement of those nominated by local residents and selected for honors for their contributions to the community.

Awards were presented to Sherry Simms, Employee of the Year; Nicholas Ortner and Anastasia Conklin, Youth of the Year; Melissa Memorial Hospital, Business of the Year; and Dorothy Ortner, Citizen of the Year.

Star of the Year honors went to the Phillips County Historical Society for their partnership with the chamber in events and research.

Chamber board member Annette Murphy-Shaw emceed Monday night’s program.

Sound Check, the HHS select choir, directed by Marcia Dalton and Maury Kramer, provided delightful entertainment to begin the evening.

A silent auction featured numerous items donated by businesses and individuals for fun bidding wars before the evening was over.



Community excellence award recipients who were honored at the Feb. 3 Chamber of Commerce Gala are pictured from left, front row, Sherry Simms, Employee of the Year; Anastasia Conklin and Nicholas Ortner, Youth of the Year; Dorothy Ortner, Citizen of the Year; and Carrie Anderson, representing the Phillips County Historical Society as Star of the Year; and back row, Melissa Memorial Hospital staff representatives, Business of the Year, Sharon Greenman, Melissa Prante, Pat Notter, David Bickford and hospital administrator John Ayoub.

—Enterprise photo


Chamber board named

For the first time in a while, the chamber board is full heading into the 2014 year.

Matt Winterrowd will serve as chamber president for this year; Gloria Bergner, first vice president; Mark Smith, second vice president; and Dr. Jerold Brandt, treasurer.

Other members are Annette Murphy-Shaw, Dixie Fagerlin, Allyn Robinson, Minnie Rodriguez and Sharon Greenman.


Sherry Simms
Employee of the Year

Customer service is the No. 1 importance to Sherry Simms, said the letter nominating her for Employee of the Year recognition.

Simms serves as co-manager of the Peerless Center. “She treats everyone the way she expects to be treated, and if you don’t, you may be getting a training session on the spot.”

She demonstrates what it means to be a leader in the community—volunteering her time for many opportunities to serve.

At the Peerless, she expects the community to be able to come in to a clean, friendly and welcoming establishment, and she instills that in her employees.

Her work ethics are far beyond those of most people, but she is very humble when given credit. Simms’ employees have a great respect for her and continue to come back each holiday and summer vacation to work for her.

Accepting the award, Simms admitted, “I am my dad’s daughter.” Vern Meusborn worked a number of paying jobs, but his main one was raising seven kids with his wife, Peggy. A solid work ethic was instilled in his children, and Simms added that she also learned a lot when she worked for Sam Walton.

“I’m working in a place that has my heart,” she added about her love of the Peerless from her early days of growing up in Holyoke to her “retirement” time of serving as co-manager.


Nicholas Ortner
Youth of the Year

Nicholas Ortner, a junior at HHS, was described by his nominator as a very dedicated, hard-working, high-achieving, moral young man.

He achieves well academically, is involved in extra-curricular activities, has played football for three seasons and lettered in wrestling for two seasons (including one trip to the state tournament last year).

With all the time and effort it takes to be competitive and successful with his school life, he has made 4-H a priority.

Ortner currently serves as president of the Challengers 4-H Club, Phillips County 4-H Council and District 5 4-H Council, which automatically makes him a member of the state 4-H officer team.

As a state officer, he has participated at state fair, Colorado Leadership Conference, Leadership Development Conference, Youth Fest and the state 4-H conference.

“Other students look up to him and trust him. Adults that work with him also trust him and rely on him,” added his nominator. “He is a man our community is proud to call their own.”

Ortner said he’s had a lot of people to look up to. “It started with my grandma Theresa and everyone around her.” He noted appreciation for the moral standard set and thanked family and community members for attending.


Anastasia Conklin
Youth of the Year

HHS junior Anastasia Conklin’s nominator pointed out that she does everything with a smile and a kind word.

She represented the community well in early December when she was selected as a panel member at the Colorado Association of School Board’s student leadership strand.

In the community, Conklin spearheaded a campaign to collect items needed by the victims of the devastating floods this past summer.

Additionally, she is a talented musician, both vocal and instrumental, and a talented actress who participates in all stage productions.

On top of all that, she is an officer in several school organizations, is a very talented writer and is an active member in her church.

“I wouldn’t be who I am without everyone I have around me,” said Conklin in accepting her award Monday night. “Teachers, students, community and my family—thank you so much.”


Melissa Memorial Hospital
Business of the Year

A 16 1/2-year employee of Melissa Memorial Hospital nominated MMH for Business of the Year honors, saying, “Without a doubt, Melissa Memorial Hospital does everything it can to provide the best patient care, 365 days a year.”

The nominator added that MMH is a very family-oriented organization, and for most employees, it is an extension of their own family. “In order for us to take care of patients, we must take care of one another as well, and MMH does just that.”

The nursing and clinical staff are top-notch, merging technical and professional behaviors one would hope to have from members of their care team. The medical staff is tirelessly dedicated to providing the highest quality care.

Additionally, the nominator said the administration goes above and beyond to make sure the community is well informed, offers community health events and education, is supportive in the community and is always looking at ways to improve and add services so patients don’t have to travel to receive care.

Several staff members were present for the awards program, and administrator John Ayoub acknowledged the extreme honor in having been selected as Business of the Year.


Dorothy Ortner
Citizen of the Year

Dorothy Ortner was nominated for Citizen of the Year honors for three fine qualities: her sense of community, social work and advocacy for peace.

“She sees the best in each person and his or her potential and how each individual contributes to a better community as a whole,” said her nominator. “She teaches us that we all have valuable input.”

Ortner played a crucial role in establishing English as a Second Language education in Holyoke, she worked in Lo Hacemos Juntos, which translates to “let’s do it together,” she is an advocate for the arts in Phillips County and has helped in the past with the Paquimé Folkloric Group.

In social work, Ortner assists in numerous ways and strives for social justice. She is not afraid of saying what she thinks in order to advocate and support individuals and agencies.

“She gives a strong voice to those who don’t have one, but at the same time, she encourages these individuals to grow through education.” Her nominator noted that Ortner has a great listening ear and is especially patient listening to ESL learners.

She is much-loved by many, including friends she has met throughout her life in different cities in the United States and in places such as South America and Africa. “I believe her exposure to different worlds has contributed to her vision of humanity from a different perspective.”

She currently serves on the peace committee for Sisters of Loretto and belongs to a local discussion group where she challenges attendees to think about what they believe and why they believe it.

“She teaches us how we can use our beliefs to make people grow and thrive. She thinks that if we do as we preach, the world will be a better place,” said the nominator.

Ortner was nominated for her “sense of community, her social work and her advocacy for peace, but especially because of her great value as a person.”

Always ready to acknowledge the person next to her, Ortner was eloquent in her award response.

“I appreciate the chamber calling the community together,” she said, adding that no one receives Citizen of the Year recognition without lots of companions along the way.

Having returned to Holyoke over two decades ago, Ortner brought with her the experience of having worked in 23 countries to encourage people to be literate.

She credits librarians Rose Kreher and Laura Roth who enabled her to write successful funding grants for Literacy for the ’90s. And she acknowledged the people who trusted her to be willing to engage in the arduous task of learning a second language as an adult.

She applauds those who have maintained and escalated English as a Second Language education that is vibrant in its 22nd year.

Ortner chaired a housing committee for Phillips County Economic Development and refused to take credit for the survey and success that wouldn’t have happened without countless volunteers assisting.

In the end, Ortner said, “Without the support of my extended family, I would have been an island.” Acknowledging the numerous family members in attendance, she added, “One thing about it, they show!”

Sharing her secret for success, Ortner said she has recruited willing persons who were as different from herself as they were from each other. “Creative ideas are born through this diversity.”

Her final ingredient: “I’ve loved the people with whom I’ve worked.”



Phillips County Historical Society was recognized as the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce Star of the Year at the annual Gala Monday night. Board members are pictured from left, Peggy Davis, Carol Haynes, Carrie Anderson, Mike Coyne, Hilda Hassler, Charley Triplette, Helen Miler, Steve Triplette and Darwin Jeffers. Not pictured are members Reon Chaney and Tom Edwards.

—Enterprise photo


Phillips County Historical Society
Star of the Year

Star of the Year honors were presented this year to the Phillips County Historical Society. Not only in 2013, but in other years as well, the Historical Society has kept the museum open for Dandelion Daze, as well as Country Christmas chamber activities.

Abbey Christman and her assistants from the University of Colorado-Denver prepared the Phillips County preservation study, along with the historic walking/driving tour. Since it was completed by Dandelion Daze, it was appropriate to have the presentation in conjunction with Holyoke’s 125th celebration.

When the chamber receives genealogy inquiries or calls about touring the museum, the historical society is contacted. Hilda Hassler and Carol Haynes are extremely helpful in answering questions about former residents and businesses.

A couple of years ago when the Red Dale Campers spent a week in Holyoke, Haynes assisted in the arrangements.

The historical society’s willingness to partner with the chamber in activities of all kinds garnered the group Star of the Year honors.

Carrie Anderson, secretary, graciously accepted the award on behalf of the board.

She said the best part of serving on the historical society and being part of the museum activity is “being able to preserve our past so lessons we learn can help us prepare for the future.”


Holyoke Enterprise February 6, 2014