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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday — February 25, 2004


Community awards announced

Tom Nickel is Citizen of the Year

The Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau, along with event sponsors First Bank of Idaho and the Sun Valley Company, will honor eight individuals and two businesses at its 7th Annual Community Awards night 6 p.m. Sunday, March 21, at the Sun Valley Inn Limelight Room.

Awards will be presented to: Tom Nickel for Citizen of the Year, Jessica Waszak for Youth Citizen of the Year, Floyd McCracken for Arts Advocate of the Year, Benjamin and Theresa Castellano-Wood for Youth Advocate of the Year, Ann Christensen for Environmental Advocate of the Year, First Bank of Idaho for Business of the Year, Building Materials Thrift Store for Non-Profit Organization of the Year, Cindy Jessinger for CVB Volunteer of the Year and Robin Reiners for CVB Ambassador of the Year.

Each year the CVB solicits nominations from the public to recognize individuals, organizations and businesses that have made significant positive contributions to the community. The CVB’s board of directors reviews the nominations in each of the categories and selects the winners for the year. This year the CVB received 37 nominations.

The public is invited to attend the 7th Annual Community Awards reception and dinner presented by the Sun Valley/ Ketchum CVB. Seating is limited and tickets are $40 per person. To make reservations, contact Angela at 725-2103.


Citizen of the Year

Tom Nickel was selected as Citizen of the Year because his actions and activities have provided a significant positive benefit to the community as a whole. Tom came to the valley in 1980 and like many of us, fell in love with it and decided to stay. He became a working partner in the old Creekside Restaurant in Warm Springs and now owns three successful restaurants in Ketchum; The Sawtooth Club, The Roosevelt and The Outabounds Lounge, employing nearly 100 local residents year-round and up to 150 seasonally. What has really set him apart however, is his unwavering commitment to the valley, which he has shown through the countless donations he makes yearly, not only through his businesses, but also out of his own time and resources.

He is constantly giving without a second thought, and we are proud to recognize him as the 2004 Citizen of the Year.


Youth Citizen of Year

Jessica Waszak was selected as Youth Citizen of the year because her actions and activities have greatly benefited the community through an extended period of community service. A freshman at Wood River High School, Jessica, 15, has demonstrated an unbelievable commitment to the youth of the community through her work with the Blaine County Teen Advisory Committee and the Adaptive Sport Camp. She has a passion for helping others and volunteered for two summers and gave over 240 hours of her time to work with disabled children in the adaptive sports camp.

She has been involved in the BCTAG for several years as a willing volunteer for many programs, including Souper Supper, After School Club, Community Holiday Baskets, Best of the Valley, and "The Laramie Project." She helped create and design the new Wood River HUB, which will provide the youth of the valley with a safe and fun place to be after school.


Arts Advocate of Year

Floyd McCracken was selected as the Arts Advocate of the Year because he has demonstrated an exemplary level of support for the arts in our community. But there is something very special about this winner – this is his third award honoring his years of community involvement; in 1996 Floyd was recognized as Citizen of the Year and in 1992 he was recognized as CVB Volunteer of Year. This year, he is being recognized for his many contributions to enhance the arts in our community. For the past 14 years, he has been a year-round volunteer for the popular Swing-N-Dixie jazz Jamboree, and currently works as Jazz Sponsorship chairman. In 2001, he co-founded the Sun Valley Opera and has been the president and driving force behind its success over the past three years, bringing professional opera to appreciative audiences in our small valley. He currently serves as a board member of the Hailey Cultural Center and in 2003 chaired a successful "Used Art and Jewelry Sale," which raised funds for the Center and a college scholarship program through the Hailey Masonic Lodge.


Youth Advocates of Year

Benjamin and Theresa Castellano-Wood were selected as the Youth Advocates of the Year because they have demonstrated an exemplary level of support for youth through active personal involvement and support of youth organizations in our community. This committed couple co-founded the Works of Grace Foundation. Here in our community, the impact of their leadership and generosity has been significant, with emphasis on youth.

Through their foundation, they have initiated an innovative and unique annual program that provides college scholarships for children of Blaine County teachers and in only two years of operation, the Foundation has given 19 scholarships totaling over $180,000. In addition, they underwrite the Company of Fool’s educational outreach programs for children, and they underwrite the Children’s Garden at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden. And, when the Wood River Valley YMCA project was at a critical point in its development recently, Benjamin and Theresa stepped forward with a significant leadership gift that re-energized the campaign and resulted in matching gifts from the city and other individuals.


Environmental Advocate of Year

Ann Christensen was selected for Environmental Advocate of the Year for her active involvement and leadership in advocating and educating community members of all ages about environmental issues. For well over a decade, Ann has been this valley’s strongest environmental advocate. Her leadership has been multifaceted and her involvement anything but superficial. She is equally at home chairing a board meeting for a local environmental non-profit, or talking to a third grade class about endangered species. Ann is a founding member of the Environmental Resource Center, and during her seven-year tenure on the ERC board of directors, Ann served in various leadership roles and helped foster many of the successful programs that continue today.

Also, at the Community Library, Ann participates in the "story hour" each Tuesday for 3- to 5-year-olds, and always chooses an environmental topic the helps nurture the children’s connection to our natural world. Ann also serves as a board member of the Sawtooth Society, and was involved with saving Galena Lodge and supporting the development of the Harriman Trail.


Business of the Year

First Bank of Idaho has been selected as the 2004 Business of the Year because they have demonstrated a high level of community involvement through participation in a wide variety of community projects and their positive encouragement for employee participation in it. First Bank of Idaho opened in 1997 with the mission of being the Wood River Valley’s most involved community bank. The bank’s board of directors and investors are primarily valley residents, the bank has offices in Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue and the employees, through support of the bank, routinely volunteer for community events such as Hailey’s 4th of July parade, Blaine County Fair, Relay for Life, Festival of Trees, Teddy Bear Tea, Rotary Duck Race, Ketchum Wagon Days, Rocky Mountain Folk Festival, and the Kindercup ski race. This past Christmas, with the help of a $400 donation from the bank, employees adopted 12 families and purchased, wrapped and delivered gifts to them. Many of First Bank of Idaho’s employees and board members are also active members of the Hailey and Ketchum/Sun Valley Rotary Club, Blaine County Senior Center board, Blaine County School District board, and CEO Jim Latta currently serves as 1st VP of the Sun Valley/Ketchum board of directors.


Non-Profit Organization of Year

This is a new category and the Building Materials Thrift Store, created and operated by Bruce Tidwell to help recycle donated building materials and use the income generated to protect open space, gets the honor as 2004 Non-Profit Organization of the Year. In 1999, Bruce Tidwell, on his own initiative and with his own money, opened the Building Materials Thrift Store Non-Profit Corporation in Hailey, with the proceeds designated to the Wood River Land Trust. For the past four years, construction and demolition waste materials that otherwise would have been taken to the landfill have been diverted and are providing many benefits to everyone in the valley. Donors of building materials (even whole houses have been donated) are given a tax deduction for their donations. The Thrift Store sells the donations and gives the proceeds to the Wood River Land Trust to protect open space.

The Building Materials Thrift Store has even become an economic generator for our valley, attracting buyers from as far away as Oregon, Nevada, and other parts of Idaho because of the high quality of building materials that are donated.


CVB Volunteer of Year

Cindy Jessinger was selected as the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau Volunteer of the Year in recognition of her years of work assisting the CVB with various events and programs.

Her volunteer work for the CVB includes three years as the educational outreach coordinator for the Trailing of the Sheep Festival. Cindy was responsible for the organization of special school presentations and an art and writing contest for elementary and middle school students in Blaine County. She served as president of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival when it left the CVB umbrella and successfully become its own non-profit organization in 2002. Last year she joined the Wagon Days Committee and immediately took over a key coordination position in charge of overnight camping and staging. In addition to her volunteer work with the CVB, she has been an active volunteer for many other community organizations; Girl Scout troop leader, Boy Scouts of America committee member, Secretary/Treasurer of the Ketchum/Sun Valley Ski & Heritage Museum, Congressional Award Advisor or Wood River Valley Youth, Community School and Wood River Middle School, Souper Supper, Jazz Festival, and the list goes on.


CVB Ambassador of Year

Robin Reiners was selected as the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau 2004 Ambassador of the Year because of her high level of commitment to the CVB’s Ambassador’s Council. The Council, one of the most important volunteer groups within the CVB, was reorganized in 2003 and is comprised of 13 volunteers who are responsible for assisting in maintaining open lines of communication between the CVB and its members. Ambassadors Council members meet regularly with CVB members, volunteer at CVB events and attend monthly Business After Hours and other CVB programs. For participation in each of these functions, Ambassadors receive points and Robin received the highest amount of points for the year 2003, making her our Ambassador of the Year.

Robin moved to Ketchum three years ago and opened Gallery DeNovo with her husband, Michael Carpenter in August of 2002.


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