Wednesday, March 23, 2005

'We are community'

Awards night features local standouts

Express Staff Writer


It's a word that threaded nearly every speech issued Friday night during the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau's annual community awards celebration.

And a sense of community was apparent in the crowd that gathered at the River Run Lodge to celebrate some of the Wood River Valley's finest achievers. Local residents turned out in stripes to celebrate their neighbors' achievements. The event was sold out.

"Wasn't that awesome," remembered chamber Executive Director Carol Waller in an interview Tuesday morning. "It was a fabulous event. It's one of my favorite events in the valley because it really recognizes the people who are behind the scenes making our community a better place to live—and doing it unselfishly."

And to cap it all off, long-time local entertainer-humorist-writer-musician-historian Chris Millspaugh told original jokes about the local area and recruited his family to perform some songs and a dance. He, too, recognized the community.

"I love this community so much I've had 47 jobs," he said. He later proposed a solution to two of the valley's ongoing discussions. "Why don't we just take the Y and put it at the airport, and take the airport and put it at the Park and Ride—and then we head north."

But the night was about more than laughs, and Waller said she hopes that recognizing some inspires others to get involved.

Keeping with the theme of the night, speakers threaded the evening with the oft-repeated word: community.

"We have a unique combination of a pretty sophisticated community and the (character) of a small town," said Citizen of the Year Dick Fenton. "It's small enough you do know everybody,"

The owner of Business of the Year, Wood River Insurance, Greg Bloomfield, said it is important for local companies to give to "things created by the heart and soul of the community."

Bloomfield concluded in an emotional display by thanking his wife, who "showed me my heart and showed me it's better to give than receive."

Youth Citizen of the Year, Sydney Leopold, said the event was fun and the award important, but added that making a difference is the greatest reward.

"My reward for all of this is knowing that I made a difference and getting a smile in return, and a smile can make all the difference," she said.

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