Friday, April 23, 2010

A gift to the valley

Sue Noel named Service Individual of the Year

Express Staff Writer

Sue Noel works at the customer service desk at Atkinsonsí Market in Ketchum. Photo by Willy Cook

Second in a series of four stories about individual winners of 2010 Community Awards.

Moving to the Wood River Valley 31 years ago was the best gift Sue Noel ever gave herself.

"Anyone lucky enough to live here has won the lottery," she said.

The valley feels the same way about Noel. She has been awarded the 2010 Wood River Valley Community Award for Service Individual of the Year because of her efforts as a customer service representative at Atkinsons' Market in Ketchum. She does far more than her job description outlines, often acting as a tourist guide for curious viitors, delivering groceries to those in need, and just providing a cheerful demeanor for those passing by on the treadmill of life.

Noel's contribution to the community is evident within a mere 20 minutes of sitting with her at a table of the Ketchum Town Plaza across Fourth Street from Atkinsons' Market. In that time, four people walking by noticed Noel and her red hair shimmering in the sun, then came over with smiles on their faces for a quick "Hi" and hug.

"The job I have right now is so suited to me," she said. "We're all busy doing the whole treadmill thing Monday through Friday, but it all comes together at Atkinsons'. I call it command central."

And, Noel said, the job enables her to see and talk with the townspeople she wouldn't see for months on end otherwise.


Noel couldn't have a more fitting last name. She exemplifies the holiday-season spirit.

"I'm happy to go to work every day," she said.

And that comes out to her customers, one of which nominated her for the award. She's been at her current job for seven years, but has worn many hats during her 71 years, including travel agent, singer, chairwoman of the Blaine County Transportation Committee, member of the Blaine County Housing Authority and Ketchum City Council member for two terms ending in 1999.

Even though Noel has worn many hats, she said her position at Atkinsons' fits just right and keeps her young.

But does Noel have any plans of retiring?

"Someone asked me that the other day and I said, 'Not until I fall over behind the counter,'" she said. "Or win the lottery."

Noel's service to the community extends beyond Atkinsons' walls. She often participates in musicals and sings the National Anthem in events all over the valley.

You can hear her sing at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sun Valley.

Noel and the other award winners will be honored at an Oscar night-themed reception at The Valley Club north of Hailey on April 30, beginning at 6:30 p.m. and costing $25 per person. Nichole Britt, office manager for the Sun Valley-Ketchum chamber, said reservations are required and can be made by calling her at 725-2103.

The Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau and Hailey Chamber of Commerce pick the seven community award winners each year from a list of nominees to honor their work in improving the valley's quality of life.

Trevon Milliard:

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