Volunteer champions honored at annual ceremony


Volunteer champions honored at annual ceremony

Rick Langenberg

In what has amounted to the “Oscars” for local volunteerism in the region, the annual Teller County Cares Service Awards generated another huge turnout at the Cripple Creek Heritage Center last week.

This 13th annual tradition, which attracts civic leaders from the entire area, offers top laurels for a slew of categories, such as the top service organization, community-minded business, rising stars, the best “good samaritan,” premiere seniors and more. In many ways, the ceremony has served as the prime opportunity for honoring the region’s most deserving volunteers. For this year, most of the recipients were described as people who never sought the limelight.

But they didn’t get the opportunity to linger in the background at last week’s ceremony.

Teller County Commission Chairman Marc Dettenrieder and Ted Borden and Mary Bielz of the Aspen Mine Center weren’t shy about complimenting the latest volunteer champs. “This is my favorite day of the year,” boasted Bielz, the well-known and colorful director of Community of Caring, who always enjoys telling a few stories about the winners.

In the distinguished and unique Centennial award for a lifelong of community contributions, Bielz ended up lauding her own uncle, Stanley Gus Conley, Sr. for his efforts in Victor and in running the local G&S sports store and working for the community. It was noted that if you want to get something done in Victor or hear a good story, then go see Gus. Conley also boasts of an array of talents, running the gamut from fiddle/guitar playing and running turkey shoots for the Elks. More than anything, he was described as a distinguished personality who helped make Victor a special place.

Jim Ignatius, meanwhile, snagged the prestigious Les Mellott award for government service. Ignatius, a Teller County commissioner for about 10 years, was lauded for his behind the scenes role in championing many causes for the county, such as the tree thinning/forest health mitigation and wildfire action plans. “He didn’t want the limelight,” said Woodland Park Planning Director Sally Riley. “He served tirelessly.” Ignatius, who couldn’t attend the ceremony, was lauded for efforts to bring millions in grants to the region for wildfire prevention programs. Ignatius, who has owned a number of businesses, is still heavily involved in the community, now serving as the president of the Northeast Teller County Fire Protection District Board.

And as for special service, Rose Murphy, the wife of Bronco Billy’s general manager Marc Murphy, got the top nod. She was described as the “Angel of Christmas,” and lauded for her assistance with the Aspen Mine Center’s Yuletide gift wrapping and distribution efforts to needy people, including many single moms. “You make Christmas for these women,” said Bielz.

As for other awards, William Jackson got the award for the best “Good Samaritan” for his tireless assistance efforts at the Aspen Mine Center. “He just kind of snuck in here,” quipped Borden, who described Jackson as a simple guy, who worked for the center as a volunteer, performing a wide range of jobs, regardless of the conditions.

Other prestigious awards included the Ute Pass Kiwanis Club for civic/service organization; Wayne Stewart and the Lock Shop for top community-minded business; the Woodland Park Hockey Association for Children/Youth; Geri Holman for top Senior; Bill LaReau for Health; Taylor and Carol Noble for Community Pride and Angelica Atkins for Rising Star.