Community Service and Agriculture Awards

Community Service Award goes to Rick Klein

The City of La Junta was the ultimate winner Monday evening at the Otero Junior College Banquet Hall for the 117th La Junta Chamber of Commerce Banquet.

La Junta business owners and community members celebrated La Junta businesses and accomplishments, highlighted by three prestigious awards including the TRY Family First Award, Agriculture Award, and Community Service Award.

The 2017 the Community Service Award went to City Manager Rick Klein. The award was presented by R. J. Nelson.

Nelson highlighted Klein’s numerous accomplishments as the City of La Junta’s longest-tenured City Manager.

“It is an honor to present the 2017 La Junta Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award,” said Nelson in his speech. “This award began in 1951 and has continued every year since. The first person to be honored was Everett Marshall. Many deserving men, women, and service organizations have been the recipients over the past 67 years. The honorees emulate the character of those in this room - recipient or not. The selection committee is comprised of past recipients. Recommendations for the award may be given to any past recipient.

“Our recipient tonight has been an ambassador for this community for more than 35 years and exemplifies all the qualities of one who is a leader. When assigned a task he gives 100 % and gives back with a sense of humbleness and pride. He has learned his lessons well.

“Tonight’s honoree illustrates humanitarian qualities with friends of all ages. He is blessed with a vibrant personality which brings out the best in everyone he meets.

“Our recipient is a graduate of La Junta High School, Otero Junior College, and Colorado State University - Fort Collins, with a degree in Civil Engineering. He began his career at Colorado Fuel and Iron in Pueblo and returned to La Junta in 1982.

“May I give you a partial list of his volunteer activities in La Junta: Veterans Day - Gave the program for many years Early Settlers Day - Was instrumental in the move from the downtown area to City Park Otero Museum - Was a member of the Foundation Board OJC Science Fair - Served as a judge Colorado Boys Ranch - Helped at many golf tournaments. La Junta History Programs - Has given the history of La Junta using slide programs for multiple groups Tri-County Housing - Served on its Board many years

Our honoree and his wife organized the Youth Soccer League - and are both certified soccer officials.

“In 1999 he became City Manager of La Junta. Under his leadership La Junta has benefited from major accomplishments. They include:

New swimming pool and bath house Skate Board at the City Park City park wall renovation Construction of the Senior Citizens Center 22nd Street Sports Complex PTI Building at the Industrial Park Holden Building also at the Industrial Park Woodruff Memorial Library Expansion Construction The beautiful locomotive on the hill as you enter La Junta.

“And - it has been said by many that La Junta would not have the Southwest Chief passenger rail service without his efforts. He has traveled to Washington, D.C. to represent our area and solidify the position to maintain this important entity. He has constantly lived that battle and continues to do so today.

“Tonight’s recipient is also the longest tenured City Manager. He has a positive attitude and is a person you can trust. He is La Junta’s “Energizer Bunny” and La Junta’s biggest cheerleader.

“On behalf of past recipients and the La Junta Chamber of Commerce it is an honor and privilege to present the 2017 La Junta Community Service Award to Rick Klein.

“Congratulations to Rick and to Paula Klein and the entire Klein family who are represented here tonight. This is a wonderful family with deep roots in our community.”

The entire Klein clan was present to cheer for Rick Klein.

The 2017 Agriculture Award, presented by the Ag Journal was awarded to La Junta Livestock by Ag Journal Editor Joe Zemba.

The Agriculture Award is presented to an individual, group, or business who has made a positive and lasting effect on the agricultural community in La Junta. The celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2017.

“Sixty-three years ago, in 1955, Les and Margaret Honey built La Junta Livestock and began the business of auctioning cattle,” said Zemba. “Ron and Don Honey joined the business in the 1960s and in the 80s, Don and his wife Janet, bought out brother Ron. Livestock remains a family affair and is still thriving with the help of their children, brothers Jace and Keo, sister Cassie, and her husband Brian Elder.

“The Honey/Elder families have a giving heart and have held many unique benefit auctions for those in need. One auction that many of us in the community are familiar with is the Arkansas Valley Calf Auction, now in its 32nd year held the last Wednesday of March during the Anniversary Sale.

“La Junta Livestock believes in supporting youth. Yearly, La Junta Livestock supports area youth through county fairs, 4-H sales, FFA, youth rodeos, and local high school athletics.

“Cattle and the agricultural community is a vital part of the Arkansas Valley and the La junta Livestock family is no stranger to this. Each week, La Junta Livestock bring numerous people from all over the state, Kansas, and New Mexico to La Junta, in turn supporting other local businesses.”

Representing Tigers Resouces for Youth (T.R.Y.), Gayle Eveatt and Sandra Brown presented the T.R.Y. Family First Award to Nancy Harrington for her service to community and youth in La Junta.

In her speech, Eveatt said, “This past year, T.R.Y. was still known as Task Resource for Youth, as we have now ventured out on our own, and no longer under East Otero School district umbrella. With that said we are still with the initials of T.R.Y, but now Tigers Resource for Youth. Our goals and mission are still the same, and for any new folks that are joining us this evening for the first time, let me tell you what we are about.

“Our group is a small group of professionals, and would love to expand to be larger in time. Back then, T.R.Y., Task Resources for Youth was incorporated in the fall of 1986, when it was decided that a community-based group needed to reach out to individuals and families that needed help.

“T.R.Y. has been active in the community for many years, starting with “tagging” of beer kegs, k-9 dogs at the high school level, to sniff out drugs, the resource officer, the annual food drive, DUI Drama, toy bowl, Toys for Tots, after Prom, Christmas Eve Lumanaries, and recently the back-to-school “Swim Party”.

“T.R.Y. can always use your help, with donations, food items or toys, as we work strictly off of donations. We don’t receive any local, state, or federal government monies. T.R.Y. is fully self-funded and supported by donations only.

“Each year, T.R.Y. selects a business, a group, or individual that we feel has helped the community and youth in some way for our annual Family First Award.

“This awesome lady works at Tri-County Family Care Center and wears many hats with her job; as you can see she’s all about families. Nancy came on board with TRY, according to my records in or about 2004, then served as president in 2007; even though she stepped down from that position, she still continues as being a great supporter.

“This year, T.R.Y. has selected Nancy Harrington for her dedicated time and new ideas. T.R.Y. would like to thank Nancy for her continued support and for making a difference in our community.”

Incoming president Randall Roberson addressed the crown near the end of the celebration, calling for La Junta to unite to build a stronger community. “We want to have a successful year and we could use your help,” said Randall. “Our first priority will be to build our membership. We ended 2017 with 176 members and our goal is to get over the 200 member mark. For all of you here, I thank you for giving back to your community. The more people we are able to bring to our city, the more they will find out what a jewel La Junta is.”