The Saratoga Sun -

By Liz Wood 

Chamber members humbled by awards


Liz Wood

Saratoga/Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce board member Ty Trevillyan awards Jimmy Hinkle, left, the Volunteer of the Year award.

The business people of Saratoga celebrated a successful year with the Saratoga/Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce and recognized those who were selected and voted on by their peers.

The Saratoga Resort and Spa was selected as Business of the Year, Sweet Marie's was selected as New Business of the Year, the Saratoga Encampment Rawlins Conservation District (SERCD) won Organization of the Year and Jimmy Hinkle earned Volunteer of the Year.

Bella's Bistro, Brush Creek Ranch, Burns Insurance Agency, Chez Booze, R. G. Raymer Construction and the Saratoga Resort and Spa were all nominated by their peers for Business of the Year.

Business of the Year

Dr. Mike Janssen, owner of Saratoga Resort and Spa; Scott Randall, general manager; Cheena Deakins, food and beverage manager and Cindy Loose, marketing; accepted the award on behalf of the Saratoga Resort and Spa.

Janssen said he was more than surprised when his company was announced as Business of the Year. "It's a great honor ... I just wanted to continue to do what we think is the right thing for the Resort and give to the community, Janssen said. "It a great honor to come up in front of the business community of the Platte Valley and accept this honor on behalf of the entire team."

Janssen said it's his team that deserves the award, the employees and the managers who work at the Resort because they are making the day-to-day decisions.

Janssen has owned the resort for eight years and the team tries to make strategic changes to improve the resort all the time.

Janssen said he is very excited for the newest changes which were completed the day of the annual dinner including new decks for the tipis. "We have great plans going forward."

New Business of the Year

Marie Christen, owner of Sweet Marie's Bakeshop, said she was very shocked when she realized that she had won the New Business of the Year Award. Christen said she found out that her husband Tyler had known three weeks beforehand because he provided the information of her history for the annual dinner.

Along with Sweet Marie's, Lollypop's, Saratoga Forest Management and The Red Wagon had been nominated for the New Business of the Year.

Organization of the Year

Jack Berger, board chairman for the SERCD, said he was very honored on behalf of the SERCD and appreciated that people recognize what the organization does. Berger said the conservation district has broadened over the years compared to what it used to do. With expertise in so many things, SERCD is invited to the table on many projects, Berger said. The newest member of SERCD was at the annual dinner along with board members and employees. Berger recognized Leann Correll, who is in charge of NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) for SERCD, for her work since she has arrived in the Valley. "I was sorry Glenn (Leavengood) couldn't be here," Berger said. "He has done so much. I don't think anyone knows this county the way Glenn does ... Glenn has been a huge asset."

Berger also complimented the other employees of SERCD including Joe Parsons and Jean Runner.

Along with SERCD, Grandma's Cabin and the Valley Service Organization were nominated for Organization of the Year.

Volunteer of the Year

Jimmy Hinkle was very surprised to learn he won Volunteer of the Year. When Hinkle realized he was the recipient of the award he said he got a little choked up thinking about all the past recipients. "It is a special honor," Hinkle said.

Volunteering was instilled into Hinkle by his father. "My dad was a big believer in community service," Hinkle said. He would go along with his father and help him out when Hinkle was in high school. "It didn't take me long to figure out he needed me for the grunt work," Hinkle said. But, it taught Hinkle the importance of serving the community, something he has continued as an adult over the past 26 years.

"Tonight, you look around the room and everyone here is a great volunteer," Hinkle said. "Thank heaven for it ... There are people who are committed to a certain quality of life and it is a joy to live here in Carbon County."

"When you know that you have been part of events, where people had a good time, it makes you feel good about yourself, and I guess that is why I keep doing it," Hinkle said.

Joining Hinkle as nominees for Volunteer of the Year were Janice Kerpan, Jerry Paxton and Vonda Wieburg.

In the business portion of the annual meeting, Joe Elder, Virginia Parker, Melanie Fullman and Margaret Weber were elected to serve on the board. Weber was elected for her third term, while Elder, Parker and Fullman were elected for their first term replacing Jezria Collins and Cassie Orduno.

Liz Wood

Marie Christen shows off her plaque for New Business of the Year as chamber board member Jezria Collins gives Tyler Christen a congratulatory hug.

A change in the by-laws excluded the executive director from being a board member and left a position open to fill the 10-member board.

Changes in by-laws were approved by the membership. Most of the changes included the organization of the chamber, including changing the administrative assistant to Member Services Manager, executive director to chief executive office and the president and vice president of the chamber to be identified as chairman and vice-chairman.

Chairman Alyson Sneddon who is currently serving her third term, presented the treasurer's report which had a net loss of $2,166.06.

The 2015 budget has a projected income of $175,265 and expenses projected at $171,913.35.

Keith Bailey was the guest speaker at the annual dinner. A story on him and his speech will appear in the Jan. 21 edition of the Saratoga Sun.


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