A Big Night of Thanks

Feb 26, 2019 | Uncategorized

The Chamber’s Annual Dinner was last Wednesday night. It was a big night of thanks.

It started with a shout out to the sponsors of the event and there were a lot of them including:

  • Gold Sponsors – Comcast, Elevations Credit Union, High Country Beverage, Hilton Fort Collins, LOCALiQ, UCHealth and Woodward
  • Silver Sponsors – Brock & Company and Coan, Payton & Payne
  • Reception Sponsor -BKD
  • Bronze Sponsors – Brinkman Construction, Cushman & Wakefield, Flood and Peterson, Hewlett-Packard Enterprises, Markley Motors, Martin/Martin Consulting Engineers; Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C., Scott’s Automotive & Service Center, and Western States Bank.
  • Table Sponsors – ANB Bank, Adams Bank & Trust, BizWest Media, Columbine Health Systems, Ed Carroll Motor Co., Mortenson Construction, and OfficeScapes
  • Media Sponsors – FastFrame, Jet Marketing, and KRFC 88.9 FM Radio Fort Collins.

Then I singled out City Council Member Ray Martinez and asked the room to recognize him. He served three terms as mayor, left for a while, then served four years as District 2 City Council Member. He has decided not to run again, so this was an opportunity to show our appreciation for his service to the community.

We had a lot of past Chamber Chairs in the room, so asked them to stand to be recognized. Then had current Chamber Board and Committee Members stand. They give the Chamber and community a lot of time.

After dinner we did something I’ve wanted to do for a while: thank some of our elected officials for their work on North I-25. Here are my remarks:

For years our state has under-funded maintenance and expansion of the highway and interstate system. We have about $9 billion of transportation needs.

North I-25 has been one of the most neglected parts of the state. The same cement put down in 1968 when the north part of I-25 opened in is still there a half-century later. And until the southbound climbing lane was opened on Berthoud Hill in early 2017, no new capacity had been added to the north section of North I-25.

During that time the population of the Larimer / Weld county regions quadrupled to 660,000 people today and will exceed a million in 20 years.

After hearing it would be decades until the interstate would be built out, leaders in the area had enough and took matters into their own hands. As a result, over $600 million has been committed to North I-25 over the last 4 years.

Dozens and dozens of people have contributed to this effort. That includes many of you in the audience tonight who have supported our lobbying work through Fix North I-25 and Northern Colorado Prospers.

But there a short list of people who rise above the rest. One is Region 4 CDOT Director Johnny Olson who has been absolutely amazing – committed, creative, persistent. 

Another is Sandra Solin of Capitol Solutions who has been a major strategist and connector on transportation for us and statewide.

Another is our representative on the Colorado Transportation Commission, Kathy Gilliland.

At a point in the future we’ll make time to thank them for their work. But tonight we wanted to put the spotlight on three elected officials.

Tom Donnelly is a Larimer County Commissioner and was the initial catalyst for a local funding strategy that eventually attracted state and federal money.

Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer rallied all the local governments in Northern Colorado through a group she co-founded and leads called the I-25 Coalition.

Fort Collins Mayor Pro Tem Gerry Horak has actively worked to convince the local governments to put money on the table and is chairing a committee exploring funding options.

All 3 of them have testified, lobbied legislators, rallied support, and provided strategic leadership on I-25.

About them Johnny Olson said “The great work of all three has allowed the Region to move forward on its top priority of I-25 expansion. Their support and leadership organizing regional strategies have been nothing short of amazing.”

Commissioner Gilliland said “Commissioners Donnelly, Kirkmeyer and Mayor Pro-tem Horak deserve to be recognized for their outstanding contribution to this significant and innovative collaboration that will serve all who travel I-25 now & in the future. Without the willingness for a collaborative effort and extensive commitment and investment from all, the I-25 expansion would not be happening today.”

Please welcome County Commissioners Tom Donnelly and Barbara Kirkmeyer and Mayor Pro tem Gerry Horak.”

All three made gracious and generous remarks, then were presented with their own customized I-25 highway signs.

2018 Chair Connie Dohn of Dohn Construction and Pete Gazlay of Total Facility Care shared remarks. Afterward, we thanked Connie Dohn for her year as chair:

“We want to recognize Connie Dohn for her great service as Board Chair.

Connie is a graduate of the College of Business at CSU. She has been a certified public accountant since 1984.

Connie and husband Doug started Dohn Construction in 1992 where Connie puts her accounting skills to work as Chief Financial Officer.

Connie is active in the community. She was on the Board of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and served as chair 2013-15. She chaired the Better Business Bureau and is active with United Way. Connie was in the inaugural class of Leadership Northern Colorado, which started in 2010.

Connie was a wonderful chair. She shows up, engages, and speaks her mind. Her candor was always appreciated.

Please join me in thanking Connie Dohn for her service as 2018 Chair of the Board!”

Brandon Grebe (GYS Development LLC) was recognized as outgoing chair of the Local Legislative Affairs Committee, Sharie Grant (OfficeScapes) was recognized for retiring from the Board, as was Lucia Liley (Liley Law Office, LLC), who was absent from dinner due to another commitment at a county planning meeting.

We recognized the many volunteers of the annual Moving Fort Collins Forward Campaign! with special thanks to the co-chairs Deb Kelly of Guaranty Bank and Mat Dinsmore of Wilburs Total Beverage; and the top producers Yvonne Myers of Columbine, Amy Kolczak of UC Health, and Diane Jackson of UC Health. And we gave a big thank you to the main campaign sponsor Otter Products.

The 100 investors of Northern Colorado Prospers were thanked along with the Investors Advisory Council.

The 2018 Volunteer of the Year was Valerie Arnold, Hub Real Estate:

“As noted at the beginning of the evening and demonstrated by all the people we have thanked, our success as a chamber is rooted in engagement of our members. We have strong, smart, competent, active people leading the Chamber.

Our next award goes to one of them, our Volunteer of the Year. This award honors someone who has made a significant contribution to the organization’s work.

This year’s Volunteer of the Year is an attorney who became a realtor.

Our honoree is a former Assistant Attorney General and counsel to Colorado Division of Real Estate.

She is one of the active volunteers that I just indirectly thanked for her work on the annual Moving Fort Collins Forward campaign where she served on the Red Carpet Committee team.

She is an active member of two of the Chamber’s busiest and most demanding committees: the Red Carpet Committee and the Local Legislative Affairs Committee.

Our honoree is on the Board of Citizens for a Sustainable Economy, she is a Trustee for the Poudre River Public Library District; a Board member for the Red Cross of Northern Colorado; an Associate Board Member for the Boys and Girls Club of Larimer County; and a Board Member of the City of Fort Collins Transportation Board.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in congratulating our 2018 Volunteer of the Year: Valerie Arnold, Hub Real Estate!” 

The final award of the evening was the Collins Award which was presented by Connie Dohn and Pete Gazlay to Dr. Tony Frank:

“Our final presentation of the evening is the prestigious Collins Award.  The Collins Award recognizes an individual’s or organization’s long-standing contribution to the community.  The first Collins Award was presented in 1977.

Since then, winners have included such luminaries as Larry Kendall, Tom Gleason, Gene Markley, Bohemian Companies, Doug Hutchinson, Curt and Nancy Richardson and Mark Driscoll.

This year’s Collins Award goes to an individual that has provided significant leadership to our community and our Chamber.

Our award recipient is the 14th president of Colorado State University, one of the nation’s leading public land-grant research universities with nearly 35,000 students and more than $332 million in annual research activity.

Since his appointment to the presidency in 2008, he has overseen a period of record fund-raising and enrollment, rising graduation rates, increased diversity, improved campus infrastructure, and unprecedented research support. He was named Chancellor of the Colorado State University System on June 1, 2015.

President Frank earned his undergraduate degree in biology from Wartburg College, followed by a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. and residences in pathology and toxicology at Purdue. Prior to his appointment as CSU’s president in 2008, he served as the University’s provost and executive vice president, vice president for research, chairman of the Pathology Department, and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Dr. Frank serves on a number of state and national boards and has provided incredibly leadership and vision to our community and CSU. 

We honor our Collins Award winners with an original painting.  The painting is by local artist Amelia Caruso.

Dr. Frank, thank you for your service to our community, and the Chamber of Commerce.

Please congratulate our 2018 Collins Award Winner, Dr. Tony Frank.”

Also thanked that evening by Connie Dohn was the Chamber staff, which does a great job for our members, including putting on a first-rate annual celebration.

As I said several times during the evening, we’re fortunate for the caliber of people active with our Chamber. Congratulations to honorees and thanks to all for their support.