NEEDLES — The Needles Rodeo Association collectively captured Citizen of the Year honors at the 2019 Needles Chamber of Commerce awards dinner, held Oct. 5 in The Red Barn at The Palms River Resort, the official sponsor of the event.

Association board members are Laurie Fragoso, Cory Payne, Mike Shott, Judy Thornton and Kim Willis. Chamber Board President Mary Gonzales read a lengthy list of community organizations to which the association contributes proceeds from the annual Colorado River Round Up Rodeo before summoning Fragoso to the podium to accept the awards. Gonzales concluded: “They also put on a pretty great rodeo every year, which is a lot of hard work.” The 2020 rodeo will be April 3 and 4.

Zachary Lopez’ hard work in recording and posting videos of Needles’ many events was recognized with the 2019 Volunteer of the Year award. Gonzales described the range of subjects he records for his Zach News sites and pointed out he does so at his own expense and with no personal means of transportation. “Many times you will see him walking or running to get to his next event,” Gonzales said.

The Needles chapter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul was named Business of the Year. Gonzales described the work the society does for those in need, including the extensive nutritional support undertaken in the community plus vouchers for emergency needs like medications, gasoline, clothing, housing, utilities and transportation.

All of the prepared comments for awards recipients can be read in the attached column: 'Chamber recognizes efforts on behalf of community'

Marie Armijo, principal of Vista Colorado Elementary School, was named Educator of the Year. Needles Unified School District Superintendent Mary McNeil, Ph.D., introduced Armijo and described her many successes from childhood in Wyoming through the present, including several awards garnered through the years for excellence in educating students. Her ‘can do’ attitude extends to taking on additional assignments for the district and to volunteer work in the community. “She is approachable, kind and caring,” McNeil summed up.

The awards were presented while the crowd enjoyed signature cocktails named for the dance teams from beverage sponsor Riverfront Cafe, found in the Rainbo Beach Resort; food prepared by Susan Alexis’ team from the Wagon Wheel Restaurant; and between performances of Needles Dances with the Stars: a diverse dance competition from a troupe made up of local celebrity dancers and students of the ever-popular Dance Trax 51. Barbara Earle, Abigail Belt and Bryar Leivas took home the trophies in the competition, based on $1 votes collected to support Cindi’s Kids, the nonprofit arm of Dance Trax 51.

Besides those pictured the dancers included Renee Cardona with Jaycee Barrett and Kensley Beals; Ruth Ross with Adyn Rockwood and Janae Adams; Patrick Martinez with Clementine Fritz; Kobee McCorkle with Lena Butterfield; and Austin Baldwin with Liana DeLeon.

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