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Old-timers, newcomers celebrate community

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Photo by Kami Collins Collenette Vervloet with the Crawford Area Chamber of Commerce presents the Volunteer of the Year award to Lynne Watkins via Facetime. Watkins was in Florida at the time of the banquet, but made time to join in the festivities digita

The old, the new and the outstanding was celebrated in Crawford last weekend during the annual Old Timers, Newcomers event. The oldest old-timer, the newest newcomer and the volunteer, business and nonprofit of the year were recognized and celebrated during the potluck meal and community gathering, put on by the Crawford Area Chamber of Commerce.

Though the crowd was smaller than in past years, the sense of community was strong and vibrant. As introductions were made of everyone gathered, almost everyone commented how much they loved the community, their neighbors and the way of life in Crawford.

"We just love everyone here," said Tiffiany Kesinger. She, her husband Joe and their children Makahla and Garrett moved to Crawford about four months ago from Texas, making them the 2017 Newcomers. The family has always wanted to live in Colorado Tiffiany said, and once Joe heard about the outstanding elk hunting in this area, they knew this would be their next home. They hooked up with realtor Liz Heidrick who more than sold them a home, Tiffiany said. "She has helped us to fit into the community," she said.

The span between the newcomer to the oldtimer is impressive, from just four months to almost 83 years.

Charles Klaseen was given the honor of 2017 Oldtimer. When asked how long he has lived in Crawford, he said, "Well, I was born Nov. 1, 1934, so you do the math!" He was born at home on the family ranch in Crawford, and currently lives within four miles of where he was born. The only time he was absent from the valley was when he was in college in Fort Collins. He and his wife Betty have four children, 15 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Charles said he has loved spending his life in Crawford. "I wouldn't change it for anything," he said.

Liz Heidrick, owner of Needlerock Realty, LLC, was honored as the Business of the Year. "She is most likely the reason for a great number of the newcomers here tonight," said chamber representative Collenette Vervloet. "She encourages her new buyers to get involved with Crawford ... I've seen her drag more folks to our meetings than all of us put together. It's absolutely evident that her goal for Crawford is to bring out the very best in this community. She is not only a successful realtor, but she has her finger on the pulse of all that is good in the North Fork."

The Black Canyon Animal Sanctuary was named the Nonprofit of the Year. Debbie Faulkner spoke about her organization, calling it "more than an animal shelter." The Silver Whiskers program pairs elderly people with a homeless senior pet as well as a volunteer animal advocate, who can help the elderly person with things like getting the animal to the vet and by delivering food. BCAS helps people with emergency vet care and bills when they can, and they strive to teach kids compassion for animals through their summer camps. At Black Canyon, dogs are not kennelled, but instead are able to roam the 2,500 fenced play yards. BCAS has a separate facility for homeless cats in Paonia called Katmandu. The organization is a no-kill facility, and all dogs and cats are cared for until permanent homes can be found. "We have made a real difference in the lives of people and pets," Faulkner said.

Lynne Watkins is the Volunteer of the Year. She was in Florida on vacation during the event, but her friends called her on Facetime so she could hear the announcement. Vervloet presented the award to Lynne's husband John. Lynne has volunteered for just about every possible project, luncheon, club and committee in this area, she said. She was on the Chamber board for many years, and when the chamber realized it could no longer organize Pioneer Days, it was Lynne who stepped up and found volunteers to continue the annual celebration. She also helped start the popular Festival of the Trees every November, and has organized a community afternoon tea. She is also involved in the Fruitland Mesa Women's Club, Crawford Community United Methodist Church, and many other projects and special events. "She is a role model we can all stand to learn from," Vervloet said.

Photo submitted Lynne Watkins, 2017 Volunteer of the Year.
Photo by Kami Collins Black Canyon Animal Sanctuary was honored as the Nonprofit of the Year. Pictured is founder Debbie Faulkner.
Photo by Kami Collins Nicole Reasoner, (left) president of the Crawford Area Chamber of Commerce, presents Liz Heidrick, owner of Needlerock Realty, LLC, with the Business of the Year award.
Photo by Kami Collins Tiffiany Kesinger and her family were named the Newcomers, having just moved to Crawford this past September. Presenting her award was chamber president Nicole Reasoner, on the left.
Photo by Kami Collins Chamber representative Collenette Vervloet congratulates Charles Klaseen and his wife Betty on the honor of being the valley’s 2017 Oldtimer.
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North Fork
Chamber of Commerce, Crawford
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