Gala honors Cedar City’s best in 12 categories

CEDAR CITY — The melodic sounds of the Roaring ‘20s lent to the nostalgia and accolades Wednesday night as Cedar City’s finest were honored at the “65th Annual Best of Cedar City Awards.”

Waiting at the entrance at the 65th Annual Best of Cedar City Awards Gala, Southern Utah University Ballroom, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 20, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Waiting at the entrance at the 65th Annual Best of Cedar City Awards Gala, Southern Utah University Ballroom, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 20, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

Before the big event the Southern Utah University rotunda where the gala was held was alive with energy. Hundreds of guests slowly clamored into the ballroom walking across a star-studded red carpet. Each star along the walk bore the name of a 2016 award winner.

Twelve guests were honored in all, 11 of whom were announced in December 2015. To build anticipation, the Cedar City Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Award that went to Cedar City Economic Development wasn’t announced until the end of the gala.

As guests loaded their plates up with baked potatoes, veggies and juicy, tender prime rib, Master of Ceremonies Bryan Hyde of Cherry Creek Radio took to the podium and began to work his microphone magic on the crowd.

The SUU Ballroom Dance team cuts it up at the 65th Annual Best of Cedar City Awards Gala, Southern Utah University Ballroom, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 20, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
The SUU Ballroom Dance team cuts it up at the 65th Annual Best of Cedar City Awards Gala, Southern Utah University Ballroom, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 20, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

“We are working to build a climate of celebration,” he said, “and an atmosphere of fun.”

Reminding everybody that the people, businesses and organizations honored with awards Wednesday night played a vital role in making Festival City, as Cedar City is called, a vibrant and exciting place to live, work and visit, Hyde dove right into acknowledgments and introductions without skipping a beat.

After several awards were given out, the SUU Ballroom Dance team took to the floor with an energetic swing-style performance reminiscent of a bygone era.

Among the humble award winners, all dressed to the nines, the motorcycle organization Bikers Against Child Abuse accepted their awards true to style donning their classic leather cuts and black B.A.C.A. T-shirts.

Bikers Against Child Abuse members Madqat and Jurzee check out their award for Organization of the Year at the 65th Annual Best of Cedar City Awards Gala, Southern Utah University Ballroom, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 20, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Bikers Against Child Abuse members Madqat and Jurzee check out their award for Organization of the Year at the 65th Annual Best of Cedar City Awards Gala, Southern Utah University Ballroom, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 20, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

“I am pleased to be here to present this award,” said Tom Heaton of Rocky Mountain Power who sponsored the Organization of the Year Award. “Although, I want to tell you, I did not get the memo on the dress for the awards – I wish I had worn my leathers.”

B.A.C.A. members laughed, but while accepting their award members Madqat and Jurzee made sure to let the audience know they were wearing their “church clothes.”

The endless list of community work done by the youngest award recipient in the room, Cedar High School senior Kaliegh Bronson, painted the picture of an unstoppable young woman with all of the makings of a bright future.

A Sterling Scholar who participates as captain of her high school debate team and as a second-term mayor with Youth City Council, Hyde said, Bronson’s achievements are a firm indicator of her drive and willingness to help others when needed.

Young Citizen of the Year Award winner Kaliegh Bronson accepts her award at the 65th Annual Best of Cedar City Awards Gala, Southern Utah University Ballroom, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 20, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Young Citizen of the Year Award winner Kaliegh Bronson accepts her award at the 65th Annual Best of Cedar City Awards Gala, Southern Utah University Ballroom, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 20, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

“Cedar City is my home,” Bronson said. “And it’s not just because of the feelings of belonging and comfort when I pull into town after being gone for a long time, but it’s because of the people of our community that embrace me, believe in me, challenge me and truly care about me that makes Cedar City my home.”

The young girl’s words that echoed through the ballroom with a wisdom beyond her years were met with resounding applause from the audience as her grateful speech came to an end.

From Man of the Year Martin Tyner’s proclamations of gratitude to his wife of 38 years to Woman of the Year Terri Hartley’s appreciation of her husband and family for their support during her campaign that led her to her new City Council seat, it was obvious that the theme of the evening had stepped away from the carefree ‘20s and shifted to the importance of family and a strong source of support.  

Man of the Year Martin Tyner accepts his award at the 65th Annual Best of Cedar City Awards Gala, Southern Utah University Ballroom, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 20, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Man of the Year Martin Tyner accepts his award at the 65th Annual Best of Cedar City Awards Gala, Southern Utah University Ballroom, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 20, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

Nothing made the shift more abundantly clear than the heartfelt thank you delivered by Legacy Award Winner Dixie Leavitt:

Anne and I have been a partnership now for almost 66 years of marriage …. It’s a great place to live, Cedar City. I wanted Anne to come up here, because we are a partnership, and when I say I appreciate it — anything that I get the highlights of here – well she is deserving to be right here (next to me).

As the ceremony came to a close, the room was filled with smiling faces and laughter. Guests had a short opportunity to mix and mingle with the 2016 award winners before departing.

The 12 winners of the 2016 “Best of Cedar City” awards

  • Cedar City Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Award | Cedar City Economic Development
    • The Cedar City Iron County Office of Economic Development works to recruit and promote businesses to help grow Cedar City’s economy
  • Hospitality Business of the Year | Cedar City Brian Head Tourism Bureau
    • For consistently providing guidance and momentum to the critical tourism portion of the community that helps to drive the Cedar City economy
  • Organization of the Year | Bikers Against Child Abuse
    • A motorcycle organization that exists to protect youth against abuse and empower them in the positive forward progression of their lives and future endeavors through physical and emotional support
  • Educator of the Year | Mary Pearson
    • The Southern Utah University assistant professor of accounting won because of her ability to make difficult accounting concepts understandable to her students and her willingness to work with them with full devotion to their learning
  • Citizen of the Year | Ed Lamb
    • The Southern Utah University Thunderbirds’ Head Coach led the team to their first ever Big Sky Championship title in 2015
  • Employer of the Year | GAF Commercial Roofing Systems
    • With an hourly workforce earning an average of $21.86, GAF has proven their commitment to the community by maintaining higher wages and offering an exceptional benefit package to employees who qualify
  • Man of the Year | Martin Tyner
    • Founder of the Southwest Wildlife Foundation, Cedar City’s “Bird Man” has continued to give back to the community by educating young minds about birds of prey and their habitats; Tyner is a federally licensed falconer, wildlife rehabilitator, wildlife propagator, and wildlife and environmental educator who has traveled the U.S. educating the masses in schools, scouts and community groups for more than 40 years
  • Woman of the Year | Terri Hartley
    • The newly elected Cedar City councilwoman won the title of Woman of the Year for being a pillar of strength in the community through her works with the Cedar City area Chamber of Commerce and youth groups
  • Young Citizen of the Year | Kaleigh Bronson
    • A Cedar High School student in her senior year, Bronson has maintained a 3.6 grade point average while juggling numerous extracurricular activities; she has taken college courses while still in high school, acts as mayor with Cedar City Youth Council, serves as French club secretary and is a Youth Leaders for Life ambassador; Bronson is a state champion debate captain and a volunteer with the Iron County Youth Volunteer Corps
  • Innovative Business of the Year | Rugged Materials
    • By raising more than $84,000 in startup funds through kickstarter, the owner of Rugged Materials has been able to provide quality, handmade leather products made in America to customers from all over the country
  • Business of the Year | Cherry Creek Radio
    • Cherry Creek was touted as a voice of Southern Utah for connecting with the community through fierce support of school sports and discussing important local issues on its regular talk shows
  • Legacy Award for Lifetime Achievement | Dixie Leavitt
    • Leavitt has spent a lifetime devoted to Cedar City and helping the community grow toward a vision of higher education and excellence; a graduate of Branch Agricultural College before it became Southern Utah University, Leavitt spent 18 years devoted to the Utah legislature where he worked to help obtain a four-year degree status for the institution and founded Leavitt Group Enterprises, an insurance enterprise.

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Email: cmiller@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • .... January 22, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Number one in meth lab’s

    • IDIOT COMMENTERS January 22, 2016 at 2:58 pm

      true, they forgot “meth dealer of the year”

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