Aspen’s Best: People | AspenTimes.com

Aspen’s Best: People

Paul Conrad The Aspen Times
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One of the best things about this town is the level of citizen involvement. One of the reasons that Aspen tends to argue things to death is that people care. And they speak up. They give their time, brains, energy and, yes, money to make Aspen the best place it can be.In the category of Best All-Around Citizen, we received no fewer than 44 names, and they ranged from politicians and CEOs to people wed call average citizens who drive patrol cars, teach schoolkids, agitate at government meetings, volunteer at nonprofit organizations and serve the community in numerous small ways.There are far too many names to list them all here, but they represent a true cross-section of the community. Most of them received one or two votes, but Lita Heller rose above the rest. Other top vote-getters included Dana Laughren, Peter VanDomelen, Marilyn Marks, Dwayne Romero and Boogie Weinglass.

For the second year in a row, Lita Heller has won Aspens Best Socialite. Of course, many of the parties she stages or attends are the fund-raisers for Aspens numerous nonprofit organizations which is why Heller is also won the honor of Aspens Best All-Around Citizen.Anyway, she won this category hands-down, with three other socialites garnering anywhere from two to four votes: Nancy Paley, Lori Burnstein and Nancy Spears.Benny the Rollerdude skated off with one vote, although we doubt he runs in Hellers circle. Other readers seemed to dislike the very category, saying They all think they are, and Who f***ing cares?

Voters went not for the splashy part-timer, who is as likely to appear in a national tabloid as in the local paper (like runner-up Goldie Hawn). John Oates is, no doubt, famous: As half of Hall & Oates, he is part of the most successful duo in music history. But Oates is a local through and through (even if he still hits the road a good bit with Daryl Hall): he can be found telemarking down Highland Bowl, contributing his time to valley fundraisers, tending his flock of llamas and the like at his Woody Creek home. This past year found him as local and famous as ever, jumping on Aspen stages to jam with Blues Traveler, Camp Freddy and others. Look for Oates at the Wheeler Opera House in the months ahead, as he hosts the three-part Stories Behind the Songs series. Also still in the running: Oates late neighbor Hunter Thompson, who took third, nearly four years after his death.

Aspen running back Beau Seguin was not content to be a spectator in 2008.After spending the bulk of 2007 on the sidelines after a season-ending shoulder injury, nothing could keep the senior off the field in 2008. And nothing could keep him out of the end zone. The do-everything back set a school record with 32 touchdowns, easily eclipsing the previous mark set by Tucker Eason. He piled up nearly 1,500 yards rushing and routinely delighted the Aspen faithful with highlight-reel plays on the ground, through the air and on special teams. He garnered heaps of praise from opposing coaches and led the Skiers to an 8-3 record and a second-consecutive postseason berth. Those statistics were enough to garner a runaway victory with a dozen votes in the race for the valleys top high school athlete. Freshman golfer and standout skier Bobby Moyer and junior Aspen point guard Matt Holmes shared second place, but could only muster two votes each.It seems fitting: Seguin made a living of outrunning the competition while wearing black and red.

Tammie Lane not only makes excellent art; she devotes herself as an artist should to the creative life. Lane has not one, but two specialties in the fine arts field: watercolor landscapes and Raku ceramic pottery. And when she leaves the studio for the day, she turns to her hobby playing flute and tin whistle with a local Celtic music ensemble. The hard-working Lane has earned her reward for her dedication: This past year, she gave up her career as an illustrator to open the studio/gallery Lane Fine Art at Obermeyer Place, where making her art is a full-time pursuit. Lane earned three votes, enough to win in a field where the ballot was split between some 40 artists.

For a small town, Aspen has a lot of schools. Public schools, a charter school, preschools, ski schools, a private school and the always important school of hard knocks. So it should come as no surprise that 37 different people earned votes in best teacher category. And while no one stood heads above the rest, Summer Pennetta from Aspen Country Day School garnered the most support. Its no surprise to those who know the veteran third grade teacher; the schools assistant headmaster says Summer is a extremely caring and compassionate teacher who nurtures each of her students to do their very best.

Barry Smith and his weekly humor column, Irrelativity, was a hands-down winner in this category. Its clear that readers love Smiths irreverent sense of humor even when he is stretched to the max, touring Canada during the summer performing his one-man shows like Jesus in Montana, American Squatter and Barry Smiths Baby Book. We admire Barry for still having time left over to write an amusing column for us each Monday, and so do readers, it seems.Traditionally, voters have had a difficult time discerning the definition of columnist, and so it was this year as a number of our reporters who write news stories, not opinion columns garnered votes. But for the record, second place for Aspens best columnist actually goes to two other Aspen Times columnists: Roger Marolt, who writes Roger This every Friday, and Alison Berkley, whos The Princesss Palate has been in our paper on Thursdays for more than six years.

Aspen is full of opinionated people and sometimes their vocal criticisms translate into complaining. However, life without them would be boring and democracy would be hampered. So heres to Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland, who won by a landslide in the esteemed category of Aspens Biggest Whiner.Ireland, a former Pitkin County Commissioner, was elected by Aspen voters in June of 2007. While the majority of voters obviously agree with Irelands policies and positions, he has been the subject of criticism in how he delivers his message and his perceived treatment of the public.Others who garnered a notable number of votes were government gadflies Toni Kronberg and Marilyn Marks.

Aspen snowboarder Chris Klug shows no signs of slowing down.At age 36 and with 18 years on the competitive circuit, his enthusiasm and dedication are as apparent as ever. The 2002 Olympic bronze medalist has his sights on the Winter Games in 2010, and theres little reason to doubt a guy who has made a career of overcoming obstacles. The 2000 liver transplant recipient, who was named to the U.S. Snowboard Team in the fall, finished 2008 on a high note, taking first and second in Marchs U.S. Nationals at Mount Hood Meadows in Oregon. Those finishes guaranteed him World Cup starts this winter. When not reveling in abundant powder on local mountains this winter, Klug has amassed some impressive results most notably a seventh-place finish in a NorAm parallel giant slalom at Copper Mountain in November.Locals have taken notice. Klug garnered 11 votes from our readers to claim the illustrious best skier/snowboarder title. How big is this honor? Consider this: Klug topped a list of nearly 40 names that included hometown hero and Winter X Games gold medalist Gretchen Bleiler (nine votes), big-mountain pro Chris Davenport (seven), and U.S. Ski Team member Jake Zamansky. Skiwear pioneer Klaus Obermeyer headlined a group that garnered one vote each. Cheer up, Klaus: If we had a best yodeling category, youd be a shoo in for No. 1.

Its official: Aspenites love to party. Or at least a lot us do, according to the long list of best barfly nominees we received this year. Honestly, there were more than three dozen different contenders men, women and even a reptile (Kyle the Party Reptile, that is) with at least one vote in this category. And while a small handful of folks received more than one nod Scotty Gibson and Amy Brodsky were at the top of the list with three votes each apparently nobody takes the cake when it comes to bellying up to the bar. Still, we have a favorite in this category: Anyone at the Eagles Club, which says a whole lot about being a barfly in Aspen, doesnt it?

The legend of Bryan Sax lives on.While he has not been a bartender at Jimmys An American Bar and Restaurant for a few years, Sax was still the top vote-getter for this years best bartender.Sax, 37, died in a plane crash on Dec. 6, 2008. His larger than life personality has carried on even in death, and is likely a contributor to him winning this category yet again he won in 2005 and generated enough votes the next year to get an honorable mention.Other friendly, competent mixologists behind local bars who got votes are: The Double Dogs Bob Robinson and Clancy; Jordan and Lori at Erics; Mike Lavker at Lu Lu Wilsons; Scotty at LHostaria; Steve at the Fly Lounge; and Tim Bixler at Bentleys. Congratulations and cheers.


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