Last week, The Trinidad Las Animas County Chamber of Commerce (TLACC) released the nominee results of the prestigious Chenoweth Awards, a local award named after the late former judge and U.S, Congressman John J. Chenoweth and first awarded to Chenoweth in 1979.
The banquet for this year’s nominees is Saturday, Jan. 25, at Mt. Carmel Community Center, 911 Robinson Ave.
TLACC Executive Director Nicia Crosson said the award recognizes those individuals who see through hardships and obstacles and achieve positive ends regardless of what’s happening around them.
“There may be some negative things happening in our community, but there are people out there doing great things,” said Crosson. “They might be salmons swimming upstream right now and they’re fighting the current, but that’s who the Chenoweth winner should be. Someone swimming upstream and who gives us that ability to hope.”
From her discussions with others who knew Chenoweth, Crosson said he really was a positive force to those around him.
“Everything I’ve heard about this man is that he was genuine and down-to-earth,” said Crosson. “The Chamber is proud to perpetuate that legacy.”
Below are this year’s Chenoweth nominees and short biographies in alphabetical order.
Brian Falsetto was born and raised in Trinidad. He graduated from Trinidad High School after which he attended Trinidad State Junior College. Falsetto graduated from TSJC in 1974 and worked for the local railroad.
He spent several years in Denver where he gained experience in the security industry. He eventually moved back to Trinidad to take care of his uncle. After his passing, Falsetto went on to acquire more training in security and ended up starting his own company, Security Systems Plus. He has continued running this business for over two decades.
Brian is the father of three children and the grandfather of six and has always been dedicated to his family, which he carries over into his care for customers in his business. Brian has been a volunteer for the Trinidaddio Blues Fest and was the public announcer for many years for the Triggers Baseball team as well as the Trinidad High School baseball team.
Andrea is a lifelong resident of Trinidad, Colorado, born on December 26, 1959 to Florie and Marie (Shew) Massarotti and educated in the Holy Trinity/Trinidad Catholic school system. She matriculated to Colorado State University (Fort Collins) graduating in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics inclusive of a teaching license. She married Joseph P. Jimenez in Denver in 1981. Andrea is the proud mother of seven children, five grandchildren and one great grandson.
She was a cantor and bookkeeper for Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church; a substitute teacher, assistant principal, mathematics teacher and Business Manager for Trinidad Catholic School systems; and she was involved in the inauguration of the All School Reunion for the Tiger Alumni Association (which included alumni from St. Joseph’s Academy, Holy Trinity and Trinidad Catholic High School).
As time went on she became a part of Holy Trinity Academy as a business manager, later adding the roles of math and personal finance teacher, Head Teacher, school board member, coaching and many other positions as needed for the school. She was also a college counselor for HTA high school students who chose to take concurrent classes at Trinidad State Junior College. Since 2013, 80 percent of students who attended HTA for four years graduated with an Associate’s degree from TSJC in addition to a high school diploma.
Dr. Joseph Jimenez
Joseph was born to Guilebaldo E. and Virginia (Campbell) Jimenez in Denver, Colorado on January 11, 1957. He eventually came to Trinidad with his parents in 1966. He attended Holy Trinity Grade School and Trinidad Catholic High School. After graduating in 1975, he used the Boettcher Scholarship to attend The Colorado College where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics and went to medical school at The University of Colorado, graduating with his doctorate in 1983.
In 1986 he was offered a place to practice family medicine with Charles Raye, MD. This evolved into buying the practice outright from Dr. Raye, and started his private practice on August 1, 1986. He became an active member of the medical staff at Mt. San Rafael Hospital (MSRH) and Trinidad State Nursing Home (TSNH).
His community involvement included being a member of the parish council at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church; the first chairman of the initial Tri-Parish Council during the consolidation of the three Catholic churches in Trinidad (Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Joseph’s and Holy Trinity). He was an official for the local American Youth Soccer Organization, coached at the high school level for football and basketball, and continues to coach girls’ soccer as well at Trinidad High School. He has been a head coach for Trinidad Catholic, Holy Trinity Academy, Primero, and Aguilar high schools. He was a faculty member at Trinidad Catholic High School, and also at Holy Trinity Academy where he currently teaches high school science. Dr. Jimenez is the husband of Andrea Jimenez, who is also a nominee for the award.
Felix Lopez began his education at Trinidad State Junior College as an international student. Lopez earned his Associate Degree from Trinidad State Junior College, Baccalaureate Degree from the University of Southern Colorado and a Graduate Degree from Colorado State University. After completing his education, Lopez was employed by TSJC in various capacities: the Director of Fiscal Services, Purchasing Director, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and later culminating his career at TSJC as President.
Lopez was elected County Commissioner of Las Animas County-District 1 November 2018. Recently, he was appointed to the Colorado Counties Incorporated (CCI) statewide executive board representing the Southern District and also serves as a Southern Colorado representative at the Children’s Hospital in Colorado Springs. He serves with the 3rd Judicial with Partners for Drug Free Communities and also serves with the Area Agency on Aging for Region 14 (South Central Council of Governments) as a board member.
Felix has experience on various boards including El Pomar Southeast Council, Southeast Workforce liaison while at Trinidad State Junior College, Trinidad Las Animas Chamber of Commerce, Primero School District Accountability President, San Luis Valley Area Health Education Center in Alamosa, Colorado, Southeast Workforce Investment Board, Colorado’s 3rd Judicial District Nominating Commission, CASA (Court Appointed Advocates) of the Pikes Peak Region, Colorado Springs Teen Court volunteer, and Colorado Springs Latino Chamber volunteer.
Marilyn Leuszler has been a strong arts advocate and community activist for 50 years, teaching art workshops for youth and adults while maintaining her studio and business, Brushwork – Black Ink Studio, in Trinidad.
Leuszler lived in Japan for ten years and studied under two Living National Treasures plus masters in several fields. Her focus was traditional Asian arts and she holds a Japanese National Certificate of Competency in brush calligraphy, and was the first foreign student accepted into the Akiyama School of Silk Embroidery, one of only two such schools in Japan.
She serves as Executive Director of the Corazόn de Trinidad Creative District, is an active local leader in the Space to Create Trinidad project, serves on the Arts for Colorado board, is a certified Colorado Change Leader and was inducted into the Pueblo South High School Hall of Fame for her artistic and community work.
In 1998 a group of concerned citizens organized around the cause to improve humane animal conditions at the City of Trinidad’s animal shelter came together and Noah’s Ark Animal Welfare Association was founded. A few years later, they received their 501(c)3 status and after three years in operation as a shelter without walls, they signed a yearly renewable contract with the City of Trinidad to operate the city’s animal shelter.
The mission of the organization is to enhance the care and living conditions of domestic animals within the City of Trinidad, Las Animas County, with emphasis on population control, disease prevention, adoption programs, support of the shelter, and education of the community on animal care issues.
After over a decade of working towards a new shelter, Noah’s Ark never stopped trying to get it done. Last year, the shelter received the ok from the City of Trinidad to use the location of the old swimming pool for the new site of Noah’s Ark animal shelter.
Linda Perry has worked tirelessly over the years to support the growth and development of Trinidad and the surrounding areas, especially with her work at Trinidad State Junior College (TSJC) where she is the Executive Assistant to the President.
There, she is an advocate for higher education for our area youth in career and technical programs as well as transfer degrees to further student opportunities. She is also liaison between the college and Fishers Peak Ranch, working with The Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Lands to develop applicable educational opportunities in partnership with the state’s newest state park.
Perry also serves as co-director, local advisory committee member and advocate for Bar NI Ranch Community Service Fund, a non-profit grant giving organization. Twice a year grant applications are received by the Local Advisory Committee in the areas of education, youth development, environment and conversation and health and human services. Established by the Bar NI Ranch ownership in 2004 the Bar NI Ranch Community Fund has awarded over $500,000 to the community’s non-profit programs.
Phil Rico has served since 2016 as the Mayor of Trinidad while also acting as the Municipal League representative, liaison to Fort Carson, Southwest Chief Amtrak Commission member, liaison to the Tourism Board, appointed representative to a statewide DOT planning group, as well as The Trinidad Community Foundation Board member and past President.
Noteworthy accomplishments include being an integral part in securing tax credits for the space to create and also helped to launch the purchase of Fishers Peak.
Rico has improved the lives of Trinidad citizens by helping solidify the Fishers Peak and Space to Create projects, which he believes will be essential to invigorating our local economy and help to make it clean and sustainable.
Stacey Sanchez was born in Trinidad and has lived here all his life. He is currently employed at the Trinidad Community Center where he is involved in facilitating youth sports programs.
He is the director of and manages the Trinidad Family Aquatics Center in the summer and is certified by the American Red Cross as an LGI. He is also an American Heart Association First Aid/CPR instructor.
Stacey has a passion for educating people on proper First Aid and CPR methods. He is also the children’s ministry director at First Christian Church in Trinidad. Recently, Stacey joined the Trinidad Golf Association Board of Directors.