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UCBLN honors employers, employees of all abilities

Posted: Thursday, Oct 24th, 2013

Officers from the Evanston Police Department receive the UCBLN 2013 Mentor of the Year Award. Pictured from left are Detective Rich McMurray, FTO Rebecca Landes, Detective Chris Smith, Lt. Mike Vranish, Sgt. Rhett Groll, Lt. Ken Pearson, and Police Chief Jon Kirby. (HERALD PHOTO/Deborah Demander)

EVANSTON — The Uinta County Business Leadership Network hosted its 15th annual awards luncheon on Wednesday, featuring local businesses, organizations and individuals who employ and celebrate people of all abilities.

Evanston mayor Joy Bell said, “This is one of my favorite events of the year. This group helps me tick.”

Bell described Evanston as a unique place where educators and employees work hard to help those with different abilities excel.

“The community as a whole helps those with different abilities,” Bell said. “This is one of those areas where we get things done, as a community. It says something about our community, when even at the high school level, the kids elected Eric (Gonzalez) to be their homecoming king. Their actions speak louder than anything we could ever say.”

Awards got underway with the Spirit of the BLN, presented by the Human Services Tripartite Board’s Jim Hissong. He presented the award to the Evanston Area Community Foundation, for their support and work with the BLN. Board member Robert Griffin accepted the award on behalf of the board.

The Outstanding Individual was awarded to Sonja Wild, whose talents have enhanced the mission of the Uinta County Business Leadership Network, according to presenter Wanda Rogers.

Sue Norman, chairman of the UBLN said of the 2013 Mentor of the Year winner, “They actively encourage the youth, often mentoring several students at a time.” That award was presented to the Evanston Police Department.

The Youth Initiative Champion Award, presented by Keith Fry, was awarded to Evanston High School learning lab teachers Lynn Conaway, Jeff Williams and Ryan Berger. Of the group, Fry said, “They come up with more and more great ideas for job experience and life experience for these students.”

Keynote speaker Mylene Padolina, of the U.S. Business Leadership Network, encouraged everyone in attendance to believe in their own skills, to create strong networks of supportive people, and to step outside comfort zones to grow. She also entreated attendees to “give back, pay it forward, remember your journey and tell your story. You never know when your experience will resonate with someone else.”

The coveted Employer of the Year was presented by the 2013 Employer of the Year Rick Cluny, of Family Financial Education Foundation.

“The management team of First Bank understands the importance of hiring employees with different abilities. They expand their workforce with a diversity of employees.”

Finally, of the Employee of the Year nominees, Dawn Darby, executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce said, “Each nominee brings value to the community and to their employer. They are all award winners.”

The 2014 Employee of the Year was Rena Burrell, who has worked at Smith’s Food & Drug for five years. The nominee letter said, in part, “Rena comes to work every day with the most amazing attitude and smile.”

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