14 members of the community added their names to a long list of Farmer-Merchant and Community Recognition Banquet award recipients Thursday night during the annual event held in the Rigby Middle School Commons.
The Rigby Chamber of Commerce sponsored event featured silent auction items from nearly 60 local businesses and a pulled pork dinner catered by Rigby Middle School lunch personnel.
The following community members were recognized for their work and service:
Business of the Year Award
Dansie Dental has been in business in Rigby for over 12 years, growing from their original building on N. 1st W. to their current building off Highway 48. Ben and Erica Dansie grew up in Rigby and currently have three children.
“They’re known for their kind hearts and love for everyone,” Brook Talbot said. “We’re very blessed and fortunate to have them as a part of our community.”
Farmer of the Year
J.R. Hall Farmers
J.R. Hall Farms was established in 1954 by Gordon Hall. Jerry, Gordon’s son, joined the operation in 1970 and Jerry’s brother Rick, joined in 1980. Jerry’s two sons, Jeremy and Ty, also have equal stewardship in the operation. They milk approximately 1,100 cows three times a day. They operate (either through ownership or leasing) around 1,700 acres. In addition to their milking, they grow alfalfa, corn and barley.
“While Gordon has passed on, the values that he taught have resounded through and influenced the next several generations,” University of Idaho Extension Educator Joseph Sagers said. “They are constantly looking for ways to improve their operation and they strive to be good neighbors with everyone.”
Jefferson Soil & Water District Conservation Farmer of the Year
Wade Beckman said Dennis Snarr has implemented numerous technological advances into his farming, including VFD pumps and panels, the latest sprinkler systems, wind breaks to prevent soil erosion among others and participates in multiple programs through the Jefferson County Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“Dennis’ father taught him at an early age to be a good steward of the land. He believes in diversifying and growing several different crops including potatoes, malt barley, wheat, hay, canola and coverage crops,” Beckman said. “He’s a great example of good stewardship of the land.”
Jefferson County Farm Bureau Woman of the Year—Paige Nelson
Paige Nelson is a freelance agricultural journalist and part-time rancher with her husband Tyler Nelson. Paige and Tyler are fourth-generation ranchers and currently live on Tyler’s family ranch. They have a two-year-old daughter, Sylvia and a four-month old daughter, Lydia. She is the Chairman of the District Young Farmers and Ranchers Group and the Co-Chairman of the County Young Farmers and Ranchers where she teaches them about the Farm Bureau and gets them involved.
“Paige has brought a lot of new and innovative ideas to our County Farm Bureau and to the state,” Cara Shuldberg said. “She’s very outgoing and likes to think outside the box. I believe Paige will have a bright future in the Farm Bureau.”
Community Service of the Year
Jaime Thompson grew up in Rigby and is married to Jonathan Thompson. Together they have two kids, Kaell and Emmet. In 2013 she purchased Rod & Vinyl and developed it into Main Street Stickers. She sold the business last year. In 2014 she established Trick or Treat Main Street as a way to give back to the community. Last year she also helped Ginger Crystal with Stampede Days.
Jefferson County Teacher of the Year Elementary—Rene Gonzalez
Rene Gonzalez is a 3rd grade Spanish Immersion Partner Teacher at Farnsworth Elementary School. When teaching reading, Gonzalez activates prior knowledge by using vocabulary cards prior to reading the curriculum story so that students understand the words and can focus on comprehension.
“Mrs. Gonzalez provides open-ended questioning for the students to monitor their full understanding of the content,” Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Leon Clark said. “Jefferson School District 251 and Farnsworth Elementary have been fortunate to have Mrs. Gonzalez as a member of our team.”
Jefferson County Teacher of the Year Secondary—Laron Johnson
Laron Johnson has been an educator in the Jefferson School District for the past 22 years, at both Rigby High and Rigby Junior High Schools. In his tenure he has had the pleasure of educating and interacting with over 7,700 students while leading them in interactive lessons in the subjects of Environmental Field Studies, Maximizing Personal Development, World History, World Geography, U.S. History, Economics and the Holocaust. He and his wife Cathy have two children, Dalton who is studying at the University of Idaho and his daughter Allie who currently attends Rigby High School.
Rigby Senior Student of the Year
Nate Franz, son of Eric and Heidi Franz, is a high honor roll student with a 3.93 grade point average. He is a three sport athlete, lettering in football, basketball and track and field. He has received a track and field scholarship to Utah State University and plans to serve a two-year mission after he graduates from high school.
“Nate has one of the best attitudes of any young person,” Superintendent Chad Martin said. “Nate had a football season ending foot injury and not once was he seen upset, angry or doubting. He was the pillar of excitement, energy and commitment. He never missed a game or practice, but was still the leader of that team.”
Rigby Junior Student of the Year
McKenzie Mecham, daughter of Justin and Lori Mecham, is a high honor roll student with a 4.0 grade point average. She recently took first place in Business Professionals of America categories, Administrative Support Research Project and Presentation Management. She was recently selected to go to Girls State. After high school she plans to attend BYU-Idaho and pursue a degree in Business.
“She works hard in all aspects of schooling: social, extracurricular and educational,” Superintendent Chad Martin said. “In addition to her commitment to school, she is unfailingly kind and respectful to both staff and students. She is an amazing example of quiet leadership, positivity and integrity.”
City of Rigby Officer of the Year
Rigby Police Department Sergeant Chris Scott said Daniel Buono has been with the department since December, 2016. He has provided over 500 hours of service to the city during the 2018 calendar year. He is currently attending the Idaho State University Law Enforcement Program and is expected to graduate in May.
“Officer Buono is a kind and compassionate officer with a heart for serving his community,” Scott said.
Jefferson County Deputy of the Year Erika Blom
Erika Blom was born in Indianapolis and moved to Idaho when she was 14-years-old. She has been married to her husband Craig for 10 years and together they have a son named Cruz. She has been with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for the last five years and is the first Deputy assigned to Dispatch to receive this award. She enjoys rides on her Harley, Jeep excursion and spending time with her family and friends.
“Erika loves her job and it shows,” Sheriff Steve Anderson said. “Erika’s coworkers say her smile and laughter define her. She is a take charge and handle the situation type of Deputy.”
Central Fire District Fire Fighter of the Year—Seth Hulse
Seth Hulse grew up in Blackfoot and graduated from Blackfoot High School. While in high school he participated in a Boy Scouts fire fighting program. He wanted to be a fire fighter ever since. He is married to Jill Hulse and together they have three sons and one daughter. Before working for Central Fire in 2017, Hulse worked as an Emergency Medical Technician for the Idaho National Laboratory since 2001.
“Whenever I see Seth, either on a call, in the station or in a social situation, he always has a special gleam in his eyes,” Central Fire Chief Carl Anderson said. “This is a guy that enjoys his family, his job and his life.”
Veteran of the Year—Dan Sawinsky
“Dan has been a great help to us,” VFW Post Commander Roy Gibson said. “I don’t know whether it’s because he likes to volunteer to help us or cause his wife likes to volunteer him to help us.”
City of Rigby Employee of the Year
Mayor Jason Richardson said Rick Wade was nominated by numerous city employees and was told that Rick gets along with everybody and that he always gives 110 percent. He said the biggest compliment he could give is that everyone in the city enjoys working with him.
“I cannot say enough about Rick. I could give Rick the worst job in the city and he will do it with a smile,” Public Works Director Mitch Bradley said. “He works really hard and gets along with everybody. He’s good at everything he does.”