The Roosevelt County Chamber toasted the reopening of business and the beginning of the new Roaring 20s at its annual banquet Thursday, March 3 at Little Old, Little New Venue in Portales.
Topping the evening was the presentation of the Warm Heart of the Sunbelt Award to Dr. Patrice Caldwell. The Chancellor of Eastern New Mexico University was honored for nearly 42 years of service in various capacities at the University and her commitment to serving the community.
Caldwell had been set to retire in 2020 when the pandemic struck and Regents convinced her to stay on as Chancellor to lead through troubled times. She recently announced that she will retire this summer.
Other awards included the Business of the Year Award going to Enchantment Vineyards. With the honor serving as the President’s Award, Outgoing President Felicia Powell.
“We salute the business that Enchantment Vineyards continually brings into Portales and the economic impact that makes through gross receipts taxes, jobs and the attraction of visitors to our community, Powell said.
Enchantment Vineyards was started by the extended Merrick family when they planted their first vines in 2015. Since shortly after that time they’ve operated a tasting room that hosts live entertainment and stays busy with locals and wine enthusiasts from throughout the region and nation.
Peggy Goolsby of Sweetwater’s at Landall’s, while Kathy Mead was named Ambassador of the Year. Six Harley and Faye Borden awards for businesses recognized for improving the outward appearance of their business were also recognized. Receiving those awards were The Milkshed, J.P. Stone Community Bank, Roosevelt General Hospital, GoodLife Senior Living, Legacy Church and Little Old, Little New Venue.
Powell, office manager of Roosevelt County Electric officially turned the reins of the organization over to 2022 President Chase Gossett.
“I truly believe all this talent and our incredible spirit will help us create another Roaring 20s that will put the one a century ago to shame,” Powell said, in her address.
Gossett emphasized the importance of balancing the overall community with the business community in his year.
“In serving on the chamber board for the last two years, I have come to a new-found understanding and respect for what the chamber represents—which is community service. I believe that the people make up the heart of our community, and we have a good one,” Gossett said.
Normally the banquet and passing of the gavel occurs in January but pandemic restrictions forced its rescheduling to March.
Ambassador of the Year
The Ambassador of the Year Award has very straight-forward criteria — simply the Ambassador who shows up at the most events and meetings is the winner.
The group holds monthly meetings, they average one or two ribbon cuttings a month and they present awards to the Business of the Month and Volunteer of the Month winners. They hold five family movie nights a year and put together the Little Miss Merry Christmas contest. They are always on the frontlines of volunteers for everything the Chamber does.
This year’s winner had just come off a term as Chamber President at the start of last year a time when a lot of our members slow down and after a year of lots of meetings they don’t show up as often. Instead, she never slowed her pace, in fact if anything she picked up the pace as we were all able to do more and more things in person. She’s always congenial and knows a lot of folks in our community. She always make people feel welcome and appreciated.
She is marking off the days to retirement from her position as manager of Wells Fargo’s Portales branch but we’ve already served notice that won’t be a reason to slack off as an Ambassador. Please help me congratulate our 2021 Ambassador of the Year Kathy Mead.
Workhorse of the Year Award
The Workhorse of the Year is a longtime award for the Chamber that represents what our Chamber and our town is all about – hard work. It’s given out each year to the person who gives the most of themselves for their community and our Chamber.
The presentation goes back to the 1960s when board member Gayle Ferguson came up with the idea after thinking about the teamwork that existed with two or more horses hitched together using the old horse collar. In fact in the early years the Chamber inscribed the names of Workhorse of the Year winners on an old leather horse collar.
Tonight’s honoree has been a fixture in Portales business since the days of VHS movies. Her son put her to work in his video store and she has worked hard as a partner in the business since that time.
I’ve heard that Peggy Goolsby taught her children to work hard by working alongside them and her support, advice and cheerleading has helped them succeed.
After relaunching Landall’s Box Office as Sweetwater’s at Landall’s several years ago, she and her son Landall rededicated themselves and the business to serve the community. About that time Peggy became active as an Ambassador and regularly attends functions and volunteers with that group.
During the pandemic they’ve maintained a database of local restaurants and their hours and methods of operations and have shared that online frequently. They continually lift up those many would consider competitors and it humanizes their business like nothing else.
She has made food deliveries for Rotary and other organizations. She has frequently made sure we were well taken care of at board meetings and other functions of the Chamber. Ice cream when we’re not expecting it always makes everyone happy.
On top that Peggy tracks down a copy of our movies for all our Ambassador Free Movie Nights, often paying for them out of pocket now that they no longer operate a video store.
We’ve hit her up for donations far too often and she always chips in and usually with more than expected. We all love her and wish her the best.
Please help me recognize Peggy Goolsby as the 2021 Workhorse of the Years.
Business of the Year
This next award is called the President’s Award, because, it is selected by the outgoing Chamber President, usually with nominations coming from the rest of the committee.
The award goes to a Chamber business that displays a culture of service to its community in its business practices and can be looked on as “Business of the Year.”
Our Business of the Year has taken the idea of family business to the extreme in Portales for years. Six members of the family are involved on an active basis in operating several businesses. One of their more recent business developments Enchantment Vineyards began after a trip to the wine country of California where the extended Merrick family wondered if a vineyard and tasting room would be possible.
The family is methodical and thorough in its approach to business and after months of research testing and planning they planted their first vines on the eastern edge of Portales in 2015. Since that time grapes have been harvested, wine was made, a tasting room was opened and people came in droves to relax and visit over a glass of wine made right here in Portales. More vines were planted and more and more wines were introduced and more people experienced the enchanting wines.
They knew their planning was solid but the family admits they had no idea how fast the business would grow and the opportunities it would provide.
Tonight we salute Max and June Merrick, Cassidy and Rustin Self and Megan and Bobby Hamilton for dreaming the dream of producing wine out of Roosevelt County soil. We salute the business that Enchantment Vineyards continually brings into Portales and the economic impact that makes through gross receipts tax, jobs and the attraction of visitors to our community.
They’ve literally put us on the vineyard map in the southwest and brought the wonderful wine to our table tonight.
Please recognize and welcome Megan Hamilton accepting on behalf of Business of the Year Enchantment Vineyards.
Warm Heart of the Sunbelt
The Warm Heart of the Sunbelt is the most prestigious award the Chamber bestows on an individual. It isn’t necessarily given out every year because it’s reserved for special individuals.
The Chamber looks at this award in the same way that some might see a Lifetime Achievement Award. But it’s not just about accomplishments it’s also about the attitude and underlying motives displayed by the recipients as they achieve goals for our community.
Tonight’s honoree has accomplished something that very few are able to do these days, she worked her entire nearly 42 year career at the same organization.
Dr. Patrice Caldwell was born in Los Angeles and attended college in California alongside her late identical twin Ellen. The pair received their bachelor degrees at the University of Southern California and their masters and Ph.D. from University of California, Los Angeles. On completion of their degrees Ellen went to Vanderbilt and Patrice headed to the flat plains and Eastern New Mexico University.
She said in an interview that the decision to come to Portales was a big leap of faith and everyone she knew said she would never stay.
“From where I was raised New Mexico was as exotic and remote as the moon,” she said in the interview.
Perhaps one of the factors in longevity at ENMU was her early acquaintance to famed science fiction writer Jack Williamson. Jack was her mentor and hero inspiring her to deeper thought and greater service.
Starting as assistant professor and director of Freshman Composition she had risen to chair of the department of Languages and Literature by 1984. Then in 1988, after a national search, Caldwell was named dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ENMU. During that time she helped ENMU to launch Freshman Seminar and helped enhance campus technology while serving as director of the Pew Leadership Award for Institutional Renewal grant in 1997. That launched her into the realm of grant writing and by 2018 she had risen to Vice President of Planning and Analysis and Governmental Relations. At that time she also became ENMU’s Chief of Staff. She was also instrumental in launching programs in nursing and social work at ENMU.
She has received numerous honors including the Honorary Lifetime Award, the ENMU Alumni Association’s highest honor. She also received the Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence.
Caldwell has been active outside of work in numerous capacities, she’s been a long-time board member and 17-year president of Friends of Music and is famous for her role in mixing up the cards during “Name That Tune” at the annual concert. She helped continue Dr. Williamson’s legacy at ENMU by co-chairing and volunteering at the annual Williamson Lectureship which attracts sci-fi readers and authors from around the universe. She is a supporter of arts and education throughout the community. She regularly volunteers with United Way, Meals on Wheels, St. Helen’s Fiesta and other community projects and activities.
The whole ENMU and Portales community rejoiced in 2020 when she deferred her retirement accepted the position of Chancellor of ENMU’s three campuses, guiding the institution through an unprecedented time of a pandemic in an already stressed environment for higher education. She became the 11th president of ENMU and the first woman to serve in that capacity in the university’s history.
As she retires later this year, her legacy will continue at ENMU and hopefully her volunteerism in the community will continue. Please welcome our Warm Heart of the Sunbelt winner Dr. Patrice Caldwell.
Harley & Faye Borden Awards
Since 1979 the Chamber has recognized businesses who have significantly improved the outward appearance of their business in the past year. This recognition is called the Harley and Faye Borden award and is named after a very respected couple here in Portales that were killed in a tragic car accident in April 1979.
Harley and Faye were very involved in the community. Harley was a farmer and Faye was Vice President of Portales National Bank. They both had a great love for Portales and Roosevelt County and their passion was for a community that appeared vibrant and inviting.
In that spirit this year we have six award winners.
Traci and Joeren van der Ploeg worked hard to refurbish a building that had previously housed a service business into a coffee and sandwich shop along with a retail outlet for locally and New Mexico produced products. It wasn’t quite finished by the end of 2020 but they were able to open early in 2021 as the work continued. The final touch was a life-size dairy cow beneath the sign giving folks that pass by no doubt that the backbone of the business is the local dairy industry. Congratulations to the van der Ploeg family for bringing Portales such a special place as The Milkshed.
J.P. Stone Community Bank
Portales’ hometown bank J.P. Stone Community Bank took on a project this past year with several phases and the result has been to take a vacant lot and turn it into something of beauty and function. First the bank completed additional covered parking for its employees. Then they landscaped the rest of the lot at Second and Abilene and built a pocket park with benches and the bank’s trademark windmill. Once the landscapers finished on the lot across from the bank they got busy refreshing the landscaping along the Second Street façade. Finally, they upgraded their video board sign facing second street traffic. They have regularly used the sign board to promote community events and let us all know the time and temperature. Congratulations to J.P. Stone Community Bank as they are awarded the Borden Award tonight.
Roosevelt General Hospital
Roosevelt General Hospital didn’t just improve their façade this past year, they completely transformed their campus and their way of doing business. This was a phased job throughout the year as well. First the hospital completed its new emergency room with better access to the south side of the campus, signage and new parking. The new emergency room gives family’s seeking care there a modern facility that will save lives and improve conditions for patients, employees and visitors. The north side of the campus, facing U.S. 70 received two new wings. One will serve as a specialty clinic for expanded pediatrics and orthopedics. The other side will house the business and administration functions of the hospital. The architecture of all the additions blend perfectly with the existing facility and the parking all around the hospital has grown proportionally. We salute the board and administrators on the outstanding accomplishments made at our local hospital that will prepare us for decades in the future as it celebrates its 20th year. Congratulations to Roosevelt General Hospital.
Good Life Senior Living
Another big change in the Roosevelt General Hospital neighborhood has been the completion of Good Life Senior Living. The Roosevelt County Economic Development Corp. several years ago identified the need to provide more choices for local families for senior care. After several stops and starts the group began working with the Skelley family that operates several other facilities across the southwest. Once they came on board things began to move forward. The first phase of what is hoped to be multiple buildings was completed in early 2021 and the ribbon was cut soon afterward. Please congratulate Good Life Senior Living for a brand new facility.
Yet another vacant lot fell to beautiful and progressive development in Portales when Legacy Church completed its new Portales campus. The church occupies a huge vacant lot we have all driven past for years on 18th Street. The new creation provides sanctuary space, classrooms, college study areas and a coffee bar. The east end of the building is occupied by full-time daycare that will serve a great need in our community. The building is loaded with tech throughout and the congregation is growing quickly.
Little Old, Little New Venue
The final Borden award of the night is the location in which we’re enjoying this banquet. Kelly and Sheryl McClary saw an old block building that once housed an implement company and saw the site for an event venue. They added the fencing and parking area as well as the nice ADA entrance here on the west side of the building. While we don’t necessarily judge interior renovation for this award you can see that a lot of thought and love for community went into completing this new business for Portales. Congratulations Kelly and Sheryl on Little Old, Little New Venue.