Awards given to local businesses, resident

During the annual awards and installation gala on Saturday at Isleta Resort and Casino, the members of the chamber unanimously voted to change the name of the organization.

Andrew Spears, of Edward Jones Financial, the new chamber president called for the vote, saying the board of directors decided on one change to the organization’s bylaws.

“The rationale behind that was because as the chamber continues to grow county-wide, the change will better reflect our work and our focus,” Spears said.

Along with the swearing-in of the chamber’s board of directors, the chamber also presented several awards to different businesses and individuals.

Clara Garcia | News-Bulletin photos

The Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce named Randy Gettings as its Citizen of the Year. Pictured, from left, is Chamber President Andrew Spears, Executive Director Rhona Espinoza, Gettings, and John Ivey, past president.

Citizen of the Year

The Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Citizen of the Year is Randy Gettings. 

The Citizen of the Year is someone who is a contributor and volunteer to the community who receives no pay.

“Randy is constantly shown to give back to our community. He promotes Belen and Valencia County through his Facebook page, Good Stuff About Belen,” said the gala’s emcee Rudy Espinoza. “He also was instrumental in bringing back Old Man Quejas to the Our Lady of Belen Fiestas. He worked with other volunteers tirelessly in putting it together to be burned at the fiestas. 

“He also created a new event in the county called the B Town Bike Rally, where hundreds of bikes travel from all over the southwest and converge at the Sheriff’s Posse Arena after a lengthy motorcycle run. He also has taken over the Rio Abajo Poker Run.”

Gettings said he was surprised and humbled by the award.

“I’d like to thank all the business people in Belen,” Gettings said. “Without you, I couldn’t do what I do. I’m just humbled right now. God bless you all.”

Friends of Whitfield was named Service Organization/Non-profit of the Year. Pictured, from left, is Chamber President Andrew Spears, Executive Director Rhona Espinoza, John Ivey, past president, Friends President Linda Frazer, and VSWCD Director Andrew Hautzinger.

The UPS Store in Los Lunas was named Small Business of the Year. Pictured are Andrew Spears, Rhona Espinoza, Frances Macias and John Ivey.

Service Organization/ Non-Profit of the Year

The Friends of Whitfield Conservation Area was chosen as 2022 Service Organization/Non-Profit of the Year.

“The Friends of Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area exemplifies well the focus of Volunteer Group of the Year,” Espinoza said. “The service club should be a club or organization giving service to the community without pay.”

The local organization is dedicated to supporting the Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area by promoting habitat restoration, education and conservation. They encourage the public to visit the area, see some wildlife and learn something about the diversity of plants and animals that call this place home.

Linda Frazer, president of the board, thanked the chamber for the recognition and said they were honored to receive the award.

“We work really hard out at Whitfield, and we love being there for everybody,” Frazer said.

Andrew Hautzinger, director of VSWCD, also thanked the chamber.

“I just want to say how appreciative we are for recognizing the great work the Friends of Whitfield does for us,” Hautzinger said. “We view ourselves as a community asset, and our doors are always open …”

Small Business of the Year

The UPS Store in Los Lunas was named Small Business of the Year.

Rhona Espinoza, the chamber’s executive director, said the chamber is honoring owners Raquel Montoya and Frances Macias for their volunteer work in the county.

Some examples of the UPS Store’s volunteer work include with both Los Lunas Schools and Belen Consolidated Schools, with the Civil Air Patrol, Blue Star Mothers of Valencia County, Rio Communities Optimist Club, numerous fundraisers, local literacy programs and more.

“We try and reach out to the community through different avenues,” Macias said. “We try to do as many school supply drives, coat drives, food drives … if we can all work together, we can make this community better.”

Meta/Facebook in Los Lunas was named Corporation of the Year. Pictured are Andrew Spears, Rhona Espinoza, Kristen Gamboa, the village of Los Lunas’ senior economic developer, who accepted the award on behalf of the company, and John Ivey.

TLC Plumbing was given the Amigo Award from the Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce. Pictured are Andrew Spears, Rhona Espinoza, Dale Armstrong, founder and CEO of the company, and John Ivey.

Corporation of the Year

Meta/Facebook was given the Large Corporation of the Year award by the Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce.

During a video shown at the gala, the company vowed to continue to support water conservation in the area as well as its advocacy to remain a viable local employer.

The company, which has been building its data centers in Los Lunas, says they also continue to make a difference at local schools, area nonprofit organizations and have expanded WiFi in Valencia County.

Kristen Gamboa, the village’s senior economic developer, accepted the award on Meta’s behalf.

“The Meta data center campus has been revolutionary and has been a catalyst in Los Lunas and for the entire county of Valencia,” Gamboa said. “Thank you very much on behalf of Meta.”

Amigo Award

TLC Plumbing was given the Amigo Award by the chamber for 2022.

The Amigo Award is presented to an individual or business that has become recognized throughout the state and nation as presenting a positive, friendly image of Belen and Valencia County.

Dale Armstrong, founder and CEO of TLC Plumbing, said he uses the company to make a positive impact on people’s lives.

He said he started in the industry while in college to make a little income, but really didn’t have a huge interest in plumbing.

“It was a way to pay my way through school,” Armstrong said. “What I didn’t like was making commitments to customers and the owner would change the commitments I had made.

“That was hard for me because I think people should honor their commitments. That’s what drove me to start my own business.”

While he didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he started, he said he took a leap of faith.

“I pick my team who share the same values I have,” he said. “We all occupy the same basic philosophy and set some core values — honesty, hard work, respect, consistency and compassion.”

Romero Funeral Home was presented with the chambers Infinity Award. Pictured are Andrew Spears, Rhona Espinoza, Rosalinda Ortiz, who accepted the award on behalf of the locally-owned company, and John Ivey.

The Greater Valencia County Chamber of Commerce 2023 board of directors.

Infinity Award

The Infinity Award, which was given to Romero Funeral Home, is given to the business which has continued as a viable, productive part of the economic vitality in the Belen community. 

Romero Funeral Home was founded in 1936 by Nicanor Romero and his wife, Alfides. The locally-owned business has been passed down from generation to generation, with Dicky and Suzanne Romero operating the funeral home since 1995.

Today, along with Rosalinda Ortiz, the funeral service practitioner, the company is involved in the community in several different ways.

They have sponsored the “Salo Garcia Chile Contest” at Our Lady of Belen Fiestas for many years, and is a sponsor of the Valencia County Fair Rodeo. Last year, the funeral home held its first trunk or treat event.

“I thank everyone for giving us this award, and being here with us,” Ortiz said. “On behalf of Romero Funeral Home, I’m here with our staff to be honored. We work hard every single day to be a part of your family when called upon during the hardest part of your life. Thank you.”

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.