Tanner Hunsaker is the 2018 Citizen of the Year and Sheldon Miller is the newest recipient of the Kip Culver Award.
The two men were honored during the Globe-Miami Chamber of Commerce and Pinal Mountain Foundation for Higher Education (PMFHE) Awards Dinner and Benefit Auction, held Friday, Jan. 18 at the Dream Manor Inn in Globe.
While the honorees’ identities were kept secret prior to the awards ceremony, details revealed during each presentation made it clear Hunsaker and Miller were the recipients before their names were revealed.
Chamber Director Ellen Kretsch introduced Miller saying, “I know there is one person in this room who is not going to be happy to hear his name. He never seeks the spotlight, shining it instead on the people who work with him. I knew him when, and his return to Globe-Miami has been nothing but a stroke of the purest good fortune for the entire community.”
In nominating Miller for the award, one letter writer said that he had infused new life into the Historical Society, fostering its position “as a significant contributor to the economic vitality of the community.”
“He has created an appealing destination for local individuals as well as visitors from out of the area,” Kretsch quoted.
One of Miller’s ideas was the monthly “Tour ‘n’ Talk” events, which ultimately became a membership recruitment tool, she said.
“Not only that, but each venue has been well organized, informative and fun,” Kretsch said.
Miller’s brainchild, the “Old Dominion Days” event, was a financial and cultural success, she said.
“In spite of the occasional stresses of mounting such an ambitious project, the myriad volunteers all agreed that it was worthwhile and have agreed to assist with the 2019 event,” Kretsch said.
Miller’s ability to generate enthusiasm in volunteers resulted in an average 700 hours per month for three months to “bake pasties, drive vans, put on historical presentations and a fashion show — all it took to entertain the community for four days,” she said.
“Seven hundred hours,” said Kretsch, adding, “Think about that — 700 hours from volunteers.”
Another letter writer had noted that Miller has the ability to generate enthusiasm and eagerness to volunteer, not only among the board, but among others in the community as well, she said.
“He is a definite asset to the vitality of the Globe-Miami community and very deserving of this honor,” Kretsch quoted.
“Come the holidays, you’re likely to see him carrying stacks of boxes for the Christmas Shoeboxes,” she told the audience. “For several years, he spearheaded that effort, encouraging, cajoling and — in the case of the chamber staff — just bringing the boxes and telling us when he will pick them up.”
Quoting another letter writer, Kretsch said, “His greatest strength, in my opinion, is his ability to encourage everyone to do what interests them and ‘have fun’.”
“I will echo that sentiment,” Kretsch said. “I don’t know how many people have told me they aren’t planning to work on something or attend an event and then Sheldon stops in for a visit. Before they know it, they are volunteering — volunteering gladly I might add — to do that and more.”
An obviously emotional Miller hugged Kretsch and accepted the award without commenting out loud, in spite of shouts of “speech, speech,” from the audience.
The annual award is named after Kip Culver, the former Cobre Valley Center for the Arts (CVCA) and Globe Main Street Program director. Culver was an iconic Globe figure whose vision for the arts center created a solid foundation for the organization until his untimely death in July 2015.
Chamber President Erica Muniz introduced Hunsaker, saying, “While it must be very gratifying to be in a business that works to help other businesses succeed, it can also be a difficult path to follow. When your desire to see other businesses succeed is bigger and your aim is to help the community be the best it can, then you have the makings of a citizen of the year. That is certainly the case with this year’s winner.”
Hunsaker “jumps wholeheartedly” into working on events like the Lighted Parade in downtown Globe and Halloween decorating, said Muniz, adding, “He puts on the most awesome holiday parties at his place of business.”
Muniz described it as “a long list of groups” that Hunsaker works with.
Currently serving on the Chamber board, Hunsaker also took over as CVCA president and is “working to calm those waters after a very contentious summer,” she said.
A member of the Copper Cities Community Players, Hunsaker “in fact proposed to his bride during ‘A Coarse Acting Show,’” Muniz said. “And he finds time, somehow, to serve on the board of the Globe Downtown Association.”
Hunsaker has worked for years with the Old Dominion Park Committee, “offering his expertise and ideas to make the signage at the park stand out with its emphasis on history,” she said.
He “spent countless hours scanning historic photographs and designing the signs, without charge to the committee,” and has helped many organizations in a similar manner, Muniz said.
“It may not give him an A in Business Finance, but it certainly earns him extra credit in community service,” she told the audience.
Hunsaker has worked with both the Historical Society and the Bullion Plaza Cultural Center and Museum in preserving historical prints, said Muniz, adding, “He loves history and is passionate about preserving it.”
“Some people might think of him as organizer and king of the All American Cookoff at the Gila County Fair, but most of you know him as Tanner Hunsaker,” said Muniz, calling Hunsaker to the stage.
Hunsaker accepted his plaque without comment.