Cameras were rolling and the red carpet was out as nominees and everyone attending were in the spotlight and interviewed by Thane O’Brien with Radio Central. The glitz and glamour was out of this world as the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce hosted the 18th Annual Community Achievement Awards event on Saturday, October the Aquarius Casino Resort. Top Achievers in sixteen categories were recognized from a field of more than 100 nominees. The panel of nine judges from Laughlin and Bullhead City took part in one of the most difficult jobs in the presentation of the Awards – to select the Top Achiever from the nominees in each of the categories. Thanks to the following judges for a job well done: Fred Doten – Chairman, Tim Atkins, Paula Coplan, Paul Stubler, Kathy Hoss, Christina Butler, Bobby DeBatt, Lance Ross and Mark Stearns.

The most prestigious black-tie event in the tri-state area couldn’t have been more perfect with our Premier Sponsor Laughlin Post 60 Legion Family and our host property The Aquarius Casino Resort leaving nothing to the imagination and going that extra mile to make the night magical. The Community Achievement Awards recognizes dozens of non-profit organizations, businesses, public servants, and individuals each year for their efforts directed at making the Colorado River communities a better place to live. We salute all of the nominees as winners and the following as the 2015 ‘Top Achievers.’

Sean HammondCitizen of the Year – Sponsored by The Edgewater Casino Resorts

Sean Hammond 

Sean was appointed to General Manager of the Aquarius Casino Resort in January 2011, and has been with Aquarius since May 2006. Sean is very proud to be on a team of 900 employees that run the single largest property in Laughlin. In addition he is proud to have such a generous and giving team of fellow team members and guests that support many causes in the tristate. Sean has been a long time resident of the Laughlin/Bullhead market since 1983 and was employed with the Ramada Express (currently Tropicana Laughlin) from 1990 to 2006. During his time with Ramada Express Sean held positions in Slot Operations, Keno, Sportsbook, Cage & Credit and Player Development. Sean has served on the board of the Laughlin Tourism Commission in the capacity of Business Development Chair, Vice President and President, and currently serves on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of the Colorado River and Los Matadores of Bullhead City.”

Jaquelynn O'CampoYouth Citizen of the Year – Sponsored by Combs Brothers LLC.,   The River Passage Water Taxi & Flips Furniture & Design  

Jaquelynn O’Campo – Mohave High School 

Jaquelynn says that her biggest accomplishment and responsibility is serving the entire state of Arizona as Vice President of Public Relations, for her second year, for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. She also serves as the local chapter president. Her responsibility is to represent the state the best way possible, make decisions for the state delegation, and lead her members in the best manner. Her tenacious attitude has helped her receive many awards, such as WOW JTED, Outstanding Community Service, President Volunteer Service award, and many others due to her leadership ability. Jaquelynn finds it very rewarding to serve her community, and dedicated over 1,000 hours serving others last year in many different ways. Throughout all of this, her compassion, love for humanity, and humility has grown, making her the person she is proud to be today, and will be proud of in the future.

Tony PetrickSpirit of Nevada – Sponsored by Golden Nugget Laughlin 

Tony Petrik – Laughlin High School

Tony’s current responsibilities include being Chairman of the Physical Education, Health, and Drivers Education Dept. at Laughlin High School. He is also the Athletic Director for the high and middle school, for the past 20 years he’s been the head baseball coach, and for the last two years the junior high football coach. Tony started at Laughlin High School since they first opened their doors 25 years ago, and is very proud of the young men and women that have graduated from LHS and gone on to lead happy, productive lives. He says that it is very rewarding to see the kids come back to the campus as grown adults, with their husbands or wives and children, and to listen to their stories on where life’s path has taken them. It is especially rewarding to have my former baseball players bring their children back and have them run around the bases or play catch where their father played – that’s a pretty cool experience for a coach to be part of.

Maureen AndersonSpirit of Arizona – Sponsored by Frontier Communications

 Maureen Anderson  

Maureen has done quite a lot in our community – along with her job, she is on the Board for the CRWC, served on the Christmas Boom box Parade committee, graduated from the CRWC Leadership Program, is on the Governing Board for the BHC Elementary School District, and is the founding Chairperson for the Protect Our Kids Environment program (P.O.K.E.), as a result of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. She felt we needed to help our schools be prepared to protect our kids. Every elementary school in each district was given six two-way radios for communication across campus and with the police department. In the second year of P.O.K.E. their committee replaced all the emergency medical supplies in each classroom in certain schools with comprehensive medical kits. They also had a water drive, so that each classroom had a case of water on hand for emergency use. This year they will be doing even more.

AquariusRedBlue_NONEWSpirit of the Colorado River – Sponsored by Riverside Casino Resort

 The Aquarius Casino Resort

 Aquarius is the largest casino resort in Laughlin, and employs close to 900 team members. They take great pride in their efforts to support tri-state businesses and many fundraising efforts that “give back”. They help support everyone from the youth to the elderly. For River Fund alone they have raised over $51,900 this year, and every year they give $10,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Colorado River. Some of the more unique things they do is sponsor Casino Day at an assisted living facility 3 times a year plus a holiday dinner including stockings with gifts, blood drives 3x per year, donations of school supplies, Silver Rider Laughlin Meals on Wheels, clothing and food drives, they fed 960 families during 2014 Thanksgiving and Christmas, volunteer for the back pack program, and so much more. They are most proud of their employees that consistently donate their time, energy and money for the good of those less fortunate in our area.

Cheryl DeBattPublic Service – Sponsored by Harrah’s Laughlin

 Cheryl DeBatt

 Cheryl’s “good days” at work start around 5am and end somewhere around 10pm. The phone starts ringing before she even gets out of bed, and it’s not unlikely that she also runs out in the middle of the night for a crisis that is viewed as unavoidable. In addition to helping individuals in domestic violence, substance abuse, suicide, etc., she’s available 24/7 where she is needed. Cheryl says that to her, she is paid for 8 hours a day, and considers the other 20/30 hours she spends per week a passion, and a way of giving back to a community she cares deeply about. Cheryl is the counselor, administrator, mommy, daddy, grandmother and most of all the friend and confidant that is missing in many lives; they know they can count on her. Her life is full and busy, and most people think she is nutty. She admits that she is tired, but “life” happens, she loves what she does, receives so many hugs and thanks – what more could a person ask for?

Stacey StutsmanCivic Service – Sponsored by COIT Cleaning & Restoration Services & Mohave Electric Cooperative

 Stacy Stutsman

 Stacey’s job is to respond to Law Enforcement calls on a 24/7 basis (Clark County LVMPD and Mohave County Sheriff). They give her contact information to the victims for further assistance. Stacey contacts Law Enforcement on behalf of the victim to provide additional information or evidence in open cases. She also does much more – civil standbys, welfare checks, aids in safety planning for victims and children, and so much more. Stacey also volunteers with Mohave County Victim Services, assisting their clients in getting resources to help themselves. Stacey believes she is blessed to be able to open doors for others. She loves being in ready mode to help those who wish to be helped. She really doesn’t have a single proudest moment; just a lot of joy watching others succeed. Stacey believes in helping others in the present for hope of their tomorrow.

Jessica BrownHumanitarian – Sponsored by Laughlin River Lodge

Jessica Brown                                        

 Jessica is far from the typical “stay at home mom” – she’s on the go from 5am to 10pm at night. She volunteers on multiple Boards, volunteers and assists at multiple schools with their sports programs, and when the Willow Fire happened, she assisted many churches, families and their pets daily – with clothing, cash, and food. Her goal for the area is to have an epilepsy program that is geared toward the youth. She feels like anything she can do to educate people in the tri-state area on topics we don’t often see would be a blessing. Jessica broke free from an abusive marriage, and would love to advocate and educate young women on abuse. She says that while she has been volunteering for many years, she has never been nominated for anything and feels like this is an honor in itself. Jessica wants to share her love and knowledge with people, and strives to make a difference.

Topock66SplotchCommunity /Social Service Organization – Valley View Medical Center

Topock66 Foundation 

The focus for Topock66 Foundation is turning dreams into reality – providing students with the opportunity for success. They work with high school students in four main areas: career exploration, community service, foundation events, and workforce readiness. Students can earn up to a $10,000 scholarship based on the time and effort they put into the program. They started working with the first group of 26 students in February of 2015, and in their first seven months their students have earned over $5,000 in scholarships, spent many hours mentoring with local leaders, and provided countless hours of community service! The students are from 14-18, many from broken homes with sad stories, but each of them applied knowing that they were going to have to work hard and spend time learning how to improve themselves. Many of their parents don’t work, and so they don’t know what it means to work a real job. They are trying to break this cycle.

Traci BenderEducator of the Year – Sponsored by Mutual of Omaha Bank

 Traci Bender – Bennett Elementary School

Traci is a Special Education Teacher, and has the privilege of working with a very special group of unique and challenging children. She teaches five different elementary grades and students with a huge variety of disabilities and impairments. Her primary goal is to teach her students how much they matter – to advocate for themselves, be independent, and how to be productive citizens. Traci feels her most significate contribution is the progress and difference she makes every day in the lives of her students, which is incredibly rewarding. Two years ago she initiated and coordinated a Disability Awareness Day at the school for grades 3-5, which allowed students to somewhat experience having specific disabilities. There was a definite impact as the students talked about it for weeks. She is hoping to hold the event again this year. Traci also writes a special education blog that provides support to other special education teachers.

Craig and Christine YoungTourism – Sponsored by Colorado Belle Casino Resort

Craig & Christine Young 

Craig and Christine own and operate Laughlin Tours, LLC – providing personalized tours from Laughlin to the Grand Canyon West, Hoover Dam, Route 66, and Oatman. They also have a variety of custom tours available. Their tour guides provide expert information about our area and the Southwest, including Native American history, local history, plant and animal life, as well as the geology of our area, with a few laughs along the way. Christine volunteers at HAVEN, the Domestic Abuse Shelter for Mohave County. Her work consisted of building a Serenity Garden for the people that use HAVEN’s resources. The garden is a place where people can find some peace and quiet while going through a difficult time. The project took approximately four months, and also included fundraising. Craig and Christine also support St. Jude’s Hospital, Wounded Warrior Project, local food banks, Goodwill Industries, and Hospice of Havasu.

Regency LogoSmall Business of the Year – Sponsored by MattressLand & Furniture  and  Covenant Working Dogs 

Regency Casino 

In February 2003 the owner of the Regency passed away, and Chris Crawford who owns Crawford Investments Corp. and was holding the note decided to purchase the Regency as an investment.. In 2004 Chris made a decision to operate the casino himself, applied for his Gaming Operator’s License and opened the doors in May. In October 2008 they had to cut back to one shift per day and close the restaurant. A strategic plan was created to maintain a positive cash flow, and while they are not open 24/7, they have expanded their hours, and employ 19 people. They also leased the restaurant to Daniel’s which employs 9 people. The Regency is the third oldest gaming facility in Laughlin, and have been a local’s choice for decades. They recognize the Regency as a good value, with fun slot machines, award-winning prime rib dinners and other daily specials. They are known today for their friendly laidback philosophy and atmosphere, best bar and food value, most unique “This, That, & the Udder” gift store,and the only “dock and stock” convenience store on the river in Laughlin.

sams-club-logoLarge Business of the Year – Sponsored by NV Energy

 Sam’s Club

Our local Sam’s Club has 145 associates and 26,000 members they proudly take care of. They support local businesses by being a “Club of the Community”. They have a licensed Optometrist in the Optical Center, a licensed Hearing Instrument Specialist in their newly opened Hearing Center, and a Pharmacist able to administer immunizations. They take great pride in being a team and giving back to the community — with over 1,500 hours of volunteer work donated by their associates, they raised almost $60,000 for charities. They have $10,000 in grant money for our local larger non-profits, and $3,000 to support some of our smaller non-profits. They donate to the local food banks weekly, and our local animal shelters benefit from the remaining bone marrow from their meat department. A recycling program is in place for their boxes and other recyclables. They are constantly working towards benefiting the community as well as our environment.

Julie FairmanCommunications – Sponsored by SuddenLink Communications

 Julie Fairman

Julie is the editor of the Laughlin Nevada Times, and also occasionally fills in for the Mohave Valley Daily News. She is generally both the writer and photographer for everything in the Laughlin Nevada Times. On top of writing it, she is also responsible for its layout. Julie says that she is very passionate about her work, and enjoys telling and sharing the stories of our residents, schools, organizations, and local governments. Her style is to provide accurate facts without any spin, allowing readers to form their own conclusions. She finds her job fun, invigorating, and often exciting. She has represented the paper on CNN and a CBS radio affiliate, and her photographs have been used by various national network affiliates. While some of the stories she covers are tragic, she is proud to bring the facts to light.

Green Business – Sponsored by Republic Services

Harrahs_LAU_Purple_4cHarrah’s Laughlin

Harrah’s continues to find new ways every year to increase recycling and divert more trash from the local landfill. They are very committed to saving resources such as water and energy. Harrah’s Laughlin encourages employees to make the work place green through better habits, and their homes as well. They are recognized for their efforts by being given points to purchase goods and awards for Green efforts. Harrah’s Laughlin is rated number one out of all 40 Caesar’s properties on the guest surveys sent out to ask about service and the Green program. They donate used soap and amenities to “Clean the World”, who takes the used soap, sterilizes and remakes it, and supplyies it to 3rd world countries to help save children’s lives. They’ve also hired a company to sort their trash and pull out recyclable items. Harrah’s is definitely doing their part to have Green business practices and to leave a positive impact on our local and global environment.

Ezekiel KesitilweEntrepreneur – Sponsored by Tropicana Laughlin

Ezekiel Kesitilwe

Ezekiel is the owner of EZYFast Pharmacy, which opened its doors in Laughlin on December 17th, 2014. They offer all the medication services of a chain box retail pharmacy, but with friendly and personalized services to the community. Their goal is to deliver the best value without compromising on quality. They are proud of the time they offer to deliver medications to those that are without transportation here in Laughlin and the tri-state area. They also make sure our customers do not have to wait more than 15 minutes for their prescriptions to be filled. EZYFast has a childrens vitamin program where those under 12 can get free multivitamins monthly. Their greatest pride is that they are the only pharmacy in the area that customizes medication for patients through their compounding program