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Simmons is Mancos Citizen of the Year

Dr. Linda Simmons has been named Mancos Citizen of the Year for 2017.

A longtime local and former Fort Lewis College professor, Simmons is involved with various community groups in Mancos. She said the award was “totally unexpected.”

“I was very surprised,” she said. “There are a lot of very deserving and hardworking people in the Mancos Valley.”

Simmons will be honored at a Feb. 2 social at 5:30 p.m. at the Mancos Visitor’s Center, 101 Bauer Ave. The free event is sponsored by the Mancos Valley Chamber of Commerce. Food and drink will be provided.

Simmons has served as president of the Mancos Valley Historical Society for two years. She’s also secretary of the Mancos Creative District and the local chapter of PEO International, a women’s philanthropic organization.

She has lived in Southwest Colorado since 1970 and worked as an educator at Fort Lewis College for nearly 40 years, she said. She taught various subjects over the years through the teacher education department, such as Spanish and choir, she said.

Last year’s Mancos Citizen of the Year, Betsy Harrison, chose Simmons as this year’s winner after considering a list of nominees. The chamber of commerce encourages people to submit nominations for the award, and the previous winner chooses from the nominees.

Harrison said she chose Simmons because she is involved with a broad range of things.

“She’s very active, and she does a lot of good things for the community,” she said.

Simmons also helps with the Mancos FoodShare and the Mancos United Methodist Church, Harrison said. Simmons also is involved with the Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering every year, and she operates a chuck wagon.

“How many citizens of the year are professional chuck wagon chefs?” Harrison said.

Marie Chiarizia, of the Mancos Valley Chamber, said Simmons works hard to make Mancos events a success, and she often works by herself.

“Linda has been a staple in the community for a very long time,” Chiarizia said.

One project Simmons will focus on this year is resurrecting a museum in Mancos with the historical society, she said. There used to be a history museum in Mancos, but it was shut down, she said.

Historical society members are gathering inventory to put together a museum collection once again, Simmons said. They have a place in mind and a plan for a museum, and 2017 will be a big fundraising year to get the project off the ground, she said.

“We have a good core of people who are enthusiastic about it,” Simmons said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Simmons said she is grateful to her family for supporting her even though she stays very busy with community efforts.

“I help whenever there is something to be done,” she said.

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