Kohley wins Citizen of the Year award

Alastair Baker
News Editor
Thursday, January 30, 2020
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Photos by Alastair Baker
(Above) Lauren Larson, right, with Employee of the Year Bradley Evans.

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The Business of the Year went to Ronning Auto, Truck and Tractor. Left to right, Tracy Ronning with daughter Hattie, Jerry Ronning and Sean Ronning.

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(Left) Left to right, Red Lodge Citizen of the Year Tom Kohley, Glory Mahan and Dan Seifert.

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Photos by Alastair Baker
(Right) The Commitment to Community award went to the Late Les Dimich. (Far left) Richard Gessling and Kathy Sommerfeld stand with Diane Dimich and her son Andrew who accepted the honor.

Tom Kohley won Citizen of the Year last week at the Red Lodge Chamber of Commerce awards held at the Pollard Pub. 

Dan Seifert, Custer Gallatin Assistant Forest Geologist, nominated Kohley who is the Carbon County’s Disaster & Emergency Services Coordinator.

Seifert told the assembled crowd he has “great respect for this person.” 

“He has done a lot for parks, trails, and trees and I’ve watched him implement a number of projects and grants and improved the quality of life in Red Lodge,” he said. 

Red Lodge Fire Chief Tom Kuntz also praised Kohley and his volunteer efforts.

“When we look for a great volunteer the one thing I say is ‘don’t find someone who has nothing to do, find someone who is really busy.’ Because what we find is the people who are busy, make the best volunteers, so if you don’t know this about Tom, he is also a top volunteer in our fire department and a lieutenant in our fire department. He is consistently committed,” said Kuntz.

Prior to the award Glory Mahan, Red Lodge City Council, said this is “the highest and prestigious award that the Chamber of the Commerce gives out.”

“The Citizen of the Year has to be a volunteer person. It is someone who gives of themselves, over the long haul and without any restrictions. These winners do wonderful things for this community and we couldn’t survive without them,” said Mahan.

“I am very humbled to accept this award,” said Kohley. “There are so many people who are deserving of this. I’m so proud to be part of a community where volunteering is so vibrant and alive. That is not the trend nationwide. I do feel very special there are so many volunteers that step up and make this community a great place to live.”

The Employee of the Year was presented by Lauren Larson and went to Bradley Evans of Red Lodge Pizza Co. Larson had also nominated Evans. 

“He takes care of fellow workers and also works at Beartooth Industries. He has a joyous presence and keeps a hectic shift light by cracking jokes, playing pranks, or checking on a coworker with a sincere ‘are you okay?’ He embodies the spirit of hard work in Red Lodge and the definition of the employee of the year,” she said. 

“Thank you all. To my friends,” said Evans as he lifted his glass of water and toasted everyone. 

The Business of the Year went to Ronning Auto, Truck and Tractor and was nominated by Red Lodge Assistant Police Chief Scott Cope. 

“Jerry and his employees provide a valued service to locals and to tourists,” said Cope, “keeping vehicles in top-notch condition.”

“Whatever the time of day or the time of year they go all out to help the community. They routinely drop everything to help trapped motorists on the (Beartooth) Pass. They embody the definition of small town, hometown pride,” he said. 

Kathy Sommerfeld and Richard Gessling presented the Commitment to Community Award posthumously to Les Dimich. Accepting the award was Diane Dimich and her son Andrew and daughters Brittany and Hannah.

“This year’s recipient personified kindness. They knew that their purpose in life could be fulfilled when they acted out of kindness, compassion, and love and they showed this to every person every day whether they had known you for a minute or for a lifetime. He was the reason people believed that good people still exist,” said Gessling. 

“Les Dimich. Everyone knew his name and when they walked away they left a little happier. He would help out anyone, at any time with anything. And as most of us know the last time Les was given an award he skipped the presentation because the freight truck was coming,” said Sommerfeld.

“To use Diane’s words, ‘the world could use more Les in it,’” said Sommerfeld. 

A final award was presented by the Red Lodge Mayor Bill Larson and Chamber board member Alanna Anderson and went to Glory Mahan who was given the Key to Red Lodge. 

Anderson listed Mahan’s commitment to Red Lodge since moving back in 1992. 

“She has been the 4th of July parade coordinator for 27 years, selects the grand marshal and pays to have them here during the rodeo,” she said. 

Mahan has also served at one time or another on the board for the Yellow Ribbon Community, as well as the Historical Society, the Red Lodge Business Alliance, the Resort Tax Board, the Admin, and Finance Committee, the Rotary, Lions, and was the Exalted Rule of the Elks. She was the former president of the Chamber of Commerce and a former City Council President and has been on the city council since 2003. 

Anderson surprised Mahan when she announced “We actually have a movie star in this room” and then showed Mahan in a clip from a 1950s film she had starred in. 

“Obviously that was a long time ago but a key to the city has got to be my favorite prize,” said Mahan. 

Other recognitions this night went to John and Gail Beauchamp for 25 years of volunteering for the Red Lodge Chamber of Commerce. 

The Pollard Pub, Bank of Red Lodge, First Interstate Bank, and Back Alley Metals, who provided the awards, sponsored the awards ceremony. 

The Carbon County News

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11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

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