Best Of 2015

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Best Of 2015: Personalities 

This year's winners, losers, scandals and favorite public figures

Nonprofit Organization

click to enlarge Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region - KIRSTEN AKENS
  • Kirsten Akens
  • Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region

Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region

610 Abbot Lane, 473-1741, hsppr.org

When we see that the "Surprised Kitty" video on YouTube now tops 76 million views, it comes as no surprise that Indy readers picked a nonprofit winner focused on our furry friends. I mean, really, who doesn't love puppies and kittens? And who doesn't love an organization that "saves 17,000 animals a year ... thanks to your generous contributions"? Readers surely also love the fact that 86 cents of every dollar they donate to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region goes directly to its programs and services. — Jill Thomas

Cultural White Knight

Jon Khoury, executive director, Cottonwood Center for the Arts

cottonwoodcenterforthearts.com

When we first reached out to tell Jon Khoury he was a finalist for Best Of 2015, he was away from the Cottonwood Center for the Arts. Even on a Saturday, that's a rare thing. No surprise there, what with how quickly he's expanded the center's book of tricks. He's upgrading Cottonwood with a thread lab to add workspace and classes for textiles, knitting and weaving arts, all increasingly popular media, having recently opened a theater lab. Keep all this in mind when the capital campaign to purchase the building kicks off sometime next year. — Griffin Swartzell

Politician

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers

Facebook.com/COSpringsMayor, @COSpringsMayor

Not many cities have the chance to elect a mayor who just finished serving 10 years as the state attorney general. And John Suthers clearly wasn't angling for an easy retirement job last spring, when he was elected to lead his hometown city with 68 percent of the vote. Already, Suthers has strengthened ties with the county, surrounding small towns and even Pueblo. This vote indicates the honeymoon isn't over, but we'll find out for sure on Nov. 3 — when the returns come in for his 2C tax proposal to fix roads and streets. — Ralph Routon

Local Twitterer

click to enlarge Lauren Hug - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Lauren Hug

Lauren Hug

@LaurenHug

Twitter plays a pivotal role in Lauren Hug's life, and not only in her work as a communications consultant. It started during 2012's Waldo Canyon Fire. The Hugs were living in Austin, Texas, at the time, but had just signed a contract on a home in Mountain Shadows. "The Realtor calls and says, 'We need to talk,'" Hug remembers. "We were literally packing the car to leave." Desperate to know what was happening at, or to, her would-be future home, she turned to Twitter. Strangers went out of their way to connect her with more strangers, just because they wanted to help. Her house turned out to be OK, and what she saw from the locals sealed it: "I knew I had to live here." Now she's the one sharing the local love, @LaurenHug. — Craig Lemley

Local TV News Personality

Justin Chambers, FOX21 News

@JCTVWeather

While Justin Chambers was working in radio (under the name Danger Boy, no less), his father marveled, "Son, it's amazing that you can sit here in your underwear and play records and get paid good money." Well, things have changed. "I have to wear a suit now," says Chambers, who assumed the role of chief meteorologist in July. Weather, he says, essentially found him, in part because he likes "being able to predict the future." But it's not as easy as you may think, and meteorologists like Chambers aren't just winging it. "You can't keep your job if you don't know the science," he says. "I love the challenge, and take pride in getting it right." — Craig Lemley

Local TV Newscast

KRDO NewsChannel 13

632-1515, krdo.com

Chances are you've heard "Where the news comes first" on KRDO NewsChannel 13. Well, it's not just a tagline. Jene Nelson, KRDO news director, says staff members aren't at the station to pad their resumés and jump to bigger markets: "It's more than just a stopover here." Indeed, the newsroom is stocked with home-grown talent, including award-winning evening anchors James Jarman and Springs native Heather Skold. That local mentality is reflected in the broadcasts, and is certainly award-worthy, but plaudits aren't what keep the cameras rolling, either. "It's always nice to get an 'attaboy,'" Nelson says, "but the focus here is compelling content that matters to this community." — Craig Lemley

Radio DJ

click to enlarge Nomi, KRXP-FM 103.9 - CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
  • Nomi, KRXP-FM 103.9

Nomi, KRXP-FM 103.9

634-4896, 1039rxp.com

In all the years of the Indy Best Of, very few names have graced the top spot in the Best Radio DJ category. But this year, RXP's Nomi adds her name to the list, and with authority. After starting her career in Fargo, North Dakota, and putting in a stint as a segment producer in Chicago, Nomi found her way to the Springs' independent alternative music station four years ago. "I just fell in love with this community," she says, adding that she takes a lot of pride in being here. That said, it's not all nice-and-sweet when it comes to Nomi. Says her morning show co-host, Chris Austin: "[She] has the most epic burns." — Craig Lemley

Radio Station

KRCC-FM 91.5

473-4801, krcc.org

"KRCC has evolved from an academic endeavor to a state-wide (sometime nationally) broadcast radio station," says program director Jeff Bieri via email. The station began broadcasting in 1951 as part of Colorado College's curriculum before graduating into the ranks of NPR affiliates, covering southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. It has recently put a stronger emphasis on locally generated programming, including talk-format shows like Critical Karaoke, and that's likely to continue under new general manager Tammy Terwelp. (See "Mic check," News, Sept. 23.) Musically, Bieri says the station will also be looking to showcase more local talent. All that's to say this signal won't be fading anytime soon. — Craig Lemley

Local Radio Show

RXP Morning Show with Chris and Nomi, KRXP-FM 103.9

634-4896, 1039rxp.com

He's a local; she's "been around." They had met each other just once before embarking on one of the truest tests of compatibility. The rest of the story can be heard in real time, on weekdays starting at 6 on the RXP Morning Show. So far, all is well for the duo — their show celebrated its one-year anniversary earlier this month, and Nomi says the two have become good friends, which has made it all easier. "I still get a little nervous about what Nomi is going to say sometimes," Chris says, with Nomi giggling in the background. But as she puts it, "We're living the dream." — Craig Lemley

Fundraising Event

Give! Campaign

indygive.com

No, this outcome was not fixed. Indy readers voted for Best Fundraising Event, and the Indy's Give! Campaign won, fair and square. It's a little embarrassing, because the purpose of Give! has always been to raise awareness and money for Pikes Peak region nonprofits — from a modest $198,698 in 2009 to more than $1.5 million in 2014. In fact, we'll probably see to it that Give! won't be eligible again. FYI, the seventh Give! campaign kicks off Nov. 1. — Ralph Routon

Category We Forgot

Best Local Blog

Internet something, noted. We'll try to remember next year. — Craig Lemley

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