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Best of Local Folk: Just Folks 


Best Arts Advocate
Readers' Poll Winner
Mary Mashburn
Coordinator, Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration, Colorado Springs

Once upon a time, a dastardly schoolteacher hissed into a little girl's ear that she had no right to paint a picture without demonstrating great talent. That little girl was Mary Mashburn.

Did Mary subsequently grow up to be embittered toward art or education? Hardly. As founder of the local incarnation of Kennedy Center's Imagination Celebration and its director for 11 years, Mary commits arson everyday as she lights the flame of inspiration for Colorado schoolchildren from the most rural plains to the meanest city streets. "She lives to see that spark in kids' eyes when they discover art for the first time," says Mary Helsaple, longtime friend and Imagination Celebration board member. Making events affordable for the low-income population, and including signers for the hearing impaired at events, are typical of Mashburn's inclusive spirit. Years ago -- then a volunteer at the Fine Arts Center -- she instigated the "Tactile Gallery" of touchable art, inspired by her mother's own blindness.

She's no creampuff. "No one says 'no' to Mary Mashburn," says Eve Tilley of this bulldog for the arts that brokers strategic introductions while batting her lashes at a ladies' tea, camouflaged as a genteel Lady from North Carolina. "I don't think she even knows how to spell 'lip service,'" says Kennedy Center poet Stacy Dyson, witness to Mary's recent "Heart of the Arts" award. "She spreads fairy dust with skills borrowed from the Art of War."

Since those injurious words from that horrid schoolteacher, Mary has not put brush to canvas, or pen to paper, but she has another, equally luminous, calling. She is a genius of human encouragement in a world faltering with despair. Designing the architecture of hope with our future generation, Mary Mashburn is a true artist -- a "creator of possibilities." -- rs


Best Environmentalist

Readers' Poll Winner
Ann Oatman-Gardner
Director, Voters Network

We humans can adapt to anything. Picture this: Hundreds of angst-ridden individuals nesting in moving steel pods, often stuck in one place due to the crowds of fellow pods trying to squeeze through limited conduits. Oh, by the way, these pods burn fossil fuels and pour greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The answer, according to the average politician (or any Highway Lobby lackey): Build wider roads -- pave the world -- so more pods can squeeze in. Forget busses; who wants to travel next to (eeew) another person? Enter Ann Oatman-Gardner. If you have any questions about transportation issues in Colorado Springs, I refer them directly to this woman, who has been pushing the city to deal with sprawl -- and to expand its bus system -- for years. Her group, Voters Network, keeps us up-to-date on these issues, forcing the difficult questions that we, as citizens, must grapple with if we are to preserve and improve our quality of life. -- pw


Best Producer of Live Music
Rob Gordon
When this man has a plan ... look out! You better get out of the way because Rob's a man of action. Some time last year, Gordon decided Colorado Springs didn't have enough intimate music venues designed to bring in the kind of acts he and his family had admired over the years -- quality acoustic acts like folkie extraordinaire Peter Mayer. So he took matters in hand, organized the Society for the Promotion of Live Music in Small Venues and started producing house concerts in his Skyway home. If you haven't enjoyed one of Rob's concerts yet, cross your fingers and hope he wins his battle against the City of Colorado Springs and certain Skyway neighbors who've taken the position that his concerts are somehow illegal and want to stop them. Better yet, join the legal defense fundraising concert on October 27 at First Congregational Church, starring Peter Mayer, and become a member of the Society for the Preservation of Live Music in Small Venues. -- kce


Best Candidates for the Newlywed Game
Doug Dean and Gloria Sanak

What happens when the Speaker of Colorado's House of Representatives gets dumped by his lobbyist girlfriend? Well, for Doug Dean (a Republican from Colorado Springs who got elected with the blessing of Focus on the Family), he simply gets a screwdriver out of his car, breaks into girlfriend Gloria Sanak's home, waits for her in the dark until she arrives home, scaring her. He then chases her down the street with the screwdriver as she runs to a neighbor's for help, and he refuses to leave until police arrive. He's allowed to walk away in defiance of Colorado's strict domestic violence laws and Sanak gets a temporary restraining order against Dean. Several months later, reunited, Sanak and Dean get married. We just love happy endings. -- cd


Best Radio DJ

Readers' Poll Winner
Jerome Davis
Formerly with KRCC-FM 91.5

Funny how, even though he's not on the radio anymore, Jerome Davis was still voted the best DJ there is in Colorado Springs. Are you listening KRCC? Good thing you don't have to care about ratings. Congratulations, Jerome. Your fans are loyal. -- cs


Best Anchor

Readers' Poll Winner
Eric Singer
Anchorman, KKTV/11 News

There's something comforting in knowing that you can switch on Channel 11 (10 if you have Cablevision) at 4:30, 5:30 or 10 p.m. weekdays and Eric Singer will be there, suave and steadfast, delivering the news. You can trust Eric, he looks you right in the eye while reporting, and when he does health reports he can say words like vaginal and penile without losing his composure. He dresses nice, and I bet he smells good, too. -- mbp


Best Sports Story
Alison Dunlap
World champion mountain bike racer

On Sept. 16, 2001, the shock of the terrorist attacks a few days earlier had begun to reach bone level. Denial was giving way to reality. All of us, including Colorado Springs resident and professional cyclist Alison Dunlap, were hurt and frightened. But on that sunny Sunday in Vail, Dunlap cast aside her own anguish and won a World Mountain Biking Championship. Leading up to the race, she wondered if she could muster the strength to ride at all. She had watched the events of Sept. 11, watched people die. The world championship cross-country race was an event she had waited and trained for and suddenly mountain bike racing seemed so unimportant, so insignificant. But people of character are not always defined by what they think; they are always defined by what they do. So Dunlap boarded her bike and with only a few miles to ride -- with 10,000 of her countrymen wildly encouraging her -- she took the lead and charged to the finish line. There, she knelt and kissed the ground: sweet, clean Rocky Mountain gravel. She helped a lot of people begin to heal that day. And for that, we salute her. -- tb


Best Boss
Kathryn Eastburn
Former Editor of the Independent

Let's imagine a single mom with four kids, three at home. Put her in a

demanding job, complete with eccentric employees, inflexible deadlines, and unpredictable demands. Expect her to edit the paper and write superb cover stories, movie reviews, restaurant reviews, and a prize-winning column. Pay her about half of what's she's worth. And what do you get? -- a woman who's an island of calm in a sea of chaos, who always has time to answer questions, give advice, and make her co-workers look good. -- jh


Best Real-life Humbert Humbert
Randy Ankeney

Thirty-year-old Randy Ankeney was an attorney and rising star in the local Republican Party, with a plum, high-dollar political assignment as Gov. Bill Owens' Pikes Peak Region's economic development delegate, the co-chair of the governor's reelection campaign and an El Paso County GOP bonus member. The former El Pomar fellow was being groomed for a future run for public office. His high-rolling chums included El Pomar CEO Bill Hybl, developer Steve Schuck, state Sen. Andy McElhany and state Rep. Bill Cadman. He was so devoted to the Republican Party he named his two dogs Nixon and Reagan. Then, Ankeney got busted for picking up a 13-year-old girl off the Internet, taking her to his house, getting her drunk and stoned, taking topless photographs of her and trying to coerce her into having sex with him. Now, he's just another accused pervert, awaiting trial -- or a sweet deal from his old pals in the district attorney's office. -- cd

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