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The Best Of votes are in, showcasing some of the things we really appreciate about living here.

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Meridith Hyland of Manitou Springs is an art instructor

Who is an unsung hero in this community? Deborah Thornton of Imagination Celebration. She helps get the arts, culture and kids involved, especially kids that might not have the opportunity otherwise.

In what local store would you love to spend $500, and what would you buy? Third Eye Art Supply in Manitou Springs. I love art supplies, and I'd buy all sorts of canvases and paint to play with.

Give us the best reason not to move to Denver. Denver is more liberal, which I like, but it's huge and you can get lost. Colorado Springs still has a small-town atmosphere.

In the next year, what do you hope the biggest local news story will be? I'd like to see the opening of a children's museum, open all the time with both art and science.

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Dustin Sucharski of the west side is in retail and museum maintenance

Who do you think is an unsung hero in this community? Randy [Fair], who owns Jives Coffee Lounge. [He's] created a great community place that's open to everyone. And they have live music, too.

What organization do you wish more people knew about locally? The Manitou Art Center. They bring in artists, give them studio space and a place to show. They also have music groups to help people play.

In what local store would you love to spend $500, and on what? Moondog Music Shop. I'd buy a new acoustic guitar or some new amp equipment.

Is there any local outdoor activity that you couldn't live without? Hiking in Red Rock Canyon.

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Amy Birch of the north central area is a stay-at-home mom

Who do you think is an unsung hero in this community, and why? Tyler Curtis, who's a teacher at a local private school. He has a heart for the orphan and the widow.

What organization do you wish more people knew about locally? I wish more people knew about Hope Church. It's a small group that meets on Sunday mornings for a very informal worship of Christ and is aware of each others' needs.

Give us the best reason not to move to Denver. Big cities tire me out. I like the small-town feel here.

Within the next year, what do you hope the biggest local news story will be? I'd like to see recreational marijuana shops shutting down. I'm OK with the medical marijuana for severe cases, but that's an exception. I don't think the recreational shops help other local businesses.

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