On the Scene: Western Colorado 
Botanical Gardens’ pre-grand opening party

TAMMY AND DARIN CAREI



MARK FRANCIS AND DEBB MALLORY



R. PAUL AND MARILYN JONES AND MAGGIE FREY



MICHAEL KUZMINSKI AND ANGIE GAO



BETTY AND BILL PITTS AND ALICE DUSSART



DOUG SORTER WITH THE TONETTES: DANIELLE BEHRENS, CARRINGTON SCHAEFFER, JANAE STEWARD AND TARA GATSEOS



CINDY AND DARREN STARR



Sent as BILL HAGGERTY MUG



The Western Colorado Botanical Gardens held its pre-grand opening garden party on Friday night, and I was there, ready to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

After all, it was the end of a normal hectic workweek. I couldn’t wait to hang out in the greenhouse with the smell of jasmine and the relaxing sound of crickets.

On the outdoor patio, I immediately gravitated to the hors d’oeuvres. It was a tasty spread catered by Russ and Tami Parker’s Feedlot Restaurant in Fruita.

I spotted Darin Carei and his wife, Tammy. Darin never ceases to impress and amaze me. He’s always doing the good work. Last time I had the chance to work with him, we were working on a fundraiser for Homeward Bound, the homeless shelter. He is part owner of Alasta Solar Center and Energywise Companies and sponsors the Garden Groove Summer Music Series at the botanical gardens.

Darin is all about sustainability and is partnering with Senergy Homes to build solar efficient homes at D 1/2 and 31 1/2 roads in an area called River Trail. What I like about Darin is his forward-thinking ideas not only for business, but for our community.

Bill Pitts and his wife, Betty, are a couple of fun people. Bill and my father, Louie Brown, were best of friends and tried to get into trouble together. Daddy has been gone 30 some years, and I love it when Bill tells me a story about their shenanigans. I brought my daughter, Alice Dussart, with me to this garden party and she wanted a photo with her grandpa’s infamous friend.

I had Betty as an art teacher at Grand Junction High School. She still enjoys painting and is the honorary chairwoman of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society, a society for women educators.

We wandered inside and found Darren and Cindy Starr. Darren says he is “always quoted, never seen.” Darren is the manager of streets and solid waste for the city of Grand Junction. He and Cindy love the gardens and have a pond at home so they like to check out what is new at the gardens.

Dr. Paul and Marilyn Jones also were inside with Maggie Frey, the gardens’ manager. Marilyn was one of the early organizers of the gardens and served on the board. When she left the board, Paul got on, tag team style.

Back outside, the entertainment was just arriving: The Tonettes! I love them, their harmony, and their style. I posed them with Doug Sorter, director of business development at STRIVE. Doug was busy pouring wine for guests, but he acquiesced.

The Tonettes are Danielle Behrens, Carrington Schaeffer, Janae Steward and Tara Gatseos.

This garden party had everything: food, wine, entertainment and party gifts. Alice and I headed back inside to the gift shop where Mark Francis and darling fiancé Debb Mallory were admiring the colorful assortment of garden-related items.

Marc is former owner of FCI Constructors and is proud of the fact that he build the botanical gardens. Mark is now the chief executive officer of Family Health West and FCI continues to be incredibly generous, an ethos that Francis created in the company.

The party gifts consisted of individual plants in pots hand-painted by STRIVE clients. The pots can be purchased at the gardens and downtown at Uniquely Yours, another STRIVE endeavor.

Inside the greenhouse again, I came across a couple who looked like movie stars. Michael Kuzminski and Angie Gao. Michael is an attorney who does legal work for STRIVE and Angie is a physician in Fruita. They describe themselves as being “low key.”

The gardens had its official grand opening Saturday. The gardens have a great event line-up and lots to look forward to this season.

Sarah Catlin, a botanical gardens board member, explained to me how the partnership between STRIVE and the gardens came about. What a brilliant idea and one that will ensure the sustainability of two dynamic programs. STRIVE has the manpower to maintain the grounds, and the botanical gardens has the grounds to train the manpower. Brilliant.

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GET ON THE SCENE

■ The Grand Junction Senior Theatre will present its variety show “Ain’t We Got Fun” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Grand Junction High School. Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased at Albertsons, City Markets Roper Music and from senior theatre members.

■ Ballet Magnificat performs the new original work “Face 2 Face” at 3 p.m. Sunday at Robinson Theatre in Colorado Mesa University’s Moss Performing Arts Center. Advance tickets cost $15 for adults, $12 for children and $10 for seniors and are available at Roper Music, Back Porch Music, face2face2.eventbrite.com and balletmagnificat.com. All tickets at the door cost $15.

Check Friday’s Out & About for additional entertainment events.


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