Attorney, education advocate chosen as Citizen of the Year

Phyllis Norris is applauded for the Lifetime Achievement award.

John Williams has made a name for himself professionally as a lawyer and in land development.

But to those who know him away from the office, Williams’ reputation as a passionate advocate for education is just as noteworthy.

Williams appeared stunned as he walked on stage Friday night to receive his award from the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce as Citizen of the Year.

“It’s not every day a lawyer gets this,” Williams said, prompting a round of laughter from many in the crowd of 750 who attended the annual event at Two Rivers Convention Center.

“Holy moly. I don’t even know what to say. I’m flipping out.”

A Grand Junction High School graduate, Williams moved back to the community in 1978 to begin his law career.

He has served on the School District 51 Long Range Planning Committee for 10 years and co-chaired campaign committees for the 2004 and 2008 bond elections.

Williams also serves on the boards for the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau and Child and Migrant Services. He previously served as chairman of the Hilltop Community Resources board of directors.

Another Williams — Williams Production RMT — was honored Friday night.

The 100-year-old energy firm that arrived on the Western Slope in 2001 was named Business of the Year.

The largest gas producer on the Western Slope has grown from 17 to 120 employees since its arrival here eight years ago, and it has sunk $1.2 billion into capital investments.

In addition, Williams has supported more than 30 local organizations in the past year.
Regional Manager Steve Soychak pledged that the company will “maintain a leadership role” in the Piceance Basin.

Cobb and Associates took home the Small Business of the Year award, which recognizes businesses with fewer than 25 employees.

“This is quite an honor. This is truly a blessing,” said Terri Cavanaugh, the second-generation owner of the 39-year-old marketing firm.

Cobb and Associates has grown 60 percent since 2001 and recently contributed money and services to 10 local nonprofit and community organizations.

In addition, employees serve on boards for the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation, Holy Family Education Foundation and Messiah Lutheran Board of Education.

City Market President and Chief Executive Officer Phyllis Norris became the first woman to garner the Lifetime Achievement Award.

A lifelong resident of the Grand Valley, Norris started working at City Market as a checker in 1970. She has been a supporter of the Museum of Western Colorado, the Western Colorado Center for the Arts and Rocky Mountain PBS. She serves on the Grand Junction Chief of Police Advisory Council and formerly served on the boards of the chamber, Hilltop
Community Resources and St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation.

“Thank you very much,” Norris said. “I feel very honored and very humbled because I don’t feel like I’ve done anything to deserve this.”


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