And the award goes to … Ivins Mayor awards for community service

L to R Tonya Horlacher and Heather Kunde, holding their plaques as recipients of the Ivins Mayor's Community Service Award 2012, Ivins, Utah, July 21, 2012 | Photo courtesy of Tonya Horlacher

IVINS – The 2012 Ivins Mayor’s Community Service Award was handed out Thursday to two women who have devoted themselves to keeping a long-standing city tradition alive: Tonya Horlacher and Heather Kunde, organizers of the annual Miss Ivins Princess Scholarship Pageant.

Established more than 10 years ago, the Mayor’s award is given out each summer to a person or persons who have demonstrated a commitment to bettering life in Ivins. The determination is made solely by the mayor – in this case, Chris Hart – and is presented at a ceremony during a regular City Council meeting.

A past recipient himself, Hart said that he stays true to the basic ideals of the award when considering candidates, who have run the gamut from civil servants to ordinary citizens with a passion for helping others. Hart said that he is especially impressed by those who have participated in community service over long periods of time, as well as those whose service is widespread.

The 2010 and 2011 honors were given to Pete Kuhlman, the city’s former fire chief who helped organize a volunteer firefighting team and Linda Elwell, founder of the Friends of the Ivins Animal Shelter nonprofit group and a dedicated animal welfare activist.

“The name of the award pretty much says it all,” Hart said. “Civic-minded people willing to donate their time are crucial to the community, as there are needs that even our budget and paid staff can’t cover.”

This year’s award recipients, Horlacher and Kunde, organize the city’s annual Miss Ivins Princess Scholarship Pageant. As its name implies, the pageant invites teenage girls to present a mix of talent, sportswear, interview skills, poise and presentation in hopes of capturing one of the four titles: Miss Ivins, 1st Attendant, 2nd Attendant and Miss Congeniality. Each is accompanied by a scholarship, to be used by the winner at the university of her choice.

Though Miss Ivins was first held in 1972, Horlacher took the reins as director five years ago. Kunde, who joined three years ago, serves not only as her assistant but also assists the young ladies with preparation through a series of workshops. Both have experience with the pageant: Kunde competed as a girl and two of Horlacher’s daughters are former runner-ups. Together, their efforts have helped raise awareness and support for Miss Ivins, along with attracting more contestants. The most recent pageant, held in March 2012, saw a record-breaking turnout of 16 hopefuls.

“The pageant is a source of pride for our city (and a) wonderful event for these young ladies,” Hart said. “Mrs. Horlacher and Mrs. Kunde have committed a huge amount of time to put it together.”

Both Horlacher and Kunde are volunteers with families at home; the latter is a mother of five currently studying for a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. And though the responsibility of running the pageant in conjunction with a busy family life sometimes feels overwhelming, receiving this award has assured her the effort is worth it.

“(I’m so thankful that) the mayor, city council and community support the pageant as a developmental program for young women,” she said.

Horlacher said, “I feel very honored to receive such an incredible award (for) all of the hard work that Heather and I put into the program. I love to (serve) any way I can and see the community get better and better. I wish everyone, not only in Ivins but in all cities, would get involved and help make a change for good.”

Horlacher and Kunde received the honor on Thursday, July 19, at the Ivins City Hall. Mayor Hart gave them a commemorative plaque and to all present, thanked them for their continued efforts to improve the community.


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Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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