Citizens honored for service to community
The Park Record
One may be the first voice you hear in the morning. The other may be responsible for the bed you sleep in at night.
Two long-time local residents, Leslie Thatcher, news director of radio station KPCW, and Kim McClelland, director of lodging for Deer Valley Resort, were honored for their contributions to Park City in a luncheon at the Grubsteak restaurant Tuesday.
Thatcher was recognized with the Linda Singer-Berrett Professional Citizen of the Year award. McClelland was honored with the Jack C. Green Volunteer Citizen of the Year award. The awards are presented annually by the Park City Rotary Club.
“Our Park City Rotary Club is proud of the work we do in our community,” said Club President Jenni Smith. “But we are aided by remarkable individuals outside our club, like Kim McClelland and Leslie Thatcher, who make giving back to the community a part of their daily life.”
Thatcher, who brings the local news to KPCW listeners every weekday morning beginning just after 6 a.m., said her own wake-up call is an alarm clock at 4:30 a.m. She reaches the station about 5:45 a.m. and begins the process of switching over from National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.
“For the early risers who do listen, you may have thought I was late a few times because NPR was playing and you didn’t hear anything (else),” Thatcher told the Rotary gathering. “But that was only because I forgot to flip the switch. And the worst time was (when) an hour went by when I realized I had not flipped the switch. I realized I had been talking to myself for the whole hour.”
Thatcher made a point of thanking her husband, Duane “Dar” Hendrickson, who played Mr. Mom on weekday mornings.
“Except for school picture days, he was able to get our daughter off to school dressed and with a lunch in hand. And she … turned out pretty wonderful in spite of some bad hair days.”
Responding to a question from the Rotarians, Thatcher said her favorite interviewees have included Bob Hope and Robert Redford. She recalled the time that the man behind the Sundance Film Festival agreed to sit down for a 10-minute interview.
“And he was very kind and he gave me, for that 10 minutes, his full attention. It was really quite wonderful – just watching him.”
Franci Eisenberg, who nominated Thatcher for the award, calculated that in 21 years anchoring the station’s morning news, she has performed her morning ritual 5,460 times.
“How is it possible that one person can do that day after day, year after year, and still sound fair, balanced, smart and familiar?” Eisenberg asked.
Also paying tribute to Thatcher was longtime friend Nan Chalat Noaker, who has been the editor of The Park Record about as long as Thatcher has been the morning news anchor.
“Les is a world-class interviewer – she’s concise, gets right to the heart of the issue,” Noaker said. “I listen to her as I’m driving over Brown’s Pass almost every weekday morning, and I’m constantly amazed by the range of issues she covers. On any given morning she can go from chatting with an Olympic skier to quizzing the head of the Recycling Center to interviewing a Sundance movie director and then grilling the Wasatch County manager, all without skipping a beat.”
Noaker said that she and Thatcher, who have children born 10 days apart, have had many discussions about juggling parenthood with long working hours.
“We’ve confided about news sources who won’t call us back or don’t tell the truth, about our kids hating us for making them do homework, and the terror of letting them learn how to drive. We’ve talked a lot about how the Internet has affected journalism, shared apps and posts and podcast discoveries. … Most of all, I’ve learned about the joy of having a brilliant rival who, at the end of the day, I hope will be a best friend forever.”
Providing the backstory of Thatcher’s introduction to journalism in Park City was Bill Coleman, an original investor in Park City Television. Coleman recalled that, in the early 1980s, Thatcher, then a journalism student, approached him about volunteering for the television station.
One day when Thatcher was at the station, Coleman said, the news anchor didn’t show up. “So I said, ‘Les, you’re on.’ And it was at 7 in the morning and she was in there … and a star was born.”
Tuesday’s other award recipient, Kim McClelland, has worked in the Park City lodging community since 1978. In addition to his professional role, he has been an active volunteer leader with myriad organizations in the community. McClelland has served as a board member of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, the Park City Lodging Association, the Utah Office of Tourism, the People’s Health Clinic, the Park City Jazz Foundation, and what is now Basin Recreation.
McClelland was nominated for the Volunteer Citizen of the Year award by Hans Fuegi, who has served in many of the same organizations. Fuegi recalled how Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman approached McClelland to lead the Utah Office of Tourism in 2005.
“The reason that organization is as successful as it is, is in big part due to Kim’s doing,” Fuegi said. “He just was selfless. He couldn’t put enough time into it and now the organization is funded by the governor to the tune of $22 million to advertise the state. A lot of credit goes to Kim for that.
“In all organizations I’ve been involved in with Kim, he was competent, thoughtful, dedicated, and always extremely generous with his time. I know that Kim never tries to draw attention to himself. He’s one of the most humble, honest and sincere individuals, and I’m very pleased that the selection committee chose (him for the) award.”
Bill Malone, executive director of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, told the Rotarians that McClelland was the driving force behind Park City’s Thin Air Innovation Festival.
“In that event, Kim was involved in everything from going to pitch the governor on donating funds to help to start the event, all the way to delivering a couch from his office to the stage at the concert for the people in the band Thievery Corporation to use as a prop for the show.”
Bob Wheaton, president and CEO of Deer Valley Resort, said that when Deer Valley decided to get into the lodging business, he knew exactly who to recruit to lead the new organization.
“When you want something done great, Kim is the guy that you go to,” Wheaton said. “And that is the very reason why, when the lodging community in Park City had a little hiccup about six or seven years ago, and two of the largest lodging companies in town went upside down, left a lot of people holding the bag, and Deer Valley was in a position to get into the lodging business, who did we pick? It was a pretty quick decision.”
When McClelland took the podium, he had a different recollection of that event six or seven years ago.
“When Bob mentioned there was a little hiccup back then, I looked at it more as a major throw-up event,” he said. “It lasted about a year and a half. … And Julie, his administrative assistant, I’m sure began to wonder who the hell this guy was, because I was literally in Bob’s office about half the time every day for six months straight.”
True to form, McClelland deflected the praise and chose to spend much of his acceptance speech talking about the dedication of his wife, Judy, who just retired after 37 years as a teacher in the Park City School District.
“No matter what it was, she always demanded the best from those kids and they knew it. But the thing that really sort of resonated with me was, she cared about their education but she cared more about them as people,” he said.
The Volunteer Citizen of the Year award is named after the late Jack Green, Park City mayor from 1978 to 1986, who was instrumental in rallying community volunteerism during the community’s formative years as a destination resort. The Professional Citizen of the Year Award is named in honor of the late Linda Singer-Berrett, Park City Rotary’s first female president, who was a strong community leader in her role as a teacher and school principal.
Thatcher and McClelland will ride as grand marshals in the Miners Day parade on Monday, Sept. 5.
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The Park City Council primary election is slated for Aug. 13, but the ballots in the vote-by-mail contest were scheduled to be sent on Tuesday. The Summit County Clerk’s Office anticipates the ballots will arrive in mailboxes and post-office boxes on Friday or Saturday.