Tales from the Tread: Museum recognizes outstanding citizens with Leckenby, Larson awards
Every year, the Leckenby and Larson Awards Committee associated with the Tread of Pioneers Museum presents two awards that honor people who have enriched the quality of life in Routt County. These citizens have served our public institutions and nonprofit organizations, preserved our local history or contributed significantly to the county’s heritage.
Since 1980, the Leckenby Pioneer Award is given to a living person in Routt County who has resided locally for 30 years or more, demonstrates personal integrity and inspires youth. The Stanley L. Larson Award has been given posthumously, since 1982, to former Routt County residents who have made significant contributions to the community.
For both awards, the individuals have shown strong involvement in community activities, such as volunteerism, supporting organizations, serving on various boards and committees, and working with youth and others to make the community a better place to live for all.
2021 Leckenby Award: Arianthé Stettner
“For the past 30-plus years, Arianthe Stettner has embodied a life of service, dedicating her time, talents and resources to her community, particularly in the field of historic preservation. Her contributions to the field cannot be overstated,” Emily Katzman and the Board of Historic Routt County wrote in their award nomination. “She helped build the organizational foundations of historic preservation in Northwest Colorado by co-founding the nonprofit organization Historic Routt County, serving as a charter member on Routt County’s Historic Preservation Board, and helping to establish the City of Steamboat Springs as a certified local government.”
In the 1990s, Stettner and a small committee of nascent preservationists formed Historic Routt County — originally a program within the Tread of Pioneers Museum — in response to the rapid demolition of historic structures and encroachment of new development on Routt County’s cultural landscapes. In the 22 years since becoming an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Historic Routt County has become the voice and leader for the preservation and celebration of Routt County’s historic places.
“Stettner’s impact is extraordinary,” said Candice Bannister, Tread of Pioneers Museum executive director. “By passionately educating the public about Routt County’s special historic places and providing key leadership to preserve them, she has cultivated an enduring preservation ethic within our community that we can all follow moving forward.”
During her time in Steamboat, Stettner has also volunteered in a number of other capacities. She helped organize many of the Environment 2000 conferences, served as a trustee of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation for nearly nine years and was the board president of Colorado Preservation Inc. She also spent seven years on the Steamboat Springs City Council. The 3,800-acre historic Legacy Ranch was preserved during her tenure, and the Carver Power Plant was restored and integrated into the city’s new Centennial Hall.
Stettner played a leadership role in this project, which earned Steamboat recognition from first lady Laura Bush as a Preserve America Community. More recently, Stettner dedicated her time as chair of the Steamboat Springs Historic Preservation Commission, the Save Arnold Barn Committee and currently, Partners in Preservation, a collaboration with Historic Routt County and the Tread of Pioneers Museum. For her decades of service and leadership, Stettner was presented with the Hazie Werner Award and the Historic Preservation Medal from the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, among many other accolades.
2021 Larson Award: Alvin “Al” Wegeman
A multitude of Winter Olympic athletes produced by the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club over the years can be directly traced to the contributions of Al Wegeman, the club’s coach and ski instructor from 1944 to 1949.
The latter part of the 1940s through the early 1950s are considered pivotal to the development of competitive skiing — primarily ski jumping and Nordic combined — in Steamboat, and Wegeman helped the program expand and transition into high-level competitive instruction and training. Today, SSWSC is considered the premier training program in the country, having produced more Olympians than any other town in the nation.
Upon his arrival in Steamboat in 1944, Wegeman became the primary force in the certification of skiing as a physical education credit in the public schools, making the community the first in the state to have ski training as an integral part of the curriculum. Nationally, Wegeman was and still is considered a pioneer for his work in creating junior ski programs and for introducing skiing in the schools. A passion for skiing expanded, with approximately 95% of the population skiing, thus crowning the city with the nickname, “Ski Town USA.”
As the first full-time coach for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Wegeman coached and influenced ski greats and Olympians, such as Katy Rodolph, Keith Wegeman, Paul Wegeman, Marvin Crawford, Buddy Werner, Skeeter Werner and Loris Werner.
Wegeman also managed the downtown swimming pool, coached the swim team and provided swimming lessons and instruction in first-aid and lifesaving. Cutting ski trails on Emerald Mountain in the winter rounded out his activities.
Wegeman’s awards and recognition included the Halstead Memorial Trophy in 1950 by the Southern Rocky Mountain Ski Association “for his outstanding contribution to skiing over the past year” and efforts in promoting skiing, both senior and junior, in this area. He also received a memorial award from the National Ski Association of America in recognition of his outstanding service in skiing and, in particular, to junior skiing.
In 1977, Wegeman was honored posthumously by being included in the first class inducted into the newly-created Colorado Ski Hall of Fame. Two of his sons, Paul and Keith, were inducted later.