Historic Routt County celebrates work of veteran journalist | SteamboatToday.com

Historic Routt County celebrates work of veteran journalist

Tom Ross

— In the words of local historian and longtime Yampa resident Paul Bonnifield, "It's the people that make the valley and the history."

At Historic Routt County's annual meeting and awards celebration Thursday night at the Steamboat Art Museum, veteran Steamboat Pilot & Today reporter Tom Ross received the 2014 Historic Preservation Leadership Award.

The award is given annually to a community member or a group that has shown dedication and support of historic preservation in the county.

Bonnifield said he had hoped Ross would be at Thursday’s event so he could shake his hand.

"I sure appreciate the man," Bonnifield said. "All we owe to the past is the truth, and Tom does his very best to make it the truth when he writes. He tells us something that is going to be lost and that should be recognized as honest history."

Ross was unable to attend the awards presentation because he is exploring historic sites in France with his wife, Judy, in celebration of their 30th wedding anniversary. In Ross’ absence, Editor Lisa Schlichtman accepted the award on his behalf.

In a letter written to members of the Historic Routt County Board, Ross said he and his wife were visiting La Coste, France, where they are staying in "a remodeled stone sheep stable that predates the first log cabin in Steamboat by a couple of centuries."

"I know that my colleagues at the Steamboat Pilot & Today, who share my enthusiasm for the efforts all of you make to preserve the history of the Yampa Valley, would agree that our limited role is to draw attention to the real work of preservation," he wrote.

Ross accepted the award on behalf of the late Dee Richards, longtime editor of the Steamboat Pilot and author of a book about the history of Steamboat Springs titled, "Steamboat 'Round the Bend."

"Dee was my first editor at the Pilot, and although she originally hired me as a sports reporter, she took care to make certain that I was aware of more than just the history of skiing in Steamboat," Ross said in the letter. "Some of my early assignments included interviewing two people whose first trips to Steamboat were on the stagecoach from Wolcott, Lewis Phillips and Irena Padgett. I will always treasure having had that experience."

Several of those who attended the annual meeting spoke about Ross and his commitment to preserving Routt County history through his columns and articles that have been published in the Steamboat Pilot & Today over the past three decades.

"His heart is in saving the stories that make Routt County special," Historic Routt County Executive Director Meg Tully said. "Personally speaking, I attribute the saving of the Burroughs’ Dog House to Tom because his articles got the attention of people and now it has a loving home at the Hayden Heritage Center. We just can't think of a better award winner."

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1