Former county commissioner and executive Tony Atkinson was named Citizen of the Year. The Humanitarian of the Year award went to Dr. Robert Lehmer, a longtime local surgeon.
Sonny Riley, the founder and president of Riley Industrial Services, was characteristically succinct after accepting the award.
"We're just a family corporation and everybody works hard," he said. "That's about it."
His three sons, George, Gary and Glen, manage the business. George's three children also work at Riley Industrial, giving the business three generations of the same family.
Riley said he regards all of his employees as family.
The company in 2004 started the Riley Industrial Men's Health Fund. The charity, administered by the San Juan Medical Foundation, has grown through private donations and fundraising at a popular annual golf tournament.
American General Media and San Juan Regional Medical Center also were nominated for Business of the Year.
Atkinson, honored as Citizen of the Year, served two terms as a San Juan County commissioner after managing the governmental organization as county executive. A computer scientist by training, Atkinson helped lead the county in adopting new technology.
"He truly exhibits the characteristics of a leader," said Jim Henderson, who
Atkinson joked about leaving Farmington after graduating high school to pursue a college degree in California.
"In my day, you didn't have a senior trip," he said. "The police escorted you to the edge of town."
Also nominated for Citizen of the Year were John Byrom, president and CEO of D.J. Simmons Inc., an oil and gas producer; and Janel Ryan, superintendent of Farmington Municipal Schools.
Lehmer was honored as Humanitarian of the Year. He came to Farmington after putting his medical skills to use in the Vietnam War. He spent many years as an orthopedic surgeon at San Juan Regional, becoming chief of staff in 1990. He later founded Orthopedic Associates, a local physicians practice.
Lehmer lobbied to a pass a recreational tax that helped lead to construction of baseball and soccer fields. He was also a driving force behind building Pinon Hills Golf Course.
Ed Horvath, who worked under Lehmer at the hospital, said he was a consummate physician.
"It didn't make a difference if it was 2 or 3 in the morning he would come in, give the best medical care and treat every patient with respect," he said.
Dr. Carletta Thompson, the outgoing chairwoman of the chamber's board, said the chamber had gained 75 new members in 2012 and held 50 ribbon cuttings. She was succeeded by Mary Batley Rogers for 2013.
Rogers said she wants to focus on improving the retail sector. She noted the economy has struggled, but pointed to the area's natural resources and people as strengths.
"Let's continue to move forward with Farmington," she said.