AZTEC — The Aztec Chamber of Commerce recognized a fledgling small business Thursday night, naming Crash Music as Business of the Year.

George Rowe, a retired teacher, opened the business in May 2012, and quickly drew notice for his energy and community involvement.

"Crash Music has jumped right in," said Mayor Sally Burbridge.

Rowe has hosted live music and offered lessons at the music shop, located at 108 S. Main in Aztec. He's also part of a new group, Aztec Community Event Session, or ACES, that helps organize and promote Aztec events.

"We're trying to do good work here, and it's good to be recognized," he said.

Larry Turk, superintendent of Aztec Ruins, was named Citizen of the Year. He also serves as Chamber treasurer and on the boards of Aztec Museum, Aztec Trails and Open Spaces and the body that disburses Aztec's lodger's tax revenues.

"I'm a quiet person, but this is an honor," he said. "My wife and I have been here about two years, and we've fallen in love with the community and we're glad to help out."

Aztec's annual awards banquet was held at the Senior-Community Center. The event featured a live auction and dinner from Sutherland Farms.

Patrick Sannes of Koogler Middle School was named Educator of the Year. Sannes teaches eighth-grade science.

"It's humbling," he said. "It's just such an honor - there's a lot of

worthy people here.


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Candy Frizzell, editor and publisher of the Aztec Talon newspaper, was given special recognition for her service to the community.

The awards event came against the backdrop of an uncertain economy.

Aztec, like other San Juan Basin towns, has been hit hard by the five-year decline in natural gas production.

"Folks are still just kind of hanging in there - hanging by their fingernails - and hoping things turn around," said Burbridge.

She said the development of the ACES group is encouraging. ACES, she

said, "has the potential to become a new, invigorated group for our

businesses."

Chuck Slothower may be reached at cslothower@daily-times.com; 505-564-4638. Follow him on Twitter @DTChuck