Farmington — When Lea Smith was named the recipient of the Judge J. Welsch Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce, her expression was one of surprise and joy.
Smith, who has lived in Bloomfield for 42 years, said she enjoys contributing to the city, its residents and its high school.
"Thank you very much, I am humbled," Smith said, adding "Let's go Bobcats" after receiving the award.
Smith said the award will hang next to the Business of the Year award her oil field business, R & L Charts Services, won a few years ago.
"I know so many people in our community who do a lot. I feel humbled that they think I deserve this award," she said.
Her husband, Russell Smith, said his wife supports the community's youth.
"She works hard, and she deserves it," he said.
The awards were handed out by the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce during the organization's annual banquet on Friday at the SunRay Park & Casino.
Brenda Navarette Garcia won the Customer Service award for the service she provides as a waitress at the Cactus Restaurant in Bloomfield. Garcia has worked there for two years.
"I'm real excited about it," she said about the award.
She started waitressing at age 14 to help her older sister and grew to enjoy hearing the stories her customers share.
"Serving people is what I love and making them happy," Garcia said.
When it came to announcing the Business of the Year, audience members were informed that this business was the driving force in donating new batting cages to the city. The award went to Mike and Joy Gathings, who own Bloomfield Machine and Welding Inc. and Benchmark Equipment and Tank Inc.
"It's an honor," Mike Gathings said, adding that many other Bloomfield businesses helped develop and construct the batting cages.
The couple, along with their son, Robert Gathings, worked to bring the batting cages to the city because Bloomfield seems left out of these types of amenities, unlike Aztec and Farmington, Mike Gathings said.
This is the first time in 20 years that Bloomfield Machine and Welding Inc. took home the honor.
Four other awards were presented on Friday.
Bellamie Presley was named Educator of the Year, the Public Employee of the Year award went to the Bloomfield Parks Department, Adam Benavidez won the Christine Donisthorpe Leadership award and Kevin Mauzy was named Citizen of the Year.
Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce President Janet Mackey said the winners were nominated by their peers, and the banquet offers the chance for the organization to thank the local businesses and employees.Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.