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AZTEC – The annual Aztec Chamber of Commerce dinner served as a chance to highlight some of the organization's successes, and recognize businesses, educators and citizens who have made significant contributions to the community.

The Wild West-theme event took place Saturday night at the Microtel Inn & Suites here.

This year's business of the year award went to Anytime Fitness, located on West Aztec Boulevard. Vangie Neil, the chamber's vice president, said the business has worked closely with the nonprofit Peach's Neat Feet, which helps children with cancer.

Educator of the year went to Steve Lanier, a longtime Aztec High School teacher and coach, while the citizen of the year award went to Cindy Iacovetto, the director of the Aztec Senior Center. Earlier this year, Iacovetto arranged the inaugural Aztec steampunk convention.

In addition to recognizing Anytime Fitness, Lanier and Iacovetto, the chamber president, Theresa Bailey, spoke about the chamber's work.

"The first part of 2016 has been very positive for the chamber," Bailey said.

She said the chamber has added 10 new members since the beginning of the year.

Some of the successes she highlighted include the upcoming business HUB, which is scheduled to open this summer. The HUB is expected to help entrepreneurs start up or grow businesses in Aztec. It will also serve as a home for the chamber of commerce.

In light of the decline in oil and gas revenue in the area, the chamber has been working to refocus on tourist attractions such as Aztec Ruins National Monument and the Animas River, she said.

One thing that could spur economic development and change in Aztec is the East Aztec Arterial Route, which is currently under construction. The route will divert heavy truck traffic away from Aztec's downtown.

"The completion of the arterial route will hopefully change the face of historic downtown," Bailey said.

In addition to diverting traffic, the road could potentially spur economic development by opening about 200 acres of land for development.

"We realize to grow we have to provide space," Bailey said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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