Every Colorado mountain town has that one character who embraces the adventurous spirit and love of community more than usual.
And for Dolores, that person is Dan Heeney, who was named Citizen of the Year Saturday during the annual Chamber of Commerce Spring Banquet.
Heeney, 48, moved to Dolores 17 years ago to open Rustic Style Furniture. His gusto for life, creativity and his work ethic kicked the town up a notch, giving it a more festive, artistic atmosphere.
“It’s hard to imagine Dolores without him,” says chamber president Lloyd Calvert. “From his economic contributions and philanthropy, to his lively contributions to the local music and boating scenes, this man is the embodiment of what it means to be a citizen.”
Heeney’s fine aspen furniture put the artisan side of Dolores on the map, Calvert said. The pieces are made from local aspen and can be found in many restaurants and homes in Colorado and beyond. Heeney regularly donates furniture for silent auctions depended on by local nonprofits.
Hollywood has also come knocking, ordering his Western-style furniture for movies, including for Quentin Tarantino’s recent “Hateful Eight,” which was shot in Telluride. Heeney generously referred film scouts to other local artists who provided leather and metal work to the film.
Heeney and his wife, Collette, have a sense of civic duty. Dan has served on the Dolores planning and zoning board for 10 years, and Collette served two terms as a Dolores Town Trustee.
The Heeneys are known for throwing theme-based community parties, including epic pingpong tournaments, haunted houses and roller-derby New Years Eve celebrations. His all-invite jam sessions where he jumps from fiddle, to guitar, to drums are legendary.
“I’m honored, and not sure how I rated so well among all the citizens that make Dolores a better town, but it might be because I’m more visible and louder than they are,” he said in a speech.
It took some cajoling to get him to join the local Chamber of Commerce.
“When I heard I was nominated and had a chance to be Parade Marshall for Escalante Days, I said, ‘No,w you’re talking.’”
Heeney said he is grateful for Dolores and its people who helped him get on his feet and start a business.
“I look around this room and know how indebted to the Dolores people I am. In fact, I owe some of these people money, which I will not pay tonight, because tonight I am Citizen of the Year!”
Dolores’ casual attitude and acceptance is perfect for Heeney and his business.
“Here you can be comfortable in your own skin,” he said. “But you can’t be invisible in this town, and this forces people to get involved and contribute.”
As is tradition for Citizen of the Year, Dan will lead the Escalante Days Parade, and is busy building one of his famous Giant Chairs for the occasion.
Visit Rustic Style at 102 Railroad Ave. or check out their website at www.rusticstyle.com.