Alan Hamel, Executive Director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works, was caught entirely off guard by the announcement, accompanied by a rousing standing ovation in the Denver Hyatt Regency Tech Center's Grand Ballroom. He was equally surprised by the sudden appearance of wife Mary Kay, daughter Lisa, and other family members as his name was announced to the packed ballroom.
Hamel, who has spearheaded Pueblo's Historic Arkansas Riverwalk project for two decades, received a framed artist's rendering of this project from the Colorado Water Congress.
The list of Hamel's achievements on behalf of Colorado's water community is long for this man, who began working summers with Pueblo's Water Board as a teenager 50 years ago. By 1982, Hamel had become the Board's Director.
He said he’s proudest of the team effort that resulted in Pueblo's upgraded water infrastructure, "One of the most modern systems in the country," Hamel remarked.
He has served on the Colorado Water Conservation Board and with the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority. Hamel is past chairman of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, and remains an advisory board member. He was the Arkansas Basin Roundtable's first chairman, as well as its representative on the Interbasin Compact Committee. He also works closely with the American Water Works Association.
Prior Aspinall Award recipients in attendance include former State Senator and Ag Commissioner Don Ament, former State Senator and President of the Senate Fred E. Anderson, former State Senator Tillie Bishop, Ralph Curtis, former State Senator Lewis H. Entz, L. Richard Bratton, Ralph Curtis, former Congressman Ray Kogovsek, Dick MacRavey, Bill Miller, former Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, John Porter and Larry Simpson.
Only four of the surviving past recipients were unable to attend: Former U.S. Senator Hank Brown, Fred Kroeger, former Assistant Secretary of the Interior John Sayre and David Smith.
Assisting CWC’s Mary M. Stirling with this year's Aspinall Award ceremony were Christine Arbogast, Kogovsek & Associates; Erin Regrutto, Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo (HARP); artist Steve Bigley, Advanced Photo Solutions, Pueblo; as well as staff members of Pueblo Water and SECWCD.