I guess you could say my ideas about the importance of recognizing people all started with John Hale. Hale and his son Bill had established radio station KABN in Big Lake, Alaska, in 1979, and he wanted me to come up from Texas and help them out. I went up to take a look, and when I arrived I discovered he had made it “Tom Locke Day” on KABN Radio. I had seen Hale do the same sort of thing when he was manager of the Alaska State Fair in 1974, when I was working for him there. He would make it “Shem Pete’s Day” at the fair, or honor some other person in the same way, and hold a ceremony that day. I carried some of those ideas over to The Flume, Park County’s Bailey, Colo.-based newspaper, when I became editor there because I knew that Hale was right: It’s important to recognize people. It’s important to honor them. The first year that The Flume held the Holiday Extravaganza, with booths and entertainment at Fitzsimmons Middle School, was 2006. That year Gracie Trast, who had given so much of herself for the developmentally disabled in Park County, was honored with a song, several certificates (including a resolution from the county commissioners making it her day in Park County), and the inaugural GRACIE Award from the Platte Canyon Chamber of Commerce. That GRACIE Award has continued to this day, honoring people who have done a lot for the community. The next year, the Fairplay-based South Park Chamber of Commerce joined the fun by producing the True Pioneer Award, also presented at the Holiday Extravaganza. It also continues to be awarded each year. At the Flume, the Golden Correspondent Award and the Flume Hall of Fame were added in the same spirit. It doesn’t take much to produce such an honor, but it can be important. It is not uncommon to see these types of honors listed in obituaries or on display at memorial services.

Tom’s Touch was born in this same spirit. The funny thing is, when you make it someone else’s day, either literally or figuratively (for instance, through honoring that person through a photo book or slideshow), to some extent it becomes your day too.  And, to some extent, it also becomes our day.