Chamber awards business and individuals for their efforts

Joe Butard

JR’s Carriage Service is among the latest winners of annual awards presented by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce honoring recipients for their community service.

JR’s Carriage Service, a company owned and operated by Joe Burtard, was named business of the year.

Karen Troester, president and chief executive officer of Grand Junction Federal Credit Union, was named Citizen of the Year. Jorge Pantoja, a tax manager at a Grand Junction accounting firm, was recognized as the young professional of the

Karen Troester


Tim Foster, the former president of Colorado Mesa University, received the lifetime achievement award.

The chamber presented the awards during its annual banquet.

JR’s Carriage Service belongs to the Grand Junction as well as Fruita and Palisade chambers of commerce. Burtard serves as chairman of the Palisade Chamber of Commerce board and also belongs to the Visit Grand Junction advisory board. He helped found the Young Professionals of Mesa County. Nearly 30

Jorge Pantoja

organizations have received donations from the business.

Troester has been a member of the Grand Junction chamber for 18 years and serves as chairwoman of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership. She’s also supported business startups through the Business Incubator Center. She’s been involved with a variety of other organizations and activities, including the Daniel Ethics Fund Initiative at Colorado Mesa University, Girl Scouts of Western Colorado and National Junior College Baseball World Series.

Tim Foster

Pantoja, a certified public accountant, works as tax manager at the Mark K. Ashman accounting firm in Grand Junction. He serves as president of the Western Colorado Latino Chamber of Commerce and a member of the minority business advisory council for the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Foster served 17 years as president of Colorado Mesa University before retiring in 2021. During his tenure, student enrollment, the number of certificates and degrees awarded and square footage of academic space on the Grand Junction campus all doubled.

He previously served as executive director of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. He also served in the Colorado House of Representatives and worked as a partner in a private law practice in Grand Junction.

In 2021, Foster was involved in a campaign in which voters approved a ballot measure allowing Mesa County School District 51 to increase debt to replace the 65-year-old Grand Junction  High School.