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Darlene Tagler named Citizen of the Year
December 29, 2011 Jerry Purvis   

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Gering Citizen of the Year, Darlene Tagler, poses in front of a handmade quilt at her Gering business, Prairie Pines Quilt Shop.

Darlene Tagler, who has given countless hours of service for the betterment of Gering and the panhandle community, has been named as the Gering Citizen’s Citizen of the Year.

One of the many projects where Darlene volunteers her time is the Festival Hope, a grass roots fund-raising event organized by volunteers committed to assisting area cancer patients during the treatment process.

“Darlene is a terrific person,” said Barb Martinson, who also works with Festival of Hope. “She’s always been so willing to help with anything we needed for the festival. She’s a cancer survivor, so this event is important to her.”

For the past several years, Darlene has managed the “survivors’ tent” at the Festival of Hope, where cancer survivors register for the event.

“Darlene has been involved with the Festival of Hope from the very beginning and is always ready to help where she’s needed,” Barb said. “I got to know her through her work as office manager at Scottsbluff Vision Clinic and she’s a fine person. I’m proud to call her my friend.”

Darlene is a partner in the Prairie Pines Quilt Shop in Gering, which has become a major stop for quilters from around the Midwest.
Partner Betty Steinwart said they have a unique working relationship. “Darlene still has her job at the vision clinic and I’m here most of the time, so we sometimes don’t see each other.”
Betty said she also became acquainted with Darlene through Scottsbluff Vision Clinic. They also took a couple of quilting classes together.

One day while waiting in traffic for a train, Darlene mentioned to Betty the quilt shop, then located north of Scottsbluff, was for sale. She thought they should purchase it.

“I thought she was nuts at the time, but she wasn’t,” Betty said.”Once we bought the business, it was always our goal to move it to Gering when we had the opportunity.”

Several businesses were moving out of Gering at the time, but Darlene asked who would have faith in Gering if they didn’t. So the quilt shop came to Gering and proved to be a big success.

And when Darlene and Betty travel to quilt shows around the area, they always bring along promotional materials from the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote the city.

“Darlene gives 110 percent to her community,” Betty said. “Two jobs keep her busy, but she always finds time to help out.”

In addition to her volunteer work with the Festival of Hope, Darlene is president of the Gering Merchants Association, whose events include the Sugar Valley Rally finish line lunch and Gering Arts Festival in June, the Make Gering Shine tailgating party in October and the Christmas Parade and Santa’s Village in November and December.

Kim Flaherty with US Bank in Gering, is a fellow member of the Gering Merchants Association.

“Darlene is a driven person and an awesome leader,” Kim said. “She’s always coming up with great ideas. She’s just done a wonderful job in heading up the Merchants Association. She’s very deserving of this award for all she’s done for the community.”

Gering Citizen publisher Lisa Betz, who worked closely with Darlene during her last two years as chairperson of the Gering Arts Festival, said “Darlene is an amazing woman. I have really come to admire her passion and committment to the things close to her heart. She loves Gering and works tirelessly to benefit the people of Gering.”

Of her work with the Festival of Hope, Lisa said, “I lost my father to cancer but I’ve never really thought to campaign on his behalf to help other cancer victims. Because of Darlene, I have participated in the Festival of Hope for two years now and it has brought me a sense of closeness with my dad that I hadn’t expected to experience.

“Darlene is a treaure and we are proud to honor her for the important work she does in Gering and in our wider community,” said Betz.
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