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Awards to honor amazing New Mexicans

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Gov. Susana Martinez will be the keynote speaker at next week’s Spirit of New Mexico Awards luncheon, which will honor seven New Mexicans for their contributions and include a special tribute to law enforcement.

Tickets are still available for the lunch, scheduled Dec. 3 at Isleta Resort & Casino.

The annual program, put on by the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and the Albuquerque Journal, selects individuals featured in Journal stories who have made a difference in others’ lives.

This year, the program’s honorees will include two law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice: Rio Rancho officer Gregg Benner and Albuquerque officer Daniel Webster.

Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull will present the award for Benner to his wife, Julie Benner. Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry will present the award for Webster to his wife, sheriff’s deputy Michelle Carlino-Webster.

In addition, KOAT-TV is producing a special video that pays tribute to our local law enforcement officers.

The other honorees include: Rose Barak, a Veteran Affairs nurse who came to the aid of officer Webster after he was shot; APD officer Lou Golson, who shone a light on the high number of DWI cases dismissed after almost all of his cases were dropped while he was recovering from being shot in the line of duty; State District Judge Kenneth Martinez and his wife, Vivian, who are sharing their story about his battle with early onset Alzheimer’s disease; and Racheal Gonzales, an advocate for a law that seeks to allow a permanent no-contact order as part of a sexual offender’s sentencing.

In addition, VA nurse Nick Vaughn will receive the Harry Kinney Good Neighbor award for befriending terminally ill Vietnam vet and former drag race Tim Lent, and memorializing his accomplishments.