Moore, Signs honored by Tread of Pioneers with Leckenby, Larson awards

The 2018 Leckenby Pioneer Award was presented to Noreen Moore, who poses for a photograph with Candice Bannister, executive director of the Tread of Pioneers Museum. (Photograph courtesy of Candice Bannister)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The winners of the 2018 Leckenby and Larson Awards have left lasting impressions and enriched the quality of life in Routt County.

South Routt resident Noreen Moore was honored with the Leckenby Pioneer Award, and the late Wes Signs, of Hayden, received the Stanley L. Larson Award, which is always awarded posthumously.

“These are awards that we have been doing since 1980,” said Candice Bannister, executive director for Tread of Pioneers museum, which sponsors the annual awards. “We have a volunteer committee that comes together to choose the awardees that is made up of longtime locals and historians from all over the county.”

Moore moved to Routt County in 1972, where she lived and ran a restaurant with her late husband, Dinty. Her work in South Routt has included helping to build a youth center, organizing efforts to make improvements in Yampa following the Royal Hotel fire, and most recently, working to restore Crossan’s M & A Market.

Moore was a key player with Friends of Crossan’s, the group that raised money and worked to renovate the historic Yampa building into a space to house the local museum, town offices and community space.

Moore, however, is quick to point out that success is something she shares with the others who worked on the project.

“I myself did not think of all these things to do,” Moore said. “These things kind of came about because there were other members of the community — whether it is a youth center, or community building or Crossan’s — that said this would be really neat to do.

“I’ve always been a very positive person, and a person that figures most anything is possible,” Moore explained. “I think people kind of found me in a way … It’s kind of amazing what happens when you say ‘yes.’”

Moore’s involvement in community projects also extends to Steamboat where she lived for several years in the 2000s. She was involved in economic development working as a member of the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative, she helped at the inception of Main Street Steamboat and she worked on the Routt County Livability Index, Vision 2030.

Moore also volunteered with Yampa Valley Sustainability Council and Ignite Steamboat. She was also a proponent of heritage tourism and led efforts to bring location-neutral businesses to Steamboat and South Routt.

“I was particularly thrilled this year that Noreen was chosen,” Bannister said. “She has always been an inspiration and a mentor for me.”

Moore recently moved back to Yampa where she owns a piece of property on the road that leads from Yampa to the Flattops.

Lifelong Hayden resident Wes Signs passed away in 2014 and was named this year’s Stanley L. Larson Award winner. (Courtesy photo)

The family of Wes Sign, winner of the Stanley L. Larson Award, was thrilled the lifelong Hayden resident’s name will be added to a long list of notable Routt County icons.

“We have been here for so many years and knew about the Larson Award and a lot of the past winners,” said his wife of 38 years, Linda Signs. “For him to be included in that is really kind of touching.”

Wes Signs passed away in 2014 at the age of 89 but left behind a legacy that included work with the Soil Conservation Service and as an irrigation engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources, a position he held for 26 years.

Signs was born in a sod-roofed cabin on the south fork of the Williams Fork River near what was then the small settlement of Pagoda. His family eventually moved to a wheat farm east of Hayden on the land that is now the Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

A 1942 graduate of Hayden Union High School, Signs spent a year at Colorado State University before he was called to serve. The World War II veteran was a demolition technician with the Army Combat Engineering Corp. and served with distinction in three different campaigns and several famous battles including the Battle of Hurtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge.

After the war, he returned to CSU to earn a bachelor’s of science degree in civil engineering in 1951. He purchased his own ranch in Hayden and began working for the Soil Conservation Service of Routt, Grand, Jackson and Summit counties.

Later, in his role as irrigation division engineer, he administered water rights, dam construction and irrigation for all the drainages of the Yampa, White, North Platte and Little Snake rivers in addition to Colorado’s portion of the Green River.

He was commander of the American Legion, president and board member of the Colorado River Water Conservation District and served on the boards of the Solandt Memorial Hospital in Hayden, the Bear River Valley Coop, Routt County Federal Savings and Loan Association and the Hayden School District.

Signs was also chairman of the Routt National Forest Advisory Council, director of the Routt County Cattlemen’s Association, president of the Walker Ditch Company and director of the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy.

He had a life-long love for ranching, tending to wheat, barley and hay crops and raising sheep, Hereford cattle, quarter horses, pack horses and Longhorn cattle.

“It’s just so neat that he will be included in that group,” Linda Signs said. “A lot of those people were good friends of his, and people he thought of that he never knew.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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