3/11/2011 1:21:00 PM 2011 Verde Pride Awards: Citizen of the Year: Janet Aniol
Photo by Dennis Aniol
Beaver Creek’s Janet Aniol is recognized as the 2011 Citizen of the Year for her countless hours of community service, doing everything from driving folks to their medical appointments to taking on governmental agencies, developers and anyone else she believes would pose a risk to the health or safety of her community.
LAKE MONTEZUMA - Most people who take Exit 293 off Interstate 17 and travel east to the Beaver Creek communities of McGuireville, Rimrock and Lake Montezuma either live there or are visiting Montezuma Well.
As a bedroom community known for its affordable housing, luscious green belt and, at least in the past, a golf course, Beaver Creek wasn’t always on the valley’s radar screen.
For years it was considered the Verde Valley’s backwater and all too often treated that way -- which is what led Janet Aniol to becoming this year’s Verde Pride Awards Citizen of the Year.
Aniol and her husband Dennis arrived in Lake Montezuma in 2003, after Janet had worked for 30 years as a teacher for special needs students and 21 years in the Air National Guard.
Retirement was “a shock to my system,” as she puts it. After a year spent “depressed and sitting in front of the TV” she joined the Kiwanis Club and soon began volunteering to help with a rewrite of the community plan.
While working on the plan she and others discovered the Interstate 17-McGuireville interchange, which had been scheduled for reconstruction, had been kicked off ADOTs funding list.
“It seems others knew about it months earlier. But as a community we knew nothing. We were really isolated then. Everyone knew what was going on in their little neighborhood but not one knew the big picture,” says Aniol.
That would change. Soon the entire community was talking with one another and individual problems became community causes.
Now, six years after the fact, Beaver Creek is the leading candidate for the most community-minded community in the Verde Valley, energized by many folks just like Aniol.
“It is not about me,” she says with her typical modesty, “There are a lot of people in Beaver Creek who deserve credit for all the work they have done. Many of them were at it long before I arrived.”
Nevertheless, Aniol has played a key role in Beaver Creek’s emergence, volunteering with Kiwanis, as an AARP tax advisor, on the Montezuma Rimrock Trails Committee, the transportation committee at the Adult Center and most recently as president of the Lake Montezuma Property Owners Association.
“We have a great community in which everyone helps everyone else,” she says, “And as far as I am concerned, this award means a lot to the community because the community has worked hard.
“And, in addition to helping ourselves, we have reached out and tried to contribute to other communities in the Verde Valley. We all have reason to be proud of what we have accomplished.”