Citizen of the Year Awards Ceremony 2013

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Past Event Tags: Brenda d'Amico, Chamber of Commerce, Citizen of the Year, Curtis "Tony" Berkley, Debbie Robertson, Ian Lasher, Karen Harrington, Lynn Stahli, Oakley City Council, and Shirley Darling.
2013 Oakley Citizen of the Year Award Winners

First Row: Family of Detective Berkley, Debbie Robertson, Sallie Goetsch, Lynn Stahli, Brenda d’Amico, Shirley Darling, Karen Harrington. Second Row: Erica Rodriguez-Langley, Satinder Mahli, Kevin Romick, Ian Lasher’s mother

The Oakley Chamber of Commerce held its Citizen of the Year award ceremony at Oakley City Hall on June 25th, as announced earlier on this site. It seemed to the Chamber Board that this compromise between no event (2012) and an expensive event which few people attended (the years immediately preceding 2012) or an expensive event which lost money in spite of good attendance (the middle years of the decade) was successful. With no charge for admission, each of the honorees brought multiple family members and friends–I shook hands with several people’s grandchildren. Debbie Robertson seemed to be a particularly popular choice for Citizen of the Year.

Local and state government also turned out to support our distinguished residents. Erica Rodriguez-Langley presented certificates on behalf of Assemblymember Jim Frazier. Satinder Malhi did the same for State Senator Mark DeSaulnier. Congressman Jerry McNerney’s office also sent certificates, which Mayor Kevin Romick passed out along with the certificates from the City of Oakley.

Despite this assembly line of certificates and plaques, the entire ceremony only took about 30 minutes, after which there was a short break for homemade cookies and cupcakes in the lobby. We could tell that most of those present had been there for the Citizen of the Year awards, because when the city council meeting resumed, the chambers were all but empty.

Rowena Coetsee at the Contra Costa Times and Samie Hartley at the Press both covered the event, but I thought I would publish the actual notes I wrote. Those who were there and paid attention will observe that what I actually said diverged here and there in detail, but this remains the substance.

Youth Volunteer of the Year 2012: Ian Lasher

Ian Lasher has already won the President’s Volunteer Service Award for doing more than 100 hours of community service. He volunteers at 4-H, at the Contra Costa County Fair, at the Alameda County Fair, at the State Fair, at the Knightsen Youth Association, at Knightsen School and at Freedom High School. You wouldn’t think he has time to take any classes, but he’s an honor roll student. The Oakley Chamber of Commerce is delighted to offer Ian the Youth Volunteer of the Year award.

Adult Volunteer of the Year 2012

This year we have two winners for Adult Volunteer of the year.

Shirley Darling

I doubt I have to introduce Shirley Darling to you, because you have probably already seen her here at City Council meetings. Sometimes it seems as though Shirley is on the board of every nonprofit organization in Oakley. She helped to start the Friends of Oakley. This year she is the historian of the Degree of Pocahontas. She is a director of the Oakley Chamber of Commerce. She has been a vocal supporter of the Oakley Generating Station. And perhaps most important at the moment, Shirley has been instrumental in finding the Oakley Seniors a permanent home and negotiating a favorable contract with the City. Congratulations!

Karen Harrington

You may not know Karen Harrington, but if you have driven down Vintage Parkway, you have seen her handiwork. Karen saw litter and graffiti in her neighborhood and decided to do something about it. She organized her neighbors into the Vintage Parkway Beautification Project and persuaded the City to help out with fence-painting efforts. In addition, Karen volunteers with Loaves and Fishes. ed. note: Bryan Montgomery gave Karen an enormous bouquet of flowers.

Business Person of the Year 2012: Brenda d’Amico

Black Bear Diner contributes in cash and in kind to many local fundraising efforts, and Brenda d’Amico is the one who organizes these activities, whether it’s Freedom Football or the Pennies for Prevention campaign for Relay for Life. This past year Brenda has led the effort to ensure proper signage on Highway 4 to direct people into Oakley’s downtown commercial district.

Officer of the Year: Tony Berkley

Deputy Berkley was assigned to the Oakley Police Contract in 2007. He was recently selected to be an Oakley Detective. Over the course of his assignment to Oakley Police Patrol, Deputy Berkley has maintained some of the highest arrest statistics. In 2010, Deputy Berkley made 116 arrests, 53 of which were DUI arrests. In 2011, Deputy Berkley made 168 arrests, 75 of which were DUI arrests. In 2012, Deputy Berkley made 143 arrests, 36 of which were DUI’s. Deputy Berkley has been recognized five consecutive years (including the upcoming 2012 event) by MADD for the numerous DUI arrests he made and for creating a safer environment for the community.

I have not had the honor of meeting Detective Berkley myself, but want to convey the Chamber’s congratulations and appreciation for his service.

Citizen of the Year 2012: Debbie Robertson

As site manager of Loaves and Fishes in Oakley, Debbie Robertson feeds the hungry five days a week. She also helps serve breakfast each month at the Red Men/Pocahontas Hall. Then she volunteered to provide lunches for the Oakley Seniors. And I’ve heard she even delivers food at home to ailing members of the Degree of Pocahontas. In honor of her giving and cheerful spirit, the Oakley Chamber of Commerce names Debbie Robertson Citizen of the Year.

President’s Choice 2013: Lynn Stahli

Each year the president of the Oakley Chamber is asked to name someone who has been of particular assistance. Office Manager Lynn Stahli not only works at least twice as many hours as we pay her for, she cooks egg casseroles for our breakfasts with the mayor and brings me painkillers when I’m having migraines. The entire board wants to acknowledge her service beyond the call of duty.

There was another person the board wanted to acknowledge, but as he categorically refused any kind of public award, we’ll have to celebrate his service privately.

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