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Sam: Effective advocate for Ripon business community

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POSTED July 20, 2012 1:03 a.m.

RIPON — It’s easy to write about someone in business who is always there for you when you call, or go by their office in need of help or direction.

Sam Carhart has worked as the interim manager of the Ripon Chamber of Commerce for the last seven months since longtime executive director Dorothy Booth retired due to ill health in mid-December.  She said this is her first job in Ripon where she actually feels that she is giving back to her community on a daily basis.

Mother of three children and a native of Ripon, she attended Ripon Elementary School with our oldest son Steven years ago. She even remembers her days with a very memorable and popular kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Jean Madsen, who made sure the kids had crackers and milk for their snack time, she said.

Chuckling about those early years she quickly remembered taking countless afternoon naps during her first year at school.  “I remember our teacher would have someone, another student, walk around the resting kindergartners and tap them with a magic wand when it was time to wake them up,” she said.

Even if they weren’t asleep they couldn’t get up until they felt the tapping of the wand on their shoulders.

Sam said when her kids reached that age to enter Ripon schools they had to learn a lot more even before entering the accelerated classroom – still with their nap times and snacks on their daily schedule.  They all attended and graduated from Ripon High School.

Sam made a presentation last week to the noontime Ripon Rotary club on the health and happenings of the Ripon chamber,  holding the attention of the Rotarians gathered at the Barnwood Restaurant.

She has worked at the chamber office on West Main Street for nearly four years and appears to know the office inside out.  If she doesn’t know an answer,  with it often on the tip of her tongue, it doesn’t take her long to search it out and get back to the caller.  Rarely do you get a voicemail answer – it’s either Sam or Bonnie personally there for you.

“I am passionate about the community because I live here,” she said.  “You can still walk down the street and see new faces – they talk to you, even if they don’t know you – they talk to you.”

The chamber professional was quick to admit that everything is not absolute – it is not black and white.  “There is always an if, a but, a loophole,” she said.  “I’m pretty laid back and take life as it comes and deal with it as I get it.”

She added that she should probably be more aggressive in her approaches and she might see things more differently.  “But I’m usually picking up where somebody else leaves off,” she added.

“You have got to give a little in your relationships,” she quipped.

Sam and her husband Lenny have been married some 25 years and have spent their entire time together in Ripon.  Her sister Kathy Sikma is the executive secretary at the Ripon Fire Department, Lonna Sutton works for an orthodontist in Modesto and Kim Evans works at a diesel machine shop west of Tracy.  Her mother Dorothy Bergin served as school secretary at Ripona School and later at Colony Oak School.

Before joining the chamber staff, Sam worked for the same Modesto dentist with her sister Lonna in Modesto, obviously bringing that imbedded work ethic to serving the greater Ripon community.


To contact Glenn Kahl, e-mail

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