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Chamber honors outstanding Ripon residents
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Agricultural Leader of the Year honors went to almond grower Dave Phippen and were presented by State Senator Cathleen Galgiani. Bob Brocchini shared the honors but was unable to attend the banquet. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

Harrison Gibbs was saluted as “Citizen of the Year” at Thursday night’s annual installation of officers and awards dinner before a crowd of 124 in the Ripon Community Center.

Gibbs was credited for a list of contributions to the community including his painting of the fire hydrants throughout the city, personally painting the parking stripes in the library parking lot and replacing the many missing white, round caps on the downtown parking stalls.  Gibbs also replaced missing blue fire department reflectors in the streets within the city that allow firefighters at night to spot the locations of fire hydrants

It was also noted that Gibbs has worked tirelessly in cleaning up the Highway 99 freeway entrance to the city in leading a team to pick up trash along the edge of the roadway in addition to planting wildflower seeds.  Gibbs has also served as the Rotary Club president during the past fiscal year preparing a steel entry sign for that northbound onramp to the city’s downtown along with a free standing clock in the center of the downtown.

Outgoing chamber board member and current Ripon Mayor Leo Zuber installed the new board members into office. The new board members are  Tom Vermeulen, Rob Wagner and Secretary Danielle Pierce.

There were two emotional moments during the evening when outgoing chamber Executive Director John Mangelos and Fire Chief Dennis Bitters were each recognized with unexpected plaques for serving the chamber above and beyond what was expected of them during the year by Chamber President Tamra Spade.

“Volunteer of the Year” honors went to Lauren Bitters by chamber president Tamra Spade. Involved in the chamber since she was 18, Lauren was born and raised in Ripon and graduated from Ripon High.  In her professional life, Bitters holds a position in the Quality Assurance lab at Diamond Pet Food in the community’s industrial park.  For the last two years she has donated endless hours organizing and running the Almond Blossom Queen contest – often using vacation time away from work.

“Ambassador of the Year” selection went to Jennifer Ogden for her work ethic in diligently serving the chamber at all of its social events including the traditional coffees and mixers as well as the yearly Almond Blossom Festival.

“Youth Citizen of the Year” selections saw plaques going to Timothy Hobbs from Ripon High School; Courtney Bloemhof, Ripon Christian Schools and Gregory Serapio of the California Connections Academy, Ripon.

“Educator of the Year” for 2015 was bestowed on Kathy Diederich, Ripon Unified School District; Keith Terpsma, Ripon Christian Schools and to Brandi Atilano, California Connections Academy, Ripon.

Detective Alex Burgos was tapped as the “Police Officer of the Year” by his peers and was presented with his plaque by Police Chief Ed Ormonde.

Ripon firefighter Keith Haines was lauded as the “Firefighter of the Year” for 2015 for the second year in a row by his chief Dennis Bitters who presented him with his plaque.  Bitters noted the many extracurricular activities on and off duty that Haines regularly accomplishes.

The “Agricultural Leader of the Year” honors went to almond farmer David Phippen and to Bob Brocchini who was out of town and unable to attend the dinner.  Natural Path Wellness Center and its owner Jennifer Komatzu received the “Business of the Year” plaque.  She commented on the friendliness of the community and the caring customers who continually walk through her door on Main Street.

Senior Pastor of the Ripon Free Methodist Church provided the invocation prior to dinner and board member Scott Knight served as the main presenter during the evening.