The Ripon Chamber of Commerce members braved a warm night to attend the Black and White Masquerade Installation and Awards Gala at the Ripon Community Center Thursday evening.
Special recognition was given to the choices for police and fire department officers of the year – Richard Francis and Drake Vizcarra who went above and beyond in carrying out their duties. Francis was the lead Ripon Police detective in the identity theft case involving over 1,000 stolen credit cards, drivers licenses and Social Security Cards referred to as the largest in San Joaquin County history.
Vizcarra, an accomplished reserve firefighter at only 18, last April 1 responded to a traffic collision and fire on River Road at Wagner Road where a family returning home from a Giants baseball game in the Bay area collided with a tree and then into a home.
He was working on Engine 21 with a buddy, Andrew Gall, who he had known since they played Ripon Chiefs’ youth football when in the eighth grade. They both assisted a front seat passenger known as Hector in the car who suffered multiple facial fractures, a broken pelvis and the loss of the lower half of a leg. Hector was there to honor the young firefighters Thursday night. Three others suffered major injuries. There were no fatalities in the crash that happened where the eastbound River Road makes a bend in the road.
Vizcarra was credited with riding with the injured man to the hospital in the ambulance and followed his recovery after he had been in a coma for some 10 days – a recovery that lasted nearly a year. Hector was planning to enter the Fire Academy as had Drake and Andrew. With a prosthesis on his leg allowing him to walk again, he is not giving up on his dream and he’s planning to possibly become a fire marshal after graduating from the academy,.
The Volunteer of the Year honors went to Mike Nash, Ambassador of the Year honors to Janet McMahon, Kyle Wolterstorff was named the Board Member of the Year, Educators of the Year for Ripon Unified School District went to Shirley Steigenga and Susan Taylor; Ripon Christian’s Teacher of the Year honors went to Paige Vos.
Joe Laslow was named Citizen of the Year honors associated with Love Ripon. California Connection Academy’s Educator of the Year honors went to Hannah Hurley. Tatum Osborne was also named as Ripon’s Youth Citizen of the Year for Connections Academy is Tatum Osborne. Seneca Simone Rubianes, a Ripon High Senior, was named Ripon Unified School District’s Youth Citizen of the Year.
Tamra Spade remains CEO and president of the chamber while the new members of the board were sworn into office by Ripon Mayor Mike Restuccia. Chairman is now Kyle Wolterstorff, vice chair Dr. Debbie Daniels, treasurer Tom Vermeulen and secretary Danielle Pierce.
The remaining board members include Lori Adams, Darryl Bartels, Jennifer Komatsu, John Mangelos, Larry Stewart, Jolene peters and Kristine Griffin.
Business of the Year recognition went to the Bank of Stockton with Danielle Pierce receiving the award with Mary Elisabeth Eberhardt CEO of the bank. Bryce Perkins accepted the Agricultural leader of the Year. A recognized leader with Tuff Boy Trailers, Bryce has established endless connections throughout the Ag world.
Ripon Christian High Schools Industrial Arts Teacher Ted Olsen was voted one of the Educators of the Year. He joined the staff in 2013 and was cited as the teacher who has had the greatest impact on a student’s time. Ted has taken the opportunity to share his love for Jesus Christ both in and out of the classroom, his principal said at Thursday night’s event.
Carla and Dennis Bitters were honored with a special tribute and plaque from chamber CEO Tamra Spade for their undying assistance in setting up the new chamber of commerce office on South Stockton Avenue in Ripon’s downtown business district.