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Ripon chamber honors outstanding citizens
Chamber President Marge Imfeld presents Ripon mayor and retiring board member Elden Red Nutt an award. - photo by HIME ROMERO

RIPON – Ron Douma loved the year that he spent as the president of the Ripon Chamber of Commerce.

It gave him a chance to get out and meet local business owners, learn about the issues that are facing the local business community and stay plugged in to a community that he loves.

On Thursday the energetic Douma handed the reins off to incoming president and longtime chamber board member Marge Imfeld at the organization’s annual installation and awards dinner at the Spring Creek Golf and Country Club.

“It was great to have some input into the working of the community and get the chance to understand some of the problems and how to work toward some of the solutions. To be able to get out and get to know all of the business owners,” Douma said. “I know that Marge will do a good job. I’d say the most important thing you can do is just listen.

“Listen to what people have to say, and then try the ‘walk a mile’ scenario. It goes a long ways.”

And while the night itself was a chance to welcome the new chamber board members who will be serving two-year terms – Darryl Bartels from State Farm Insurance, Helen Caetano from The Tank House Gift Shoppe, John Heida from Heida Computer and Jacob Parks from Jake’s Coffee, Tea and Sandwiches – it was also a chance to pay special thanks to selected members of the community.

Ripon Unified School Board Trustee Mike Fisher got the opportunity to present Heidi Hawes with an award for Educator of the Year, while Imfeld presented Parks with his 2011 Business of the Year Award. Retiring Ripon Christian science teacher Brent Folkerts was presented his Educator of the Year Award by Ripon Christian Superintendent Kerry Manus.

Fire Chief Dennis Bitters couldn’t say enough about Jason Fullmer, the recipient of the 2011 Fireman of the Year Award. Ripon Police Chief Ed Ormonde gave Police Officer of the Year Josh Sweeten a rousing endorsement – even if he did take some of the credit as his field training officer.

“The chief pulled me into his office and said he wanted to let me know about this before it came out in the paper,” Sweeten said of how he learned of the honor. “It felt tremendous to be thanked like this for my service. A lot of times in law enforcement you don’t get a whole lot of thanks, but that’s not the case here in Ripon – tonight they honored so many different people and that’s what makes this town great.”

Lenny Carhart and Ted Johnston were also recognized as Volunteers of the Year for 2011.

Retiring board members H. Thomas Beck, Elden “Red” Nutt and Dean Uecker were also honored and presented with gifts for the service they’ve given to the chamber.

Joining Imfeld on the executive board will be Vice President Janell Zuidervaart of Friend’s Salon, Danielle Pierce of Bank of Stockton, and Kristine Griescheimer of Oak Valley Community Bank.