Last Saturday evening Cora Harper Community Center glittered with silver wired ribbon tied with gold ribbon to the stage and balcony rail. Jeri Sue Justus is a master at planning these events and in my estimation this was the best yet. Both round and long tables had flowers, lighted white votive candles and silver and gold Hershey kisses as well as silverware wrapped in silver or gold napkins at each place setting.

Andi Flores, last year's Woman of Continuous Service, did an outstanding job with the tall topiary vases filled with clear water and shimmering crystal coils in them topped with white rose flower arrangements by Kathy Dilling that were on the round tables. The long tables had clear globes of white flowers, votive lights and live ivy down the length of the table top plus all the other goodies mentioned.

The Desert Dispatch's Jason Smith covered the event in yesterday's paper including a large picture which showed the tall topiary vases I mentioned above.

Chamber members and many others worked from 9 a.m. until about 4 p.m. to get things ready for the over 400 people due to arrive before 6 p.m.

The Aztec Baseball Team did the Valet parking and served dinner. The tips were for their activities.

Paul Courtney and Ken Courtney were co-masters of ceremonies. Ken was funny but I told him I'd rather hear him play jazz. The music throughout the evening was canned and there wasn't much of that because there was so much going on.

The evening started with Col. (ret.) Dave Booze leading the flag salute followed by Paul Courtney reading a lovely invocation.

The event is always the installation of the new board of the Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce and recognition of the outgoing board. The 2008 president installed by Mayor Dale was Marcia Bond. She's a retread, having been board president in the past. Marcia's an accomplished business woman and great to work with, quick and straight to the point. She's big on tourism, heading up that active committee.

Outgoing president was Dr. Clifford Brock who was given a proclamation by Brad Mitzelfelt which was delivered by Field Rep John Richardson.

Other 2008 board members installed were Cliff Brock, John Matteson, Dave Booze, Martha Rochelle, Carol Randall, Sheila Beekman, Nancy Olguin, Renita Wicks and Robert Lewis.
Speaking of WalMart's Robert Lewis, it was especially nice to see his wife, Daina, out of uniform. She's stationed at Fort Irwin.

Each award winner was escorted off the stage by Miss Barstow Jordan Lee and Miss Teen Barstow Jessica Hodges elegantly clad in different matching long green gowns.

Speaking of gowns, the one that glittered pure silver was worn by Liz Mauk, including coat and bag.

Jeri Justus was beautifully gowned in turquoise with silver and diamond jewelry as she spoke of the chamber's accomplishments for the past year and accepted the Event of the Year award for the Sandcastle event held the past three years in November.

For my money, I was most impressed by the each student that was presented by his or her principal as Student of the Year. The things that these young people did to help their classmates and/or their school were really outstanding and a privilege to learn about. Nathan Silva was presented by Dr. Claire Ellis of Barstow High School. Sasha Staggs was presented by Jim Davis of Central High School. Kylie Negin was presented by Heather Griggs of Silver Valley High School and Erica Romero was presented by Jeff Baggett of Calico High School.

Since all of the awards have already been covered in the paper I won't go into those except to mention Ed Hignet's humble and moving speech when accepting the Man of the Year award. Of course the tear jerker was the posthumous award to Donna Zeller for the special Tony Graham Award which is not given every year.

JoJo Cousino looked lovely with her hair tumbled about her shoulders when presenting Woman of the Year to Hermie James and accepting Woman of Continuous Service. Another of my favorite guys, Dave Booze, won Man of Continuous Service.

This year there weren't dual winners but so many deserved the awards it's important to comment that everyone nominated is a winner.

It's also important to make you aware that you can nominate any person, event or organization year round by going online to The nominations will be held by the Chamber until the deadline next January. At least you won't forget what moved you to make a nomination which you might if you waited until then.

ABOUT THE WRITER Bette "Bee Jay" Moses is a special events correspondent to the Desert Dispatch. She can be reached at (760) 987-6915 or