BARSTOW • Locals filled a decked out Cora Harper Center for the 32nd annual Community Recognition Awards on Saturday.
Several people in the community were presented awards, including Man and Woman of the Year, Students of the Year at four high schools and military personnel of the year.
“The goal has always been to recognize those people, businesses and organizations that go beyond what is expected,” Joseph Hisquierdo, spokesman for the Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce said.
Two unique additional awards, Heroic Act of the Year and the Visionary Award, were decided upon this year by the committee of voters made up of past winners of Man and Woman of the Year and Man and Woman of Continuous Service.
Former Mayor Lawrence Dale and former CEO of Barstow Community Hospital Randall Hempling received the Visionary Award for their involvement in bringing the new hospital to Barstow.
“These two gentleman were very instrumental in getting an agreement formed that allowed this new hospital to be built,” Hisquierdo said.
Four workers from Santa Fe were awarded the Heroic Act of the Year for their role in helping residents evacuate a trailer fire and possibly saving the lives of those inside in March 2011. The four men were Evaristo Lozano, Eugenio Gallegos, Thomas Sherman and Larry Long.
Amanda Vargas was awarded the Up and Coming volunteer. She was on the ballot twice, once by herself and once with her sister Georgia Vargas for her involvement in several community events including Holiday Meals and the Senior Center.
Rusty Layton of Barstow Transfer & Storage won Man of the Year. He said anytime a charitable cause needs something transported or moved around he’s always happy to be there.
“With the amount of good men that were nominated for that I felt very privileged to be voted man of the year,” Layton said. “All of the rest of the nominees were outstanding and I was extremely surprised to where I hadn’t prepared any kind of a speech.”
Dianna Ross said Layton’s a very behind the scenes man.
“A lot of people don’t realize what he does for the community,” Ross said.
The American Cruiser Motorcycle Club in Barstow was recognized as Organization of the Year. Their financial contributions to many charitable causes in the community are tremendous, according to Ross.
The Best Event of the Year was voted as the Barstow Community Hospital Reception and Ribbon Cutting.
The awards began with a social hour at 5 p.m. followed by a dinner and ceremony at 6:30. The dinner was catered by Quigley’s and consisted of chicken cordon bleu, mashed potatoes, salad and dessert.
The Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce organizes the event every year and said this year’s event was a success.
“There was a good mix of the community.” Ross said.
For the second year in a row the new People’s Choice Award was given out. Kindergarten teacher Heather Bremen from Skyline North was voted as the winner for 2012. Teacher’s Assistant Louise Miller said she is very deserving of the award considering all of the time and effort she volunteers to a new fitness program she started at the school.
“It’s what she does outside of the classroom that makes her really amazing,” Miller said. “She goes way, way above and beyond.”
Miller and staff at the elementary school and children nominated Bremen, who directs the free running club before and after school free of charge to students.
“She’s the whole package. Works out and practices what she preaches,” Miller said.
See the complete list of winners below.
Marine Corps Logistics Base Marine of the Year — Cpl. Joleen Quitano
National Training Center Soldier of the Year — Cody Graham
National Training Center Noncommissioned Officer of the Year — Rudy Hernandez
Airman of the Year— To be honored at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast Feb. 19.
Students of the Year:
Barstow High School — Hayley Espinoza and George Morales
Central High School — Rosalia Tafoya
Silver Valley High School — Samantha Rueles
Calico Continuation High School — Maria Weeks
Visionary Award — Lawrence Dale and Randall Hempling
Heroic Act Award — Evaristo Lozano, Eugenio Gallegos, Thomas Sherman, Larry Long
Woman of the Year — Peggi Fries of Desert Sanctuary
Man of the Year — Rusty Layton of Barstow Transfer & Storage, Inc.
Small Business of the Year — Fitness MD
Large Business of the Year — Stater Bros.
Organization of the Year — American Cruisers Motorcycle Club
Up and Coming Volunteer of the Year — Amanda Vargas
Best Event of the Year — Barstow Community Hospital Reception and Ribbon Cutting
Woman of Continuous Service —Marcia Zableckis
Man of Continuous Service — Stanley “Ed” Hignett
People’s Choice Award — Heather Bremen