Fifteen local businessmen, educators, employees and company owners were honored Thursday night at the San Ramon Chamber of Commerce Community Awards ceremony. Held at The Bridges Golf Club, the 28th annual Night of Stars dinner lauded noteworthy individuals and businesses that have made a contribution to the city.
"Tonight is a night to recognize 15 people in our community who have gone above and behind the call of duty to make a difference," said Emcee Terry Koehne, community relations coordinator for the school district. "These are people...who really make our community the special place that it is."
The San Ramon Chamber presented five awards -- Citizen of the Year, Business Person of the Year, Educator of the Year, Employee of the Year and Green Company of the Year -- to a variety of honorees who embody the spirit of community service. Christian Claytor of Claytor Law Group was also honored with the Ambassador Award, which recognizes the contributions of those who volunteer as Chamber liaisons to the business community.
Bishop Ranch won Green Company of the Year for its demonstrated commitment to the environment through green practices, acting as an environmental leader and going beyond basic compliance. Bishop Ranch has focused heavily on green transportation incentives, including bus passes and electric carports.
"Sustainability has been a big part of what we've done since my grandfather's beginnings in Livermore in the 1950s. It's a good way to create a long-lasting asset," said Bishop Ranch General Manager Alex Mehran Jr. "The most important thing about sustainability is having a great community....San Ramon is what makes Bishop Ranch tick."
Darlene Kittredge, who works for San Ramon Police's community resources and youth services department, was awarded Employee of the Year. Kittredge is a crime prevention specialist who facilitates many programs, including crime free multi-housing and national night out and was honored for being committed to "improving the quality of life in the community."
"It's just an honor to be nominated," Kittredge said. "I'm speechless, which if you ask my husband, is a very rare occasion."
California High School Principal Mark Corti was given the Educator of the Year award for his personal and professional contributions that benefit students. The 14-year Cal employee thanked staff and teachers for making connections with students.
"Without the help of partners, we can't reach the level we're at or continue to strive for better education in this valley," he said.
Attorney at Law Mary C. Whipple was honored as Business Person of the Year and said she was grateful to be in the company of fellow nominees Scott Heller of Heller Jewelers and Steve and Tracy Renfro, owners of San Ramon Insurance Agency.
The Citizen of the Year award was given to former mayor and community volunteer Hermann Welm for his contributions to education, arts, community service and the general welfare of San Ramon. A resident since 1978, Welm is a long-time youth soccer coach, volunteer at the San Ramon Historic Foundation, Lindsay Wildlife Museum and San Ramon Regional Medical Center.
"I've really enjoyed the things that I've undertaken," he said, adding, "This honor is fabulous, this kind of thing doesn't do too much for your resume but does wonders for your obituary."
Mayor Bill Clarkson, who won an iPad as part of the Chamber's national treasures raffle said cities thrive when residents have attachments to them.
"They and others that came before them have created the incredible and amazing town we live in. Can you imagine a city without these kinds of people?"