The Turlock Chamber of Commerce recently gave out its Best of Turlock awards. Winners were:
Ambassador of the Year: Shawna Casey
Community Volunteer of the Year: Jennifer Larson, who has served on the board of directors for Emanuel Medical Center and the Benevolence Board, which is the parent company for Emanuel Medical Center. She also helped start Cornerstone Covenant Church and is a volunteer on the Turlock Memorial Park board of directors.
Special Recognition: Turlock Police Chief Gary Hampton, who stepped in as interim city manager, handling budget cuts and employee negotiations.
Small Business of the Year: Bistro 234, owned by Jennifer and Ken Bethel, and in its 10th year of operation.
Corporation of the Year: Thorsen's Heating and Air Conditioning, which has served Turlock for 99 years.
Youth Involvement Award: Denis Sondeno, a volunteer for the Society for Handicapped Children & Adults of Stanislaus County for more than 16 years. He works with children in snow and water skiing programs.
Educator of the Year: Turlock High School Principal Dana Salles Trevathan, for introducing new programs and developing the Student Academic Achievement Plan, an evaluation tool to monitor students' progress on state and standardized assessments and grade-level mastery in language arts and mathematics.
Humanitarian of the Year: Jane Vilias, who works for a variety of Turlock organizations, including Emanuel Medical Center, The Salvation Army and First Methodist church. The chamber called Villas "a mentor of kindness."
Agricultural Leader of the Year: Matt Swanson, president of Associated Feed & Supply. He also is president of Virtus Nutrition, which develops feed ingredients that decrease the cost of dairy milk production, and president of Nutrias, manufacturer of vitamin and mineral supplements and premixes for livestock, poultry and companion animals. He founded Pet Extreme Inc., and started The Creation Lab, a recording and video studio in Turlock.
Business Leader of the Year: John Benjamin, vice president of West Agro, DeLaval Inc., formerly known as Chemland. He was instrumental in the sale of Chemland, incorporating it with a larger enterprise to bring a broader business spectrum to the Central Valley.
Special Recognition: The Turlock High School Class of 1944, which continues to support the school's football team and take part in Turlock Together, a toy and food drive at the holidays, as well as Meals on Wheels and civic projects.
Youth Citizen of the Year: Tatiana Fregosi. She is captain of the volleyball team, senior class president, a member of the 2009 Mock Trial team and THS representative to Girls State. She also leads a weekly youth group Bible study and has participated in a mission trips to Tijuana, Mexico and McCloud.
Citizen of the Year: Louise Marchant, who serves on the board for The Salvation Army in Turlock; she was instrumental in starting the committee for the restoration of the Turlock Community Auditorium. She served on the Planning Commission, the Turlock City Centennial committee, and continues to support Turlock High School. Former Turlock Mayor Curt Andre called Marchant "Turlock's biggest cheerleader."