More than 200 people surprised longtime Ceres resident Fran Welsh on Jan. 31 with a party to celebrate her 80th birthday.
Guests included Ceres Mayor Anthony Canella, who declared Feb. 2, Welsh's birthday, Fran Welsh Day and gave her a key to the city. Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of the Stockton Diocese thanked Welsh for her many years of service to her parish, St. Jude's, as well as for participating at the diocese level. Scott Siegel, who will take over as Ceres Unified School District superintendent in June, praised her for years of work on behalf of students.
Welsh arrived in Ceres in 1964, hired over the phone by then-Principal Fleming Haas to teach at the high school. She was the first female social studies teacher at Ceres High. She later became the first female principal at Argus High, the city's continuation school, and at Ceres High before retiring in 1986.
She has a long list of volunteer activities in the county, including: as one of the driving forces to start the Ceres Western Art Show; as a longtime member and past president of Ceres Soroptimists and serving as the organization's district director; as a hospice volunteer; as a member of the Ceres Historical Society and Persephone Guild; as a Friend of the Library and helping to push through a sales tax to benefit the county's libraries; working to pass bonds for public safety and schools; and as a member of the schools' oversight committee.
She also worked throughout Stanislaus County as a surrogate parent for special education students and was named Ceres' citizen of the year in the mid-1980s.
She said of her many volunteer activities: "I really feel it's been an opportunity more than a chore. I think communities are stronger because of volunteering."
Alberto Cerpa, an assistant professor at the University of California at Merced School of Engineering, has received a $568,202 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a system that will measure and track the amount of solar irradiance, or sunlight, that reaches ground level, where photovoltaic panels and solar concentrators used in solar energy systems collect light and heat to turn into electricity.
The three-year grant, funded under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, is for the project "MRI: Development of ASSIST: Affordable System for Solar Irradiance Sensing and Tracking." Cerpa, along with Associate Professor Carlos Coimbra and Assistant Professor Qinghua Guo, are developing a system that will help make it easier for energy producers to determine the optimal opportunities to use solar.
Carol Ligon, retired Modesto City Schools administrator, received the California School Library Association administrator of the year award. Ligon earned the recognition for linking libraries to the kindergarten-through-sixth- grade school setting and integrating information and literacy standards with classroom curriculum and state standards.
Don Monaco, owner of Don's Mobile Glass in Modesto, is celebrating his 50th year in business. He made his first sale Feb. 1, 1960, starting his business with a used 1953 United Parcel Service van with 350,000 miles on it that he'd bought for $450 a few weeks earlier. His first job was to provide a rear window for a 1959 Chevy two-door hardtop for Ray Starn Auto Body. His business now includes his store and workshop on H Street in downtown Modesto.
Among the appointments and years-of-service awards given by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors:
Former Modesto Deputy City Manager Paul Baxter to the Stanislaus County Community Health Center Board
Edwin Espinosa, Environmental Resources, 35 years; Phyllis Camboia, Community Services Agency, 30 years; Guadalupe Garza, CSA, 30 years; Connie Watson, Sheriff's Department, 30 years; and Maria DeAnda, CSA, 25 years.
The Literacy Network of Stanislaus County will have its annual Celebrate Literacy event March 5 at First Baptist Church's Family Life Pavilion in downtown Modesto. The network will recognize three outstanding students, highlight training programs and present the Jean and Clyde Dunlap Award to a community member who has made outstanding contributions to local literacy programs.
The event begins with a buffet lunch at 11:30 a.m. John Ervin, director of community affairs for Modesto City Schools, will be the guest speaker. The $25 registration cost includes lunch; reservations are due by Feb. 26. Send checks to the Stanislaus County Office of Education, Attn: Stanislaus Partners in Education, 1100 H St., Modesto 95354 or call 238-1766 for more information.
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