Danville town leaders gathered Tuesday night to honor the volunteerism and community contributions of a select group of residents who have striven to make the town a better place to live.
At the 37th annual Mayor’s Installation and Community Service Awards ceremony, Town Council members distributed awards to residents and town staff members, giving speeches recognizing their contributions to the town.
“Volunteers are not paid not because they don't have value but because they are priceless,” Councilwoman Lisa Blackwell said at the Danville Community Center, where the ceremony was held.
After awards were distributed and speeches given, the Town Council selected Robert Storer to serve as the town’s mayor for the coming year, also selecting Karen Stepper to serve as vice mayor.
The awards ceremony and mayors selection will be broadcasted on AT&T U-verse channel 99 and Comcast channel 26, on Dec. 11 and 18 at 11 a.m., Dec. 16 and 23 at 1 p.m. and Dec. 13 and 20 at 8 p.m.
The Danville Award
Danville’s most prestigious award went to longtime public servant and local historian Beverly Lane, who was recognized for her efforts to preserve and promote Danville’s local history.
A former Danville Town Council member and current East Bay Regional Park District board director, Lane was lauded for meticulously researching and recording the town’s history and has published her work on the history of the entire San Ramon Valley.
“(This award) is not given out every year, but it goes out to someone who has done a historic amount of work for a very long amount of time,” Councilman Newell Arnerich said. “If someone has written and researched the history of the San Ramon Valley accurately it is probably Beverly Lane.”
In 2014 Lane was recognized as a Tri-Valley Hero, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award for her community service and historical writings.
Award of Special Recognition
For his assistance in creating Danville’s friendship city status with New Ross Ireland, as well as the formation of “One Festival, Two Countries - Eugene O’Neill Festival,” the council honored Eugene O’Neill Foundation president Dan McGovern.
In its 19th year, the Eugene O’Neill Festival continued to celebrate the celebrated playwright -- who wrote some of his most well known work in Danville -- but this year continued the celebration in O’Neill’s ancestral home and Danville’s new sister city, New Ross, with official delegations from each city attending each other's celebrations.
“The council and the town of Danville were looking for an opportunity to share what we have here in Danville with a friendship city concept someplace in the world,” Storer said. “We've created a friendship city with New Ross Ireland, we were able to formalize this agreement and (McGovern) helped facilitate all of that.”
Michael K. Shimansky Community Service Award
The 10th Michael K. Shimansky Community Service Award was given to 14-year-old Hannah Stephenson, who through bake sales and fundraisers has raised over $30,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation to support the research of Parkinson’s disease.
In 2014 she was named a youth ambassador for the foundation, a prestigious position that only goes to a select few teens across the nation.
Awards of Merit
* Lauren Torchiana, Katherine Gillen, Grace McClure and Kelly Anderson. Residents can thank these high school students for the popular Piano Project, that has placed public use pianos in community areas throughout Danville. Pianos are currently in storage but are set to return when the rainy season ends.
* The Danville Women’s Club was also awarded for their extensive community service work, both in town and throughout the region.
* Caroline White, Kathryn Benvenuto and Val Lacommare, were honored for their organization of the inaugural Ridge Hike for Prevention, fundraiser. In the events first year the group raised over $90,000 for breast cancer prevention.
* Bill Green, president of the Vietnam Veterans of the Diablo Valley, Green has been recognized for his efforts to better the lives of veterans throughout the region. The Town Council also acknowledged the speaking engagements he hosts with middle and high school students to help them understand the lives of veterans.
Volunteers of the Year
Arts Commission Volunteer of the Year Award: Tricia Grame was recognized for her extensive efforts to beautify Danville, both through public art installations and education events.
Parks and Leisure Services Commission Volunteer of the Year Award: Longtime volunteer Dan Galvin was recognized for his extensive service to the community. Over the past eight years Galvin has volunteered for 768 hours as the DASH Hikes leader
Police Volunteer of the Year Award: Recognizing her long and dedicated service to Danville’s police community, Carol Priete was honored for her contribution of over 2,500 hours to the Danville community. During that time she has served DPD in a variety of roles, resulting in the town referring to her as the “Swiss army knife” of volunteers.
Town Volunteer of the Year Award: Mary Maki, for her dedication to assisting the Danville Senior community.
The Town Council took some time to recognize the longevity of public servants who were celebrating major milestones in their time with the town.
Arnerich was honored for having the longest tenure of the recognized group, serving the town in various capacities for a combined 28 years. He was closely followed by Robert Combs, who has volunteered on the Design Review Board for 24 years.
Stepper was honored for having served for 16 years, an anniversary she shared with Heritage Resource Commissioner Jim Powers and Planning Commissioner G. Mark Graham.
Susan Gallinger and Tricia Grame celebrated their 12th anniversary on the town’s Arts Commission. They were followed by Heritage Resource Commission member Jerry Warren, Planning Commission member Kerri Heusler, and Parks and Leisure Services Commission members Michael Cory and Randall Diamond -- all of whom have served the town for eight years.
Design Review Board members Thomas Birdsall and Chris Trujillo, were joined by Parks and Leisure Services Commission member Alesia Strauch, in celebrating their fourth anniversary with the town of Danville.