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Vol. 4, Issue 9, February 26-March 4, 2009

By Norb Garrett
San Clemente Times

San Clemente Chamber of Commerce honors many at annual installation and awards banquet

The San Clemente Chamber of Commerce’s annual installation and awards dinner always brings out the big guns, and this year’s celebration was no different. With political heavy hitters such as Congressman Ken Calvert, Supervisor Pat Bates and State Assemblywoman Diane Harkey in attendance, the Chamber installed its new officers for the year and also handed out prestigious plaques of recognition to the Educator of the Year, Business of the Year, Citizen of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and its Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in front of a packed crowd at Talega Golf Club Thursday, February 19.

The longest introduction, appropriately, was for Lifetime Achievement recipient Truman Benedict. Benedict, after whom one of San Clemente’s elementary schools is named, has lived in San Clemente since 1949 and has played an integral role in establishing and building San Clemente’s schools. He started teaching at Las Palmas Elementary School in 1949, eventually rising to Superintendent of San Clemente Schools in 1956, then Superintendent of Capistrano Unified from 1969-1975. In 1987 the elementary school was named after him. He was joined at the dinner by his daughter, grandsons and great grand children.

Former City Councilwoman Susan Ritschel was named Citizen of the Year for her philanthropic efforts and long-time service to the community. Ritschel, who served on City Council and as Mayor, has been an ardent supporter of the Dorothy Visser Senior Center.

Bernice Ayer Middle School teacher Lisa Mettert was named Educator of the Year for her 17 years of service in San Clemente.

Dennis Simmons, owner/broker of Simmons Agency of Farmers Insurance and Orange County Business Insurance, was named Volunteer of the Year for his support of the Chamber over the years.

The Business of the Year award went to San Clemente Villas. Owners Paul and Aileen Brazeau accepted the award which recognized their steady support of the community and the Chamber. “Paul and Aileen Brazeau continually do the utmost for their family of residents, with special gatherings, celebrations and events,’ said Wal-Mart’s Leo Dennis, who was last year’s winner.

Dick “Rod’ Rodriquez also was presented a special award for his consistent support of the U.S. Marine Corps, for which he served for nine years.

The new Chamber board also swore in a new chairman, Nick Ragenovich (Baskin Robbins). He’s joined on the executive committee by Jeff Bott (TCA), Chuck Narey (Hayden, Narey and Persich, C.P.A.), Mike Burke (RBF Consulting), Leo Dennis (Wal-Mart) and Michael Hahn (Pacific Coast National Bank). Directors for 2009 are Bernie Allen (Law Office of Bernie Allen), George Caravalho (Management Consultant), Dr. Adam Crawford (Oceanview Family Medicine), Al Filger (Filger Manufacturing), Nancy Hunt (Keller Williams Realty), Michael Johnson (CresaPartners), Don Kindred (Kindred Associates), Adele Lux (Adele’s at the San Clemente Inn), Dick Rodriguez (Rod’s Tree Service), Jim Valentine (Sempra Energy) and Steve Ynzunza (Coast Home Inspections).

Lynn Wood is the Executive Director of the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce.

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