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“Best Of Tuolumne County” Honored

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Sonora, CA– Last night the Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce held its annual Installation and Honors Banquet in Sonora.

The Citizen of the Year Award was given to Ron Patel.  In addition to serving as Black Oak Casino’s General Manager, Patel also provides leadership to many community organizations. He has served as Co-Chairman of the annual benefit for Meals on Wheels and has served on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Repertory Theatre, Stage 3, and Sierra Senior Services. He also volunteers his time for many community events including private fundraisers and Habitat for Humanity.

Patel says he is proud to be a part of the community and has felt very welcomed.

“In this community there are so many wonderful people that make this community what it is,” said Patel. “And to be singled out and to be given this award, I’m really very appreciative and honored.”

The Entrepreneur of the Year Award was handed out to Thilo Bendix of Mr. Electric. Bendix worked in the masonry, carpentry and general contracting industries before exploring electric and hot water solar power with Sapphire Solar and Electric. He purchased the Mr. Electric franchise in 2004.

Gregory Oliver, Tuolumne County Counsel, received the Excellence in Government Award. In 2000 he was appointed County Counsel by the Board of Supervisors. He has successfully litigated several major cases including the Jamestown Mine and Jamestown Landfill. He also donates to various community causes and is a member of the Sonora Sunrise Rotary Club.

Sonora Elementary School Teacher Mike Miller picked up the award for Teacher of the Year. He is currently the Project Director for a California Math and Science Project Grant providing professional development in science for 56 teachers from Tuolumne, Calaveras and Amador Counties. He also continues to volunteer at St. Patrick’s Church, work with the Sonora Elementary Relay for Life team and serve on the Sonora High School Foundation board.

The 2011 Students of the Year are Cassina High School’s Haden Peladeau, Summerville High School’s Rachel Wagner, Sonora High School’s Jared Smith and Tioga High School’s Preston West.

The evening also included the introduction of new Chamber Board of Directors. Chris Caldwell accepted the 2012 Board Chairman seat vacated by 2011 Board Chairman Alicia Wuebker.


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