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Chamber Awards Night Noted As Stellar Event
Award Night 1
All the winners at the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner took time out to pose for a photo, including Citizen, Community Service, Youth, Business and Lifetime Achievement honorees. RICHARD PALOMA/The Leader

The Bianchi Community Center was the setting Friday night, Jan. 15 for the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce 70th Annual Awards Dinner. According to Chamber CEO Mary Guardiola, over 260 people attended the event that saw the Gilbert Family awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award and Citizen of the Year recognition going to community humanitarian Jo Harris.

To commence the program, and keeping the event light-hearted, Chamber of Commerce President John Lane, who received the chamber’s Director of the Year Award, introduced this year’s graduates from their leadership class.

Lane then brought up local attorney Brett Dickerson, who would serve as the evening’s emcee, introducing him “as a guy who could talk his way out of a straight-jacket.”

The ceremony was highlighted with the Lifetime Achievement Award recognition presented to David Gilbert, representing the Gilbert Family.

The Gilbert family, well known throughout the Oakdale area, was acknowledged for the over 100 years of business in Oakdale and continued community and civic mindedness. The historic A.L. Gilbert Company, establishment in Oakdale, and its continued operation is valued by the city economically.

“Our goal is to keep it going one way or another or in one form or another,” said Gilbert, recalling that the company started out milling flour, then turkey feed and now predominantly dairy feed. “Being able to evolve and change is one of the key things.”

Citizen of the Year was awarded to Jo Harris, who was described as giving unselfishly and never failing to help or head up an event or fundraiser.

In addition to a multitude of other giving activities, Harris gathered and delivered items for the latest fire disaster victims in nearby Calaveras County this past summer.

“These are not just someone’s favorites, but they are nominated from the community,” Dickerson said as he continued with the award winners.

The Junior Achievement Award was presented to both Hope Kindred and Kate Wessling.

Kindred works with a non-profit program to provide homeless pets with blankets, food, feeding bowls and other necessities. She also volunteers for a multitude of activities at Oakdale High School and is the current Sierra 4-H Club President and the current Oakdale High School Leadership Class Secretary.

Wessling is a volunteer at Oakdale Veterinary Group. She is a 4.0 student with the aspirations to help all animals as a volunteer and as a veterinarian in the future.

Friends of the Oakdale Library was awarded the Community Service Award for its encouragement of literacy for children and adults throughout the year.

Basi Insurance Services, Inc. was the winner for large Business of the Year and Oakdale MMA was selected for the small Business of the Year Award.

The Chamber of Commerce divides the category into a large business with more than 20 employees and a small business with less than 20 employees.

“The Oakdale Chamber of Commerce congratulates those that were recognized by the community in each nomination and is honored to host this event each year,” Guardiola said. “It was nice to see so many prior nominees in attendance to support this event.”