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Trio Of Citizens, Businesses Saluted For Community Contributions
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Oakdale Chamber of Commerce will host its annual awards dinner on Friday, Jan. 18. Tickets for the dinner and ceremony are on sale now at the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce and on the Oakdale Chamber website for $40 per person. Seating is limited and tickets must be reserved by this Friday, Jan. 11.

For more information, call 847-2244.

The evening features recognition in several categories. This week, we review the Citizen of the Year and Business of the Year nominees. (Junior Achiever and Community Service categories were covered in the Jan. 2 issue of The Leader.) The Jan. 16 issue will include a feature on Frank Clark, selected as this year’s Lifetime Achievement honoree.

The dinner begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18 at the Bianchi Community Center, 110 S. Second Ave.

The purpose of the evening is to honor individuals, organizations and businesses who have worked unselfishly to improve the Oakdale community and help others. Information on the nominees is offered as provided by the chamber.


Citizen of the Year

Nominees for the 2012 Oakdale Citizen of the Year honor are Lupe Aguilera, Steve Knell and Wes Stewart.


Lupe Aguilera

Lupe Aguilera is a goal-setter who has worked hard her whole life to achieve an early retirement after 30 years of working as a peace officer, and lastly at the Women’s Correction Facility in Stockton. Working long hours and raising a family didn’t stop Lupe from continuing her education and desire to better herself, both personally and professionally. Nor did it deter her from becoming involved with several community organizations. In her retirement, she chooses to selflessly give her time to serve others.

Lupe has been a take-charge kind of person from the get go. From being a Brownie Leader to now being on the California Correctional Peace Officers Association Chapter Board, membership chair for the Oakdale Women’s Club and Senior Outreach Coordinator with the Citizens Auxiliary Police Services (CAPS). Lupe has been recognized by the Oakdale Police Chief for developing outstanding program guidelines accessing grants and significant funding for the program as well as placing the program on the statewide calendar. Lupe also volunteers for the Regional 911 Association, sits on the State Respiratory Care Board as well as the Oakdale Planning Commission. Lupe has built a reputation of dependability, kindness, honesty, hard work ethic and is an incredibly generous person. She is organized beyond belief, works tirelessly and without hesitation, donates time to these organizations, especially to help the elderly in the community of Oakdale. Lupe has brought joy to the lives of so many, especially the elderly with her out reaching hands, eager to assist and has improved their daily lives, from a simple phone call, a visit, a ride to an appointment, time out for lunch, but mostly providing companionship for those in need.

Lupe’s perseverance and determination to get to the next level has definitely paid off and allowed her the time to do what she enjoys most: GIVING. Oakdale receives the biggest benefit by having Lupe as part of our community, to call a friend.


Steve Knell

Steve Knell was born in Yakima, Washington and as a young child his family moved to Santa Clara and later Los Gatos, California where he grew up. Steve graduated with a degree in civil engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and worked in a variety of soils and water engineering positions of increasing responsibility in Madera, Bishop and El Centro, California. In December 2001, the Oakdale Irrigation District hired Steve to be its General Manager and he subsequently moved to Oakdale with his family. Steve and his wife Kim have two adult daughters: Katie and Lauren. Both graduated from Oakdale High School, Katie is now an attorney and Lauren graduated from college December 2012 with a degree in communications. Steve has served as the OID General Manager with great distinction, leading it to one of the more proactive, efficient and successful water management organizations in California. With Steve’s support of the OID Board of Directors decisions, OID has made multiple contributions to the betterment of the Oakdale community, including providing scholarships to seniors at Oakdale High School, and helping provide a safe and enjoyable community swimming pool, not to mention numerous other projects. As the immediate past president of the Oakdale Kiwanis Club, as past president and current vice president of agriculture for the Oakdale Chamber, he has been a part of many activities those organizations provide and the successes of those activities. Because of Steve’s outstanding work and volunteer efforts, fans of Oakdale Mustang football benefit by receiving more accurate and insightful information from the announcer than at any other high school football venue in the region. Steve was named Director of the Year for the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce in 2011 and has won several awards from national and regional water management organizations for his significant contributions to that area.

Steve Knell has been nominated as Citizen of the Year for his outstanding work and team efforts in making Oakdale a much better place in which we live.


Wes Stewart

Wes Stewart’s parents arrived in Oakdale from Oklahoma during the “Grapes of Wrath” when he was 12 years old. While Wes was in the Army, his family owned Stewart’s Food Market in downtown Oakdale from 1953-1969; he was a City Councilman from 1964-1969, and Mayor from 1970-1972. Wes and his wife Margie reside in Oakdale with their son Tim and although he faces many family challenges, he plows through daily, trying to make life a little easier for others. For Wes, it is the little things in life that matter.

Wes is very compassionate, giving and dependable. He started the CAPS program with the Oakdale Police Department and Young at Heart program at his church. He continues to be active daily with both organizations. Wes visits the elderly as a CAPS Senior Outreach representative and on his own time. He makes an effort to improve and enhance the lives of those he visits. At his church, he makes the plans for the monthly “Young at Heart” group. This is where the seniors get together for music, singing, lunch and sometimes a trip. For Senior Outreach and Young at Heart, he is a listening ear to assure that they are cared about and important. He puts a smile on the senior’s faces and lights up their life. Wes provides assistance with his many resources and ensures that they are in a safe and secure environment.

Wes Stewart’s passion to make a difference makes him a nominee for Citizen of the Year.


Business of the Year

The nominees for Business of the Year, 2012, are RJ Murdoch Lawn Care, Oakdale Feed and Seed, and Spray & Son.


RJ Murdoch Lawn Care

RJ Murdoch Lawn Care is a locally owned and operated lawn care business. Due to a need about four years ago, they added this service to what RJ Murdoch Inc. offers. They provide commercial landscaping for the Oakdale Shopping Center, the Chase Bank building, the Oberti building, Medex building, Western Drywall and Tiger Express/Chevron. Murdoch’s stepped up when the City of Oakdale was tightening the budgets and took over the lawn care and grooming of the Oakdale Museum grounds, and assisted with improving the overall effect of the Oakdale Museum. Working with the Friends of Oakdale Heritage, their work has brought many compliments to the museum staff, providing a sense of pride. And for this, the RJ Murdoch Lawn Care is being recognized for their continued support and business in helping to keep Oakdale a beautiful place for those that live here and travel through.


Oakdale Feed and Seed

Oakdale Feed was purchased by Dan Donnelly in 1958 from his long-time partner, W.C. “Chet” Owen, who founded the feed business in the mid 1940s. Dan became a partner in 1950 and the pair operated their business under the name of Farmer’s Feed in several locations in Oakdale. In 1956 they moved the store to 141 N. Yosemite and held a Grand Opening at the present location of Oakdale Feed and Seed.

It was a small business that catered to the needs of farmers and ranchers, selling animals and animal feed products. Excellent customer service has always been the number one goal at Oakdale Feed and Seed and still is today. There are still customers that remember when their credit was established by a discussion with Dan and a firm handshake.

The core of their business hasn’t really changed much in 62 years. Still family-owned and operated by Dan’s grandson Jeff Donnelly, who follows the tradition of excellent customer service and community involvement. The business has grown and evolved based on their customer’s needs. It’s no longer just a place to buy chickens, turkeys, feed and hay. Oakdale Feed and Seed has grown to three locations; Oakdale, Sheldon Feed in Elk Grove and Valley Feed in Madera. There is now a full line of men’s and women’s apparel for working or dancing, jewelry, purses, perfume and house wares can also be found. It’s really a one stop shopping for many in Oakdale.

Oakdale Feed and Seed has always supported youth in agriculture with fair projects, giving each 4-H or FFA member discounts on their feed. Jeff usually attends sale day at the fair, and always brings back the purchase of a steer, pig or lamb. District 5 High School Rodeo has also received contributions from Oakdale Feed and Seed, as well as many other local clubs. But the community goodwill doesn’t just stop with our youth; they have contributed to many fundraisers for local non-profits as well as school events, whether it is to help with a silent auction item or loaning bales of hay for decorating purposes. Oakdale Feed and Seed is an essential business in the Cowboy Capital of the World.


Spray & Son

Spray & Son has been in the business of cleaning and janitorial for commercial, industrial and residential properties for 30 years. The owners, Gary and Bonnye Spray offer their time and talents to many local projects and organizations. Many of the staff of their company volunteers for some of the projects they also work on. A few of the projects for 2012 that Spray & Son owners and staff participated with were: Friends of Oakdale Heritage/Oakdale Museum - transportation and cleaning of displays and filing systems, and volunteered time at the museum to help organize. They also helped with a successful fundraiser for Family Support Network, for Community Sharing – time and materials to paint the floor and Oakdale Community clean ups, including street clean ups and Love Oakdale projects. Many hours and materials have been given to the Oakdale community by Spray & Son.

Spray & Son are nominated for 2012 Business of the Year for the selfless efforts and go above and beyond the many requests in Oakdale.