Five people - Ben Fish, Doug Hardcastle, Mercrey LaFayette, Dwight Meadows, Kevin Romick - are up for Citizen of the Year. There will also be awards for Business Person of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Youth Volunteer of the Year.
The winners will be announced at the Oakley Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year Banquet to be held this Saturday from 7 p.m. to midnight in Flor Do Oakley Hall, 520 Second St. Tickets are $45 and they are still available by calling the Chamber office, 625-1035.
The following are the nominees in each category; the information is taken from the nomination forms submitted for each person.
Citizen of the Year
Ben Fish is an avid filmmaker, musician and poet. He was honored three consecutive years for achievement in academics, attendance and attitude at Freedom High School.
Doug Hardcastle is active in Relay For Life, Boy Scouts of America, Oakley Delta Lion's Club, Oakley Chamber of Commerce and many more civic groups. He is recognizable in the community due to his volunteering whenever there is work to be done.
Mercrey LaFayette is the current President of the Oakley Chamber of Commerce as well as Booth Manager and Co-chair of the Oakley Almond Festival. She took the position of Chamber President to show her pride in Oakley.
Dwight Meadows is a farmer and businessman who has been active on the Oakley School Board for many years, in addition to LAFCO and the Ironhouse Sanitary District, which he helped form.
Kevin Romick has served on many civic groups, including Oakley City Council, Economic Development Committee, Oakley Delta Lions Club, East County Business-Education Authority. He is the current Mayor of Oakley and helped create and maintain an informational Web site for the Oakley Orphans, which helps residents navigate the confusion and red tape of school assignments for residents of one particular section of Oakley.
Business Person of the Year
Gene Buchholz has been a member of the California Striped Bass Association and immediate past President of the Chamber of Commerce and Sportsmen's Yacht Club. Gene is the main reason that the national bass tournaments have come to Oakley, increasing revenue for local businesses. He was the driving force behind the idea and its realization. As Chamber president in 2006, Gene took the helm of an organization in transition. The rapid growth of this community could have created some major catastrophes, but Gene kept things on an even keel.
Linda Mitosinka has been a lifelong resident of Oakley and serves on the Board of Directors for the Delta Family Bible Church and has been a member of the Delta Board of Realtors for 29 years. She actively participates in the Almond Festival every year, supplies annual scholarships for Freedom High School, owns Morning Star Properties, Inc., maintains the property and holds it to be a symbol of the city of Oakley, especially with the oak trees, and allows schools and businesses to use her property for various fundraisers.
Mercrey LaFayette has run a daycare service in Oakley going on 18 years. She moved her daycare business from a center to a home daycare due to a potential problem with the property. She would not have been able to keep the business open, as the safety of the children came first.
Volunteer of the Year
Bill and Denise Arnold are the driving force behind the community's annual Christmas Basket/Food drive. They are active charter members of the Oakley Delta Lion's Club and have held several offices between them, as well as Lions in Sight, an eyeglass recycling program whose mission is for all of Oakley's children to see well. They are dedicated volunteers at Wilderness Camp, a camp for deaf children. Together, the Arnolds may well be Oakley's most productive volunteer team. They do things because things need to be done.
Dave Hansen has been Oakley Police/Contra Costa Sheriff's Police Chaplain for five years, and was chosen 2006 Chaplain of the Year. He served on the Freedom High School Principal's Advisory Committee, and was involved with helping O'Hara Park and Delta Vista Middle schools.
Youth Volunteer of the Year
Kimberly Buchholz has been in Girl Scouts for 11 years, on the Oakley Youth Advisory Council for two years, and in the National Honor Society and the California Scholarship Federation for two years each. She worked and participated in the 2006 annual event, held at Freedom High School. Kim was the official Ambassador for the City of Oakley in 2006 when she took a trip to Pax Lodge, the Girl Scout World Center in London. She has set high standards for her own moral character and is an excellent role model for her peers and younger students.
Hailey-Ann Vollbrecht has been a member of the Delta Family Bible Church for four years. She wanted to go on a mission trip with her church in 2006, but there was a lack of funds. She took the bull by the horns, raised the money herself, and made the trip. Hailey has an amazing heart and her generosity touched everyone she came in contact with. She plans to raise the monies needed every year to take this worthwhile trip.