Community
May 27, 2018
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The 5th annual Rotary award night

  • From left to right: Rohnert Park Public Safety Dispatcher, Trish Raia; Ronnie's Bar and Grill owner, Ronnie Rao; California Highway Patrol Press Information Officer, Jonathan Sloat; Cotati Police Officer, Tyler Wardle and Volunteer of the Year, Lisa Bagwell, were all honored at the annual Rotary Award Night held at Sally Tomatoes last Friday evening. Not pictured Battalion Chief, Jeff Holden of Petaluma. Robert Grant

  • Rancho Cotate High School woodshop teacher, Bill Hartman was honored as educator of the year. Robert Grant

By: Irene Hilsendager
April 27, 2018

The 5th Annual Rotary Award dinner was held last Friday evening at Sally Tomatoes with a packed room of nominees and honorees.

It was a grand gala in celebration of community volunteers, educators, businesses, public safety department, fire department and California Highway Patrol officers. 

All of the nominees have excellent moral character and consistently loyal with very high standards. All candidates are dedicated to their profession and community.

Rotarian President Heather Ann Young welcomed the nominees, their families and the many guests who came to support the honorees. City officials were introduced along with their spouses.

The evening was very special when Young spoke about the 4-way test and the object of Rotary. All nominations were found throughout the community by local organizations and both Rohnert Park and Cotati’s Police Chiefs.

The community may be surprised as members of the Rotary Club are not eligible to be nominated. An independent committee is always the group to select the candidates. It is very difficult to pick the winner as all nominees deserve to be recognized.

Rotarian Gerard Guidice gave a short presentation on the Rohnert Park Club’s Foundation mentioning that the club is over 40 years old; was charted April 28, 1977 with only 26 members. At the present, an average of 40 members meet at the Doubletree Hotel every Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. to discuss other ways of assisting the communities of Rohnert Park, Cotati and Penngrove.

There are so many activities being done behind the scenes that the community is not aware of unless it has been announced and someone or something is recognized.

One example is the pasta feed dinner held at the community center to benefit the fire victims. A committee was formed and within one week, the very successful dinner was served to many first responders and victims of the fire. the Rotary Club could not do this without the volunteers and businesses standing behind them with their huge donations and eagerly awaiting to help.

The Rotary Club has established tight bonds and trusting relationships between the businesses, educators, government, non-profits and collegiate endeavors in Rohnert Park and Cotati.

The program started with Dr. Wayne Sutton leading the Pledge to the Flag and Chief Masterson giving the thought of the day. The keynote speaker for the evening was Matt Martin, Vice President of the Redwood Credit Union. What an inspiring speech! Martin talked about his childhood and his struggles, yet the most poignant point happened Oct. 10, two days after the devastating firestorm. Martin went to the Petaluma office and spearheaded the fire relief fund along with the political figures to put out the word for help in the feeding, housing and collecting funds as people were losing homes, some lives and a harsh reality stepped in for many people. It seemed just overnight neighboring cities and countries from far away helped raise the much needed funds.

Rotarian Jeff Thomas announced the volunteers of the year: Lisa Bagwell and Damon Rodriquez. Bagwell, as humble as ever, was the winner and received a bouquet of flowers, was made an honorary member of the Rohnert Park-Cotati Club and was whisked off for measurements for her Rotarian jacket.

Rotarian Mike Pastryk mentioned the businesses of the year: Ken Maiolini, owner of Risk Management Service and Ronnie Rao, who owns Ronnie’s Bar and Grill. Ronnie was declared the winner.

Faith Fredlund, a senior at Technology High School and the current Interact President announced the Educators of the Year. Dustin DeMatteo, founder of Farmster; Linda Desautels, a teacher at Tech High; Diane Flohr, a third-grade teacher at Marguerite Hahn School; Meaghan Heald from Evergreen School, Julian Shaw, a Credo High educator and Bill Hartman, the wood shop teacher from Rancho Cotate High School. Hartman was the recipient as Educator of the Year.

Rotarian Young introduced Rotarian Bob Stewart to award the coin challenge. Challenge coins originated in the military as a way to recognize soldiers for special achievements. The customized coins were given to the representatives of the California Highway Patrol, the Cotati Police Department, the Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District and the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety to disburse to their departments.

Chief Brian Masterson introduced Trish Raia, dispatcher for her heroic efforts, Chief Michael Parish recognized Officer Tyler Wardle as Cotati’s Policeman of the Year. Tyler arrested 44 people for DUI’s in 2017. Petaluma Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Holden represented Rancho Adobe Fire District; however, they decided no one person deserves a medal but everyone should be the Year of the Firefighter.

Captain Michael Palacio of the California Highway Patrol and stationed at the local Rohnert Park office was proud that Highway Patrol officers were included the first year of many to come and the winner was Officer Jonathan Sloat, the Public Information Officer.

All winners received a bouquet of flowers, a rotary jacket and an envelope containing a check to each of the winners’ favorite charity.

As the 5th Annual Salute to the Community event drew to a close, many handshakes, hugs and congratulations were heard throughout the room. 

Many thanks to all of the volunteers, sponsors and the dessert so graciously donated by Petaluma J. M. Rosen cheesecakes and the beautiful flowers donated by Let It Be Designs, Sebastopol and donated by Risk Management Services, Cotati.