NORTH FORK – This marks the 40th year that the town of North Fork will choose its Citizen of the Year. The dinner and award ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, Mar. 2, at the North Fork Town Hall.
Local residents are given the opportunity each year to nominate those among them who have made notable contributions to the town and its residents. The winner is chosen by a panel of past winners.
Here are this year’s nominees in alphabetical order:
Anne has been part of the Friends of the North Fork Library since 1993, and has supported the North Fork Studio for many years. She also provides space downtown for the Visitors Center and the Chamber of Commerce, in exchange for a very low monthly rent and a portion of the PG&E bill.
Anne contributes to spay and neuter programs, is a dedicated recycler, and provides jobs by hiring local youth to help out on her property. She is also a composer and poet, writing the song “Baby I’m Gonna Leave You,” which was recorded by Joan Baez and Led Zepplin.
Cassandra Hepburn-Callis – Cassandra runs Public Coffee House (PCH) in North Fork, providing a safe space for the local youth to gather and participate in uplifting activities. Kids can come for tutoring, mentoring, video games, homework or just hanging out.
She has also started a free meal program, providing a free breakfast and dinner once a month to anyone who wishes to partake.
Cassandra hosts birthday parties for the kids, Christmas parties and karaoke nights. She also holds art contests for the young local artists to display their works, and theme parties that include a recent Disney costume night.
Christina McDonald – Christina is the Environmental Director for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, has served as a board member and president of the Sierra Mono Museum, and was on the North Fork Rancheria Indian Housing Authority board from 2007 to 2014.
She was nominated for her work throughout the community including providing education and outreach on environmental and health issues, working to protect natural resources, volunteering her time for the North Fork Fall Festival, and organizing Earth Day. She is also part of the Emergency Preparedness Committee.
Christina is also known for her valuable mentoring of the young people of the Mono community.
Roz has had a positive impact of hundreds of students as a teacher at the North Fork School. She has also contributed thousands of hours to such local organizations as Squirrel Cage Theatre, the Women’s Club, the Boosters, the CDC, the Arts Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Children’s Educational Foundation.
Chuck has entertained for over 40 years as part of the group “Sugar Pine.” He has written dozens of songs including the local favorite “North Fork” – always a hit at school events and community gatherings. Chuck volunteers at the Loggers Jamboree and has participated in Squirrel Cage for over four decades. Chuck and Roz can be found at the Grizzly Century handing out homemade deliciousness to cyclists, and whenever anything is happening in North Fork, they are likely in the thick of things – cooking, setting up, planning, entertaining, doing whatever is needed.
“They are wonderful role models for our youth, showing them that hard work is rewarding.”
Dan Rosenberg – Dan was nominated for his service as president of the North Fork Community Development Council (CDC). “He has the ability to communicate with the community, the CDC board and various government agencies in a highly effective manner.
“He is always positive, looks for solutions, and see challenges as opportunities, not obstacles. He has strong leadership abilities which have benefited our town and the Mill Site.”
Dan is also very much involved with the North Fork Studio and its fundraising efforts, and volunteers at the Vipassana Center. He and his trombone are always a big hit at Squirrel Cage Theatre shows.
She was nominated for her work as a fundraiser in support of the North Fork Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary. Gay is responsible for the lion’s share of the donations from local businesses that are part of the drawing at the yearly BBQ.
Gay also volunteers at the Visitors Center and donates her time to assist low-income residents with their tax preparation each year.
Gina Clugston – Gina is the founder, owner, reporter and editor of Sierra News Online. She was nominated for her tireless work providing the mountain communities with fast, accurate information on fires, accidents, road closures, community events and local news.
She is also the founder and conductor of the North Fork Community Choir, was a singer in the group “Sugar Pine” for 14 years, teaches piano lessons, is an active member of the North Fork Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary, has been involved in Squirrel Cage Theatre since 1993, is a member of various local Chambers of Commerce, and has been part of the Emergency Preparedness Committee for eight years.
She has done major fundraising for new playground equipment at the Rec Center and helps with the annual Fishing Derby, always with a smile on her face.
Ranay was raise in North Fork where she went to elementary school, then on to Sierra High School and Fresno City College. She is also credited with using her medical training to help the injured at accident scenes.
Sharon Coltra – Sharon is remembered as the smiling face behind the cafeteria line at the North Fork School. She always made sure that kids who couldn’t afford it had a chocolate milk or an extra slice of pizza on Fridays. “She would take a dollar out of her pocket if someone was behind on their lunch tab.”
During her time at Bass Fork Minit Mart, she was a ray of sunshine for anyone coming in to get gas or a quick lunch. “No matter how hard her day, she always had a smile and a joke to brighten someone else’s. She has always put everyone else first, and never asks for anything in return.
“She has lived her entire life ensuring that others were happy, even if it meant making sacrifices in her own personal life.”
The Citizen of the Year dinner was scheduled to take place at North Fork Town Hall on Saturday, Feb. 9. However, with the freezing weather and snow, the dinner has been rescheduled for Saturday, Mar. 2.
The dinner menu will include BBQ tri-tip, chicken, or vegetarian quiche, mixed peas & carrots, baked potato, salad, and Roz Thrapp’s homemade rolls. The North Fork Women’s club will be selling their famous desserts.
The awards ceremony begins at 7 p.m. The cost for dinner is $15.
Past winners of Citizen of the Year:
1979 Marilyn Coelho
1980 Grant Sturm
1981 Paul Barnes
1982 Jim Zizzo
1983 Bob Quick
1984 Tom Wheeler
1985 Betty Lyons
1986 Blaine Shultz
1987 Tom Hebrard
1988 Charles Coelho
1989 Tal Carter
1990 Jim and Dot Morris
1991 Elaine C. Fink
1992 Beverly Cole
1993 Paul Vining
1994 Tom Digilio
1995 Charles Harrington
1996 Lloree Knowles
1997 Mary Myers
1998 Frank Verduzco
1999 Mark and Cindy Swarts
2000 Chris Stanley
2001 Cathey Thornburg
2002 Loretta McKee
2003 Tammy Armstrong
2004 Kirk and Alice Koda
2005 Volney Dunavan
2006 Bill and Gretchen Choate
2007 Augie and Cindy Capuchino
2008 Viola Carr
2009 Dave Smith
2010 Joan Constable (aka Connie Carpenter)
2011 Vincent and Ginny Smith
2012 Hansel Kern
2013 Mark Logee
2014 Janet Wheeler
2015 Linda Gott-Maddox
2016 Al and Robyn Flory
2017 Tom Burdette