CEDA recognizes 2019 community winners

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The Churchill Economic Development Authority recognized community members for their service, some over a lifetime, at its monthly breakfast meeting on Wednesday.

Janis Wood, retired manager of the Fallon branch of U.S. Bank, receive the Merton Domonoske Award for a lifetime of service.

When this award first came into existence, Paula Domonoske allowed CEDA to name this award after her husband who served the community for many years. While past recipients of this award are deserving, all had served this community in a civic capacity, elected or employed.

This year’s winner breaks that mold but her decades of service to this community is matched by few. As a longtime member of Soroptimist International, Rotary, Churchill Animal Protection Society, the Fallon Chamber of Commerce, she has served a board member and officer on all of them.

But, most importantly were her number of years served as a CEDA Business Council Board member, twice serving as president and a member on the CEDA Board.

The recipient of the Virgil Getto Award for dedication to the promotion of the agriculture industry goes to Sonya Johnson.

Thanks in no small part to Virgil Getto and the like-minded individuals, the area’s great agricultural industry’s contribution to the local economy is second only to that of Naval Air Station Fallon, but those in that industry strive to be sure our agricultural community is second to none.

Johnson previously received the Ag Advocate Award from the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization, which recognizes efforts to promote agriculture literacy in the classroom. She is past president of the Churchill County Farm Bureau and has also volunteered her time to educate Nevada’s students about the importance of agriculture and agriculture-related education and career opportunities.

In comments made to the U.S. Senate, former Sen. Dean Heller said. “Not only has she used creative methods in her educational efforts, but she also often reaches out to students in remote locations, including Indian reservations, and she has volunteered with children of mine workers as well.”

The Carl Dodge Award for believing big and taking great risks to improve, family, industry and community goes to Karen Bogdanowicz, a community based instructor with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

State Sen. Carl Dodge was a man with great vision for this community that was reflected in his service at both local and state levels, extending far beyond title alone. The individual honored this year has been dedicated to providing the opportunity for all ages to learn about agriculture in community.

One of the most successful programs for community youth celebrated a big birthday this year. The annual Churchill County Junior Livestock Show and Sale turned 80 years old. Both 4-H and high school FFA students exhibit skills they have learned in their various projects such as project management, decision-making and project evaluation.

Bogdanowicz ensures the show and sale give the community the opportunity to encourage and reward these youth who are engaged in positive and productive efforts.

The Newell Mills Award, recognizes innovation in industry that improves the economic viability of the entire community. Such a person is Jo Petteruti.

Newell Mills was an innovator in the dairy industry his entire life, assuring our community’s place on the map. This award recognizes innovation in industry that improves the economic viability of the entire community, and this year we honor a downtown champion whose activities have improved the historic commercial heart of our community.

She and her husband Paul opened the doors of Jo’s Stillwater Tea Room in 2015 after almost two years of personal hard work and capital investment in their Maine Street property. The impact to the city’s historic downtown commercial corridor was immediate, but her hard work extends beyond a single business.

In addition to improving her other Maine Street properties, she chaired the weekly downtown farmers’ market through two organizations, an event vital to the downtown’s economic health. She continues to serve as an incorporating member in the emerging Fallon Maine Street program.

Zip Upham, public information officer for Naval Air Station Fallon, is this year’s winner of the Stuart Richardson Award for working behind the scenes to silently save and support the community.

Upham’s tireless service through many community organizations has transformed the local landscape, quite literally at times. He has provided leadership by serving on the board of numerous community oriented organizations including as a prior Library Board of Trustee and now the Churchill Library Association. He is a past president of the Fallon Rotary Club and continues to guide the Fallon Cantaloupe Festival and Country Fair through its recent successes.

His enthusiasm and willingness to pitch in has been a boost to each of these organizations and the community by extension. Although not perceived as necessarily silent, he is constantly working to make this community what it is.

The Shirley Walker Award goes to Jaime Sammons for building beautifully the civility, culture and collaboration in the community.

This year, CEDA honors an individual whose contributions measure up to those given by Shirley Walker in her time of service to this community and will guarantee its vitality for years to come.

While Sammons will be the first to tell anyone that she doesn’t want to sit on any boards, that hasn’t stopped her from serving multiple terms on the board of directors for the Churchill Arts Council, the Fallon Food Hub and the Banner Churchill Hospital Auxiliary.

She was named Volunteer of the Year in a previous Lahontan Valley News Best of Fallon.

But the best expression of her contributions to the community are firmly rooted in her spirit of service. When she isn’t volunteering at the hospital auxiliary thrift store, she is helping weed a garden, gleaning apricots or tending bees with fellow veterans.

She is generous with her harvest and with her spirit, and Churchill County is a better place with her in it.


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