By Mary O’KEEFE
People have often commented about the unique qualities of Crescenta Valley. The first noticeable attribute is the setting with the San Gabriel and Verdugo Mountains highlighting the Crescenta Valley skyline. At closer look however it is how the community works together that makes the area so special.
On a recent night the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce held its annual Recognition Banquet that honored those who have deep roots in the community and help support a place they not only enjoyed living in but also felt grateful to be part of.
The Man of the Year for 2010 was Mike Smith who has a long tradition of service and support to the Crescenta Valley. Smith Toyota has served the area for generations led by Mike Smith. The dedication and service has been a tradition in the Smith household since Robert Smith Sr. began as a Chevrolet distributer in San Francisco in 1917. In addition to being a stable company along the boulevard, Smith reaches out to the community with support ranging from “Minister of the Sick” to Little League. He has been a co-host of the annual Smart-a-Thon and donates his dealership for a yearly chili mixer.
Woman of the Year was Elizabeth Manasserian. The room mom tradition personifies Manasserian. She had served as PTSA vice president at Clark Magnet High School when her sons attended and is the current president of the Glendale Council PTSA – not an easy role to fill with the constant educational budget worries. Manasserian is the immediate past president of Glendale Healthy Kids and serves on the advisory council of Glendale Educational Foundation. She is also an active member in the Glendale Rotary Club.
Manasserian joked about how she was told of her award. She was attending a Glendale Coffee with the COPPS when Steve Pierce asked to join her.
“I thought it was about some new volunteer program,” she said. “I thought, ‘Okay. Let’s get started.’”
To her surprise she was told of her award.
“It just shows you: Go to Coffee with the COPPS,” she joked.
Those who make Crescenta Valley safe were also honored. California Highway Patrol Officer James Dean Fields, Glendale Police Department Detective Arthur Frank and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Ray Harley.
Officer Fields can be found many mornings on his motorcycle at the local schools watching, and at times citing, drivers. He and his wife live in Northridge and he spoke about his commute on his motorcycle each morning.
“I come down the (Foothill freeway) 210 and soon as I come over the ridge into Crescenta Valley I say, ‘This is a beautiful place.’ It is the best-kept secret in the [department],” he said. “Crescenta Valley is a really nice place to work.”
Glendale detective Frank investigated the 2008 the Glendale (2) freeway shooting. A Mongols motorcycle club member was gunned down as he rode he was traveling on the freeway. With little information to go on Frank led investigators to compile enough information that they were able to obtain search warrants against the Toonerville gang members. The end result was eight gang members were charged with murder, 10 with narcotics sales.
Sgt. Harley leads the detectives’ bureau at the Crescent Valley Sheriff’s Station. In a recent case, a suspect was stopped as he walked down a local street carrying what appeared to be a stolen bag, Harley and his detectives investigated and obtained a search warrant. They discovered the suspect had allegedly been involved in about 15 burglaries in La Crescenta. Hundreds of reported stolen items were recovered.
“Thank you for your fantastic leadership of a great group of detectives,” said Capt. Dave Silversparre in his introduction of Harley.
Harley thanked the detectives that he works with. “This is where the work is getting done.”
He also thanked the Glendale police for its partnership. Harley was born and raised in La Crescenta and is now raising his family in the area.
“In the 1960s, I was like little Opie [Taylor from Mayberry], going to visit my pa at the Montrose Sheriff’s Station where he was working as a young deputy. What goes on here is very near and dear to me,” Harley said.
Capt. Christopher Siok was recognized as the Firefighter of the Year. Prior to his promotion to captain, as a paramedic and engineer he was deployed to Haiti earlier this year to assist in earthquake recovery efforts with the California Task Force 2 Team. He worked closely with the PTA and at the high school’s Every Second Counts program.
“I enjoy serving this community,” Siok said. “On behalf of all the men and women from Station 63 I thank you.”
Roy Allmon was celebrated as Volunteer of the Year.
“He is a volunteer in a community full of volunteers,” said Steve Pierce, CV honorary mayor.
Allmon served in the U.S. Air Force from 1958 to 1961. He and his wife Kathy have lived in La Crescenta for 35 years. Allmon has been involved in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. He was a scoutmaster for 20 years and led 37 boys to their Eagle Award. He is a member of the Kiwanis of Montrose and La Crescenta, Rosemont Builders Club and the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion. He also organized and volunteered at the L.A. Marathon the wheel chair division.
Allmon thanked his wife for being so supportive with all the hours volunteered and went on to recognize one of his Eagle Scouts at the banquet table with him.
Allmon is presently raising funds for the veterans’ memorial at Two Strike Park.
Student of the Year was Nina Ozbardakci who was praised not only for her academic achievement but also for her volunteerism and leadership.
Educator of the Year was Ron Yonkers for his leadership role as director of the band at Rosemont Middle School.
Walgreens received the Beautification Award for its work with the community in the design and development of the new business.
Organization of the Year went to the CV Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition. The grass roots organization was formed after moms and police joined forces to bring attention to a growing drug issue in the area.
The Business of the Year was Crescenta Valley Weekly. Publisher Robin Goldsworthy started the paper to fill a void for community news.
The recognition banquet was held at the Angeles National Golf Club. CV Chamber President Jean Maluccio thanked not only the awardees but the audience for their ongoing support in maintaining the quality of life that embodies the Crescenta Valley.