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Hesperia Mayor Thurston 'Smitty' Smith, center, was surprised to receive the Hesperian of the Year award during Tuesday's Hesperia Chamber of Commerce annual awards ceremony. The ceremony also honored Hesperia businesses, volunteers, other members of the community and public safety employees.

'Smitty': Hesperian of the Year

Chamber honors mayor, locals at annual awards luncheon

The Hesperia Chamber of Commerce honored several members of the community with various awards Tuesday at their annual luncheon at the Courtyard by Marriott.

Mayor Thurston “Smitty” Smith received Hesperian of the Year, which he said was a surprise because he thought he was there to hand out awards.

“It’s just a huge honor to be recognized by all the folks in the city, chamber and business community — it’s a huge honor for me,” Smith said.

Being considered along with the “class of people” previously awarded is humbling and an honor, Smith said.

“I’m thrilled — it was well-deserved,” Smith’s wife, Margaret said. She adds that Smith is humble; telling her everybody does what he does, to which she responds, “not everybody.”

Thurston volunteers for the community not seeking or wanting recognition, even now, Margaret Smith said, with Thurston Smith doing things behind the scenes, like community clean-up day, coaching little league and Santa shopping for kids in need.

“I’m just so proud of what he does in the community — I’m proud of the person he is,” Margaret Smith said.

The Legacy Award was given to lifetime chamber member Percy Bakker, who was president of the 1965-chartered chamber twice, in 1965 and 1969, he said.

In her introduction, chamber President/CEO Yvonne Woytovich called Bakker a citizen who is a community legacy. A community member for more than 50 years, anytime Woytovich needed chamber historical facts she asked Bakker, who provided the information, according to Bakker.

“I, of course grinned a big grin and proudly marched up and accepted the award,” said 85-year-old Bakker. “I was pleased to receive a standing ovation. It’s quite an honor and quite a tribute — you might say I’m a little overwhelmed by it.”

The Gil Zank award, which goes to community members actively involved for more than 25 years, was given to Buck Goodspeed of Goodspeed Companies, who has been involved since 1984, according to a chamber luncheon program.

Advance Disposal Co. & Recycling Center Material & Transportation Specialist Beverly Williams was awarded Business Person of the Year.

“I’m very grateful and honored that they thought highly enough of what I do to recognize me in such a wonderful way,” Williams said.

Previously, Williams managed recycling and landfill diversion as the company’s program specialist, she said, involved with community outreach and Hesperia Days.

The company message to the community is in their tagline, “we sort so you don’t have to,” according to Williams, who said all recyclables are sorted.

Special recognition went to Hesperia Kiwanis International for their involvement with the Hesperia Days Parade with club president Jessica Carrillo accepting the award on the club’s behalf.

“It made me feel really blessed and really good to know our club is recognized,” said an honored Carrillo.

Three award recipients — Smith, Bakker and Williams — are Kiwanis members.

“I think it shows that our Kiwanis club does a lot in the community through the years,” club member Becky Otwell said.

“It means they’re recognizing our club’s support in the community and with people,” Carrillo said. “It just gives me great pleasure that I have so many supporters in our group that work together.”

Additional award recipients were: Firefighter of the Year, Eric Sherwin; Deputy of the Year, Gerania “Geri” Navarro; Police Department Special Staff Person of the Year, Pam Balsitis; and Business of the Year, Union Bank of Hesperia.


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