Lori Sparger, who helped launch Brighter Christmas 27 years ago, and Dan Bilbrey, mayor of Tracy for 12 years, were announced as Tracy’s citizens of the year at a Tracy Chamber of Commerce press conference Friday.
A committee made of former award recipients received nominations for each category and met to select a male citizen, female citizen, professional, organization, business, entrepreneur and ambassador of the year.
The process wasn’t an easy one, said Terry Langley, a committee member and former citizen of the year.
“That’s really a good thing,” he said. “The community is best served when our job is difficult.”
Sparger, Female Citizen of the Year, is a director of Brighter Christmas, a holiday charity that gives gifts and food baskets to families in Tracy.
“I love doing projects that work well and have a great result,” Sparger said. “I especially like to be in the background, making sure it all works well together.”
Several community members nominated Male Citizen of the Year Dan Bilbrey for his efforts to ensure a healthy and prosperous community throughout his tenure as mayor and councilman.
“Having been around Tracy for a while, I’ve seen the (award) recipients set a high bar,” said Bilbrey, who stepped down as mayor Tuesday. “I’m surprised and grateful.”
Jim Franco, superintendent of Tracy Unified School District, received the award for Professional of the Year for his leadership in the district and his perseverance successfully supporting the $51 million Measure E bond, which was passed in June by Tracy voters.
The Tracy Boys
Girls Clubs received the award for Organization of the Year. For nearly 20 years, the club has offered after-school program activities in Tracy that focus on character development, education, life skills, arts, sports and fitness. The club, led by director Kelly Wilson, serves more than 1,600 local youth every year at four different locations.
Community Banks of Northern California earned the Business of the Year award for its contributions to the community since opening in 1983. The bank has supported numerous Tracy nonprofit organizations and service clubs.
“When you’re a community bank, you have a responsibility to the community,” president and CEO Tom Havens said. Community Bank’s Jeff Hushaw accepted the award with Havens.
San Joaquin Magazine publisher Tony Zoccoli was named the Entrepreneur of the Year for his ability to create a successful enterprise. Zoccoli, who moved to Tracy 13 years ago, launched Inside Tracy Magazine, now San Joaquin Magazine, in 2002.
The committee voted Lynda Mendoza as Ambassador of the Year. Only a yearlong member of the Ambassador Group, Mendoza recruited several new businesses to join the chamber.
The winners will be honored at the Chamber of Commerce’s Winter Gala next month.
To contact reporter Danielle MacMurchy, call 830-4280 or e-mail email@example.com.