In a press conference, John Ryan and Mercedes “Mercy” Silveira were announced as the citizens of the year, based on contributions they’ve made to the community.
Ryan, who was St. Bernard’s Catholic Church’s first deacon, has lived in Tracy for 51 years and was one of the founders of Tracy Interfaith Ministries. He recently retired as St. Bernard’s deacon but remains active with Tracy Interfaith as the interim chairman of its board of directors.
Silveira moved to the United States from Mexico in 1963 and has been a volunteer since 1972. Throughout her life, she has helped out a plethora of groups, such as the Tracy Arts Commission, the United Way Tracy Center, the Latino Youth Conference, Brighter Christmas and the Mexican Heritage Center, among many others.
“I just could not believe it,” said Silveira, who said she found out about her award after “doing time” as a volunteer inmate at the Brighter Christmas Jail and Bail fundraiser this week. “The motivation comes from seeing the need that there is in the community.”
Sutter Tracy Community Hospital earned the organization of the year honor for its Healthy Connections Resource Center and the Tracy Hospital Foundation, which offers free health screenings and support groups.
Kim Scarlata, Tracy’s recreation supervisor, was named professional of the year. Scarlata has twice been the city’s employee of the month and has been instrumental in the Downtown Wine Stroll and holiday parades.
The entrepreneur of the year is Larry Benson, owner of Nationwide Insurance — Larry Benson Agency. He and his wife, Debi Crawford, opened the business in 2006.
“I would say that it’s truly an honor and a privilege to even be nominated and quite a surprise to be selected,” Benson said. “The real credit should go to my wife, who got me involved in this business.”
Virna Hudson, who owns Fresh Coat Painters, was named ambassador of the year. Hudson is an ambassador to the chamber with the Tracy Hispanic Business Group and has been involved in several local events.
The business of the year is Windmill Ridge Winery, owned by Bill and Stephanie Prioste.
Award winners will be feted at the 2010 Winter Gala on Feb. 5 at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts, 715 Central Ave. Tickets are $35.
For details: Chamber of Commerce, 835-2131.