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Jan Jernigan earns Citizen of the Year award

October 8, 2018

NEEDLES — Jan Jernigan earned the Citizen of the Year award presented by the Needles Chamber of Commerce at its annual awards banquet Oct. 6.

With the theme ‘A Party to Die For,’ the event stressed the importance of and appreciation for the countless hours of work local residents put into the city over the course of a year. Chamber Director Eileen Hartwick, in closing remarks, gave a counterpoint to the party theme: that Needles is not dead, will not die, and that with support, encouragement and a willingness to transcend personalities and work for a common cause the city will grow and prosper.

Jernigan, a Needles native, was lauded for her many roles in the community over the years. Chamber President Mary Gonzales, presenting the award, concluded: “One can agree that with Jan’s passion, tenacity and exceptional leadership Needles is truly a better place.”

The DeAtley family, owners of the multi-generational DECO Food Service, earned the award for Business of the Year. Since purchasing what was Needles Cold Storage in 1975, DECO has grown to supply restaurants, casinos, grocery stores, schools and other venues throughout the Tri-state.

Altar server, coach, umpire, perennial special event worker and a fixture on the chain crew at Mustangs football games, Jose M. Garcia earned the Volunteer of the Year award. The 2018 recipient of the San Bernardino Diocese Guadalupe Award is also the newest member of the board of directors of Needles’ chapter of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul where he also works distributing such things as food boxes, clothing, fuel, and hotel vouchers to people in need.

Needles Unified School District Superintendent Mary McNeil, Ph.D., pointed out the importance of all the district’s workers in educating the children of the community; announcing that bus driver Norma Bunton earned the Educator of the Year award. The first school worker many students see in the morning and the last they see at night also spends quality volunteer time with students of all ages performing in the Bluenotes jazz ensemble and the Needles High School Band and working with children at Needles’ Assembly of God Church.

The event was once again held in the pro shop and cart facility of River’s Edge Golf Course; dinner was catered by the 19th Hole Bar and Grill at the municipally-owned course.

Read about the event and the award recipients in Wednesday’s print edition of the Needles Desert Star.

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