Lindsay to honor annual award recipients this Saturday

Lindsay Chamber holds awards banquet Feb. 2 at Lindsay Memorial Building


LINDSAY – What was once a way to honor a man, a woman and a business who have given their time generously to the community, has blossomed into including local organizations, top high school students, volunteers, great workers, hometown heroes, and those who have beautified their spot in town recognition. This year’s honorees in Lindsay include the following people and businesses.

Man, Woman and Business of the Year

Tulare County native Gary Meling has been named Lindsay’s Man of the Year. He is a founding member of the Lindsay Museum and Gallery, and the Fire Museum. He’s a member of his family’s fourth generation in Lindsay, which has nearly a century of experience in the local citrus industry. Meling has always been active in local community events, is a member of the Lindsay Kiwanis Cub and serves on the board for Lindsay Senior Housing.

Frances Bower moved to Lindsay 21 years ago with her husband, Henry. Because of her commitment to the community, she has been named Lindsay’s Woman of the Year. Despite raising 10 children of her own, Bower has found time to help others by serving food to the needy, and to promoting and participating in local events such as the Kingdom Celebration, the Harvest Celebration, the Christmas Parade, and the Posada to name a few. She is president of The Spirit, a non-profit ministry, a member of the Bride Kingdom Coalition, and the lead pastor at Dalet Church.

Primo’s Tacos on Hermosa St. is Lindsay’s Business of the Year. Current ownership took over the company in 2013 and has continued to move the business forward within the community. They have participated in and supported Lindsay’s Farmers Market for years, and actively participate in the annual Menudo and Pozole Cook-Off. The restaurant supports local schools and events, through participating in raffles and give-a-ways.

New business and lifetime achievements

The New Business of the Year is the Chop Shop Barber Shop, a full service barbershop offering haircuts, shaves, facials, and waxing. Owner Bryan Gonzalez has loved the hair business since he was a teen. Through his hard work and support of his wife, Gonzalez was able to purchase the old Tivoli Building on Sweetbriar. Five barbers serve the community six days a week at the shop. As a member of the chamber, the Chop Shop Barber Shop generously donates gift baskets and gift certificates to chamber events.

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Teresa Serna, a 35-year employee of the former Lindsay District Hospital who worked at the hospital until the day it closed. Serna worked as a nursery assistant and helped welcome many of Lindsay’s children into the world.

“If you like the people you work with, it’s a joyous place and certainly worthwhile,” she has said.

Serna remains an active part of the Lindsay District Hospital Guild.

Adriana Nave has been named Lindsay’s Citizen of the Year. A native to the city, Nave applied at the Lindsay Department of Public Safety in 2009 after completing her studies at the College of Sequoias Police Academy. She was hired and quickly cross-trained to become a firefighter as well, having served the local community as a dual-officer for the past eight years.

Active in the community, Nave in a member of the local PTO, attends monthly local Helping One Woman dinners, and helps with local events including the annual Chili Cook-off.

Organizations, top employee, and beautification

This year’s Organization of the Year is the Tulare County Viejitos Car Club. A part of the worldwide Viejitos Car Club, the Tulare County chapter formed about a decade ago. The organization, and local chapter, strongly believe that family comes first and as such the club generously donates from its various fundraising activities to the Lindsay Healthy Start Family Resource Center. The Tulare County Chapter has partnered with the Lindsay Chamber to organize the annual Menudo and Pozole Cook-off.

Rosa Aguilar, a Chamber employee, will receive the Employee of the Year award. As a Mexican immigrant, Aguilar was raised in Lindsay from the age of 10. She has worked for the Chamber since her externship through Proteus in 2015. Outside of her normal Chamber duties, Aguilar donates many hours to the community for the annual Awards Banquet, the Baked Potato Sale, Beer Fest, the Car Show, the Christmas Parade, and Concerts at the McDermont. She also spends time with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance donating her time every year in helping others.

The Presidential Award this year goes to Becky Morillo, a Woodlake native who moved to Lindsay upon marrying her husband, Art, in 1964. In 1973, Morillo began her work as an aide, and then a community aide, assisting families in need to locate proper agency support and helping with the paperwork. Upon her retirement, Morillo continues to help by assisting in the local schools, currently as a safety monitor.

This year’s Beautification Award will be given to Lindsay Tire and Auto Care Center. Formerly in business at a site across from City Hall, owner Alex Mejia jumped at the chance to take over the facility of Mike Butler’s Garage in 2018 upon Butler’s retirement. Mejia spruced up the location with a new paint job and then updating the equipment to better serve his customers. The Auto Care Center has recently received its California license to perform smog checks, and will be adding that to its list of services in February.

Recognizing youth

A senior at Lindsay High School, Noah Gutierrez is this year’s Male Youth of the Year. He is a member of many high school clubs including Key Club, Not Ashamed, and the Engineering Club. He has participated in community outreach through the New Life Assembly of God. Gutierrez plans on attending Evangel University to study nursing. He would like, someday, to become a missionary travelling to Third World countries to apply his learned skills

McKalie Caesar is Female Youth of the Year. A senior with a 3.9 GPA, Caesar is not only a scholar participating in the Spanish National Honors Society, Team Empower (Lindsay Leads), the Block L President and the Associate Student Body (ASB), but is a sports star not to be reckoned with. This spring she’ll earn her 11th Varsity Letter. She’s earned a lot of titles including 1st Team All-State honors in Cross Country and 1st Team ESL League Honors, five-time MVP and varsity basketball’s “Offensive Player of the Year.” Her personal motto is “Champions are made in practice.”

Caesar plans on studying linguistics in college and hopes to return to the Lindsay School District as a speech pathologist. She may just want to become a track and field and/or basketball coach as well.

Lifetime award, top volunteer, recognizing spirit 

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Dennis Hylton. Raised in Lindsay, Hylton returned after living in L.A., Indianapolis, Denver, and Fresno. The CPA and father of two, has been married to his high school sweetheart for 46 years. He is an active member of Kiwanis, and took part in establishing a new “L” on the hillside above the city. He has also been a part of numerous tree planting projects, pancake flipping events, and scholarship programs for Lindsay High grads. 

Most recently, Hylton has served as chair to a community assessment committee with a dedication to improve city parks and attempting to bring Lindsay residents into ownership status of them.

Arturo Soto is named Volunteer of the Year for 2018. A Lindsay native, Soto has been president of the Foothill Rotary Club of Lindsay for the past two years. His contributions to the community include hosting a Chamber mixer recognizing veterans, Thanksgiving Giving Back to the Community offering free turkey dinners to families in need, Christmas Pancake Breakfast, working the Orange Blossom Festival booth, participating in Lindsay Health Start Health Fair, and volunteering in Que’n for Kids Rib Cook-Off. Soto is also a part of the Rotary Club’s Interact Club at Lindsay High which includes about 50 students.

The American Spirit-Hometown Hero Award goes to Francis Gum this year. A resident of Lindsay since the 1950s, Gum worked as a laboratory scientist for Sierra View District Hospital. He did not retire until the age of 84. He has been a local Kiwanis member for several decades, and was actively involved in the Lindsay Skimmers having served as president. 

As his sons became active in Scouting, so did Gum, serving as Cub Scout Master and Boy Scout Master. He was recognized with Scouting’s Order of the Arrow award for his participation. When his boys were in high school and played football, he helped out with the team. He has been an active part of the community through its schools, sports teams, and Kiwanis for more than 60 years.

This year’s Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet will be held Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Lindsay Veteran’s Memorial Building. For more information contact the Chamber at 559-562-4929.

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