Chamber honors business, community leaders

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Chamber honors business, community leadersMembers and guests of the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce honored community achievers and incoming leadership at its annual installation and awards ceremony, held Tuesday at SpringHill Suites.

In addition to the routine swearing-in and recognitions, outgoing chair Janis Bottorff chose to bestow a seldom-appropriated Chairman’s Award to the Ridgecrest Musical Enrichment Society for their commitment to supporting performing arts education in our local schools.

“For years I’ve been going to see plays at Burroughs that were put on by what I had just assumed was the Cosner family,” said Bottorff. “Apparently I never noticed who was putting on the shows.

“I knew they donated a lot of money to music programs in the middle and high schools, and I knew that number kept climbing. Now it’s more than $120,000. So this year, I knew right away who I wanted to recognize — I just needed to figure out who they were!”

In 2009, when devastating budget cuts were rolled out to California schools, alumni of local performing programs — including founding chair Ryan Loewen and current chair Kevin Anderson — decided to form an organization that could fill in that growing void.

That small board has grown to a regular group of performers and supporters to collaborate each year to provide high-quality entertainment, performance opportunities for local youth, and money to augment classroom opportunities.

Anderson was joined by other founding members, Larry and Marla Cosner, to receive the award.

Mike Cash was also recognized for his contributions to the community. “I have to confess, the person I’m going to ask to come up here is a friend,” said incoming chair Debbie Benson, who then invited Cash to the podium.

“Mike is one of those guys that sees something, focuses on it and gets it done,” she said.

In the early 2000s, when Cash learned about the mounting needs of injured veterans and their families, he began researching a cause to donate to — only to find that none existed. He launched Operation Family Fund, which has raised millions of dollars to help thousands of families.

This year, when the Blue Angels came to China Lake, Cash stepped in to sponsor the event in order to increase access to the public, and to promote the cause of his veterans-serving organization.

“Anyone who enjoyed the Blue Angels can thank Mike for the time he spent working on that event,” said Benson.

The Youth Award was given to Allison Kleidon, a 2017 graduate of Burroughs High School who will be attending West Point in the fall. “Being from a military town, we are very proud of her achievements,” said BHS Principal Bryan Auld. “It’s pretty rare for us to get a military academy appointee — one maybe every few years. I’m certain she will do well.”

Other award winners include:

• Jinny DeAngelis of Desert Area Resources and Training, Ambassador of the Year

• Arzell Hale of Searles Valley Minerals, Business Person of the Year

• Bernie Mondragon of Bernie’s Landscaping, Young Entrepreneur

• Riley Burgess of Ridge Project, Volunteer of the Year

• Ridgecrest Median Art Committee, Beautification

• Bill and Audrey Campbell, Services to Seniors

• Bob Boland of Alta One Federal Credit Union, Lifetime Achievement

Pictured: Kevin Anderson and Marla and Larry Cosner accept the “Chairman’s Award” on behalf of RMES. -- Photo by Rebecca Neipp

Story First Published: 2017-06-16