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Honoring civic leaders

This week the Madera Chamber of Commerce announced its annual selection Lifetime Achievement Award recipients.

This year they are honoring Mohammad A. Arain, MD, Pastor Roger Leach, Jim Taubert and Mike Westley. The chamber also presents a posthumous award in the form of a scholarship awarded to a local high school senior. The late Virginia Lee Rose is being honored with this memorial award These people are being honored for their untold hours of volunteer service to their community.

Madera Community Hospital, affordable housing, industry and job creation, crime victims, education and the souls of Maderans have all benefited by the good works of these civic leaders. Dr. Arain has a long and distinguished career as a local physician who responds to natural disasters all around the globe. He and a group of fellow medical professionals financed medical implements and supplies to treat the victims and refugees following the December 2004 tsunami and earthquake that devastated the Indian Ocean coast. He also responded to the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal. His work with the local Sunrise Rotary club has provided hundreds of wheelchairs for people in third world countries.

Pastor Roger Leach is senior pastor and founder of Valley West Christian Center and Sherman Thomas Charter Schools. The land for the church and school were a legacy from his paternal great-uncle Sherman Thomas whose first wife was Cordelia “Leach” Thomas. His faith in the work Leach and his congregation were doing in their non-denominational church impressed Thomas. A belief in Christianity and the Bible are the only prerequisites for membership. The first 10 acre parcel designated for the church became 30 acres when Thomas deeded the adjacent 20 acres to the church. The Madera native has served on the Madera Ministerial Association and worked on the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast for many years.

Jim Taubert has devoted his career to improve and change the face of Madera through the Madera Redevelopment Agency and the successor agency to the RDA. Operated by the City of Madera code enforcement agency, this graffiti abatement program has painted over years of neglected vandalism striving to eliminate urban blight. Additionally code enforcement has worked to rid Madera of junked and abandoned cars and trucks that were hazardous and unsightly. Dilapidated buildings in the downtown area including the old Madera Theater and the former Madera Tribune building were purchased by RDA and demolished or rehabilitated making way for new commercial construction.

Together with area developers he has worked to generate affordable housing for low income families.

Mike Westley has served on some of the most important boards in Madera. He served on the City Planning Commission from 1993 to 2002. Working to bring new industry and jobs to Madera he served on the Madera County Economic Development Commission from 1999 to 2002. He was twice elected to the Madera Unified School District board from 2002 to 2010.

The late Virginia Lee Rose worked for many years for the probation department. She was named Victim Services Volunteer of the Year in 1992, 1994, 1996, and 2000. She received the Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award in 1998 and the Madera County Mental Health Appreciation Award in 2000.

The Lifetime Achievement Awards and installation dinner will be at 6 p.m., August 18, in Hatfield Hall at Madera District Fairgrounds. Tickets are $50 per person with tables of10 available. Sponsorships for the event are $750 and include a table with the balance financing the memorial scholarship.

During the event, the chamber will hold its installation of officers for the coming year. Officers are Dr. Jim Chin, retired educator (chairman of the board), Dennis Smith, GBS (vice chair), Dr. Jason Keledjian, DDS (treasurer/2nd vice chair) and Liz Salas, Central Valley Community Bank (past chair). The board of directors is comprised of Nadeem Ahmad, Sixstar; Belva Bare, Madera Cemetery District; Chuck Doud, The Madera Tribune; Tom Greci, Madera Irrigation District; Annette Kwock, Mid Valley Disposal; Emlen Miles-Mattingly, Principal Financial Advisor; Tom Mitchell, Madera District Fair; and Martin Vale, Cedar Creek.

For reservations or information, please contact the Madera Chamber of Commerce, 673-3563.

Have a great weekend.

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