“Sierra Madre Honors” Dinner Honors Volunteers, City Employees


That's George Maurer, Mary Lou Caldwell and George Maurer Award winner Gordon Caldwell

Posted 10/4/11 – The following is the text presented by Emcee Frank Hall at the Sierra Madre Honors Dinner, held at Alverno  High School on Thursday, Sept. 29th.  This was the sixth annual Honors Dinner, which recognizes community volunteers and City employees.

“Our first award, the Youth Service Award, recognizes residents ages 11 – 18 who demonstrate dedication and outstanding participation in the community. This year we have the pleasure of honoring Lydia Kerns, a senior at Pasadena High School and co-President of the Interact Board, the high school Rotary organization for youth ages 12-18.

Lydia has demonstrated her dedication to Sierra Madre by being a model citizen. She has stayed physically active as a member of the varsity swim and water polo teams, excelled academically in school, and most importantly, Lydia has sought out several leadership roles, and as Co-President of Interact, is committed to providing community service projects.

In February 2011, Lydia submitted her Rotary Ethics Essay Contest paper at the Sierra Madre Rotary Club’s weekly meeting.  Lydia’s essay analyzed ethical issues facing students enrolled in public and private high schools in the Sierra Madre area.  Rotary selected Lydia’s essay to be presented at the annual Rotary District 5300 Conference in La Jolla, on Saturday, June 11th. Rotary officials selected Lydia as the winner of the 9th annual George R. Hensel Ethics Essay contest.

In March 2011, Lydia was chosen as one of four Sierra Madre area high school juniors to receive the Rotary Youth Leadership Award.  Lydia was selected for her leadership potential and attended a weekend camp to develop and enhance her leadership skills.

This past summer Lydia spent the month of July in Quebec where she studied French in an immersion program allowing her to foster relationships both locally and internationally, to promote better understanding and cooperation. 

Lydia is a poised and articulate youthful representative of Sierra Madre.  We are proud to salute her achievements and for inspiring others.

The Wistaria Award recognizes a City/community partnership and is presented to a local business or organization whose major contributions to the City and community of Sierra Madre have demonstrated a true partnership that assists in and provides services and programs, or enhances the general welfare of the Community as a whole.

Since its founding in 1953 the Friends of the Sierra Madre Library has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours of service to make the Sierra Madre Public Library a jewel of a small independent library. Funds raised by the Friends provide for resources, programs, and services that would be unavailable on the budget that the City alone is able to provide.

Almost any visit to the library includes the use of or appreciation for something that the Friends provided which is quite an array of items. Donated funds have benefited such programs as the summer reading clubs, preschool story hour, and Traveler and Collector Series. Additionally, a variety of computer equipment, audio visual equipment, books, and resources have been purchased. And don’t forget those services such as maintenance of the library gardens, and the cleaning and organizing of the library.

Just as important, the Friends raise the funds they donate through activities that are enjoyed by many Sierra Madre and San Gabriel Valley residents. The monthly Best Used Book Sale is a great opportunity for patrons to add to their collections or purchase high-quality reading material at reasonable prices. The Wine and Cuisine Tasting and the Art Fair bring out friends and neighbors to celebrate the joy of living in Sierra Madre. Not only are these two fundraisers beneficial to the library, but to the City as a whole as they foster a sense of community in our town while providing hours of pleasure to its citizens.

We thank the Friends of the Library for assuring that Sierra Madre has a state-of-the-art library that provides high quality services, for sponsoring fundraisers that promote a sense of community, and for providing countless hours of pleasure to patrons of the Sierra Madre Library and fundraising participants.

The next award is for recognition of Public Service, otherwise known as the Employee of the Year Award.  This prestigious award is presented upon the recommendation of the City Manager to an extraordinary city employee who has represented remarkable customer and public service as well as dedication to the citizens of Sierra Madre over the course of the year.  This year the award goes to Toni Buckner outgoing Director of the Sierra Madre Public Library.

For 34 years Toni Buckner has made her mark on the Sierra Madre Public Library. She began in 1977 as a Library Assistant, was promoted to Associate Librarian of Children’s Services in 1980, and ultimately became the Director of Library Services in 1985, which she has served as for the last 26 years.

While Toni’s contributions have been countless over the years, in 2011 she brought several positive changes to the Library.  Under her leadership the Library is now a nationally recognized Family Place library for 2011. The Family Place program at the library builds on the awareness that being healthy, early learning, parental involvement and supportive communities play an essential role in young children’s growth and development.  This makes our Library a vital part of the city and place that is invaluable to the community.

Also in 2011 the Library was awarded the Eureka! Leadership grant in the amount of $5,000 which has paid for customer service training for all City of Sierra Madre employees and has fulfilled one of the City’s Strategic Plan goals–Customer Service: By Sierra Madre for Sierra Madre.

Toni has devoted endless hours to making sure the City’s website meets the highest standards suitable for the expectations of today’s technologies. She has attended workshops and has completed university courses online to enhance her knowledge regarding current and future website development and to ensure accessibility to information for the community. These efforts were completed entirely on her own, which shows her dedication to excellence and to the City of Sierra Madre.

The citizens of Sierra Madre have always been a top priority for Toni. Under her guidance the staff at the Library (along with the City’s Community Services and Personnel Dept.) was able to efficiently organize the community’s homebound program, which was created for residents of the city who are unable to leave their home. The program’s motto is “Volunteers bring the Library to you!”  Furthermore, Toni was the creative person who came up with the program’s unique name, Titles To Go. 

So as you can see, Toni Buckner is the epitome of an extraordinary city employee. If any one of her staff members were asked to describe Toni in terms of what kind of Library Director she has been, the task would be challenging in a very positive sense. There are not enough complimentary words in the dictionary to describe her leadership.

Toni’s hard work and dedication has made the Library an indispensible sector of the community and has greatly helped make the City of Sierra Madre a city with a bright future.  For years, Toni has consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty. Congratulations, Toni, on an award richly deserved.

The next award is presented annually to an individual or organization who took action to protect and maintain the safety of the community.  This year’s Public Safety Award goes to Casey Morrisey.

It was Halloween night, October 31, 2010. People in the vicinity of Sierra Madre Blvd. and Mountain Trail jammed the Police Department’s phone lines with 911 calls. A man was chasing down a woman and her child, yelling death threats to the woman.

Mr. Casey Morrisey was in the area and saw a woman and her young daughter on the west side of Mountain Trail Ave., north of Sierra Madre Blvd., and the male suspect across the street on the east side of Mountain Trail.  Casey saw the suspect run to the woman and excitedly yell in her face that he was “…going to break her neck.”  Casey realized that the woman was in imminent danger and knew that he had to intervene. He yelled to the suspect to get away from the woman.  The suspect looked at Casey, and then walked away on Sierra Madre Blvd.

Just then, a motorist dressed in a pirate’s costume had apparently seen what took place, and stopped his vehicle.  The pirate-costumed motorist got out of his car and knocked the suspect down.  The suspect fought with the pirate-costumed motorist, when Casey again intervened, pushing the suspect to the ground to help free the motorist.  Three unidentified men ran up and helped detain the suspect until police arrived. 

The woman was crying as she and her daughter ran from the scene. The pirate left the scene before police arrived, and was never identified.  The three men who helped detain the suspect also left the scene before police could identify them and get their statements.

When officers arrived, they determined that the suspect had committed felony terrorist threats against the woman, his wife.  Police arrested the suspect for terrorist threats and for violation of a court order prohibiting him from coming close to his wife.

Casey Morrisey is to be commended for his courage and willingness to stop a violent crime in progress.  He risked his own life to protect the lives of two strangers.  Mr. Morrisey could not have known that the suspect was a violent felon, and a trained boxer. Furthermore, Casey Morrisey again intervened to protect the motorist by pushing the suspect away from the motorist, after he tried to stop the suspect. Finally, Casey Morrisey chose to stay at the scene long enough to provide a statement to police, which greatly aided in the investigation and subsequent conviction for the felon.

Mr. Morrisey is a community hero and a model of citizen involvement. He exemplifies the finest example of courage and commitment when he chose to disregard his own safety to protect fellow human beings.  He deserves to be recognized and commended for his courage as well as thanked for taking swift and effective action to save another person.  We are proud of Casey Morrisey and grateful that he is a member of our Sierra Madre community.

Next, the Police Chief’s Special Award is presented to Jeannette Dabney, who has demonstrated outstanding dedication to duty and service in resolving a community law enforcement-related issue. 

Desk Officer Jeannette Dabney personifies the ideal police department employee: She is competent, compassionate, committed, and courageous. She brings joy to the Police Department and the community with her smile and positive attitude toward co-workers and the public.

Jen is frequently complimented for her kind and caring manner on the phone and in person. This attitude shined through when she dealt with a missing Bailey Canyon hiker’s father, who called from Texas to report that his son was missing. She was very compassionate and even gave the father her cell phone number in the event that he had additional questions after she finished her shift.

In April the Police Chief awarded D.O. Dabney a Departmental Commendation for excellence in handling a medical emergency.  Ms. Dabney received a 911 call from a panicked family member of a man not breathing. Jen transferred the call to fire dispatchers, but instead of hanging up, remained on the line to listen to the description of the medical condition.  As a trained firefighter, she recognized the symptoms as being consistent with that of a heart attack and immediately dispatched two officers to the scene. Jen’s commitment to community safety and her quick thinking resulted in a rapid and effective police response ultimately saving the man’s life.

Ms. Dabney is constantly looking for ways to improve the Police Department. On her own initiative, she identified the need for various resources, and created a “How To” guide for patrol officers on investigative tools, organized a document for vacation checks, designed a briefing book for patrol briefings, and put together an “Arrest Warrant” detail for patrol officers.

Ms. Dabney is consistently reliable whenever emergency staffing needs arise and has always been willing to report for duty, despite having made other plans. She effectively prepares new desk officers and dispatchers as the Department’s training officer and she has been commended for her ability to handle multiple emergencies and tasks with calmness, good judgment, promptness, and courtesy. It is truly a pleasure and an honor to have Desk Officer Jeannette Dabney as a member of the Sierra Madre Police Department.  She is a shining example of the best of Sierra Madre.

On behalf of the Chief of Police, it is with great pride that she awards Desk Officer Jeannette Dabney the Police Chief’s Special Award for her outstanding devotion to duty.

The final award this evening is presented to a person or an entity that represents a commitment to serving and volunteering, which is the true spirit of Sierra Madre, over the course of a lifetime.  The George Maurer Lifetime Service Award is an acknowledgement of significant contributions over an entire career. Its namesake, George Maurer, was first presented this award in 2006 for his selfless acts of dedication, honor and service to the community and City of Sierra Madre. Mr. Mauer spent 26 years as a volunteer firefighter and was one of the initiators of the emergency medical service in the 1970’s.  He spent 12 years on the City Council, three terms as mayor, and six years on the Planning Commission.  He chaired the Senior Housing Committee.  He also shared in a business in downtown. Mr. Maurer was a founder, and member, of the Sierra Madre Mountain Conservancy, and has also been a dedicated member of the Kiwanis Club of Sierra Madre and the Sierra Madre Rotary Club.

This year we honor Gordon Caldwell, Sierra Madre resident, businessman and distinguished volunteer, with the George Maurer Lifetime Service Award. In the true spirit of volunteering, Gordon began giving back to the community upon his arrival to Sierra Madre in 1958 by joining the Sierra Madre Volunteer Fire Department. Since then he has been involved in various organizations and devoted his time for the good of the community.

As a Kiwanis member he volunteered for the 4 am set up shift for the annual Huck Finn Fishing Derby and cranked out pancake batter by the bucketful with his famous hog hole mixer for the Kiwanis pancake breakfast. Additionally, he raised funds for the second Fire Department EMT van and Memorial Park patio structure.

For the Red Cross, Gordon served first as a disaster volunteer before devoting his time to blood drives. Three times a year he would make over 350 telephone calls in Sierra Madre to recruit blood donors. During the time that called, set-up, and entertained at blood drives more than 2,000 units of blood were collected.

As owner of GEM Plumbing he always supplied free propane to anyone who borrowed the Caldwell pancake grill as well as to all volunteer organizations, even when it meant getting out of bed at 12:30 am to refill the Rose Float Association’s fork lift tank.

On his own accord Gordon has contributed to Sierra Madre in a variety of other ways including towing the Sierra Madre Rose Float to Orange Grove for three years, resulting in a blown transmission; soliciting donations of money, material, and labor for the Memorial Park light pole; chairing the 1996 Wistaria Festival without complications; writing the first check for the emergency radio station; and all the extra lifting, hauling, hoisting and dragging he did for any Sierra Madre event.

Many years have passed since 1958, and at 87 Gordon can no longer lift, haul, hoist, and drag the way he did then, but that does not mean he has given up. He still cannot say no when he is asked to help, which leads to his next volunteer project: the Neighborhood Watch Program. He truly loves Sierra Madre, and considers volunteering everyone’s responsibility.

It is with the utmost honor that we present the George Maurer Lifetime Service Award tonight in recognition of a body of work of a dedicated community volunteer to Gordon Caldwell.”