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Awards Banquet Honors Outstanding Service
An awards banquet on Saturday recognized the Citizen of the Year, Youth of the Year and Business of the Year for 2012. The MOY/COY Committee hosted the event at the Riverbank Community Center commemorating the Fifty Years of Volunteers who have served the residents of Riverbank since Bruce Blakely was named the first Man of the Year in 1962.

A number of years later, the organization began including women and the title became Citizen of the Year, evolving into the Man of the Year/Citizen of the Year committee, or MOY/COY. Several years saw two citizens honored. The committee consists of past citizens of the year, is a not-for-profit organization and raises funds to provide scholarships for its Youth of the Year selectees.

The Citizen of the Year for 2012 was Darlene Barber-Martinez, recently elected city council member. She was recognized for her volunteer efforts in several community activities. They include participation in the Senior Meals on Wheels program, Love Riverbank and Sam Jackson Clean-up Day in Riverbank.

She has been active in National Night Out for Neighborhood Watch, the Afterschool National Lights On program and has read "Cat in the Hat" for the Read Across America project in Riverbank Elementary Schools.

Prior to running for the city council seat, Barber-Martinez served on the Riverbank Budget Committee and the LRA Community Advisory Committee, and she has participated in Beyond Earth Day, Relay For Life and Bark for Life.

Also nominated were Robert Cain, Liza Martinez and Wendy Miller.

The committee named Denise Clayton, a senior at Riverbank High School, as Youth of the Year for 2012. She was recognized for her volunteer efforts with the community toy drives, at the Haunted Hayride in Jacob Myers Park, the Community Christmas Parade and Festival, and community food drives. She also has worked on the Rabbit Run and Turkey Trot events for the Riverbank Recreation Department.

Clayton also has been active in NJROTC fundraisers and is an officer in the high school navy junior reserve unit.

Also nominated for Youth of the Year were Ethan Lang, Jacqueline Hernandez, Trey Jones and Kenny Veliz. All are students at Riverbank High School.

It was announced that this year the MOY/COY Committee would be awarding scholarships to each nominee.

Business of the Year was awarded to Jerry G. Van Houten, American Asset & Wealth Management, in Riverbank. Scott Pettit, board member of the Riverbank Chamber of Commerce, presented the plaque. Van Houten also received a plaque presented by Mayor Richard O'Brien for the City of Riverbank. The Business of the Year is selected by the Chamber and is presented at the annual banquet. Riverbank Jack-in-the-Box and Riverbank Sno-White Drive-In were also nominated.