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City's Top Annual Awards Given
Retired Riverbank teacher Paulette Roberson, who is now a devoted volunteer worker for the city's Historical Society museum, was named Citizen of the Year; Riverbank High School senior Lisette Reyes chosen Youth of the Year and O'Brien's Market designated Business of the Year at the Community Awards Banquet on Saturday.

"I am so honored to be selected as Riverbank's Citizen of the Year." said Roberson in her acceptance speech. "I told all my friends - You know how people say 'It's just an honor to be nominated.' Well, I really feel that way. What an honor to be considered and what an honor to win."

Roberson was feted at the evening banquet and said she is happy to add what she can to the community.

"Let me tell you why I love Riverbank. Riverbank has paid my bills for 40-plus years. I taught school here for 40 years," she pointed out. "I had a job that I loved. Not many people can say that they have gone to a job that they absolutely loved for 40 years."

Upwards of a hundred people attended the annual event that the Man of the Year/Citizen of the Year club started in 1962 to recognize someone who either lives or works in the city and contributes the most to the community in volunteer work. The club is made up of previous winners and chooses the Citizen of the Year and Youth of the Year by ballot among its members.

The local Chamber of Commerce solicits nominations and chooses the Business of the Year by a vote of its members.

Nominees for the year 2011 were Steve Lawson, Daren Martin, Dotty Nygard and Roberson for the Citizen of the Year; Courtney Floyd, Leroy Sterling and Reyes for Youth of the Year; and Curves for Women, Karate for Kids and O'Brien's Market for Business of the Year.

The 2010 Citizen of the Year Ric McGinnis acted as master of ceremonies and presented the 2011 awards, while 2010 business award recipient Daryl Daniel and Chamber of Commerce president Jerry VanHouten presented the business award.

Cadets of the Riverbank High Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps presented the colors, L. and M. Blodgett Catering and RHS Bruin Bistro Catering provided the meal and desserts, and former Citizen of the Year winners Gary Vernon and Scott Pettit conducted the various prize drawings.

Guests handing out additional plaques included Stanislaus County Supervisor Bill O'Brien, Paul Zeek representing Assembly Member Kristin Olsen's office, Patricia O'Brien for Senator Tom Berryhill and Daron McDaniel for Congressman Jeff Denham.

"Some of you might not know that my husband also taught here in Riverbank for his working years," Roberson continued in her address. "So, Riverbank really did support us. So, when I retired three years ago I went looking for some way to "give back" to Riverbank. I thought what I think I'll do is join the Riverbank Historical Society and spend one day a week as a docent at the museum ... then it became two days a week, then I got involved with the artifacts and the photographs, and all the history of Riverbank I did not know, and I saw some things that could be done in the museum."

Roberson said she recruited some friends to help with the various museum projects, including Mary Banda, Judie Hardie and Etta McHaney.

"Without these three ladies I think I would have given up," noted Roberson. "I also received help and encouragement from the members of the Riverbank Historical Society."

She listed several of her 'heroes' in the society, those that have helped her along.