Tonight’s Auburn Chamber of Commerce State of the Community Dinner honors a select group who make our community a much better place to live, work and play. In good economic times and bad, no matter how tough the going gets, there are thankfully those among us who will take the lead and show us the pathway to success. Some common traits among the winners are the willingness to put others interests before their own, and to put the community first. Along with short speeches on the state of the city, county and business community, some very giving and worthy people, groups and businesses will be honored for their leadership and volunteerism. Today the Auburn Journal concludes its series on the award winners who will be recognized tonight. It’s important that not only the few hundred who are able to attend learn about what these selfless individuals are doing to improve life in our community, but it’s also critical for all Journal print and online readers to see who is working so hard to improve life for everyone. Following are the 2011 winners: City Employee of The Year: Megan Siren. This dynamic lady organizes the city’s bus transportation, writes grants, put on successful pharmaceutical take-back events and more. She even facilitated the giving of one city bus to The Gathering Inn to help the area’s homeless. County Employee of The Year: Brett Storey. For five years Storey has led the effort to build a biomass facility in Placer County, which will utilize forest fuels, keeping us safer from fire danger and keeping our forests healthier while creating clean, green energy. He has led a collaboration of government and private enterprise to see this innovative project come together. Community 1st Award: Boys & Girls Club of Auburn. The club provides a safe haven for hundreds of children where they get help with homework, work and play together with positive role models and even give back to their community. Cultural Award: Sue Dings. She has served in voluntary leadership positions with Auburn Art Walk, the Auburn Arts Commission, Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center, the Community Concert Series and Auburn Symphony. She is truly a cultural icon. ARD Friend of Recreation: Todd Peek: Peek has volunteered countless hours and much of his own money as president of both the Placer High Football Boosters Club and Placer Junior Hillmen programs. Educator of The Year: Gary Pantaleoni. The longtime Placer High vice principal started his positive influence on students in 1975. Since then he has contributed to the lives of thousands of teenagers in our community. He has been an art teacher, swimming and wrestling coach and the main disciplinarian at Placer High since 1997. He has always done his job with compassion and a quick smile. Friend of Agriculture: Pat and Pete Enochs. The owners of Latitudes restaurant feature a diversity of locally grown fruits, vegetables and wines. They not only support the farmers in the area year-round, but they are growers themselves. They live and breathe “Placer grown.” Healthcare Award: Wes Fain. Fain served as the pharmacist at Auburn Faith Hospital when it opened in the 1960’s until he retired in 1992. For his dedication and commitment to the hospital’s success, Fain was chosen for the prestigious honor. Business of The Year: Eisley Nursery. The Eisley family has been serving Auburn since the 1930’s. They are known for outstanding customer service and for giving back to the community. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable. Many patrons enjoy free popcorn while they shop, but good value and a positive community spirit keep them coming back. Vernon Gould McCann Award: Bob Snyder. Snyder earned Auburn’s highest honor, its citizen-of-the-year recognition for his ongoing, zealous community work. Snyder leads by doing. He has served as a leader in each Project Auburn, he led the monument sign effort and helped renovate the Chamber of Commerce building and sign upgrades. He was instrumental in bringing Leadership Auburn to town. Snyder has served on the City Council, Planning Commission and as mayor. When chamber executive Bruce Cosgrove had to be out for a while, Snyder volunteered to take the CEO position for zero pay. He helped lead the canyon brush-clearing effort saving neighborhoods from fire danger and much more. He always thinks Auburn first. Why this is important: Though the economy will go up and down. Though our community will often face adversity. Through good times and tough hauls, our quality of life will always be dependent on the creative efforts of our super-volunteers — our spiritual leaders. We salute all of this year’s worthy honorees.