Ceres Chamber honors Delhart’s Furniture, Blaker Brewing, Ramon Mendez
BY JEFF BENZIGER
Ken Lane’s many years of community service earned him the honor of being named “Citizen of the Year” at the 50th Annual Community Service Awards banquet hosted by the Ceres Chamber of Commerce.
Lane was introduced by former Citizen of the Year Becki Nicholes at the event, held at the Ceres Community Center.
He was cited for his countless hours devoted to community causes and committees. In his earlier years Lane gave a lot of time to serving on the board and as president of the Ceres Falcons youth football program board of directors. Through membership in the Arrowhead Club, Ken helps provide scholarships and athletic activities. He has been an active member of the Ceres Lions Club which routinely raises funds for the Ceres community and he has served on committees which have assisted in the Ceres Street Faire and the annual Crab Feed. He also has helped with parking at the Stanislaus County Fair to bring financial support to Ceres youth.
Lane also puts in many long hours of manual labor to maintain the historic Daniel Whitmore Home. He and the committee helped raise over $10,000 in donations for the recent painting and home improvements. Lane also helped build a garage at the Daniel Whitmore Home.
Lane served on the Ceres Planning Commission from 1999 to 2004 when he was elected to the City Council. He was re-elected in 2009 and in 2013 and retired last month.
Lane was born to Elvis and Faye Lane, and raised in Ceres. His community service has included service on the Measure J Committee which helped pass school bonds to build Central Valley High School. He has been employed with MoCal Office Systems in Modesto.
He served on the League of California Cities’ board of directors from 2012 to 2018. He was also the League’s Central Division president from 2011 to 2012. Lane also played Santa with his wife Yvette as Mrs. Claus at the Ceres Christmas Festival.
“I love this community,” Lane said as he received the award, “and I served it to the best of my ability for 20 years as a public official and an elected official and it’s always been an honor.”
Other nominees for the honor were Herb Henry, Scott Siegel and Mike Welsh.
Downtown Business feted
The Chamber bestowed its “Downtown Business of the Year” award on Delhart’s Home Furnishings. Former Mayor Jim Delhart accepted the award.
The award is given to the business that has one or more of the following characteristics: growth for job creation and revenue, proven exemplary customer service, involvement in the Ceres community and demonstrative of supporting the Ceres economy.
Delhart has operated his furniture businesses in Ceres for 63 years “in good times and in bad,” noted presenter and Chamber director Brandy Meyer.
“Jim will tell you when times were tough he adjusted his prices to reflect the tough economy. When times were good he still offered the best prices in town for furniture. But what he may not tell you is that in both good times and bad he prayed a lot – he prayed for our community.”
The former mayor and councilman has supported Teen Challenge and local sober living houses for men, often employing them for deliveries and general labor.
Meyer also thanked Delhart for improving downtown through façade improvements still underway on Fourth Street buildings he owns.
“Without the blessings of God in my life, I would be nothing, but God said I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” said Delhart. He joked that someone who drove by the store spotted him and didn’t recognize him because he didn’t have a mattress on his head.
Delhart said while he lost his wife 13 months he still has his “best friend Jesus.”
“I’m not slowing down. In fact, I’m gonna speed up because I don’t have much time left so I’ve got to do all I can do in the time. I’m 83 years old but God has blessed me to no end.”
He thanked the Ceres community supporting him for 63 years.
Ceres Dry Cleaners was also considered for the award.
Business of the Year
Blaker Brewing was bestowed with the “Business of the Year” honor.
Blaker Brewing, located at 1063 Montclaire Drive, Ceres, celebrated its first year of its craft brewery in Ceres.
“Tom Lucas and Don Clark had the foresight to restructure a long-time family dairy business that in today’s world is faced with many challenges,” said presenter and Chamber Vice President Shella Joiner.
“Blaker Brewing has demonstrated a strong and successful path to developing working relationships with other Ceres businesses by providing distribution to our local stores and restaurants. Blaker Brewing has also voluntarily contributed to many activities throughout Ceres and the county to benefit local non-profits, fundraising events and service clubs.”
Blaker Brewing continues to experience revenue growth and expansion, and soon plans to open a second location in Atwater.
Tom Lucas thanked his supportive wife for standing by his side, and his father who decided to go with his plans to branch out from the family farm based operation. He also thanked his employees and the Chamber.
“We love that Ceres is where we brought our business,” said Lucas. “I hope to get more of you. It’s an awesome community; it is unlike any other.”
Luxury Limousine and Supermom’s Frozen Yogurt & More were also nominated for the award.
The Legacy award, designated for individuals and/or businesses that have contributed through service, support or volunteer efforts to the Ceres community for more than 40 years, was given to GDR Engineering. Also nominated was Stuart David Fine Furniture.
Paul Huckaba of Bronco Wine Company presented the award and said the locally-owned business has helped shape the Ceres community and Valley. GDR Engineering opened its doors in 1978 and has provided extensive engineering services for both private and public projects. Private projects have ranged from residential development of all sizes, to large commercial and industrial business parks. Additionally, GDR has engineered many public works projects ranging from small road projects to large infrastructure studies and city master plans.
Their experience and expertise in the industry has allowed GDR to develop strong working relationships with local municipalities, as well as small and large developers.
Founders Larry Lew and Max Garcia accepted the award.
“It’s great and the firm is going to be here to serve the area forever,” said Lew, a former city manager and city engineer.