Community award winners announced |

Community award winners announced

by Scott Neuffer and Kurt HildebrandStaff Writers

Both familiar and less familiar faces throughout Carson Valley are being recognized this month as part of the 2012 Commmunty Awards series. A panel from the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerece and The Record-Courier convened earlier this week to determine winners in five categories. The individuals and organizations were selected from nomination forms filled out by readers. Bill Henderson, sales and community relations veteran of the Carson Valley Inn, was named citizen of the year. “I was surprised,” he said. “I don’t think I do anything out of the ordinary. I do what I do because it’s being part of a community.”The Minden resident has worked at CVI since 1985. He said his efforts in the community are possible for two reasons:“My very understanding and patient wife, and a very supportive and community-minded owner and management at CVI,” he said. In his nomination, Douglas County Sheriff Capt. David Aymami said Henderson works hard for the community both with CVI and as a citizen.“He donates numerous personal hours as a member of community-based boards,” he said. “For the sheriff’s office, he assists with sponsoring training and is a board member for the Sheriff’s Advisory Council.”Henderson also serves on the chamber and visitors authority boards and is past president of Minden Rotary.“Through CVI, I’ve been involved with a lot of projects,” he said. “But it’s just part of my job.”Hamdogs, the long-standing eatery in south Gardnerville, was named business of the year.“I’m shocked,” said owner and Gardnerville resident Greg Sayabalian. “We’ve been in business 19 years, so it’s nice to hear that people actually consider us that way. I’m really impressed.”The news is especially comforting given that Sayabalian considered closing the restaurant three years ago. “We almost closed. We took it on the chin for about eight to 10 months,” he said. “But I didn’t want to put 17 people out of work.”Sayabalian and his staff stuck to their guns.“We’re trying to keep our prices low and competitive at all times,” he said. “People like our food, and we try to keep a family atmosphere.”The nomination for Hamdogs said the restaurant “consistently donates food for local fundraising events and participates in events to draw additional supporters.”“We try to be part of the community and help people out,” Sayabalian said. “We do our best. It’s a hard time for everybody right now, but if someone comes to our door asking for a donation for a local charity, we definitely help them.”Dawn Ripper, a medical assistant at Carson Valley Medical Center, was named employee of the year. “I can’t believe it,” said the Minden resident. “I wasn’t expecting anything.”Ripper has worked at CVMC since 2006.“She provides a vital service as the medical assistant to Dr. Soon Kim, general surgeon,” hospital spokesperson Shannon Albert said in her nomination. “Together, Dawn and Dr. Kim save lives, which makes her pretty amazing already.”Ripper said she performs patient prep and post-op wound care.“I stay pretty busy,” she said. “I have really good rapport with all patients, and that’s part of being in a small community.”Albert said Ripper went above and beyond her duties by spearheading the hospital’s garden project on unused land beside the facility. Flowers and produce from the garden are used not only in the hospital, but in Merrill Gardens next door. “Dawn stepped forward and made this project happen,” Albert explained. “It was something that was not in her job description nor did it benefit her personally. She was able to see the impact it would have on our organization and our community and used her passion as a gardener and took this project on.”Ripper said the project wouldn’t have come to fruition without help from others.“We had such an outpouring from businesses, and donations from employees of the hospital. We couldn’t have done it without them,” Ripper said. “That’s why this project has meant so much to so many people. It’s brought people together.”Volunteer of the year Dave Rich is hosting a charity function at his house on the night of the chamber awards.The seven-year resident of Carson Valley is active in Rotary, Sertoma, the Genoa Cowboy Music Festival, Back Country Horseman and the Kids Community. “I like to be involved, I like a nice community, and if I don’t like something and want to change it, I step up to the plate,” he said.Rich and wife, Ruth, have been married for 43 years. The Marine Corps veteran retired as assistant superintendent in California’s Antelope Valley School District.In addition to his regular functions, he recently put on the Tahoe Film Festival at the CVIC Hall in Minden as a fundraiser for the Carson Valley Arts Council.“I encouarge people to get involved,” he said. “You should step up there and take an active role in the community. If everyone got involved, things here would be even better.”Rich was nominated by Fran Pritchard.Carson Valley Kiwanis, named service club of the year, will celebrate its 85th birthday on Dec. 8Kiwanis President Gary Dove said the organization awards seven scholarships for Douglas High and 4-H students every year.In addition to the schools, Kiwanis supports the Carson Valley Food Closet, City of Refuge, Boys & Girls Club, Kiwanis Key Club at DHS, Suicide Prevention Network, Kids Fishing Derby and the Kiwanis Family House located in Sacramento. Fundraisers during the course of the year include the upcoming turkey and ham bingo events, and the football pool books.The club has participated in Project Santa Claus by collecting bicycles to be reconditioned at China Spring Youth Camp. Since the club started participating in 1993, more than 2,000 bicycles have been given away as part of the program. In 2011, 166 children received new and re-conditioned bicycles.Last year, Kiwanis became the stewards for Project Santa Claus, administering the event.“It is important that I acknowledge this is a community project and we are the administrator’s,” Dove said. “What I mean is this — we cannot do it by ourselves. We need all the service clubs and the community to help. Last year over 350 families and 800 children were served.”Community Award winners will be honored at a gala dinner Saturday at Carson Valley Inn in Minden.The Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Authority and The Record-Courier are sponsoring the event, along with Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare and Nevada State Bank.Dinner tickets may be purchased from the chamber for $65 per person. For more information, call 782-8144, or email