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Phil Reynders has cared so deeply about preserving Ceres' history that he's devoted thousands of hours to the establishment of a town museum. For his efforts, he was named Citizen of the Year.

Reynders, 78, received the honor at Saturday evening's 39th annual Ceres Chamber of Commerce Installation and Awards Dinner. He was nominated by Roger and Ruth Strange.

A Ceres resident since 1947, Reynders was instrumental in establishing the Ceres Historical Museum on the grounds of the Daniel Whitmore House on Fifth Street.

In 1980s Reynders served on the Ceres Preservation Committee, a group that spurred the city in purchasing and restoring Ceres' first residence, the Daniel Whitmore Home. He also served on the Ceres Community Foundation Committee which solicited money for an attempted purchase of the Clinton Whitmore Mansion which subsequently went into private hands. Most of the funds were redirected the purchase of a double-wide mobile unit which is now Ceres Historical Museum.

After the shell was brought in last year, Reynders helped to design and fill the museum with displays of memorabilia of Ceres' past. His eye for detail and sign painting abilities - a trade he used as a sign painter for Save Mart - has helped to created a fascinating display which is open to the public once a month.

Reynders is also active in First Baptist Church of Ceres, serving on the building and property committees.

During the award presentation, Reynders became emotional when he was read a message from ailing Caryl Fowler who expressed congratulations. Fowler, who worked alongside Reynders in historical preservation efforts, is battling cancer and was unable to be at the event.

The well-attended community affair gave the Chamber a chance to publicly install its new slate of officers, address its goals for the year and bestow a number of awards.

The Chamber presented posthumous "Follow Their Lead" Awards to Richland Market founder Gus Pallios - presented to his son, Nick Pallios from Chamber president Alan Love; and one to the late Rob Phipps. Michael Phipps, Phipps' brother, accepted a plaque from Mayor Anthony Cannella.

Other highlights of the night were presentation of the:

• Volunteer of the Year Award to Bertie Plante. She was honored for 10 years of service to the Chamber;

• Business Betterment award to the owner of Pizza D'Amore.

Installed as new members of the Chamber board are Chair Gilbert Vizcarra, treasurer Robert Yockey, Special events chair Brenda Herbert,Special events co-chair Kate Schulenberg, Ambassador chair Rachelle Silva, Ambassador co-chair Lynn Sawyer and board directors Bertie Plante, Mary Lopez, Alonzo Trejo, Laura Fuentes, Jay Simmonds and Tyler Richardson. Julia Fatheree, Tracie Maciel and Cordy Holdaway as new Chamber ambassadors.