By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Adrian Condit named top citizen
Honorees include Ingwerson, Lions Club, businesses
IMG 6473
An emotional Sally Lara lists up the Downtown Business of the Year plaque heavenward as if to show her late father, Alfonso Lara, the award given to Alfonsos Mexican Restaurant. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Adrian Condit, who has spent 47 years ministering to the spiritual needs of residents of Ceres and Modesto region, was honored Friday with the Ceres Chamber of Commerce's 2012 Citizen of the Year "Lifetime Achievement Award."

The award for Rev. Condit, 87, was the highlight of the 45th annual Citizen of the Year and Installation Banquet held Friday at the Ceres Community Center. Other awards given out were the:

• Distinguished Service Award to former Ceres City Councilman Eric Ingwerson;

• Young Citizen of the Year Award given to Modesto High School student Couper Condit;

• Volunteer of the Year Award to Jose Saldivar of La Cascada Mexican Restaurant;

• Business of the Year Award to Casey Moving Systems;

• Downtown Business of the Year Award to Alfonso's Mexican Bar & Grill;

• Legacy Award to E.R. Vine & Sons;

• Service Club of the Year Award to the Ceres Lions Club.

Rev. Condit was described as a "man who speaks freely of his love and devotion to the Lord" and "serving the spiritual needs of the citizens of Ceres and surrounding area for over 45 years."

Emcee Eric Ingwerson said Condit has been the "ray of light during our darkest days. He is always there for any veterans memorial service. He is there for any and all citizens in this area, 24/7. As a patriot, he is proud to be an American. He fought in the Philippines during World War II. He fought for freedom. When he speaks of America, you can hear it in his voice and see it on his face. The love he has for his country is unprecedented.

Condit served as pastor of Village Chapel Free Will Baptist from 1967 to 1983, the year he became chaplain at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto. He returned to Village Chapel in 2008 to pastor the flock. He served on the state mission board for the Free Will Baptist Association of California for over 30 years and served on the Ceres Ministerial Association.

"I really don't feel I deserve an award like this," said Rev. Condit. "All I've tried to be is just a man who loves God and loves people and I do that. God is the first priority in my life and has been for about 65 years now. People have always been priority with me."

Condit said he presided over many funerals and weddings and prayed with thousands. He also baptized hundreds, including Ingwerson. He accepted the award but said "I want all the glory to go to God."

A number of members of the Condit family were present, including daughter Dovie Wilson, son Burl Condit, grandchildren Chad Condit and Cadee Condit Gray and daughter-in-law Carolyn Condit.

Ingwerson himself was tapped for the Distinguished Service Award with nominees being Scott Long of Superior Fruit Ranch and Dr. Lynette Grandison. Ingwerson, it was noted, is a lifelong Ceres resident who had been involved in city leadership since his appointment to the Planning Commission in 1988. He twice served as mayor and served terms on the Ceres City Council and Ceres School Board. Ingwerson has also been an involved member of the Ceres Lions Club for 30 years.

"I have enjoyed the past 59 years living here in Ceres and I just try to give back to my community," said Ingwerson.

Nominees for the first-ever "Young Citizen of the Year" were Ceres High School students Leslie Alfonso and Camrynn Broumas, Central Valley High School student Ja'Quan Gardner and Modesto High School's Couper Condit. Condit, 18, was selected for a number of reasons. He serves as a teacher's aide for a disabled students, is founder of the Young Democratic Club at Modesto High, and is vice president of his school's drama club. Award presenter Beth Hunt noted that Couper Condit was instrumental in campaigning for a Modesto City Councilmember Jenny Kenoyer and has volunteered for two Love Ceres events, helped serve Thanksgiving dinner for poor families, and assisted in the Chamber's Holiday Service Club Mixer. He plans to attend Modesto Junior College, go onto law school and possibly go into politics. His father, Chad Condit, ran for Congress and his mother, Helen Condit, works for state Senator Anthony Cannella. His grandfather is former Congressman Gary Condit.

Jose Saldivar of La Cascada Mexican Restaurant was honored as a noteworthy volunteer. Saldivar served years as a counselor to inmates in the county jail, is a minister at his church and prepared all the turkey dinners for the recent Ceres Thanksgiving dinner for 200 underprivileged individuals.

Businesses in the running for Business of the Year were Ceres Veterinary Clinic, Stiles Manufacturing, Supermom's Frozen Yogurt and Casey Moving Systems. Casey's was selected as a business which has been around for nearly 40 years and 19 of those in Ceres. The business is an agent for United Van Lines and Mayflower Transit. The business also deals in records management and shredding of documents and specializes in long distance moves and office relocations.

Alfonso's Mexican Bar & Grill was honored with the first-ever Downtown Business of the Year. Other nominees were Ceres Drugs, Ceres Dry Cleaners and Delhart's Furniture. In accepting the award, Sally Lara held her plaque upward and looking upward to remember her recently departed father, Alfonso Lara, who started the restaurant in 1973. Alfonso's was chosen for improving its operation and the continuous support for a number of charitable causes, including breast cancer awareness, CYB, fire department barbecue, high school fundraisers.

Alfonso's was also a nominee for the Legacy Award, created for individuals and/or businesses that have contributed through service, support or volunteer efforts, to the Ceres community for more than 40 years. Other nominees were Barbour's Save Center and E.R. Vine & Sons. As petroleum distributors, E.R. Vine has been in Ceres for 82 years.

Nominees for the Service Club of the Year Award were the Ceres Garden Club, Ceres Partnership for Healthy Families, Ceres Lions Club, Ceres Masonic Lodge, Soroptimist International of Ceres and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The Lions Club was selected for its great community service since 1947. The club has helped out both high schools, Ceres Boy Scouts, Ceres Cub Scouts, Ceres Senior Citizens Club Christmas baskets, Sober Grad Nite, the Every 15 Minutes program, CUSD Foundation, Medic-Alert, athletic tournaments, Lions Eyemobile, and Camp Pacifica for the hearing impaired. The Lions Club has also cooked for the Ceres Agribusiness Luncheon, Ceres Relay for Life breakfast, Ceres Wrestling Tournament, police barbecue fundraiser, and CHS athletic tri-tip dinner.

Members of the Lions stood on stage to accept the honor while Grant Lucas, a member since 1955, watched on from his seat at the table.

Since 1970, the Ceres Chamber of Commerce has recognized outstanding members of the Ceres community who have made extraordinary contributions in community service.

The banquet will also call for installation of new officers. Renee Ledbetter took the Chamber president's gavel over from Dustin Pack.

"We believe very firmly that the city is headed in a very positive direction," said Pack as he left the Chamber presidency.

Ledbetter said the Chamber has enhanced its working relationship with city staff and stated: "I think we are looking at moving this city in a really positive direction."

"There's a lot of things I'd like to see changed," said Ledbetter. "There's lots of things I'd like to see enhanced and improved. I know Ceres is a wonderful community. I've lived here for more than 20 years. I have a business here. My kids go to school here and we are a great community and for many, many years people and companies have overlooked Ceres. They've gone to the north and they've gone to the south and right now is the time that we need to go out and capture the interest of businesses. We are just as good as any other community in the state, if not better. We need to go out and show people how wonderful Ceres really is. We have a great board that is ready to get their hands dirty."

The Chamber board now consists of President Ledbetter, Vice President Helen Condit, Past President Dustin Pack, Treasurer Robert Yockey and directors Kristi Ah You, Ruben Alvarez, Ben Brenning, Darlene Collier, Don Cool, John Garcia, Paul Huckaba, Beth Hunt, Lucy Jaska, Kris Klair, Jeff LeBoufe and Shane Parson. Chamber ambassadors are Josie Castiglione, Steve Ledbetter, Ramon Mendez and Marti Mendez.

Honored for serving on the Chamber board were Reg Evans, Joe Machado, Tracie Maciel, Bertie Plante, Cary Pope and Jay Simmonds.