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By Miriam Raftery

November 3, 2009 – “All of you had a piece of making this happen,” Santee Chamber of Commerce executive director Warren Savage said to more than 200 guests in attendance at an awards presentation held October 16th at Barona Resort.


In addition to naming businesses of the year, the Chamber also honored citizens ranging from a Santee teacher to a U.S. Marine unit adopted by the City of Santee.


Ron Hall Insurance and Notary Services was named small business of the year. Medium and large business awards went to GTM General Discount Stores and the Barona Resort and Casino. Savage praised Barona for being “passionate about giving back to the casino, noting that Barona gave over $2 million to hundreds of charities in 2009 including funding the Santee summer concert series. In the new business of the year category, River View Medical Spa was the winner.

Soldiers from the U.S. Marine Corps 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, stationed at Camp Pendleton and the USMC Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462 – “Heavy Haulers” received a standing ovation. At a recent Santee Council meeting, Mayor Randy Voepel disclosed that the 2nd Battalion has had a higher casualty rate than Okinawa during World War II. An officer from the unit thanked Mayor Voepel for his “support and patriotism.”  Representatives from Congressman Duncan Hunter, Assemblyman Joel Anderson and and State Senator Dennis Hollingsworth were also on hand to present certificates of recognition to the troops.

Lisa Hopewell was named Citizen of the Year. A member of the Santee United Methodist Church who helps at-risk-youths with mission trips to Mexico, Hopewell also helped relocated Santee’s Food Bank to her church and has been active in Little League. The San Diego Board of Supervisors named October 16 “Lisa Hopewell Day” in her honor.

Donna Farquar, Santee School District’s resource coordinator for its English learner program, was also honored. Farquar has also been named 2009 Santee School District teacher of the year and was a finalist in the San Diego County teacher of the year awards.

Jason Custeau, firefighter of the year, was honored for his work, which includes teaching new medics as a health pathways mentor at West Hills High School.

Molli Knobbe received the Sheriff crimefighter of the year award. Ron Durett from Santee Lakeside Rotary Club was named Rotarian of the year for creating “Drive Safely” signs posted near area schools.

In addition, the Chamber’s President award was presented to Pat Chambers for heading up the Santee Street Fair which drew 40,000 attendees this year. “He took it from a small street fair to a major festival,” said president Rob McNelis.


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