Monday, December 7, 2015

Area companies earn Spirit of Solano awards

Area companies earn Spirit of Solano awards

By Kevin W. Green From page C1 | December 06, 2015

FAIRFIELD — Ten area companies were honored Thursday during the 20th annual Spirit of Solano luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn.

The program, sponsored by Westamerica Bank and the Solano Economic Development Corporation, recognizes companies that embody the spirit of Solano County. Chambers of commerce in the county chose the honorees.

Businesses selected for this award have two things in common, said David Payne, chief executive officer for Westamerica Bank.

“They run very efficient businesses, and they provide leadership in their communities and their chambers,” he said.

“Because of their individual commitment, they’re also the kind of people who inspire their employees to give back whenever anything is needed,” Payne said. “Because of them, Solano County continues to be a beacon for business, demonstrating best practices for success. They represent what Solano County is and how we choose to do business.”

The Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce presented two awards. The Fairfield business honored was Texas Roadhouse, with Randy Blankenchip taking the award. Blankenchip shared his experience of rebounding after being financially wiped out before starting his restaurant in Fairfield.

For Suisun City, the spirit award went to Republic Services-Solano Garbage Company, with Travis Armstrong accepting on behalf of the company. Armstrong talked about the role his firm has played in the community, telling how one driver got involved in a child’s life.

Tony and Sherry LoForte of Zio Fraedo’s of Vallejo received this year’s spirit award from the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce. With his wife at his side, Tony LoForte spoke with pride about opening his business and becoming part of the Vallejo community.

The Solano County Black Chamber of Commerce honored businesswoman Elease Minor with its award. The chamber pointed to her passion for helping mothers and children.

The Solano Hispanic Chamber of Commerce bestowed its honor to Miriam Sammartino, of the Law Office of Miriam Sammartino. She was recognized for her service to her community and the positive influence she has had in people’s lives.

Stars Recreation Center received the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce award, honoring Ernest Sousa and Ken Sousa. Stars was noted for its service to local youth.

The Dixon Chamber of Commerce honored second-generation florists, Dixon Florist & Gift Shop, with its spirit award for this year. Courtney Kett, Melissa Taylor and Dana Martin accepted the award for the family owned business that opened more than 50 years ago.

Touro University received the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce spirit award, which was accepted by Marilyn Hopkins, the school’s provost and chief operating officer. The university was recognized for its service to the community, which includes free health classes and a student-run health clinic for uninsured residents.

The Benicia Chamber of Commerce honor went to Todd Bigelow and his Round Table Pizza. Bigelow was recognized for his generosity and loyalty to the community.

Jim and Shirley Lira of Lira’s Supermarket received the award from the Rio Vista Chamber of Commerce. Lira told those in attendance at the luncheon of the opportunity his partner, Bill Dutra, provided in purchasing the market 25 years ago.

Reach Kevin W. Green at 427-6974 or