Reedley Chamber unveils 2024 award winners

Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce awards community, business leaders for their work in making Reedley a better place

On Feb. 24, the Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce is hosting its Business and Community Awards Gala at the Reedley College Student Center and Cafeteria. (Coetzee/peopleimages.com on AdobeStock.)
Serena Bettis
Published February 13, 2024  • 
12:00 pm

REEDLEY – The Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce recognized 13 local businesses, individuals and organizations as the best of the year for their contributions to the city with the 2024 Business and Community Awards.

Chamber staff went around Reedley on Feb. 1 to announce the awards to the recipients in-person, surprising many people who did not even know they were nominated. Award winners will be recognized again at the Business and Community Awards Gala on Feb. 24.

During January, anyone in the community could nominate someone they felt exemplified excellence in business or community service. Members of the chamber board and others active in the community then reviewed all of the nominations and selected the winners.

Reedley resident Larry Harder received the Reedley Hall of Fame award from the chamber for his years of service to the community, and young Reedley residents Jemimah Balallo and Christian Ferman received the Junior Female Citizen of the Year and Junior Male Citizen of the Year awards, respectively, for their work in the community. 

Harder, Balallo and Ferman were unable to be reached for comment by press time. 

Community Heroes of the Year: Nicole Zieba and Jesalyn Harper

Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba and Code Enforcement Officer Jesalyn Harper were named the 2024 Community Heroes of the Year for their work with addressing the illegal biomedical laboratory that Harper discovered at 850 I St. 

(Isaiah Torres)

Zieba and Harper spearheaded the work to clean up the lab and testified about the situation in front of the House of Representatives Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.

“No code enforcement officer ever plans in their career to be told they’re a hero by their community, but Reedley is not like any other community,” Harper said. “I am deeply honored that I was nominated in the first place, but to be selected and told by my community I serve that I am a hero is one of my proudest accomplishments in my career.” 

Reedley City Manager Nicole Zieba. One of two winners of the Community Heroes of the Year award. (Kenny Goodman)

Both Zieba and Harper said that it was a surprise to hear they received the award. Zieba said she is humbled to know that the community views them as local heroes.

“The Reedley community has shown us such incredible support as we dealt with this unprecedented, awful situation,” Zieba said. “It was this support that gave us courage to stand boldly in the face of controversy and uncertainty, and deal with this international criminal and the mess he left at 850 I St.”

Spirit of Reedley Award: Ronald Sa

Reedley High School teacher Ronald Sa received the Spirit of Reedley Award for the work that he does with students and the broader community.

Ronald Sa from Reedley High School. Winner of the Spirit of Reedley Award. (Kenny Goodman)

Sa has worked at the high school for 25 years, and will be retiring at the end of the school year. He is an agricultural teacher, a Future Farmers of America (FFA) advisor and is in charge of the Key Club. 

“I was honored and surprised when they (the chamber members) came walking in; I had no idea somebody had nominated me for one of the city awards, and so I was completely astounded and shocked,” Sa said. 

The best thing about the Reedley community is the friendship and family that you can find from “talking to anybody and going anywhere,” Sa said. 

Citizen of the Year: Ramon Romero

Lifelong Reedley resident Ramon Romero received the Citizen of the Year award, much to his surprise. He said that he feels great to have won the award, but definitely was not expecting it.

Romero is heavily involved in the community as a member of the Reedley Lions Club and a youth sports coach. He said that more than a decade ago, he started volunteering to coach for recreation teams, and has coached a wide variety of sports, including baseball, soccer and basketball. 

Ramon Romero, winner of the Citizen of the Year award. (Kenny Goodman)

Not one to talk about himself, Romero said he loves interacting with kids and volunteering for youth programs. He’s often coaching anywhere from one to 14 teams in a single sport in a single season, he said. 

“When I first started 10 to 12 years ago, I found out there were a lot of kids that were sitting around waiting for a coach, so I stepped up, and even then I was hearing, ‘hey, we still have a group of kids that are waiting for coaches,’” Romero said. 

Large Business of the Year: Lee’s Service

Lee’s Service, a tire and automotive shop located at 1445 I St. in Reedley, received the Large Business of the Year award, which was for businesses with 10 or more employees that showed excellence in customer service and demonstrated support for the business community. 

Robert Huebert, president of Lee’s Service, said his favorite thing about the Reedley business community is that it’s very accessible and friendly. Businesses can be comfortable with each other while also being competitive, he said. 

Huebert has worked at Lee’s Service since the 1970s and became a full-time employee after graduating from California State University, Fresno in the 1980s. Huebert’s father joined the local business just a few years after it opened.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized by your hometown and your peers for 75 years of business,” Huebert said.

Medium Business of the Year: Master Storage 365

Master Storage 365, which is located at 1219 E. Dinuba Ave. in Reedley, received the Medium Business of the Year award. The Reedley location opened in the first quarter of 2023 and offers storage units for rent, along with office suites and a retail space for small businesses getting off the ground.

Richard Totosian from Master Storage 365. Winner of the Medium Business of the Year award. (Kenny Goodman)

Richard Torosian, one of three owners, said that Master Storage 365 has been excited to get more involved with the Reedley community and work with individuals to meet their needs beyond just storage. 

“I think the key word that we said when they (the chamber) came in and told us is just that one, we’re very grateful, and second, we’re just really humbled,” Torosian said. “Grateful and humbled by being recognized not just by the chamber but also by the community.” 

Small Business of the Year: Reedley Sandwich Shop

Small Business of the Year went to the Reedley Sandwich Shop, a downtown staple located at 1154 G St. Current owner Rebecca Radyko is the third person to helm the shop.

Rebecca Radyko of Reedley Sandwich Shop. Winner of the Small Business of the Year award. (Kenny Goodman)

Radyko said she was taken aback when she learned she received the award, but that she was also proud of her hard work being recognized. While she said she is nervous to speak at the awards gala, she is proud to represent Reedley. 

“It’s rewarding, it really is, on so many levels,” Radyko said. “I feel very blessed to be able to be chosen, and … it shows that our community, they recognize things, and I think Erik (Valencia) does a really great job in doing promotions and keeping the community involved.” 

Entrepreneur of the Year: KateLyn Peters, Spirit in Print

Reedley resident KateLyn Peters received the Entrepreneur of the Year award for the work she has done with her business Spirit in Print, which is located at 1204 11th St. in Reedley and is open by appointment only. The business makes spiritwear for local schools, businesses and organizations primarily in Fresno County.

KateLyn Peters from Spirit In Print, Entrepreneur of the Year award winner. (Kenny Goodman)

Peters said the business actually started in Fresno in 2013 as Square Heart Shops. Peters began working there with the previous owner, Vanessa Markarian, in the fall of 2019. 

When Peters told Markarian she would be leaving the business in 2022 so that she could work closer to home, Markarian “decided she would rather sell than go on without me,” Peters said. In May 2022, Peters took over the business and brought it to Reedley as Spirit in Print by July 2022. 

“It’s very surprising and just an honor to be nominated,” Peters said. “I really wasn’t expecting to be chosen, so it was definitely a good surprise. The community of Reedley has been really awesome, just so welcoming and very supportive.” 

Reedley Beautification Award: City of Reedley and Reedley Parks and Recreation Foundation

The City of Reedley and the Reedley Parks and Recreation Foundation received the Reedley Beautification Award for their continued work on the Reedley Parkway. 

The Parks and Recreation Foundation is a nonprofit formed approximately 20 years ago that supports Reedley parks and recreational facilities through volunteer work and community donations, which are tax-deductible.

Current foundation president Eddie Jimenez will be accepting the award at the gala on the foundation’s behalf. Jimenez said the parkway is a “gem of an amenity” and the foundation is always working to make it even better than it already is.

“It’s nice to see that the community appreciates the parkway, which is a wonderful amenity for our town,” Jimenez said. “People from throughout the city use the parkway for various forms of exercise.”

Sierra Kings Community Health Award: Sierra View Homes, “Get Moving” program

Retirement community Sierra View Homes was recognized with the Sierra Kings Community Health Award for its “Get Moving” program. The program is offered both at Sierra View Homes for its residents and at the Reedley Community Center for the general public.

The Sierra View Homes “Get Moving” class, winners of the Sierra Kings Community Health Champion Award. (Kenny Goodman)

Sierra View Homes Executive Director and CEO Ro Linscheid said the program is in its fourth year and would not be possible without the grant it has continued to receive from the Sierra Kings Health Care District. The program’s entire team is being recognized with the award.

“(We) have worked very hard to keep it alive and keep it active and the results have been fabulous, so to be recognized for that hard work is truly awesome,” Linscheid said. 

Linscheid said the program is a strength and balancing class meant to help participants maintain independence, as falls and fractures are often what takes people out of their homes later in life.

Mid Valley Disposal Recycler of the Year: The Bear Club

Local Reedley restaurant The Bear Club received the Mid Valley Disposal Recycler of the Year award for their work in following state requirements and separating waste, thereby trying to reduce their environmental impact. 

Juan Reyes, executive chef and manager, said The Bear Club just tries to do its best to separate garbage, recycling and compost and put everything where it’s supposed to go. 

“We know that we’ve got to do our part,” Reyes said. “The way things are nowadays, I think about the amount of to-go containers that go into the trash everyday and what we’re doing to Mother Earth, it’s just crazy and we want to do our part. … We want to be one of the ones that make a difference.”

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter