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2004 Spirit of Sunnyside awards presented

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Sunnyside pioneer Ruth Mottley's daughter Ann Whitney (kneeing), was on hand to in unveil a cement paver honoring her mother who was named as a 2004 Spirit of Sunnyside award winner during Saturday "Come Back to the Country" Fourth of July celebration. Also pictured are (L-R standing) Sunnyside City Councilmen Mike Farmer and Bruce Rick, Sunnyside Mayor Ed Prilucik, and Councilman Don Vlieger.

Among the pomp and circumstance of this past weekend's Fourth of July celebration, four community members were honored for their commitment and contributions to Sunnyside.

In a ceremony that took place Saturday at the City of Sunnyside Centennial Walk, at the corner of Edison and South Fifth Street, awards were presented in the youth and adult categories, as well as for the Living Pioneer and Past Pioneer.

The recipient of the 2004 Spirit of Sunnyside Youth Award was Danny Mendoza. Mendoza, who will be a senior at Sunnyside High School and maintains a 3.5 grade point average, is a long-time member of the Sunnyside Skate Park Committee.

Mendoza has received a variety of awards in recent years including the 1999 Yakima Youth Commissioner Award for Citizenship, in 2003 he was recognized as one of six outstanding youths in the state, he has been awarded the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, and he has earned the bronze, silver and gold congressional award certificates, as well as the bronze and silver medal congressional awards.

"Danny is also very active in his church," said Ed Prilucik, Sunnyside mayor and emcee of the event.

Prilucik noted that Mendoza is a member of Young Life, the Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts and is a member of Scout Venture Crew #632. He is also active in high school drama club, debate team and LINK crew.

The 2004 Spirit of Sunnyside Adult Award was presented to former Sunnyside City Manager Dave Fonfara.

"This individual definitely deserves the 2004 Spirit of Sunnyside award for serving Sunnyside for over 18 years," Prilucik said.

He said Fonfara moved to Sunnyside in the early 1980s, becoming the community's first parks and recreation director. After serving in that capacity for a couple of years, Prilucik said Fonfara moved to California, but was soon back in Sunnyside serving as the community economic development director.

"What a parks and recreation person knew about economic development was debatable, however, Dave soon showed that he was multi-talented and became a great economic development director for our community," Prilucik said.

It wasn't until 2000 that Fonfara became Sunnyside city manager, a position he held until early 2004. Prilucik noted that as city manager, he helped complete some of the projects he had started as the economic development director, including Centennial Square, the bronze program and the pathway park.

Being honored with the 2004 Spirit of Sunnyside Living Pioneer Award was John Saras.

Saras, who was born in Shoshone, Idaho and graduated from Utah State, taught two years in Shoshone before coming to Sunnyside in the fall of 1952. Once in Sunnyside, Saras spent two years teaching at Wendell Phillips School before moving to Sunnyside's Kamiakin Junior High School. Prilucik said Saras taught at the junior high school until the mid-1980s, when he moved to Sunnyside High School, where he taught for two years before retiring.

Saras is deeply involved in the community of Sunnyside, having served as senior warden of the Episcopal church for many years, is a past-president and current vice president of the Sunnyside Library Board and is the president of the Sunnyside Museum and Historical Society.

Prilucik noted that Saras also spends time driving the elderly to doctors appointments in Yakima and the Tri-Cities and has volunteered to mentor students at the high school.

The final award was presented to the late Ruth Ferrell Mottley. Mottley, who was raised on land her father and grandfather homesteaded southwest of Sunnyside, received the 2004 Spirit of Sunnyside Past Pioneer Award.

Prilucik noted that Mottley is remembered as a loving and devote wife and mother, as a community activist and as a futurist who carried a positive vision of the people and character of the community in which she lived.

Prilucik said Mottley, the daughter of Ren Ferrell and Adelia Switzler Ferrell, started school at the Riverside School, progressed to the Wendell Phillips School and then to Sunnyside schools. She went to college at Whitman and the University of Washington, where she earned her teaching degree.

Mottley was the first woman to be elected to the Sunnyside School Board, served on the Board for Yakima Valley Community College, was a lifetime member of the Sunnyside Pioneer Association, Chapter L of the P.E.O. and the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Prilucik added that Mottley was dedicated to the establishment of the Sunnyside museum and was instrumental in converting the former Ball's Funeral Home building into a permanent facility for the museum. He said Mottley also gave an original line cabin used by Ben Snipes' cowboys to the City of Sunnyside for Snipes Park and also instigated the refurbishment of the park by initiating a bronze statue of her father.

Recipients of the 2004 Spirit of Sunnyside awards received a certificate, a medallion and will be listed along the City of Sunnyside Centennial Walk.

Saturday afternoon, last year's Spirit of Sunnyside award winners also received an honor. The plagues featuring their names were unveiled along the Centennial Walk. Last year's winners were Rebecca Slotemaker, who received the Youth Award; Dr. Randy Schuler, who received the Adult Award; John McMinimee, who received the Living Pioneer Award; and Mayor Jerry Taylor, who was honored as the Past Pioneer.

Danny Mendoza, 2004 Spirit of Sunnyside Youth Award

Dave Fonfara, 2004 Spirit of Sunnyside Adult Award

John Saras, 2004 Spirit of Sunnyside Living Pioneer Award

Ruth Ferrell Mottley, 2004 Spirit of Sunnyside Past Pioneer Award

2 - Elena Olmstead • July 5, 2004 • 5:31 PM

Proofed_________ • Corrected & Placed in Folder_____________

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