Who will be Crestline’s Citizen of the Year?

Jun 18, 2023 | Communities, Trending

Compiled by Candace Pearson – Special to the Alpine Mountaineer

The 2023 Jamboree Days weekend in Crestline, which kicks off on Saturday, July 1 with a parade down Lake Drive, will give Rim of the World residents and friends the chance to recognize the many people who helped the communities survive Snowmaggedon this spring.

The theme of this year’s Jamboree Days parade is “Mountain Strong.” The grand marshal will be the Unsung Hero, representing all of the heroes who made a difference.

“We are celebrating the resilience and resourcefulness of our mountain communities coming together during the devastating blizzards in March,” said Dirk Rinker, Jamboree Days chairman for the event’s host, the Crestline Chamber of Commerce.

Crestline residents have submitted nominations to the chamber for another honor – Citizen of the Year. A total of 32 nominees were received by the deadline, “more than any time in recent memory,” said Rinker.

This is the second in a series of three articles in which the Alpine Mountaineer is profiling the candidates who received multiple nominations. The winner, who will be chosen by the chamber’s board of directors, will ride in the parade, which starts at 10 a.m. in Top Town and winds its way down Lake Drive to Lake Gregory Drive.

The chamber board plans to announce its selection for Citizen of the Year on June 29. Here are four nominees who received multiple nods:

Jake Hatch – received three nominations:

Hatch, who runs “Black Sheep Skid” in the White Mountains of Arizona, calls himself a bobcat stuntman. He’s also a hero to the Crestline residents he dug out during the big storm. Hatch drove to Crestline from his home in Snowflake, Ariz. “He brought his equipment and cleared roads, driveways, etc. – all free,” said one nominator. “He was here for five days, helping our community without any expectations – just his sheer will to be a good human being.”

Hatch initially focused on private roads in Arrowhead Highlands, which got no assistance from county plows, leaving residents stuck behind seven-foot-high snowdrifts. “Jake spent two days on our road and made it passable for us to be able to leave the street for the first time. He was truly a blessing . . . (to us) and to other neighborhoods,” wrote another nominator. “We will never forget him,” said another.

On Facebook, Hatch posted of his Rim adventure: “This experience is one I’ll never forget. Meeting all the AMAZING people that I cleared snow for was by far my favorite part!”

Mick Hill – received two nominations:

Crestline native and longtime resident Mick Hill is the owner of Mick Hill Enterprises and a former owner of the Alpine Mountaineer. He grew up in Dart Canyon and began his first contracting business in 1969 on the mountain. Hill has been a member and president of the chamber board in past years. In 2020, the chamber honored him as the grand marshal of the Jamboree Days parade.

Starting in the early days of the blizzard, Hill could be seen out in his skid loader as the sun rose, clearing the driveways and parking lots of businesses along Lake Drive, so residents could know some semblance of normality. “He went above and beyond during the storm to help our community,” said one nominator.

“Mick is always involved in community affairs because he cares so much for our mountain residents and businesses,” said another supporter. “During Blizzard 2023, Mick worked day and night shoveling snow, helping local businesses and residents alike. Mick is an amazing man who should be considered for Citizen of the Year!”

Michael Johnstone – eight nominations:

The collapse of Goodwin’s Market during the blizzard sent a shockwave through Crestline and beyond. But Goodwin’s didn’t go away – they began holding emergency food giveaways and announced plans to rebuild. The people who endorse Goodwin’s VP and General Manager Michael Johnstone for Citizen of the Year credit his leadership and community spirit.

“The collapse has only made it more clear how needed the store is and how involved the company is in all aspects of Crestline living,” one wrote. “He tirelessly advocates for our community.”

“He has worked these last few months keeping people employed, informed and still helping coach local teams,” said another supporter. “Goodwin’s held up our community at a time we needed it most,” added a third. “They were our pillar of strength when we were all scared, tired and worried.”

When Johnstone recently was named a Mountain Hero by the Rotary Club of Crestline-Lake Gregory, he sent a team of Goodwin’s employees to receive the award, with a message that they deserve recognition for their efforts during and after the storm.

Jason McLeod – 11 nominations:

“During, before and after our horrible snowstorm, Jason was out on the street (in Crestline) helping anyone that was in despair. He’s a caring and giving person who needs to be recognized,” a supporter wrote in their nomination.

A few nominators described McLeod’s “courage and determination,” as he drove his Jeep on icy roadways and walked through several feet of snow to bring food and other items to people who were stranded in their homes. McLeod kept on helping until his own vehicle was damaged on the rough roads.

“He represents what a neighbor should do and how a neighbor should care for their community,” wrote a fan. “He really showed the love for our community by being available and showing up.”

Others told of being personally helped by McLeod in times of need, both recently and in the past. “He is a guardian angel,” said one. “He has helped my family and me countless times – as well as many others!”

The public can vote in another Jamboree Days contest again this year – the Grand Poobah. Rinker calls it a “delightful community-led event that puts the ‘fun’ back in fundraising.” Restaurants and bars throughout Crestline are displaying Grand Poobah cannisters. Each dollar contributed counts as one vote.

All funds go to help finance the annual fireworks over Lake Gregory the evening of July 1. The top three vote-getters for the Grand Poobah will ride in the parade on the Rim of the World Recreation and Parks float.

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