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Palisadians Honored at Sparkplug Award, Citizen of the Year Gala

The Pacific Palisades Community Council, elected officials and the Palisadian-Post recognize individuals for their spirit of community and service.

Community members received public accolades for their service and activism Thursday at an annual banquet that took place at .

Honorees included Kelly Comras, Sam Lagana and Colleen McAndrews Wood, who each received the Pacific Palisades Community Council's . The Palisadian-Post newspaper named PPCC member George Wolfberg citizen of the year.

Award recipients also received commendations from elected officials at the local, state and federal levels of government who represent the Palisades.

Staffers from the offices of Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, state Senator Fran Pavely and Assemblywoman Julia Brownley presented certificates to the evening's honorees. Senator Diane Feinstein, a member of Congress, sent a congratulatory letter that the master of ceremonies, Kane Phelps, read aloud.

"The Golden Sparkplug awards honor those volunteers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty," PPCC President Janet Turner said.

Comras spearheaded an effort to create three native-plant garden projects. One garden created a gateway to Castellammare Mesa on Los Liones Drive, another is located at on Sunset Boulevard and the third is at the beach on Castlerock Road.

Lagana was instrumental in prompting the city to remove clogged, flood-causing storm grids and replace them with safety barriers.

"I'm just going to keep going on what we think we need to do," Lagana said. "If you've got an effort to work within the system to get something done, if that's the best news that I can share with my family, and our friends and our community, then onward we go."

McAndrews Wood led the way in obtaining landmark status for and thus preserving the Marquez-Reyes cemetery on San Lorenzo Street, which has existed since the 1800s and is the last undeveloped area that was part of a 6,600-acre land grant from Mexico.

"This little cemetery and the entrance lot in front of it is the last remaining land that's not in private hands," McAndrews Wood said. "We acquired the entrance because the cemetery was landlocked so that there'd be a view from the street and access to the cemetery."

Wolfberg has been a tenacious community activist on environmental and traffic issues. He said events such as the awards banquet build spirit and identity and inspire people to feel a connection with the community.

All honorees said they were proud to receive recognition for their efforts but cited the help of fellow Palisadians as key to their successful efforts.

"The roulette wheel stopped on my number," Wolfberg said. "I just happened to be lucky, it could have been probably half the people in this room."

Comras said "it's very nice to be honored, but honestly there are so many people that I've worked with that deserve the same honor. I'm looking forward to everybody else getting the awards over the next few years too."

Ritchie Saunders April 30, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Congrats Sam! Lovely looking family too! Ritchie Saunders

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