ANTIOCH -- For one day, Lori Cook and Beverly Knight were not clutching plastic trash bags and metal trash grabbers to pick up litter. Instead, the two had their hands full accepting awards as Antioch's Citizens of the Year.
The pair have used Facebook to help galvanize residents to pick up litter and instill civic pride.
"We only have 564 members, and I know that's not a lot, but this award is dedicated to each of those members. They're out there picking up garbage, taking pictures, they're talking to homeowners, and they're telling people 'you need to clean up your neighborhood,' " said Cook, standing with Knight in front of nearly 150 business and civic leaders at last Friday's chamber gala at the Lone Tree Golf Course and Event Center.
Cook, who started the page "Cleaning Up Antioch, One Home At A Time," dedicated the award to friend Nancy Kelly, who started the idea of collecting litter and getting property owners to clean up.
"I wanted to take this campaign of hers one step further," Cook said.
And, true to the mission of her page "Empower Antioch Today" to show Antioch in a positive light, Knight had a camera around her neck throughout the night to photograph the gala.
"Thank you for not ignoring my passion, and helping me divert it toward doing something good," Knight told city leaders.
Knight has also voluntarily picked up trash in City Park daily for the past three years.
Former mayor and longtime civil servant Barney Parsons was honored posthumously with the Citizen of the Year Lifetime Achievement award. He died in November.
Parsons served on the City Council from 1972 to 1976, including as mayor in 1973.
His proudest accomplishment during his time on the council was starting the Antioch redevelopment agency and purchasing the old Sears building downtown, which is now the Nick Rodriguez Community Center.
He also served on the Tri-Delta Transit board for 27 years, and was president of the Chamber of Commerce and the Contra Costa Fair board.
Wife Martha, along with daughters Nancy Basista and Sue Parsons, and granddaughters Breyena and Brittany Parsons, accepted the award on his behalf.
Martha said Barney served Antioch in a quiet way but was a "renaissance man" in that he always supported her and advocated for women.
"I'm glad he's recognized finally for the amazing person he was," a tearful Martha Parsons said.
Delta Diablo Sanitation District was named large business of the year, and Commercial Support Services took home the honor for top small business.
Josie Monaghan was honored as the top nonprofit organization for her group Wingz to Fly.
Dozier Libbey Medical High student Margarette Gil was named the first place Youth of the Year, and Antioch High's Tiffany Cooper took second.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.