Gene Hinkle and Shelli Stockton were announced as the awardees of the year by the Redlands Chamber of Commerce at a dinner ceremony Thursday night at the University of Redlands.
Also at the event, Sgt. Mark Hardy was named Police Officer of the year, and William Dye III was named Firefighter of the Year. Dye was also named Firefighter of the Year at the inaugural Firefighters Ball in October.
John Miechowicz was announced as the Ambassador of the Year for an unprecedented third time.
Before the awardees were revealed, the chamber presented the annual installation of officers and directors.
The incoming chamber president is Paul Barich, taking the gavel from Peter Lehmann. Barich is a 1972 Redlands High School alumnus. In 1979 he founded Barich and Associates Insurance Marketing Services, of which he is the president. He has been a member of the Redlands Chamber of Commerce since 1980.
Redlanders know Barich as the man in the white dinner jacket at the Redlands Bowl. He is the past recipient of the Roy Coble Service to Youth Award (2006) and the Redlands Optimist of the Year title (1999-2000).
Stockton, the Woman of the Year honoree, was chosen for her service to the community.
She has served many iconic institutions in Redlands, including the YMCA of the East Valley, Family Services Association, Redlands Community Music Association, University of Redlands Town and Gown, the Redlands Community Foundation, the Redlands Area Chamber of Commerce, the Redlands Bowl, the Redlands Historical Society, Redlands Horticulture Improvement Society, Redlands Conservancy and the A.K. Smiley Library.
Stockton was born and raised in Redlands. She got college degrees from UCLA and The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.
She worked at First Centennial Bank from 1996 to 1999 when she started working at Esri. She is a banking and financial services industry manager.
In 2006 Stockton was the Centennial Coordinator for the University of Redlands Centennial Celebration. For five years she has chaired or co-chaired the YMCA's Holiday Home Tour. Two years ago she chaired the library's Quadrennial Gala Committee. For more than a decade, she has been a performer with the Inland Master Chorale.
"I couldn't accomplish nearly what I do without Shelli's amazing leadership and follow-through," wrote Char Burgess in recommendation. "She cares about this community deeply, and she puts her energy where her passion is, on behalf of everyone who lives here and our future."
"It is impossible to recognize all that Shelli has contributed to our community," wrote Sally Robertson. "She is a tireless volunteer, always stepping forward to offer talents, time and heart."
Hinkle, the 2011 Man of the Year, has been a member of the Redlands Optimist Club for 55 years, and in all that time, he has had perfect attendance.
He is also a 67-year member of the Redlands BPO Elks. And he is a 59-year member and board member emeritus of the Redlands Benchwarmers athletic support group. He is a founding member and the third president of Benchwarmers.
Hinkle has been a member of Inland Harvest for 20 years, including many years of service on the board and is still active as a pickup and delivery volunteer.
He was chosen for his record of activism fundraising for youth work projects. He has a regular route collecting newspapers for recycling to benefit the Redlands High School marching band.
Hinkle was active in the YMCA, including with the circus and Camp Edwards, and he served on the Redlands Baseball for Youth Committee.
"He taught two generations of Redlands youth responsibility, work ethic and money handling as employees at his service station, and although they have gone on to bigger and brighter things, they speak highly of their formative experience under Gene's tutelage," the committee wrote on his biography.
The ceremony was an honor for the award recipients, and also for the guests.
"It is a great opportunity to recognize and thank our Redlands business and community leaders whose service is so important to our quality of life and local economy," Neil Derry commented by text from the ceremony.