Pleasant Hill -- Why it is the center of everything.

It takes a lot of hard work to make Pleasant Hill the community we all know and love.

The city of Pleasant Hill has more than 100 people who are part of that hard work -- either serving on one of our eight city commissions and committees, representing the city in regional committees or volunteering whenever and wherever the opportunity presents.

These fine citizens devote countless hours to ensure Pleasant Hill remains a great place to live, work and conduct business.

At the risk of omission, here's a capsule of the contributions our volunteers make.

  • Our Senior Van Program is operated entirely by volunteers.

    The program provides transportation for senior residents at low cost five days per week, mostly for medical appointments to and from Kaiser and other facilities in Central Contra Costa.

    This year we have had 26 friendly and reliable volunteers working as drivers and dispatchers.

  • Our Police Department has an active and important volunteer program which enhances the effectiveness of the department.

    Volunteer tasks range from filing, archiving records and other clerical and support duties, to vacation house checks, grass-roots emergency preparedness efforts in the CERT program, crime prevention via arrangement of Neighborhood Watch meetings, and to chaplains who provide nondenominational support to staff and community members.

  • The seven-member Planning Commission, currently chaired by longtime member Steve Wallace, is an important body which oversees zoning, planning and land use applications, and makes key recommendations to the City Council.

    This body spends many late-night hours deliberating over issues they recognize will have an impact many years later.

    As an alumnus of this commission, I am keenly aware of and grateful for their commitment and dedication to our community.

  • The five-member Architectural Review Commission, led by John Hart, also plays an important role in reviewing and approving new development proposals related to architecture, signage and general aesthetics of projects.

    I applaud their efforts to continually improve the look and feel of our city.

  • The Civic Action Commission is where I got my start in volunteering in Pleasant Hill.

    This commission's stated mission is to enhance the quality of life for residents, but in reality they're our community builders and amazing event planners.

    They organize (and clean up after) our summer concerts at City Hall, host Community Service Day, and assist with Light up the Night in downtown Pleasant Hill, among other events.

    When I was elected to City Council last year I was pleased to pass the broom (there is no gavel) to Sheila Cotruvo.

  • The city's Education Commission, led by chair Kelly St. Germain, acts as an advisory body to the City Council and as the liaison between the Mt. Diablo School District and our neighborhood schools.

    The commission has organized many forums and educational events over the past six years, and its members are actively involved in the recently established Pleasant Hill Education Initiative.

  • The Traffic Safety Commission, led by David Freet, reviews traffic safety issues citywide and makes recommendations to the City Council.

  • Our Commission on Aging, led by Rachel Anderson, makes recommendations to other agencies and supports programs of benefit to senior residents in Pleasant Hill.

  • Diablo Vista Water System (DVWS) provides irrigation water to 475 homes in the Poets Corner area of the city.

    The three-member board and staff, assisted by the Engineering Division, do an excellent job of keeping the system operational and communicating with affected residents.

  • The eighth city body is the three-member Building Board of Appeals which makes rulings on any appeals to the city related to construction projects.

  • Also deserving recognition are the numerous other residents who just show up to help, and those who serve on various county and regional commissions on the behalf of the city.

    These volunteers and donate thousands of hours each year working to create a spectacular Fourth of July celebration and to improve our library, our regional parks, trails and transportation to name but a few.

    Much of the work of all city volunteers goes unseen -- work that often means many late nights spent deliberating on important issues, organizing special events and festivals, hosting educational forums and workshops, and attending countless meetings on behalf of the city.

    In the spirit of the holiday season, I want to acknowledge and express my gratitude to each of these volunteers, and their families, for their selfless and generous contributions that they make every day.

    Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and wishing you the best in 2014!

    Timothy M. Flaherty is the mayor of Pleasant Hill. Contact him at tflaherty@ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us.