Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, September 14, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page B:1




On an absolutely perfect summer evening, the City of Sierra 
Madre honored the many dedicated volunteers who keep this 
pristine foothills village running. The event was held on the 
grounds of Alverno High school. 

Mayor Nancy Walsh opened the ceremonies and intoduced the 
emcee. The emcee for the evening was none other than Sierra 
Madre’s own internationally acclaimed Opera Singer. She is one 
of the original Associate Artists for L.A. Opera, a 2006 Grammy 
nominee with Southwest Chamber Music and has sung on stages 
all over the world including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, 
the Metropolitan Opera just to name a few. She hosted and 
produced the popular radio program Sunday Evening Opera on 
Kmozart for NINE seasons and recently was seen as the host of 
KCET’s weekly program, OPEN CALL. 

 Ms. Guzman continues to perform across the country and 
locally with her one woman show DON’T BE AFRAID ITS JUST 
OPERA which she has performed for over 200,000 innercity 
students nationwide.

 To start the event, Guzman along with UCLA Freshman and 
Sierra Madre resident Chris Hunter and guest Madison Parks 

The first award was in recognition of Public Service, otherwise 
known as the Employee of the Year Award. This prestigious award 
is presented upon the recommendation of the City Manager to 
an extraordinary city employee who has represented remarkable 
customer and public service as well as dedication to the citizens 
of Sierra Madre over the course of the year. This year we are 
fortunate to award two outstanding employees, Susan Clifton, 
Account Clerk, and Jose Reynoso, Water Superintendent.

Susan Clifton was born and reared in Sierra Madre and has 
dedicated her life to public service, following the great example of 
her parents Beverly & Paul Clifton. Before becoming a full-time 
City employee in 2007, Susan had previously spent her youth as a 
part-time Recreation Leader, Film Coordinator and Library page. 
Then directly after college from UC San Diego she spent time in 
the non-profit sector working for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, 
American Red Cross and American Cancer Society. In fact, it was 
there at ACS, that Susan worked with members of the Sierra Madre 
community to bring ACS’s “24 Hour Relay for Life” to town which 
raised over $100,000 in the early years.

In the 1990s you could always see Susan volunteering in the 
community at all our favorite events like Huck Finn Day, Halloween 
Happenings and the Trail Race as she was serving two terms on the 
then Parks and Recreation Commission. She was part of the team 
that completed the City’s first ever Youth and Parks Master Plans. 
She has also been an active member of the Sierra Madre Civic Club 
for over twenty years and served as president twice, as well as being 
a founding member of the Spero Foundation. Susan is also very 
active at her church here in Sierra Madre - Church of the Ascension.

Susan was originally hired to assist the Sierra Madre seniors at the 
Hart Park House. During her tenure with the Seniors she assisted 
with trips, starting a wellness program, a Transportation Plan and 
the renovation of the Hart Park House. Susan always dives into her 
work with a cheery disposition ready to take on the next challenge 
while holding her roots to the community at the forefront.

And that did not change in 2012 when as the result of budget 
necessities, the City was reorganized, and Susan left the Community 
Services Division to join Administrative Services. With that 
infectious smile and willingness to work and remarkable customer 
service skills Susan began her journey to the front counter at City 
Hall. And today she still greets everyone at the counter as if they 
were a neighbor, ready to find that you the answer or the person 
that can help you. 

Jose Reynoso (above)

Jose started with the City in 2010. He has been the consummate 
professional throughout his tenure; unflappable in the face of 
adversity. Only 4 months after Jose started here, with Deputy 
Director Cimino away on vacation, Jose was confronted with not 
one but two major water system leaks, including the one which 
closed East Sierra Madre Boulevard for several days. Jose was able 
to calmly think on his feet and get the needed repairs done in such a 
manner that nobody went without water for more than a few hours.

Jose leads the water division as the Water Superintendent. Water 
customers are getting to know him through his City Council 
meeting appearances and through his role as the staff member to 
review appeals under the water conservation ordinance. In a time 
when the Water Department is experiencing water supply problems 
due to the local drought, Jose Reynoso is making the system work 
through long hours and diligent supervision of staff and the water 
system itself. 

Many of the City’s water customers understand that the water 
production and distribution system is highly automated. It might 
therefore be assumed that operating and monitoring the system is 
easy, and in times when groundwater is plentiful and all equipment 
is operational that is somewhat the case. However, when water levels 
in the City’s primary supply become as low as they are now, the 
system requires constant monitoring and adjustment. It requires a 
thorough knowledge of what happens system-wide when each and 
every adjustment is made. 

In his 2.5 years at Sierra Madre Jose has completed several 
regulatory items the California Department of Public Health has 
mandated the City to complete. These include an annual valve 
exercising program, monthly and annual main flushing program, 
and a fire hydrant maintenance program. He has overseen several 
project and major construction jobs like the water main installation 
on East Sierra Madre Blvd., the rehabilitation of Wells 3 and 6, and 
the installation of the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District 
connection and pipeline. He prepared the request for proposal and 
received bids for the Advanced Metering Infrastructure project. If 
the project is approved he will be the man to oversee that whole 
project. To list everything Jose does would take too much of our 
time this evening. He is a very valued employee of the City of Sierra 
Madre and we are lucky to have him be our Water Superintendent 
and to lead us through the current water issues.

Jesse Cazares. (below with Chief Giannone and Mayor Walsh)

Jesse Cazares was awarded the Police Chief’s Special Award for his 
outstanding devotion to duty.

Jesse Cazares was born in Texas and at the age of 3 his parents 
and siblings moved to California where he attended school. He 
attended Los Angeles City College and received an Associate 
Degree in Administration of Justice with a minor in Phycology. He 
then transferred to Cal State LA and volunteered for the Air Force 
Reserve stationed at March Air Force Base in Riverside. 

While attending Cal-State he completed the California Highway 
Patrol Academy. His assignments for the patrol included Altadena, 
East Los Angeles and Rancho Cucamonga. As an officer for the 
patrol, he worked in the field for most of his career. 

Jesses also work for 4 ½ years as a Public Relations officer. He was 
a training officer, a motorcycle officer, an EMT-1 and assigned to 
the President’s Protective Detail. In 2009 he received a service 
retirement. In the following 2 ½ years he travelled to 15 countries 
before assisting the City as a temporary, part time investigator, 
property / evidence officer. 

While in Sierra Madre, Jesse has been working diligently to remove 
old property, organize and catalog years of old and new evidence, 
and identifying property to be returned to its rightful owner. He 
has coordinated the destruction of firearms and narcotics to keep 
on top of the Department of Justice requirements. Today, the City’s 
Property & Evidence Room is organized, functional and meeting all 
legal requirements. 

In addition to his property room responsibilities, Jess will 
occasionally be out in the community, showing off his skills 
as a motorcycle officer, as well as participating in community 
presentations and special events. 

The Wistaria Award recognizes a City/community partnership 
and is presented to a local business or organization whose major 
contributions to the City and community of Sierra Madre have 
demonstrated a partnership that assists in and provides services 
and programs, or enhances the general welfare of the Community 
as a whole. This year’s recipient is the Sierra Madre Historical 
Preservation Society.

 The mission of the Sierra Madre Historical Preservation Society is 
to purposefully raise awareness of the rich history of Sierra Madre. 
This year the Society has diligently worked to begin the upgrade 
process to make the City’s museums accessible & interesting to the 
Community as quality educational and community-based entities. 
They have also actively engaged in partnerships with the Sierra 
Madre Garden Club, the Sierra Madre Public Library, and the City 
of Sierra Madre. 

 In partnership with the Sierra Madre Library, the Sierra Madre 
Historical Preservation Society will be unveiling the Sierra Madre 
Stories & Treasures, a new digital storyboard, at Richardson House 
on Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 11am (The public is invited). 

And the Historical Preservation Society is working to procure a 
one-armed bandit as was originally in Lizzie’s as well as update the 
electrical and perhaps install air-conditioning.

The Public Safety Award is presented annually to an individual 
or organization who took action to protect and maintain the safety 
of the community. This year’s award goes to The Sierra Madre 
Emergency Communications Team. 

 They have often been called “The Unsung Heroes of Sierra Madre”. 
The Sierra Madre Emergency Communication Team’s mission is 
to provide additional emergency communications for the City of 
Sierra Madre “when all else fails”. Their unique ability to establish an 
ad hoc communications system quickly and without infrastructure 
is their forte.

 The members own and maintain personal Ham Radios that are 
capable of city-wide communications from the EOC and point-to-
point in the city. The EOC has a cable to a Ham Radio antenna 
on the roof of City Hall. The team work together with hand held 
radios, mobile radios and equipment capable of long distance 
communications. Some are mounted to cars or motorhomes, some 
with emergency power. 

 During the windstorm in December 2011 they provided road 
conditions to the Police between Sierra Madre and surrounding 
communities including access to the freeway. During the Santa 
Anita Fire they were fire spotters at the end of the streets and 
later established a communications link between the YAC and 
the evacuation centers finding displaced person while at the same 
time had Hams on the street providing traffic information to the 
EOC. When the Fire Command Post moved to Santa Fe Dam, 
they provided communication between the Dam, our EOC and the 
evacuation centers. 


 The George Maurer Lifetime Service Award is an acknowledgement 
of significant contributions over an entire career. Its namesake, 
George Maurer, was first presented this award in 2006 for his selfless 
acts of dedication, honor and service to the community and City of 
Sierra Madre. Mr. Mauer spent 26 years as a volunteer firefighter 
and was one of the initiators of the emergency medical service in 
the 1970’s. He spent 12 years on the City Council, three terms as 
mayor, and six years on the Planning Commission. He chaired 
the Senior Housing Committee. He also shared in a business in 
downtown. Mr. Maurer was a founder, and member, of the Sierra 
Madre Mountain Conservancy, and has also been a dedicated 
member of the Kiwanis Club of Sierra Madre and the Sierra Madre 
Rotary Club. 

 This year we honor Richard Mays, (below) Sierra Madre resident 
and distinguished volunteer, with the George Maurer Lifetime 
Service Award. 

 Richard Mays started out in Virginia, and moved to Maryland 
before landing in Sierra Madre in the summer of 1961, just in time 
for an extremely rainy December and a brush fire the next summer. 

 His long history of volunteering started with the Sierra Madre 
Rose Float. Then 32 years with the Sierra Madre Volunteer Fire 
Department. Served as an officer and member of the Sierra Madre 
Volunteer Firefighters Association, 14 years with the Sierra Madre 
Girls Softball as treasurer, Sierra Madre Little League, served on the 
City of Sierra Madre ad hoc committee on finance, UUT Oversight 
committee, Volunteers at the Police Department, Member of the 
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Treasurer of 
the Sierra Madre Historical Preservation Society, Chamber of 
Commerce 2011 Citizen of the Year, AND he is currently the City 

Congratulations to all of this year’s honoree’s and to the dozens of 
other people in Sierra Madre who volunteer their time and talent 
for the betterment of the community.

Biographies provided by the City of Sierra Madre. Photos, unless 
otherwise noted also provided by the City of Sierra Madre.

SMHPS President Amy Putnam (center)

Suzanna Guzman (center), Madison Parks, left and Chris 
Hunter Photo by S. Henderson/MVNews

Alan Wolfe for the SMECT (above)

Employee of the Year Susan Clifton (above center) with 
City Manager Elaine Aguilar and Mayor Walsh. Suzanna 
Guzman is in the background. 

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