Tag Archives: Burbank Elks Lodge

Burbank Honors Public Servants in Community Service Awards

Boy Scout Troop 210 of Burbank. (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

On Wednesday, August 30th, Burbank honored our own hometown heroes with a Community Service Awards ceremony at the Elks Lodge. The awards event was two years in the making, and honorees were made up of the 2015 and 2016 years. The event was organized by the  Burbank’s Elks Lodge 1497, and with little help from Burbank’s very own Boy Scouts Troop 201.

The awards proved to be a good reminder Burbank’s city leaders are some of the best in the country. That same reminder is more important now after the La Tuna fire, which you can read more about here. Now, without further ado, let’s go over the list of award recipients!

 Teachers of the Year

Center Jan Hacker. ( Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

For the 2015 year, Sara Line was given the Teach of the Year award for an outstanding job in promoting achievement and success to our young students here in Burbank.

As for the 2016 year, Jan Hacker of John Burroughs High School was awarded Teacher of the Year. As for what this award means to her, Hacker had this to say:

It’s really been an honor to be included with the other individuals that were here tonight, mostly because it’s very representative of the kind of town Burbank is all about. The people that I’ve met here tonight are all parents, students, and grandparents. That’s what it’s all about: Everybody being a part of the same thing. Tonight really made me feel like that. With officers, firefighters, city workers – to be included in that crowd, and to be representative of what Burbank is all about, it’s a huge honor for me.

Police Officers of the Year

Officers of the year were awarded to incredible public servants who have gone above and beyond to ensure they’re the best they can be for the city of Burbank. The following officers were awarded for the 2016 year:

Officer Cindy Guillen

Sergeant Joshua Kendrick 

Sergeant Adam Baumgarten

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Sergeant Mark Stohl


After the awards ceremony, I was able to catch up with Officer Cindy Guillen to ask her what this award meant to her:

This award is very special to me. One, because there was a lot of hard work that we put in. My partner and I were one unit, working together and working for the community. We did everything we possibly could to not only make the community better, but to mend the gap between the police department and the community. The work we did is appreciated through this award and we’re very grateful to be honored.

City Employees of the Year

For the 2015 year, Bradley (Brad) Recker was awarded for his unrelenting passion to make Burbank better.

For the 2016 year, Bill Parrish was awarded for his outstanding service to the community.

Firefighters of the Year

Captain Daryl Isozaki. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Firefighters of the year are chosen by other firefighters. By voting for an individual, firefighters are essentially choosing the best representation of the entire department.

Captain Daryl Isozaki was awarded Firefighter of the Year for 2015. Isozaki has been a part of the the Burbank Fire Department for 31 years. After the ceremony, I caught up with Captain Isozaki to get his take on his award:

It’s a privilege. I’m on the tail end of my career right now, and I’m going to retire this year. I’ve seen a lot of things change over the years and the one thing that doesn’t change for the Fire Department is their quality and talented people that we have. It’s a privilege for me to be able to mentor some of our young firefighters and help them out in their career. This is a good expression of the department expressing years of service and some of the contributions we’ve made.

As for the first thing he’s going to do after retiring, Captain Isozaki simply plans on going fishing.

Engineer Andrew Chest. (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Engineer Andrew Chest was awarded Firefighter of the Year for 2016. On the award, Chest had this to say:

It’s an appreciation of the hard work, it’s an appreciation of the department for me, and I hold it with high regards. It is indeed an honor to be here tonight. It’s pretty prideful to receive this award. It’s who your peers think who deserves the award, that’s what’s honorable about this.

If you’d like to see more of the ceremony, take a look at the pictures below!

Elks Honor Four People For Outstanding Community Service

The Burbank Elks honored four people for their outstanding service Wednesday evening, January 8, at the Fifth Annual Community Service Awards. City Employee of the Year Kreigh Hampel, Police Officer of the Year Christian Diaz, School Teacher of the Year Jill Tobin and Firefighter of the Year Eric Rowley were all recognized for their dedication and commitment to Burbank.

Elk's Community Service Award recipients BPD Officer Christian Diaz, City Employee Kreigh Hampel, Teacher of the Year Jill Tobin, and Fire Fighter of the yr Eric Rowley. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Elk’s Community Service Award recipients BPD Officer Christian Diaz, City Employee Kreigh Hampel, Teacher of the Year Jill Tobin, and Firefighter of the year Eric Rowley. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Officer Christian Diaz, who’s been with the Burbank Police Department for four years as a patrol officer, graduated Burbank High School in 2005. He joined the Burbank Cadet program at age 20 in 2008. He also graduated from Marine Corps Officer Candidate School. In 2009 he was hired by BPD as a patrol officer, after graduating as the number one academic recruit in his class at the LASD Academy. Currently, Diaz is a Field Training Officer, so every six months he trains an officer for work in the field.

“I work hard every day. I graduated from Burbank High and still have family that live here and that motivates me to work hard to protect them and the people in this city,” commented Diaz. “It really was a surprise to be named Officer of the Year. Everyone else works hard in the department, and has been so helpful to me since the beginning, so to be recognized like this is a big surprise.”

“Officer Diaz’ dedication, integrity and strong work ethic are qualities that exemplify the high standards that we are looking for in our officers,” Police Chief Scott LaChasse stated. “Officer Diaz represents the police department in a positive manner while partnering with the community during his daily assignments in patrol. As a Field Training Officer, Officer Diaz remains focused on achieving the goals and objectives of his supervisors while mentoring our new officers in training.”

Police officer of the year Christian Diaz with the BPD Command Staff along with BPOA members. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Police Officer of the Year Christian Diaz with the BPD Command Staff along with BPOA members. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Diaz has been very instrumental in reducing the number of DUI crashes in the city, as he has worked tirelessly to make DUI arrests before accidents could occur, according to Sgt. Darin Ryburn, Burbank Police Department Public Information Officer. Last year, he made 58 felony arrests and 52 DUI arrests.

In addition to Chief LaChasse, members of the BPD Command Staff attended the dinner, including Deputy Chief Tom Angel, Patrol Capt. Michael Albanese, Investigations Capt. Denis Cremins, Support Services Capt. Ron Caruso and Police Administrator Josephine Wilson. Lt. Jay Hawver, Sgt. Ryburn, Det. Peter Erich and Officer Todd Burns of the Burbank Police Officers’ Association were also present.

Firefighter Eric Rowley, BFD Firefighter of the Year for 2014, has worked for the department for nine years. After taking a Fire Cadet course through Ventura County Fire Department his senior year of high school in 2001, he found his path. He worked for Beverly Hills Fire Department right after high school and then was then hired by the Burbank Fire Department in 2005.

“I greatly appreciate being named Firefighter of the Year. I take on a lot of technical aspects for the department and it’s good to be recognized for my contributions,” Rowley commented in an interview before the awards ceremony. He talked about some of the recent and upcoming technology projects putting Burbank Fire Department on the leading edge of firefighting in the 21st century.

Burbank Firefighter of the Year Eric Rowley with fellow firefighters. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Firefighter of the Year Eric Rowley with fellow firefighters. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Rowley’s latest project for the Fire Department deployed 25 iPads to each engine, truck and ambulance for patient care reports. His next project over the coming year is the introduction of FireHouse Mobile software on each rig that will allow the firefighters to get information more quickly on businesses and properties in the field.

“Firefighters will be able to access records and pre-plan information on how to better strategically manage resources and get into buildings,” explained Rowley. “We have all this valuable information and need to get it on site to use right away.”

Firefighter of the Year Eric Rowley, with Exalted Ruler and former Burbank Fire Capt. Bob Ramsey. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Firefighter of the Year Eric Rowley, with Elks’ Exalted Ruler and former Burbank Fire Capt. Bob Ramsey. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“Firefighter Eric Rowley has demonstrated a high level of dedication to our organization throughout his career. His firefighting skills, technological expertise and willingness to take on various projects make him a valuable asset to our department,” Fire Chief Tom Lenahan said in his speech at the dinner. “In addition to his technological expertise, Firefighter Rowley maintains his skills as a solid Firefighter and Hazardous Materials Specialist taking an active role in training the probationary firefighters assigned to Station 12.”

Rowley’s wife Tara and mother and father, Debra and Capt. Brian Rowley, also attended the awards dinner. Reached for comment before the dinner, Capt. Rowley said with audible emotion in his voice, “I get choked up but I’m just so proud of him. He is everything you could ask for in a son. He’s always there for everybody and he’s always been this way. He has always tried to do the right thing.”

Capt. Rowley, retired from BFD for one year, also mentioned that Firefighter Rowley’s grandfather and uncles were firefighters. “We thought he was going to be a computer programmer when he was in school,” Capt. Rowley added. “After one week at his Fire Cadet course in high school, he came home and told us he thought he wanted to be a firefighter.”

“Being able to work with my son for six to seven years on a professional level was really incredible,” Capt. Rowley also mentioned. “Eric loves his work and goes above and beyond to do his most for the department. He spends his time off working on tech projects for the department.”

Burbank Firefighter of the Year Eric Rowley with his parents Brian & Debra Rowley. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Firefighter of the Year Eric Rowley with his parents Brian & Debra Rowley. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Teacher of the Year for 2013-14, Jill Tobin teaches 9th grade Honors Biology and Earth Science and 10th grade Biology at Burroughs High. She was first selected by her peers at Burroughs and after interviews was chosen to represent BUSD. After writing nine essays for the L.A. County level of the competition, she was picked as the County’s Teacher of the Year and finished as a semi-finalist in the State competition. The mother of Lola, a 3 1/2 year old girl and Harlo, a 8 1/2-month-old boy, Tobin is in her tenth year of teaching at Burroughs.

“Burbank is an amazing city and I look forward to raising my family in Burbank. It is completely humbling to be put in the spotlight as one of the educators in this district, ” commented Tobin. “There are so many incredible teachers that I look up to in the community, and to be able to represent them and all of Burbank’s fine teachers is an amazing honor.”

“I became a science teacher because I have always been fascinated with how the world works, and I’ve always enjoyed sharing my fascination of all things science with others. The best compliment I’ve ever received from a student was a few years ago when a student wrote me a letter and said, ‘Thanks for making me wonder about things.’ For me, there is no greater contribution to education; there is no nobler accomplishment than to make your students wonder about things,” Tobin added. “This feeling of wonderment, and the need to share that feeling, is what drew me to education in the first place. For me, there is no greater feeling. And knowing that I am able to give that feeling to others… well, I honestly don’t think I could be happier doing any other job in the entire world.”

Elk Ken Pajan, BUSD Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz, Teacher of the Year Jill Tobin, and former Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Elk Ken Pajan, BUSD Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz, Teacher of the Year Jill Tobin, and former Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“Out of 75,000 eligible educators, John Burroughs High School teacher Jill Tobin stands out among the 16 chosen as Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year, ” Burbank Unified Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz said at the awards dinner. “Her principal, Mr. Paramo, states that Jill is the kind of teacher that a student gets once in a lifetime. Jill has certainly made a significant impact on the teaching staff at Burroughs. She is equally adored and respected by both parents and students.”

Recycling Coordinator Kreigh Hampel was selected by City Manager Mark Scott as City Employee of the Year and introduced at the event by Bonnie Teaford, Public Works Supervisor. He’s been with the Public Works Department for over 10 years and is known for his omni-presence at events throughout the community and his continued efforts towards the City’s zero waste goal. He is one of the founder’s of Bike Angels and gives annual seminars for Leadership Burbank.

“He has a deep understanding of sustainability issues and what individuals can do to make their impact on the world less harmful,” Teaford mentioned in a pre-award interview. “He’s a terrific example of a public servant who gives and gives. He’s at every event in the City and will talk to anyone and answer any question. And, he is such a humble person, too.”

“It’s an honor and it’s humbling to be recognized. I could turn any direction and point to so many other people doing so much more,” commented Hampel. “It’s a privilege to work for the City – I love the people, the challenges of the recycling office and working with the community. Because I think like a biologist and farmer, I appreciate regenerative designs that balance living systems and industrial appetites. My motto is plant more and manufacture less.”

City Employee of the Year Kreigh Hampel. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

City Employee of the Year Kreigh Hampel. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The program followed a cocktail reception and a roast beef dinner prepared by Burroughs High School graduate Chef Jim Ewart and served by Boy Scout Troop 210. Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy made the opening remarks and guest speaker Rebecca Mieliwocki, the National School Teacher of the Year in 2012 and Luther Middle School English teacher, entertained the audience with tales of meeting the President of the United States Barack Obama and her experiences as National Teacher of the Year.

Mieliwocki traveled to nine countries and 30 states as a representative and spokesperson for America’s 3.2 million public school teachers and gave speeches, guest taught and toured teacher prep programs.

“The U.S. and their education system remains the envy of the world. Everyone is amazed at how much we accomplish with all of our kids, how creative, communicative, collaborative and engaged our students are and how much they go off and do once they leave us,” Mieliwocki stated when reached for comment after the awards event. “We have much to celebrate and be proud of and I was honored to get to share that with the audience at the Elks Community Service Awards.”

Certificates were presented by Elks Lodge #1497 Co-Chairman Ken Pajan and the awards were given out by Co-Chairman Harvey Ryun. Elks’ Exalted Ruler and retired Burbank Fire Capt. Bob Ramsay made the flag presentation.

Special guests at the event included City Council members Dr. David Gordon, Bob Frutos and Jess Talamantes, BUSD School Board members Dave Kemp and Charlene Tabet and representatives from L.A. County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s offices. Elks Lodge officers and members, family of the honorees and members of the community also attended.

Elks Bring in New Year With Their Own Traditional Ball Drop

Burbank Elk's partied while dancing below their 2012 ball that was dropped at midnight at their New Years Eve bash. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)



Every year the Elks throw one of the great New Year’s Eve parties in Burbank and 2012 was no different.  One of the things they do is make up their own New Year’s ball which they drop down at the count of 12:00 am.  The night also has great food and dancing to the wee hours of the morning.




Music Food and good times was what everone had at The Burbank Elk's News Year bash. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Elk’s Lodge Celebrates Burbank’s Best

(L to R) Burbank Fire Fighter of the Year, Fire Fighter Grant Stephens; Burbank Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Mieliwocki, and Burbank City Employee of the Year, Ari Omessi; receives awards at the Elk's Lodge Wednesday night. Burbank Police Officer of the Year, Officer Harry Terrill; was unable to attend due to a family obligation (Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Story By John Savageau
Photos By Ross A. Benson


Burbank’s leadership and residents gathered at Burbank Elk’s Lodge  1497, on Wednesday evening to recognize and honor four of the city’s finest at the 3rd Annual Community Service Awards.  The awards are presented to those representing the highest standards of community service through both exceptional job performance, as well as continued contributions to the welfare of Burbank.
Receiving Community Service Awards were Burbank Police Officer of the Year, Officer Harry Terrill; Burbank Fire Fighter of the Year, Fire Fighter Grant Stephens; Burbank City Employee of the Year, Ari Omessi; and Burbank Teacher of the Year, Rebecca Mieliwocki.
Council Member Gary Bric opened the ceremony noting that when you think of Burbank, the image is one of high quality city services, an excellent education system, as well as confidence residents and visitors have in security provided by public safety and emergency services.

     Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse highlighted Terrill’s extensive experience in law enforcement, participation in the community, and character as traits distinguishing him as a leader and role model within the police department.  Born in Salt Lake City, a graduate of Brigham Young University and Woodbury College, Terrill was drawn to Burbank where he has served as a patrol officer, bike officer, and now a training officer where his expertise is highly regarded among peers and young officers.  A two-time winner of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Award, Terrill is noted for his high number of DUI arrests, and his efforts to keep the community safe.

     “Being a fire fighter means becoming part of the community” explained Fire Chief Ray Krakowski.  Having joined the Burbank Fire Department in 1999, Fire Fighter Grant Stephens is “somebody willing to give back to the community.”  Selected by his peers in the fire department, Stephens distinguished himself through not only personal credibility and commitment to the safety of Burbank as a fire fighter, but also donating his time as project manager of the Burbank Firefighter’s “Fill the Boot” campaign, a fund raiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association – raising an incredible $40,000.

     Burbank Director of Public Works, Bonnie Teaford, described the professional journey through the ranks by Ari Omessi.  Omessi came to work with the city in 1982 as a temporary employee.  Quickly grabbing attention at public works as “a keeper,” Omessi was offered a permanent position, and by 1995 was promoted to senior mechanic, serving in a variety of city departments, including the police department.  Since then he has continued his career at public works, and now serves as project manager in numerous capital projects, including renovation of the Burbank Police and Fire Department headquarters.

     Mieliwocki, a teacher since 1995, is known for her compassion, caring, outreach, and ability to touch students on a personal level – even troubled students.    As a 7th grade English teacher at Luther Middle School, Mieliwocki believes teachers should treat students with the same level of commitment and respect as a parent would provide.  Mieliwocki will represent Burbank in the California Teachers of the Year Program, a further tribute to her stature and respect given her contributions to Burbank education.

     The Community Service Awards included recognition and certificates from the LA County Mayor’s Office (Mike Antonovich), the City of Burbank, the State of California, and the Burbank Elk’s Lodge.  Burbank Boy Scout Troop 210 provided a Color Guard and support to participants.

Also attending the ceremony were Burbank City Council Members David Gordon and Gary Bric, California Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D – 43rd District), and Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Stan Carrizosa.

The honorees pose with officials of the Burbank Elks Lodge.

BurbankNBeyond’s video crew was also on scene and will have a video report on the night’s activities a little later.