Dunsmuir citizens honored

Richard DuPertuis
Alexander Dunsmuir Award winner Judy Harvey while being recognized Friday night by former winner and past Botanical Gardens Botanical Gardens president Harriet Alto.

It wasn’t exactly a garden-variety crowd that filled the tables in the Dunsmuir Community Building Friday night, but a garden theme was unmistakable. This year’s Citizen of the Year Candace Miller claimed her honor largely through her volunteer work that transformed the Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens. Likewise, Judy Harvey, 2010 winner of the Alexander Dunsmuir award, began volunteer work for her town in the Dunsmuir Garden Club.

Both honorees received a plaque from Mayor Peter Arth, a Certificate of Appreciation from Mike Rodriguez on behalf of the Recreation and Parks District board, a letter of congratulations from Sen. Barbara Boxer and a Certificate of Recognition from State Senator Sam Aanestad.

Dunsmuir awards its Citizen of the Year honor to a citizen who in the past year has contributed significantly to the community without pay. The Alexander Dunsmuir award goes to the person who has so contributed for the past 10 years.

Master of ceremonies Will Newman intoned, “Judy Harvey has volunteered 10 years of work every year for the past 10 years.”

So began sharing and tributes to the honorees at the Dunsmuir Citizen of the Year ceremony. About 50 attendees, several themselves past recipients of one of these awards, enjoyed dinner catered by The Garden Party, before recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of the two winners for 2010.

Citizen of the Year Miller had returned to Dunsmuir five years ago after 30 years’ away time. She came back educated in horticulture and botany and soon began volunteering as horticulture manager for the Botanical Gardens. Her expert eye saw a display garden that wanted to be a botanical garden.

“A botanical garden is a scientifically-designed collection of plants documented by a library of records,” she said in her acceptance speech. “This information can then be shared with other botanical gardens, with plant scientists and with the public.

This year we received nearly $15,000 in grant money that we are using to finish our work of becoming a true botanical garden.”

Alexander Dunsmuir winner Harvey had made that grant possible. Arriving in Dunsmuir in 1993 with nearly 20 years of volunteer work experience, she was quickly nabbed by the Garden Club board. After successfully applying for non-profit status for the club, which opened eligibility for grant funding, she did the same for the Botanical Gardens.

“I put down my trowel and entered the world of the IRS,” she said. “I guess that is what has brought me here tonight.”

Miller said that in 2008, Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens received nearly $20,000 in grants from the Shasta Regional Community Foundation and the Stanley Smith Horticulture Trust. “We used the money to improve the irrigation system, improve soil structure and fertility, remove large trees that had grown into the garden beds, and to install a fence along the upper trail to protect native plants and to prevent erosion,” she said.

This year the Botanical Gardens will conduct a grid survey of the gardens by calling on volunteers to identify all permanent, woody plants. “Each plant will be identified on a map, and horticultural and botanical information on each later entered into the accession database,” Miller said. “The information will be used to install permanent signs containing plant information throughout the gardens.”

With last month's addition of the crevice rock garden, Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens will feature a scientifically-chosen, comprehensive catalog of native and ornamental plant life. Miller closed with, “Although we will never stop trying to improve, we are truly now a world-class botanical garden.”

Botanical Gardens president Connie Crawford agreed “We are so lucky you came home!” she exclaimed. She cited Harvey's reputation for working behind the scenes, always getting results, with her Judy Harvey smile and her ever gracious attitude.

“We are in such good hands with both of you.” said Crawford.

2010 Citizen of the Year Candace Miller, right, praises her mother, 1985 Citizen of the Year Carolyn Miller. The elder Miller, after watching the Citizen of the Year board struggle to decide between two sterling candidates two years in a row, initiated the annual Alexander Dunsmuir Award beginning in 1988.