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2012-03-07 / Front Page

Pleasanton Chamber honors citizens


The Man of the Year award was given to Jeff Chicoine by the Lions Club. Fellow Lion Lillian Cashmer presented the award, assisted by Wade McBee, Chamber 2nd Vice President. The Man of the Year award was given to Jeff Chicoine by the Lions Club. Fellow Lion Lillian Cashmer presented the award, assisted by Wade McBee, Chamber 2nd Vice President. “Building Business, Building Community” was the theme for the 61st annual Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce awards banquet held last Thursday at Coughran Hall.

The social hour led into the banquet meal of grilled chicken breasts, scalloped potatoes and green beans - catered by McBee’s Barbecue of Pleasanton.

The event was emceed by Chamber President Chico Cox as he introduced the speakers for the evening - newcomers to our community -Pleasanton ISD’s Superintendent Dr. Cynthia Clinesmith and Pleasanton City Manager Bruce Pearson. They shared their first impressions of this community and what they hope to accomplish. They both agreed that Pleasanton is a well kept secret in South Texas.

Nine well deserving individuals were awarded by active community groups.


Kathy Coronado was named Woman of the Year. Craig Dowdy represented the Pleasanton Rotary Club which sponsors the award. Candace Vrana, Chamber Director, assists. Kathy Coronado was named Woman of the Year. Craig Dowdy represented the Pleasanton Rotary Club which sponsors the award. Candace Vrana, Chamber Director, assists. The recipients and their nomination letters follow.

Lions Club Man of the Year Jeff Chicoine

Jeff Chicoine graduated from Jourdanton high school in May of 1991 and started working for Johnny Lambaria at State Farm Insurance June 3, 1991. While working for Johnny he attended Palo Alto College and received his associate of arts degree and received his business degree from Wayland Baptist University in San Antonio in 1998. During his last year of college, Johnny made an offer to stay in insurance and become his office manager, which he accepted and still works there today. He and Shannon, his wife of 12 1/2 years, have one daughter Jessica age 19.

While in his early years of employment, Johnny would take Jeff to lunch meetings at the Pleasanton Lions Club as a guest and helped with events. Finding that this club was full of great people and helping children he joined the club in 1998.




Christopher Williams received the Young Citizen of the Year award. It was sponsored by the Pleasanton Young Farmers and presented by Wade McBee and Eric Otto. Christopher Williams received the Young Citizen of the Year award. It was sponsored by the Pleasanton Young Farmers and presented by Wade McBee and Eric Otto. Since joining in 1998 he held many positions in the club – Leo Club Advisor, Homecoming Booth coordinator, 5K run committee, Mobile Eye Unit coordinator, Texas Lions Camp Coordinator, Lions MD-2 Zone coordinator, Wild Game Chair and co-chair and serving as president four times. Jeff has been recognized Lion of the Year also along with being a member of the Pleasanton Lions Club he’s a member of Atascosa County Crimestoppers injured and an athletic booster. He also served on the Jourdanton ISD planning committee, was member of the Pleasanton Jaycees, assisted in Cowboy Homecoming set up and serveda brief stint with the Jourdanton Rotary Club.


The Teenager of the Year award went to Shelby Crossland. It is sponsored by Alpha Chi Chi and presented by Ivanna Warnken. The Teenager of the Year award went to Shelby Crossland. It is sponsored by Alpha Chi Chi and presented by Ivanna Warnken. In his off time he loves to travel with his wife, golf and sing karaoke.

Rotary Club Woman of the Year Kathy Coronado

Kathy Coronado was born and raised in Houston and she graduated from the University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. She made her way to Pleasanton in 1983 to enjoy more rural life and began working with the City of Pleasanton a month later. The following year she was appointed City Secretary and served in that capacity for 20 years. In January, 2004 she began an eight year term as City Manager, retiring in December, 2011. During the past 28 years, she saw so many changes as the city developed and grew, with public service always the top priority.


Norman Porter, Sr. received the Senior Citizen of the Year, sponsored by South Texas Regional Medical Center Senior CIrcle. Shauna Garza, Chamber 1st Vice President and Wade McBee, Chamber 2nd Vice President make the presentation. Norman Porter, Sr. received the Senior Citizen of the Year, sponsored by South Texas Regional Medical Center Senior CIrcle. Shauna Garza, Chamber 1st Vice President and Wade McBee, Chamber 2nd Vice President make the presentation. She married Jim Coronado in 2004 and they are now enjoying retirement together. They keep busy with various civic groups and have been active at St. Andrews Catholic Church for many years. She has a son, Jason, and daughter in-law in Dallas and now a niece, Monica, has joined their household. She’s looking forward to more time for all the best things in life while continuing to serve in the community she calls home.

Young Farmers Young Citizen of the Year Corporal Christopher Williams

Christopher Williams was born on November 5, 1989 in LaGrange, Kentucky. He moved to Pleasanton at the young age of one. He attended all 12 years in Pleasanton, but little did they know his senior year would be the beginning of an amazing journey.


Catie Heider Blaha and Kristen Heider DiCaro, aka The Virginia Twins (second and fourth from left), received the Chamber’s award for Business Persons of the Year from Chico Cox, Chamber President and Christie Gawlik, Chamber Treasurer. Catie Heider Blaha and Kristen Heider DiCaro, aka The Virginia Twins (second and fourth from left), received the Chamber’s award for Business Persons of the Year from Chico Cox, Chamber President and Christie Gawlik, Chamber Treasurer. He succeeded tremendously throughout his high school years. He participated on the AG Sales Team and competed in numerous FFA competitions. Their AG sales team was a top ranking team. He was a part of the freshman and JV football. Soon his senior year approached and he was ranked in the top ten percent of his class, receiving the principal’s honor graduate award. He was also chosen as the History Student of the Year. Chris received numerous college contacts, and while his classmates had their colleges and dorm rooms ready to go, Chris had other plans.


Callie Bast (left) received Teacher of the Year - In Memory of David R. Cardwell award from the Pleasanton VFD Auxiliary from Margie Mendez. Sharon LaGrange assists with the presentation. Callie Bast (left) received Teacher of the Year - In Memory of David R. Cardwell award from the Pleasanton VFD Auxiliary from Margie Mendez. Sharon LaGrange assists with the presentation. In his younger years there was a man that he had always looked up to, his grandfather Daddy Dub. Daddy Dub was a US Marine and had served our country through the hardest of times. He had love for our country. Chris’ goal in life was to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather.

He received his diploma and while his friends were planning summer vacations, he left for three months of boot camp for the US Marines. After graduation, he was home only two weeks and was back to San Diego for more intense training.

After returning home in late 2009, he became engaged to Mystle Crossland. They began planning the wedding of their dreams. A week before their special day, he received word that he would be deploying to Afghanistan eight days after their wedding.

Pat and Tom Wickersham received the Couple of the Year award from Claudia Reyes (right). It is sponsored by the Pleasanton Woman’s Club. Christie Gawlik read the nomination letter. Pat and Tom Wickersham received the Couple of the Year award from Claudia Reyes (right). It is sponsored by the Pleasanton Woman’s Club. Christie Gawlik read the nomination letter. The next seven months were going to be the biggest adventure of his life. He served with 1/23 Marines out of Corpus Christi. Their unit was featured on many local news stations and on 20/20. They were recognized for their great accomplishments. While in Afghanistan, they had the chance to help locals better their community. They also helped with the opening of several new schools for the children. Their duty was to protect and improve the surrounding areas. They worked with the British and Afghan Armies and embarked on many scary encounters along the way. They suffered few casualties but never gave up. Chris was given the word that he would be returning home and he arrived safely on October 1, 2011. He celebrated with his wife and family in an emotional reunion unlike any other. He received awards and achievement medals for serving his country and was promoted to corporal. This was a journey he will never forget.

Christopher is the husband of Mystle Crossland Williams and the son of Lane and Nechole Williams.

Alpha Chi Chi Teenager of the Year Shelby Crossland

This young lady was born May 17, 1994, at Uvalde Memorial Hospital. She moved to Pleasanton at the age of 10 months old. She suffered the loss of her father at the early age of 6. But this is when she found the Lord and followed his word and guidance. At this early age she decided to turn a negative into a positive and she has never looked back.

Growing up she participated in numerous activities. In her early school years she was nominated as student of the month many times. When she started the 5th grade, she was chosen to play for the Wilson County Juniors club volleyball team. She traveled all over Texas to play at elite volleyball tournaments. When she entered Junior High, she became very active within school activities. Her 7th grade year she made the A volleyball team and the A basketball team. Later in the school year she participated in track, pep squad and was also nominated as class treasurer.

After spending a year in pep squad, she was chosen by judges to become an 8th grade cheerleader. As a cheerleader she cheered at football games, pep rallies and basketball games. In 8th grade she was chosen again to be part of the A volleyball team. Later in the school year she was chosen to be a member of the National Honor Society and was chosen to be their treasurer. While in NHS she helped with the annual dinner with Santa and she also helped decorate for the 8th grade gala. While in 8th grade she found a passion for agriculture. Soon after taking classes she became an active FFA member. During her 8th grade year she was chosen by the high school AG teachers to participate on the High School Chapter Conducting Team. Her team advanced to state where she earned a high school letterman jacket in junior high. She was also awarded the honor of receiving the Star Greenhand Award. Soon after competing she decided to raise her first show hog.

She then moved on to high school. Her freshman year she was chosen to be on the Freshman Volleyball team. She also served as their captain. She was a member of the Ag Sales and Chapter Conducting Team. Both teams placed in district and moved onto State. This year she raised six show hogs, placing four and received monies from the auction to add to her college funds. For the second year in a row she received the Star Chapter Award through the Pleasanton FFA. She also donated her time picking up trash around the community and singing Christmas carols at the local nursing homes. This is when she got actively involved in Fellowship for Christian Athletes, Leading Eagles Against Drugs and Christ for Life.

She went on and excelled each year. She became class treasurer again and made the varsity cheerleading squad. She also made the varsity volleyball team as a sophomore where she played setter and her team went on to district playoffs. She raised 11 show hogs this year placing first. She also competed on the Chapter Conducting and Ag Sales teams. They advanced on to state missing nationals by half a point. She was inducted into the National Honor Society. At the end of her sophomore year she decided she was going to run for Cowboy Homecoming Queen. She campaigned in every neighborhood and walked street to street for five weeks. In August she was named the 2010-2011 Cowboy Homecoming Queen. With this crown she started visiting schools in our area and speaking on how you can be a positive role model. She also visited the primary for Muffins with Mom and Donuts with Dad; she sat with children that did not have parents with them so they could too feel special. She also visited local nursing homes and played bingo with residents.

She was vice president of her junior class and planned the prom for 2011. She remained on the varsity volleyball team and was named captain. She and her team flew to Florida and participated in a tournament with teams from all over the United States. They played for numerous days at the ESPN Center at Disneyworld. She also participated in the National Honor Society. She served as Cowboy Homecoming Queen and served hundreds of hours helping to better her community. She visited numerous festivals and rode in many parades. As a varsity cheerleader she helped host the Little Miss Cheer Clinic. At the clinic they taught little girls cheers and dance routines to perform at a high school football game. Every day after school she helped tutor children. She takes the time to work with each of them. She also served as the Winter Garden District FFA President for two years in a row. She was awarded the Lone Star FFA degree. She participated in Public Relations and placed first in District.

Her senior year has become an unforgettable year. She was chosen for the third year in a row to be a varsity volleyball team member. In December, she was recognized as the student of the month by the Pleasanton School Board. She was also chosen to be the Pleasanton FFA Chapter president. She has conducted many activities for her local chapter. Her FFA career has grown dramatically during her senior year. In October, she was chosen to be the San Antonio Stockshow & Rodeo/Fox 29’s Scholar of the Week. She was interviewed and made numerous appearances on LIVE television. The 2012 Atascosa County Livestock Show was an amazing year for her. She raised six pigs and placed every pig. She received reserve grand champion of her breed. She was also awarded the 2012 Senior Swine Showmanship buckle. She also participated in the San Antonio Stockshow. During the San Antonio Stockshow she helps with giving children from all the schools tours of the rodeo and teaches them about the animals. She also holds a showmanship clinic showing the youth how to show their animals in the arena.

She has been accepted into Texas State University, where she will seek a degree in Public Relations and minor in Marketing.

She is the daughter of Thomas and Tressy Merrill and younger sister of Mystle Crossland Williams.

STRMC - Senior Circle Senior Citizen of the Year Norman Porter, Sr.

Norman Porter, Sr. has a lifelong history in the city of Pleasanton. He moved to Pleasanton after his freshman year in school at Jourdanton and he graduated from Pleasanton High School. He later attended South Texas State College. He is married to the former Iris Brite and they have one son, Norman Jr. He was a teacher, school administrator and coach at Pleasanton ISD. He is now retired and enjoys his days off.

He is an active member of the Pleasanton Church of Christ where he serves on the church committees. He also belongs to the Longhorn Museum Society where he served as president, the Camino Trail Association, and the Atascosa Historical Commission. This man has done so much for our community. Through his efforts, we have established a SAU&G Railroad depot at our museum as well as a railroad caboose. He did the research and work necessary to have the Pleasanton Cemetery granted a Texas Historical Cemetery. He collects vintage post cards and is always generous to share them.

He wrote and published a book on the History of Atascosa County and is working on the Texas Trail Drivers Association, bringing meetings and information to our city. The Historical Society, which he is currently chairman, is setting up an reenactment of the mustering of Company E 32nd Regiment of the Voluntary Texas Calvary of the Confederate States of America. This was held under the oak trees where City Hall now stands.

Woman’s Club Couple of the Year Tom and Pat Wickersham

The Wickershams were both born in Illinois - Tom in Vandalia and Pat in Granite City. They married in 1970 in Granite City.

In 1982 they moved to Pleasanton where they were both teachers. Pat taught in Pleasanton from 1982-1988 then taught in Poteet ISD from 1989-2005. She retired in 2005. Tom taught and coached in Pleasanton from 1982 until his retirement in 2002.

They both attend First Baptist Church in Pleasanton where Tom teaches a Sunday School class and serves on two committees.

In 2006 or so, Pat became an accredited licensed daycare director for the First Baptist Church Child Development Center.

They were looking for a person to be in a director position until finding a full-time person.

Pat has been a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer after she retired from teaching. Advocates work closely being a voice for children, while also helping CPS (Child Protective Services) to better the lives of children and their families. If you are interested in being a CASA volunteer call (830) 267-1025.

Tom, for some years after retiring from teaching, was active in a First Baptist Church jail ministry.

But in 2000, it came apparent by Tom’s snow white facial features, he could don a red suit trimmed in white fur to help raise money for CASA along with his wife (aka Mrs. Claus). This started what is now known as CASA Claus.

For the past about 10 years he’s made many photo appearances and obligations in an effort to raise funds for CASA. The total money raised over this time period is estimated over $22,000. Three-fourths of that total is from appearing for photos in 2012 and making a 2012 CASA Calendar which has coupons from local merchants. (Which are still on sale if anyone would like one.)

They both have attended and helped out groups and places including all the local school districts, Pleasanton and Jourdanton Chamber of Commerce events.

Along the way he’s made some special detours to spread Christmas cheer and not wanting any money. From a little boy not expected to live past 2 years who has celebrated three more birthdays – to a family where a lady wasn’t expected to live past Christmas and wanting Santa to stop by to see her kids reaction one last time.

Tom and Pat have two children, David Wickersham and Elizabeth Guinn (husband Jeremey) and a grandson, Zachary Guinn.

Chamber’s Business Persons of the Year Kristen Heider DiCaro & Catie Heider Blaha

These successful young women have started a business from the ground up. As many of us know, starting your own business is no easy task. But, they have managed to make their business one of the most successful businesses in Pleasanton.

“Growing” has always been a constant part of their lives. They literally grew up in a greenhouse! But it goes back in the family several generations. Their grandfather and great-grandfather grew prime produce for the Washington DC market in the early 1900s. Their father continued the tradition by opening a retail nursery and then a farm market. So, it is no surprise that these two savvy businesswomen, highly trained and experienced in growing things, would transplant their roots in our rich Pleasanton soil.

They first opened their nursery about 11 years ago and it has grown to be a great success. Nurseries are seasonal and not an easy market to handle, but these two continue to provide our town with gorgeous works of art – season after season. These women are great educators as well. They give ther time to speak to local organizations about plants, landscaping and xeriscaping. They graciously donate their time, talent and nursery items to multiple charitable organizations. Both have served on the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Cowboy Homecoming Committee, dedicating many hours of volunteer work.

Catie is married to Wade Blaha and is the mother of Garrett and Graham.

Kristen is married to Bryan DiCaro and is the mother of Eleanor, Ellie and Lexi.

Pleasanton VFD Auxiliary Teacher of the Year (In memory of Dr. David R. Cardwell) Callie Bast

This remarkable woman is number nine out of 10 children and was born November 25, 1963 in the state of Kansas, which is known for its pioneer spirit. She must have inherited much of that spirit. In 1975, when she was just 11 years old, she tried out and made the team for the Falcons, as the first girl to ever play in the majors in Pleasanton Little League. That may not sound so pioneering today, but at that time there were no girls in Little League. There was a double page spread in the Pleasanton Express “She’s beautiful and she can also hit, run and throw” with her long blonde hair and her “I’ll love you forever smile” shining out from under her red ball cap. She is one of those people who make the path a little easier. She wants others to have opportunity, whether it’s a child who wants to play ball; or her family and friends that need her expertise to pursue their dreams; or her students, ALL of whom she wants to help reach for the stars. Or even the stranger she meets, because if she crosses paths with anyone she will make his or her walk a little easier if at all within her ability to do so. This is just her nature.

Some of you are aware of her virtues, but what you may not be aware of are her many accomplishments that make up her vast curriculum vitae. She graduated from Pleasanton High School in May of 1982, with the ranking of third in her class. She maintained this high GPA while participating in band, basketball, volleyball, class officer, student council and anything else asked of her. She held offices in most of these activities. It was no surprise when she was awarded Pleasanton Teenager of the Year in 1982 (30 years to date). Hard work and dedication are so much a part of her character, yet they are only a tip of the iceberg.

She went on to attend UTSA where she met her husband, whom she married in July of 1989. They have been happily married for 22 years and have three amazing children together. During this time she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in May of 1990 and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering in May of 1993, both from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) with a GPA of 4.0 – all while working full-time and part-time jobs earning 75% of her college expenses.

She co-authored a published work entitled “Probabilistic Structural Analysis and Reliability Using Nessus with Implemented Material Strength Degradation Model”. She has several NASA publications ranging from “Strength of Aerospace Materials” to “Thermal FATIGUE” for the space shuttle main engine. Yes, the woman knows about fatigue! She has mastered various software applications and programming systems. She assisted on Design projects while employed at Kelly Air Force Base. She was a part of the UTSA Division of Engineering research team as a Graduate Research Assistant from May of 1991 to May 1993, where she was supported for the MSME degree by a NASA funded Fellowship from NASA Lewis Research Center (LeRC). From September of 1994 to December of 2004, she worked on several NASA grants and continued her research on degradation models for the space shuttle main engine.

From 1993 to 2005, she was also a professor in UTSA’s Engineering Department for several Mechanical Engineering courses. She was loved and appreciated by her students, but her Momma’s heart was calling her to be near her own children more. In 2006, Pleasanton ISD received an enduring blessing when she left the realm of higher education to pursue her heart – her family. She has taught 7th and 8th grade Math and Algebra and is presently a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) instructor at Pleasanton Junior High School.

Her students, past and present, will tell you that she teaches in such a way that she actually makes math “fun” and to where they are able to understand it and have the test scores to prove it. They will also tell you that in the past 6 years, she has tutored after hours, encouraged and “lovingly” redirected when a student’s focus was off. She laughs with and genuinely enjoys her students. She teaches and responds in such a transparent way that they can’t help but feel her concern for them . Her endearing personality comes shining through in her classroom where she strives to see each and every one of her students reach their potential. She encourages all of her students because all of her students are winners in her eyes.

If this were not enough, she is also a coach. In fact, to many of students, “Coach” is her name. She coached many of her students before she became their math teacher. She and her husband have been a volunteer coach for over a decade for Pleasanton Little Dribblers, Pleasanton Little League and Tri-City Soccer organizations. She currently coaches boys’ and girls’ soccer for Pleasanton Junior High and JZV Girls’ Soccer for Pleasanton High School. And she obtained her CDL driver’s license in order to transport the teams to games and events. So “Bus Driver” is now a part of many resourceful attributes.

She, of course, has always maintained her sense of humor throughout her education and career. She just makes people laugh. Laughter is a good medicine, and she innately knows this. The meaning of this remarkable woman’s name is “beautiful”. This is so very fitting as she is beautiful inside and out. It would be no surprise to see the word laughter or at the very least the word “HOT” next to the meaning of her name, because as she will tell, ‘You can’t have Caliente without Callie, Baby”.

Her husband, Allen; her children Amanda, Jonathan and Samantha, along with her mother, May Lou; her countless siblings, nieces and nephews, students, co-workers and friends are all so happy for her. This award is “spot on” and gives everyone a chance to thank her for so many things, most of which are just her daily reaction to people and life that go unnoticed until you actually try to take it all in.

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