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Woodbridge awards recognize residents’ contributions

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Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 7:30 am, Tue Nov 12, 2013.

Long-time Woodbridge resident Tasso Kandris, restaurant owner Steve Ding and the Lodi Elks Lodge were given the red-carpet treatment last week when they were honored for their service.

The Woodbridge Municipal Advisory Council named Kandris the community’s Citizen of the Year, Ding was named Woodbridge Businessman of the Year, and the Elks Lodge was honored as the top nonprofit service organization.

Tasso Kandris

A Woodbridge resident since 1994, Kandris and his wife Gertie have been among the community’s most active residents. Tasso Kandris has served off and on for several years with the Woodbridge MAC, which makes recommendations to San Joaquin County officials that affect Woodbridge.

Former MAC member Charles Stocker, who nominated Kandris for the award, credits him for helping improve downtown Woodbridge’s appearance, helping create a community Neighborhood Watch program, being active with the county Mental Health and Substance Abuse Board, and being active in the community, which includes monitoring activities by the Woodbridge Sanitary District.

Kandris is an immigrant from Greece who survived gunfire during World War II. He immigrated to the United States at Ellis Island in 1946 and didn’t learn English until the seventh grade.

However, he became a nuclear electrician before his retirement.

The couple became active in the community in the late 1990s, when county officials proposed widening Chestnut Street to a four-lane thoroughfare that would extend south onto Lower Sacramento Road through Lodi and Stockton.

Through the MAC’s diligence, the county shelved plans to make Chestnut Street a four-way expressway, which Kandris and other Woodbridge residents feared would result in speeding cars through quiet neighborhoods and endanger students walking to and from what is now Woodbridge Elementary School.

Steve Ding

Steve Ding
Steve Ding

Ding, former chief of staff for ex-Rep. Richard Pombo, owns Woodbridge Crossing, an upscale restaurant on Lower Sacramento Road.

“The sense of fellowship he’s experienced with Woodbridge restaurateurs has him looking to promote the area as a destination for diners,” Theresa Serface wrote in her nomination letter.

“He supports local school and charitable organizations,” Serface said. “He is involved in the water and agricultural development of the region.”

She cites Ding’s efforts in establishing Woodbridge’s first farmers market, organizing car shows on Lower Sacramento Road, and bringing Karl Rove, deputy of chief of staff for former President George W. Bush, for a Woodbridge visit.

Lodi Elks Lodge

It may be called the Lodi Elks Lodge, but the headquarters is on the west side of Lower Sacramento Road, south of Woodbridge Dam. The lodge was housed in Downtown Lodi in the early 1950s, but the Elks purchased the current Woodbridge building in 1958, when the Woodbridge Golf & Country Club constructed a new clubhouse, said Noel Henderson, past district grand exalted ruler.

“This nonprofit service organization has been a hidden jewel in the community,” according to Augie Ramos, who nominated the Elks.

The Elks have been involved in such projects as:

Providing free use of the lodge and lawn area for local Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.

Allowing space for civic meetings, such as the weekly Woodbridge Municipal Advisory Council meeting.

Providing space for blood drives.

Distributing hundreds of dictionaries to local third-grade students and thousands of dollars for student scholarships in art, literature, sports, math and science.

Staffing a drug awareness booth at Neighborhood Watch’s annual Spring Fling.

Organizing the annual Memorial Day observance at Woodbridge Masonic Cemetery and cooking dinner for veterans on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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