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Woodbridge Municipal Advisory Council honors residents’ excellence

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Mary Fuhs

Spencer Dayton

Benjamin Deckert

Frank Palmer

Andy Christensen

Posted: Friday, November 9, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 8:46 am, Fri Nov 9, 2012.

Three individuals, a church and a water district were honored Thursday night with the Woodbridge Excellence Awards for 2012.

The Woodbridge Municipal Advisory Council issued certificates to Mary Fuhs, Benjamin Deckert, Spencer Dayton, Woodbridge Irrigation District and First Missionary Baptist Church of Woodbridge.

Mary Fuhs

An Acampo resident, Mary Fuhs has been one of the most active volunteers and organizers at the Woodbridge Wilderness Area on the banks of the Mokelumne River.

She and outgoing advisory council chairwoman Mary Avanti fought to keep the wilderness area open to the public for two weekends a month, despite opposition by San Joaquin County.

"I played there as a child; then it was taken away," Fuhs said at Thursday's MAC meeting.

She noticed during the summer that many young families took advantage of the wilderness area at Meadowlark and River Meadows drives, and most of them were from Woodbridge.

"This is a woman who loves nature," Avanti said of Fuhs. "She is a walking encyclopedia of conservation."

During the weekends the park is open, Fuhs teaches visitors about the leaves, flowers and animals, Avanti said.

Spencer Dayton

A 15-year-old Lodi High School sophomore, Dayton put up a parade of flags at Woodbridge Community Park in the older area of town on the Fourth of July this year. It was something that hadn't been done at the community park before, Avanti said.

Dayton also set up a drug awareness booth on the Fourth of July, and he organized cleanups along the Mokelumne River at the Woodbridge Wilderness Area and the Woodbridge Dam area. The cleanups picked up 22 tons of trash from the river, he said.

Dayton is also a member of the Order of DeMolay.

Benjamin Deckert

A 17-year-old senior at Lodi High, Deckert built a sign for First Missionary Baptist Church as an Eagle Scout project. The church is on the north side of the traffic circle at Mokelumne Street, Chestnut Street and Woodbridge Road.

First Missionary Baptist Church of Woodbridge

The church was honored for its community service, including the Halloween "Trunk or Treat," which was open to children whether or not they attend the church. The church also distributes food and other items to the needy monthly, welcomes youths to gather each Wednesday and allowed Neighborhood Watch to meet at the building.

"This is the church; this isn't me," Pastor Frank Palmer said upon receiving the award.

Many items distributed to the community were donated by church members and local businesses, Palmer said.

"They're there to give all the time," Avanti said of the church.

Woodbridge Irrigation District

District manager Andy Christensen accepted the award for the district's new office on Lower Sacramento Road, adjacent to the irrigation canal. MAC member Tasso Kandris noted that the structure is attractive and fits in with the historical look of Woodbridge's business district.

Avanti said the district provides a valuable service by providing irrigation water for farmers and the "state-of-the-art" fish ladders to guide the fish — especially salmon — upstream along the Mokelumne River to the fish hatchery east of Clements.

The district office also has a wall depicting the district's history, dating back to the 19th century. Avanti said the display is interesting and that employees are happy to discuss the district's history.

"I feel very humbled," Christensen said upon receiving the award.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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