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New leaders are vital to community

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Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 5:47 am, Sat Jan 7, 2012.

Our year-end series titled "Making a Difference" profiled seven people who have done more than merely make a splash in 2011.

They are some of the new blood that will sustain our community in the years to come.

Every community loses leaders over time. Retirement, change of location and even death continually take their toll on the Lodi-Galt area's ability to move on and move up. We must continually add to the corps of leaders, and the seven profiled in "Making a Difference" are key ingredients in that regeneration.

To make our case, let's first think about leaders and what makes them special.

Most would agree that great leaders are smart, tough, selflessly determined and visionary. Rutgers applied psychologist Daniel Goleman recent enunciated another quality. He called it "emotional intelligence" — a combination of empathy, self-awareness and social skill that builds teams.

Emotional intelligence made a big difference in 2011.

Each of our profile subjects shows some of all of these traits, and those who missed the profiles will enjoy searching the Lodinews.com archives for the five "Making a Difference" articles. (Search for the names as the tag line was left off two of the articles.)

We submit this brief summary to make our point and reprise the achievements of these remarkable citizens:

Barbara Payne — Galt's mayor in 2011 worked to transform a city council beset by infighting and rudeness. Her sense of empathy and awareness of emotional dysfunction, prompted her to work for the election of two new members and appointment of a third. This new majority debated with patience and civility. They effectively communicated with staff and put Galt on a steadier course.

Ed Miller is a Tea Party activist and watchdog of the city of Lodi. For neither glory nor riches he attends public meetings, reads budgets and public reports and speaks out — challenging city hall to think of its most efficient options. His voice hasn't swayed every vote, but he has been determined and tough.

Authors Robin Burcell and Susan Crosby — Rather than narrowly pursuing their own successful careers, these two published novelists spent 2011 sharing their wisdom and love of their art. They directed a year-long writing seminar at the Lodi Public Library. Willing to work with even the smallest group, they were surprised to entertain 55 would-be writers at their first meeting. They continued to encourage their network of writers even as it dwindled to the 15 or 20 most determined to learn.

Pastor Jason McEachron of the Gravity Church — Beginning with a ministry started by his grandfather that served meals to Lodi's poor and hopeless, McEachron has changed and expanded his vision of serving the Lord. He has asked for and received the help of other churches to feed the homeless and hungry at Lodi's Lawrence Park. He and the members of Gravity Church now counsel those who need help repairing damaged family relationships.

K.R. and Robbie Hovatter own Scientific Specialties. The firm manufactures plastic tools and supplies for medical research. Robbie studied nursing and art at San Jose State University. K.R. holds an advanced degree in chemistry and many patents that define their most productive and innovative creations. The couple were the only employees when they launched the company in 1990. Their intelligence and determination have created jobs for 120 Lodi area workers who ship their creations around the world.

Of course Lodi, Galt, Acampo, Lockeford and all our other communities are blessed with many talented leaders.

It was an honor to introduce our readers to some of the newest ones.

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