Fourth-term Danville Town Councilwoman Karen Stepper took the helm as the town's mayor for the upcoming year during a ceremony Tuesday evening.
"You are the heart of Danville. You're the catalyst that makes me so grateful and excited and proud to serve as mayor in 2016," Stepper said to the group of more than 200 Danville officials, residents and volunteer leaders gathered in the Village Theatre for the town's annual mayoral installation and Community Service Award presentation.
Danville's mayor is selected from among the five town council members, as opposed to being directly elected by the voters.
Stepper, who has served on the council since 2002, won re-election to her current council term in November 2014. This marks her third turn as mayor, having held the post in 2006 and 2011.
Stepper served as town vice mayor in 2015 while Councilman Mike Doyle served as mayor.
"Don't go away; I'll see you again in 2020," Doyle quipped to the gavel as he passed it to Stepper, drawing laughs from the theater audience.
The council also voted unanimously Tuesday to name Renee Morgan as town vice mayor for the upcoming year.
It's the first time Morgan, a fourth-year councilwoman, has held either of the council's top two positions.
Before the mayoral installation, the council spent nearly an hour and a half recognizing 20 individuals and groups for their community contributions while handing out the town's annual service awards.
The Danville Award
The evening's top award went to retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Ronald Lowe for his extensive volunteerism and continued support for military veterans in the Danville and San Ramon Valley communities.
Michael K. Shimansky Community Service Award
Teen Katherine Parker received the annual youth award as president of San Ramon Valley High's Environmental and Engineering Club, working to make the school and community more sustainable and aware about environmental issues.
Awards of Merit
The council handed out four sets of merit awards.
* Casey Stivender, a Monte Vista High freshman, for his leadership development and extensive volunteerism in the town's Counselor In Training Summer Day Camp Program.
* Teen Esteem, for its commitment to informing youth, parents and the community on issues related to adolescent health while addressing the importance of self-respect and respect for others.
* The Danville Children's Guild, for members' dedication to delivering life-enriching services and needed funds that build better futures for children in Bay Area communities and positively impacting the lives of children in need.
* The Library and Historical Collections Committee of the Veterans Memorial Building of the San Ramon Valley, for fostering appreciation and promotion of knowledge of American history by collecting and preserving memorabilia and books of U.S. military history with special emphasis on San Ramon Valley veterans and their families.
Volunteers of the Year
The Parks and Leisure Services Commission Volunteer of the Year Award went to the Labyrinth Committee from San Ramon Valley United Methodist Church, which coordinated the donation of a hand-sculpted stone-paver labyrinth for Hap Magee Ranch Park, including organizing multiple fundraisers to finance the $100,000-plus project.
Mary Camezon, a 23-year member of the Eugene O'Neill Foundation and eight-year member of the Role Players Ensemble, received the Arts Commission Volunteer of the Year Award, being honored for her commitment to the theater arts in Danville.
The Town Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Bob Braaten, Charles "Spike" Leonard and Ed Walden as the volunteer leaders of the town's Senior Bocce League.
The council recognized six outgoing members of town commissions and advisory boards: Susan Magee and Jo Loecher (Arts Commission), Patty Dobbin and Doug McQuillan (Heritage Resource Commission), Marc Silveira (Design Review Board) and Lynn Overcashier (leaving the Planning Commission after almost 25 years).
Council members also honored five people for reaching benchmark years of service to the town: Dobbin and Loecher (eight years), Kent Rezowalli (12 years, Parks and Leisure Services), Randy Haberl (16 years between Heritage Resource and Planning) and Doyle (24 years on Town Council).
Danville's Boy Scouts Troop 236, from Community Presbyterian Church, began the ceremony by leading the council and audience in The Pledge of Allegiance.
Tiare Vasconcellos, a 10-year-old from Golden View Elementary School, sang the national anthem.
Bishop Steve Farrell, of the Danville 2nd Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presented the invocation.
Danville's poet laureate, Elaine Betts, read her poem "The Spirit of Danville."