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County recognizes citizens for heroism and commendable deeds

The Placer County Board of Supervisors honored eight people this month for outstanding community service, presenting them with commemorative coins created for a county citizen-recognition program.

The board created the program in December 2002 to recognize outstanding citizens who have long track records of community service, have performed heroic acts or participated in little-known, but commendable feats.

Supervisors choose recipients from their districts.

Honored Tuesday were:

  • Carol Garcia, a Roseville city councilwoman with a long track record of leadership roles in city and community organizations;
  • Bill and Norma Santucci, long-time community activists who have been married 58 years. Bill Santucci is a former mayor of Roseville and chairman of the Placer County Board of Supervisors. Norma Santucci was an original member of the first children’s crisis nursery in Roseville;
  • Michael James Gunter, an 18-year-old man who was electrocuted while heroically trying to put out a wildfire on a rural Placer County road. His mother, Stacie Longmire, was on hand to accept the award on his behalf;
  • Ruth Alves and E.J. Ivaldi, county employees credited with saving the life of an individual when he stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating;
  • George Lay, a long-time community activist in Meadow Vista who gives lectures, writes articles and leads walking tours devoted to his community’s history.
  • Sandra Poulson, a Squaw Valley pioneer who received the honor posthumously. She died last September.

The commemorative coins feature the county seal on one side.

On the other side are the word "hero" and the image of an eagle with a star and sun rays in the background.

That second side of the coin was designed by J. Randal Smith, an Auburn native who is a nationally known artist. His design won a competition coordinated by the Arts Council of Placer County.

Background on the commemorative coin recipients

Carol Chilton Garcia, District 1
Garcia is a fifth-generation Roseville resident who currently serves on the City Council. In prior years she served on the City of Roseville Grants Advisory Commission and the Roseville Public Utilities Commission.

She was president of the Roseville Chamber of Commerce in 1999 and also has served as president of the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Placer County and Rotary Club of Roseville.

She is currently the Chairperson for the South Placer UC Davis Breast Cancer Endowment Fund, active in raising awareness and also helping to raise more than $500,000, noted Supervisor Rockholm in making the presentation.

Garcia received the Roseville Chamber’s prestigious Athena Award in 1997 and was the Chamber’s Volunteer of the Year in 1995, 1996 and 2003.

Employed by Granite Community Bank as a senior vice president and marketing director, Garcia has more than 27 years of community banking experience.

Bill and Norma Santucci, District 1

Bill and Norma Santucci, who have been married 58 years, share a long legacy of public and community service. “They are very good partners and work well together,” 1st District Supervisor Rocky Rockholm said.

During his career in public service, Bill championed both the needs of residents and the interests of the county as a whole. After serving two full terms as a Roseville City Councilmember, including four years as Mayor, he served three terms as a Placer County Supervisor, chairing the Board three times. Currently he is the District 1 appointee to the Placer County Planning Commission, the latest of a long string of appointive government positions, in addition to supporting numerous community agencies and service clubs.

Norma Santucci has also been deeply involved in the community. For 15 years she has worked on the Tommy Apostolos Fund Committee that assists about several hundred underprivileged children a year to purchase warm clothing and other needed items. For eight years she was on the ARC board serving children who are developmentally disabled. She was an original board member of the first Children’s Crisis Nursery in Roseville, and has also served 13 years on the Placer County Fair Board.

Michael James Gunter, District 2

Michael James Gunter was honored posthumously for his heroism in extinguishing a blaze in rural Sheridan. He was apparently electrocuted by the downed power line or cable attached to it, according to firefighters who responded.

“It is a privilege to honor the memory of Michael, who sadly was killed trying to put out that fire,” said District 2 Supervisor Robert Weygandt. “While not a resident of Placer County, he saw the fire, and stopped to help. His actions clearly reflect the heroism our coin presentation is all about.”

Receiving the coin honoring Michael were his mother, Stacie Longmire, his friend Amber Sullivan, who witnessed his act of heroism, and Robert Longmire, husband of Stacie.

Ruth Alves and E.J. Ivaldi, District 3

County employees Ruth Alves and E.J. Ivaldi received Commemorative Coins for saving the life of an individual who had became ill and unresponsive during a meeting at the County Administrative Center.

Ruth Alves, a former volunteer firefighter who is trained as an emergency medical technician, took action quickly with E.J. Ivaldi to provide CPR, while District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes, who witnessed the event, directed other staff to call 9-1-1.

“It’s a great privilege to be able to honor the lifesaving actions of these individuals,” said Supervisor Holmes. “Within a couple of minutes, the person was responsive, and today this individual is in very good shape.”

Ruth Alves works as an aide to Supervisor Holmes, while E.J. Ivaldi is a senior planner.

George Lay, District 5

George Lay is a long-time community activist who lectures, writes articles and gives walking tours on the history of his hometown, Meadow Vista.

He moved to the community when was 7 years old and today lives in the house he grew up in.

Lay was president of the Placer County Historical Society for nine years and remains a charter member. He has served for 30 years on the Meadow Vista Design Review Committee, is a founder of the Society for the Preservation of the History of Meadow Vista and represented his community on the board of the Placer County Chamber of Commerce.

Lay is a former Placer County Sheriff’s deputy whose first assignment was at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley.

“As you can obviously see, George has spent a lot of time doing a lot of activities,” said board Chairman Bruce Kranz, the supervisor who represents the 5th District. “And it seems like no matter where I go in the western part of my district, he’s there.”

Sandra Poulson, District 5

“Sandy was a true pioneer woman of her time,” Supervisor Kranz said, noting that she was a driving force in the development of Squaw Valley.

Born in New York, she met ski instructor Wayne Poulson on the slopes of Sun Valley, Idaho when she was 23 years old. The couple married two years later and settled in Squaw Valley.

Over the years, Sandy Poulson wore many hats in Squaw Valley: ranch boss, postmistress, planner, land developer and operations manager.

She was responsible for planning and building roads and a water system in the valley and subdivided the first lots there. She also raised eight children, including two Olympians.

She passed away last September at the age of 89. Her family was unable to attend the commemorative coin ceremony but will receive the coin at a meeting in North Lake Tahoe.

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