Each year, the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce and a committee comprised of previous Outstanding Citizens of the Year award recipients selects a person who has rendered significant service to the community to be honored with the William T. Harkins Outstanding Citizen Award. The award is presented at the Annual Dinner & Outstanding Citizen of the Year Celebration on Thursday, February 13, 2020 in the Garden Ballroom at the picturesque Wine & Roses. This year, the Outstanding Citizen is none other than Mark Armstrong.
The Outstanding Citizen of the Year award is named after the former Pacific Gas and Electric Lodi Community Manager, William T. Harkins, who assumed the presidency of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce in 1964 during a period of serious economic crisis. Due to Harkins’ actions, he was able to restore community confidence and economic stability to the Chamber, as well as setting the stage for its growth and development into an influential community organization. The nominating committee decided that Mark Armstrong is deserving of this prestigious award and must be recognized for his commitment to the community.
In addition to successfully running the Lodi Grape Festival for over twenty-seven years, Mark Armstrong has spent the past twenty-nine years immersing himself in the community through volunteer efforts including coaching youth sports, a past board member for the Boys and Girls Club of Lodi, revived the American Legion baseball program, and established the Bucks for Books Scholarship Fund (which has provided $60,000 in scholarships for college textbook expenses). He is also the creator, leader, and organizer of the Take Back Lodi movement aimed at cleaning up Lodi against illegal dumping, vandalism, and waste from the increasing homeless population. Since its inception, Armstrong has led over 50 clean-up efforts, has partnered with Cal-Trans, Lodi Public Works, San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department, Lodi PD, California Highway Patrol, Union Pacific Railroad, and oversees the volunteer recruiting efforts- all on his own time. One of his two nominators Supervisor Chuck Winn said, “Mark has a love of his community that has inspired others to join him in making Lodi a place to be proud of.” Nominator Robert Lauchland from Robert Lauchland Vineyards commends Mark on his work with non-profits and Take Back Lodi, but also stated, “I have always been impressed with Mark’s efforts to work collectively with others to promote Lodi and make the Grape Festival one of the top small town fairs in the state.” Pat Patrick, Lodi Chamber’s President and CEO stated, “We are very pleased with the nominating committee’s choice in Mark Armstrong. From his work with kids’ sports after he moved into Lodi to 27 years later where he’s spear-heading the difficult and time-consuming work of Take Back Lodi, Mark has been an asset and hard worker for our community.”
The Lodi District Chamber of Commerce will be recognizing Mark Armstrong on Thursday, February 13, 2020 at the 97thAnnual Dinner & Outstanding Citizens Celebration. The event will also recognize Ambassador of the Year Joy Furtado Freeman, Agribusiness Person of the Year Jennifer Spaletta, Small Business of the Year House of Clocks, and Business of the Year Miller Hot Dogs. Tickets for the 97th Annual Dinner & Outstanding Citizens Celebration can be purchased at LodiChamber.com or at the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce.