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Signal's Most Influential Celebrated At Luncheon

List of prominent individuals include single volunteers, elected officials and corporate heads who made a difference.

The ultimate power lunch was held Tuesday at Salt Creek
Grille when The Signal honored “The 51,” a group of people deemed “the most
influential” in town.

The list, which has been published for the last four years,
traditionally puts the spotlight on community leaders otherwise called “movers
and shakers.” This year’s roster varied from previous lists, featuring a lot
more folks from the trenches than the chamber mixer circle.

Honorees Cheri Fleming and Wayne Crawford look on as Signal Publisher Ian Lamont, Editor Lila Littlejohn and Ad Director Maureen Daniels welcome

It was clear that the focus was on volunteerism. Honoree
Belinda Crawford, who runs the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry, couldn’t stop

“It’s very surprising and very humbling because what I do, I
do with my heart,” she said. “For years, I’ve wanted to find something I could
do where I could use the different skills I learned over the years. I’m one of
those ‘jack of all trades, master of none,’ so to pull all of those skills
together and really make a tiny difference in the lives of people in the
community is a blessing. Every day, I’m truly blessed to walk into the Pantry
and work with the best volunteers in the world.”

Honorees Jay Thomas, Carl Goldman, Scott Wilk, Bruce McFarland and Jim Ventress listen.

First-place honoree TimBen Boydston was acknowledged for his
work in keeping citizens aware and active at City Hall, both during his tenure
as a City Councilman and after his departure from the Council in “providing a
voice for the little guy.”  Sometimes
stirring the pot gets more kudos than actually running the City, as Boydston
edged out City Manager Ken Pulskamp for the top spot.

“It’a s very big honor to be on the same list as Belinda
Crawford from the Food Pantry, Teacher of the Year Sean O’Brien and Tim Davis
from the Homeless Shelter; the people who are making a positive influence every
day of their lives, “ Boydston said. “I appreciate that The Signal changed the
emphasis of Most Influential this year and expanded it to include those who
might not be considered movers and shakers, but people who are actually making
a real difference in people’s lives.”

Signal Online Editor Stephen K. Peeples, who sits on the
selection committee, explained the change in focus.

“This year’s ‘51’ was designed  to recognize the people in the Santa Clarita
Valley who are most responsible for getting things done, not the people that
talk the game but the people who walk it also,” he said. “A lot of people this
year are behind the scenes, people you wouldn’t expect to see on the list. We
thought it was important to recognize them as well as the usual suspects.”

The Signal's new Publisher Ian Lamont talks about volunteerism in the community.


Signal Publisher Ian Lamont, who took the reins of the paper
from Jay Harn just two weeks ago, is already proud of the tradition of honoring
those who improve the quality of life for everyone in the valley.

“I knew about the 51 as soon as I came into town," he said,
bemused. Lamont, whose background includes a plethora of awards for supporting
nonprofit organizations, considers newspapers as necessary partners in the
success of a community’s charitable efforts.

“Every community is blessed that has great leadership,” he
said. “This (The 51) is proof that Santa Clarita is one of those blessed
communities. I’ve always believed if you make a living in a community, that
community deserves your volunteerism and leadership to give back.

“The other half of a publisher’s job is to be highly visible
in the community, being accessible. It’s part of insuring that the newspaper
plays an important role in the community, as well as all media.”

For a look at the complete list of “The 51,” click here .