Community celebrates annual awardees

Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Alex Solano (left) is welcomed on stage by John Kegebein during the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture's annual awards dinner Saturday at the fairgrounds. (Photo by Erik Chalhoub/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — In a video interview shown in front of more than 500 people Saturday at the fairgrounds, Alex Solano said his words often get him in trouble.

At the conclusion of the video, Solano was led on stage by Fiaau Ohmann, where John Kegebein handed him the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sure enough, Solano, the final awardee of the night, quipped that a previous honoree “cheated” by talking past their allotted time. So, he said he would do the same, and then proceeded to educate the audience on the proper pronunciation of “Pajaro,” while thanking his family, especially his late wife Patricia, who, among many other things, would “write letters to the Pajaronian for me.”

He said he always had a job throughout his life, and questioned the validity of statements made by some of today’s youth that there is no work for them. He thanked Ron Haedicke of Freedom Media Services for editing out the rambling bits of his video interview. He added that despite being 87 years old, he doesn’t join seniors groups, because, according to him, all they do is talk about their illnesses.

As promised, Solano did go over his three-minute time. But judging by the long standing ovation at the conclusion of his speech, the crowd didn’t mind.

Solano was recognized alongside Woman of the Year Lori Butterworth, Man of the Year Brad Hubbard, Business of the Year Alladin Nursery, Organization of the Year Dientes Community Dental Care and Event of the Year Aldina Real Estate Charity Chili Cook-off during the chamber's annual awards dinner.

Solano is a United States Air Force veteran who is an active volunteer in numerous community groups, such as the American Legion, Edward H. Lorenson Post, Veterans of Foreign Wars in Watsonville, Pajaro Valley Historical Association Board, Elkhorn Slough Foundation and Watsonville Slavic American Cultural Organization.

“I want to thank the chamber for this great award,” he said. “The valley has been real good to me. My goal is to keep on volunteering.”


For more information on all the awardees, visit


Lori Butterworth, Woman of the Year. (All photos by Erik Chalhoub/Register-Pajaronian)


Harry Wiggins (right) introduces Brad Hubbard as Man of the Year.


Gustavo Beyer (right), owner of the Business of the Year Alladin Nursery, is joined onstage with his family.


Judy Nielsen (from right) congratulates Dientes Community Dental Care CEO Laura Marcus and staff on receiving the Organization of the Year award.


Aldina Maciel (right) accepts the Organization of the Year award with her staff for the Aldina Real Estate Charity Chili Cook-Off.


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