Assemblyman district awards
Assemblyman Heath Flore recently honored individuals and businesses in his district for superior service and commitment to duty.
Flora recognized Lt. Commander Jorge Velez of Ripon as the 2019 Veteran of the Year for Flora’s district.
Velez served for 18 years in three branches of the U.S. armed services, including a combat tour at the Kandahar Airfield hospital where he cared for U.S. and NATO casualties of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Waterloo restaurant in San Joaquin County was named the 2019 Small Business of the Year for Flora’s district. The eatery, which has been in business for more than 30 years, was recognized for their successful run and community involvement.

Nonprofit wins award
Assemblymember Adam Gray honored the Merced County Spring Fair Heritage Foundation at the State Capitol as the 2019 California Nonprofit of the Year for the 21st Assembly District. Board Members Supervisor Scott Silveira, Paul Parreira, Pat Gallichio, Cannon Michael, and Natasha Crivelli traveled to Sacramento to be honored as part of the 2019 California Nonprofits Day.
“The Heritage Foundation’s commitment to our community and local farming families is remarkable,” said Gray. “The generosity and dedication of the board has been instrumental in the continued success of the fair.”
The Heritage Foundation is committed to preserving and enriching the heritage of Merced County by continuing to develop the Merced County Spring Fair into a premier destination. Since its inception in 2011, the Heritage Foundation has awarded over $200,000 in scholarships to approximately 175 students. The Foundation has successfully secured over $1.8 million in donations.
“The Heritage Foundation is an incredible resource for local 4-H and FFA programs,” continued Gray. “We have them to thank for many local agricultural education opportunities and improvements to fair facilities.”

Beard Land & Investment Co. announces new board chair and directors
Beard Land & Investment Co. and its subsidiary companies, Modesto & Empire Traction Company and Beard Land Improvement Company, announced today that John C. Bienvenu has been elected as the next chair of the Beard Board of Directors, succeeding previous chair Richard A. Sipos. Bienvenu is an attorney and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Bienvenu has been a member of Beard’s board since May 2011.
“I am honored to serve as Chair of the Beard companies and continue the work of my immediate predecessor, Richard Sipos,” said Bienvenu. “My grandfather John Beard was one of ten brothers and sisters that founded these companies nearly 100 years ago. Our commitment to our customers, our employees and our family shareholders has not wavered over that time and I look forward to helping Beard and our talented and dedicated management team led by Dillon Olvera continue its mission.”
Dillon Olvera succeeded Ronald S. Jackson as Beard’s President and Chief Executive Officer in 2018. He previously served as Beard’s Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Before coming to Beard, Olvera served as Chief Financial Officer for Innov8 Partners and as Vice President, Finance for 5.11. He lives in Turlock, California.
Olvera added, “Beard is a tremendous business with its solid group of employees, supportive Board of Directors, and strong customer base. I am really excited about having the opportunity to work with the team and lead Beard into the next stages of strategic development.”
Beard is also pleased to announce that its shareholders have elected three new Directors: Bruce Rueppel, Lon Van Gemert and Ronald Naess.
Rueppel is a partner with Guard Hill Holdings, a private equity firm focused on middle market industrial businesses in the general industrial and transportation-related industries. He lives in Granite Bay, California.
Von Gemert has had a long career in the rail industry, most recently serving as CEO of Progressive Rail, Inc., a Class III railroad operating several separate branches in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Missouri. He lives in Woodbury, Minnesota.
Naess is a member of the Beard family whose great-grandmother Edna was one of the company’s original founders. He is retired from a career as a systems and informational technology manager and lives in Logan, Utah.