Sometime in the next few months, Banning’s Downtown Ad Hoc Committee will be tasked with appointing a selection committee who will nominate names for what is intended to be the prestigious Ring of Honor, nestled discreetly on the corner of San Gorgonio Avenue and Ramsey Street next to City Hall.
Three plaques commemorating deserving names adorn its columns: Jim Heslop, Brigitte Page and Milo P. Johnson.
Heslop was a former coach, assistant principal, assistant superintendent, Banning Lions Club president and founder of Habitat For Humanity of the San Gorgonio Pass.
Page was Banning’s first woman mayor, was cofounder of Soroptimist International’s House of Hope, and was president of the San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital Foundation. She also founded the former San Gorgonio Childcare Consortium.
Johnson was Mt. San Jacinto College’s founding president. He was president of the Riverside County board of education, was chairman of the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency, chairman of the Banning United Methodist Church, served on Banning’s public utilities board, and was president of the San Gorgonio Pass Rotary Club.
They are folks who demonstrated a lifetime of commitment and exemplified “service to the community that exceeds that service provided by most citizens for an extended period of time,” criteria stipulated by City Manager Doug Schulze during the city’s May 25 city council meeting.
“There shouldn’t be a lot of people that meet that criteria,” Schulze said, or it would diminish the designees and their lifetime achievements.
Councilman Kyle Pingree was hoping that scores of folks who came out to assist city-sponsored projects such as the Banning Chamber of Commerce’s food distribution program and the renovation of the animal shelter could possibly qualify as Ring honorees.
“This past year brought out quite a few of that select few,” Pingree insisted.
Councilman David Happe empathized, suggesting that there be a separate honorable mention plaque as to not suddenly overwhelm the columns with lists of names.
Councilwoman Mary Hamlin added, “You could be honored for being nominated, and honored for being the one” whose name is selected overall to have a $3,500 engraved plaque outlining all of a candidate’s accolades.
The three names currently at the Ring of Honor were placed there in 2004.
The city has not continued appointing a selection committee in a number of years, which was supposed to convene biannually to consider names for the Ring.
The criteria, which the council chose not to change, require honorees to: be citizens whose service to the community exceeds by a considerable degree that service provided by most citizens during their lifetime or tenure in the community in the form of time and effort in community projects; active participation in community service clubs and organizations; longtime service as an elected city official; and active participation in charitable programs and activities.
The city also expressed interest in revitalizing the landscaping to make the Ring of Honor “more visible and inviting,” since its ironic exclusive setting enables homeless folks to mingle.
The council provided direction to the Downtown Ad Hoc Committee to restart the Ring of Honor program and begin working on revitalization of Carpenter Hamilton Park, in which the Ring sits, and to later appoint a selection committee to come up with nominations for the Ring of Honor.
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