Community Council Announces Citizen of the Year, Golden Sparkplugs and Pride of the Palisades Honorees 

The award nominating committee, consisting of Community Council member Sue Kohl (Area 5), David Kaplan (Area 6), Chris Spitz (secretary), Sarah Knauer (Chamber representative) and 2016 Citizen of the Year Daphne Gronich announced their selections at Thursday night’s meeting.

The awards will be presented at a ceremony on Thursday, December 12 at the Woman’s Club. Tickets are $60. Visit:


Oratorical Post Chairman David Card (left) and Oratorical District Chairman Kevin Niles present a $500 check to contest winner Danielle Wilson, who attends Brentwood School.

According to the award guidelines, the Citizen of the Year “Honors those whose contributions to Pacific Palisades have been both a recent effort resulting in a substantial benefit to the community, and a steady, reliable long-term history of service to the Palisades.”

Kevin Niles was selected as this year’s recipient. In a nomination letter in support of Niles, it was noted that as the adjutant of the American Legion, “his recent leadership of two successful youth programs sponsored by the American Legion Palisades Post 283 – the Oratorical Scholarship Program and Boys State — has been extraordinary.”

He is the long-time Cubmaster for Cub Scout Pack 223 (165 boys, grades K-5) and has long been associated with Boy Scout Troop 223.

Niles is a longstanding member of the Palisades Rotary Club and has volunteered for many years with PAPA, the Palisades Americanism Parade Association that organizes the Fourth of July parade and fireworks show. Niles and his wife Nancy, the current Woman’s Club president, rode as parade marshals in 2017.


The purpose of the Golden Sparkplug Award is to honor those citizens who ignite ideas and projects into community action that benefit Palisadians throughout the community.

  1. Don Comacho spearheaded and coordinated the acquisition and installation of five solar-powered scoreboards at the Field of Dreams at the Palisades Recreation Center. A member of the Pacific Palisades Baseball Association (PPBA) board, he raised nearly $250,000 for the project and then worked  for almost a year with the City, the Coastal Commission, engineers, contractors and the supplier to provide the new scoreboards, one of which has been on display during this season’s flag football program. The scoreboards will be available to all organized sports teams.
  2. When the Chamber of Commerce discontinued the traditional Holiday Ho!Ho!Ho! last year, Lisa Glantz, within two weeks, produced the Holiday Hullabaloo. With a “joyous can-do nature” (as described by her nominator), she inspired numerous volunteers to help put together a special “kid-centric” event in the Palisades, combining elements of the past “Ho Ho Ho” tradition, with appearances by Santa & Mrs. Claus on the Station 69 fire engine and “Mayors” Billy & Janice Crystal as Santa’s elves; a bake sale; toy donation drive; fun kids’ activities; a photo booth; live music; dance performances and more. And she’s doing it all again this year!

    Mike Lanning

  3. Mike Lanning was chosen based on his leadership in bringing girls into scouting in the Palisades this year. The esteemed Scoutmaster of the renowned Palisades Scout Troop 223 for more than 60 years, Lanning was also chosen as the 2019 Fourth of July parade marshal. Of the 30 girls in the Troop, there are 12 Second Class Scouts and 18 Tenderfoot Scouts. The Scouts have earned more than 200 merit badges and 12 of the participants should earn the rank of Eagle Scout in May of 2021.


The criteria: “From time to time in special circumstances, the Awards Selection Committee may determine, at its discretion, that an individual who is not a resident or qualified in all respects for the Citizen Award or Sparkplug Award should receive ‘Pride of the Palisades’ recognition for extraordinary service to the Palisades community.

George Wolfberg, who was named Citizen of the Year in 2011, is serving his fourth term as PPCC Chair, and also served for decades as president of the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association. He was the chair of the Potrero Canyon Community Advisory Committee and was an active participant in the ultimately successful No Oil! campaign.

Wolfberg serves on the Pacific Coast Highway Task Force and worked to preserve the historic Eucalyptus Grove in Rustic Canyon. He serves on the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils Land Use & Planning Committee.

He also volunteered for many years as an AYSO referee, and has participated in numerous planning and development projects, including the California Incline Reconstruction, the Coastal Relief Sewer Project and the northern extension of the Beach Bike Path.

Richard Cohen left) and Chris Spitz watch George Wolfberg at a PPCC meeting. Wolfberg has won the Community Council’s Pride of the Palisades award.



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