Hometown Hero

Banners honoring the 12 Hometown Heroes for 2021 can be seen during the 4th of July celebration. Among those being honored are Melodee Mitchell.

The Crescent City/Del Norte Chamber of Commerce 4th of July Committee is pleased to announce the 12 Hometown Heroes for 2021. Nominated by the community, these Hometown Heroes are a reflection of the outstanding caliber of our citizens. Brought to you in-part by Supervisor Valerie Starkey and the Crescent City/Del Norte Chamber of Commerce.


Join the chamber in congratulating the following individuals and look for their customized banners on the light poles lining front street during the 4th of July, Independence Day festivities.

For information, contact Valerie Starkey at 707-490-9177 or vstarkey@sonic.net




  1. Melodee Mitchell - executive director of DNCCC

Melodee is the executive director of the Del Norte Child Care Council. She is a devoted leader, she volunteers with civic pride, and she strives for the safety and well-being of our families and children. Melodee sits on the Department of Juvenile Justice for Transitional Youth, local planning council and has served on the chamber board as vice president and president. 


  1. Rene Shanle-Hutzell - radio host

Rene is always working to promote the businesses and organizations of Del Norte County. She is also the voice of “help” and authority when there are emergencies in the area. She represents genuine love for our community. Rene can always be counted on to lift spirits and cause a belly laugh. She is truly a gem for our small community.



  1. Jeannine Galatioto - retired CAO, active member of Soroptimist

Jeannine exemplifies a strong woman who believes in public service to benefit all citizens. Jeannine is a soroptomist, leading the way to help educate others about the risks of human trafficking. Jeannine has also provided public service through her church, St. Pauls’ Episcopal, heading the monthly community dinner program, assisting with the shower program and food pantry, as well as serving  on the outreach response team which answers calls for gas, lodging and food. Jeannine has assisted Del Norte Mission Possible in solidifying, funding and organizing their outreach.

  1. John and Linda Ging - Avid Volunteers

This couple is a miracle duo. They jump in and help with so many projects, always with a kind-selfless attitude. Examples of the contribution include the PTO/Chamber/Ambassador/Elks/Emblems, and the list goes on. It’s always such an honor to be part of the projects they work on. They have assisted and lived in our area for quite a while now and remain a huge asset to Crescent City.


  1. Karen Neufeld Sanders - CalTrans/Republican Party head

Karen is an incredible woman who works tirelessly for this community in many ways. You can often find Karen volunteering at many functions, as a valued community member, as an employee of Caltrans or as a Republican leader. Regardless of the hat that she might wear that day, she is always a wonderful human being who treats and greets everyone with a smile and respect. 

  1. Danielle Larsen - Wheeler-Humane Society

Danielle is a fierce advocate for the animals and, because the program is largely unfunded, she organizes multiple fundraising efforts each year. Her ideas, such as Dancing with the Stars, poker tournaments, Dog Olympics and table events at local farmer’s markets and the fair, have become treasured events for the community.    Danielle is a delight to be around. She finds humor in life’s situations and can be counted on to be a trusted friend. 


  1. Chief Richard Griffin - Chief of Police for Crescent City

Ever since Chief Griffin was sworn in as chief of police, he has completely turned the department around. Chief Griffin has fostered a sense of “not me but we” within CCPD and his officers are excelling as a result. Chief Griffin has what he likes to refer to as a “family” unit at CCPD. The officers care for each other and this community, deeply. Chief Griffin has encouraged the strengths he has discovered in each of his officers and has utilized them to not only grow the individual, but to strengthen this community with what skills the officers have to give. 


  1. Eric Wier - Crescent City, City Manager

          Eric Wier sees the community in its potential - always. He is an example of leadership and drive. First one in, last one out - working long hours, weekends, even working staff jobs when the city has been shorthanded. Whatever the job was, he would do it. He grew up in this community and believes in Crescent City and Del Norte. He drives city staff every day to be better people, to see the good in others, and to work hard for our community and to make a difference. 


9.  Celia Perez - Therapist, Avid Volunteer, Advocate for those less fortunate.

Celia has a heart of gold. You can often find her volunteering for pretty much every event in our community. Last year, for Santa’s Workshop, Celia spent countless hours organizing requests from families, buying toys and essentials, and wrapping gifts for those in need. Celia never complained, she never wavered from her commitment, and she kept her spirits high even though she was clearly overworked with this massive commitment. Celia works several jobs, is an amazing mother, and is a very supportive friend to all. Born and raised in Del Norte County, she exemplifies the true meaning of hero to all that know her.


10.  Michael Baxter - Tree Faller/Elks Lodge/Veteran

Michael Baxter has a personal understanding of what our veterans go through after their return from service. Michael has worked hand-in-hand with Barbara Burke, a fellow Elk member and grant writer, to obtain a grant through the Elks Grand Lodge to provide lunches every Thursday to our homeless vets. Michael distributes the meals to veterans in various homeless encampments in and around the Crescent City area. Michael also works as a liaison between the homeless and Mission Possible to arrange for trash pick-up in the homeless encampments in exchange for necessities, such as blankets and food.


11.  Mel and Peggy Thomas - Search and Rescue

Together, Mel and Peggy have dedicated more than 50 years to Search and Rescue. They and their dogs have been a valuable asset to SAR. Both of them were CARDA (California Rescue Dog Association) members before they joined SAR. They have put hundreds of hours of training into their dogs and the maintenance of their certifications.

12.  Frank Ormonde - Business Owner and Benevolent Contributor

Frank Ormonde is always finding ways to better his community. He quietly works behind the scenes, never wanting to draw attention to the good things he contributes. Frank is involved with St. Joseph's Church, and actively helps fundraising efforts for Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery, the NRA Dinner, the Chamber of Commerce and youth sports. Frank treats his employees and their families as if they were his own family, always encouraging them to be the best they can be.

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