Cloverdale’s Spirit of Sonoma County winner
Joan Tillman has been confirmed by the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce Board as this year’s recipient of The Spirit of Sonoma County “Business Leader” Award.
“We nominated Joan for her perseverance, ingenuity and community wrangling, which not only brought to our small town a premiere cycling event, but the rebirth of a park given to us by the town founder,” said Chamber President Dave Holt.
When her son was growing up, Tillman was involved with activities and organizations that primarily focused on him, such as Little League, PTA and coaching basketball. Later, she became a member of the Cloverdale Rotary Club, and it was here she began to explore ideas for projects she and the Club could do to benefit the entire community.
Tillman noticed that a small, historic park across the street from Cloverdale High School had fallen into a sad state of overgrown weeds and disrepair. Named in honor of Cloverdale’s founder, James A. Kleiser, the park is on land Kleiser donated in the mid 1860s for the town’s first school, a log cabin with a stone fireplace. It has been the site of two schools since then and has remained school property for more than 150 years.
She brought the idea of renovating the park to Rotary, and they got the ball rolling.
To help fund the project, Tillman suggested putting on a cycling event in picturesque Northern Sonoma County. Having participated in similar rides, she felt there were ways to improve upon what was being done by other groups. She started by picking the historic Asti Cellar No. 8 Winery as their venue, and before long, the Asti Tour de Vine became a reality.
This October marked the fifth annual event, and it was a sell-out, with more than 500 riders coming from all over the United States to participate and add to the local economy.
In 2011, Tillman and Rotary decided it was finally time to tackle the Kleiser Park Project. Realizing their renovation budget was larger than the bike ride proceeds, Tillman came up with yet another idea; selling personalized bricks to the community. Not only did the bricks raise the needed capital, they provided a design focal point for the park, which was completed earlier this year.
She will receive her award Dec. 7 at the Spirit of Sonoma County Awards Luncheon, hosted by the Sonoma County Economic Development Board. Honorees from 20 chambers and trade organizations from throughout the county will also be recognized.
Tillman has lived in Cloverdale for 20 years. She and her husband, Bob, are the owners of A & M Services (cable-tv.org) , selling and installing Dish Network TV systems, Direct TV, AT&T internet and phone, and most recently, Comcast Xfinity.