Four men and the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno were recognized for their outstanding community service on Friday at an awards ceremony and reception in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Rutherford B. Gaston Middle School in southwest Fresno.
Fresno police Lt. Anthony Martinez, retired California Highway Patrol Central Division Chief Jim Abrames, Allied Waste general manager Keith Hester and the late Lesley “Les” Kimber, a former Fresno city councilman, were each honored at the reception.
Martinez is currently the Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC) metro commander. He served as a Marine before being honorably discharged. He also is the commander of Parlier’s American Legion post and a drug demand reduction officer for the Clovis Young Marines.
Abrames retired in December after a 31-year career in the CHP that saw him rise from an officer in Bakersfield to division chief. He developed and served on several task forces geared toward improving motor safety in the central San Joaquin Valley and commanded more than 1,100 CHP personnel during his time as chief.
Hester runs the day-to-day operations of Allied Waste/Republic Services in the Fresno and Salinas areas. The company has donated and participated in previous events honoring King in Fresno for more than a decade. He also is on the board of directors for the Clovis Chamber of Commerce and a leader in his church.
Kimber served two terms on the Fresno City Council in the 1980s. He also served as the first African-American criminal investigator for the Fresno County Public Defender’s Office and co-founded the California Advocate newspaper with his wife, Pauline. He established a citywide celebration of King in 1983 – three years before the national holiday was established. Kimber died in January 2015.
The Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno established a place of safe worship for all Muslims and seeks to educate the community about Muslim customs and practices. It also offers counseling and medical care for local Muslims.
Organizer Gail Gaston said each person or organization was selected for their commitment to their communities and to celebrating King’s dream in their everyday life.