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SU to honor state, local figures for service

By Candace Sipos -- csipos@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- On Sunday, about 160 people will gather at Shenandoah University to honor four Virginians who have gone out of their way to serve the public.

This banquet has been put on by the university's Center for Public Service and Scholarship for the past 15 years, said Karen Kennedy Schultz, director of the center.

"It's a great thing to bring in outstanding role models who are willing to interact with us all," she said, noting that the honorees have even come early just to speak with students in the last few years. Much of the event will be hosted by students, she added.

"Rather than it being just a banquet with speeches, these honorees really have been involved with our students and community," she said. "It's inspiring that they will take the time to ... work with this next generation."

U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) is the national award recipient, with state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington) to be honored as the state representative.

Trish Ridgeway, director of Handley Regional Library since 1993, was chosen as the regional honoree. According to the pamphlet created by the event organizers, checkout of library materials has increased by 134 percent and the library endowment has increased by 440 percent under Ridgeway's watch. She has also fought for full-text databases in Virginia libraries, it reads.

Dianna R. Price, former secretary of the Loudoun County Electoral Board, will be the local representative. During 12 years of service on the board, she helped to organize 30 elections in a county that boasted 90,000 registered voters at the beginning of her service and 186,000 at the end, the same document states. She also oversaw 1,400 election workers in the 2008 presidential election, with many of them being new due to Loudoun County's fast growth.

Price said she was surprised that she was considered for this award.

"I'm deeply honored," Price said. "When I started along this route of public service, I really had no thought of ever being honored or recognized."

Whipple also spoke of her gratitude.

"I feel very honored indeed to receive this public recognition," she said. "Coming from such a fine institution in Virginia makes it especially meaningful."

Past recipients include former Winchester Mayor Larry Omps, former U.S. Sen. John Warner and former Stephens City Mayor Ray Ewing.

The event will start with a reception at 5:30 p.m. in the Ferrari Room of the Brandt Student Center. Although it costs $35 per person, Schultz said it is not meant to be a fundraiser and that the money collected will simply cover costs.

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