Man of the Year : Jeff Dixon
among other projects .
Though Jeff Dixon claims to have come to volunteering “ late ” in his life compared to others , Celebrate Morgan Hill ’ s Man of the Year has more than made up for lost time . “ I started volunteering within 36 hours of moving here in 2003 ,” he said , helping raise funds to build the Morgan Hill Aquatic Center .
Since then he has shown up for youth in the community with his non-profit corporation , Morgan Hill Youth Sports Alliance , which operated the outdoor Sports Center for the City of Morgan Hill
His big focus was creating the South Valley Flag Football League in 2004 . “ It ’ s a passion for me , as the kid who was always picked last for football in my neighborhood because I was the smallest .”
is heading into its 58th continuous season .
He ’ s also been heavily involved in the Fourth of July Freedom Festival . “ I ’ m an event planner by nature and for something that celebrates such a worthy cause , the founding of our country , to have a lot of fun doing it – it was a no brainer .”
He started “ shlepping kegs for the street dance ” as well as fundraising and parade marketing , and became Vice President of the Freedom Festival in 2008 , and President in 2011 . He is largely responsible for encouraging the city to move the Fourth of July fireworks out of Community Park , “ where they were getting squeezed out due to construction ” and over to the outdoor Sports Center “ where there ’ s oodles of room .” He has been Chair of Fireworks since 2017 .
To Dixon , volunteering is about making a difference and giving back to the people in this town who , he finds , are always willing to lend a hand . “ Almost every single day if a parent or family arrives when I ’ m setting up the flag football field , I get offered help . I don ’ t think there are words to describe how cool that is .”
He feels that kids don ’ t have the same chance to run down to the park unescorted and be back for dinner , so he ’ s tried to create that safe , supportive , sporty environment for kids in town . The league
He urges others in the community to follow suit : “ If you can , find the time to use your abilities to make a difference , because payback is ten times what you put into it .”
Woman of the Year : Leslie Miles
Architect Lesley Miles has had a tangible impact on the community of Morgan Hill . If you ’ ve eaten at Odeum , had your bike tuned at Bike Therapy , or strolled downtown and admired the Skeels building you can thank Weston Miles – Lesley ’ s firm with her husband Charles Weston , for their hand in it .
Miles and her husband moved to Morgan Hill in 1980 , where she first ran a home-based landscape design practice while raising children . After managing her husband ’ s architecture practice , she became an architect in her own right in 1996 .
Their firm began to change the face of downtown , by renovating the historic but falling-down Skeels Building on Monterey Road ( where Ladera Grill is now ). “ It was a highly charged redevelopment project in the community ,” Miles said . “ It was the project that really started to turn around the downtown .”
They also renovated office space across Monterey Road , where House of Bagels is today . Then they helped design the Train Depot , which she called “ a really fun project that helped to add life on Depot Street .” And they transformed what was essentially a hallway at the City Council chambers into seating for 275 .
But it was their purchase of the derelict Granary on Depot , near E . First Street , that would really be a game changer . She wanted to preserve the Granary , and its remaining fruit orchard , as a piece of Morgan Hill ’ s agricultural past . Parts of the building date back to the 1920s , making renovating it a significant challenge , such as figuring out how to take down 20-ton silos and grain hoppers . The purpose of redeveloping it , she said , “ was to create community , and spaces , so that people could connect and come together .”
Community became especially important to Miles when she spent two years living in a remote and rural part of Guatemala , with only 15 other families in her early 20s . “ With no road , electricity , running water , or communication , it forced you to be part of the community . We all had the common goal of surviving in this hostile jungle .”
Now , the Granary is a thriving community of shops and restaurants , all of it worth the hardships involved in developing the property , she said , and a wonder to behold .
Miles is grateful to live in such a community-oriented town , with great “ diversity of thought ” and exquisite natural beauty . “ I always breathe a sigh of relief when I drive home .”
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