Nellie Cortez first recipient of inaugural CITY TALK award

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Photo Dr. G: Retired teacher Nellie Cortez, 82, helps Dr. G in his clean up efforts around the city each week because she “likes to see the city looking good and looking clean.”
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By Dr. G (Dr. Luis S. Gonzalez, Colton Councilman)

On Friday, July 31 Council Member Dr.G (Dr. Luis S. Gonzalez) presented the very first CITY TALK “Community Impact Award” to Nellie Cortez, long-time resident of Colton, and well-known retired teacher in the Colton Joint Unified School District.

This award was established to recognize the great efforts people make “behind the scenes” to make our community, the City of Colton, a better place. “I could not think of a better person to be the first recipient,” smiles Dr. G, current City Council Member and well-known community advocate.

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During the month of July, Nellie Cortez has been helping Dr. G with his regular trash clean-up effort. This month the focus was on the main streets, namely Valley Blvd. and La Cadena. Once a week, starting July 8, Nellie has been arriving on location at 6:30 a.m. (band director time), fully protected with PPE, and ready to help clean the walkways. At age 82, Nellie has “amazingly strong energy, and the compassion to match it,” explains Dr. G, who has been collecting trash from Colton streets for the last six years.

Born in 1938, Nellie was born in Colton on 5th Street, “right in our house on the street,” laughs Nellie. When she married Edward Cortez, they purchased a house on West K Street, where for over 60 years, they still reside. She taught four years at Terrace Hills Jr. High School, then became the 2nd grade teacher at Wilson School for 36 years. After she officially retired, she was then a substitute teacher at Wilson for 14 more years.

“She’s certainly one of the pillars of the community,” says Dr. G, who now counts on Nellie to team up with his clean-up effort. In fact, Nellie has been cleaning up trash in her neighborhood for many years, and it was on the K street cul-d-sac that Dr. G and Nellie started working together. When asked why she did the trash clean-up, her reply was, “I like to see our city looking good and looking clean.”

The plan is to continue with the trash clean-up effort, and hopefully along the way, more people might want to pitch in. Over the years, several groups and individuals have stepped up to help, and as always, “any help is much appreciated,” says Dr. G. “Sometimes we even go for coffee afterwards and enjoy some down time talking about everything in Colton.”

For more information about CITY TALK, the trash clean-up, or the online live-stream programs, contact Dr. G @ 213-3730. Questions and comments are always welcome.

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