By Caleb Lunetta
Signal Senior Staff Writer
During a special ceremony held Friday at the base of the trailhead now bearing his name, former Santa Clarita Councilman Dennis Koontz listened on as a number of community leaders spoke — while others listened — about the impact one of the city’s founding fathers had on his local community over the years.
“He has been a pillar in Santa Clarita for its entire 34-year history, and (for) his role in the city formation committee, he was elected as a member of the first City Council on Dec. 15, 1987,” said Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste. “And it was a very proud moment in this valley.”
The event, held at the end of Stoney Creek Drive, near Tesoro Adobe Park, was attended by dignitaries from across the political spectrum, as well as supportive members of the community, and Koontz’s own family.
Although the trail is not yet open to the public, the city decided to move forward with the dedication on Friday, placing a sign at the beginning of the trail that cuts through 800 acres of open space between Copper Hill Drive and Avenida Rancho Tesoro.
Weste described Koontz as a man who has always been patient, always kind, committed to serving others, and it is therefore “no surprise,” Weste said, that he was integral in laying the foundation for the success the community has achieved today. She also stated that he played a part in the ongoing effort to expand the city’s trail system.
Koontz spent his career working as a fire captain for the paramedic engine company for the Los Angeles City Fire Department, serving as a member of the Board of Fire and Police Protective League. He also worked as a school nurse for more than 15 years and, although he retired in 2010, he continues to volunteer at school events.
Weste said that Koontz has been a longtime proponent of annexing the community of Tesoro del Valle while also working to raise thousands of dollars for local charities and events, including: the SCV Boys and Girls Club, the Bella Vida Senior Center, the Santa Clarita Fourth of July parades and the Santa Clarita Zonta Club chapter.
During the ceremony, state Sen. Scott Wilk and Mayor Bill Miranda both spoke fondly of Koontz, and representatives from Rep. Mike Garcia’s office and Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares presented him with honors.
“I’m very proud of the part I played in helping start the city of Santa Clarita,” said Koontz, just after thanking his wife and family for supporting him. “It has become one of the best cities in the country. Please annex us, I need that,” he said to laughs from the audience.
“This is an honor that I will enjoy for a long time,” said Koontz. “My children, my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren will share this honor with me.”