Calling it “a highlight” of her life, local historian and El Dorado Hills community advocate Betty January was honored as Assemblyman Kevin Kiley’s Woman of the Year earlier this month.
January spent March 6 at the state Capitol along with 79 other women representing the state’s 80 Assembly districts. The 6th Assembly district is made up of 77.5 percent Placer, 34.1 percent El Dorado and 9.7 percent Sacramento county areas.
January, 85, toured the Capitol, enjoyed refreshments and was honored during a presentation. Each assemblyman or woman escorted their special guest down the aisle as a brief bio of the honoree’s accomplishments was read.
“It was a love for horses that first brought Betty January, then age 42, to El Dorado Hills,” states January’s bio. “She and her husband found a piece of land, ensconced near a lake just off Salmon Falls Road. There they built Saddle Oaks Ranch, where Betty raised horses and green-broke them for the trail. At the time El Dorado Hills had a population of around 2,000. Over the next 44 years Betty would watch it grow into a community of more than 44,000.
“Community is Betty’s passion. She belonged to the Northern California Indian Tribal Council, working with disabled children in her spare time. While in college she set up a laboratory technology program and participated in staff programs. After retiring from her position at the UC Davis Medical Laboratory in 1991, she turned her focus to El Dorado Hills.
“Her first project was a community group called Newcomers, out of which emerged Citizens for a Community Library, responsible for organizing the building of the El Dorado Hills Library. Next was the founding of the Clarksville Region Historical Society, dedicated to the preservation of local historical sites, documents, artifacts and records. From there Betty became active in the Marble Valley Center for the Arts and El Dorado County Women’s Fund, participated in the Placerville Sacramento Valley Railroad and the Court House Blue Ribbon Committee and volunteered on the El Dorado Hills Foundation Cabinet and the El Dorado Hills Community Council. Other responsibilities, boards and honors would follow. Today Betty is credited by many for helping shape El Dorado Hills’ sense of community.
“Betty is mother to four children, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Her passions remain family, friends, community and horses.”
January held a framed plaque as she was flanked by the majority and minority leaders of the Assembly as well as Kiley for a photo. She was then treated to “an excellent lunch” under a white tent on the west lawn.
“The whole day was exciting and they made me feel so very special,” she told Village Life the next day. “I’m still walking on air.”
Asked why serving her community has been such an integral part of her life, January explained, “I have loved this community since I moved here in ’73 … I watched it grow and wanted to be a part of that growth. Also, I could never say ‘no,’ or at least not to a good idea.”