Perris City Councilman Mark Yarbrough accepted an invitation this month to address Perris High School alumni, expecting to reflect on his time at the campus and congratulate fellow Panthers for their post-graduate accomplishments.
He never expected to be the guest of honor.
Yarbrough, a 1977 graduate of Perris High School, was named Alumnus of the Year for 2014. A five-term councilman first elected in 1996, Yarbrough was honored for his public service and commitment to Perris, which includes starting and operating two businesses in the City.
Yarbrough took home a plaque thanking him for helping make Perris “one of the best-run cities in California” and detailing the community’s growth and development since his election.
Those included preserving many historical Perris buildings and the City’s historic D Street, improving parks and recreation facilities, attracting many new businesses to town, which in turn have provided employment to many local residents.
Yarbrough received the award Sept. 13 in a ceremony attended by about 175 current and former Perris High School teachers, administrators and students.
“I am deeply humbled,” Yarbrough said. “It’s a great honor to be on the same stage with generations of Perris Panthers. I was caught completely off guard. It was complete surprise but a most pleasant surprise.”
Perris High School graduate and local historian Katie Keyes, who helped planned the recent alumni banquet, called Yarbrough a “truly dedicated public servant” who grew up in Perris, returned after completing professional training in Arizona and started a pair of businesses--an automotive-repair garage and towing company.
“He was honored for his service to Perris,” Keyes said. “It’s a record to be proud of.”