Atascadero lost a genuine friend last week when Geoff English left his position with the city to take a job with the city of Arroyo Grande.
Geoff’s last assignment in Atascadero was serving as the city’s deputy Public Works director. His new job with Arroyo Grande will be head of maintenance services.
I met Geoff many years ago when a movement began to replace the original lakeside pavilion with a new one. Plans ranged from remodeling the old structure, which had stood at the lake’s edge since the 1930s, to tearing it down and building a brand new one.
Atascadero’s Rotary Club was leading the pavilion project in its infancy before other service clubs got on board.
The late Sarah Gronstrand, who chaired Friends of the Lake Pavilion, asked me whether I would meet at the pavilion to do a news story about a guy from the city named Geoff English.
She said he was coordinating the city’s efforts on the project and that he was “a very nice young man.”
As usual, Sarah was right. Geoff was — and is — a very nice young man. Our friendship began with that meeting, and for the next dozen years and more, while I was a working journalist, our paths crossed many times.
It seemed Geoff was everywhere, helping on projects — including park playgrounds and sports fields — that benefited children, senior citizens and all those adults in between.
He not only made working with the newly formed city easier, he also made it fun. He joined committees when he didn’t have to just to make sure there was a city presence there.
It might just be my imagination, but it seemed that as a city staffer, Geoff kept getting put in places where the city wanted to get things accomplished.
Fortunately for those of us who live in Atascadero, there are a number of Geoff-like folks working in this city, such as Brady Cherry, Paula Anton and Corey Meyers.
But those folks are still with us.
Geoff has chosen to become a department head in another city in San Luis Obispo County. He will continue to live in Templeton, where he has been so very involved, both as a parent and as a community leader.
Atascadero’s loss will be Arroyo Grande’s gain.
I know Geoff won’t wear it to work down there, but during a luncheon in his honor, he was presented with a T-shirt that read, “The Go To Guy.”
His new fellow workers, elected officials and residents of Arroyo Grande will learn that soon enough. I truly believe that if you looked up “civil servant” in the dictionary, there would be a picture of Geoff English.
Lon Allans column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades, and his column appears weekly. Readers can reach him at 466-8529 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.