Until 1992, Grover Beach was known as Grover City, but the name didn’t set well with many residents, including newcomers Richard and Carol Roberts.
“We joined the Chamber of Commerce when we moved here in 1988, and changing the name seemed to make sense to us,” said Richard Roberts. “The new name boasted our proximity to the ocean, but surprisingly the name change only won by 100 votes.”
The couple moved to the small beach town from busy San Bernardino after vacationing in San Luis Obispo County and living in an RV for more than a year while looking for a house. They reasoned that by becoming involved in community politics and organizations, they would make friends. They did that and more.
Just some of their activities and accolades include being founding members of the Central Coast Exploration Station, founding and current board members of the Grover Beach Community Library, recipients of the Mary Lee Clark Award for contributions to the library, grand marshals in the Grover Beach Holiday Parade and Grover Beach Chamber Citizens of the Year (Richard in 1994, Carol in 2003).
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“Getting involved in the community was a good way for us, as retired newcomers, to meet people,” Carol Roberts said. “We wanted to live in a small town and to know our neighbors, something we never had in San Bernardino. When we moved to Grover Beach, it was like coming home.”
The couple also were big backers of a $48 million bond measure that voters approved in 2014 to fix the city’s streets. The funds will pay to reconstruct all 29 miles of residential streets and some of the major thoroughfares in the city. Property owners will pay an assessment for 45 years to cover the cost of the bonds.
“The streets were terrible, and the citizens pretty much agreed to the overhaul,” Richard said. “The vote was 66 percent in favor of fixing the problem, which shows you that the streets are pretty bad.”
When Richard and Carol aren’t volunteering, they take time to perform with three other musicians in their band, The Flaming Ukuleles.
“We have a great time playing, and we perform at all types of events,” Carol said. “People sing along with our music, and they can’t believe what fun we are. Playing the ukulele seems to fit into the culture of Grover Beach, just like we did almost 30 years ago.”