Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach Chamber of Commerce honored four Citizens of the Year at its annual installation dinner Feb. 1: for Arroyo Grande, John and Melinda Hansen; for Grover Beach, Gene and Gracia Bello.
“This is the first year where we’ve honored a couple from each city,” chamber President Judith Bean said. “All four have contributed significantly, both through volunteerism and philanthropy, over several decades to their respective communities; however, these couples often volunteered together. Because of that, the board felt they should share equally in the award.”
The Hansens were chosen for their many volunteer activities throughout the city.
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John Hansen is a member of the 5-Cities Men’s Club, Arroyo Grande Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, Central Coast Masonic Lodge, Clark Center Association, Arroyo Grande Police Community Advisory Council, San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Advisory Foundation and the International Footprint Association.
Melinda Hansen was an Arroyo Grande Chamber of Commerce board member in 1999-2000, and was the group’s ambassador of the year; later she was a member of the Arroyo Grande Rotary Club and the Women’s Shelter Program of SLO County. She also acted as treasurer for Katcho Achadjian for State Assembly in 2010, and was a committee member for fundraisers for both the Boys and Girls Club of South San Luis Obispo County and the Ovarian Cancer Golf Tournament.
She is currently a board member of the San Luis Obispo Country Club.
Gene and Gracia Bello were chosen for the Grover Beach distinction because of their longstanding involvement in the community.
The couple bought a pharmacy in Grover Beach in 1956 — three years before the community became an incorporated city. The Bellos received the first business license in what was then called Grover City and held it until their retirement in 1994. The license is now in the city’s historical archives.
They also owned Five Cities Drug from 1960 to 1985, Oceano Pharmacy from 1961 to 1966 and a Grover Beach gift shop called A Gathering of Gifts, according to previous Tribune reports.
They’ve supported the city of Grover Beach Parks and Recreation department and served twice as grand marshals of the holiday parade, most recently in 2010. They are supporters of several local groups including the Grover Beach Community Library.
The Chamber of Commerce also recognized other citizens for their significant contributions to the city.
Madelyn Koontz, owner of Madelyn’s Apparel in Pismo Beach, was recognized for her volunteer work with the chamber with the 2016 Directors Award. Robiy Ellison was chosen as this year’s recipient for the Ken Talley Award, for his work as a youth coach.
Koontz is a former chairwoman of the chamber’s board of directors, and spearheaded the merger of the two chambers in 2013. She also is a former chairwoman of the Ambassador Committee and has served on the Annual Dinner Committee and the Golf Committee for several years and volunteers to assist at most chamber events.
Ellison, maintenance supervisor at Port San Luis Harbor District, is the president of Five Cities Youth Basketball and a volunteer referee. He’s a coach for the Five Cities boys basketball team, a youth girls club basketball coach and the Arroyo Grande High School girls basketball coach. Ellison also is a coach for Arroyo Grande flag football and an Arroyo Grande little league baseball coach.
The Ken Talley Award comes with a $1,000 grant for a youth organization.
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