I love that the local chambers of commerce throughout San Luis Obispo County honor citizens who have helped make their respective communities a little bit better place to live, work and play.
On Saturday night it was the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce that saluted a number of local volunteers, businessmen, businesses, community volunteers and even an entire organization.
The men and women who get honored often don’t get their stories reported in the print media because of space limitations. This has happened a lot recently for those Atascaderans honored by the chamber.
So I want to use this space to at least mention those who were singled out for recognition.
The Tribune has already reported that Jimmy Quinonez was named Citizen of the Year in a story published a couple weeks ago. In making the presentation to “Jimmy Q.” as he is known to his many friends, Mayor Tom O’Malley said, “It has been said that if you were to look up the word ‘citizen’ in the dictionary, you would see a picture of Jimmy.”
Others honored Saturday night include Rolfe Nelson, a retired educator and a member of the city’s first elected City Council. Currently Nelson busies himself with the summertime Tuesday Night in the Park by helping fellow Elks members cook the barbecue and by working with the nonprofit Lighthouse program, which focuses on the deleterious impacts of drugs on our youth.
Atascadero Kiwanis Club was named Organization of the Year. The plaque was presented to immediate past-president Albert Almodova. The club provides scholarships to high school seniors, participates in civic improvements and most recently built the Centennial Bandstand at Atascadero Lake and a playground facility at the ECHO center.
Ryan Amborn, owner of West Coast Auto and Towing and Hertz Car Rental, was named Business Person of the Year, while Mike Emerich’s Solarponics was Business of the Year. Emerich’s Solarponics was the first solar installation company in California more than 30 years ago. Accepting the award with his father was Christian Emerich, who is taking over the company.
Paul Shannon is the chamber’s Ambassador of the Year for 2014.
In addition to the awards, Kelly Long took over the job as “chairman of the board,” replacing Robert M. Grigger Jones. She heads up a board consisting of 15 members of the business community.