Mid-State Fair

Cattlemen’s Association asks three to take a bow

From left, Debra Twisselman, Cattlewoman of the Year; Anthony “Tony” Keese, Cattleman of the Year; and Justin Smith, Agriculturalist of the Year.
From left, Debra Twisselman, Cattlewoman of the Year; Anthony “Tony” Keese, Cattleman of the Year; and Justin Smith, Agriculturalist of the Year.

Three citizens with longtime ties to local agriculture were honored this week at the California Mid-State Fair.

The San Luis Obispo County Cattlemen’s Association named Anthony “Tony” Keese as Cattleman of the Year and Debra Twisselman as Cattlewoman of the Year.

At the same event, Justin Smith was named Agriculturalist of the Year by the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau.

Keese is a 50-year member of the Cattlemen’s Association.

From leading the Bishop Peak 4-H Club for three decades to buying animals at the Mid-State Fair’s heifer sale and Junior Livestock Auction year after year, he’s known for supporting local youth.

Keese owns livestock producer K Bar 6 Angus Ranch in Pozo. Those close to him say the businessman remains on top of the latest industry information by attending seminars, workshops and cattle shows statewide. K Bar 6 brand cows, seen in the tri-county area, have also won numerous awards throughout the state and with the American Angus Association.

Twisselman, a Carrisa Plains resident, has been a member of the Cattlewomen’s Association since 1985. Outside her numerous ties to agriculture and animals, she’s touted as an education advocate far beyond her position as school librarian for Carrisa Plains Elementary School.

“My philosophy is, there is no greater reward in life than love of God and to see kids, crops and critters grow,” Twisselman said in a statement.

She has served on numerous committees with the association including several leadership and education roles. At the Mid-State Fair, she’s the junior fair board adviser and has strong ties with local 4-H clubs.

Smith, a second-generation farmer, is the winemaker of Saxum Vineyards in Paso Robles, a business he started with his wife, Heather Smith. But the family had farming roots in Paso Robles long before. Smith’s father planted James Berry Vineyard in 1980.

In 2010, Smith received a 100-point score from Robert Parker for his 2007 vintage James Berry Vineyard Proprietary Red. The same vintage was also on a Top Wine of the Year list by Wine Spectator magazine in 2010. Many in the wine industry look to Smith for his efforts in sustainable vineyard farming, locals say.

Representing a new generation of winemakers, the Farm Bureau considers Smith a “visionary who has changed the region and has set the bar high for himself and his peers,” according to a statement.

French Hospital Medical Center is accepting applications for the 2012 Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) Community Grants Program for local nonprofit health care organizations.

A typical grant would total $5,000, with available grant funds more than $45,000.

Criteria will focus on health education and disease prevention programs in the areas of cancer prevention, congestive heart disease, cardiac wellness, diabetes and obesity.

Grant materials are available at www.chwHEALTH.

org/communitygrants. Deadline is Friday.

For more information, call 542-6268.

— Julia Hickey

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