Biz Buzz: Fire-resistant businessman named Morro Citizen of Year

More than three years after a fire devastated his business, Morro Bay Furniture owner Barry Ross was named the 2010 Citizen of the Year by the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce at its annual installation and awards dinner Thursday night.

Ross was lauded at the event held at Ciao Bella restaurant for quietly supporting community events and special needs, and for a positive attitude after a 2006 fire.

“Although it took six months to rebuild the sleep shop, it was probably a blessing in disguise,” he said.

“We were able to make better use of the space, but frankly our customers know us for our service, like when we delivered a new mattress to one customer and took her old one to a niece, who couldn’t afford a new one.

“We didn’t charge extra. After all, I just need to make enough to feed myself, my dog and my bird,” Ross added.

The chamber named Morro Bay Police Department Crime Prevention Coordinator Hank Roth its 2010 Living Treasure.

He was praised for creating programs designed to help people protect themselves and their children, such as Neighborhood Watch, Citizens Police Academy, Citizens Alert and child safety seat programs.

Roth is also known for standing in as Morro Bay’s Santa Claus at the annual police-sponsored Caroling Cops event, where he passes out toys with other volunteers singing Christmas carols around town.

Coast Electronics was named the 2010 Business of the Year. John Weiss started the business with his father, Dick, when he was 19.

Weiss was president of the chamber board from 2006 to 2008 and has long been active in the business organization. He’s now president of the Morro Bay Rotary Club.

“Special employees are part of my team that made this honor possible,” he said, adding that his wife, Christine McDonald, also deserves credit for his success.

His son, Stuart, also works at the family business.

Weiss lauded John ‘Woody’ Woodsworth for being his general manager for more than 25 years and employees Larry Stears, Al Murphy and former City Councilman Bill Peirce for working more than 15 years at the business.

Also at the event, the chamber installed attorney Stuart McElhinney as board president, along with new board members Patrick Bietz of Top Dog Coffee and Lisa Franklin of the Scenic Coast Association of Realtors.

— Tribune staff report

SLO housing group gets $100K grant

The Los Angeles-based Weingart Foundation recently gave a $100,000 grant to People’s Self-Help Housing of San Luis Obispo.

The grant is to help fund core operating support over a two-year period.

Aiming to help people in need, the foundation, established in 1952, makes grants to social service, educational and community programs.

Peoples’ Self-Help Housing develops and manages more than 1,200 below-market-price housing units in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

— AnnMarie Cornejo