Biz Buzz: Paso chamber to honor retiree, late councilman

A savior for those in need and a late city councilman will be named tonight as the 2010 Roblans of the Year by the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce at the Paso Robles Inn ballroom.

Liz Koll and the late Dale Schwartz were selected for their community service and support through volunteering, leadership or philanthropy, according to the organization. Schwartz’s family and Koll were told of the award before the dinner.

Koll, a retired nurse, “volunteers endless hours for her passions to provide meals and shelter to the needy of North County,” said Sunni Mullinax, events coordinator with the chamber.

The Paso Robles resident, who declined to give her age, helped develop in 2004 the Paso Robles People’s Kitchen program through the Transitional Food Shelter group.

She also serves on the group’s board of directors.

Koll continues to oversee and organize efforts at the People’s Kitchen.

The program serves free meals to low-income families and the homeless Monday through Friday at 1945 Riverside Ave. Over the last six years, more than 100 volunteers have served about 10,000 meals there to those in need.

Koll’s drive to help others is “almost like a seed that had been planted in me many, many years ago as a child,” she said. “And I always thought about it and thought about it. It’s very spiritual for me.”

The mother of four, who also raised her nephew, was active in her children’s schools but tried her first stint of volunteerism in 2002 when she helped build a Paso Robles home with nonprofit group Habitat for Humanity.

Schwartz, who died in January 2006 at the age of 82, began his career in the Navy and survived the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941.

From 1962 to 1966, he served on the Paso Robles City Council with his brother, Barney Schwartz, who has a park named after him on Paso Robles’ east side.

Barney Schwartz died in 1982. He was the city’s mayor for 20 years. The brothers also founded the Paso Robles Golf and Country Club in the early 1960s and purchased KPRL-AM radio in 1952.

Dale Schwartz helped raise more than $100,000 to initiate the construction of Barney Schwartz Park in memory of his brother. The park on Union Road opened in 2002.

He helped maintain the grounds and volunteered for the numerous events held there such as the Kite Festival, Fishing Derby and Fourth of July celebrations.

Dale Schwartz helped fund scholarships that continue today at the North County Cuesta College campus off Highway 46 East.

In January 2010, Cuesta College named the new North County Learning Resource Center after him to honor his legacy. At the center’s groundbreaking in May, his widow, Mary Schwartz, said her husband would be dancing to mark the occasion if he were alive. “(Actually),” she said at the time, “he probably is dancing.”

— Tonya Strickland

New store has mix of old, new decor

A newly opened store in San Luis Obispo is offering new and vintage home decor items.

Ontology, at 956 Monterey St., sells a variety of items, such as vintage chairs and dining tables, as well as dish towels, posters, games and books.

“Home items and crafts made mid-century or earlier have a great appeal in terms of style and craftsmanship,” said proprietor Deborah Hales Taylor. “These items were built to last and stand the test of time in design and character. Plus, it’s very green to reuse.”

The shop’s name is a word of Greek origin, referring to the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality.

— Stacy Daniel