Citizens of the year: A.G. honors volunteer; Grover lauds former mayor

Sandy Nichols is Arroyo Grande’s Citizen of the Year.
Sandy Nichols is Arroyo Grande’s Citizen of the Year. Courtesy photo

A longtime community volunteer and a former mayor have been chosen as citizens of the year by the Arroyo Grande & Grover Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Sandy Nichols, a longtime Rotarian and chamber volunteer who currently helps organize many of its special events, is Arroyo Grande’s Citizen of the Year.

Nichols started volunteering with the Arroyo Grande chamber as an ambassador in 1999 and served as chair of its board in 2004. She served as president of the Rotary Club of Grover Beach-Five Cities in 2010-11 and currently serves as vice chair of the Five Cities Women’s Network.

“We live in such a fabulous community that you almost can’t help but give back,” said Nichols, a real estate agent with Blair Properties. “I joined the chamber probably with the intention of networking, but then you stay with it because you love working with the community.”

The Grover Beach Citizen of the Year is Steve Lieberman, a former city councilman and mayor who served for five years as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician. While on the council, he pushed to start an annual Sept. 11 memorial event, which is still held each year.

“To me, the longer you stay, you become some of the fabric of the community,” he said.

Most recently, Lieberman chaired a volunteer committee tasked with reviewing whether Grover Beach should again pursue becoming a charter city. He now works as the emergency medical services division director for the county’s public health department.

“You look at Chamber of Commerce people, and I never saw myself as that guy,” Lieberman said. “I was shocked. What an honor.”

At its annual dinner on Jan. 30, chamber leaders will also recognize Pam Richerson with the Ken Talley Award, which is given annually to an organization or person who has contributed to youth character-building programs on the Central Coast.

Richerson provides support and services to children with special needs and their families. She started a Sunday school class for special needs children about six years ago, according to a news release.

The Five Cities Fire Authority — the Fire Department serving Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Oceano — will receive the chamber’s Director’s Award, which is given to an organization that has “gone above and beyond the call of duty” to assist the chamber in the past year.

The chamber’s annual dinner starts at 5 p.m. on Jan. 30 at the South County Regional Center, 800 W. Branch St. in Arroyo Grande. Tickets for the dinner are $55 and can be purchased by calling 489-1488.