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Biz Buzz: Los Osos’ top citizen is one for the books

The Los Osos – Baywood Park Chamber of Commerce Friday night named George Kastner, one-time owner of the Los Osos Book Exchange, its 2009 Citizen of the Year.

County Supervisor Bruce Gibson, who represents the bayside town, honored Kastner with a county proclamation.

Kastner was lauded for his long-time community advocacy, which emphasized creation of historical murals that are on several walls around the town of about 15,000 residents.

In announcing Kastner as the recipient, Pandora Nash-Karner noted that Kastner took a leadership role “to create a connection with local history, community volunteerism, creating public benefit through art and creating a real sense of place for the residents of our bedroom community.”

Kastner’s community advocacy took root a quarter century ago when he led a chamber subcommittee called the Bear Committee.

Under his direction, the group was instrumental in staging festivals that brought varied community interests together through arts, crafts, food and fun.

That group later morphed — under his guidance — into the Los Osos Community Organization — whose motto was “We’re LOCO” — but not before the Bear Committee had created the “La Cañada de Los Osos” mural on 10th Street.

After LOCO was formed as a nonprofit organization in the early 1990s, Kastner and his merry band of LOCOites staged a series of 5K fun runs, which financed the creation of the “Chumash Bear Dance” and “Portola’s Sacred Expedition” murals on Ninth Street.

He and LOCO also played key roles in the community’s bear benches and bear statues at the two entrances to Los Osos.

Although Kastner moved to Fresno last year to tend to his aging mother, family business, and while his significant other, Lucinda, attends graduate school at Fresno State University, Kastner returns to Los Osos each Friday to do trail maintenance work at Montaña de Oro and volunteer at the Los Osos Library on an as-needed basis. He plans to return to the community in the future.

— Tribune staff report Travelhost owner now in social media

Ferris Ferndon, former publisher and owner of Travelhost Central Coast, a now-defunct glossly magazine for tourists coming to San Luis Obispo County, has started a new company focusing on marketing through social media.

The company, iMedia, has installed a social-media kiosk at the Ventura County Visitors Center, where people can post status updates to Twitter and download their travel photos.

“Social media is used more than e-mail now,” Ferndon said.

Ferndon has also started a Twitter program with John Carson at Hunter Ranch and plans to set up similar kiosks in tasting rooms, hotels and stores in Paso Robles, he said.

“Our whole focus is to provide and produce marketing and services that improve the experience of the tourists and visitors when they visit the Central Coast,” he added.

Travelhost is a national glossy travel magazine enterprise that targets tourists by distributing localized food, wine and shopping information and maps to travelers staying in hotel rooms. Ferndon folded the Central Coast francise in late summer.

— Melanie Cleveland

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