Morro Bay names officer its top citizen

Reserve Police Officer Richard Hannibal was honored as the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year at the organization’s annual awards and installation dinner.

Chamber Chief Executive Craig Schmidt announced, “Officer Hannibal has consistently demonstrated his commitment to our youth. He’s a friend to Morro Bay’s homeless and volunteers regularly at the Police Department, including editing an excellent monthly newsletter.

“When Officer Hannibal patrols, his friendly style never meets a stranger, but behind the smile, we know he’s all about the health and safety of our community.”

Hannibal retired from a law enforcement career in Los Angeles. At one point he was a SWAT commander and served on a violent crimes task force.

He still enjoys the adrenaline rush of a good bust and fast cars, but while living the “SLO life,” he’s discovered there’s more.

He said, “Coming here was quite a contrast. I get to meet the people — the businessman and the guy living under the bridge. There’s a lot of power with the badge, including helping out the less fortunate.”

The Business of the Year is Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant. Last year’s honoree, John Weiss, owner of Coast Electronics and now chamber board president, announced the award.

“Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant and Fish Market has done a fabulous job connecting the public with good, fresh, local fish. Whenever there is a need in the local fishing community, Mark and Bonnie step up to the plate and give generously.”

Mark Tognazzini began his fishing career right out of school at Morro Bay’s sport fishing landings, taking fishermen out on charter vessels.

The youthful fisherman captained the Bonnie Marietta, fishing for rock cod and salmon. He sold fresh-caught fish directly from his boat.

When his wife, Bonnie, retired from the Sheriff’s Department, they opened Tognazzini’s Dockside then added the outdoor, dog-friendly Fish Market bayside.

Always a promoter of the local fishing industry, they buy fresh off the boats and feature the fisherman’s catch when they sell the product.

They generously support many local organizations, including donating the food for all participants after the annual Pirates and Mermaids Parade.

“Today, they enjoy a brisk business both on and off season. Their popularity with locals has spread beyond the seasonal visitors,” Weiss said.

A surprised Marianna Frost was named Living Treasure of the Year.

Morro Bay Senior Citizens Inc. board President Pauline Stansbury said, “Since (Frost’s) husband, Jack, died in 1993 with hospice at his side, she vowed to help and volunteer with them.”

“She drives to San Luis every Tuesday,” Stansbury added. “She also volunteers with her church, Meals on Wheels, Senior Nutrition programs and Senior Bingo. She always has a smile and never complains about anything or anyone.”

Reach Judy Salamacha at 801-1422 or jsalamacha@yahoo.com.