Atascadero News Magazine • #58 • April 2023

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Prsrt Std US Postage PAID Permit 19 13Stars Paso Robles CA ECRWSS Local Postal Customer APRIL 2023 INSIDE Atascadero Chamber of Commerce Community Awards Atascadero's best and brightest dedicated to community spirit and service Spring Celebrations Tips and Ideas for Visiting in the Blossoming Wildflowers This Easter Season
Citizen of the Year MIKE ZAPPAS
7TH ANNUAL! over 30 Tamale Vendors! Soloist Manuel Enrique Famous Dancing Horses Folkloric Dancers Chihuahua & Pet Costume Contest Tamale Contest & Tamale Eating Contest! Family Fun over 100 Vendors LIVE MUSIC: • La Marcha Sound • Mariachi Mexicanisimo • Steppin’ • Brass Mash • the Vibe Setters • Jungle Fire FUN FOR ALL AGES! FREE TO ATTEND! For more info: PRESENTING SPONSORS: SUPPORTING SPONSORS: May 6, 2023, 11am - 7pm Downtown Atascadero FridAY, MAY 5th 5:30-8Pm CelebrAte CinCO de MAyO with First FridAYs DOWNTOWN! featuring a SneAk PeAk with TAmale VendOrs, SiP & SHOP Wine WAlk & 8Pm FirewOrks* *Pending weather COnditiOns SAT. APRIL 29TH , 2023 5:30 - 8:30 PM SAMPLE A VARIETY OF CRAFT BEER, CIDER, WINE & DISTILLED SPIRITS! Party with the Animals! 9th Annual Presented by LIVE MUSIC WITH THE VIBE SETTERS & GARDEN PARTY FUN & GAMES WITH MEDINA LIGHT SHOW DESIGNS DANCE & HULA HOOP CONTESTS & PRIZES! FOOD AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE! ADULTS 21+ ONLY! $40 Online* • $50 At the Door $15 Designated Driver (* SERVICE FEE NOT INCLUDED) TICKETS ON SALE NOW! Supporting Sponsors: Friend Sponsors:

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contents 17,000 PRINTED | 15,000 DIRECT MAILED LOCALLY! Atascadero 93422 • Santa Margarita 93453 • Creston 93432 3,000 DROPPED AT HIGH TRAFFIC LOCATIONS Hotels • Wineries • B&Bs • Waiting Rooms • Restaurants • High-traffic Visitor Hotspots for advertising inquiries and rates email office @, or contact one of our advertising representatives. Features Departments Lifetime Achievement: Larry Wysong by christianna marks Citizen of the Year: Mike Zappas by christianna marks On the Cover Mike Zappas, Downtown Atascadero Photo by Rick Evans Woman of Influence: Kyla Skinner by christianna marks Something Worth Reading 06 Publisher's Letter Round Town 10 Colony Buzz 11 The Natural Alternative 12 Downtown Happenings 13 Shift'N Gears 14 Santa Margarita: Superbloom Features 16 Atascadero Chamber 100 Years 26 Business of the Year Award 28 Community Organization Award Business 30 Realty Report Tent City 31 SLO County Office of Education Taste of Atascadero 32 Taste of Americana Calendar & Events 33 April Events Last Word 34 Spring Celebrations 34 Directory of our Advertisers Issue No. 58 APRIL 2023 22 24 20 4 |
805-238-1001 805-528-5333 805-466-6939 Get a fresh new look at our office for Back to School! Dan Hile, OD ABO Doug Major, OD FAAO ABO Brent Wells, OD Karen Kudija, OD Steve Jio, OD 1112 Vine Street Paso Robles 805-238-1001 2231 Bayview Heights Drive Los Osos 805-528-5333 8105 Morro Road, Suite A Atascadero 805-466-6939 Schedule your appointment online ANYTIME! Spring Into Style! NEW SEASON • NEW LOOK Visit our Optical Shop to view our entire collection of Spring Frames and Sunwear! April 2023 | 5


Hayley Mattson


Camille DeVaul


Jen Rodman


Neil Schumaker

Evan Rodda

Anthony Atkins

We are excited to present this special issue of Atascadero News Magazine , which features the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce 2023 Community Awards. These awards provide a wonderful opportunity for us to celebrate and recognize the remarkable individuals, businesses, and organizations that make our community so special. It's a chance to honor those who go above and beyond to make a positive impact in our neighborhoods, schools, and local economy.

The recipients of this year's Atascadero Chamber of Commerce 2023 Community Awards truly embody the essence of these accolades, demonstrating remarkable hard work, dedication, and outstanding achievements. Their philanthropic endeavors, entrepreneurial spirit, and civic engagement have had a significant impact on our community, and we're incredibly proud to honor and celebrate their contributions to our betterment.

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to all the awardees for their remarkable accomplishments and their unwavering commitment to serving our community. It's because of their tireless efforts and dedication that our community continues to thrive and grow stronger every day.

We'd also like to take this opportunity to commend the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce for their remarkable service and dedication to our community over the last 100 years. Your unwavering commitment to promoting and supporting local businesses and initiatives has made a lasting impact, and we're grateful for all that you've done and continue to do.

As we transition into the season of spring, we welcome all the delightful things that this time of year brings, from the vibrant colors of blooming flowers to the cheerful chirping of birds. It's a season of renewal and new beginnings, and with Easter and other celebrations around the corner, there's even more reason to rejoice and enjoy the joys of spring.

May this spring and Easter season bring you joy, hope, and renewal, and may you embrace all the beauty and wonder that this time of year brings. Let's cherish every moment together.

Please enjoy this issue of Atascadero News Magazine.

Hayley and Nic


Nicholas Mattson


Mike Chaldu


Christianna Marks


Dana McGraw

Jamie Self


Cami Martin |


Barbie Butz

Blake Ashley Frino - Gerl

Kyla Skinner

Jaime Silveria

James Brescia, Ed.D Shift'N Gears

Simone Smith

The Natural Alternative



MAY 2023


April 28, 2023


April 10, 2023

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Commentary reflects the views of the writers and does not necessarily reflect those of Atascadero News Magazine. Atascadero News Magazine is delivered free to 17,000 addresses in North San Luis Obispo County. Our costs are paid entirely by advertising revenue. Our Local Business section spotlights select advertisers. All other stories are determined solely by our editors.


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Publisher's Letter • Something Worth Reading 6 |
— Thomas Fuller, 1727
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TV, it’s live.”

“Stay Tuned” will be presented by Broken Earth Winery, with all performances taking place in the winery’s tasting room, located at 1650 Ramada Drive in Paso Robles. Show dates are April 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, and 23, with shows starting at 7:30 p.m. Delicious Broken Earth wines and pizzas will be available for purchase to enjoy during the show, and seating is general admission. Tickets are $40 each and can be purchased on the Broken Earth Winery website.

The concert was a huge success, with the band receiving rave reviews from the audience. One audience member wrote, "The unity of the band (always including the conductor) appeared top notch to my untrained ear. Personally, songs went from nice (only a few) to somewhere between Wow! and Hurray!!!"

‘Stay Tuned’ Songs from TV to be presented by Wine Country Theatre

If you’re looking for a fun and unique night out, look no further than Wine Country Theatre’s latest musical revue, “Stay Tuned.” This dynamic and entertaining show features songs from television, including classic TV theme songs, songs from TV variety shows, commercials, and parody songs. With a talented cast, live music, and plenty of opportunities to sing along, “Stay Tuned” promises to be a night to remember.

According to Cynthia Anthony, Executive Director of Wine Country Theatre, “We have a great cast, and it’s been fun putting the script together to represent many of our favorite shows, both contemporary and classic. Audiences will want to sing along to ‘Happy Days’ and ‘Green Acres’ and ‘The Addams Family,’ just to mention a few. Songs from ‘Yellowstone’ and ‘Big Little Lies’ and ‘Ginny and Georgia’ are also included, along with beloved animated shows, including ‘The Simpsons.’ We have a very talented pianist, our Music Director Linda Wilson, plus some cast members will play the guitar and other instruments. It’s not

Wine Country Theatre is a professional-caliber community theater that has been presenting plays and musicals for 10 years. After the pandemic left them without a venue due to a change of management of the Park Ballroom, the theater company has been using various venues to present their productions.

“Presenting at Broken Earth Winery is a privilege and we hope this can be just the beginning of collaborating with other wineries,” says Anthony.

So, if you’re tired of watching TV at home and want to experience live entertainment, “Stay Tuned” is the perfect opportunity. With its mix of classic and contemporary TV songs, talented performers, and beautiful setting at Broken Earth Winery, this musical revue promises to be a night of fun and entertainment. Don’t miss your chance to see it!

For tickets, go to

Atascadero Community Band donates $754 to Paso Robles High School Band Backers

The Atascadero Community Band recently held its March concert, themed The Great Outdoors, and thanks to the generosity of its audience, was able to donate $754 to the Paso Robles High School Band Backers. The donation will go towards supporting the band and color guard programs at PRHS.

The Atascadero Community Band is a true community band, comprised of local musicians of all ages who come together to make music and support other nonprofit organizations in the area. The band plays free indoor concerts several times per year, with donations from the audience going towards supporting other local nonprofits. The next concert, themed Have Music, Will Travel, is scheduled for Sunday, May 7, at 3 p.m. at the Atascadero Bible Church, with donations supporting CASA SLO (Court Appointed Special Advocates).

In addition, the ACB plays free one-hour concerts every Tuesday night throughout the summer at the beautiful Centennial Bandstand at the Atascadero Lake Park, starting on Tuesday, June 13, at 7 p.m.

Local musicians of all ages are welcome to participate in the Atascadero Community Band, with students mentored by more experienced band members, and many musicians joining the band after taking a 20-year hiatus to raise families or focus on their careers. For more information, please visit the band website at or email the band at

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You’re Invited to!


Appreciation Day 2023

We personally want to thank you for supporting The Natural Alternative since we opened our doors 27 years ago. We are planning a special day just for you on Saturday, April 29, where you will enjoy 25 percent off storewide, including multiple raffle baskets given away to appreciative customers, vendors sampling out their goods, and samples galore. Mark your calendar and help us celebrate.

When we opened the store in 1995, little did we know it would explode into “the store that’s so much more” — all thanks to you. We have continued to expand our product lines, maintaining the exceptional quality supplements you’ve learned to trust. All of our hair and skincare lines are free of chemicals. We are proud to offer a variety of meal replacement shakes, greens, the highest quality CBD products, children’s supplements, pet care, and perfect gift ideas, including beautiful SoulKu bracelets and necklaces. This line of jewelry is handcrafted by moms from Asheville, NC, to support nonprofits that celebrate, inspire, empower, and connect

women. So popular.

Hunter J’s Reserves, a local CBD company, will join us to sample out their amazing selection of full spectrum CBD lotions in a variety of scents (from pure essential oils) as well as unscented in either 500 mg or 1000 mg strengths. In addition, Be Rooted Botanicals from Santa Cruz will join us to provide samples of their powerful CBD Arnica cream and CBD Magnesium day or night creams to soothe your achy muscles. Also, enjoy Whalebird Kombucha to keep you energized as well as hydrated while you shop. My talented staff will be on hand all day to answer your questions and assist you with your special shopping needs.

Mark your calendar — this is a big one. Saturday, April 29, from 10 to 5 for the storewide sale. Enter to win one of our many baskets and receive tons of samples with each purchase. It’s our way of saying Thank you to our wonderful community for supporting The Natural Alternative since 1995.

STOR E W I DE S A L E Saturday, A pr il 29th 10am - 5pm (S o m e E x c l u s i o n s A p p l y L i m i t e d t o S t o c k o n H a n d) Joi n us i n celebrat i ng ou r 28 t h A n n iversa r y at To - G o Produc t Sa mples 20% OFF Any One Item Some exclusions apply. Expires 4/30/23 Limit 1 coupon per customer per transaction “Having talked about writing my book for years, I joined Patricia’s wonderful Zoom Group because now I’m accomplishing my goal.” ~Tricia Nickelson, Paso Robles 7 THE NATURAL ALTERNATIVE NUTRITION CENTER
The Team @ The Natural Alternative
April 2023 | 11

A-town Downtown Happenings for April


How amazing is it to drive downtown on Friday night and see the streets full of people walking around and enjoying our beautiful downtown? I grew up in this area, and I love that suddenly Atascadero is a cool place to be. And this isn’t by coincidence. I see the City and Chamber working so hard to plan fun events — to build a buzz and create a fun atmosphere which, in turn, will strengthen our businesses and community.

The City of Atascadero is establishing a happening scene downtown on the First Friday of every month with live music and food trucks. Friday, April 7 will be featuring Stellar Band with a stage at the City Hall. Stellar is a five-piece band playing classic hits … they’ll get you singing and dancing! Starts between 5:30 to 6 p.m.

In coordination with the First Friday event, we will be bringing the shopping Passport

that was so popular during the holidays. Did you see it with the absolutely gorgeous artistic rendition of downtown? The City is taking it over and going to continue it monthly. Passport holders will collect six stickers/stamps at downtown retailers then be entered to win prizes. A new part of the program is that you will be able to participate on social media vs. using the card. Go follow @atowndowntownpassport on Instagram to learn more and to find out who’s participating.

Another exciting April event is the Chamber of Commerce Gala, their 100th-year anniversary celebration. What a milestone. This event will be held the evening of Satuday, April 22, at 5:30 p.m., tickets can be purchased at I went last year and was filled with pride over how many amazing people we have in our town. It was such a blast to get dressed up fancy and honor those who have made a difference in our community. Awards will be given to Citizen of the Year, Business of the Year, Woman of Influence, Lifetime Achievement Award, and Community Organization of the Year.

Also, wine, delicious food, a silent auction. This event sells out so go get your tickets ASAP. A few other things to mention, for all you vintage treasure hunters, or if you need to clean out your garage, there is a citywide yard sale happening Saturday, April 15. For more information on how you can participate or for shopping information, go to Proceeds will benefit the ongoing improvements and maintenance of the all-inclusive Joy Park. My daughter loves this place.

And last but not least, the 9th Annual Brew at the Zoo is Saturday, April 29, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. A collection of seltzers, beer, and kombucha is available for tasting with a commemorative glass. Go to for tickets. And dress like your favorite animal for extra kudos! My faves are the meerkats and the red pandas. I probably resemble a meerkat more because I’m so dang tall.

Happy April and Happy Spring!

P.S. I’ll also see you at the wildflowers. Can’t wait.

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We are here to offer some monthly tips, tricks and tales from the automotive industry. Whether you are fellow gearheads, garage aficionados, or maybe you think about blinker fluid (hint, hint, you don’t have any blinker fluid), we are here for you.

We are Jimmy and Leigh-Ann of Shift’N Gears Garage in Paso Robles. If you don’t know us already, we are both locals who decided to give back to our community and open up an ASE Master Certified full-service auto repair facility that specializes in Transmissions and Differentials. We are a one-stop shop from preventative maintenance to transmission replacements; for your weekend cruiser to your daily commuter. Jimmy has been an ASE Certified Master Tech for over 15 years and also hosts Gearhead Radio, a weekly live call-in radio show on Saturdays from 9 to 10 a.m. on KPRL 99.3 FM 1230 AM where all things auto-related are covered.

Check engine lights? Here’s a quick reference guide to understanding what they mean:

Did you know, most vehicles have at least 32 sensors and seven Modules all speaking to one another in various feedback loops? This is why your vehicle’s problems can be multifaceted, affecting your electrical and mechanical systems. Problems have to be treated in terms of

symptoms and root causes, but just like a doctor, sometimes you need to treat the symptoms first before the root cause comes into view.

The first character of the code is a letter indicating the area of the car where the fault lies:

P = Powertrain: Covers the transmission, engine, fuel and ignition systems.

C = Chassis: Covers mechanical systems such as steering, suspension and braking systems.

B = Body: Covers systems primarily located in the passenger compartment.

U = Network and vehicle integration: Functions (outputs) controlled by the OBD-II system. The 2nd character will be a 0 or 1:

0 = A Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International generic code.

1 = A manufacturer-specific code. The 3rd characters run 0 to 8 and identify a vehicle’s effected system:

0 = Fuel systems and emission controls.

1 = Fuel and air metering.

2 = Fuel injector and air metering circuit.

3 = Ignition system or a misfire.

4 = Auxiliary emission controls.

5 = Vehicle speed control, idle system and auxiliary inputs.

6 = Computer and output circuits. 7-8 = Transmission.

The remaining digits indicates the “symptom” within that subsystem.

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Superbloom! on the Brain

Ask anyone in San Luis Obispo County if they remember California’s Superbloom of 2019, and chances are their answer will be an excited “yes.” Who could forget? California’s last Superbloom made national (and even global) news as wildflower mania gripped the state.

Some of the best wildflower viewings can be found right here in our own backyard. Santa Margarita is an officially designated Gateway to the Carrizo Plain National Monument, situated off Highway 58, about an hour out of town. An amazing place to explore on its own at any time, the Carrizo Plain is the star of many photos taken during superbloom years with its Easter egg-colored hills acting as a backdrop to Soda Lake and wide expanses of colorful fields of flowers. Photos of hillsides, meadows, and open spaces covered with spectacular displays of nature’s most brilliant colors filled the media with the blooming flowers so prolific that the spectacle

could even be seen from outer space via satellite images. Already there’s been trouble in paradise as swarms of flower-frenzied fans in some earlier blooming areas have already been “banned” due to bad behavior. So to avoid any problems, here is what you can do for maximum enjoyment and to help ensure these special areas of beauty will remain for future generations.

First of all, it’s important to note that the superbloom phenomenon occurs thanks to trillions of tiny seeds of mostly annual plants, whose life cycles are completed within one year or season, as opposed to a perennial, which in the right conditions can continue its life for multiple years.

Some of the best spots for a superbloom can be found where the landscape conditions are naturally hot, dry and generally inhospitable to sustain many perennials without supplemental watering (think of a rocky hillside, a desert or a sparse and arid grassland). The very nature of such locations actually have helped to preserve the wild and sporadic beauty that we have come to seek out when the blooms demand attention as these places are often deemed too desolate, dry,

and difficult for human habitation, with many referred to otherwise as “barren wastelands.”

With great unpredictability, a year will come along when the rains continue to fall, keeping the soil perfectly moist and with environmental conditions just right, staying relatively cool as spring approaches and not too hot too soon, the soil begins to stir with awakening seeds, finally breaking out of their long slumber of dormancy. The wait time for perfect conditions could be one, five, or 10 years or longer, with studies in controlled situations showing that seeds are perfect little time capsules that can even stay viable for up to 70 years or longer, waiting for conditions to be right for growth.

You’ve probably heard it before, but please be respectful of the plants, keeping to the paths and designated parking areas. Many times we witness (or have taken) the careless footsteps or actions of those who don’t understand the fragility of these landscapes. When cars are parked “just a little off the road,” when people walk off a path or even next to each other stepping on “just a few plants” or even picking “just a few flowers,” or worse, “what could be the problem?”

Round Town • Santa Margarita SIMONE SMITH 14 |

During a superbloom, there looks to be such an abundance that these “small actions” can’t possibly do any harm, but this sadly isn’t true. The usually thin soils actually can become compacted or destroyed under the weight of tires and footsteps, which over the years cause ever-widening barren trails and dead zones next to roads, and each crushed plant or picked flower results in the loss of tens to hundreds of seeds for future generations of flowers.

For best viewing, grab a wildflower ID book, and look for as many different plants or colors as you can find. The biodiversity during a superbloom is amazing. If you can revisit an area, it’s possible to witness the progression of colors through the brief season as an area can change from blue or pink. From the early season blooms of Baby Blue Eyes, or Shooting Stars, to the multitudes of yellows, as seen in Goldfields, Tidy Tips or Fiddlenecks; whites from Popcorn Flowers or Blow Wives; purples, pinks, and blues from various Lupines, Owls-Clover, Thistle Sage or Phacelia; and of course, the ever-popular orange of California Poppies and finally ending with the pinks of Farewell to Spring.

Avoid weekends and holidays, if possible, to avoid the crowds, bring water and be sure to fill up on gas in advance since most wildflower areas have no services available, and sunny days are best

as some flowers, such as poppies, can be closed on cloudy days.

Be sure to fuel up on gas and food from one of the local restaurants or pick up some snacks or sandwiches from the Margarita Market in Santa Margarita before heading out as there are no services once you leave town. Along the way, you will be treated to many colorful patches of blooms, especially if you make a stop at Shell Creek Road to your left, marked by a windmill and meandering creek about 20 to 30 minutes from town. If you’re short on time this is the place

to go. Remember to leave no trace and please pack out any trash.

Can’t get the superbloom out of your brain? You can learn more by visiting the Goodwin Education Center while out at Carrizo Plain; go to the Bloom! California website at to learn all about why and how to plant, maintain and grow your own California native garden, and join or donate to a local organization that helps to educate and preserve these special places and share the joy with your friends and family.

April 2023 | 15

Atascadero Chamber of Commerce Marks Century of Success and Service to the Community

For one century, the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce has been an ally for the local businesses that make our community the vibrant and unique place that we know today.

An Atascadero News article dated January 20, 1922, titled “Commerce Chamber to Elect Directors,” is one of the first relics from the Chamber’s origins. The first committee met at the Atascadero Inn and installed the following directors: H.C. Stone, W.F. Graham, W.B. Ewalt, Fred N. Shultz, Charles R. Smith, Leroy H. Dart, B.J. Robinson, John J. Roth, A.M. Newton, F.F. Peabody, Caryl Smith, C.J. Trussler, Carl Peterson, J.H. Driscoll, and J.B. Banker.

Since then, the Chamber has added over 200 members and continued to be a voice for local businesses with programs like the Shop Local Bonus Program, connected businesses with the Employee Retention Tax Credit funding, which has saved members more than $4,000,000 over

the past five months, facilitated the Business Walk visiting over 500 businesses in over four hours, expanded the Bridgeworks Coworking Space, and are preparing for the 26th annual Lakeside Wine Fest — a community favorite event.

Since 1972, the Chamber has celebrated individuals with the Annual Community Awards. Over the years, these have included the Business Man of the Year, Retailer of the Year, Community Service Award, and Beautification/ Remodel Award.

Fifty-one years later, we are thrilled to recognize the Citizen of the Year, Business of the Year, Community Organization of the Year, Woman of Influence, and Lifetime Achievement Award in the following pages.

And to celebrate 100 years, Atascadero News Magazine reached out to three key individuals who have been instrumental in the development of the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce and took a trip down memory lane.

16 |

Grigger Jones

ANM: What is your history with the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce?

GJ: As a new lawyer in Atascadero and a new member of the Chamber in 1979, I was asked to join the Atascadero Chamber Board of Directors commencing in 1980. At that time, the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce members met in the back room of Sambo’s Restaurant (now Dennys) for an hour and a half every Tuesday at noon time for lunch, meet and greet and a speaker, led by the Chamber’s president.

In 1981 I was elected by the Board as President, and at 31 years of age, its youngest president in its history, and presided over the Tuesday Chamber meeting, as well as the monthly meeting of the Chamber Board. In 1981, the Chamber membership was little more than 225, and the Board decided to hire a part-time manager to increase the membership numbers, which he did, bringing in many new businesses as members.

I continued to be an active Chamber member throughout the years, and as an eight-year board member worked with its now full-time Chamber

managers. In 2013, I was elected the Chamber’s Chairman of the Board to assist in Atascadero’s year-long Centennial celebration, and I continued to serve as its Chairman through 2014.

ANM: What are some of your favorite ways that the Chamber has interacted with the community?

GJ: Annually, the Atascadero Chamber recognizes a local Nonprofit of the Year, a Business of the Year, and a Citizen of the Year. By doing so, our businesses, citizens and chamber members, are able to make greater connections with our small community, and celebrate the greatness of Atascadero and its small town culture.

In its many years of meeting for lunch on Tuesday, the Chamber provided a forum for ideas to improve the Atascadero community, which in 1979 culminated in the issue of Atascadero cityhood being placed on the ballot, which succeeded with the endorsement of the Atascadero Chamber business members.

In 2014, the Chamber recognizing the financial limitations of Atascadero to maintain the 140 plus miles of local streets and roads, requested and assisted the city in formulating Ballot Measure F-14, a one-half cent sales tax, for neighborhood road improvements. F-14 passed and to date nearly $14 million has been spent on neighborhood road repair, improvements and drainage, and over 42 miles of neighborhood road have been repaired.

Being honored as Citizen of the Year by the Chamber in 2007 and in 2016 being honored as an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce; one of five people ever so honored by the Chamber, joining Donn Clickard and Maggie Vandergon, currently living.

ANM: How has the Chamber aided Atascadero in its growth over the last 100 years?

GJ: In 2020 the members of the Chamber

worked with the City of Atascadero in drafting and thereafter supporting Ballot Measure D-20 providing for a one cent sales tax, which passed, and in its short time since adoption has raised millions to increase public safety needs, police and fire personnel and equipment, and infrastructure in the City of Atascadero.

ANM: What facts can you share about the history of the Chamber?

GJ: From its humble beginning 100 years ago, the Chamber of Commerce has served as an information entry point for new residents and businesses seeking to relocate to this small town. The Chamber has programs to support patronage of its many small business member and with the opening and expansion of “Bridgeworks” in the chamber building many, many small businesses have an affordable place to conduct their affairs in these co-working spaces, with all the amenities of larger offices.

The Chamber continues to celebrate its “women in business”, and has an annual “business walk” when chamber members visit local businesses to ascertain how business is for them and to solicit how the Chamber can further assist them.

ANM: What are some of your favorite things that the Chamber has brought to Atascadero?

GJ: Historically, the Chamber of Commerce 100 years ago, was instrumental, in forcing Southern Pacific Railroad to construct the Atascadero Train Depot, which served the community of Atascadero for over four decades bringing in new residents, businesses and visitors to Atascadero. The Station was featured in a Southern Pacific film to promote travel by train throughout California, and while since no longer existing was described as “the finest on the line between San Francisco and Los Angeles.”

April 2023 | 17

ANM: What is your history with the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce?

DI: Idler’s opened a second location in Atascadero in 1979. I joined the Chamber shortly after that in early '80s. I served on the retail promotions committee for many years. Later I ended up serving two six-year terms on the board with various positions. I was president under Joanne Main’s leadership, but I cannot

remember the year. My last position on the board was CFO in 2017.

ANM: What are some of your favorite ways that the Chamber has interacted with the community?

DI: The chamber mixers are always popular, and the annual dinner is always a special event. My favorite event was an educational seminar we sponsored at the Lake Pavilion in about 2005. We hired the “Pikes Place Fish Company” training team out of Seattle. They performed a 2 ½-hour seminar teaching us the “Fish Philosophy” in business management. It was very informative and fun.

How has the Chamber aided Atascadero in its growth over the last 100 years?

The Chamber has always been a place for any

size business or organization to get answers and solutions to challenges we face. I consider out Chamber to be essential to overall health and wellbeing of our town.

ANM: How has the Chamber aided Atascadero in its growth over the last 100 years?

DI: I know for many years in the '80s the Chamber was 100 percent operated by volunteers without any paid staff. I can’t remember who lead us.

ANM: What are some of your favorite things that the Chamber has brought to Atascadero?

DI: The events now happening are mostly hosted by the city but the Chamber started many of them. I think the Chamber got out wine festival started also.

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Barbie Butz

ANM: What is your history with the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce?

BB: John and I and our three sons moved to SLO County in 1977 and then to North County in 1980. I worked as a substitute teacher until 1985. After that, I got involved in nonprofit work as a volunteer and became acquainted with Chamber members and staff.

Through my membership on the Colony Days committee, I met Maggie Vandergon, the founder of Colony Days. I then found myself more and more involved with the community and especially the Chamber, where Maggie served as the director. In 1991 I was honored by the Chamber as Citizen of the Year, a very humbling experience.

In 2000 I was asked to join the Chamber Board of Directors, serving a term as Chairman of the Board.

John and two of our sons formed a partnership with Butz Construction, building custom homes and some commercial buildings. I felt that as business owners, it was very important to belong to the Chamber of Commerce. What they had to offer a new business was invaluable. Just helping owners connect with the community alone was worth the dues.

ANM: What are some of your favorite things

that the Chamber has brought to Atascadero?

BB: The Chamber interacted with the community in many ways ... letting nonprofits have tickets to their fundraisers available at their office, posting fliers for nonprofit events, presenting their popular annual awards dinner each year, providing business owners opportunities for learning, and providing a very informative newsletter for its members.

Two of my favorite ways that the Chamber interacted with the community and my favorite events that it brought to the community are the Tuesday Evenings in the Park and The Atascadero Lakeside Wine Festival.

I remember that Community Band Director George Beatie and Chamber member Lee Swam put their heads together and came up with the idea of the Chamber organizing the barbecue part of the event from 5 to 7 p.m. and George had the involvement of the band from 7 to 8 p.m. Nonprofits became involved and many, many of those Tuesday night barbecues were enjoyed by this and surrounding community people.

In 1996, Mickie Ready, the director of the Chamber at that time, and a group of her friends (city staff, business owners, etc.) came up with the idea of a wine festival, using Lake Park. I was on that first committee ... we were so

excited when we realized that we cleared $3,000 from that event and a winemaker’s dinner held the night before the festival. The rest is history, of course. We have gone from a grassroots committee to partnering with the Chamber on the highly successful event. Donna Marshall and I co-chaired the event the second year and I chaired the committee up until 2019. I am still serving on the committee.

There is no doubt in my mind that there is strength in the Chamber of Commerce in this community. But the organization does not work alone — they have increased membership, offered more new opportunities for businesses to survive and grow, continued to work closely with nonprofits (which are really businesses) and strengthened their relationship with the city.

There are a few people who have been awarded a “Lifetime Membership” in the Chamber. I am proud to say that I am one of those few. I see a great future for our city, for the Chamber and for those of us who live and work here.

April 2023 | 19

Citizen of the Year MIKE ZAPPAS

Atascadero's Renaissance Man

The Atascadero Chamber of Commerce announced that this year's Citizen of the Year went to Mike Zappas. Mike has played a large part in developing the beauty of Atascadero for the last 30 years, and chances are, if you've driven around town lately, you've seen at least one of his creations while passing by.

"I couldn't believe it. I didn't see it coming. It wasn't something that I asked for," Mike said about winning the award. "But really, the best part of it was that Kevin [Campion], the guy from 805 Boardshop, recommended to my son that they nominate me. To have your own son think enough of you that he would do something like that that was really what hit me the hardest. That was really nice. It hit me in the heart."

Mike grew up in the Southern California city of Torrance, and fondly remembers his childhood and teen years working in his dad's newspaper office. He added that it's his father who taught him the tools to put him where he is today.

"That's where I spent my youth delivering papers, and my dad, as I got older and through into college he, started moving into real estate development and management. Primarily management," Mike said. "So I grew up managing apartments and retail, and then my career took a jog. I was managing our shopping center there for my dad and then went into health clubs, and then I ended up here after I got involved with 18 different businesses."

He came to the Central Coast in 1991, and he and his wife Peg have lived in the same house since they first moved to Atascadero. At the start, Mike's family owned Santa Ysabel Ranch, which he managed before selling all of the parcels where Target now stands to Weyrick, and he also ran the River Lodge for 25 years.

"That's what brought me up here, but what made me want to move here was the people, but also it's just so beautiful," Mike stated. "I grew up in Southern California, and it was mostly asphalt and concrete. There's so many trees here."

Atascadero Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year Mike Zappas is shown with his wife Peg
'23 20 |

Mike, who has a degree in biology, added that he's very proud of being able to leave 215 oaks standing, primarily blue, while building Hidden Oaks. The National Arbor Foundation recognized Mike, his company Z Villages Management and Development, and the project for leaving the oaks intact while the building of the apartments took place, building around them instead of removing them from the property.

"The main thing is how special Atascadero is, and I don't know still if people really understand how special it is," he added. "I know, coming from Southern California. Every time I go back there, I can't believe how busy it is. There's those freeways and all of the ... it's just so much more serene up here."

For the last five years, Mike and his company have been busy building and developing downtown Atascadero's newest addition, La Plaza. In that five years, Mike stated that he's really grown to appreciate Atascadero even more through its unique history, from the Woman's Republic and the city's artist colony roots to the old La Plaza that was once on Traffic Way before it burnt to the ground.

"We had over 100 sub-contractors working on this project [La Plaza]. So people are giving me the credit, but really it was those subs and the talented architects and architectural historians that we had," said Mike. "They really were the ones that came up with all the great ideas."

He added that La Plaza was a collaborative process between a large group of people who wanted to maintain the historical element of Atascadero.

"People stop me all the time and tell me they're really excited about Atascadero now. And that's what we wanted. We wanted to be agents of change here. We wanted to bring a new vibe to Atascadero, and I think it's starting to take hold, and it's not just us now," Mike said proudly.

Mike and Peg have four now-grown children, whom they raised in Atascadero. Each of his children has also added their own staples to Atascadero. Max is the current president of the Homeowners Association. Zoe was a major part of getting the Equality Mural Project going downtown. John is an artist who created the logo and the sculpture at La Plaza. And his youngest son Tucker is a social worker in the Bay Area.

"It's been a family effort. Everybody's jumped in and helped," he added.

Things are starting to wind down for Mike, and he's started to turn over a lot of things to his son Max, who also works for Z Villages. He's looking forward to being able to travel with his wife and spend extra time with her, which has been a main priority since her diagnosis of brain cancer three years ago.

"It's been a long journey. We've been here over 30 years. To tell you the truth, the first thing that struck me when I first moved here was how friendly everyone was," stated Mike. "The people here are absolutely fantastic. We've made great friends, and it was a great place to raise our kids."

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Lifetime Achievement Award: Celebrating Lifelong Success

This year, the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce added the Lifetime Achievement Award to their lineup for 2023, and the honor has gone to Larry Wysong, owner and founder of Wysong Construction. Larry and his company have been building up Atascadero in the 38 years he's been a resident. If you've been on a San Luis Obispo County school campus lately, you've seen his work.

"It's great. It's wonderful. I've gotten quite a few awards from the Chamber — Business Person of the Year and all those neat things. I'm honored to have it. It's great," Larry said on receiving the award.

Larry moved to Atascadero close to four decades ago from Utah, where he was raised by his single mother and grew up with four sisters in a 900-square-foot house.

"It was a little place, but it was all good. It was all good. We all lived," Larry joked about his childhood.

Larry got his start in construction back in Utah after he was fired from a restaurant job when he

was 20. Larry had always thought it would be cool to be a carpenter, so he applied for a job framing apartments. The company hired him the day after, almost 40 years ago.

"[I was] making $4 an hour. I was living large," he said. "So that's how I got into it, and after probably eight or nine years, I decided to go out on my own. Get my license and start [working] for myself. So I started my business up in Utah."

Work initially brought Larry to the Central Coast when he was sent here to build The Apple Farm in San Luis Obispo.

"I was going to come and live here for a year and build Apple Farm, and then I was going to move back to Utah. And, well, it's been a long year. It's just kept going and going and going and going. It's been good. I like it here," said Larry. "Apple Farm had been bought by Big Boy Restaurants at that time, and I did all Big Boy Restaurants' work."

Big Boy Restaurants told Larry they would build more restaurants in California, and that's when he bought his first home in Atascadero. Three months later, Big Boy called him up and told him they were shutting down development

because of financial difficulties. He added that it was a nice change of pace because when he worked for Big Boys Restaurants, he flew all over the country for jobs. He'd fly to a job for the week and then fly home every weekend with his crew.

"I decided to stay here, so I just started bidding on school [construction] work on a very small scale. I'm still doing it," continued Larry.

Wysong Construction has done work for San Luis Coastal District, Paso Robles School District, Atascadero School District, Templeton School District, Cuesta College, Cal Poly, San Miguel, and many more. Larry's been working in the area so long that he's gotten to the point where he's remodeling schools for the second or third time. Basically, if it's a school in the county, he's had a hand in building it.

"I have anywhere between 20 to 45 employees, depending on how busy I am," he said. "I use a lot of Atascadero and North County sub-contractors. We keep a lot of people going at times, which is good. Everybody needs a job."

Though he primarily works for the local school districts, Larry has also done work for Camp Roberts and Atascadero State Hospital. He also

22 | '23

built the Atascadero Police Station and was the one who put the new foundation under City Hall during its rebuild.

"I got the honors of building the new foundation under a building that was on top of it, which, that itself, was an insane project. But it was fun, and we did it," stated Larry about City Hall.

Currently, Wysong Construction is building the long-awaited swimming pool at Atascadero High, where Larry's been doing work for years. He even built the main office building in front back in 1997.

"I've tried to contribute a lot to the community, and that's been important to me," he added. "I feel like I'm a part of Atascadero, and I've created jobs here and stuff here, and I've built a lot of things here."

Between Larry and his wife, he has five children and 15 grandchildren. The whole family is local, aside from one of Larry's daughters and her seven kids who live in Utah.

"Keeps us busy. Keeps my wife very busy," Larry added.

In the past, Larry was president of Atascadero Main Street and was also on the board. He added that he's excited to see the big changes happening downtown, where some buildings he owns are. He also owns the building that houses the Wysong Construction offices.

"It's [been] a little bit of everything, and it's all interesting, it's all fun. When you walk away, form something you go that's going to be there for a while," he said. "It's great because most of the stuff I've done is to improve facilities for the school kids, and that improves the community because our schools don't need to be wrecked; they need to be nice, and that raises everything up. It's been fun. It's been a good ride. Someday I'll retire."

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Woman of Influence: Deals with the eyes, but emphasizes the 'heart'

also, it just feels really weird," said Kyla on winning the award. "I had a client walk in while I was on the phone, and I was in shock, and I didn't know whether I wanted to laugh, cry, or dance all at the same time."

Kyla, who grew up in Templeton, returned to the North County in 2010 after a threeyear stint in North Carolina. It wasn't until July 5, 2021, while we were still knee-deep in the pandemic, that she opened Specs by Kyla, using the money left to her by her birth mom, who was not a part of Kyla's life until closer to her death in 2019. She added that she's reflected on that time a lot since becoming Woman of Influence.

Kyla through the buildings of Atascadero, both new and old, that she was rebuilding herself and going to be newer, better, and stronger on the other side of the pandemic. And boy, was she right.

"[I'm] being able to finally feel real and genuine for what goals I want to have and who I am. I feel like I spent a lot of my life pleasing other people, and now I can just be real, and it feels really good to be accepted for who I really am," Kyla said, who's known and loved for wearing her heart on her sleeve.

You all know and love her as the woman who bespectacles your face with the perfect frames. This year, Kyla Skinner, owner of Specs by Kyla, has been honored by the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce with the Woman of Influence Award for 2023.

"It's surreal. That's the only word I can think of. I'm just really grateful to be here, and then

In the midst of the pandemic, she struggled with isolation, her birth mom's death, and a weakened nervous system due to everything going on. But it was during a therapy session that everything turned around. Kyla and her therapist took a walk downtown and wandered past Sunken Gardens, City Hall, and the still-under-construction La Plaza.

It was during that particular day, which Kyla remembers clearly, that her therapist reminded

Facing her fears with the support of her family, therapist, and business coach, Christie Garcia, with Mindful Choice, Kyla was ready to create something new in Atascadero by the time she opened her shop. So, with a couple of decades in the optical field under her belt, and a love for connecting with people, Specs by Kyla was born. With that, Kyla dove straight into integrating herself into the business landscape of Atascadero, as well as finding and becoming a part of a new community.

"I am beyond blown away. I kind of lost a community of friends when I made all these

'23 24 |

changes, and I feel like that's been replaced 10 times. So many amazing connections with everybody that walks in my door," she added.

Initially, Kyla's husband, Jeff, strongly suggested that Kyla open up shop in Paso Robles because of the possibility of more traffic and tourism there; but Kyla stayed true to her vision.

"I knew in my gut that Atascadero had the feel I was looking for. More independent, not as touristy, more of the local community. And it's close to home, and my kids go to school here," Kyla added. "The first time I pushed myself to go to a Chamber event, that was scary, to market myself and get out there, but every time I've pushed myself, it's been so rewarding to connect with the Chamber and the city and just feeling so supported."

Not only is she serving the community with fierce frames, but she's also given back to Atascadero in many other ways, including a fundraiser in December that raised over $1,500 for Seneca Family of Agencies. She was also instrumental in creating the Shop Local Passport that the Chamber released around the holidays. On top of that, Kyla was also the one who notified her business neighbors of the flooding on their block back in early January.

"I just knew in starting this business, because I was given so much by my birth mom, I knew I wanted to give back to the community," Kyla said. "I just know that we're all stronger together, too, as a community. I can't do this by myself. I can't be in the desert somewhere and have a successful business. We all are collaborative. Seeing really cool businesses working hard to make it [Atascadero] a better place that gave me the confidence, like, 'OK, this is really morphing into something super cool, and I want to jump on this bandwagon.'"

And jump on the bandwagon she did, creating a creative space and collaborating with not only the city and Chamber but also tons of local artists over the last couple of years.

"I think in processing winning this award, I've been realizing that a big part of my business is my heart," Kyla said. "And I think when people walk into the shop, I'm able to connect with them as a human and heart to heart, and I feel like everything I've done since starting this business has been very close to my heart, and I think that that's what makes a difference. I'm loving every minute of it, and I'm just grateful to be able to connect with our community."

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businesses in our little town, and I'm just happy to be a part of it. It does feel really good to be recognized," said Eric Peterson, the owner of the North County Restaurant Group, on being recognized by the chamber.

Growing up in Atascadero, Eric got his start in the restaurant business at an early age, washing dishes and bussing tables at his grandmother Bonnie Peterson's restaurants — Country Touch Cafe, Touch of Paso Cafe, and Touch of Mexico.

But it wasn't until getting a job busing tables at AJ Spurs in Templeton that Eric found his passion for the industry.

"My grandma had a big influence [on me] working for her, and then actually running AJ Spurs is where I really learned," Eric says of his start in the industry.

of working there.

While Eric's grandmother's restaurants were breakfast and lunch-focused, he learned he enjoyed the bar and dinner scene.

The fond steakhouse was where at 18 years old, Eric met his friend and future business partner Trevor LaSalle. While working at AJ Spurs, Eric attended Cuesta College and then Cal Poly. All the while, he and Trevor plotted to open their first restaurant.

"They say to do what you know, so when we were ready to graduate college, it was, we may as well do this since we know how to run these restaurants," Eric says of his and Trevor's new plans.

The North County Restaurant Group has been honored as the 2022 Business of the Year by the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce. What started as a senior project and dream between friends has now turned into a full-fledged business with restaurants spreading from Paso Robles to Atascadero.

"I'm honored, there are so many great

The AJ Spurs Steakhouse on Main Street in Templeton holds a formidable spot in many people's lives who grew up in North County. It was located for years in the old Mercantile building and closed its door permanently in 2017. Thanks to his experience in his grandmother's restaurants, Eric found himself in a management position at AJ's within six months

Eric describes the process of opening the first restaurant as the carriage before the horse scenario. While Trevor had already graduated a year before, Eric was in his senior year and in need of his senior project. And opening a restaurant at 23 years old fit the bill.

Guest House Grill finally came into the scene in 2018. At the time, Eric says there wasn't much in Atascadero restaurant wise and the opportunity seemed to be just right for him and

'23 26 |

Trevor. Eric's aunt was ready to move on from her Mexican restaurant she had open in the Guest House space, leaving Eric and Trevor just needing to take over the space and purchase her leftover equipment.

To their somewhat surprise, Guest House Grill was a success and the two were ready for more. Another opportunity came knocking for Trevor and Eric to purchase a seasonal resort in Southern Oregon. For 10 years, Eric spent his summer months at the Oregon resort while expanding their businesses in North County.

Next for the partners came Street Side Ale House and Eatery in Atascadero, opening in 2018. Success at the ale house would then lead to a second one opening in downtown Paso Robles in 2018.

Then everything started to make a full circle for Eric when he opened Jack's Grill in 2019 in Templeton, right across the street from where it all started, AJ Spurs. Then in 2020, he purchased and reopened his grandmother's restaurants Touch of Paso Cafe and Country Touch Cafe in 2020.

And in 2022, Eric added to his fleet by purchasing the Kitchenette on Main Street in Templeton and opening Cielo in Atascadero. And later in 2023, he plans to open a second Jack's Grill in the old Senior Sanchos location on Creston Road in Paso Robles.

"I think our uniqueness as a restaurant group is our diversity," said Eric, "We try to fill a wide range of needs in the community from breakfast to late night; comfortable to fine dining, and everything in between."

Looking back, Eric wonders why anyone would have invested in the two young 23-year-olds to open a restaurant, one of the riskiest businesses out there.

"It was Colin Weyrick, actually, who lent us half the money," says Eric. "And now we are partners, so it's been a fun ride."

Colin is co-owner with Eric on both of his Templeton eateries. He continues to say of Colin, "He has been a big supporter ... he helped me open my first restaurant as a mentor."

Eric is now a proud owner of seven restaurants across North County and is proud to be able to give back to the community that gave him his start.

"It's been a really great feeling to give back to the community when we can. When you first start out, especially in the restaurant business, it is a real struggle with little to no profits. It took a long time to get the company to a state where we could afford to start doing our part to help the community. It was a long, difficult road and still a struggle at times, but it's all worth it now."

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Community Organization of the Year: 'We Not Me'

"I think it [the award] is a reminder to us of our motto; it's kind of an unofficial thing, but it's 'We Not Me.' Lighthouse is the 'we' of Atascadero," stated Lighthouse Executive Director Donn Clickard.

Lighthouse originally started out as the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation (which is still its own organization today) in 1994 with the goal of building an all-weather track at the high school. It wasn't until 2011, when four of Atascadero's young adults passed away due to their drug use, that Lighthouse as we now know it was born out of the tragedy.

Lighthouse Atascadero has been honored as Community Organization of the Year by the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce. The organization provides drug education, prevention, and intervention to the community, is one of a kind, and is a tried and true homegrown Atascadero staple that officially started in 2011.

It all started with a single program featuring counseling for anyone struggling with substance abuse at Del Rio Continuation High School. Now, Lighthouse has close to 10 programs and counting, as well as many ways they interact with the community.

"We started with that one counseling program that was actually for 11 recovering heroin addicts that had been students at Atascadero High School," added Donn about the initial Lighthouse program.

Chairperson Lori Bagby became a part of

Lighthouse after losing her son to an overdose, and then three months later attending the funeral of one of his best friends. The two boys had been friends since pre-school days, and their deaths brought Lighthouse into Lori's life. Though she didn't know how she would help Lighthouse with its mission, she knew she wanted to be a part of what they were doing in the community and help other families in a position she knew all too well. That drive morphed into her becoming Chairperson of the Lighthouse Committee. "Now so much of what we do, not all of it, is the prevention and the healthy activities and the good mentors and people in the kid's lives," said Lori.

Lighthouse also interacts with Reality Tour every year to help parents and children in Atascadero learn about the hazards of drug use in the community. The event is for youth who are in sixth grade through the end of high school.

"You can see with Reality Tour how involved the whole community is," Donn stated. "Usually, it's ask, and you receive. Lots of

'23 28 |

people in the community know about Lighthouse, and so our awareness piece, awareness, prevention, intervention, and education are the parts of it, and so the awareness piece a lot of times is, it might be a newsletter, it might be what you're going to do with writing your story, where the awareness is being created because everybody doesn't know about it."

Not only is Lighthouse helping spread drug awareness and aiding the community in prevention, intervention, and education through Reality Tour, it also reaches into the community with other yearly events. Those events include the Lighthouse 5K Fun Run, the All Comers Track Meet, and the Wayne Cooper Memorial Golf Tournament.

"Someone might say, 'well, how is an All Comers Track Meet or a Lighthouse after-school program, how are those drug prevention?'" Donn added. "Well, they are what we call constructive use of leisure time. And if you have constructive use of leisure time, your adolescent population, if you fill that time with constructive things, then you are going to lessen the opportunity for them to do drugs."

There's many other ways that Lighthouse provides education and help to the people of Atascadero on a more consistent basis, with the Lighthouse Coffee Company run by students, the Lighthouse Atascadero Mentoring Program (LAMP), the Lighthouse Atascadero Support, Education and Resources (LASER), Lighthouse After School, Lighthouse Counseling at the Paloma Creek Wellness Center, Youth Development, and more.

"Each thing that we've added has been the result of a need that was felt in the community for whatever the program might be," added Donn.

He also stated that they've added a support system for adults, complete with a library and a series of programs and resources to recommend to anyone who isn't a youth in the community.

"I feel very lucky that I get to be a part of it and make a difference for other people," Lori said.

Donn added that he's grateful to the current superintendent Tom Butler and the rest of the administrative team in the Atascadero Unified School District for their full support and the work they do alongside Lighthouse, as well as all the other community organizations and nonprofits that lend time and resources to the program.

"It isn't about any one of us; it's about all of us; it's about a whole town," Donn concluded.

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April 2023 | 29

Preparing for Spring

When spring is in the air, we look forward to new beginnings and are reinvigorated after the long, cold winter months. Though still a few weeks before the official shift from winter to spring, we can anticipate positive real estate market changes in home inventory based on historical increases for the same time period year after year.

The Central Coast market for 2022 started strong and as the months went on, it started to reflect the markets prior to pre-pandemic. This is not a bad thing since the real estate market prior to COVID was strong. And, because change is as much a given as death and taxes, proverbially speaking, we are already seeing another small shift as January 2023 closes into February. Interest rates have come down. Freddie Mac ( has January 26, 2023, rates at 6.13 percent. This is well above the 3 percent and 4 percent rates we saw in 2021 and early 2022, but it is down from peak rates of 7.08 percent in November 2022. Experts are even predicting that we should be seeing the rates fall into the 5’s by the end of 2023.

We’re beginning to see that the

change of interest rates is translating into a higher number of showings we’re receiving for each listing in our market. Market data shows that a home in the 93422 zip code is receiving an average of 7.7 showings per month so far for the first month of the year. Compared to 3.5 showings on average per month in October 2022. The rise in the number of showings can be interpreted by the lower interest rates and springtime flurry.

Though hopeful, the increase in showing numbers can only be sustained if there is a healthy supply of homes. You may have heard someone in the real estate field say, “we have two months of supply in our market.” But what does that mean? To break it down, it means that if the real estate market was to receive no new listings, how long would the current inventory of homes take to sell? This number is based on the current sales pace. If you take the total number of homes for sale (inventory) and divide it by

the number of closings for the past month, you would get the market’s number of months of inventory. Does that inventory number make any difference? It absolutely does! It determines if we are in a seller’s market or a buyer’s market. It determines the number of closings possible in the future months. At this time, our 93422 zip code has 1.5 months of inventory. This is a very low number that puts us in more of a seller’s market. Typically, it switches to a buyer’s market with around six months of inventory. If you were to look back at history, starting in 2008, Atascadero had 18 months of inventory. That meant lots of choices for buyers. I remember my buyers having to narrow down their viewing choices because there were too many options.

Today, a buyer is lucky to have one if not two properties to look at. Continuing this abundant supply trend, in 2009 there were 9.3 months of inventory, 2010 saw 8.8 months of inventory. A notable change was

apparent as we came out of the foreclosure and short sale era; the number of months of inventory continued to drop. From 2013 to 2019, we had been hovering between 2.5 and four months of inventory. Fast forward through COVID and we were seeing inventory around 0.8 to two months. Can you guess what month and year had the lowest amount of inventory? December 2021 only had 0.8 months of inventory. That’s not even a month of homes available!

With the holiday season behind us, the trees are starting to bloom, the hills have turned green, and the feeling of hope that inevitably fills the air during spring has started. It may be time for people on the “to sell or not to sell” fence to focus and lean one direction or the other.

Starting your home buying or selling process now will set you up to be able to move by early summer. Should you be using your time now to prepare and ready your home for the real estate market if you plan on selling?

Absolutely! Now is the time to devise a strategy to figure out how you are going to make your home stand out and capture a buyer’s attention; and more importantly their qualified offer to purchase. With the demand in our area starting to pick up again, both buyers and sellers would greatly benefit, and appreciate, an increase in home inventory.




Proudly serving all of the San Luis Obispo County
MALIK REAL ESTATE GROUP BRE #01706045 Business • Realty Report 30 |

A r t s Outreach

San Luis Obispo County enjoys many avenues of arts outreach for our schools. However, these organizations depend upon the support of residents to thrive and grow. If you are in South County, the Clark Center Arts in Education Outreach Program provides programming for the students of the largest school district in our county, Lucia Mar Unified. The Poly Arts for Youth (PAYF) program is Cal Poly Arts’ education enrichment program for students of all ages throughout the county. Partnerships exist between Studios on the Park in Paso Robles, the Paso Robles Youth Arts Center, Wine County Theatre, Opera San Luis Obispo, and Symphony of the Vines, which provide arts programs for youth. These are just a few examples of arts non-profits that stoke the embers of San Luis Obispo County’s creative spirit in our schools.

According to a recent Arts and Economic

Prosperity Survey, San Luis Obispo County arts and arts-related activities enhance our local economy with approximately 27 million in funding and expenditures. Exploring the arts is one of the most popular Career & Technical Education (CTE) pathways selected by San Luis Obispo County students. The Central Coast Economic Forecast refers to the arts’ positive impact on our local economy. Our county is growing in cultural and artistic vibrancy because of the dedicated individuals that make the central coast their home. Creative outreach is the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education Arts Partnership with arts organizations has afforded every school in the county opportunities. This outreach intends to provide another arts-based partnership supporting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced the 2001 “No Child Left Behind Act.” Fundamentally, the intent of this iteration, first signed into law under the 1965 Johnson Administration, remains the same: to provide supplemental funds and programs for low-income students and to enable state and local educational agencies to improve access and quality of elementary and

secondary education.

Students who participate in the performing arts build a sense of community, communication skills, collaboration skills, public speaking experience, empathy, and compassion. In many studies, researchers link involvement in the arts to better child development and overall higher student achievement. Providing students access to the arts results in higher academic achievement, a medium for self-expression, improved confidence and self-presentation skills, problem-solving and perseverance skills, empathy, and compassion. Today more than ever, we need to foster positive, peaceful avenues of self-expression in our schools.

My top reasons for supporting the arts in our community include: the arts unify communities, the arts improve well-being, the arts strengthen local economies, the arts encourage tourism, the arts improve academic achievement, the arts spark creativity, and the arts provide joy. It is an honor to serve as your county superintendent. I hope this article will spark discussion among all educational stakeholders about the power of becoming involved in arts outreach as a volunteer, patron, or participant.

HOME  AUTO  LIFE 8420-A El Camino Real Atascadero, CA 93422 ( 805 ) 466-7744 E85 Diesel Propane Car Wa sh Hw y 41 & 101 Exit 219 Atascadero, CA 93422 ®
SLO County Office of Education • Tent City April 2023 | 31

Important Days Meals for of Our Lives

After a very wet winter, spring arrived on March 20, and if all goes well, we will still see some “April showers.” We need the rain, that’s for sure. Looking at my April calendar, I see that Easter is on the 9th, Tax Day is on the 18th, and Earth Day is on the 22nd. All are important days in our lives but in different ways. Easter is the day I remember as a family-gathering day. After attending church services, there was always a hunt for Easter eggs for the children, followed by a feast of wonderful homemade food. Good memories.

Roasted Loin of Pork with Garlic, Apples, and Thyme


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 5-pound boned and rolled pork loin roast

2 tablespoons butter

8 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 large tart baking apples, peeled and thickly sliced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

3/4 cup apple cider (or applejack)

Thyme sprigs for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place oil in flameproof casserole or Dutch oven and place over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add pork roast to pan and brown on all sides. Remove roast and add butter to pan. When butter is melted add garlic and apples. Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Press thyme onto surface of roast, season with salt and pepper. Return roast to pan with garlic and apples and place in preheated oven. Roast for about 1 3/4 hours, or until pork is tender and cooked through; baste roast occasionally with pan juices. Remove pan from oven and transfer roast to cutting board. Cover loosely with foil. Stir vinegar and apple cider or applejack into pan and heat over medium-high heat. Cook, gently stirring mixture, until liquid is reduced and thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, remove strings and excess fat from roast and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Spoon warm sauce over each serving and garnish with sprigs of thyme. Serves 8

Pan-Roasted Baby Carrots


2 pounds baby carrots, peeled 1 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place carrots in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with basil. Pour chicken stock over carrots and dot with butter. Cover casserole loosely and roast for 45 minutes or until carrots are very tender. Serves8

Spring Vegetable Salad


1 pound asparagus

1 pound sugar snap peas

3 cups torn leaf lettuce

1 cup Red Wine Vinaigrette (See recipe below)


Trim asparagus and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths. Place asparagus and peas in vegetable steamer over simmering water, cover, steam 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Remove from heat, rinse with cold water, drain, and chill. Just before serving, toss all ingredients together in a salad bowl. Serves 8

Red Wine Vinaigrette


1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup light olive oil


Combine all ingredients in a jar. Cover tightly with lid. Shake well. Refrigerate for up to one week, tightly covered. Makes 1 1/2 cups

Taste • Taste of Americana • RF O M THEKITCH E N OFBARBIE B U ZT •
32 |


Calendar of Events



Recurring weekly on Friday, Saturday



Recurring weekly on Friday, Saturday



Recurring weekly on Saturday 11 a.m. to 12 p.m




Recurring weekly on Friday, Saturday





Visit the Easter Bunny with photo opportunities.



1-4pm Saturday, April 1 and every Saturday following

Enjoy a relaxing acoustic series headlining local Paso Robles musicians including Nataly Lola and Kenny Taylor. Starting every Saturday in April through October, enjoy a tasting flight or sip on a glass of Midnight wine under the sunshine and in the outdoor tasting garden.





This Friday will showcase the Stellar Band. The public is encouraged to bring a low-back chair to relax and enjoy the music.






Enjoy the Annual Citywide Yard Sale and shop for treasures and bargains at 150+ yard sales all over town! For shopping information, go to

APR 15: SAT– APR 16


Sat. April 15 10am-5pm.; Sun. April 16 10am-4pm

Art in the Park offers artists and crafts people a high quality outdoor setting to display and sell their wares to an appreciative audience. There will be 130 booths representing 145 independent artists and craft workers.




9am-3 pm

The show will offer onlookers to see sidecars, vintage motorcycles, recycled treasures and electric cars.



Visit any of 75+ wine, cider, and olive oil producers throughout SLO County when they donate 10 percent of sales to Woods Humane Society. No need to buy a ticket, and you don’t have to pre-register. Visit for more information.




We’ll be returning to all of our favorite venues, including the Fremont Theater, Palm Theatre, Downtown Centre Cinemas, Sunset Drive-In, Park Cinemas, and more. Learn more about each of the events and screenings as we get closer to the week of the festival — Volunteer, Sponsorship and Internship opportunities also available.

Wednesdays Saturdays Tuesdays Saturdays ATASCADERO 6505 EL CAMINO REAL, ATASCADERO, CA 93422 3pm - 6pm TEMPLETON CROCKER ST & 6TH ST, TEMPLETON, CA 93465 9am - 12:30pm PASO ROBLES 11TH & SPRING, PASO ROBLES, CA 93446 9am - 11am PASO ROBLES: COUNTY FARM & CRAFT MARKET 11TH & SPRING, PASO ROBLES 9am - 1pm
April 2023 | 33

Spring Celebrations Spring Celebrations

Easter fun and how to enjoy the blooming wildflowers

The welcoming of spring and all the green and growth that the rains have offered is something to enjoy and be grateful for. Many North County activities are taking place to embrace the season and the Easter holiday.

On Saturday, April 1, Downtown Paso Robles City Park is welcoming the community to Hop To It to meet the Easter Bunny from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call the Downtown Paso Robles Main Street office at (805) 238-4103.

St. Luke’s Episcopal and Hope Lutheran Churches, both in Atascadero, will both be holding Easter Services at 9 a.m. on Sunday, April 9.

Awakening Ways Spiritual Community will be hosting a Sunday gathering on April 9 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Pavilion on the Lake in Atascadero. The gathering can also be viewed over Zoom. For information, visit

During the week of April 11, children can go to the Shandon Library and color and decorate an Easter egg between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For

more information, contact Tracey at

The Charles Paddock Zoo is hosting its Spring Festival April 2-16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Festival will include a variety of fun during school spring breaks, such as the arrival of baby chicks and opportunities to view scheduled animal feedings. For more information, visit

After the abundance of rain we had this winter, we are sure to experience another Superbloom of wildflowers at the Carissa Plains National Monument. The monument is known as one of the best-kept secrets in California. Visiting the remote monument of San Andreas Fault, you can find carved valleys and white alkali flats of Soda Lake, Painted Rock, and open grasslands filled with natural wildflowers if you are lucky.

You can keep up to date on the wildflowers in Carissa with weekly updates from the Theodore Payne Foundation Wild Flower Hotline. This hotline provides updates for the best wildflower spots throughout Southern and Central California. Find the updates here learn/wildflower-hotline/.

To prepare for your visit, it is best to know that there are no amenities such as water, food, or fuel. Plan accordingly and ensure you get these items in one of the neighboring communities. Know that pets must be leashed or caged at developed sites, such as the visitor center, interpretive overlooks, trailheads, and camping areas. Also, pets are not allowed in the Painted Rock exclusion zone.

Getting to the Carissa Plains has two major sources of access: from the north, via Soda Lake Road off of State Route 58, and from the south, via Soda Lake Road off of State Route 33/166.

The dirt roads leading to the park are likely to be rough, given the amount of rain and rough weather we have had this year. Note that roads may be slippery, muddy, and possibly impassable. The Caliente Ridge, Panorama and Simmler roads can be dangerous when wet.

The bounty of natural elements of the monument and its abundance of wildflowers offers its visitors something to remember, and with Earth Day just around the corner — be mindful and proactive in sustaining respect and peace for nature.

Last Word • Spring Celebrations
34 | 76 Gas Station 31 A Heavenly Home 21 American West Tire & Auto 7 Atascadero Mutual Water Co 35 Bottom Line Bookkeeping 10 Brad's Overhead Doors 12 Central Coast Casualty Restoration 7 City of Atascadero 2 Citywide Yard Sale 36 Custom Card Clocks 13 Deep Steam Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners 7 Educated Gardener 29 Edward Heiman 29 Five Star Rain Gutters 25 Hart Family Chiropractic 12 Hearing Aid Specialists Of The Central Coast 3 John Donovan Insurance & Financial Services, Inc 31 Julie Seden-Hansen LMFT LPCC...23 Kenneth's Heating & Air 30 Malik Real Estate Group 8, 9 Masterpiece Framing & Gifts 21 Nick's Painting 29 North County Pilates 11 O'Conner Pest Control 30 Odyssey World Cafe 10 Optometric Care Associates 5 Paso Land, Wayne Lewis 27 Peace of Mind Massage Therapy 13 Shift'N Gears Garage 13 Solarponics 25 Teresa Rhyne Law Group 27 The Natural Alternative 11 Three Speckled Hens 23 Wine Country Theatre 5 Writing Support Group 11 DIRECTORY TO OUR ADVERTISERS Atascadero News Magazine is brought to you by Since 1916
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