Atascadero News Magazine #42 • December 2021

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Issue No. 42


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Holiday Season Filled With Magic by rachelle rickard

At this time of year, there is always so much to do, but we all should also take a little time for some fun and a little bit of magic as well! Mark your calendars now for all of the great, family-friendly events!

Oh, Christmas Tree Oh, Christmas Tree! by christianna marks

Post-Thanksgiving, nothing rings in the Holiday season quite like Christmas tree shopping with your family and friends at one of the many local tree lots and farms.

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Favorite Holiday Events Return to Santa Margarita by simone smith

Excitement is building in Santa Margarita as the month of December rolls back around, this year bringing the return of some “inperson” favorite holiday events.

Baked Goods For Christmas by barbie butz

Christmas is a time for baking, whether you’re making bread, cakes, or cookies. Discover some “lighter” recipes that any taste-tester will be sure to appreciate.

On the Cover

Peace and Love this Holiday Season. May we remember the joy in community, helping one another and knowing that every day is a blessing and never promised. Photo by V. Altina 20,000 PRINTED | 17,000 DIRECT MAILED LOCALLY!


Atascadero 93422 • Santa Margarita 93453 • Creston 93432 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.

Celebrating Cultural Diversity



12th Annual

San Luis Obispo Jewish Film Festival A [mostly] VIRTUAL EVENT January 9th - 30th, 2022

December 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine | 5

co nte nts

November / December 2021


favor ite your ow




busin esses

some love !

Voting Now Open!

Cast your votes for your favorite businesses in the

9th Annual BEST OF NORTH SLO COUNTY Reader’s Poll




Something Worth Reading Publisher’s Letter

Round Town Atascadero Chamber of Commerce | Cross Talk with Josh Cross The Natural Alternative: Give the Gift of Health Greyhound Foundation: 15th Induction of Honorees to Hall of Fame


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Features Nutcracker Ballet: Returns for the 25th Anniversary Winter Solstice, Yuletide: Traditional Celebrations Held on the Darkest Day of the Year


Rev. Elizabeth Rowley Hogue: Season’s Blessing

Non-Prof it Spotlight Cancer Support Community: 10th Annual Paso Robles’ Lights of Hope

Tent City Workforce: Employee Shortage in the North County SLO County Office of Education: The December Dilemma–Religion and Our Schools



27 28 29 30

Events Calendar of Events: Happenings in the North County

Last Word Little White Envelope: A True Christmas Story Atascadero News Magazine Manifesto Directory of our Advertisers

33 34 34

13 STARS ACQUIRES CENTRAL COAST JOURNAL DECEMBER 2021 ISSUE BACK ON STANDS This month’s feature CCJ’s former publishers Tom and Julie Meinhold who decided to take a step back from publishing in November and look for a new owner to take over. They then reached out to Nic and Hayley Mattson, owners of 13 Stars Media, and instantly felt they had made the right decision. Read the full story in this months issue of CCJ.

Dr. Cindy Maynard: Making a List and Checking It Twice Another Rick Evans Photo: A Special to the Atascadero News Magazine


Help us celebrate those local businesses that have risen to the occasion and made our community great against the odds. Now is your chance to bring some love to your favorite local businesses and attractions! Vote today for the Best of North SLO County!

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HAVE A NEW BUSINESS? NEED TO FILE YOUR FICTITIOUS BUSINESS NAME, LEGAL NOTICE OR CLASSIFIED AD? Contact The Atascadero News at (805) 466-2585 or your local hometown newspaper since 1916. We are here to help! Atascadero News Magazine | December 2021

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Something Worth Reading

Publisher’s Letter

publisher, editor-in-chief

publisher, editor-at-large

Hayley Mattson



Holiday Season his December, we all get to venture out once again and enjoy the annual traditions we have all grown to love to start our Holiday Season.

Bundling up in our favorite winter apparel and getting the kiddos ready to attend a Christmas Parade, Tree Lighting, Nutcracker Performance, Winter Wonderland, or a drive drown Vine Street reminds us how much we value these holiday traditions—many of which were placed on hold last year due to the pandemic. The events are important, but as we can see, the interaction we have with each other face to face is what feeds our soul. It reminds us how incredible our community is and how resilient we truly are. The people behind these events deserve awards and our deepest appreciation for the hours spent coordinating, gathering, and hosting so that we may come and enjoy the few hours together and then go home filled with the holiday spirit, and for that, we say Thank You! Thank you for soldiering on even though the times are still challenging; thank you for knowing how important each one of these events are, and thank you for showing up when no one else did. You all are our community heroes. This month, we featured several holiday events (pages 16-20) and filled up our calendar with cheer each weekend throughout December (page 31). In addition, the tree farms are open and ready for some family fun (page 21), and Barbie Butz gives us some delicious baking options to share with family and friends (page 24). We are honored that we get to come into your home each and every month through Atascadero News Magazine and share with you, your neighbors, friends, and local businesses. We love being able to tell the community stories, so please reach out to us if you know of one that needs to be shared. As you read through these pages, we hope it brings you, Peace & Love this holiday season, no matter how you celebrate. We hope you feel inspired to share your gift with someone new and know that today is the most important because it is the only one promised.

Nicholas Mattson

assistant editor

layout design

Melissa Guerra ad consultants

Michael Michaud ad design

Dana McGraw Jamie Self Jessica Segal

community writers

Jen Rodman

Camille DeVaul Christianna Marks

office administrator

Cami Martin |

Barbie Butz


Mira Honeycutt

Dr. Cindy Maynard

The Natural Alternative

James Brescia, Ed.D.

Patrick Patton

Josh Cross

Rachelle Rickard

Rev. Elizabeth R. Hogue

Simone Smith


PUBLICATION DELIVERY DATE December 31, 2021 ADVERTISING DEADLINE* December 10, 2021 * Ad reservation deadline is the 10th of each month preceding the publication. For more information about advertising, upcoming issues and editorial themes, contact our advertising representatives above, or see our media kit at

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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.

Happiest of Holidays to you all. We hope you enjoy this month’s issue of Atascadero News Magazine.


Atascadero News Magazine ©2021 is a local business owned and published by local people — Nicholas & Hayley Mattson

Hayley & Nic

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form by any means without written consent from Atascadero News Magazine.

if thou wouldest win immortality of name, either do things worth the writing, or write things worth the reading. — Thomas Fuller, 1727

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ow, it’s hard to believe that 2021 is almost over. I want to thank our community and local businesses for supporting us and each other this year. Thanks to the support of everyday folks, our business community has seen tremendous growth. We now have more individuals starting small businesses, connecting with a community in the BridgeWorks Co-Working Space, and participating in Chamber Mixers and events. To top it off, our community has rallied behind us, supporting the return of our Art, Wine & Brew Tours, Shop Local programs, Job Fairs, and more. With that said, I’m excited for what 2022 will bring. Our Chamber has exciting programs and events in store for the upcoming year, so I want to give you a little peek at what we have in the works. OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS

Here at the Chamber, the team and I believe in empowering our community. We have incredibly talented, passionate, and capable individuals working here, and our goal is to help them thrive. That’s why we’re working on putting together programs that educate, connect, and help support our local business community. In regards to education, you can expect to see programs like a business education series, a business start-up guide, and of course, the State of North County. For the connection piece, we’ve got a couple of ways to help our business community get and stay connected. Business is not a solo sport; we are all stronger and happier when we have a community of support. That’s why we’re rolling out the following events 12 @ 12 Lunch Meetings, industry roundtable meetings, business walks, and our Chamber Councils (more on that below). We’re also moving forward with the expansion of BridgeWorks Co-Working to provide a space tailored for working professionals, which will offer a space to help support them

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and foster a community of working professionals. What does all this support for businesses mean for our community in general? Well, for starters more businesses, and growing businesses means that you’ll have more places to shop, enjoy tasty bites, and have access to more services (you’ll want to keep an eye out for the release of the 2022 Official Destination Guide for Atascadero with more information about our local businesses). This also translates into more jobs for our community, making it a win/win all around!

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By 2022 all of our councils will be back up and running strong. Business professionals have a chance to join a council that will connect them with the community and participate in council events. You can expect upcoming events and opportunities for discussion, connection, and engagement from the Diversity Council, Legislative Affairs Council, Wine & Beer Event Planning Committee, and the Economic Prosperity Council. Councils are just one of the opportunities we offer businesses to engage with the community. We’ll also have events that businesses can participate in to reach the broader community. Some of these events include Talk On The Block pop-up meetings, Art, Wine & Brew Tours, The Atascadero Lakeside Wine Festival (back to in-person this year), and local and regional advocacy for business. Again, I want to thank our amazing Atascadero community. Your support as a shopper, a business, a volunteer, or an advocate for the local community is the reason our Chamber can do what we do. If you would like more information on how you can get involved in 2022, either as a business or volunteer, please feel free to reach out and give our team a call at (805)466-2044. Wishing you the very best this holiday season! 

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By Camille DeVaul


ifteen years ago, Atascadero Greyhounds came together to form the Atascadero Athletic Foundation with the sole purpose of raising funds to improve the track at the Atascadero High School. After completing the new nine-lane, all-weather track, the foundation moved on to fulfill other needs in their community. They improved lights and bleachers for the high school football field and the baseball and softball fields, a new concession stand—The Top Dog. While their mission remains the same, a few changes were made to the foundation. Additional needs were seen throughout the community outside the realm of athletics, so the name changed to the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation. In addition to all the good, the foundation has done for the community, they also have oversight of the Atascadero Greyhound Athletics Hall of Fame. Since 2007, the Greyhound Foundation has inducted specially selected individuals for the Atascadero Greyhound Hall of Fame. Individuals are selected because they have contributed to Atascadero athletics in one way or another. These special people are honored at the Hall of Fame Banquet, where Greyhounds gather together in their best “Atascadero formal” attire, ready to reminisce on the ‘good old days’ and honor

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impressive individuals that made a difference in Atascadero. This year’s induction banquet occurred on November 6 at the Santa Maria Brewing Company on San Luis Ave. in Atascadero. Nine Greyhounds were inducted to the 2021 Hall of Fame, bringing its new total members to over 140 Greyhounds. Christian Cooper who is a teacher and coach at the Atasacdero High School (AHS) emceed the banquet, introducing each new honoree with their “Greyhound story,” which often included how they became a Greyhound or their grey, orange, and white accomplishments. Honorees are nominated by the public, selected by a board of advisors, then presented with an Atascadero Athletic Hall of Fame Plaque. These plaques are later displayed on the foyer walls of the Atascadero High School Ewing Gymnasium.

Atascadero Greyhound Hall of Fame Class of 2021 Haylee Donaghe Borgstrom (Class of 2005) was introduced as a scholar-athlete and valedictorian. She had six varsity letters (three in basketball, two in volleyball, and one for track) and was named offensive player of the year for volleyball. But basketball seemed to be the sport she really shined. Haylee earned a scholarship to play basketball at UC Davis. There she made even more athletic

accomplishments. Today she is working as a sports medicine physician and faculty member at Harvard Medical School in Boston. As Cooper puts it, “She is wicked smart.” Hannah Donaghe (Class of 2007) dominated on and off the court, and just like her sister, a scholar-athlete. In high school, Hannah was a four-year starter, three-time MVP, All-League and All-County all four years, County Player of the Year, all-state team three times, and even more if you can believe it. Hannah played basketball for Stanford on scholarship. There her team made the final four, all four years she was on the team. Today, she works as an environmental scientist in Santa Barbara. Craig Hueter (Class of 1984) is known for his baseball accomplishments at AHS. Early in his high school baseball career, he exceeded at the plate and was of the only Greyhounds one season to get all eight first team. As a senior, he was named All-County and All-League and was recognized as a top Greyhound. He was second all-time in stolen bases at AHS, being only one stolen base behind the first place. His baseball stats at AHS go above and beyond. Roy McDaniel (Class of 1968) earned seven varsity athletic letters while at AHS. He earned Atascadero News Magazine | December 2021

two in football, three for wrestling, and two in baseball. Cooper quoted McDaniel’s old wrestling coach, who said Roy “was driven to be the best. A leader by example.” McDaniel went on to coach softball at AHS, helping the varsity team win the 1993 CIF Championship, earning him coach of the year. Brian Litten (Class of 1994) comes from a long line of Greyhound supporters. He was a seven varsity letterman athlete, having two in football, three in soccer, and two in baseball. In football, Litten was the starting safety for two CIF Championships. He was first-team All-League and All-County his senior year at AHS. In 1994, he was named AHS athlete of the year and then went on to play baseball at Santa Barbara Community College, where he excelled in the sport. Today, Litten operates his family’s business, El Camino Building Supply, with his brother. Dwain Davis (Class of 1992) was one of the most honored basketball players in AHS history, being one of three players to earn All-State basketball honors. In addition, his basketball career boasts several triumphs and honors. Davis went to UCLA on a full scholarship which later led him to live all over the world. His coach described him as “A pivotal player in changing the direction of Atascadero High School basketball.”

Cooper ended his introduction of Davis with the basketball player’s own quote, “Life is a beautiful, magical journey that can lead to anything and nowhere. Find a way to enjoy the ride.” Jesse Baro (Class of 1958), as Cooper puts it, is Santa Margarita royalty. He says, “When I think Baro, I think Margarita royalty—the Baro family has been giving back for generations and countless decades, and Jesse is no different.” While at AHS, Baro was president of the letterman’s club. He was always known to be reliable, dependable, and committed to excellence. Baro went on to coach basketball for AHS, known to be the “approachable coach” and a friend to every Greyhound. Steve Ojeda’s daughter accepted his Hall of Fame induction on his behalf, saying, “He would be so honored and touched by this.” Ojeda passed away on October 17, 2019, at the age of 74. As an active member in the Atascadero Athletics since 1992, Ojeda made an impact on thousands of athletes, coaches, parents, and students. He was always there as a helping hand to coaches of all athletics, taking care of equipment and whatever else was needed. He was someone who never said no to giving a helping hand but was also always right. Cooper remembers, “He was always the behind the scenes guy—one of our greatest boosters and an ambassador in our community.” Chris Ferree (Class of 1986) came to AHS his sophomore year from the East Coast. Cooper reiterated that Ferree was “Quite possibly the best student transfer Atascadero High School has ever gotten.” Ferree excelled highly in wrestling at AHS with coach Dan Pry by his side. He went on to coach wrestling, water polo, and even varsity cheerleading at AHS for 25 years. His accomplishments as a coach include over ten CIF championships, but Pry said of Ferree, “I saw who he is, and I’m sure he changed the life of many young men.” Cooper said, “We have without a doubt the most successful coach in AHS history.”  For more information on the Greyhound Foundation, visit

December 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine



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News from the City

Holiday SeasonFilled with Magic

By Rachelle Rickard, Atascadero City Manager


t this time of year, there is always so much to do, but we all should also take a little time out from all of the planning, preparation, cooking, and other necessary responsibilities for some fun and a little bit of magic as well! Be sure to mark your calendars now for all of the great, family-friendly events that are coming right around the corner, specially designed to generate many wonderful memories. You won’t want to miss out on our 2nd Annual Holiday Trail of Lights Tour Map to know exactly where to take an evening drive or neighborhood stroll to see all of the wonderfully decorated local homes, guaranteed to get everyone in the holiday spirit! Information about registering your own address to participate or to obtain the Trail of Lights map can be found on visitatascadero. com/trailoflights. Our annual Light Up the Downtown Holiday Lighting celebration will be held on Friday, December 3, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at City Hall, Sunken Gardens, and throughout downtown Atascadero. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., you can sip and shop with the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce’s ever-popular Art, Wine & Brew Tour (visit for ticket information); then at 6 p.m. everyone will gather in the Sunken Gardens area in front of Historic City Hall as we count-down to the beautiful holiday lighting of City Hall. Santa and Mrs. Claus will then arrive via our antique Model-A fire truck, and children will be able to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the North Pole entrance, located at the Lewis Avenue side of City Hall, facing Atascadero Middle School. There will be lots of great holiday music, free hot chocolate, Model-A fire-truck rides, and complimentary hayrides by Harris State Lines! The extremely popular Winter Wonderland event will be held on Friday, December 10, from 5 to 9 p.m., in the Sunken Gardens and the entire downtown is being transformed into a magical, snowy paradise! We’ll have over

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65 tons of snow for the large snow pile play areas, and a massive snow-slide will be built by the Atascadero Kiwanis. Many downtown merchants will be open, along with numerous craft and food vendors. Joe’s Little Train will be in operation by the Elks Club, and it’s rumored that Santa and Mrs. Claus may stop by Winter Wonderland too, and Santa may even take a ride down the snow-slide! Be sure to bring the whole family for some Holiday Magic at the Charles Paddock Zoo, which will be held on Saturday, December 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Our wonderful Zookeepers will be transformed into Santa’s Elves that day so that they can assist our animal residents with opening their very special holiday treats and gifts! Then, just as the holidays and events of the season have wound down, we’re very excited to bring you the 6th Annual Tamale Festival, coming on Saturday, January 15, 2022! The festival will include over 30 vendors with plenty of tasty and tempting tamales, along with lots of terrific entertainment including MC Francisco Ramirez, Medina Light Show Designs, a wide variety of fun and exciting music including Mariachi bands, the Folkloric Dancers, and the Famous Dancing Horses. This wonderful event will be a very exciting occasion and is free to attend and to enjoy the entertainment, but don’t forget to bring your wallet to purchase plenty of delicious tamales, other delicious food, and great merchandise! Please note that vendors and volunteers are still needed for both Winter Wonderland and Tamale Festival! For all of our upcoming event information, go to or email I hope that everyone is able to take some time away from their year-end responsibilities to enjoy at least a few of these great events and has a truly wonderful holiday season. 

Atascadero News Magazine | December 2021

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Santa Margarita’s holiday traditions and events bring the community and family together. Photos By Larianne Koch, Jess Ballantyne & Simone Smith

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xcitement is building in Santa Margarita as the month of December rolls back around, this year bringing the return of some “in-person” favorite holiday events. After nearly two years of scaling back, cancellations, or having events go remote, Santa Margarita’s community organizers have made plans to move forwards with the return of the Santa Margarita Friends of the Library Annual Craft Faire, in-person caroling and lighting of the Christmas Tree and the Holiday Stroll. As containers of mass-produced merchandise continue to sit idly by on ships or in ports, we continue to learn more lessons about the importance of producing and buying locally. In addition to directly supporting our own economy and reducing travel miles for goods, we have the opportunity to purchase one-ofa-kind, local and handmade items by artisans right here in our own backyard. After skipping last year’s event due to Covid, the Friends of the Santa Margarita Library (FOSML) will host their 18th Annual Craft Faire and Bake Sale. The event will take place on Saturday, December 4, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Santa Margarita Community Hall, located on the corner of I and Murphy Streets, at 22501 I Street in Santa Margarita. According to FOSML President Sheila Wynne, this year’s event will feature 24 local artisan and craft vendors. Among the array of modern and traditional crafts, you will find fabulous naturally constructed wreaths and ornaments by Polly Mc Mullen; goat milk soaps, organic lip balms, and alpaca socks by Giving Tree Family Farm; hand-felted alpaca and merino wool hats, vintage and handmade hat pins by The Woolly Pearl; beautiful and plush rag rugs by Larianne Huntsberger Koch; and wonderfully creative stuffed animals by Sewn So Sweetly. Do you have a sweet tooth, want to start early, or purchase something delicious for friends or family? Then, you’ve come to the right spot! Along with the sales of arts and crafts, FOSML will be selling Hot Coffee, Cider, and water to go along with an array of delicious baked goods. Also, no need to rush away for lunch as plans are in the works to have a local food vendor present to cover those hunger pangs making for a fully relaxing and enjoyable day of holiday shopping. Your purchases will make a difference as proceeds from this annual Craft Faire, and Bake Sale will benefit the Friends of

the Santa Margarita Library, going specifically for youth and adult programs and to increase the Santa Margarita Libraries collections. The following evening, Sunday, December 5, bundle up and join friends, families, and neighbors for Santa Margarita’s Annual Tree Lighting. This popular holiday celebration is put on by The Santa Margarita Village Association, and this year has a few scheduling and event adjustments. The community is invited to start off the evening at 4 p.m. by driving over to 22525 I Street, where Boy Scout Troop 123 will be collecting canned goods for their food drive in front of the Santa Margarita Community Church. Continue on to pick up a deliciously warm soup and roll dinner to go, served by The Santa Margarita Lions Club, before making your way over for the main event to the Santa Margarita Community Park at 2101 H Street. Once you have reached the park, you will be treated to a cup of hot coffee, chocolate or cider, and a cookie courtesy of The Santa Margarita Community Church while gathering and mingling with friends and neighbors before the tree lighting festivities begin around 5 p.m. Don’t feel like standing in the cold? This year you have the option of either remote or in-person participation. If you wish to stay cozy in your vehicle, you can simply tune in your radio to 97.7 to listen to the tree lighting program, countdown, and Christmas caroling. It’s a fun evening either way! The town fun doesn’t end there! Be sure to bring the family and join your friends for the return of Santa Margarita Beautiful’s Holiday Stroll on Saturday, December 11, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. See what excitement awaits as you stroll through Santa Margarita’s sparkling downtown. Support our local businesses, pick up a Holiday Passport to collect stamps during the night from participating locations to be entered into a raffle, and be sure to visit Santa! Awards will be announced during the evening for this year’s winners of the Home and Business Decorating Contest open to homes and businesses in Santa Margarita’s town proper. Competition has been heating up over the years, so be sure to take a drive around to see what dazzling creativity awaits. You can’t help but get into the Christmas spirit when joining this year’s holiday fun in Santa Margarita. 

Atascadero News Magazine | December 2021

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Nutcracker Ballet Returns for 25th Anniversary By Camille DeVaul

According to Suzi Cusimano, NCDPAF Board President, the production had a late start from not knowing if COVID restrictions would allow them to perform. But, when they knew the show would go on, performers began his time of year, do you ever dream of sugar plum fairies, princes, rat learning their choreography in September. By October 1, the casting was queens, and, well, nutcrackers? If not, I know Clara does. announced. This year's casting includes: The North County Dance and Performing Arts Foundation Jaklyn Woodland...........................Clara Ginger Cusimano..........Arabian Queen (NCDPAF) is ready to bring back the Nutcracker Ballet for its 25th Anni- Justin Grapentine......Nutcracker Prince Haruka Nishimura........ Russian Queen Mylee Kuhn..........................Rat Queen Julia Steffenauer..................Rose Queen versary. For many, the Nutcracker Performance is a tradition for families and their Kate Terrizzi.....................Snow Queen Alyssa Jenkins............Sugar Plum Fairy official start to the holiday season. This year is set to be extra special, consid- Katie Kowall................. Spanish Queen ...and so many more talented performers! ering it's their silver 25th Anniversary. This year's performance will be held This year's Nutcracker performers have been preparing for months for at the Spanos Theatre at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, on December 4 and 5. perhaps one of the most anticipated productions of the year. This year's The NCDPAF shared, "The Nutcracker Ballet is based on the story 'The production of The Nutcracker will include favorite scenes with some new Nutcracker and the King of Mice' written by E.T.A. Hoffman. Although what additions. is seen on the stage today is different in detail from the original story, the basic "We have a lot of younger children this year, so we added another youth plot remains the same; the story of a young German girl who dreams of a scene to the production," Suzi explained. Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King with seven heads. As a tradition, each year for Elegant evening, performers display themWhen Marius Petipa had the idea to choreograph the story into a ballet, selves as mannequins in full costume in the windows of downtown Paso it was actually based on a revision by Alexander Dumas, a well-known Robles businesses. The Main Street Association initially canceled this year's French author. His version reflects more of what we have come to love as Elegant Evening, but a few businesses still put together some fun for the the Nutcracker Ballet." start of "Nutcracker Season." Eighty performers, ranging in ages from six to 60, will be dancing at the The production's directors, Cheryle Armstrong, Theresa Comstock, and Spanos Theater at Cal Poly and bringing together dancers from across the Molly McKiernan, "hope both new and returning audience members will be county representing Class Act Dance in Paso Robles, Main Street Dance in inspired by this heartwarming story that has been brought to life for many Templeton, and for the first time, CORE Dance in San Luis Obispo. generations in theatres throughout the world." Dancers are looking forward to returning to live in-person performance Lastly, Suzie shared, "The families, the kids, the choreographers are all so after having to cancel last year's performance due to COVID restrictions. excited to put on this performance. It being the 25th year is extra special." Rather than their traditional ballet, performers participated in a worldwide For more information on The Nutcracker performance or to purchase virtual performance of The Nutcracker with the Nutshell production. tickets, visit 


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Atascadero News Magazine | December 2021

Oh, Christmas Tree

Here’s Where You Can Find Your Tree This Year! By Christianna Marks


othing gets you in the holiday mood like Christmas Tree shopping. It’s the perfect reason to gather the family together, bundle up, grab something warm to drink, and go find that perfect bundle of branches to bring home. Not to mention the absolute joy of getting bombarded (in the best way) by the original scent of Christmas. Thankfully, just like Santa, tree lots return every year. It’s obvious that local families are loyal to their favorite Christmas Tree lots and farms. Going back to these locally owned businesses for consecutive years in a row and creating traditions that last generations. Agape Christmas Trees “It’s a pleasure to see the families that come back year after year. You know, 15 years ago, Hidden Springs Tree Farm some of these kids were kids in junior high or high school, or even younger, and now they’re coming in with their own little families. It’s really neat to be involved in such a positive season like Christmas,” shared Rick Armet, owner of Agape Christmas Trees. Hopper Family Christmas Tree Lot Agape Christmas Trees has been an Atascadero staple for the last 15 years. They bring in Store/Hopper-Family-Christmas fresh inventory from Oregon, and occasionally, Northern California every holiday season. “We get a fresh truckload of trees each week, and doing that allows us to keep really good fresh Jack Creek Farms inventory in stock. We have repeat customers that come back each year bragging about how long the trees last. Until the end of January even, so having those fresh truckloads of trees each week definitely keeps them fresher longer,” Rick explained. And it’s not just the families looking for trees Holloway’s Christmas Trees that are creating holiday traditions—it’s the owners of the tree lots and farms, too. “The location where we sell the trees, we had purchased in 2005. We wanted to do something to generate revenue between then and when we Candy Cane Lane Christmas Tree sell the property. So, 2006 was the first year we trees, and we enjoyed it so much we ended Store/Candy-Cane-Lane-Christmas-Tree up keeping it going, and now it’s really become a family tradition. My three boys and my daughter, they love to be at the tree lot helping,” Rick added. Families have been hunting down the perfect trees to bring into their homes for ages. Roughly Avila Valley Barn since the 1830s in the US, to be exact. Though they obviously weren’t debating the legitimacy of whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie or not [it is!] while picking out a tree back then, it’s a longstanding activity that brings the family together and the spirit of the holidays into our living rooms. If you’re looking to support local, family-owned businesses this holiday season, we’ve compiled the perfect tree shopping list for you. Hop in the car, blare “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” and head out to one of these local tree spots! 


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December 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine | 21

Winter S ol sti ce Yuletide By Hayley Mattson


he Winter Solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the Yuletide refers to the time around the Christmas season, traditionyear. Cultures around the world have long held feasts and cele- ally recognized from December 21 until January 1, and dates back brated holidays around the winter solstice. Fire and light are centuries. Though Yuletide’s rituals have changed dramatically over traditional symbols of celebrations held on the darkest day of the year. the years, some Yuletide traditions remain and have contributed to The Winter Solstice is the day of the year with the fewest hours of modern-day celebrations of the festive season. daylight, and it marks the start of astronomDecorating an evergreen tree was a ical winter. After the Winter Solstice, days “May you find peace in the promise of common Yuletide custom in ancient times, start becoming longer and nights shorter as as was giving gifts to friends and loved ones. the solstice night, that each day forward The Yule Log is another centuries-old tradispring approaches. Since ancient times, people all over the is blessed with more light. That the cycle tion meant to symbolize the passing of an world have recognized this important old year into a new one, with the promise of of nature, unbroken, and true brings hope and happiness. The oak log is usually astronomical occurrence and celebrated the subsequent “return” of the Sun in a variety faith to your soul and well-being to you. decorated with evergreen branches, sprigs of different ways. In addition, old solstice of holly, bare birch branches, and trailing Rejoice in the darkness, in the silence, ivy vines. A more delicious alternative is the traditions have influenced holidays we celebrate now. find rest, and may the days that follow classic French Bûche de Noël, a decadent There is no better time of the year to feel chocolate cake baked in the shape of a Yule be abundantly blessed.” and show your love than the holiday season. Log and shared with family and friends at Though many people relate the month of a Yuletide gathering. Native American Solstice Blessing December with Christmas, there’s so much Children and adults alike around the by Stephanie Laird more to be said about the month. From world find so much joy in the magic this Hanukkah and Kwanzaa to showing selfless acts of love, this season season brings. No matter what you celebrate, may we find peace and is all about spreading joy and cheer during the coldest time of the year. love in celebrating together and showing kindness to one another. This year, Winter Solstice falls on Tuesday, December 21, and May we remember that this season also brings with it the cold in the northern hemisphere, the date marks the 24 hours with the and isolation and prompt us to reach out and share our many blessfewest daylight hours of the year. ings with others. It is important that we recognize that and know Winter Solstice is considered a turning point in the year in many that the dark winter days bring the warmth of spring that heals and cultures. The day is held sacred and celebrates the new solar year’s rejuvenate our souls and that the holiday season is so much more birth, also known as Yuletide. than gifts found under the tree. 

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Atascadero News Magazine | December 2021

Season's Blessings I

was never fond of the colder months of the year growing up. Over the years, I've woven a tapestry of joy from the blessings this time of year always brings. It begins with pumpkin spice everything in November and transitions to eggnog everything in December. Enter the mittens, scarves, beanies, sweaters, warm socks, and jackets as the days get shorter and the nights get colder. Cozying up by the fire with warm blankets and holiday movies that warm the heart brings a unique gue o contentedness to my soul. Reaching the pinnacle of the dark on the winter solstice, the inner stiry H B y owle R ring of the anticipation of more light brings comfort. After two months of feasting and gathering, h et izab l E we begin again—a new year that brings hope, promise, and a fresh perspective for all. . Rev This is a beautiful time of year to be grateful for the blessings in our lives, the good, the lessons, and for simply being alive here and now. God's greatest gift to us is life, and our greatest gift in return is that of sharing our radiant light, our love, with others. We have overcome much this year, and while we can't be sure of what the future holds, we can be confident that the love of God prevails. Whatever your faith and belief may be, it's essential to know how loved and adored you are by your creator. You are blessed beyond measure, and things will work out; they always do. Aside from pumpkin spice, eggnog, and all the things that bring warmth, I believe the greatest joy of all is the light and love of the Divine. That spark you feel when in the presence of family and friends, that's God. May the warmth, coziness, and love you experience in your togetherness this season spill over into the other parts of your life such that you are inspired to forge ahead with hope and zeal. As a child, Christmas Eve was thrilling for me. I recall being so totally excited and filled with anticipation of my good in the form of presents that I could hardly sleep that night. Let us carry that same childlike joy, wonder, and awe throughout our days and into our nights. Contemplate and give thanks for the many gifts and beautiful blessings already here. Simultaneously, let us wait in joyful anticipation for the infinite bounty that continues to pour into our lives from the kingdom of heaven within—light, forgiveness, trust, prosperity, love, faith, courage, joy, strength, and more. As the end of the year approaches, I love taking the time to contemplate my journey over the past year, and I encourage you to do the same. First, ask yourself, "What did I accomplish? What did I create? What could I have done better? Do I have any unfinished business to complete?" Then contemplate what you would love to see made manifest in your life and the world in the coming year. In what way would you like to get to know yourself better? Finally, choose a word for yourself that embodies your intention for the coming year and pick a theme song to match it. Remember that you are the reason for the season. Thank you for being a beneficial presence on the planet. I celebrate you, and God does too. Happy HanuKwanChriSolstiMas! 

December 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine | 23


Taste of Americana From the Kitchen of

Barbie Butz

Baked Goods For



ho can deny that December is the “month of sweets.” When I was growing up, my mother made sure that our family had its share of December’s decadent desserts. She was a wonderful baker, and it’s a miracle that I didn’t look like a two-ton-Tillie (not really sure where that expression came from, but I’ve used it for as long as I can remember!).

Since we do tend to indulge ourselves in richness of the season, I researched dessert recipes on the “lighter” side for this month’s column. I hope you will enjoy the change, and if you use these baked goods as gifts for Christmas, I’m sure the recipients will appreciate that lightness! As you celebrate this wonderful season, may the spirit of Christmas be with you and your family. Happy Holidays! Cheers!! 

Cranberry-Walnut Sauce

I think this recipe works especially well with the Lemon Ricotta Cakes. Since it calls for grated orange peel and orange juice, you will have a stronger citrus flavor. It will keep in the refrigerator for several days, so try it on pancakes, waffles, ice cream, cream cheese, or turkey sandwiches! Be creative. Directions for cake: In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons grated orange peel, ¼ cup fresh orange juice, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger, and ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon. Gently simmer for 15 minutes or until topping is reduced and syrupy. Cool. Just before serving, stir in 1/3 cup toasted chopped walnuts. For a Christmas flair, place 2 clean mint leaves with the dollop of topping.

Lemon Ricotta Cakes

For individual cakes, you will need ten 6-ounce decorative metal molds or two 6-inch-round cake pans. Serve with a fruit topping. Ingredients: • 1 cup sugar • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese • ½ cup whole milk • 3 cups all-purpose flour • ½ tsp baking powder • Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon • Juice of 1 lemon • 4 large eggs

Topping • 3 cups blueberries, sliced strawberries, raspberries, or peaches • ½ cup sugar • 1 tsp lemon juice • Powdered sugar Directions for the Topping: In a medium bowl, combine fruit, sugar, and lemon juice. Serve an individual cake or a small slice of cake with a spoonful of fruit topping on top—dust lightly with powdered sugar.

Directions for cake: In the bowl of a mixer, beat together sugar and butter until light yellow and fluffy, about 2 minutes on medium speed. Add ricotta, milk, flour, baking powder, lemon zest, lemon juice, and eggs and beat well for 2 minutes on medium speed: spray molds or cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Place ½ cup batter into each mold, spreading tops evenly, or divide the batter between cake pans. Bake molds at 350 degrees on a baking sheet for 25 minutes, or the cake pans for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cakes.

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Lemon Pine Nut Tart

This next recipe is an all-in-one- easy-to-assemble tart. It also uses lemon, and everything just tastes better with lemon! And butter! And pine nuts! Note: You will need a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Ingredients: • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice • 1 (10-inch) purchased pie crust • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest or homemade crust • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted • 3 large eggs • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract • ½ cup heavy cream • 1 cup toasted pine nuts • ¾ cup sugar • Powdered sugar Directions for cake: Place pie crust in the bottom of the tart pan and press up the sides of pan. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, cream, and sugar until smooth. Whisk in lemon juice, lemon zest, melted butter, vanilla, and pine nuts. Pour into tart pan and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake on the middle rack of a 350-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the middle is set. Cool to room temperature, remove the outer ring of the tart pan, sprinkle with

powdered sugar, and cut into wedges. Note: Again, you could serve the wedges with a small dollop of the Cranberry-Walnut Sauce with 2 mint leaves. Or, sugar some cranberries and use them for garnish with the mint.

Atascadero News Magazine | December 2021

Cinnamon-Glazed Almonds Can’t forget Almonds, so here’s a recipe you’ll want to make for your buffet table or cheese platter. Once you get the hang of these, you can experiment with your own spice mixtures. This recipe makes about 2 cups. I know you’ll want to make more when you taste these almonds! Ingredients: • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon • ½ teaspoon ground allspice • ¼ teaspoon salt • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper • 2 cans (4 ounces each) blanched whole almonds (about 1½ cups) • ½ cup granulated sugar • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine Directions for cake: Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; grease foil. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, allspice, salt, and cayenne. Set aside. In a large skillet, combine almonds, sugar, and butter. Cook, stirring over medium heat about 10 minutes, or until sugar melts and turns a rich brown color. Remove from heat. Immediately stir in the spice mixture. Quickly spread almonds on a prepared baking sheet. Let cool completely. Break into small clusters. Store, tightly covered, up to 2 weeks (if they last that long!)

December 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine

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Non-Profit Spotlight

Cancer Support Community Central Coast

Lights Hope 10th Annual Paso Robles’


By Camille DeVaul

Support Community as a fundraising opportunity to support their mission “so that no one faces cancer alone.” he Cancer Support Community California Central Coast The Lights of Hope fundraiser honors those affected by cancer. (CSC-CCC) announced Candice Sanders as their new Exec- Members of the community can sponsor a tree, branch, limb, or bulb utive Director. Candice is an Ovarian Cancer survivor who as a tribute to cancer patients, survivors, and those lost to cancer while served as the former Development Director at CSC-CCC. shining a light on the CSC-CCC mission and creating a festive enviCSC-CCC is a local non-profit, supporting cancer patients’ social ronment for our local community during the holidays. and emotional needs and their families at no charge throughout the Each sponsored tree receives a gold plaque with the name of a busiCentral Coast. They offer services for the whole family, no matter what ness, organization, person, or family member. stage of cancer or recovery. “We [were excited] to see a lot of people come out and help “I am absolutely thrilled. I am so happy to be here. The Cancer shine a light on our mission so that no one faces cancer alone,” Support Community means so much to me. To come and serve as Candice shared. Executive Director is a dream come true,” Candice shared. While Lights of Hope celebrated its 10th Anniversary, the Candice hopes to lead CSC-CCC in reaching further into the City coincidently celebrated its 35th Annual Downtown Lightcommunity, especially the under-served, which their new virtual services ing Ceremony. can help with. With the help of CSC-CCC, seventeen trees were lit She explains, “There is a lot that I want to do. Specifically, up to begin the holiday festivities. The commusome of the things I would love to do is to garner more nity and families enjoyed hot chocolate, music, brand awareness and let people know that we are here caroling, and cookies, all while spreading the and we are a resource for them.” mission of a good cause. Candice also looks forward to expanding the “The lights of hope is our way to beauHispanic programs and availability. tify the City Park for the holidays, but Candice’s return came right before the 10th Annithey are also there to raise awareness versary of the CSC-CCC annual Lights of Hope fundas well as funds for our program in t a unique and special way,” Candice raiser that took place in the Paso Robles Downtown City NDE R S, i re c E xe c u t i v e D Park that she has helped organize over the last few years. explained. Unfortunately, due to COVID, last year’s Lights of Hope event As the new Executive Director, Candice was canceled, so this year the community was excited to be able to cele- is eager to get out into the community and brate the beginning of the holiday season together after Thanksgiving. spread the word of all the programs, assis“We [were] excited to be able to gather together to serve our commu- tance, and support the center has to offer. nity to light up the trees in the downtown City Park, and those lights She welcomes anyone to reach out to will sparkle throughout the winter season,” Candice shared with excite- her by visiting the center at 1051 ment. Las Tablas Rd in Templeton or by Each year, the City of Paso Robles and Main Street collaborates with calling (805)238-4411.  CSC-CCC to light up the Downtown City Park trees and kick off For more information, visit the holiday season. The lights are put up and sponsored by the Cancer


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Atascadero News Magazine | December 2021


Employee Shortage in the North County By Christianna Marks


elp wanted signs have been popping up all over The North County. In the windows of businesses, online, and even on the radio. The explosion of these ads indicates that there are plenty of jobs in the county, and yet, the jobs aren’t being filled. The Dentist Office of Dr. Rick Wearda in Templeton has been running an ad looking for a Dental Assistant for over a month. They had a total of three responses, and in the end, they hired back a previous employee to fill the role full-time. “So basically, there’s been very little interest [in the position]. There are two pages of dentists looking for dental assistants on Craigslist right now. And a lot of them aren’t even asking for registered dental assistants, just dental assistants. If you’re registered, you can do a lot more than just a dental assistant,” says Patty McCall, the receptionist at Dr. Wearda’s office. Patty has worked as the receptionist at Dr. Wearda’s office for over 14 years and has seen employees come a go. “I’ve heard from other people, removed from the dental practice, that they’re having a hard time filling their openings. My fiancé works at Paso Robles Kia. They are not getting anyone looking for sales jobs. So, they’ve been shortstaffed staffed for a while. And people aren’t even coming in and applying. It used to be that there was always somebody. They’ve always had some applications,” Patty explained. Currently, San Luis Obispo County ranks eighth-lowest unemployment rate in the state of California. And unemployment rates dropped from 5.5 percent in August to 4.6 percent in September—while California sits at a steady 7.5 percent and yet, employees are still hard to find.

“I have job openings for a line-cook on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Indeed. Indeed I had to pay over $500 to keep it [the ad] visible because there are so many cook positions open. I didn’t get one lead from Indeed. $500 and zero return. And I haven’t gotten line-cooks. Which is what we need. We’re a family-friendly, pub-grub spot. It’s not fine-dining, and I get that’s not the most attractive, but there have to be people out there that have skills and want to work,” says Jacque Fields, president and co-founder of Wild Fields Brewhouse in Atascadero. It’s clear the employee shortage is having a negative effect on local small businesses in North County. But external things, like the pandemic, also play a role. “I think a huge part of it for us is…[what] makes it hard to like fully pull the trigger and hire people full time, is because business isn’t consistent. And people’s comfort levels aren’t consistent. And so you’re fighting a lot of variabilities. And so as business owners, and as bosses, you don’t wanna like say ‘hey, come on full time,’ and then not have those opportunities that you’re promising people,” Jacque adds. Spearhead Coffee in Paso Robles hasn’t gone untouched by the employee shortage either, though they’ve been fortunate in finding employees. “We are fortunate that we have baristas, bakers, and roasters that have stayed with our team for a considerable amount of time and are loyal to us and our brand, but we have noticed that when it’s time to add to our team, it’s been increasingly more challenging to find the right fit with the current employee shortage,” says co-owner and CEO, Jeremy Sizemore. “We have been able to fill the positions, but it’s taken more time and effort than usual. After talking with our friends in the coffee community, we have heard that we have been very fortunate. It hasn’t been as easy for our friends in our industry,” Jeremy concluded. Chulo’s Café and Cantina in Templeton has had to close twice in the last year. Each time for at least a week, due to being short-staffed. “I’ve been looking for employees for—probably a year. And no luck. You know, the ads that I put on the internet, on Facebook, we don’t receive any applications. To the point, that—every time I go to the store or something [I ask], ‘do you know somebody? Do you need a job?’ Anywhere. It’s just been a challenge. I’m very short-staffed. I can’t open for dinners, I used to open for dinners, because we don’t have another cook, or another crew to jump on the nighttime [shift]. And I don’t want to overwork my people,” says owner Karol Struble. The labor shortage even has owners working multiple jobs themselves. “I’ve been here every day helping out. Whatever is needed, you know— everything. I could be a dishwasher one day. I could be a cook another day. I could be a waitress another day. I could be a busser another day. It’s very hard for me to get a day off because of the situation,” Karol continues. “It’s crazy, but it’s real.” If the trend in unemployment rates continues to decrease, the hope is that local business owners will be able to fill their job openings, especially now with the holidays season among us. 

E85 Diesel

Propane ® Car Wash

Hwy 41 & 101 Exit 219 December 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine

Atascadero, CA 93422 | 27

Tent City • San Luis Obispo County Office of Education James Brescia, Ed.D.




Religion and Our Schools

ach day, millions of families from diverse religious backgrounds entrust constitutional concerns. Three major principles form the United States Supreme their children’s education to our nation’s public schools. Employees Court’s consensus on teaching about religion in public schools: 1) The Court within our public schools need to be fully informed about the consti- has indicated that the study of religion in public schools is Constitutional. 2) tutional and educational principles for understanding the role of religion in The inclusion of studies about religion is vital for student education about public education. According to religious scholars, the phrase “separation of history and cultures. 3) Religions must be taught objectively and neutrally. church and state” was initially coined by Baptists striving for religious toleraThe framers of our constitution held that church and state are distinct in tion in Virginia, whose official state religion was then Anglican (Episcopalian). that the Federal Government should not elevate one denomination over the Baptists thought government limitations against religion were illegitimate. other. Nor can the government or the citizenry usurp divine authority by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson championed their cause. joining politics to the church. Faith should remain a personal matter, not a During the American holiday season, tax-funded schools often face the civil contract tainted by politics. Our founders wrote about the importance of “December Dilemma” or end up between “a rock and a hard place.” Confu- religion and how freedom of religion is vital. A portion of the First Amendsion occurs during the holiday season because the issue of religious expres- ment to the U.S. Constitution states: sion in public schools can become more visible in some situations. Because of “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or COVID-19 protocols, virtual gatherings present additional challenges about prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Within these few words are contained personal and public space. Questions about the use of religious icons, sacred two compelling concepts, separated by only a comma. On the one hand is the music, and religious decorations place the matter of “separation of church and prohibition against the state (i.e., government) establishing or supporting relistate” before students, parents, faculty, staff, administration, and community gious belief or practice called the “establishment” clause. On the other hand, members now more than ever. is the “free exercise” clause that guarantees the religious freedom of American The preamble of the Act Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia (1786) citizens, including students in public schools. Some general guidelines recomaffirms that “the Author of our Religion gave us our ‘free will.’” Moreover, that mended by legal and civil liberties advisors will guide us in allowing these two He “chose not to propagate it by coerequally essential freedoms to coexist in cions.” This legislation did not diminour schools. ish religious influence on government Religion is a very personal matter. because it also provided stiff penalties Individual students are free to express for conducting business on the Sabbath. their religious beliefs in school if it Legal experts and scholars contend does not interfere with others or the that the Constitution does not inhibit instructional program. Religion is too public displays of faith. At the Constiimportant to our history and heritage tution’s ratification, the early Republic for us to keep it out of our schools even welcomed public worship. Church when addressed within the instructional services were held in the U.S. Capitol program. We can study religion withand Treasury buildings every Sunday. out promoting or supporting a particular Today in many federal facilities, there religious viewpoint in school. is imagery that remains unmistakFinally, when a question about reliably biblical. Where does this leave gion in school surfaces, it is often an our government-funded and operated ideal “teaching opportunity” to have schools? students explore the meaning of the Academics and lawyers advise that First Amendment to our Constitution. when public schools hold holiday celeControversial issues can serve as excelbrations, they should make every effort lent debate topics in our classrooms if to accommodate diverse faiths during appropriately moderated. The “Decemthe holiday season. Legal experts recomber Dilemma” is usually handled in our mend accommodations, including differschools without problems. However, we ent customs, various songs, and varied need to remember that when governtraditional foods at parties or other ment and religion occupy the same in-school events. However, assemblies room, the space between “a rock and a dominated by religious music may raise First A mendment to t he U.S. Const itut ion hard place” can become very narrow. 

“Congress shall make no law respect ing an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

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Atascadero News Magazine | December 2021


Making a List Checking it Twice By Dr. Cindy Maynard


he holiday season is in full swing, and if you’re like most of us you have expectations for a joyful and merry season. And yet, a season that is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year can be just the opposite for some. According to the American Psychological Association, 38 percent of people surveyed stated their stress levels increase during the holiday season. While the majority of people reported feelings of love and joy during the holidays, many people concurrently experience feelings of anxiety, irritability, or sadness. What is it that has us so stressed? Some of this stress stems from the pressure of having high expectations for gift giving, family get-togethers, financial worries, or scheduling too many commitments and feeling the guilt of not meeting these expectations. Or even having to appear jolly when we’re not. These pressures may leave us feeling frazzled instead of fulfilled. There are some ways we can minimize the stress and ensure we experience the joy that the season intends. Fortunately, we know holiday stress has a beginning and end, so we can make plans to decrease the amount of stress we experience. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers. For example, figure out what your recurrent holiday stressors are ahead of time. Pick one or two and have an action plan in place. For me, in the past it used to be trying to attend too many functions. Believe it or not, Covid helped me prioritize those events that are important with those I can skip. If two days is your max with family, let them know you have appointments on the 3rd day. Too much togetherness can bring dread instead of anticipation. If you worry a political discussion will occur during the meal that may be divisive, ask the

December 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine

hostess in a humorous way to list the “allowable” topics for discussion before sitting down. Set aside any grievances for a more appropriate time to discuss, if at all, especially if you only see these people once a year. Act generously. Inwardly, express gratitude for their misguided attention or words as their intentions may be positive. Consider what makes you happy during the holidays. If making the list and checking it twice is stressful, throw the list out. If baking or volunteering makes you happy make sure you schedule in that time for you. If finances are worrisome, consider a family gift exchange. I remember when I was strapped for funds in college, I asked the family if we could have a secret Santa exchange and buy only one gift per family member instead of for everyone. Our family has honored that tradition ever since and it’s been a source of great fun and joy. Don’t abandon your health. It’s easy to imbibe and overdose with all the scrumptious goodies so keep up with your rest, exercise, and healthy meals as much as possible. Acknowledge and express your feelings. Just because it’s the holiday season you can’t force yourself to be happy. Seek out support with community, a friend, or therapist if stress or depression feel overwhelming. Lastly, have the intention to experience the joy of the season—whether it’s carving out time for self-care, taking a daily time out to notice what you’re grateful for, or connecting with those who mean the most to you. And if you decide not to partake in all the festivities, give yourself the grace to find other ways that inspire feelings of warmth, joy or belonging. Whatever you do, take time out to honor what is meaningful for you so you can experience the peace and joy of the season.  Cindy Maynard PhD, RD, is a health psychologist, registered dietitian and a health and fitness writer. You can contact her at | 29

A Special to Atascadero News Magazine

Hot Rods

Lee Sandoval in his Classic Ford

Atascadero Fall Festival 2021

Grandson Archer watching work being done on the power towers east of Templeton.

Atascadero Fall Festival 2021

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Atascadero News Magazine | December 2021

Calendar of



DEC. 1 - 23

Stay up on all the events and happenings in North San Luis Obispo County! SUBMIT UPCOMING EVENTS TO:

DEC. 3







INFO: DETAILS: People are welcome to decorate their home, business, or property for the holidays for a prize. The top three decorators will receive a prize from San Miguel Firefighters Association

TIME: 6:00 p DETAILS: This is a free event for the whole family! Bring friends, family, and neighbors!

TIME: 5:30 - 8:00 p DETAILS: Tickets ($20) available for purchase in front of Historic City Hall and at Colony Market & Deli.

DEC. 3 - 4

DEC. 4

DEC. 5








TIME: (Dec. 3rd) 2:00 - 6:00 p / (Dec. 4th) 10:00 a - 5:00 p DETAILS: Shop for unique items from local artisans as holiday gifts or gifts for yourself at this outdoor shopping experience! Free admission & parking.

TIME: 9:00 a - 3:00 p DETAILS: Shop from 24 local artisan and craft vendors. Additionally, Friends of the Santa Margarita Library will be selling Hot Coffee, Cider, etc. to go along with an array of delicious baked goods.

TIME: 7:00 - 9:00 p DETAILS: Enjoy the sights and sounds of the holiday spirit with an illuminated parade! A variety of awards will also be given for best in show! Join Santa and Mrs. Claus and watch downtown light up!


DEC. 6 - 25

DEC. 10

DEC. 4 - 5

TIME: 4:00 p DETAILS: Join the Santa Margarita Community Church while gathering and mingling with friends and neighbors before the tree lighting festivities begin.

DEC. 11









TIME: (Dec. 4 ) 2:00 p & 7:00 p / (Dec. 5th) 2:00 p DETAILS: Dancers of all ages come to life in this presentation of the Nutcracker Ballet.

TIME: 5:00 - 8:00 p DETAILS: “Trail of Lights” provides an opportunity for residents and businesses to show off their homes and storefronts.

TIME: 5:00 - 9:00 p DETAILS: Enjoy a massive snow slide, live entertainment, food & craft vendors and shopping Downtown!

TIME: 5:00 - 8:00 p DETAILS: Support local businesses, pick up a Holiday Passport to collect stamps to be entered into a raffle!

DEC. 11

DEC. 17 - 19


DEC. 18








TIME: 6:00 - 9:00 p DETAILS: Take a DRIVE down Vine Street and enjoy the decorations, Scrooge and Mr. & Mrs. Clause!

TIME: (Dec. 17 & 18 ) 6:00 p / (Dec. 19th) 2:00 p DETAILS: A free event for the whole family! Bring friends, family, and neighbors!

TIME: 6:00 p DETAILS: Photos with Santa follow the parade, and the San Miguel Firefighters Association hands toys out to the children.

December 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine



TIME: 10:00 a - 1:00 p DETAILS: Santa and zookeepers dressed as Santa’s Elves will be welcoming visitors and delivering gifts to the animals. | 31

Community Services

Business & Networking

Atascadero Chamber of Commerce • (805) 466-2044 6907 El Camino Real, Suite A, Atascadero, CA 93422

Templeton Chamber of Commerce • (805) 434-1789 321 S. Main Street #C, Templeton, CA 93465

At the Library

Health & Wellness

6290 Adams St. • (805) 237-3010

1051 Las Tablas Road, Templeton • (805) 238-4411 • Cancer Support Helpline • (888) 793-9355, 6 a.m.- 6 p.m. PST.

Creston Library

Cancer Support Community Providing support, education and hope

Santa Margarita Library

Special Programs

9630 Murphy Ave • (805) 438-5622

Email for zoom links

San Miguel Library 254 13th St. (805) 467-3224

Shandon Library 195 N 2nd St. • (805) 237-3009

Atascadero Library 6555 Capistrano • (805) 461-6161 • Register online at • Connecting with Ancient Civilizations at Hearst Castle • Friday, Dec. 3 @ 1:30 p • Immigration Stories from Angel Island State Park • Friday, Dec. 10 @ 10:00 a • Teen Virtual Games on Jackbox Games • Saturday, Dec. 18 @ 4:00 p • Ongoing Programs • Live Zoom Storytime • Monthly Book Groups • Thursdays @ 10:30 a • Dec. 9 @ 10:30 a • Mini Hora de Cuentos • Dec. 10 @ 12:00 p • Tuesdays @ 10:00 a • Dec. 16 @ 2:30 p • Teen Advisory Board Meeting • Dec. 17 @ 10:00 a • Saturday, Dec. 11 @ 3:30 p • Dec. 21 @ 3:00 p

• Every Wednesday • Tai Chi Chih | Virtual • 10:00 - 11:00 a • Mindfulness Hour | Virtual • 11:30 a - 12:30 p • 1st & 3rd Wednesday of each month • Grief Support Group | Virtual • 1:30 - 2:30 p • 1st Thursday of each month • Breast Cancer Support Group | Virtual • 11:00 a - 12:00 p

Service Organizations Lions Club

Optimist Club

Atascadero Club 2385 • 5035 Palma Ave. Atascadero • Meeting — Every 2nd & 4th Wednesday at 7 p Santa Margarita Club 2418 • 9610 Murphy St. • Meeting — 2nd & 4th Monday, 7:30 p Shandon Valley Club • (630) 571-5466 • Meeting — Call ahead for meeting times Templeton Club 2427 • 601 Main St. • Meeting — 1st & 3rd Thursday, 7 p

Atascadero #14927 9850 E. Front St. • Meetings — 3rd Tuesday, 5:30 p Paso Robles Club #14668 (805) 238-2410 • Meeting — 2nd & 4th Wednesday, 6:30 p

Ongoing Monthly Events Every Tuesday

Every Wednesday

Every Saturday







TIME: 9:00 - 11:30 a

TIME: 3:00 - 6:00 p

TIME: 9:00 a - 12:30 p

(Dec. 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th)

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• 2nd & 4th Wednesday of each month • Adv. Cancer Support Group | Virtual • 10:00 - 11:00 a • 2nd Tuesday of each month • Young Survivor Support Group | Hybrid • 6:00 - 7:30 p • 2nd Wednesday of each month • Caregiver Support Group | Virtual • 10:00 - 11:00 a • 2nd Thursday of each month • Cancer Patient Support Group | Virtual • 11:00 a - 12:00 p

(Dec. 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th)

(Dec. 4th, 11th, 18th)

Atascadero News Magazine | December 2021

A Special to Atascadero News Magazine

The Little White Envelope A true Christmas Story by Nancy W. Gavin, December 2015


t's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years. It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it – overspending and the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma – the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else. Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was on the wrestling team at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids – all kids. He so enjoyed coaching little league football, baseball, and lacrosse. That's when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment

December 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine

of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed a small, white envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. Mike's smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year. And that same bright smile lit up succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition – one year sending a group of mentally disabled youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The white envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children – ignoring their new toys – would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents. As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the small, white envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree. And the next morning, I found it was magically joined by three more. Unbeknownst to the others, each of our three children had for the first time placed a white envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down that special envelope. Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.” May we always remember what a blessing each day is with our loved ones. Take a moment to be present, to share love, and be a good human. You may not know whose life you will impact when you do.  | 33

Last Word

We believe in people. We believe in partnerships. We believe in being the most fun. We believe in lighting each other’s candles. We believe in getting it right, the first time, every time. We believe handshakes and hugs are better than likes and shares. We believe in the magic of teamwork, hard work, and high fives.

We believe in organic food, a healthy planet, and doing our part to preserve it. We believe in holding the door, smiling, waving, and greeting strangers as new friends.

We believe Main Street is more powerful than Wall Street. We believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We believe in family, friends, and sharing warm bread. We believe in homemade lemonade and local honey. We believe in art, music, sports, education, and kids. We believe culture eats strategy for breakfast. We believe small business is a state of mind. We believe in our history, and our future. We believe in the Story of Us. 1800 El Pomar Weddings, Events & Vineyards........ 15 76 Gas Station.................................. 27 A Heavenly Home............................ 19 American West Tire & Auto..................7 Avila Traffic Safety............................. 13 Birch Fabrics.........................................9 bloke................................................. 25

Bottom Line Bookkeeping............... 13 Brad’s Overhead Doors.................... 17 Central Coast Casualty Restoration.....9 City of Atascadero............................. 36 Deep Steam Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners....................9 Donati Wine...................................... 25 Educated Gardener.......................... 27

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DIRECTORY TO OUR ADVERTISERS Atascadero News Magazine is brought to you by Five Star Rain Gutters....................... 17 Greg Malik Real Estate Group....10, 11 Hearing Aid Specialists of The Central Coast.............................3 House of Moseley............................ 17

JCC-Federation of SLO.........................5 John Donovan Insurance & Financial Services, Inc................... 26 Juice Boss......................................... 15 Kenneth’s Heating & Air................... 20

Thank you for being #atascaderostrong

Kjon’s...................................................5 Masterpiece Framing & Gifts........... 19 Nick’s Painting.................................. 22 North County Pilates........................ 22 O’Conner Pest Control...................... 17 Odyssey World Cafe......................... 26 Optometric Care Associates................7 Perry’s Parcel & Gift........................... 19


We believe to change anything, create a new model that makes the old model obsolete.

Atascadero News Magazine Manifesto

We believe everything looks better on high-gloss pages.

Robert Fry, M.D................................. 17 San Luis Obispo County Office of Education........................... 29 SLG Senior Care................................ 20 Solarponics....................................... 19 The Natural Alternative..................... 13

Atascadero News Magazine | December 2021

Making Communities Better Through Print.™ GOOD NEWS

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT LOCAL NEWS City Council Drafts Resolution to Remain with IWMA By Patrick Patton Deputy City Manager Lara Christensen presented a resolution for Atascadero to remain a member of the Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA). Published Nov. 11, 2021 Atascadero School Board Meeting Disrupted By Protest By Christianna Marks A large crowd attended the Atascadero Unified School Districts board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 16. Published Nov. 18, 2021 Supervisors Choose Two Draft Maps to Further Analyze By Melissa Guerra The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors held a special meeting to discuss redistricting. Published Nov. 25, 2021 SPORTS THS Girls Varsity Volleyball Players Named All-League Staff Report Lady Eagles came in 2nd Place in the Ocean League. Published Nov. 18, 2021 PRHS Bearcat Athletes Signed By Camille DeVaul Three Paso Robles High School Bearcat athletes signed National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) National Letters. Published Nov. 18, 2021 OPINION "Are We There Yet?" by Al Fonzi As the father of four children, now grown-up, I look back upon the days of long road trips. Published Nov. 4, 2021 Craft Distilleries Should Have the Right to Ship by Aaron Bergh The state of California is about to re-ban an entire industry from selling and shipping its products online. Published Nov. 11, 2021 FEATURES How Did We Get Here? By SLO Anti-Human Trafficking Board We must call pimping and trafficking what it is: abuse and oppression—modern-day slavery. Published on Nov. 11, 2021



HIGHLIGHTS Central Coast Craft Beer Festival Huge Success | By Christianna Marks


unken Gardens in Atascadero was filled with over 2,100 guests. The reason they were there; The Central Coast Craft Beer Festival! The third annual Craft Beer Festival, luckily, beat out the rain, and the people were ready for the festivities. “The City of Atascadero has such a wonderful charm to it, and the Sunken Gardens is a perfect space to gather everyone for the day to celebrate craft beer along the central coast,” said Central Coast Brewers Guild president, Tony Grimes. Published on Oct. 28, 2021

Huge Success For Local FFA Students at National Convention | By Camille DeVaul


hane Brennan and John Paul Schmidt of Templeton, and Cameron McEntire of Atascadero placed in the top twelve finalists for the National program. Brennan took home Reserve Champion, and McEntire's tractor was the Fan-Favorite Runner Up. Additionally, Annika Enstrom of San Luis Obispo's tractor was the Grand Champion. She also earned Best Photo. Published on Nov. 4, 2021

Paso Robles Celebrates Veteran's Day with Drive-thru | By Camille DeVaul


or the second year, Paso Robles District Cemetary invited residents to drive around the cemetery grounds to view the traditional Avenue of Flags on Nov. 11. In Atascadero, ceremonies led by KPRL’s Dick Mason started with a flyover by the Estrella Warbirds at exactly 11:00 a.m., followed promptly by the Presentation of Colors, accompanied by Central Coast Pipes and Drums. Published on Nov. 18, 2021

Shop Small Saturday | By Camille DeVaul


aturday, Nov. 27 is Shop Small Saturday, and if the past two years have taught us anything, it's that we need to support our small business. They are the backbone of our local economy, they are friends, and they are the reason so many people love visiting and living in our little, big town. In 2010, during the recession, American Express developed and campaigned for Small Business Saturday. They understood small businesses are at the core of every thriving neighborhood. Published on Nov. 25, 2021


Eat to Beat Holiday Stress By Cindy Maynard, Ph.D., RD What a year. And no one is immune—adding to our anxiety levels are the upcoming holidays when stress levels are on over-drive. Published Nov. 25, 2021


December 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine | 35

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