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Issue No. 39
Mid-State Fair Junior Livestock Auction by camille devaul
California Mid-State Fair held their heifer sale on and junior livestock sale in July for all 4H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) animals and far surpassed all expectations.
COVID Weddings by patrick patton
How the pandemic transformed the wedding industry after taking a major hit when health officials placed heavy restrictions on travel, social gatherings, and events.
Justice For Thomas by camille devaul
September 14 marks the two year anniversary of the tragic death of Atascadero resident Thomas Jodry and after two years, Thomas's parents are still seeking justice and truth for their son's death.
Western Drought and the Food Supply by camille devaul
An in-depth series on how the drought is affecting farmers, and how it will affect the food industry of the nation for years to come.
On the Cover
This months cover was inspired by the Autumn season and the 20th Anniversary of September 11, 2001. “It’s an extraordinary tale … of resilience, of survival, of courage, of love. For me, this is the legacy of 9/11.” ~ Gédéon Naudet. May we never forget. Photo by Lee Kris 20,000 PRINTED | 17,000 DIRECT MAILED LOCALLY!
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Dana McGraw Jamie Self Jessica Segal
Camille DeVaul Patrick Patton
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Something Worth Reading Publisher’s Letter
Round Town Cross Talk with Josh Cross The Natural Alternative: Essential Immune Support All-Comers Track & Field: Striving to Develop Wholesome Kids National Event: Atascadero's National Night Out Education: JB Dewar Tractor Restoration Winners
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Lady in Purple: JoAnn Switzer, Retiring from Mid-State Fair After 17 Years Taste of Atascadero Business Spotlight Pet Adoption: North County Paws Cause Tent City SLO County Office of Education: Virtual Arts Outreach Events Calendar of Events: Happenings in the North County
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Atascadero News Magazine | September 2021
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Something Worth Reading
ur nation is one of customs and traditions. The United States is a story of overcoming. We all have our own version of the story, and that has never been more evident than in the world of social — and anti-social — media. This month we pay tribute and honor the lives that were lost on September 11, 2001. We both remember that day well, as we were in our early 20s, and it was a televised and re-televised event that shocked our nation. We remember where we were and the outpouring of patriotism and all the American flags that followed. We both stood proudly behind our country.
“Life exists only at this very moment, and in this moment it is infinite and eternal, for the present moment is infinitely small; before we can measure it, it has gone, and yet it exists forever…” ~ Allen Watts
We shared different sentiments; however, we both stand behind our good and just countrymen and with those who lost lives and loved ones on 9/11 and beyond. That is our patriotic duty to our brothers and sisters in America and around the world. We still wave our flag proudly because of the ideals we strive for and believe in. We will always stand against tyranny and violence, and our flag is our symbol of that stand, whether the attack is foreign or domestic. We got into this business of magazines because we believe in readers. We believe in our community. So far, our faith is affirmed. Traditions like Colony Days that we will celebrate next month are evidence of our community’s resilience. Colony Days doesn’t just happen; it is created. Each year, proud community members come together to produce the event. Roles are filled; duties assigned, details calculated, and obligations assigned. Deadlines are defined and met; elected officials and city officers are engaged; sponsors are recruited, and events are organized in advance of the main event for the entire community to enjoy free of charge—contact the Colony Day Committee to help. We understand people have different opinions, and the past 18 months have been especially complex. Still, it is those who we have been able to rely on and who have affirmed our continuing faith that hold our community together. We are diverse. Local parades dignify that diversity by those who choose to put their culture on display with pride and joy. Some of the most entertaining and pleasing parade entries come from our proud Hispanic cultural representatives — dancing, colorful dresses, dancing horses, masculine costumes. We live in a world where families make culture; culture makes community; communities make nations. Just like many of us remember where we were on 9/11, we will always remember where we were in March 2020 when the country shut down. Unsure of our future at the time, we continued to publish our magazine. We will always stand to reflect the resilience of our community as we celebrate what makes us great together. So please, pull out the flag in the middle of the magazine, place it in your window, and let the world know we are great, together. We hope you enjoy this month’s issue of Atascadero News Magazine. Much love, Nic & Hayley if thou wouldest win immortality of name, either do things worth the writing, or write things worth the reading. — Thomas Fuller, 1727 This month’s edition of Atascadero News Magazine is brought to you by all the local advertisers that fill our pages. Thanks to them, we are able to bring you your local Hometown Magazine.
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et’s face it; we have an incredible community. Oddly enough, I don’t feel like we celebrate or pay enough attention to it. Our town is growing and blossoming right before our eyes! You don’t want to miss it. Here are some things that you may not have noticed about our community that make it amazing. For starters, our town rocks for families. The outdoor possibilities for families are endless. We have amazing parks and playgrounds like the Joy Playground, Heilmann Regional Park, Paloma Creek Park, and others. There’s plenty of space for kids to run and families to picnic. Even in the heart of downtown, there’s space for families to spend time together in the Sunken Garden by a beautiful fountain and shaded by large trees. Besides, how many other towns can say they’ve got a lake, a zoo, a movie theater, and a monolith? There’s never a boring weekend for families here! I haven’t even mentioned the small businesses and places that cater to families offering fun games and activities like A-Town Park, a skateboard park with skate camps, Wild Fields Brewhouse with games and fun toys for kids, and more. Our community is also a growing hot spot for wine tasting rooms, breweries, cideries, and distilleries! We’ve seen approximately two new wine tasting rooms, three breweries, one cidery open within just a few years. If you haven’t checked out downtown Atascadero, you’ll want to! It’s hopping after work, especially on Fridays, with all of these tasting rooms (it’s one of the reasons the Chamber team and I launched the Atascadero Lakeside Wine Passport. It’s an easy way to explore and taste all wine, beer, ciders, and spirits in our community all year long.)
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That’s not all! Our family-owned shops offer goods that you can’t find anywhere else and our mouth-watering restaurants that seem to grow in number every year. There’s too much to list all on one page. Besides, I want to know what you love about Atascadero! That’s why the Chamber team and I are rolling out the new #Atascamazing campaign. We want to celebrate our fantastic community. So tag us in your social media posts, @Atascadero_Chamber on Instagram and @AtascaderoChamberOfCommerce on Facebook, and use the hashtag #Atascamazing and let us know what you love about Atascadero. To go along with the #Atascamazing celebration, we’ve released a whole new line of Atascadero goods. Stop by the Chamber of Commerce and check our selection of mugs, license plate frames, bags, journals, water bottles, and stickers. We’ve got something for everyone to show their Atascadero spirit! You can also buy your gear from the online shop at AtascaderoChamber.org. Our Atascadero community is growing, changing, and blossoming. If you’d like to be a part of supporting and promoting positive change and action, join an Atascadero Chamber Council. There are five different councils and committees for Chamber Members to choose from: the Ambassador Council, Diversity Council, Economic Prosperity Council, Wine & Beer Event Planning Committee, and the Women’s Business Council. All Chamber Members are welcome to sit on one or multiple councils. Share your ideas, and make a positive impact on our #Atascamazing community! To join, simply go to atascaderochamber.org/ committees and scroll down to the bottom of the page to register.
Upcoming Events For September Four Chamber Mixer September 8, Broken Earth Winery Get ready to connect with other local businesses at our annual Four Chamber Mixer! Hosted at Broken Earth Winery, our Four Chamber Mixer, your chance to meet business from other local Chambers. Don’t forget to bring your business cards; this is the largest Chamber Mixer of the year, hosted collectively by the Chambers in North County! Drinks and bites will be available to enjoy during the event. Tickets for the mixer are complimentary, and everyone is welcome to attend; however, early registration is encouraged. Art, Wine, and Brew Fall Back Into Art Wine And Brew! September 24, Downtown Atascadero 5:30-8:00 p.m. Join us in Atascadero’s downtown for our first 2021 Art, Wine & Brew Tour! Sip and shop your way through the downtown stores. Enjoy some phenomenal wine, beer, coffee, and other treats from 15 – 20 businesses. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door; every ticket comes with a complimentary wine glass. Go to Atascadero City Hall or Central Coast Distillery on the day of the event to claim your wine glass and wristband for tasting. Atascadero Lakeside Wine Passport Ends December 31 For only $75, you can enjoy complimentary tastings, one per location, at eighteen wineries, four breweries, two distilleries, and one cidery. You will also receive complimentary corkage fees at participating restaurants and discounts on local hotel stays. A portion of the proceeds will help support the Atascadero Charles Paddock Zoo. In addition, those that visit all participating tasting locations and complete their passport can submit it to the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce for a 25 percent discount coupon for 2022’s in-person Atascadero Lakeside Wine Festival! Purchase your passport at atascaderolakesidewinefestival.com.
To Register: Visit AtascaderoChamber.org or call (805)466-2044 Atascadero News Magazine | September 2021
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All-Comers Track & Field
At a s c adero Greyhou nd + L ight hou s e Fou nd at ion
STRIVING TO DEVELOP WHOLESOME KIDS
By Patrick Patton
he Atascadero Greyhound Foundation (AGF) and Lighthouse Foundation (LF) hosted their annual All-Comers Track & Field meet at the Atascadero High School Track on Wednesdays throughout July. The meets were welcome to all ages from 4 to 90-yearsold; competitors participated in the Discus Throw, Pole Vault, Shot Put, Long Jump, High Jump, Turbo Javelin, 100/110m High Hurdles, 4X100m Relay, Kids (6 and under) little hurdles, 400m, 1500m/Mile, 100m, 800m, 200m, and 3000m. Atascadero High School Choir director Carrie Jones opened up the first and last night's event on July 28, with the singing of the National Anthem. According to AGF Executive Director Donn Clickard, the number of families who attended was the most of any year to date. Clickard also stated that there was a significant jump in enthusiasm due to the cancelation of several events over the past year and a half because of the COVID-19 restrictions. "The energy level is through the roof, and our numbers reflect it too!" said Rolfe Nelson, AGF Treasurer, and Board member. Like so many other events, the All-Comers Track & Field meet was canceled last year in response to COVID19 concerns. "I think it was the right thing to do for the safety of our community," said Robyn Schmidt, from the Board of Directors for Atascadero All Comers Track Meets. "I know it was sad for many families because it is such a favorite summer activity for the youth. But, I knew we would be back and would all be even more joyful being able to be there to enjoy this community event." "There was a void in not having this," Clickard shared, "because this is one of the best events we do. We just love this." "We started the Greyhound Foundation to build this track in 1995," Clickard said. "In 2011, we kind of morphed
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from an athletic support group into a drug prevention group. So the Greyhound Foundation and Lighthouse are about addiction awareness, prevention, intervention, and education for our adolescent population." "And that's any kind of addiction," added Nelson. "Phone addiction, gaming addiction, alcohol addiction..." "...yes, any kind of addiction," Clickard agreed. "We're also dealing with depression and anxiety in children, too, at the Wellness Center at the High School and Middle School." As children were confined to their homes to avoid the possibility of illness, all indicators have shown a steep rise in mental illness in children. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the proportion of mental health–related emergency department visits among adolescents aged 12–17 years increased 31 percent compared to 2019. The most significant increase was seen in teenage girls. During February 21 through March 20, the suspected suicide attempt emergency department visits were 50.6 percent higher among girls aged 12 to 17 years than during the same period in 2019. These are precisely the issues that events like the All-Comers Track & Field Meets were intended to address. "I am a firm believer that physical activity is such an important factor in good mental health. It doesn't matter how good we are. Physical activity changes us physically, emotionally, and physiologically," said Schmidt. "It just matters that we are active. Through sports and physical activity, we learn discipline, teamwork, following guidelines, good health and fitness, overcoming challenges, persevering, pushing your limits, setting goals, and achieving them. And from these attributes, we gain confidence in ourselves, improve our self-value, and are better at all we do." "The Lighthouse Program is pretty all-encompassing," Clickard explained, "so this event is all about seeing families together, developing wholesome kids, and it's fun." For more information on the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation, visit atascaderogreyhoundfoundation.org
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National Night Out
By Patrick Patton
uesday, August 3, marked the National Night Out, and for the fourth year in a row, Atascadero participated in the nationwide community-building event. Atascadero Police Department (APD), Atascadero Fire Department (AFD), San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Sheriff's Office, SLO County Search and Rescue, United States Army all came out for a giant meet and greet with the community of Atascadero. Families and children were able to tour a fleet of emergency vehicles, pet Luke the K-9, see riot gear close up, learn about gun injury prevention, see what evidence and crime scenes look like, and enter a free raffle to win prizes from Atascadero businesses.
"This is the community I grew up in," said APD Officer Craig Martineau, "so I love interacting with the community that I'm from and I'm a part of. Now I have a job as a law enforcement officer here, so it's a good opportunity for the community to get to know me so they can have a little bit of an idea of who I am, that I'm just a normal person, really. It's a small department, so if you call us for help, the chance of you seeing one of the six of us that are out here is pretty high." "It's a partnership between our local businesses and our first responders for our community members," APD Officer Lauren Purify said. "It's a night out to get to know each other. We get to hang out with them, and they get to hang out with us."
Children jumped in bounce houses while Galaxy Theaters handed out free movie theater popcorn, SloDoCo handed out free donuts, Wild Fields Brewhouse served up free food options. Barracuda Baking provided free cookies, and an amalgamation of North County Starbucks Coffee stores all came out to serve free iced coffee and tea. All in all, it was a huge meet and greet with the people of Atascadero. "We kind of like to break the rules when it comes to donuts," Laura Krause of SloDoCo shared. "We try to do crazy and fun donuts that taste appetizing." "We are here connecting with the community, hoping to bring awareness to our law enforcement and first responders," said Natasha Schlitz of Starbucks Coffee. "We're just excited to serve and to give back to our community," Riley Benado of Starbucks Coffee said. "For us, it's just an opportunity for the community to come out and meet some of their first responders and firefighters," AFD Battalion Chief Matt Miranda shared. "Our organization is just a small, tightly-knit group, and the reason we stay tight is that we genuinely care about each other, and that's the same attitude we pour into the community. We genuinely care about the people that we serve and see on an everyday basis. It means something to us at the end of the day. It's not just a do your job and go home type of thing." National Night Out is celebrated annually across the United States on the first Tuesday of August.
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Remembering September 11, By Hayley Mattson
wenty years ago, many of us started the day like all others, coffee, shower, with the morning news playing in the background. For me, I was getting ready for work at my house on Scott Street in Paso Robles. I was 22 years old and, before this day, had no real idea of what war or a terrorist act was other than it did not happen on our American soil. September 11, 2001, changed all that, and it is just as important today as it was then for all of us to remember and never forget. That fateful morning as we watched the terror and horror of the aftermath of the first plane crashing into the North Tower of the World Trade Center and trying to make sense of it all, a second plane appeared and turned sharply into the South Tower. I remember watching the news reporter’s face trying to get a sense of what was happening, and I could tell she was just as fearful and confused as I was. At that moment, it felt like the world stopped. Twenty years ago, we did not have social media or cell phones that shared videos or even took quality photos. We relied solely on news sources to tell us what was happening. Reports came in that a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C. The news station switched between news anchors trying to explain what we were watching and experiencing. I remember hearing the fear in their voice, not knowing what to say. No more than 22 minutes later, the South Tower collapsed, 56 minutes after the impact of Flight 175. A fourth plane was then reported to have crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. At this point, I remember hearing the words, “we are under attack; this was no accident; we are under a terrorist attack.” We all watched in horror as people trapped in the North Tower began to jump from the iconic towers that we visited, took photos of, and shaped how we pictured the skyline of New York City. As a nation, we all held our breath and watched, frozen, helpless with tears running down our faces. The frantic news coverage continued, people running for safety through the streets, not knowing what they were running from, while police, firefighters, and first responders continued to run toward the site and instructing people to get as far away as possible. Twenty-nine minutes later, the North Tower of the World Trade Center fell, 1 hour and 42 minutes after the initial impact of Flight 11. The Marriott Hotel at the base of the towers was also destroyed. Cries, screams, and an unforgettable sadness filled the air and our hearts as we continued to watch in disbelief of what we just saw. The reporter, now covered in soot, was crying as people ran by her. I have a vivid memory of her face that is branded into my memories, and thinking how brave she was for still being there to tell their stories, feel the impact firsthand, and share it with us. She was our eyes and ears; she and her camera operator helped keep us all connected. I remember her asking people as they ran by if they were okay. I remember people running together, sobbing, consoling one another. Twenty-two minutes later, five Pentagon stories fell due to fire that broke out after Flight 77 crashed into it 1 hour and 13 minutes prior.
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20 Years Later
At that point, all you could see on the television was lingering grayish soot that covered everyone and papers flying everywhere. Most of us stayed glued to the screens, trying to get ahold of loved ones that were either on flights or lived in the area to see if they were okay. Phone lines were busy, and you could not get through. I remember being on the phone with my mom and then my dad, who were both in Arizona at the time, trying to make sense of what we had all just seen over the last few hours that felt like an eternity. Our family finally got ahold of my sisters, who lived back east, later that day. September 11 ended with the 7 World Trade Center building adjacent to the towers collapsing as a result of the aftermath of the towers falling. Almost 3,000 people died that day; our family, friends, colleagues, and our everyday heroes were among them. A few years later, in 2003, I visited Ground Zero. Entering lower Manhattan, you could feel the loss lingering in the City. The chain-linked fence surrounding the area was filled with photos, letters, American flags, flowers, and clothing. Missing posters of loved ones remained, and it felt as if we were walking through a graveyard. I remember how eerily quiet it was for New York City and seeing a woman kneeling and crying while others stood around telling stories of their loved ones they had lost on that tragic day. I could feel the deep gratitude I had for my younger brother, who became a U.S. Marine following the events of that day. As I closed my eyes, I could remember listening to the news as our troops invaded Iraq earlier that year in March. My brother’s battalion was one of the first in; we went weeks on end without hearing from him; that felt like an eternity until finally, he was able to call and let us know he was okay. As I continued to walk around the gated area, I placed my hand on the fence. I took a moment to remember the loss of life right where I was standing and all of the families, residents of New York, and our Nation. I thought of our loved ones who joined the military to fight for our freedom, and I thought of our first responders who continued to show up even after they lost members of their crew. But I also remembered the news correspondent that covered the events of that day. I am grateful to the woman who inspired me throughout her coverage and showed me real journalism. She told the people’s story as they lived it without any attempt to interpret it in any way. She was vulnerable and honest. She showed care and concern for others, all while being terrified herself. Twenty years later, most of us still remember it as it was yesterday, and with the turmoil throughout the Nation today, I have hope that we can come together once again. May we remember all the lives we lost that day and all who were lost fighting for our freedoms in the events that followed. May we honor them, and never forget.
It’s an extraordinary tale… of resilience, of survival, of courage, of love. For me, this is the legacy of 9/11. Gédéon Naudet
Atascadero News Magazine | September 2021
CMSF Junior Livestock Auction
he California Mid-State Fair (CMSF) held their heifer sale on July 30 and junior livestock sale on July 31 for all 4H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) animals. Together, the auctions raised $2,302,120 on 515 animals (including add-on sales). Of that, $409,750 came from the Replacement Heifer Sale, and $1,892,370 came from the Junior Livestock Auction. Additionally, this year’s industrial arts auction brought in $102,000—on 25 projects. The industrial arts show includes projects built by students using basic and advanced welding techniques. Projects that can be seen are Bar-b-que’s (BBQ), trailers, utility racks, wine racks, shop benches, porch swings, coffee tables, and more. Paso Robles High School’s BBQ projects raised $35,000, and proceeds were donated to the James W. Brabeck Foundation ( JWBYLF) to support the Junior Livestock Auction. Over $750,000 has been brought in since the auction began over 20 years ago. JoAnn Switzer, the lady in purple and Livestock Supervisor for CMSF, said, “The community came out in big force, and the kids had so much fun at the fair. It was unbelievable to see how they were all laughing and playing games and all having a great time.” To put things in perspective, in 2019, the sales saw a total of 869 animals sold for a combined $2.1 million before add-ons. “It was over the top amazing—Colleen and the team did an amazing job,” said Switzer. After the Sale of Champions, auctioneers announced they broke past the expected sales for this year’s auction. Molly Lacey sat with her grandmother Dee Lacey at the auction. After the announcement, Molly saw Dee tear up, saying, “Can’t believe it, so happy for the kids, and this is a great day for the community.” Bojorquez said, “We had a ton of community support. It truly was phenomenal. It brought tears to my eyes just knowing that these kids were getting to experience a real fair and were still being supported by their community.” One thing from 2020 that was implemented again this year was virtual add-ons. Typically after the auction, anyone can make an additional monetary contribution to livestock animals after it is sold. This can be adding $1 to each pound for any animal(s). Add-ons are a great way to support the 4H and FFA show kids. “I think that was one of the good things that came out of COVID was that we provided add-ons online-only, and I think it is a nice addition so that people who have grandparents or people out of state who want to contribute are able to do that,” said Bojorquez. FFA and 4H students raise and work with their animals for months, some nearly a year. They then show off their hard work at the fair during market and showmanship days, all scrambling for clippers, combs, and sometimes an extra set of whites because theirs is no longer white for one reason or another. Auction day is where these kid’s hard work comes to fruition. Their animal was an investment of time and money, and this is the sell-off day. Bojorquez reiterated how grateful everyone at CMSF is for the community’s support of the kids and said, “We look forward to bringing another show next year.” September 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine
By Camille DeVaul THIS YEAR’S LIVESTOCK GRAND CHAMPIONS Supreme Champion Market Hog & Local Bred and Fed Champion Lane Gardner – San Miguel 4-H Buyer: Kings Oil Tools Price: $6,734.00 Supreme Champion Market Lamb & Local Bred and Fed Champion Mallory Cleaver – Paso Robles FFA Buyer: California Compaction Equipment Price: $6,165.00
Supreme Champion Market Turkey Bella Marden – San Luis Obispo FFA Buyer: Adelaide Inn, Best Western Plus, Black Oak & Bozzano & Co. Price: $3,200.00 Supreme Champion Market Turkey Hen Holyn Sylvester – Edna 4-H Buyer: Tom & Martha Bordonaro Price: $1,100.00
Supreme Champion Meat Goat Supreme Champion Broiler Kendall Savage – Creston 4-H Jack Sylvester – Canyon Country 4-H Buyer: Atascadero Hay and Feed, Miller Drilling Buyer: David Crye, Inc. Company, Paul and Debbie Viborg, Tom and Price: $2,600.00 Martha Bordonaro & Weyrick Lumber Co. Supreme Champion Meat Rabbit Pen Price: $5,200.00 Kayla Hurl – Parkfield 4-H Supreme Champion Market Steer Buyer: 43 Farms Animal Health, Braden Wheeler – Santa Lucia 4-H Atascadero Hay and Feed, Buyer: Raminha Construction, Inc. Clevenger Cattle Price: $13,500.00 Price: $1,500.00
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JB Dewar Tractor Restoration Winners
Awarded at California Mid-State Fair
By Camille DeVaul
fter making it through an unprecedented year and a half living through the coronavirus pandemic, Templeton Highschool students Shane Brennan and John Paul Schmidt took first and second place in this year's JB Dewar Tractor Restoration Program at the California Mid State Fair. Winners were announced during the Cattleman's Day dinner on July 22. This year marks the 21st year of the program. Each year, JB Dewar and Chevron Delo reward young students who have restored an antique tractor by providing them with a platform to share their workmanship, along with the distribution of scholarships. JB Dewar mentors and advises students, teaching them business skills, teamwork, project management, budgeting, planning, and marketing lessons in their restoration process. This year there were eight restored tractors entered. Students can work on a tractor either as a team or individually. Since 2002, JB Dewar, Chevron Delo, the Alex Madonna family, and other local businesses have awarded over $100,000 in scholarships. Brennan is a Senior at Templeton High School (THS) and is the current FFA Chapter President. He restored a 1952 Farmall Super AV, which took him two years to complete. This is Brennan's second tractor he has restored for the program. This year's tractor required a full rebuild, making it a more extensive project full of new lessons. Brennan explained that he learned more business skills, time management and honed in on his mechanical and rebuilding techniques with this build. His tractor was given to him by Isaac Lindsey, a former THS student and Dewar tractor restoration program contestant. "I want to thank all my mentors. I appreciate all their help, and there's so many I can't name them all—I want to say thank you so much to all the people who have guided me through the process and who have helped with donations," Brennan shared. Second place winner John Paul Schmidt recently began his Sophomore year at THS. He restored a 1940 Allis-Chalmers B that he has been working on since he was ten
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First Place winner Shane Brennan is a Senior at Templeton High School. It took him two years to restore his 1952 Farmall Super AV tractor.
Second Place winner John Paul Schmidt is a Sophomore at Templeton High School. He has been slowly rebuilding this 1940 Allis Chalmers Model B tractor since he was 10 years old. Atascadero News Magazine | September 2021
L-R: Ben Foxford, Joe Domingos, Braydon Beckett, Casey Havemann (2020 Grand Champion), Shane Brennan (2021 Grand Champion), Cameron McEntire, Annika Ernstrom, Annika Jensen, John Paul Schmidt, Josh Jorgensen, Hunter Breese, Gabe, Brett Lipscomb, Gabe Fuller.
years old. The worn-out tractor was sitting under a neighbors tree when Schmidt decided to take on the project and rebuild the engine. Since then, Schmidt has been taking the tractor to various shows. As anyone who ever owned a tractor before knows, they can always use a little work, which is what Schmidt has been doing in preparation to enter the antique in the Dewar Restoration Program. Schmidt says his favorite part of the program was learning to machine his own parts, "I learned how to machine a lot of my own parts as a lot of them weren't available." Both young men are planning to enter their tractors in the Delo Tractor Restoration, a national-level competition. For the Dewar program, competitors are judged on three parts: the physical tractor restoration, record book of their hours and finances, finally, a presentation and interview with judges. This year's judges were Joe McKee, Faron Bento, and Quentin Thompson. Students typically begin restoring their tractors in the fall and must have them complete the following July along with their record books and presentations. From start to finish, students log in about 400 hours of work on their tractors. Students who participated in the 2020 program were presented and celebrated before the 2021 winners were announced. 2021 Winner's: 1st Place Shane Brennan (THS) 1952 Farmall Super AV
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2nd Place John Paul Schmidt (THS) 1940 Allis Chalmers Model B 3rd Place Annika Jensen (Homeschooled in Santa Margarita) 1964 Massey Ferguson 135 Winners of the program receive award money sponsored by JB Dewar Inc. First place receives $4,000, second gets $3,000, and third place is awarded $2,000. "This past year was a little bit of a different year, so we're happy that we were able to do the program still to give the students an outlet outside of being stuck at home, doing school online. They were able to get out there, get their hands dirty and work on something," said Rachel Dewar, the program’s coordinator. In addition to restoration winners, one student was awarded the "Spirit of Agriculture" sponsored by Isaac Lindsey and his family. Isaac and his brother Louis are past contestants who have each completed three tractors and are familiar with these students' challenges. This year the Lindsey family honored Cameron McEntire with a $500 scholarship. On judging day, Isaac was impressed when he saw Cameron help a fellow competitor whose tractor wouldn't start for the judges. Cameron was awarded the "Spirit of Agriculture" for embodying leadership and being a team player. The program is open to all high school students from San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. All levels of mechanical knowledge are welcome to participate in the program. JB Dewar also accepts tractor donations. If you have a worn-out tractor sitting under a tree somewhere, donating it to the program could be the perfect way to breathe new life into the metal beast! To learn more about participating in the program or donate a tractor, reach out to Rachel Dewar at email@example.com. September 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine
atascaderomagazine.com | 23
JoAnn Switzer •
Lady in Purple
Retiring from Mid-State Fair After 17 Years
By Camille DeVaul
f you have ever shown an animal at the California Mid-State Fair (CMSF) or walked through the livestock barns, you certainly encountered a lady in purple, JoAnn Switzer. As the Fair marked its 75th anniversary with the community, it also celebrated 75 years with JoAnn Switzer. Since 1946, Switzer has been involved with the Fair in one way or another. “It was a start, and it’s been nothing but go forward and bigger and better,” JoAnn shared. This year, JoAnn decided it was time for her to take a step back and let the next generation take over the Fair. “I’m going to be 85 in September, and I don’t want to be one of those people who needs to get out of the way. So let the next generation do it,” laughs JoAnn. Her history with the Fair began when JoAnn was just ten years old. She joined the Pozo 4H Club and brought a lamb to show at the first CMSF—and it was that same year that JoAnn became the Fair's first Grand Champion for lambs. Then, the following six years, she won the 4H Grand Champion Steer. JoAnn recalls walking her winning steers in the Parade of Champions that would happen in the Grandstand before the rodeo would start. The Fair has changed in many ways throughout its 75 (76 if you count 2020) years. When the Fair started, it was right after World War II. JoAnn says supplies were low and white pants were nowhere to be seen, so show kids wore jeans and white t-shirts. Most kids will start showing animals in 4H and move into FFA once they reach high school. However, before 1969, girls weren't allowed in FFA—something JoAnn laughs about when she thinks back to her 4H days. In the early days, the Fair took place in September and focused on "country stuff," as JoAnn would say. JoAnn laughs and says, “The Fair has come a long way from the horse race days and the fistfights on horseback.” People used to come to the Fair for the hometown competitions like nail driving, mare and foul races, and more. JoAnn explained that the loss of these activities is one of the biggest changes of the Fair throughout the years, along with the loss of the
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s stand ing f Switzfoerr the o s n io t a Four gencerutting ceremony at the nua l CMSF. 75 An
JoAnn won six years in a4Hro Grand Cha mpion Steer w at the CMS F.
Left to Right Back: Hailey Rose Switzer, Joanna Switzer, Katie Tanksley Front: Holley Switzer.
JoAnn has attended and been involved in every CMSF since its start in 1946.
PRCA rodeo. She remembers World Champions competing at Paso's rodeo before heading down to compete in Los Angeles. Showing livestock was just the start of JoAnn's involvement with the Fair. She served on the Fair Board for eight years from 1986 to 1994, and then in 2004, she became the Livestock Superintendent and has since served the position for 17 years. "From the time I started showing here, the support and generosity of this community only got bigger and better. It always continues, and without that, the Fair would not be what it is," JoAnn shared. She continued, "Even last year when we had COVID and shutdown, people still stepped up and supported the kids. We are a unique community for that—support for not only the auction but throughout the Fair. We are so blessed to have what we have." In 1987, JoAnn and the late Dick Nock put together the first Cattleman and Farmers day. Each year since, farmers and ranchers come to the Fair for the Cattleman's luncheon and dinner. "It has been, I think, 32 years this year, so its taken off and been an amazing event," JoAnn said. For many, it is like a family reunion and one of the most looked forward to events. This is also when the Cattleman of the Year is announced. JoAnn was the first woman named Cattleman of the Year back in 1992. Following her, only two more women have been named Cattleman of the year, Dee Lacey and Elena Twisselman-Clark. While JoAnn may be retiring this year, she won't be straying very far. The livestock barns and the people that fill them will always hold a special place in JoAnn's heart. “It's fun to see these kids that have gone through the program and stayed in the community and have become adults, and then they’ll come back and help, which is special to me that they will give their time and come back because they got so much out of the program. That's what makes me continue to do it,” JoAnn shared. This year JoAnn's great-granddaughter began showing at the Fair, making her the fourth generation Switzer to show, following all four of Switzer's sons, Mark, Thomas, Joel, and Jeff. Yes, JoAnn Switzer will be taking a step back after this year, but she will always be there to help the next generation. Atascadero News Magazine | September 2021
thomas jodry's parents still seeking September 14 marks two years since the 21-year-olds’ death By Camille DeVaul
eptember 14 will mark two years since the tragic death of Atascadero resident Thomas (Tommy) Jodry. And after two years, Thomas’s parents are still seeking justice and the truth for their son’s death. Thomas was only 21 when he fell to his death from the second floor of a downtown San Luis Obispo parking structure on September 14, 2019, after spending the day with Atascadero resident David Allen Knight. Still, the many strange circumstances surrounding the events on that fateful September day with no resolution has led Bill and Mary Jane to keep fighting for answers, hoping for justice for their beloved son, Tommy. september 14, 2019 On September 14, 2019, around 2 p.m., Knight came to Jodry’s home to take Thomas to San Luis Obispo to look at art. Knight was a photographer in Atascadero who told Thomas he would help him get his art published. Two weeks prior, Knight had purchased a cactus from Thomas, who grew and sold cacti from his home in Atascadero. In the following days, Knight texted Thomas to hang out. Thomas got into Knight’s car, and the two left for San Luis Obispo, and that was the last time Bill ever saw his son alive. According to employees, Thomas and Knight arrived at the Frog and Peach at approximately 8 p.m.
While at the bar, Knight opened a tab. Within one hour, Thomas had multiple drinks, including Knight’s. Knight closed their tab, paying with his credit card, at around 8:55 p.m. Thomas was seen tripping and falling on his face just outside the bar. Several more witnesses recall seeing Thomas struggling and running from Knight, asking for help and saying someone is after him. Six calls were made to 911 that night regarding Thomas’s struggles. Around 9:15 p.m., a bystander called 911 to say someone had fallen from the parking structure, and an ambulance and police were sent to the scene. The police officer’s body camera footage shows a man—later identified as Knight—approaching the officer attending to Thomas. Knight asked the officer what happened, and after the officer asked him to stop, Knight said, “I know him, that is Tommy, but I don’t want to be on record that I know him.” Shortly after, Thomas was transported by ambulance to Sierra Vista Hospital and pronounced dead at 9:49 p.m. According to Thomas’s toxicology report, his blood-alcohol level (BAC) was 0.38 at the time of his death. Based on witness sightings, Thomas was experiencing symptoms of alcohol overdose just before his fall. Later that night, Knight appeared at the Jodry’s home and gave Bill Thomas’s cell phone. According to Bill, Knight told them he lost Thomas downtown and then went to the scene near the parking garage and saw someone on the ground that looked like Thomas,
September 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine
but police refused to give him information. The Jodry’s called the hospital only to receive the news they feared the most. They then left for San Luis Obispo to identify their son. who was tommy jodry Thomas Robert Jodry was born on Dec. 31, 1997. He loved his Woody doll, going to school, playing sports and the guitar, and being a Cub Scout. Most of all, Tommy loved creating art and growing his cactus business. Tommy’s stencil art can now be found on display at Bloke Outfitters on Entrada Avenue in Atascadero. Some of his stencil art has been printed on shirts and embroidered on a hat with an A-Town logo he created. Both are sold at Bloke, and ten percent of proceeds from the Justice for Thomas collection go towards costs to duplicate Tommy’s artwork so his passion can be shared with the world. Additionally, Bloke owner Farron Walker has dedicated a cactus garden to Tommy’s memory that is directly in front of the store’s window. Thomas’s parents say, “He [Thomas] was a wonderful young man. He was a deep thinker and very intelligent. Everyone who knew him remembers him this way. He always had time to listen to people, and people have often commented on his kindness.” Tommy left behind family, friends, an extensive stencil art collection, his cactus garden, and so much more. His parents said Tommy was looking toward a bright future. what now A vigil will be held on the second anniversary of Tommy’s death,
justice Saturday, September 11, from noon to 6 p.m. Friends and the public are welcome to join Thomas’s parents at the San Luis Obispo Parking structure on Marsh Street. Thomas’s story and memory will be shared as well as raising awareness for more security cameras and guards in the parking structures. Bill and Mary Jane have filed a wrongful death suit against Knight. They are accusing Knight of plying their son with alcohol at a bar in downtown San Luis Obispo before his tragic death. The Jodry’s know more witnesses from that night have yet to be identified or come forward. They ask anyone with any information to please get in touch with them. Thomas’s parents have a reward of $10,000 for anyone with information that would solve the question of what happened in the parking structure in 2019.
You can look for a more in-depth article on what happened to Thomas Jodry in the Paso Robles Press/ Atascadero News on September 9. For more information on Thomas, the night in question, and photos of witnesses still needing to be identified, visit justiceforthomas.com. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Jodry’s at (805)538-8753. atascaderomagazine.com | 25
Taste of Americana
From the Kitchen of
Recipes For September I
n doing my research for this month’s column, I found a charming little book, among my collection of cookbooks, that someone had given me years ago. Its title is simply “Apples” and is authored by Roger Yepsen. I flipped through the pages and realized that I had never given the book the attention it deserved. It is not a typical cookbook but more of an encyclopedia of apples. It explores the world of apples throughout history and in the present. It includes 181 pages of pictures of apples with a complete description of each one, including its best use, in pies, sauces, cakes, ciders, wines, and lastly, eating. I never knew there were so many kinds of apples. What we see in the supermarkets and farmers’ markets is nothing compared to what’s grown. I didn’t realize how many references we have to apples in our language. People are often described as apples: crabs, bad apples, apple polishers, apples of one’s eye. And who can forget “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and the folklore tale of Johnny Appleseed? Also, remember that “apple for the teacher” and “bobbing for apples” at your Halloween party? After reading all that apple information, I started searching other sources for apple recipes and came up with more than this column allows. However, I narrowed it to what follows. I hope you will enjoy! Enjoy the abundance of apples we have in our area. A trip through See Canyon in San Luis Obispo is worth the effort. Cheers!
26 | atascaderomagazine.com
AP P LE EMPAN A D AS
Ingredients: • 1¼ cup chopped linguica • 1 cup chopped fresh boneless, skinless chicken breast • ¾ cup each: chopped onion and peeled, chopped apple • ½ cup each: salsa, golden raisins and chopped pimento stuffed olives • 1½ tsp. each: smoked paprika, chili powder and garlic salt • 1 refrigerated pie crust dough Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with lightly greased foil. Cook linguica, chicken, onion and apple in a large skillet over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in salsa, raisins, olives, and seasonings and cook for 5 minutes more. Divide pastry into 4 pieces and shape each into a ball. Roll each out into a 1/8-inch thick circle on a lightly floured board and brush outer edges lightly with water. Place equal amounts of filling on half of each circle and fold over to enclose. Press to seal. Crimp around edge with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. (Oven temperatures differ so check Empanadas after 10-12 minutes.)
J O HN N Y A P P LES E E D CA K E W I T H CA RA ME L SA U C E
Ingredients: • 2¼ cups flour • ¾ cup vegetable oil • ¾ cup sugar • 2 large, tart cooking apples, cored and • ¾ cup packed brown sugar cut into 1/2-inch pieces (~ 2½ cups) • 2 tsp. baking powder • 3 eggs, lightly beaten • ½ tsp. baking soda • 2 tsp. vanilla extract • 1 Tbs. cinnamon • ¾ cup finely chopped walnuts • 1 tsp. nutmeg • Whipped topping for garnish • 1 tsp. salt (optional) Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large mixing bowl; beat at low speed for 1 to 2 minutes until well mixed. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla; beat at medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth. Stir in apples and walnuts by hand. Spoon batter into greased and floured 13 x 9-inch cake pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly touched in the center. Cool on wire rack.
CARA ME L SA U C E Directions: Ingredients: Combine sugar, cream, and butter in • 1 cup packed brown sugar 1-quart saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, • ½ cup heavy cream over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until brown sugar dissolves. • 3 Tbs. butter Stir in vanilla. Drizzle the sauce over cake slices to serve. • 1 tsp. vanilla extract Atascadero News Magazine | September 2021
By Patrick Patton
orth County Paws Cause is a volunteer-run non-profit organization with no paid staff. The volunteers pride themselves on the fact that one hundred percent of donations go to the care of their cats and kittens, but after a COVID kitten explosion, they are in need of more help. The basis of the organization is the spaying and neutering of community cats. The most significant intake of cats and kittens at the County of Animal Services comes from North San Luis Obispo (SLO) County. Spaying and neutering help to stabilize a cat colony for health and prevents unwanted litters of kittens. The Paws Cause volunteers work hard at trapping and taking cats in for surgery. Paws Cause also has a very successful foster program for cats and kittens. Their foster cats and kittens are placed into foster family homes and are socialized, but most of all, they are loved and cared for until they are old enough to move on to their forever homes. Paws Cause does not have a brick-and-mortar shelter. Most of their volunteers are in North County; however, they do have some individuals in SLO and Los Osos. “I’m regularly amazed at what this group of volunteers accomplishes on such a tight budget and with only volunteers,” said Elizabeth Gillingham, a Paws Cause Foster. “Spaying and neutering community cats so they don’t contribute to the overpopulation of feral cats, trapping and socializing feral kittens and then adopting them out, rescuing cats and kittens from our local animal services, helping special needs cats that come into our foster care, and helping with cat hoarding situations.” Gillingham shared that they currently have “too many kittens, not enough foster homes! I think I can safely say that almost all animal rescue groups had a very tough year. Since shelters were essentially closed last year, many SNR [Spay Neuter Return] programs were shut down as well. We weren’t able to get cats in to get fixed, so this kitten season has been like no other. We’re getting caught back up on SNR, but the spay programs are now inundated with everyone trying to get animals fixed.” Even for rescues with a brick-and-mortar shelter, trying to schedule adopters to visit so that everyone can remain as safe as possible during COVID has been a challenge. It’s been challenging for Paws Cause as well, with volunteers inviting people into their homes to meet their potential new kitten or taking kittens to visit their potential new homes. “Now we are starting to see people who adopted a ‘COVID pet’ relinquish those animals, as people go back to work in the office—which is really disheartening,” said Gillingham. “There are great options available for people going back to work! Pet daycare, pet sitters, training—these are all better than relinquishing a pet.” One of the Paws Cause volunteers have been trying to get the SNIP Bus—a mobile spay and neuter clinic headquartered in Contra Costa County—scheduled to come to SLO County as an additional resource.
Gillingham explained that donations to rescues have been lighter than they had been in past years since so many found themselves with less disposable income during the COVID-19 lockdowns. “Donations are the easiest thing that community members can do to help,” said Gillingham. “We accept cash donations via Paypal (firstname.lastname@example.org). Donations are tax-deductible.” Those wanting to donate can also go to : northcounty-pawscause.org/donate-here! or drop off donations of food, litter, toys, beds, etc. at these locations: • Foss Farm’s Farmstand | 3300 Traffic Way in Atascadero • Petco | 2155 Theatre Dr. in Paso Robles • Grocery Outlet | 2800 Riverside Ave. #102 in Paso Robles Another option is to use smile.amazon.com when shopping on Amazon and set North County Paws Cause as their non-profit of choice. Amazon then donates a percentage of your purchase at no cost to the shopper. Gillingham says they could really use more volunteers in a number of areas. “Last year, we were not able to do trapping and releasing,” said Gillingham. “There are more unaltered cats in the community now, and they’re all having babies! One of the best things people in the community can do is get their cats fixed. Even if you’re simply putting food out for a random cat, or you see there are random cats, trapping and fixing them, then returning them, is a huge service both to the cat and your community.” Paws Cause has 107 cats and kittens in foster homes which are ready for adoption. Visit northcounty-pawscause.org.
( 805 ) 466-7744 8420-A El Camino Real Atascadero, CA 93422 HOME AUTO LIFE
September 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine
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Tent City • San Luis Obispo County Office of Education
James Brescia, Ed.D.
COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS
V I R T U A L
A R T S
O U T R E A C H
“Art is the concrete representation of our most subtle feelings.” ~ Agnes Martin
he entire central coast of California is rich with the arts and often serves as a refuge or haven for artists from both the Bay Area and Southern California. Tourists and locals enjoy this beautiful slice of California located three hours between these northern and southern metropolitan communities. Our county stretches over 70 miles down the 101 Highway along the Pacific Coast and inland through desert and mountains to Kern County, covering 3,616 square miles, with just over 284,000 in population. Some of our major economic drivers are agriculture, tourism, building & design construction, knowledge & innovation, advanced manufacturing, health services, and energy. What does each of these economic drivers have in common? Arts-Based Leadership. According to the Oxford Academic Community Development Journal, the arts are often considered at the periphery of the community development process and only a minor player in regenerating areas. Nevertheless, despite increasing globalization, our central coast communities are beginning to recognize their own identities, culture, traditional art forms, and the value of working together at the local level. Take a look around, and you will notice a plethora of local art created by the youth in our communities. According to the most recent Arts and Economic Prosperity Survey, San Luis Obispo County arts and arts-related activities enhance our local economy by over $30 million in funding and expenditures. Art is one of the most popular Career & Technical Education (CTE) pathways selected by San Luis Obispo County students. The most recent Central Coast Economic Forecast refers to the arts’ positive impact on our local economy and community well-being. Academics and business leaders acknowledge that arts-based instruction is an interdisciplinary approach to learning. Several firms on the central coast use the arts as a pathway to explore non-art topics such as leadership, change, and business innovation. San Luis Obispo County is fortunate to have growing Arts Partnerships for many schools, districts, and communities.
We adapted practices because of the pandemic, and both Charter Communications public access television stations 2 and 19 feature the work of local arts organizations. These virtual and in-person partnerships acknowledge four profound leadership impacts. Involvement in the arts helps us quiet the mind and provides space for inner wisdom. The Arts create bonding experiences that facilitate collaboration and accelerate examining an issue from alternate perspectives. Arts-based activities can develop a sense of belonging, build trust, help participants find shared values, and shift perceptions. Finally, arts-based learning, along with whole-brain creativity and design thinking, can improve creative skills. The San Luis Obispo County Office of Education Arts Partnership, consisting of multiple arts organizations throughout the county, has created a series of educational videos hosted on public access, social media, and the education portal. These media clips are free to the public and serve to promote the arts. To date, this partnership has allowed over 15,000 students to experience and interact with professional artists virtually. The media collateral, funded by the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education and local patrons, involves local artists communicating with students and relating activities to state arts standards. Each media segment, 20 to 30 minutes in length, consists of visual examples of the art form and facilitates instruction at multiple grade levels. Our county is also growing in cultural and artistic vibrancy because of the dedicated individuals that make the central coast their home. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience reports that scientists, humanists, and art lovers value art because of the social importance, the communicative power, the capacity to increase self-knowledge, challenge preconceptions, and the beauty in art. We invite any interested arts organizations to partner with our local schools in building up our community. It is an honor to serve as your county superintendent. I hope that this article will spark discussion among all educational stakeholders about the power of becoming involved in arts outreach as a volunteer, patron, or participant.
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Atascadero News Magazine | September 2021
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6875 Union Road Paso Robles, CA 93446 Donations can be made: www.redwingshorsesanctuary.org info@ redwingshorsesanctuary.org
September 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine
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weddi n gs COVID
How the Pandemic Transformed the Wedding Industry By Patrick Patton
o say our lives have changed over the past year and a half would be an understatement. Not only has the reaction to the coronavirus changed our lives, it has caused significant shifts in the way business is done. Our beautiful Central Coast is home to a bustling wedding industry, as couples travel from all over the globe to say “I do” right here in our special corner of the world. However, the wedding industry took a major hit when health officials placed heavy restrictions on travel, social gatherings, and events. Dawn White of Pacific Harvest Catering & ToGo said, “Our business pivoted and created a to-go dinner program for locals that we still do in addition to weddings—which are still half of our business. However, weddings used to be ninety percent of our business.” “At the beginning of 2020, I had 120 events on the books, and I did 35,” said Bottles & Ice owner Anissa Hedges. “Of course, at that point, they were all micro-events, like eighteen-person weddings...We were masking up; we were wearing gloves; we had seven bottles of hand sanitizer on the bar. A lot of venues built plexiglass barriers for the bar.” The pandemic not only changed how weddings are done, but in a lot of ways, it made couples and vendors rethink what weddings are. “As a result of the pandemic, we have recognized many changes in the industry,” said Kristen Pinter, Managing Partner of Higuera Ranch. “Elopements were not as common before the pandemic, but there seems to be a new surge! Couples are focusing more on their weekend experience surrounded by their closest family and friends. The vows have become very intimate, and the celebrations have a fresh energy!”
“I think it also changed my perspective of weddings,” said Hedges. “Everybody was just so grateful to be out doing something or to have a sense of normalcy, but... those eighteen to thirty person weddings were so fun, and everyone was so nice and so happy to be there.” Wedding videographer Chelsea Schmitz of Stories Told by Film explained that with couples unable to invite as many family members as before, an increased priority has been placed on securing a professional videographer. “I used to be one of the last vendors booked,” said Schmitz, “but in a lot of cases, I’ve suddenly become the first vendor couples book for their wedding. Video has become more important than ever now that weddings have become smaller.” Schmitz described an elopement to which herself, the photographer, and their two assistants were the only guests in attendance. In fact, the photographer’s assistant also officiated the elopement. This is one example of the larger trend toward smaller, more intimate ceremonies. “Some of the smallest weddings I’ve filmed have been my favorite,” said Schmitz. “Another positive impact of the pandemic has been family created through vendor relationships!” said Pinter. “We weathered the storm together, and now we embrace the opportunity to bring dreams to life. I love seeing the smiling faces of vendor friends at the ranch!” While we have no way of knowing what the future will bring, restrictions have begun to lift for now, and things are beginning to resemble something like normalcy. As the clouds begin to part, perhaps some of our silver linings will remain with us to remind us that there is always a way through the storm.
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Atascadero News Magazine | September 2021
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atascaderomagazine.com | 31
Drowning in Drought
Western Drought & the Food Supply HOW IT’S AFFECTING FARMERS & HOW IT WILL AFFECT THE NATION
By Camille DeVaul
f you have driven through the Central Valley, you’ve likely seen a sign that read “No Water = No Food.” These signs are remnants from the State’s previous droughts and never taken down because of how likely another waterless year will be. And here we are. California is facing yet another drought. According to the California Farm Water Coalition (CFWC), 2021 is on track to being critically dry—the same as the State’s last drought, which lasted from about 2014 to 2016. What’s worse is, as of June 2, over 2 million acres—more than one-quarter of Californian irrigated farmland—is receiving 5 percent or less of its water supply. More than half of that is getting no water allocation at all. In other areas of California, farms have reportedly had their water supplies cut by 25 percent or more, and 60,000 acres in Northern California will receive zero water this year. Founded in 1989, the CFWC is a non-profit, educational organization that provides fact-based information on farm water issues to the public. “We’re all about helping people understand the connection between farm water and their food supply,” said Mike Wade, executive director at CFWC. Due to lack of water, farmers across the State have had to face the crucial decision to reduce their planted acres. And some farmers were given no choice but to plow under their crop—because the California Water Board (CWB) cut off their water supply by suspending the farmer’s water rights. Farmers on the Russian River and the Sacramento-San Juaquin watershed have already had their junior water rights suspended by the CWB. “We’ve seen dozens of crops that are having reduced plantings this year. Farmers are fallowing fields of annual crops,” Wade explained. He continued, “What that does is it doesn’t just affect the farmer, as important as that is. It affects communities. It affects people who depend on those farms for jobs. It affects related businesses, particularly transportation and processing all the way down the food chain to the grocery store where we see
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reduced supply and higher prices for consumers.” The last driest year California saw was in 2015. According to drought.gov, “drought impacts to California’s agricultural sector resulted in $1.84 billion in direct costs, a loss of 10,100 seasonal jobs, and surface water shortages of 8.7 million acre-feet.” California Governor Gavin Newsom was on the Central Coast July 8, where he signed an executive order for Californians, including agriculture, commercial and residential, to decrease water use by 15 percent. As of July 13, 50 California counties have declared a drought emergency, including San Luis Obispo County, affecting 42 percent of California’s population. While the Californian drought is proving to be damaging enough, it isn’t the only state experiencing a drought this year. According to the U.S. drought monitor map, published by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 11 states are experiencing extreme drought conditions: • New Mexico • Arizona • California • Nevada • Utah • Oregon • Washington • Montana • North Dakota • Colorado • Wyoming Additionally, some areas in Idaho and South Dakota are also suffering from extreme drought. Wheat is the fourth top-selling commodity in the U.S., averaging an annual income of $5.13 billion. Four of the states listed above are in the Nation’s top 10 wheat producers. In a Spokesman Review article, a wheat farmer in Washington State said, “This is probably going to be the worst harvest we’ve had for the 35 years we’ve been doing this.” Climates that generally don’t see over 90 degrees are getting temperatures above 100 degrees. High temperatures and lack of water mean lower quality wheat kernels and possible higher protein content— all factors to less tonnage for farmers and buyers wanting a lower price for wheat. California produces over 400 different commod-
ities, including two-thirds of the nation’s fruit and nuts, one-third of its vegetables, and one out of every five gallons of milk. According to the CFWC, the following commodities have already been affected by water shortage in California: • Alfalfa • Almonds • Apricots • Asparagus • Beans • Cantaloupes • Corn • Garlic • Grapes • Honeydew • Lettuce • Onions • Peaches • Peppers • Pima Cotton • Rice • Sweet Corn • Tomatoes • Watermelons • Wheat Basically, the effects of higher temperatures and drought are already affecting farmers, and we will soon see it in the food supply. Western states are undoubtedly experiencing the start of a potentially horrendous drought. But in California, other factors are taking water from farmers. “It’s the result of changing policies that have shifted the water that is available for farms, homes, and businesses to serve a greater number of environmental purposes. And when we get to a drought year like we have now, there’s no flexibility left in the system, and we end up with a couple of million acres of farmland with no water supply,” explained Wade. On April 15, 2015, Channel 3 News in Sacramento interviewed former California Governor Jerry Brown. At the time, California was in the worse year of the 2014-2016 drought, and farmers in the California Valley saw water rights suspended. During the interview with Channel 3, Brown stated, “Fifty percent of the water in California goes to protect the environment. Forty percent goes to agriculture, and about 10 percent goes to urban and commercial uses.” Atascadero News Magazine | September 2021
Brown’s statement is backed up by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). “Statewide, average water use is roughly 50 percent environmental, 40 percent agricultural, and 10 percent urban, although the percentage of water use by sector varies dramatically across regions and between wet and dry years.” As for environmental water use, the PPIC says: “Environmental water use falls into four categories: water in rivers protected as “wild and scenic” under federal and state laws, water required for maintaining habitat within streams, water that supports wetlands within wildlife preserves, and water needed to maintain water quality for agricultural and urban use.” The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is another Californian policy threatening farm water. SGMA was enacted to halt overdrafts and bring groundwater basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge. SGMA also requires local agencies to adopt sustainability plans for high and medium-priority groundwater basins. According to the Blueprint Economic Impact Analysis: Phase One Results by David Sunding and David Roland-Holst at UC Berkeley: “Based on an analysis of SGMA and other anticipated water supply restrictions, we conclude that up to one million acres may be fallowed in the San Joaquin Valley over a period of 2-3 decades as a result of reduced ground and surface water availability. This amount of fallowing is approximately one-fifth of all acres currently under cultivation in the Valley. The farm revenue loss associated with this fallowing is $7.2 billion per year.” The report also says, “Counting indirect and induced job losses together with direct losses, the SGMA and future surface water restrictions will result in as many as 85,000 lost jobs and $2.1 billion in lost employee compensation annually.” Wade explains, “It’s going to be difficult to continue to farm in the scale that we are now in much of the Central Valley in California because of the change in the accessibility to groundwater—it could lead to half a
million acres or more farmland being taken out of production.” On July 23, the CWB announced an “emergency curtailment” order. The order would inevitably cut thousands of farmers off from rivers and streams in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds. The order would include pre-1914 appropriative and certain riparian water rights claimants. On August 3, the CWB passed the emergency curtailment order with a 5-0 vote. State regulators said farmers would have to stop diverting water from waters and streams leading into the Sacramento and San Juaquin Delta-the State’s two largest river systems-because the drought is rapidly depleting the California reservoirs and killing endangered species of fish. The curtailment order will not take effect for another two weeks and excludes some uses, including water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, sanitation and generating electricity, and more. Together, the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems drain 40 percent of California’s land and account for at least a portion of the water supply for two-thirds of the state’s nearly 40 million residents. “The fact remains that water supplies are extremely limited across the State, and we are running out of options,” said Ernest Conant, regional director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, who supports the new rule. The State has also hired 15 people to help enforce the emergency order, according to Erik Ekdahl, deputy director for the division of water rights. The rule gives State regulators authority to enforce it, including fines for noncompliance. Chris Scheuring, senior counsel for the California Farm Bureau, said, “In general, farmers understand drought, and they understand lean rain years. That’s the business we’re in,” he said. “But they don’t understand the downward slide in water reliability we are facing in California, sort of on a systemic level.” A story on the new curtailment order, its effects on farmers and the general public to follow. Complete list of resources at atascaderonews.com.
September 2021 | Atascadero News Magazine
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