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FEBRUARY 2021 • MORROBAYLIFENEWS.COM

a new perspective INSIDE THIS ISSUE:

SEE PAGE 9

REMEMBERING A LOCAL LEGACY SEE PAGE 10

PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID PERMIT NO. 19 PASO ROBLES, CA

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THE END OF AN ERA

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ANNUAL CHAMBER AWARDS


2 • February 2021 • Morro Bay Life

Making Communities Better Through Print™

Through Print

making communities better

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” ~ Unknown

Publishers

Hayley & Nicholas Mattson hayley@13starsmedia.com

LAYOUT DESIGN EDITOR Mike Michaud

Community Writer Camille DeVaul

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CONTRIBUTORS Jim Brescia, Ed.D Neil Ferrell Patricia Alexander Sarah Santana Contact Us 805.466.2585

Visit our website! morrobaylifenews.com morro bay life is published monthly. all rights reserved , material may not be reprinted without written consent from the publisher . morro bay life made every effort to maintain the accuracy of information presented in this publication , but assumes no responsibility for errors , changes or omissions . morro bay life is a product of 13 stars media .

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s we head into the second month of the new year and the sun starts to warm our souls once again, we take time to reflect on the darkness of the winter that we all endured. Remaining optimistic comes naturally to us, as does believing the best in others and allowing individuals to prove otherwise. 2020 was particularly challenging but enlightening; however, we remain optimistic, and for the most part, people have proven to be genuine, generous, and kind. Our goal will always be to look at the brighter side of life and celebrate the good, the progress, and the successes we are blessed within the communities we love. For many, 2020 was a true test of character. From a novel health crisis to a significant blow to the economy and school system that has extenuating impacts on children and families to a particularly tumultuous presidential election, most people have proven reasonable. The contrast and comparison between what most people are like in real life versus what we might see on social media or cable news networks is a stark reminder that we need more in-person activity. People are helpful, good-hearted, and personable. We know that and believe that. We have a lot to be thankful for, and we are going to continue to focus on that which makes our communities better. People have a variety of opinions, and we think the more, the merrier. Nobody should ever take away your right to have your own opinion. Nor should anyone take away your right to change your mind. As we march toward spring, we find natural revival and restoration come to the world around us, and we hope that brings some peace to us all. After all, if the earth still sees fit for the If we could change ourselves, the tendencies wildflower to persist, it is a gentle world with in the world would also change. As a man great opportunity for the right seeds to bring changes his own nature, so does the attilife to those who seek it. It may just take a new tude of the world change towards him. This perspective to see it. is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful We hope you enjoy this month’s issue of thing it is and the source of our happiness. Morro Bay Life. We need not wait to see what others do. Hayley & Nic ~ Mohandas Gandhi

Hayley & Nicholas Mattson Publishers

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4 • February 2021 • Morro Bay Life

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Making Communities Better Through Print™

Your 2021 Morro Bay Chamber Board of Directors

he Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors are business owner-operators who have been elected by Chamber members to serve three-year terms as volunteer board members. The Board of Directors shape our non-profit’s positions on critical issues for our members, approve our legislative platform and budget, and influence how we work to improve the overall business environment in Morro Bay. They apply their business acumen and entrepreneurial, critical thinking to improve conditions for Chamber members of all industries and each year endeavor to leave the Chamber organization itself stronger and better than they found it. Cheers to the 2021 Board!

TIM COWAN

JEFF ECKLES

STEPHEN PECK

JAYNE ENGLE ALLEN

Chairman Government Affairs Committee Member Pizza Port, BHGRE Properties

Vice Chairman Government Affairs Committee Member Morro Bay House of Jerky

Treasurer Government Affairs Committee Chair Peck Planning and Development

Engle & Associates Insurance Brokers

AMBER CLARK-GRILEY

BRAD EVANS

CHERISE HANSSON

Allen Property Group, Inc.

Ambassadors Committee Co-Chair Realtor

Under the Sea Gallery

JUDY MAHAN

SOPHIA TOLLE

ANNA PATEL

AARON YOUNG

Cal Poly Small Business Development Center

Ambassadors Committee Co-Chair Poppy Boutique

Beach Bungalow Inn and Suites The Hermit Crab

Government Affairs Committee Member Richardson Properties

A Special Thank You to Our Generous Community Awards Sponsors:


Morro Bay Life • February 2021 • 5

Making Communities Better Through Print™

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Annual Chamber Awards

ach year the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce celebrates the best of our community with an awards gala and board installation dinner. The themed event has earned the moniker “Morro Bay’s Big Night Out” and is one of the most anticipated events of the year, with live music, local cuisine, a silent auction, and a host of locals and legislators breaking bread together. Like most events in the last year, we have had to reimagine how we gather and recognize those in our community who are making a difference a little differently. Please join us on February 12, 2021 at 5:30pm for a virtual Chamber Awards event. We encourage you to grab a local meal to-go or dress up (it is a Friday, afterall!) and toast these exceptional residents in their honors. The ceremony will be aired live on channel 20 and slo-span.org. Please go to morrochamber.org and/or our Facebook page for extended information.

LIVING TREASURE: JACK SMITH Jack Smith has been an ambassador of Morro Bay for decades, sharing the love of his community through his travels as a legendary skateboarder. Jack’s natural affectation as an aspirational and inspirational leader has led him to incredible accomplishments, including skateboarding across the country multiple times and achieving a Guinness World Record. Some of the skateboards from those journeys are showcased at the National Museum of American History - Smithsonian Institution, and others were exhibited as his (now closed) Morro Bay Skateboard Museum. Jack has spent most of his life in Morro Bay and turned his Skateboard Museum into the town’s number one rated manmade attraction. His museum gave visitors insight into the skate community, and its collection showcased Jack’s deep connections to the sport he loves. Jack produced five World Championships of Slalom Skateboarding in Morro Bay in the early 2000s and is a filmmaker who hosted a screening of one of his films, “Beyond the Sidewalk” at the San Luis Obispo Film Festival. His feature film “New Providence” will be released in February. If you live in Morro Bay and haven’t met Jack yet, you are one of the few. He is a community leader who has been characterized as “reliable, compassionate, well-known, good-hearted, civil and blessed with a long memory for details about issues and life events that are important to people.” A true Morro Bay living treasure.

CITIZEN OF THE YEAR: CHUCK STOLL Chuck Stoll is an unsung hero of Morro Bay who community members state “unstintingly shares his energy, his talent, and his resources.” Chuck has a long memory for people in the community and is known for his steadiness, good nature, his unflappable disposition, and willingness to be friendly with people from all walks of life and sides of the divide. Chuck is involved in multiple organizations and causes that provide important services to our community, including the Morro Bay Lions Club, where he serves as club president and from which he was presented the Melvin Jones Award for Outstanding Humanitarian Services. Chuck also sits on the board of the Morro Bay Maritime Museum, uses his truck to fill large tanks of water for newly planted trees with Morro Bay in Bloom, drives to and from the Food Bank each week for supplies, and coordinates eye care for patrons of the Monday Night Dinners, and he assists with the registration of donated cars to help fund the Lion’s Club Car Giveaway. He has also been a long time champion and volunteer for the annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner. One of the review committee members shared an experience at an Estero Bay Action Coalition (EBAC) meeting where doubt was cast about executing a COVID-safe 2020 Annual Community Thanksgiving. This person remembers locking eyes with Chuck from across the room, sharing a head nod of resolve, and then committing to providing this experience safely to the community in 2020. Chuck’s leadership in adapting this year resulted in serving over 550 home’s Thanksgiving Dinner To-go/Drive Through cooked turkey dinners to anyone who needed one, 200 of which were delivered to front doorsteps all around town. This is one of the many reasons Chuck Stoll is our Citizen of the Year.

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: FITNESSWORKS/THERAPYWORKS FitnessWorks/TherapyWorks is a female-owned business that was first incorporated in 1991 and currently employs forty-two people (they typically employ 50+ full and part-time employees under normal operations). Community health is their priority, and the management team infuses their values of fairness and integrity into their operating model. By offering online fitness on-demand taught by familiar instructors in familiar surroundings, renting a cargo container for cardio equipment, moving large pieces of equipment to their back alley, and offering group fitness classes in the parking lot and in the park with city permits, FitnessWorks adapted its business model to remain compliant with public health guidelines during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. TherapyWorks also modified its services for patients as an essential business by decreasing their number of in-person clients and increasing their telehealth delivery systems to meet their patients’ needs. FitnessWorks/TherapyWorks staff volunteers at local organizations, and the company provides donations to local charity events annually, including Miracle Miles for Kids, MBHS Athletic boosters, the Harbor Festival, and the Avocado and Margarita Street Festival. While many fitness centers are violating state mandates in order to remain viable, FitnessWorks/TherapyWorks has remained committed to following state mandates and remaining viable as a health and fitness center for therapy patients and for fitness members.

NON-PROFIT OF THE YEAR: MORRO BAY IN BLOOM Morro Bay in Bloom’s first group gardening session took place in October 2013, when twenty-five volunteers participated in a two-hour session to improve the landscaping at Morro Bay’s Library. The concept of “beautifying Morro Bay two hours at a time” persisted. Morro Bay in Bloom volunteers have participated in almost one thousand group sessions and have donated more than thirty-three thousand hours to the residents of our city in its seven-plus years of gardening in public. The organization has a collaborative relationship with the City of Morro Bay Public Works staff, and volunteers are grateful for the public’s support of the program. Morro Bay in Bloom continues to grow and be recognized for its contribution to our community, based on an open invitation “to help out when you can; non-gardeners welcomed” approach to volunteerism. Morro Bay in Bloom is always looking for new members to add to its 60+ members of “Bloomie Nation” who will keep this worthwhile endeavor going.


6 • February 2021 • Morro Bay Life

Making Communities Better Through Print™

COMMUNITY

MBPD Promotes Long-Time Officer By NEIL FARRELL For Morro Bay Life

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long-time Morro Bay Police officer has been promoted, replacing an officer who was hired on with the County Sheriff ’s Department. Senior Officer Robert Hufstetler became Sergeant Hufstetler in January, settling into a supervisory role after over 20 years with MBPD. Sgt. Hufstetler started in law enforcement at the Moreno Valley P.D. in 1994, according to MBPD Cmdr. Amy Watkins. There he worked with their Gang Unit and Graffiti Patrol. He came to Morro Bay in 1998 as a sworn officer working mostly in traffic enforcement. Sgt. Hufstetler is “currently our longest-tenured officer,” said Cmdr. Watkins. “Rob was an original member of the P.D.’s Motor Unit,” Cmdr. Watkins said, “when it started back in 2001.” The use of motorcycles for traffic patrols was defunded in 2005 due to the City Council’s budget deficit. In 2016, the department re-started the Motor Unit and put electric motorcycles in service. Sgt. Hufstetler “continues to serve as a Motor Officer, trainer and as our Traffic Supervisor,“ Cmdr. Watkins said. In his long tenure, Sgt. Hufstetler has worked as the department’s range master, senior officer, field training officer “and has served as a watch commander and acting sergeant throughout his career.“

“There is no doubt that he is well qualified and capable of handling the role as a patrol sergeant,” she added. Sgt. Hufstetler replaces former-Sgt. Jerrod Place, who was promoted last March to replaced the retired Sgt. Rick Catlett. Place is now Deputy Place after he was hired on with the County Sheriff ’s Department. As with several MBPD officers in the past, the pay scale and opportunities for advancement and specialized police work, which the Sheriff ’s Department can offer, was an enticement. “A Sheriff deputy makes enough for a sergeant to leave our position,” Cmdr. Watkins said. So once again, MBPD brings people in, trains them, and after a few years, loses them to bigger departments with better pay and more opportunities. The Sheriff ’s Department has numerous divisions, including corrections, courtroom security, homicide, gang and drug units, and even SWAT. The department had been holding open one officer position after the City Council froze hiring in the face of the Coronavirus Pandemic and the resulting budget crisis that befell the City in 2019-20 with the closure of much of the local economy. With the 2020-21 fiscal year halfway over, Cmdr. Watkins said they got to go-ahead to fill that position with the mid-year budget review. Ofc. Luis Martinez, formerly with Lompoc Morro Bay Police Department promoted long-time officer Robert Hufstetler, [shown here in his sePolice Department, was sworn in in early Janu- nior officer portrait] replacing Sgt. Jerrod Place, who has hired on with the County Sheriff’s Office. ary to fill one of the two open positions. Photo courtesy MBPD

PUBLIC PROJECT

EVENT

City Approves Monitoring Contracts

By NEIL FARRELL For Morro Bay Life MORRO BAY — Morro Bay City Council approved two more contracts for its Water Reclamation Facility Project, as work is set to begin on the second phase of the overall project. On Jan. 7, the city council voted to award a contract “not to exceed” $264,918 to Cogstone Resource Management, Inc. Cogstone is headquartered in Orange, Calif. and will be doing the archeological and paleontological monitoring of the WRF Project’s conveyance system. The underground pipes will run from the treatment plant site on Atascadero Road to the new treatment plant off South Bay Boulevard. The pipeline run is over 3 miles and hundreds of feet uphill. Last October, the City received four proposals for the monitoring contract — Cogstone, ECORP Consulting, Inc., Albion Environmental, and PaleoWest. The bids were judged on experience and abilities and not price. The council also awarded a contract for biological monitoring services to Kevin Merk Associates (Merk) in the “not to exceed” amount of $71,310. Though both of these contracts would seem to limit their amounts, the not-to-exceed reference hasn’t stuck to the companies building the treatment plant, as those contracts have already had dozens of change orders and increased the costs. In these instances, there can be no cost overruns without “written authorization from the City,” according to the staff report. These two contracts are among the last

hurdles to starting on the pipeline portion of the project. City Manager Scott Collins told Morro Bay Life that work is scheduled to begin in February. Cogstone’s work will involve monitoring all the trenching the pipelines will require, checking for any archaeological items or Native American artifacts, including possible human remains that could be found. With known Native American sites already identified, Cogstone will work with three Native American entities — the Northern Chumash Tribe (yak tityu tityu), the Salinan Tribe of Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties; and the Northern Chumash Tribal Council. Each of which expressed a desire to participate in the project. They will each be considered “sub-consultant” and paid $100 an hour for monitoring work. Collins said the intent in working with three Native American groups was to “create equity amongst the tribes.” The plan is to have them share monitoring duties, Collins said. In the current project budget, $550,000 was set aside for archeological and paleontological, and Native American monitoring. The City drafted a plan for such monitoring in the project’s environmental impact report bringing in the various agencies tasked with enforcing the California Environmental Quality Act or CEQA. Among those was the State Historic Preservation Office. This was also a requirement for using State and Federal monies to pay for the project. Cogstone also had a contract for monitoring at the treatment plant construction site, raising a potential conflict of interest. According to the City report, “That work will end by Jan. 15; and, therefore, there will not be a legal conflict of interest with the City hiring Cogstone for this portion of the WRF project because it will not financially impact Filanc/ Black & Veatch.” As for biological monitors, Merk, the City had budgeted $100,000 for the work, and with the contract coming in at $71,000, this too will not require water-sewer rates to rise. The City’s last updated budget, released last September when the pipeline construction contract was

awarded, topped $138.6 million. That’s over $12 million above the cost ($126 million) that was presented to customers in a Proposition 218 vote that approved new rates designed to pay for the project and greenlighted the City to proceed. Last October, the City got ten proposals from bidders, with KMA (Merk), Althouse and Meade, Inc., Analytical Environmental Services, JBD Environmental Consulting, ECORP Consulting. Inc., Endemic Environmental Services, GPA Consulting, Rincon Consultants, Inc., SWCA Environmental Consultants, and Padre Associates, Inc. all vying for the contract. The species of concern, i.e., potential habitats that have been identified in previous biological surveys, include the California red-legged frog, the tidewater goby, Moro shoulder band dune snail, and the American badger. Badgers have been reported in the past on Black Mountain, living in the wilds of Morro Bay State Park off Quintana Road. Merk, too, did biological monitoring at the treatment plant site as a sub-consultant with Carollo Engineers, the City’s project managers. As for the actual pipeline work, last November, the City awarded Anvil Builders, Inc., based in San Francisco, a $31.49 million contract. This was for the conveyance work and the project’s third phase, the injection wells, part of the City’s “indirect potable reuse” or IPR system. That contract was some $7 million over the engineer’s estimate. Despite the cost overruns, the City’s federal loan came with a 0.83% interest rate, allowing ample wiggle room to avoid raising water or sewer rates. The City’s final hurdle involves an eminent domain lawsuit between the City and power plant owner, Vistra, over needed easements for the pipelines and recycled-water injection wells that have not been resolved. Collins said he couldn’t comment on the status of the lawsuit but acknowledged that it is still ongoing and would not delay starting the pipeline project. The City had a real estate appraisal done and offered $200,000 for both temporary construction easements and permanent utility easements.

City of Morro Bay Announces Annual ‘Spring Clean-Up Week’ STAFF REPORT MORRO BAY — The City of Morro Bay announced that their annual “Spring Clean-Up Week” is around the corner. The FREE clean up week will be held from Mar. 1 - 5. The City is encouraging residents to start making plans to clean up your garage, yard, or house. For more information, call Morro Bay Garbage at (805)543-0875 or visit the City’s website at http://www. morrobayca.gov/springcleanup. Spring Clean-Up week is a community service provided free to single-family residential garbage customers in Morro Bay. You can place up to six 32-gallon containers at the curb on your collection day to be picked up by Morro Bay Garbage for FREE. There will also be a discount price for the first two bulky items that need to be collected. The collection of bulky items will need to be arranged a week before the Annual Clean-Up Week. To schedule, call (805)528-7430.


Morro Bay Life • February 2021 • 7

Making Communities Better Through Print™

BUSINESS

Longing to Travel? Four Options for a Socially Distant Getaway

SARAH SANTANA COLUMNIST

“I

’m in desperate need of an escape,” reads one recent comment on a Reddit travel forum, echoing a common sentiment. Many Americans are ready to venture out: a recent LuggageHero survey shows 71 percent were planning domestic trips in 2020 despite the pandemic. Destinations that offer plenty of space to spread out are popular, as well as properties that have ramped up cleanliness standards. Here, we take a look at four ways people are vacationing safely.

GO GLAMPING

Glamping is camping’s glamorous cousin, appealing to those who have grown accustomed to luxury. We’re talking tents, yurts, treehouses, and cabins that come with full en suite bathrooms and other private amenities, usually situated among natural splendor. Keep in mind that most sites offer communal dining only (eating in your tent might attract bears). Companies like Under Canvas – with sites in Montana, South Dakota, Arizona, Tennessee, and Utah – and Missouri’s Camp Long Creek offer refined lodging in the rugged outdoors, with plenty of space to roam.

GET R&R IN AN RV

aka your quarantine crew? Renting an entire vacation house with outdoor amenities like a pool or yard might be the right move. After taking a hit in March and April, rental reservations have rebounded. Airbnb has seen more bookings in May and June than the same period last year, and VRBO and other sites are also seeing a jump, the Los Angeles Times reported. While you won’t encounter other guests like you might in a hotel, you also won’t have room service, so prepare to cook your own meals (or find a place with lots of takeout restaurants nearby). Also, bring some cleaning products. It’s a good idea to disinfect doorknobs and other frequently touched surfaces upon arrival, just in case.

HEAD TO A HYGIENIC HOTEL

Say goodbye to “high-touch” valet and bellhop services and hello to an era of contactless check-in at many major hotel chains. For example, Hilton is offering a digital key via its mobile app, as well as ramped-up cleaning techniques that include a “seal” to ensure a room hasn’t been occupied since it was cleaned. Hotel bookings are on the rise, but in the week ending June 27, U.S. hotel occupancy hovered at 46 percent – nearly half of what it was in 2019, Statista figures show. Want to ensure you have the place all to yourself? Some wealthy guests are booking an entire hotel just to ensure social distance. Wyoming’s Magee Homestead is charging $25,000 a night to rent out its entire ranch, which includes rooms, meals, and activities. In Massachusetts, you can buy out The Oak Bluffs Inn for $45,000 a night. If a staycation at home is all you’re up for this summer, that’s perfectly OK. You can set up a tent in the backyard, gaze at the stars, and dream of a time when travel will be less risky and more convenient.

TIPS FOR SAFE TRAVELS

Business is booming for RV rental companies: RVshare and Outdoorsy both saw bookings increase by upwards of 1,000 percent in the past couple of months. Whether you rent a towable trailer or a massive motor home, mobile accommodations allow more control over your environment. Some are even equipped with a kitchen. Don’t want to cook? Park at a restaurant and get takeout or dine al fresco. Sightseeing stops too crowded for your taste? Simply drive to the next spot.

• Wear a face mask and practice social distancing in public areas. • Use an app like Flush to find clean restrooms on a road trip. • Minimize contact with door handles and other high-touch surfaces in shared spaces. • Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer after spending time in public areas. • Consider getting tested for COVID-19 before heading out, especially if visiting someone elderly. BOOK A VACATION HOUSE • If you’re driving long distances with young children, consider Want to get away from crowds with your friends and family, taking a travel potty. Sarah Santana is an independent columnist for Morro Bay Life; and the president of Santana Wealth Management; you can contact her at sarah.santana@raymondjames.com.

Sarah N. Santana

President SWM & Financial Advisor RJFS 7350 El Camino Real Ste 201, Atascadero, CA 93422 O: (805)538-5068 // C: (805)550-5791 // F:(805)538-5069 sarah.santana@raymondjames.com // santanawealthmanagement.com

2021 Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC, and are not insured by any financial institution insurance, the FDIC/NCUA or any other government agency, are not deposits or obligations of the financial institution, are not guaranteed by the financial institution, and are subject to risk, including the possible loss of principal. Santana Wealth Management is not registered broker/ dealers and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Investment advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc.


8 • February 2021 • Morro Bay Life

Making Communities Better Through Print™

COVID-19 UPDATE

Public Health Officials Lift Regional Stay at Home Order for All Regions Conditions Improving Statewide, Allowing Most Counties to Return to Most Strict (Purple) Tier of Blueprint for a Safer Economy STAFF REPORT SACRAMENTO – On Monday, Jan. 25, officials with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) ended the Regional Stay at Home Order, lifting the order for all regions statewide, including the three regions that had still been under the order – San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area, and Southern California. According to the press release, health officials state that the four-week ICU capacity projections for these three regions are above 15 percent, the threshold that allows regions to exit the order. The Sacramento Region exited the order on Jan. 12, and the Northern California region never entered the order. This action allows all counties statewide to return to the rules and framework of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy and color-coded tiers that indicate which activities and businesses are open based on local case rates and test positivity. The majority of the counties are in the strictest or purple tier. Tier updates are provided weekly on Tuesdays. Individual counties could choose to impose stricter rules. “Californians heard the urgent message to stay home as much as possible and accepted that challenge to slow the surge and save lives,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, CDPH director and state

public health officer. “Together, we changed our activities, knowing our short-term sacrifices would lead to longer-term gains. COVID19 is still here and still deadly, so our work is not over, but it’s important to recognize our collective actions saved lives, and we are turning a critical corner.” Health officials caution Californians to continue to wear masks when they leave their homes, maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet, wash their hands frequently, avoid gatherings, and mixing with other households. State officials reported that in collaboration with local health departments and health care facilities statewide, they took a long list of actions to support California’s hospitals and slow the surge in cases and hospitalizations. The Regional Stay at Home Order urged Californians to stay home except for essential activities, which helped lower disease transmission levels and reduce burden on the hospital system. California deployed more than 4,100 medical professionals to facilities across the state to ease the burden on front-line health care workers. The state provided assistance within hospitals in the form of personal protective equipment, ventilators and help with oxygen supply. California also helped hospitals expand their capacity by opening 16 alternate care sites, lower-acuity facilities where COVID-19 patients get a bridge from hospital to home as they are recovering. Public health leaders implemented a statewide order to make it easier to transfer patients

from over-crowded hospitals to those with more space and staff. The administration of vaccines to health care workers has meant that fewer health care workers are falling ill to the virus, which helps keep staffing levels more stable. “California is slowly starting to emerge from the most dangerous surge of this pandemic yet, which is the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been hoping for,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “Seven weeks ago, our hospitals and front-line medical workers were stretched to their limits, but Californians heard the urgent message to stay home when possible and our surge after the December holidays did not overwhelm the health care system to the degree we had feared.” Nearly all the counties exiting the Regional Stay at Home Order today are in the Purple or widespread (most restrictive) tier. Services and activities, such as outdoor dining and personal

services, may resume immediately with required modifications, subject to any additional restrictions required by local jurisdictions. Directly following the announcement, San Luis Obispo County Health sent out a press release stating that services and activities under the Purple Tier part of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, such as outdoor dining and personal services, may resume immediately in San Luis Obispo County. “We welcome this news in SLO County, as our ICU bed capacity is well above the rest of the region, but many restrictions are still in place because COVID-19 is widespread here,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, the County Public Health Officer. “We thank the community for continuing to wear masks, stay at least six feet apart, get tested, and refrain from social gatherings outside of your social bubble to help us stop the surge and hopefully allow us to move into the Red Tier.”

BUSINESS

HHS Orders to Retract $14,060 FDA Fee on Emergency Hand Sanitizer Manufacturers Calwise Spirits Co. Owner Aaron Bergh Credits Support from Media and Public for Decision Reversal But Warns the Dust Has Not Settled STAFF REPORT PASO ROBLES — Following immense public backlash, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has ordered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reverse its decision to impose a last-minute $14,060 tax on emergency manufacturers of hand sanitizer. Back in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., there was an extreme shortage of essential medical supplies such as face masks, hospital gowns, and hand sanitizer. In response, the FDA issued an emergency declaration that allowed distilleries to produce hand sanitizer. “The FDA’s announcement was set to wipe out our holiday-season profit,” said Aaron Bergh, a Paso Robles-based distiller, and owner of Calwise Spirits Co. “Because the people rallied around us and spoke out, we found ourselves the recipients of a New Year’s miracle.” As with hundreds of other distilleries throughout the country, Bergh converted his distillery into a hand sanitizer manufacturing facility overnight. In 6 weeks, he produced 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer and prioritized distribution to medical workers, first responders, and public servants at the frontlines of the pandemic. Orders for pallets of sanitizer were coming from agencies and companies hundreds of miles away from his distillery – including the FBI, Department of State, and California Office of Emergency Services. “Some of my hand sanitizer was donated. The rest was sold at a fraction of the market price. My goal was to get as much out as I could, at as low of a price as I could, while being able to bring my furloughed employees back to work. The hand sanitizer business saved me from bankruptcy – but I didn’t make an enormous profit.” Whether a distillery produced 5 gallons or 5 million gallons doesn’t matter – all would have owed the FDA the $14,060 flat fee by Feb. 11. Even if the distillery donated every single drop of hand sanitizer, they would have been required to pay the $14,060 flat fee. In addition, if distill-

eries did not cancel their FDA facility registration by Dec. 31, 2020, only three days after the FDA’s announcement, they would have assessed an additional $14,060 fee for continuing operations in the year 2021. Even though Bergh saw the announcement on Monday, Dec. 28, he didn’t understand that it applied to his operations until Tuesday night, when he received clarification in an email from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the top public advocacy group for the spirits industry. “Per the FDA Over-The-Counter Monograph User Fee Program (OMUFA) webpage, these fees do apply to facilities that manufacture or process hand sanitizers under the Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products During the Public Health Emergency (COVID-19) Guidance for Industry,” wrote Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary Courtney Armour. A month ago, Bergh was contacted by an FDA inspector who audited his hand sanitizer production records. Bergh learned that many other distilleries in his state were receiving random audits as well. “I respect and appreciate the FDA’s efforts to keep the public safe by making sure people aren’t marketing defective products. I would have understood if they were following up on complaints but selecting random law-abiding distilleries to visit during the resurgence of the toughest wave of the pandemic and business closures is unreasonable.” Bergh said when the FDA inspector asked specific questions relating to the value of the hand sanitizer that was being made. “I thought it was odd he wanted to know how much I made, how much I sold it for, and the value of the hand sanitizer I still had on-hand. Now it seems to me that they were trying to assess how big the pie was so they could determine how big of a slice they could take.” However, following immense public backlash, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on Monday, Jan. 4, that they have ordered the FDA to reverse its decision to

Aaron Bergh, owner of Calwise Spirits Co. in Paso Robles converted his distillery into a hand sanitizer manufacturing facility due to the shortage in March 2020 at the start of the Pandemic. Contributed Photos

impose a last-minute $14,060 tax on emergency manufacturers of hand sanitizer. “The FDA’s announcement at the beginning of this week was set to wipe out our holiday-season profit,” Bergh said. “Because the people rallied around us and spoke out, we found ourselves the recipients of a New Year’s miracle.” When Bergh received the news, he spoke out to several news publications, and the story went viral. It soon gained coverage in every mainstream media outlet. It attracted the attention and rage of concerned citizens and even some members of congress. After roughly 24 hours, the HHS announced it was taking action to prevent the FDA from enacting the fees. Even though the HHS has ordered the FDA to retract the fee, the FDA has not yet stated its intentions to follow through, according to Bergh. For distillers, there are still many questions that remain to be answered. “Although the fee is supposed to be waived for 2020 operations, it appears distillers will still be charged if they continued operating past Jan. 1, which includes selling any current inventory. Are distillers that deregistered to avoid fees going to have to take a loss on their current inventory that is now rendered unsellable?” Bergh questions.

HHS Director Brian Harrison’s statement asserts that leadership was unaware of the plan to enact the exorbitant fee and would have never authorized such an action. “Perhaps Director Harrison did not authorize this, but it’s clear that someone in a high-ranking leadership role at the HHS or FDA did,” says Bergh. For now, it looks like distillers can rest easy knowing they don’t have a $14,060 bill to pay and can focus on the more pressing matters that the new year will bring. “I’m grateful the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and American Craft Spirits Association were tirelessly advocating on our behalf with the federal government. I think the result of this story is proof that people can make a difference at the grassroots level. Ultimately, this would not have changed without the outcry and support from the general public. Thank you to all who stood up for small businesses like us – your voices were clearly heard.” Bergh shared.

About Calwise Spirits Co.

As one of the youngest master distillers in the world, proprietor Aaron Bergh has created a line of premium spirits that embody the essence of the Golden State. Visit CalwiseSpirits.com


Morro Bay Life • February 2021 • 9

Making Communities Better Through Print™

COMMUNITY

The Coming Attraction? ‘For Sale’ By NEIL FARRELL For Morro Bay Life

I

t’s a marquee message you’ve probably never seen on a movie theater; instead of the name of the latest blockbuster, the Bay Theater in Morro Bay’s marquee reads, “For Sale.” Mary Lou Jannopoulos has owned the Bay Theater for the past 25 years. Her late-husband Jim originally bought the Bay in 1973 from Ruth and Ted Morris. The Army Corps of Engineers built the beautiful theater with its majestic gigantic wooden beams and trusses in 1942, when Morro Bay was an amphibious training base for World War II. G.I’s were among the Bay’s first customers. The Bay Theater is the last single-screen, storefront theater, still exclusively showing movies in San Luis Obispo County and the only movie screen on the North Coast. (Yes, the Fremont in SLO is still open but is now mainly used for live music shows.) Jannopoulos is just heart-broken over the decision to sell and said she held out as long as she could during the pandemic closures that started last March and brought her business to a screeching halt. She has been running the Bay since 1995, with her two daughters-in-law, Heather and Denise, helping manage the Bay. Actually, Mrs. Jannopoulos said they mainly run it, as she was down to working just a couple of days a week before they had to close.

The pandemic response shut down the business, but the bills didn’t stop; with utilities, business license fees, health department fees, and more, she had to dig deep into her personal savings to stay afloat. But even though the State is starting to ease off the lockdown brakes, the movie business has changed dramatically in the past several years. Mrs. Jannopoulos explained that just ten years ago, the studios took 35 percent of the gate but now their cut is 65 percent. They also require theaters to run their films for a minimum of 4 weeks, which in a place like Morro Bay is undoable except with the biggest movie hits. And perhaps the most troubling change has been studios that are now releasing movies to streaming services simultaneously with theaters, perhaps reflecting this younger generation’s obsession with their phones. So with the pandemic, the film industry changes, and increased employee costs have the Jannopoulos Family ready to move on. She’s listing the theater at $1.5 million, which in a town like Morro Bay where a 3-bedroom house can top $1 million, seems like a real bargain. “That’s why there is so much activity [with potential buyers],” she said. “Because I’m practically giving it away.” The Bay Theater should sell quickly, not just because of the low price, but because it is truly in great shape, “turn-key,” as all three Jannopoulos girls said. “I hope it’s kept as an entertainment source,” said Mrs. Jannopoulos. She knows how much the little theater has meant

EDUCATION

The marquee at the Bay Theater has an unusual message these days, ‘For Sale’. Photo by Neil Farrel

to the community. It’s been a good life for the family and given countless local teenagers their first real jobs. “As a family running it,” Mrs. Jannopoulos laughed, “we didn’t get rich, I can tell ya.” She said the theater was very profitable up to 2020, and over the years, they’ve put much of the money back into the business toward achieving her goal of providing the community a theater they can be comfortable in and proud of. Much talk has taken place in online forums like “Next Door Morro Bay,” where commenters have recalled fond memories they have of the Bay Theater. “It breaks my heart to have to sell it,” Jannopoulos said. “I hope it’s kept as an entertainment source. We’ve spent all these years here. I’ve loved it.”

THE WRITING SUPPORT GROUP

A Year Like No Other

JIM BRESCIA, Ed.D County Superintendent of Schools

A

ccording to Google, the three most highly searched words/phrases during 2020 were election results, Coronavirus, and Kobe Bryant. A quick review of the Google Trends for 2020 will inform historians that 2020 was a year like no other to this generation. COVID-19 enveloped all aspects of life and education in California. The pandemic uprooted families, forced the conversion of bedrooms into classrooms, restricted in-person social gatherings, and prevented the daily student interactions we traditionally embraced. Today we measure the daily rhythms of school in learning loss and screen time. Along with the distance learning challenges 2020 presented, we faced fires, public protests, election challenges, new California higher education leaders, and the repulsive violent actions against the United States Capitol. This month’s article is my review of how 2020 disrupted and transformed California schools, focusing on our dedicated public servants. On March 5, a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a state of emergency, a few California schools stopped in-person instruction, which was the start of California schools transitioning to distance instruction. During the early hours of Sunday, March 8, our home phone rang, and all 58 county superintendents were summoned to Sacramento to meet with the Governor for a briefing on COVID-19 specific to schools. On Friday, March 13, while hosting our monthly superintendent’s council for the district, charter, college, and university leaders in our county, mobile phones began to vibrate throughout the room. Each school leader was being called back to emergency meetings with their governing boards, almost as if we were characters in a science fiction or thriller movie, all receiving the same message. “REPORT BACK TO HEADQUARTERS IMMEDIATELY.” What followed were disappointments and missed timelines as school leaders struggled to follow COVID19 protocols, continue providing educational services, adapting to a shifting landscape, and preparing for mid-year budget reductions. 2020 began with Governor Newsom’s optimistic budget projections that drastically changed in June, with billions in budget cuts to higher education and state funding deferrals for K-12. This news was followed by larger than expected tax revenues and a strong stock

market that lessened the education blow. Additionally, Congress passed COVID-19 relief legislation in March and again in December, helping education start 2021 on a more stable fiscal footing. Unfortunately, districts across California, including several in our county, face a future of growing austerity and have reduced program offerings because of prior budget shortfalls compounded by the pandemic. The savings from reduced travel and building operations have lessened the cuts, and many of our districts will adapt practices to maintain fiscal stewardship moving forward. 2020 presented the world of higher education with two new leaders taking charge of the state’s university systems. In July, the University of California regents named Michal V. Drake to succeed Janet Napolitano as president of the University of California. In September, the California State University trustees selected Fresno State President Joseph Castro to replace the retiring Chancellor Timothy White. Together with Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges, and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, for the first time, all four of California’s public education systems will be led by people of color. 2020 also impacted our childcare centers that operate on thin margins, with underpaid staff. Childcare has continued to provide services throughout the pandemic at reduced capacity with the support of donations and emergency funding. Childcare centers and all other educational agencies received Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and assistance with ongoing COVID-19 testing practices. We are hopeful that with the additional funds Congress and our state budget have added, childcare may not only maintain services but implement long-term gains. Locally, First 5 SLO, CAPSLO, Cuesta College, Trust Automation, the Childcare Planning Council, several cities, county government, my office, and several other agencies are continuing the dialogue about childcare’s economic importance. During the first month of 2021, schools across San Luis Obispo County implemented additional in-person services and continued to plan to increase operations as conditions permit. One parent described in a detailed email the first month of distance education feeling like an “explosion at the kitchen table.” Understanding these sentiments, families, educators, support staff, and community members have all stepped in to assist during these difficult times. Our community manifests a “Can Do” spirit and is rising to meet the challenge. Everyone hopes that we can return to schools, friends, and normalcy as soon as possible. As our community vaccination continues, I am confident that we will move forward, continue to increase in-person services, and look back on 2020 as a year like no other. It is an honor to serve as your county superintendent of schools. Thank you, San Luis Obispo County, for doing your part.

Five Helpful Writing Tips, Part 2 By PATRICIA ALEXANDER For Morro Bay Life

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’m back with another five writing tips for anyone who needs some encouragement and direction, no matter what their project. Here is some practical wisdom from my 45 years of writing and editing: 1. Allow Your Inner Writer a Voice. Writing is just talking, but with a specific purpose and personality. Getting published doesn’t make you a writer; being a human with thoughts, feelings and the ability to learn does. Your willingness to allow your inner writer out - or not – is what makes the difference. 2. Choose the Tool That Works For You. Computer? Pad of paper? Dictation? Don’t waste time letting this choice stop you; if it gets ideas out of your brain, it works. Paper or dictation may require more steps to ultimately get it on a computer and edited, but so what? It’s worth it! 3. For Clarity, Organize Your Thoughts. Organizing doesn’t dampen creativity; it frees it. You may start out with just a concept or paragraph, but eventually, you’ll want to start a casual outline or at least working chapter titles. This will give you an overview that you can change or rearrange as you go…or return to if you lose your way. 4. Do Your Homework. If you’re writing fiction, start writing character backgrounds with abundant details, even though they may never be in the final piece. As a creator, you need to understand your characters’ motivations, relationships, and backstories. If you’re writing non-fiction, you need to understand who your readership is and how what you’re writing will enhance their lives differently than other books/essays/articles out there. 5. Don’t Freak If Other Writers Got There First. If your chosen genre is full to bursting or someone else has your title or concept, relax and look at it this way: You have your own unique spin and style that can never be duplicated. Other writer’s successes prove there’s an audience for your version, while if there’s nothing like your concept, your project’s time has come. Follow your passion, not your fear… and go for it! Patricia Alexander has led limited-attendance Writing Support Groups for decades in her home and now on Zoom. A local writer, editor, columnist, and the award-winning co-author of The Book of Comforts: Simple, Powerful Ways to Comfort Your Spirit, Body & Soul, Patricia follows her passion to encourage and guide other writers.


10 • February 2021 • Morro Bay Life

Making Communities Better Through Print™

REMEMBERING A LEGACY

Richard ‘Dick’ Nock, Remembering a Local a Legacy Nock was named Cattlemen of the Year in 1979; the list of all his accomplishments is almost endless

By CAMILLE DEVAUL of Morro Bay Life

O

n a chilly morning in Cayucos, California, some long time friends sat around a fire on their friend’s ranch. With polenta being stirred and stew warming in a pot, they laughed and shared memories of a man who will never be forgotten. On paper, Richard “Dick” Leo Nock was a cattle rancher, a beef industry advocate, livestock entrepreneur, and Army Veteran. For those who knew him personally, Nock was a lover of splitting eggs, having a horn, handing out nicknames, and most of all, cattle. There were also many things Nock wasn’t a fan of. For instance, half-empty soda cans or slamming the door on his Jeep Cherokee-because it wasn’t a ranch vehicle! But when it came down to it, Nock was a good-natured man. Jo-Ann Switzer said, “Since Dick passed, there’s been lots of phone calls from people all over saying how much he did for them, and they would not be where they are today if it wasn’t for him helping-he really had a heart of gold underneath.” Nock was born and raised on the Phelan Ranch in Cambria, California, where his great-grandfather, Jeffrey Phelan, settled in 1858 after immigrating from Ireland. Growing up, Nock worked on the Fiscalini Ranch. And for a short time, when he was 14, Nock worked at Hearst Castle for the big man himself, William Randolph Hearst. However, his time at Hearst didn’t last, and long story short, it ended with a broken nose! After graduating with a B.S. in Economics from the University of Santa Clara in 1953, Nock served in the U.S. Army as an Army Aviator from 1953-1957.

It was then that Nock served with the U.S. Armed Forces in Korea and next as a flight instructor in the U.S. Army Aviation School in Fort Rucker, Alabama. Nock then returned home and served as a Logistics Officer for the United States Property and Fiscal Office (USPFO) at Camp San Luis from 1959 to 1966. Under his father-in-law Henry Gilardi’s guidance, Nock started his cow/calf operation in Cayucos in 1957 and created his T-Diamond Cattle brand. In 1966, Nock went headstrong into the livestock industry with the purchase of the Templeton Sales Yard, the epitome of livestock and everything he loved. “We’ve all had something to do with the sales yard at one time in the last 20 years-he’d find something for us to do,” said Nock’s long time ranch manager, Jessie Renteria. Then, Claude Loftus laughed, saying, “If you were involved with Nock, you were forced to work at the sales yard at least one weekend.” Nock could almost always be found at the sales yard, whether in the “crows nest” or splitting an egg in Hoover’s Beef Palace. Pete Clark said, “Dick’s other major passion was the Templeton Sales Yard. When they decided to tear that down, that next to killed him.” Ahead of his time, Nock established the SLOCO Fed Beef in 1974, a first of its kind cattlemen to consumer type operation. The operation was the first and only in California with a fully integrated beef production and marketing facility. In 1989, Nock joined the Clark Company in Paso Robles, where he worked closely with Pete Clark. “When Dick was with me in the real estate deal, we would get a ranch sold, and somehow

he was always the first in line to lease it,” Clark said with a laugh. While Nock worked for the Clark Company, his cow/calf operation continued to grow, consisting of 4,500 acres on three ranches in Cayucos, Morro Bay, and Cambria, CA, with grow and feed cattle in Colorado and Nebraska. Nock’s passion for the beef industry led him to serve on many boards, including the California Cattlemen’s Association and the historic “Osos Club.” He even advocated for beef on a national level with good friend John Lacey. “He loved telling people why they needed to eat beef, and this is where it came from-that was his passion, convincing people that beef was the way to be,” said Loftus. In 1979, Nock was named Cattlemen of the Year by the San Luis Obispo Cattlemen’s Association, and the list of all his accomplishments is almost endless. But one of his proudest endeavors was organizing the Jr. Livestock Support Club in 1970, which served as a price balancing device for 4-H and FFA kids auctioning livestock at the California Mid-State Fair (CMSF). Along with the support club, Nock was instrumental in establishing the fair’s first Farmers’ and Ranchers’ Day and the replacement heifer project. “That was Dick’s passion, 4-H kids and cows. It kinda brought everything together for him,” said Loftus. Because of Nock, CMSF was the first to implement the replacement heifer project, which many fairs across the state followed in suit. Nock was a past President of the National Livestock Marketing Association. In 1980 he held the national convention on the Central Coast, and for the first time, the World Champion Auction was held on the West Coast at the

Templeton Livestock Market. The event pulled in people from around the world, and 4500 head of cattle were auctioned on contest day! For many years, Nock was partners with John Lacey on the Santa Margarita Ranch and other ventures. He was fortunate enough to run cattle on some of the largest and most elite ranches in the area, including the Chimineas Ranch off Highway 166. Nock was a mentor to countless cattlemen and cattlewomen locally and across the nation. He impacted countless generations, and to the date of his passing, many of the SLO County Cattlemen’s Association kids flocked to Nock when they saw him. Dick Nock was a unique man and true to himself. With a cigar, he seldom smoked, in his mouth and scotch in his hand, Nock never failed to put a smile on friends and family’s faces. His bewildering nicknames and even more interesting euphemisms are only part of what he leaves behind. Nock is survived by his wife of 65 years, Yvonne Gilardi Nock, his daughters, Brandelyn Tronstad (Tom) Marque’ Nock Molodanof ( Jack) and Bretta Nock, granddaughters, Nicole Tronstad (Adam), Olivia, Sofia, Yvonna; a great-grandson Julien, his sister, Patricia Marlo, nieces Kimber Collins, Kami Davis, Bridgit Karo, and nephew Jock Marlo. In honor of Nock’s memory and many contributions to agriculture, a special fund was created. Funds will be used to support 4-H and FFA beef members.

CONTRIBUTIONS CAN BE SENT TO:

The Dick Nock Memorial Fund C / O San Luis Obispo County Cattlemen Association, P.O. Box 302, Paso Robles, CA 93447 Richard Leo Nock September 3, 1931 - December 28, 2020 San Luis Obispo, California


Making Communities Better Through Print™

Morro Bay Life • February 2021 • 11


12 • February 2021 • Morro Bay Life

Making Communities Better Through Print™

Looking Toward New Beginnings for 2021 The market is still very active and your home may be worth more than you think! If you are on the fence now is a great time to make a change. G ISTIN L NEW

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Morro Bay Life • February 2021  

Everything Morro Bay

Morro Bay Life • February 2021  

Everything Morro Bay