Time for Change Again- Commentary Today Based on Stepping Up Column in 2006-7 in The Bay News…

Editor’s Back-Story: For a brief time — 2006-07 — it appears, Heather Osgood, then publisher of The Bay News invited me to serve as publisher. It was then owned by the Colhouer family. Heather and Lani Colhouer had developed a partnership to produce what has grown to be the highly successful Inspired Home & Health Expos at Madonna Plaza and the Paso Robles Event Center in 2019. Obviously their budding ownership was taking off and Heather needed to focus elsewhere.

It meant I needed to give up reporting to take on the duties of the publisher — mainly find a productive sales rep to fund the product or do it myself, manage the staff of three, and produce a weekly paper even if it meant staying well into the night to send to the printer. I had great support from the family, but it meant giving up regular reporting which I loved.

However, periodically, I found time to write a community commentary, which in hindsight it was one of the community pieces published at just the right time that was the catalyst for an offer to write my By the Bay column in the SLO Tribune literally the day we closed the Morro Bay office since Bret and Lani Colhouer merged to create Tolosa Press. But that’s another story for another time.

Now in 2019-20 as the current Morro Bay City Council work on current goal setting with new council members led by Mayor John Headding and a fairly new city manager in place, Scott Collins, Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce has established a Governmental Review Committee (GRC) and is working side-by-side with the Tourism representatives.

And City Tourism has assumed production leadership of the Citywide Yard Sale realizing its attraction for a broader network of visitors. And both the Morro Bay Rotary Club and the Community radio station The Rock have created Saturday night events for community and visitors to attend after the Yard Sale neighbors have closed for the evening. April 4-6 is the Yard Sale at NO COST to the vendors to be on the map; Rotary’s 2nd annual crab feed is at the Community Center and The Rock’s Jam Concert is at the Veteran’s Hall.

I thought this flashback timely. Do things really change? I don’t believe positive change happens unless leadership, business and community members seek to work together. It happened briefly in 2006. I’m looking forward to seeing more sustainable fruits of collaboration happening again.

From The Bay News — 2006

Your Community – Stepping-Up  by Judy Salamacha, Publisher

Times, they are a-changing. While most of the changes are subtle they are often significant and noteworthy.

About 18 months ago, four Embarcadero business owners – Ed Biaginni, Stan Trapp, Paul Van Buerden, and Doug Redican – met to discuss what they could do collectively to bring more business to Morro Bay. They discovered the business community’s political strength once they determined their common direction and established a forum to voice concerns and support to elected representatives.

As tourism was currently the only viable industry, supporting events to increase tourism became the common direction.  A loosely structured Business Forum that was open to all began to meet weekly on Thursdays at 9am at Rose’s Landing upstairs. Chamber of Commerce Director Peter Candela was tasked with chairing the forum and offering topical speakers, yet all who attended had a voice, thus it became the methodology to share information and plan strategies.

Speaking out against and suggesting viable solutions with commitments to participate in each other’s event was the action taken. This group would be the last to take credit for the success of event planning in Morro Bay, however, utilizing the Business Forum as a collective body of individuals seeking community success, it is noteworthy that the Harbor Festival recovered from a $40,000 debt with a healthy bank account to plan 2007.

What the group should take credit for is creating a partnership between business and city leadership to implement a vision for a healthier economy through successfully planned and executed events.

And although the Morro Bay Kite Festival was the brightest star so far in 2007 for events held by the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce, Peter Candela recognized a critical changing community attitude at the Jazz Festival. Not only did the business community and the city support the concept and risks of consuming major public parking on the Embarcadero for a temporary festival staging area, but for the first time Peter saw more than the regular Chamber volunteers at the event.  Community members, city staff and elected officials were there not just attending an event for their own entertainment, but working the event to make it a success.

And if you missed the first edition of the season of Morro Bay Art Association’s Art In the Park, note it was bigger and better this year, but also recognize that again the city staff, elected officials, business supporter and the artists community collaborated with Morro Bay Beautiful to transform ten non-descript trash cans into beautiful works of art and recommend to our visitors they visit all the sites from Main Street to Morro Bay Blvd. to Tidelands Park to Market Street. When was the last time an event collaborated to have visitors visit all parts of the Morro Bay?  Oh!  The Morro Bay City-wide Garage Sale!

And when the Morro Bay Fire Department indicated they needed the community to step-up if we were interested in getting 40 teams and families from all over California to come for a fireman’s muster, a community committee joined forces to allow this event to return to Morro Bay after a hiatus of 20 years.

Times are subtly changing in Morro Bay through the coming together of community members collectively interested and willing to give their time, expertise, and even expendable dollars to build a new economy for the city. Each event has its own culture of community leadership to spark the idea, promote the benefits, reach out for sponsorship and welcome volunteer help.  Yet each time people cross-over to get involved beyond their specific interest area, it has allowed new community friendships and understanding.

If there is a day for community bonding and family fun, it has to be 4th of July.  For years the Chambers of Commerce in both Morro Bay and Cayucos have created an All-American family friendly day. There is music and games and sandcastles and parades and picnics and pancake breakfasts and barbecues all capped by a wonderful Fireworks display.  Yes, they have become tourist-driven community events, however, what Morro Bay has discovered in the last 18 months at the Business Forum is the real secret to making successful community events is not always the slick, well organized activities, it is the “feel-good time” for the visitor realizing they are in a special community where so many smiling residents work together and play together to host guests from afar.

Why not give your Chamber a call today and join the 4th of July family fun in your community. They need you and a successful community needs more smiling people to welcome and host our visitors so they continue to vacation here for the health and wealth of our economies.

 

 

 

 

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A Rare Travel Story

Editor’s Note: My first paying job was in high school –15-going on 16. That summer, I was in summer school at Bakersfield High School taking typing in the morning and my friend’s (Bette Lou Kane) father was the publisher of THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN He got me the job taking classified advertisements in the afternoons until I could be full time once summer school was over. However, it was Mr. Partridge, my immediate boss,  who literally taught me how to type, requiring I type the ads directly from the phone conversation with the client instead of writing it out and then typing. Somehow I did it, but that’s another story maybe for another time.

The job I really wanted was upstairs in the newsroom, but it took a career of teaching 4th graders, then high school English, then radio, TV, etc. etc. and moving to the Central Coast before I worked for a newspaper writing stories about the people and events that happened in Morro Bay, Cayucos and Los Osos.

Early in my journalistic career my husband and I vacationed in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire. I was excited about finally writing for the newspaper and picked up all the local free papers along the way to glean ideas. I was working for The Bay News at the time in Morro Bay and found a way to adapt our vacation to my new home town.

Might Morro Bay’s Sister City Be Kennebunkport, MN  By Judy Salamacha

Central Coast to East Coast – from sea to shining sea – people and places are so different yet so much alike.  While traveling the south-central coast of Maine recently, I noticed a New England accent couldn’t disguise the parallel lives shared by new friends met with friends back home on the Central Coast.  In particular I found three individuals that instantly reminded me of a Morro Bay counterpart.

Named the “Best Family Restaurant on the Maine South Coast,”Mike’s Clam Shack and Fish Market is located in Wells, MN.  Owner Mike McDermott has been in the family business forever and his philosophy and operations reminded me of Giovanni’s Fresh Fish Market.  Not just because Gio was awarded by the Morro Bay Harbor Festival “Best Clam Chowder” for three year’s running, but both Mike and Gio are popular with locals and tourists. Both pride themselves on featuring fresh fish and family friendly prices.  Walk in either restaurant and you’ll hear “Where’s Mike?” – “Can I talk to Gio?”

Mike has expanded four times growing from a 20X20 clam shack serving 125 on a good night to over 2,000 a night at the height of the summer season.  Gio is currently expanding again and likely serves almost as many on a good summer day.  Mike buys fresh daily at the Portland fish market, while Gio often buys direct from the fisherman right off his dock.  Mike and Gio cater to locals, who in turn recommend their restaurants to tourists.  Mike’s Clam Shack is well known for their Haddock & Chips, Lobster Rolls and, or course, like Gio, award-winning Clam Chowder.

Then there was Harbor Master Lee McCurdy of Cape Porpoise Harbor in Kennebunkport.  Like Morro Bay’s Harbor Master Rick Algert, McCurdy manages the dock and reports to the local advisory board.  Both supervise the harbor patrol and harbor leases. McCurdy handles the fisherman’s day-to-day off-loading of lobster traps while Algert is more involved in harbor management.

Although lobster fishing is still going strong in Maine, legislation is continually hampering the working fisherman. Both McCurdy and Algert are advocates for the shrinking number of fisherman still trying to survive in an overly regulated environment.  Just as Morro Bay’s fisherman continually fight for their right to fish, so it was with the latest issue for the lobster fishermen.   Due to two incidents of whale entanglements in the last couple of years, the fisherman might have to re-engineer their float ropes at thousands of dollars to the fisherman.

McCurdy, a former gill netter, enjoys being close to the water and industry without his livelihood tied to the sea, but with shrinking numbers of fisherman in his harbor he, like Algert, share concerns about life as they’ve known it.

The Noonan family was a local dynasty reminding me of the Tognazzinis. Richard Noonan, like Mark Tognazzini was a fisherman’s fisherman.  Richard works 800 lobster traps. Richard’s daily catch went directly to their restaurant, Noonan’s Lobster Hut, in Kennebunkport, just as Mark fishes for Tognazzini’s Dockside Restaurant when allowed to fish.  And just like the Tognazzinis, the entire Noonan family, including the patriarchs George Noonan or Wilmer Tognazzini, is involved in the restaurant.  And just like Mark, Richard works closely with other fisherman promoting fishing and consumption of fresh-caught fish and seafood in Maine and on the Central Coast of California.

Hoping to continue the family tradition Richard’s son, John, loved lobstering with his dad. He had just completed his first full year with his own traps and it was a good year.  At age 20, he hoped he could survive in the business, but was realistic enough to take construction management at the community college just in case times got leaner.  Another son, Ben, was a master boat mechanic.  His biggest client was the Secret Service based at former President Bush’s Kennebunkport estate.

Sister-city programs foster sharing commonalities and better business practices. The Central Coast could learn some tricks of the tourist trade from Maine’s tourism-based communities. Maine has many more than the two lighthouses in San Luis Obispo County, Maine, however, has preserved, protected and endowed their lighthouses in order to attract the tourists by car, tour bus, trolley or harbor cruise.  Portland alone offered multiple harbor cruises with picture-perfect views of five lighthouses.

Both coastal communities had a familiar variety of gift shops, shirt shops, art galleries, and nautical museums. One entrepreneur we visited had found his niche. The Lighthouse Store in Wells attracted busloads of tourists, which had basically the same products for sale as Central Coast gift shops, but it was marketed on-line and around the tourist communities as the “ultimate lighthouse destination” boasting 12,000 lighthouse products.  Tourists had to stop just to see if the shop really had 12,000 lighthouses.

Like Morro Bay, Maine had harbor dinner cruise vessels similar to Morro Bay’s Papagallo II or The Chablis.  Whale watching and sport fishing tours were comparable to Virg’s Landing.

However, the Central Coast might be missing one cruise opportunity.  Non-fisherman, most likely tourists, pay the lobster captains big bucks for a chance to crew on a lobster boat.  On the other hand, not this land-lubber. No, thank you,

In fact, Gio or Mark, can you take the lobster meat out of the shell before serving me, please?