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Atascadero Chamber of Commerce celebrates 100 years at gala 

Piper with crowd

Fourth-grader Piper Bonelli, Jr. CEO participant and owner of Piper’s Galactic Bakery, spoke as the voice of the future chamber.

Names of attendees will be captured in 100 Year Anniversary Time Capsule to be buried later this year

– Nearly 300 people attended the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner & Gala on Saturday at the Pavilion on the Lake in Atascadero. “Past, Present, and Forward” honored extraordinary individuals who are shaping Atascadero. The chamber recognized Phil Koziel, outgoing chair of the board of directors, and welcomed Jacque Fields, incoming chair.

Distinguished officials in attendance included California State Senator for District 17 John Laird, California District 19 Congressman Jimmy Panetta, California District 30 State Assemblywoman Dawn Addis, District 2 County Supervisor Bruce Gibson, Mayor Heather Moreno, Councilman Charles Bourbeau, Councilman Mark Dariz, Councilwoman Susan Funk, Councilwoman Heather Newsome, City Manager Rachelle Rickard, and Atascadero School Board Member Vy Pierce.

Grigger Jones, chairman of the board in the 1980s and active ever since, spoke about the early years of the chamber. Josh Cross, current President & CEO, shared present-day successes. And fourth-grader Piper Bonelli, Jr. CEO participant and owner of Piper’s Galactic Bakery, spoke as the voice of the future chamber.

Bonelli’s favorite thing about being a Jr. CEO was learning how to start and succeed in business. “It was fun figuring out what to sell, choosing a name, and creating a logo,” Bonelli said. “I encourage other kids to participate next year because they will enjoy working, selling, and making money. I netted $200 on Jr. CEO Business Day.”

Another Jr. CEO participant, Leland Wolfe, attended the gala and took photos of attendees throughout the evening. Emcee Jim Dantona, CEO of the SLO Chamber, led a live auction for these two Jr. CEOs and sold two packages for $2,500 each. Each package included 12 Galactic Bakery cookies, one whole pie, and a tableside photo shoot with up to eight instant photos by Leland. The Jr. CEOs will split 50% of the proceeds and the other 50% will go towards scholarships for the 2024 Jr. CEO program.

The chamber surprised Atascadero City Manager, Rachelle Rickard, who recently announced her retirement, with a special award as a token of appreciation for the countless hours she has devoted to making our community a better place.

Piper Bonelli

Piper Bonelli.

Chamber Ambassadors Chair Rosey Parks introduced Sue Hubbard as the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year, an award that recognizes an individual who has demonstrated exceptional dedication and commitment to the Chamber of Commerce and the local business community.

Assembly Person Dawn Addis presented the Community Organization of the Year award to Lighthouse Atascadero, a local grassroots organization that began in 2011 and offers valuable drug education, prevention, and intervention services. Donn Clickard and Lori Bagby accepted the award.

Atascadero Mayor Heather Moreno presented the Woman of Influence award to Kyla Skinner, owner of Specs by Kyla.

Larry Wysong, owner of Wysong Construction, earned the Lifetime Achievement Award but was unable to attend the event.

California District 19 Congressman Jimmy Panetta and last year’s Business of the Year Awards Winners Eric and Anna Olson of Central Coast Distillery presented Eric Peterson and Trevor LaSalle, owners of North County Restaurant Group, with the Business of the Year award.

Senator John Laird and last year’s Citizen of the Year Kevin Campion presented Mike Zappas with the Citizen of the Year award.

Dinner was catered by Cielo Restaurant and Chef Casey Walcott. An especially unique experience was sponsored by Diamond Dianne Consulting. Artist Amy Burkman, a professional live art entertainer, muralist, and commissioned artist, created a beautiful “speed-painting,” which was featured as the first item in the live auction. Auctioneer Todd Ventura auctioned off 11 luxurious packages to close the evening.

“We are extremely honored to gather together and celebrate such amazing individuals who impact our community each and every day,” said Josh Cross, president and CEO. “The chamber has been on an incredible journey this last year and we look forward to serving the business community for 100 more years.”


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