I recently realized that it had been a while since I recognized a “Community Hero” here in Atascadero. However, it’s never too late to honor a person who does good things. This week, I want to honor our Police Chief, Jerel Haley, who will be retiring in October.

Barbie Butz e1577383874121
Barbie Butz

Chief Haley has given back to this community in so many ways beyond his job as Atascadero Chief of Police. One of his greatest performances may have been with Dancing With Our Stars in 2014 when he danced the hula to Honey Bun from the musical “South Pacific.” His version of the dance had the audience laughing, cheering and clapping for more. As a result of his “moves,” he won the “People’s Choice Award.” Well deserved, Jerel, and I hope Hawaii will be ready for your interpretation of its famous dance when you retire there!

So, Chief Jerel, you are my “Community Hero.” Thank you for working to keep us safe here in Atascadero. You will certainly be missed around here.

Speaking of honoring people for their excellent work, there will be a Memorial Service on July 24, at 11 a.m., at the Atascadero Faces of Freedom Memorial, for Leroy Dodge. He was a founding member of the Memorial. A reception will follow at Atascadero Gospel Chapel on the corner of Atascadero Avenue and Curbaril.


Please RSVP for the reception to Bob Wilkins or Joyce Wilkins at 805-466-0730. It is requested that those who attend wear a face covering.

Dodge was born on Feb. 26, 1927, in Fargo, N.D. He passed away on March 30, 2020.

He graduated from Atascadero High School in 1945 and joined the Navy. In 2019, he was recognized in our area as Veteran of the Year.

The Veterans Memorial Foundation was created in April 2006. Foundation members were retired, active duty, and reserve military, military family members, local and national corporate sponsors, community members, and the Memorial Sculptor, Mark Greenaway.

For more information about the Memorial, visit facesoffreedommemorial.org.

Have you noticed more American flags around town? Did you see the display of those beautiful flags across the end of the Sunken Gardens? I bet you don’t know the history of the placement of those flags.

Here’s another recognition of community people who do “good things.”

Twenty years ago, Lon and Eileen Allan decided that Atascadero should display the American flag for special holidays, like Memorial Day, the 4th of July, etc. They received permission from the City and went to work. Holes were provided at the end of the Sunken Gardens in the grass for the flag poles’ insertion. Lon and Eileen provided the flags and on the morning of a holiday, they would go down and place the flags. They collected them at the end of that holiday and stored them for future holidays.

Eileen passed away a few years ago, but Lon continues to place the flags. He does it because he cares about this country and he does it for the rest of us. It is patriotism at its best! Lon, thanks to you and Eileen for starting such a lovely tradition!

When I drive into town, I use Graves Creek Road and I also see more flags. Thank you, neighbors. I love it!

Have a nice weekend and stay cool.