ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual awards gala this past Saturday evening, honoring Atascadero’s Citizen of the Year, Business of the Year and many others. 

In addition, the event featured a dinner catered by Chef Charlie, live and silent auctions to benefit the chamber along with a cake auction, which was a new addition this year.

Atascadero Mayor Heather Moreno gave each of the awardees a moment of recognition, beginning with the chamber’s Organization of the Year, Parents for Joy. 

“The (Joy Playground) project brought a lot of positive attention to Atascadero and to our community,” Moreno said. 

Next up was the Ambassador of the Year Erin McDaniel, of the Holiday Inn & Suites, whom Moreno said never misses a chamber mixer or event. 

“She’s always willing to lend a hand when needed and always with a smile,” Moreno said. 

Local business owner Don Idler was named this year’s Lifetime Member of the chamber of commerce for his many accomplishments including being a chamber member since 1983, serving on the board of directors and being named Citizen of the Year in 2009. Moreno said that the decision was unanimous. 

“He’s donated time, treasure and talent to the chamber of commerce and the entire San Luis Obispo County Community,” she said. 

Housing and commercial developers Z Villages was honored as the Business of the Year. Moreno said that the company has created significant change in the downtown Atascadero area with its “beautiful La Plaza Project.” 

“This local, family business was not only selected for their contribution to the commercial sector,” Moreno said. “They’re active in our community, donating time and financial resources to many of our nonprofits. Z-Villages exemplifies the type of business that makes Atascadero flourish. 

Joanna and Shane Wemple were recognized as the Entrepreneurs of the Year for turning an old gas station into the Colony Market and Deli. 

“They took a big risk and turned a previously blighted property into a thriving community hub,” Moreno said. 

Introducing Terrie Banish, the 2019 Citizen of the Year, Moreno said that the part she played in hiring Banish as a deputy city manager at the City of Atascadero was “one of the best decisions I ever made.” 

“And we will never be the same,” she added. “Terrie goes beyond the call of duty, applying her entrepreneurial and marketing skills to build the City of Atascadero and Visit Atascadero brands. As a strong collaborator and a ‘roll up your sleeves and get it done’ kind of person. Terrie has worked tirelessly to create and improve a number of events, branding them and making them iconic to Atascadero.” 

The 2018 Citizen of the Year, Jeanie Malik, called Banish a “shining star in our community.” 

“She was not only the People’s Choice at Atascadero’s Dancing With Our Stars, but also a role model for kindness, integrity and brilliance, bringing innovative events to our city. Terrie’s incorporation of Dancing in the Streets and the Tamale Festival put Atascadero on the map for California tourism.” 

Banish is a San Miguel resident but she said that her family can attest that she spends most of her time in Atascadero. 

“I never thought I’d be up here today,” Banish said. “I don’t think I’m worthy of this but I gratefully accept.” 

Banish named a long list of people who she said helped to support her along the way and bring her vision for Atascadero to life. 

“This work was only possible because of Atascadero’s amazingly terrific business community and our residents,” she said. “It’s been a privilege to work for and will all of you and I will continue to strive to promote our wonderful city.” 

Getting through this together, Atascadero