South County Chambers of Commerce is pleased to announce the winners of the local awards for “Citizen of the Year,” “Ken Talley Youth Service Award,” and “Business of the Year” for South San Luis Obispo County. The winners will be acknowledged at the Chamber’s 60th Anniversary Annual Dinner & Recognition Awards on January 22 at Loriana, 500 West Ormonde Rd., in San Luis Obispo.

The Citizen of the Year Award is the highest honor bestowed by South County Chambers of Commerce. This award recognizes outstanding and unselfish contributions to the South County community. Five local citizens are recognized for the Citizen of the Year Award. Each one represents a community of South County: Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Nipomo, Oceano, and Pismo Beach.

An additional honor, the Ken Talley Youth Service Award, recognizes an individual for outstanding contributions to youth in South County. The award includes a $1,000 grant to the local youth organization of their choice.

The Business of the Year Award recognizes one business for all South San Luis Obispo County who has contributed significantly to strengthening the South County economy, community, and workforce.

Linda Vleit: 2019 Citizen of the Year for Arroyo Grande

Linda Vleit is a very active community volunteer with a pink Cadillac called “Pinnkky” and an affection for all things Elvis. She earned the title of July Rotarian of the Month earlier this year for her involvement with the Arroyo Grande Rotary Club. Linda serves on the Board of the Five Cities Women’s Network and as Chair of the South County Chambers of Commerce Ambassador Committee. She is a woman on the go who is constantly involved with many local nonprofits and is a regular donor for Vitalant blood drives. She is a committee member for Welcome Home Military Heroes and a founding Board member of the Children’s Discovery Center of the Central Coast. She serves on the Board for Grover Beach United and as a Board member for Meals on Wheels. Linda served on the organizing committee of Relay for Life for 14 years, chaired the last three years, and is consistently a top fundraiser. Many know her for gifts of time and kindness including chocolate-covered peanuts. Her business, Linda Vleit Insurance Services, helps clients with Medicare.

Tom Rehder: 2019 Citizen of the Year for Grover Beach

Tom Rehder is an owner of Mongo’s Saloon/3 Fat Guys restaurant in Grover Beach. He is the President and Treasurer of Grover Beach United, a community organization devoted to promoting prosperity and improving the quality of life for the citizens and visitors of Grover Beach. They bring together concerned citizens, business owners, city officials, and others who have a vested interest in improving the community of Grover Beach.

Jim Harrison: 2019 Citizen of the Year for Nipomo

Jim Harrison is a Community Services Director for the Rotary Club of Nipomo. He has helped with the Nipomo Community Thanksgiving, Fourth of July parade, and Thompson Road cleanup. Jim served on the Nipomo Community Services District for eight years. Jim is also instrumental for Ride Nipomo to maintain a horse enthusiast community, preserving riding trails and developing new ones. He is committed and involved as planning commissioner of San Luis Obispo County with District 4 Supervisor Lynn Compton.

Gail Marshall: 2019 Citizen of the Year for Oceano

Gail Marshall lived in Oceano since the late 1970s. During that time, she helped launch the first ATV business and later started her own business, Arnie’s ATV Rentals—a woman-owned business for 29 years. Longtime friend Linda Austin describes Gail as someone who would “do anything for anyone.” She raised funds for breast cancer survivors and volunteers with Friends of Oceano Dunes. Gail has consistently supported community fundraisers over the years in a generous way and has remained an asset to Oceano.

Myraline Morris Whitaker: 2019 Citizen of the Year for Pismo Beach

Myraline Morris Whitaker, Principal of Central Coast of California Hospitality, LLC (CCCH), creates an inclusive, diverse work environment for over 80 employees in Pismo Beach, including staff at SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel and Inn at the Cove. She is known for her diversity role in the hotel industry and community. Her business consistently appears on the Pacific Coast Business Times’ List of Top 10 Minority-Owned Businesses and Top 20 Women-Owned Businesses. Her work will be featured in San Luis Obispo’s Race Matters exhibit called “Belongings,” beginning February 1, 2020. The archives of her nonprofit, Sister Soldier Project, are housed in the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. She also is a member of the Diversity Coalition San Luis Obispo County, a Community Member of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s Black Faculty and Staff Association, the NAACP, and a Board Member of California Lodging Industry Association.  

Cloacina: 2019 Business of the Year for South San Luis Obispo County

Located in Arroyo Grande, Cloacina is a manufacturer and purveyor of package wastewater treatment plants and industry equipment. Cloacina was selected for its quality craftsmanship, product ingenuity, environmental protection, generational continuity, and overall economic support to South County by providing employment and a strong, stable business at their manufacturing facility. Cloacina was recently recognized by the Pacific Coast Business Times as the second fastest growing company in the Tri-Counties with 381% growth in 2018. The company is owned and managed by a family of licensed operators and maintenance mechanics, now four generations deep.

Paul Corr: 2019 Ken Talley Youth Service Award

Paul Corr has been serving as the lead mentor of the Arroyo Grande High School Eagles Robotics team, First Team 1388 Eagle Robotics, for over six years. He started with the team over 11 years ago and has served as a driving force behind the team alongside the students and other mentors. Fellow mentors for the program describe him as supportive of the students and critical to the robotics team. His teams include programming, public relations, fabrication, design, strategy, welding, and electrical components. There are currently 43 high school students involved with robotics ranging from freshmen to seniors.

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Tickets are still available for the Annual Dinner & Recognition Awards, and this event is open to the community. For more information, please call (805) 489-1488, or e-mail Register online at