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Local News

Santa Maria Chamber Honors Top Citizens, Business

Banquet at Elks Lodge draws large crowd to honor Community Bank of Santa Maria, Bob Hatch and Joni Gray

A longtime public servant, a homegrown bank and a veteran volunteer were recognized Wednesday night by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The 95th annual awards and installation banquet was held at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge with approximately 300 people in attendance. 

Former county supervisor Joni Gray was presented Robert F. Grogan Award for Public Service, retired chamber leader Robert “Bob” Hatch was given the Citizen of the Year Award and Community Bank of Santa Maria was named the Business of the Year. 

Officials also announced that the Citizen of the Year Award will forever bear Hatch’s name.

James “Jim” D. Glines and Janet Silveria accepted the award on behalf of the local bank they helped start as mergers made large financial institutions, and eliminated those that started on the Central Coast.

Glines, a fifth-generation Santa Maria, was former executive vice president of Bank of Santa Maria. He approached William “Bill” A. Hares, former president of Bank of Santa Maria, about forming a new bank with the goal of delivering hometown banking spirit to Santa Maria area residents.

Silveria, who also had worked for Bank of Santa Maria, joined them.

Community Bank of Santa Maria opened for business on March 1, 2001. 

Hares serves as chairman of the board, while Glines is chief executive officer and Silveria is president and chief operating officer.

The bank has $200 million in assets and 50 employees who work in offices in Santa Maria and Orcutt plus a division Lompoc Community Bank.

From the beginning, Community Bank of Santa Maria had a strong sense of community, Glines said.

“We’ve always had a very strong corporate conscience,” Glines said.

In accepting the award in a room that represented the “epitome of local business in Santa Maria,” Glines noted that he is distressed when he hears people talk about shopping online. Local businesses are where sports teams and other organizations go for support, not those online merchants, he noted.

“Shop local,” Glines said, drawing applause from the crowd.

Hatch’s honor came on the heels of his retirement in June as the chamber executive director/chief executive officer.

While announcing the creation of the Robert P. Hatch Citizen of the Year Award, presenter Jim Diani said the chamber board of directors decided to honor and recognize his commitment to the organization.

“The naming of this award after Bob is not a token appreciation,” Diani said. “This honor is bestowed as an example for those who follow as to the attributes necessary to qualify a candidate for recognition.”

Those attributes include patriotism, integrity, professionalism, commitment, vision, sense of humor, generosity, community involvement and more, Diani said.

Chamber officials noted that in addition to his normal duties, Hatch demonstrated his philosophy of giving back to the community by serving on various boards and commission.

He is a long-time member of the Orcutt Union School District board, and he has served as the chairman of the Santa Maria Valley Economic Development Commission, chairman of the Northern Santa Barbara County Energy Watch Partnership, chairman of the St. Joseph High School Principal’s Advisory Board, and was named Chairman Emeritus of the Central Coast Development Corporation. 

He also co-founded the Freedom Monument Veterans Memorial to recognize fallen military members.

Gray, who served on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors for 12 years, was recognized for a lifetime of public service.

“It really truly doesn’t seem like service to me,” Gray said. “It just seems like an honor, a deep honor to represent this community. It’s just special.”

A former teacher at Santa Maria High and Allan Hancock College, Gray spent 10 years on the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District school board, acted as County Schools Superintendent Bill Cirone’s administrative assistant, worked for then-county Supervisor Harrell Fletcher, and unsuccessfully ran for Assembly, losing in the June 1994 Republican primary to eventual winner Tom Bordonaro.

She spent two years on the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission before another door opened. In 1998, Gov. Pete Wilson picked Gray to fill the 4th District supervisor vacancy created when the incumbent, Tim Staffel, was appointed judge.

This was a big year for the Chamber of Commerce, which saw Hatch retire after 20 years leading the Santa Maria Valley’s leading business organization. He was replaced by Glenn Morris, who came from a stint leading the Visalia Chamber of Commerce in Tulare County.

New officers also were installed for the organization’s board, which will be led by Chairman Tim Ritchie, Home Motors.

Other members are Chairman Elect / Treasurer: Eddie Murray, Morgan Stanley; Vice Chairman: Cameron Stephens, SM Tire; Vice Chairman: Ed Carcarey, Mega 97.1; and  Past Chairman: Donna Randolph, State Farm.

Randolph also unveiled the new Chairman’s Award, to recognize a volunteer in the organization. The first recipient was Carolyn McCall.

During the event, George Majoue was named the Chamber of Commerce’s Ambassador of the Year, for his dedication in participating in some 70 out of 100 events.

“I love this organization, and I hope you love it as much as I do,” Majoue  added.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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