Celebrations: MB Chamber Gala to Honor Top Citizen, Business, Treasure, & Non-Profit

Written by Judy Salamacha

February 24, 2022

It’s the party of the year! Morro-Gras Down on the Bay-ou is happening on Friday, March 4 from 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

“We are excited to finally celebrate with all of you,” said Erica Crawford, CEO of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce. “Join us as we transform the Community Center into a venue worthy of Bourbon Street. We’ll greet you with colorful beads and entertain you with live music from Dante Marsh and fire dancing by Ariana Filice. Our talented chefs at local eateries are preparing a New Orleans-style menu. Isn’t it time to finally celebrate?”

This is also the evening they honor this year’s award winners: Chief Jody Cox, Citizen of the Year; Coalesce Book Store, Business of the Year; Carole Truesdale, Living Treasure; and Nonprofit of the Year Morro Bay Lions Club. And we will be officially introduced to the 2022 Chamber Board of Directors.

But before we let the good times roll let me remind you Estero Bay News featured Coalesce Book Store and the Morro Bay Lions Club in the January 13 issue (www.esterobaynews.com) and it is now my honor to introduce you to Chief Jody Cox and Carole Truesdale.

Morro Bay Police Chief Jody Cox, Citizen of the Year

When Chief Cox was sworn in to protect and serve Morro Bay, he was already involved in the Morro Bay community. Jody Cox lives, works, plays, and contributes his off-duty hours giving back to several community organizations.

He serves on the executive board and operations committee that produces the Cruisin’ Morro Bay Car Show scheduled for May 5-8, 2022. He volunteers annually for Project Surf Camp and Operation Surf and is an active member of the Rotary Club of Morro Bay. He’s a regular at meetings and works the grill with his grandson, Chase, at Carla’s Kitchen for Rotary’s fundraising tri-tip barbecues. Chief Cox is typically visible at community events, and, while woodworking is a hobby, his unique creations have supported several Morro Bay fundraising events.

I learned firsthand that Chief Cox doesn’t just sit back and accept invitations to be involved in community events — he reaches out to offer his help. Bonnie Jones and I co-chaired the inaugural SLO County Anti-Human Trafficking Summit at the Community Center in Morro Bay. During Chief Cox’s first week on the job, he called us to offer his service to help make the sold-out event a success.

His belief in community involvement for his officers is more than a lip service. As America’s law enforcement departments have experienced intense suspect and attack, Chief Cox’s advocacy for a strong community-policing program was already in place. Not only has he continued meet-ups with Morro Bay residents at National Night Out, and Caroling Cops during the holidays, but he expanded the “Coffee with Cops” program at various local coffee houses to an evening event so daytime workforce families might join him and his officers at Pizza Port.

Chief Cox took his belief in community policing a step further and implemented a strategy he designed, the Neighborhood Police Program. The goal strengthens Neighborhood Watch. Two officers are dedicated to each segment of Morro Bay’s community. The officer’s goal is to understand a neighborhood’s character – it’s residents and happenings – building mutual trust and support when circumstances are unusual. 

Chief Cox and wife Kelly have four children, 13 grandchildren. Besides community and woodworking, his off-duty passions are spending time with his grandchildren and taking cross-country Harley rides to check out Americana with his best buds. 

Carole Truesdale, Morro Bay Living Treasure

Carole Truesdale is the recipient of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce Living Treasure award. Photo submitted

Carole Truesdale’s first reaction to receiving the honor of Living Treasure was, “All I can say is, WOW. I did not think that trying to be kind and supportive had an award. It is just the right thing to do in all ways, always!”

She wanted all to know she is humbled to join the roster of previous Living Treasures, including Jack Smith, Jeremiah O’Brien, Lu Chi Fa (Gordon Lu), Lori French, Nancy Castle, Marlene Peter, Bud & Rita Anderson, Bertha & Dean Tyler, just to list a few although she preferred to list then all. “To stand with these individuals leaves me speechless,” she said.

Carole Truesdale, however, was nominated because she takes the time to volunteer and advocate for whatever she is passionate about at the time – always respectfully and with a smile. 

Lately, most of her time is spent serving as the events coordinator at the Morro Bay Senior Center. 

“Every Monday afternoon I welcome guests to our center,” she said. “I answer questions, disseminate information about senior Meals that Connect, the free Emeritus classes, Tai Chi, Pace, and our walking and ping pong activities. We have discounts at MB Aquatic classes. I’m so proud to offer our mature Morro Bay citizens a chance to come together and safely socialize in a friendly environment.”

She is also very busy as the president of the Neighborhood Watch Association. She hosted “Let’s Talk Food and Wine” for five years on-air at Morro Bay’s Community Radio 97.3 THE ROCK and still completes the trio for their monthly radio show collaboration, “Bodacious Ya Ya’s.” 

Carole knew by the late 1980s she would someday live in Morro Bay and as “life took its curves” she accepted a job based in San Luis Obispo. She rented a small home in Morro Bay but worked and traveled so much she never had the chance to get involved in the community. In 1999 she purchased her home and then met the love of her life, Larry. They remodeled it to accommodate their special interests. He’s a woodworker. She continues to cultivate her painting. Together they enjoy pairing a local wine to the latest recipe they are trying.

She’s a strong advocate for “the preservation of this beautiful City of Morro Bay” she said. “I monitor the City Council meetings . . . speak, ask questions, and send my questions to our City Manager, Scott Collins, for further discussion. 

“Moving to a new community is the beginning of a new adventure,” Carole said to encourage all to get involved in something. “It is one’s opportunity to open new chapters and meet new people, share life’s passions with. Morro Bay has so many opportunities to get involved.”  

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