The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce has renamed its Citizen of the Year Award for outgoing President Bob Hatch and given him the inaugural honor.
The change was announced at the chamber’s annual dinner on Aug. 13. The award is now called the Robert P. Hatch Citizen of the Year award. In accepting the award, Hatch, a Vietnam veteran, said he was humbled by the honor and said he appreciated the efforts of armed forces members who protect “our right of free speech and assembly” that make programs like the dinner possible.
Hatch, who grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley, stepped down this summer after 20 years at the helm of the chamber. His successor is Glenn Morris, who moved to the Central Coast from the CEO position at the Visalia Chamber of Commerce. Tim Ritchie of auto dealer Home Motors in Santa Maria is the incoming chamber chair.
Earlier in the evening, former Santa Barbara County Supervisor Joni Gray received the Robert F. Grogan award for public service and Community Bank of Santa Maria received the Business of the Year award. About 400 attended the dinner at the Santa Maria Elks lodge.
The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest organizations of its kind in the region, overseeing both the city’s visitor and convention bureau and its economic development commission.