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story.lead_photo.caption Austin Hornbostel/For the News TribuneOutgoing California Area Chamber of Commerce President Blake Howard looks on as Chamber Secretary Rita Hammerly presents Chelsea McGill with the Citizen of the Year award.

Chelsea McGill, owner of Grind and The Gathering Place in California, has been no stranger to success in the past calendar year.

From helping organize a revitalized farmers market on Oak Street to helping form the California Women's Business Council and raising nearly three times the council's goal in donations for Mid-Missouri tornado victims, 2019 was a year of community leadership that seemed to have McGill's fingerprints all over it.

"My mind is always going," McGill said. "I'm always thinking of things, and I'm a fixer, so if I see there's a need or a problem that needs to be fixed, I'm trying to figure out how we can fix it."

That may be why the gathered crowd at the recent California Area Chamber of Commerce annual dinner meeting didn't seem all that surprised when McGill was presented with the chamber's Citizen of the Year award.

If you ask McGill, though, she'll tell you the award recognizing the community's model citizen was far from a solo effort.

"I'm very grateful," McGill said Monday, speaking about how she feels in the wake of receiving the honor. "I've just been reflecting a lot on the last year, and in the little spiel they gave before they officially announced (I'd won), it just made me realize it takes a lot more than just me to make these crazy ideas come into fruition."

And she meant it, too. McGill rattled off name after name of fellow citizens who had helped make the past year a success.

Laura Distler and Holly Bieri, co-organizers of the farmers market. The other founding members of the California Women's Business Council — Stephanie Stokes, Brandy Brockes, Julie Bolinger, Kayle Kiesling and Jenny Cain. The laundry list of individuals who donated their time and supplies to help host the Veterans Day breakfast at the California Nutrition Center in conjunction with the Heroes Outreach Program.

"I was like the leader in a lot of ways, but it took a lot more people (than just me)," McGill said.

And 2020 seems set to mirror 2019 in a lot of ways — McGill said she and other Oak Street businesses have already started looking forward to what the year ahead might look like. Like with the 2019 tornado, there will be unforeseen elements at play that can't necessarily be planned for, McGill said, but watching the community come together and knowing the people of California will pick up and run with even spur-of-the-moment things means it will be a bright year ahead.

"Overall, I'm very grateful," McGill said. "I love our community, I'm very thankful for our community. I'm thankful for the people that are passionate, as much as I am, (about) the community, and I'm excited for what else is in store."

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