Those red, white and blue All-America City shield logos you see posted around our city, in various publications and at numerous businesses are the result of Santa Maria being named an All-America City on June 20, 1998.
This competitive award, sponsored by the National Civic League, is an honor retained by the community as a symbol of the quality of life created through the continuing efforts of Santa Maria residents to address local needs in extraordinary partnership with the community, government, nonprofit, service and business organizations.
The all-volunteer All-America City Committee, of which I am an appointed member, is working hard to nurture civic pride and community-based projects. We host various Neighbors Helping Neighbors coffee gatherings in different locations in an effort to learn what residents like and dislike about Santa Maria.
Our committee cannot get to every neighborhood, but we are trying. We have held gatherings at fire stations, and soon we will be at our newest fire station at Donovan and Suey. We also attend the concerts in the park and plan to have a booth at October’s Autumn Arts Grapes & Grains Festival. At these gatherings, we ask visitors to fill out a short questionnaire designed to help city officials meet community needs.
At one of these neighborhood gatherings, we spoke to a woman who sweeps the curbs in front of her house. When asked why she does that, she replied, “I wanted my street to look nice.” Now, if more folks would take a bit of time to do the same, and if businesses would do the same, our city would look better and cleaner.
This is your city as well as mine, and we all want Santa Maria to grow and prosper. Just consider what has happened here recently. The airport completed a runway extension. Service to Hawaii will start soon, and with another one of those valuable grants, airport representatives are talking to airlines to offer service to Denver or Salt Lake City. Just think what that will do for Santa Maria. Our airport could be the area’s regional hub.
This valley produces world-class wines, and we are known worldwide for our famous pinot noir. Couple the wine with our vegetables, we can be the best in Santa Barbara County, but only if we all pitch in. Think about our grand rodeo each June.
Santa Maria is riding recent successes. The levee was rehabilitated, and the final repairs allow residents to avoid purchasing costly flood insurance. The city has just built two new fire stations with federal grants. Our beautiful library stands out on Broadway, with all construction costs paid.
I believe Santa Maria is really on the move, and that is why I became involved in the All-America City Committee. Let us put our best foot forward and be positive about this town.
Anyone wishing to help is welcome to join us at one of our monthly meetings. We meet on the second Tuesday of each month at the Elwin Mussell Senior Center at 5:30 p.m.
We encourage new ideas. No one group, mayor, council member or city employee can wave a magic wand and make Santa Maria the gold standard of communities; but if we all pitch in and work together as a team, just consider what we can accomplish.
Bud Narachi is a City Council-appointed member of Santa Maria’s All-America City Committee.
September 18, 2012 Bud Narachi / Commentary