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Vandenberg Air Force Base has been all over the news, having played a key role in the success of NASA’s InSight Mars landing.

Today, VAFB and personnel in the 381st Training Squadron are in the spotlight for another reason — hosting the 59th edition of Operation Kids Christmas.

The program began life in 1959, when it was called Operation Big Brother, but its purpose has remained the same — to provide hundreds of underprivileged children in the area with a happy Christmas memory.

It’s happening today, as kids from the Santa Ynez Valley to Santa Maria are being treated to a party, a personal military escort, lunch, visits from Santa's elves, music and of course, a special appearance by Santa Claus. Each of the participating children is given a gift bag with wrapped toys and a backpack full of crayons, stickers, school supplies and more.

It’s a bit late to help out with today’s party and other festivities, but the folks at VAFB need help with donations and volunteers for future Operation Kids Christmases. For more information on how to donate or volunteer, contact TSgt. Johnson and/or Capt. White at the 381st Training Squadron on base.

And oh, by the way, roses to all involved.


On the subject of volunteering, the city of Santa Maria is seeking a few good men and women to volunteer for duty in a couple of the city’s top-level beautification programs, Adopt-A-Road and Adopt-A-Park.

The deal is that volunteers commit to clean public spaces a minimum of once every two months over a two-year period. That doesn’t seem too much to ask. Volunteers choose any road or park, and coordinating with city officials, devote time to cleaning, picking up litter and beautifying the road or park.

Volunteers get a roadside sign in their honor from the city — and roses from us.


Back to Vandenberg for a moment, enough time to sling a raspberry or two at Mother Nature for choosing this week to send rain, forcing the cancellation of a scheduled SpaceX launch.

It was the second scratch for the SpaceX Falcon 9, part of the Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission. Another launch effort is scheduled for Sunday morning around 10:30-ish, maybe a bit later.

When it does fly, the SpaceX Falcon will deliver several dozen smallish satellites, including so-called micro-satellites and CubeSats, from various providers throughout the world, including some U.S. government agencies.

This is truly exciting stuff, and as much as California needs the rain, Mother Nature could do a better job of checking with launch schedules before sending a deluge.

And, speaking of rain, we had a bunch this week, breaking a 112-year-old rainfall record, without causing too much damage in North County — other than delaying another spectacular foray into space.


Tis the season of new beginnings, which usually means the end of something. In this case, it’s the personnel turnover of elected officials ending their current terms in public office.

Newly-elected folks and incumbents who won their races are being sworn in countywide, and in some cases replacing officials who have served for years but are now moving on. As one outgoing school board member said, "It's certainly bittersweet, but I feel like we're leaving the district in great hands. If you leave something in a better place than you found it, you can always walk away and feel proud about that.”

Amen to that. And roses to all those with the courage and will to seek and serve in public office.

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