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There are few things more relaxing than a Saturday during a long Fourth-of-July weekend. Kick back, have another barbecue, take the kids to a park.

Now there’s an idea, and July may be the time to take everyone to the park, seeing as how the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department has scheduled a laundry list of free, fun activities throughout the month to celebrate Parks Make Life Better Month.

We could list all the social, physical and mental health benefits of going to your neighborhood parks, using the facilities and taking advantage of recreation programs the city is offering, but here’s a list of great things to do:

Free movies, including “Selena” on July 13 at Grogan Park; and “The House With A Clock in Its Walls" on July 27 at Armstrong Park. Free concerts, featuring Unfinished Business and Drive-In Romeos for rock fans. Kids can swim and enjoy the new fish slide at the Paul Nelson Aquatics Center on July 28.

That’s just a partial list. The full July schedule is available by calling 805-925-0951, or go to: www.cityofsantamaria.org.

Roses to city officials for turning parks over to the people throughout July.

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Big changes may be coming to the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, but for now the summer mayhem is in full swing — and that means Central Coast blood donors are being asked for help.

The nonprofit blood supply organization Vitalant set up a blood drive at Allan Hancock College earlier this week, giving students an opportunity to donate. The turnout was good, but Vitalant officials say more participation — and donors — are needed.

Summer is the time of year when blood is in short supply, because more people are outdoors, doing outdoorsy things, which can result in injuries and the need for blood.

Vitalant officials are especially keen on people with type O-negative blood to donate, because O-negative blood can be given to people with any blood type. It’s known as the "universal blood type," but all types of blood are needed. Platelet donations are also always needed, because platelets have a shelf life of only five days.

Roses to those who organize such donor efforts, and even more roses to those who step up and donate.

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Santa Barbara County made national headlines a few days ago, but not for the best of reasons.

About 20 tons of processed cannabis and more than 350,000 cannabis plants were seized by the Sheriff’s Department from an illegal grow site just down the coast from us.

We all know recreational marijuana use is legal in California, but that has hardly put a dent in the illegal growing and sales of marijuana. That black market continues to thrive, and is keeping the sheriff’s Cannabis Compliance Team busy.

The main reason the black market is humming along is that local jurisdictions can’t seem to find acceptable middle ground on permitting legal cannabis growing and sales policies. Even as the growing and use of marijuana products are legal throughout the state, the local cost and strategies for controlling the legal operations are anything but balanced.

So, roses to county officials for continuing to crack down on illegal marijuana operations. And, raspberries to policy makers who can’t seem to come up with commonsense regulations that protect taxpayers and a promising new industry.

This is a problem that could be solved with a coordinated regional approach, not the piecemeal regulatory process that has serious territorial overtones.

Such a regional approach concept could solve a lot of our mutual problems.

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