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We can’t get enough good-news stories about America’s heroes. It just never gets old.

Heroism is fascinating. Sometimes it comes from expected places. Other times, it happens spontaneously, people acting at lightning speed to protect another person’s well-being.

It’s those spur-of-the-moment heroes that intrigue us the most, because they are the folks who usually don’t grasp the gravity of what they’ve just done to help someone or an animal in dire straits, until the deed is done.

When you strip away all the glitter, heroes are the purest definition of courage and putting another person’s interests above your own.

Heroes are among the reasons we created this regular Saturday roses-and-raspberries feature. They may get a firm handshake or plaques denoting their acts of courage, but we prefer to bestow roses, which are the essence of natural beauty.

Today’s first bouquet of crimson beauties goes to the angels who worked together to rescue 88 youngsters and 26 counselors trapped at the Circle V Ranch as the Whittier Fire closed in on them.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, owner and operator of the camp amid the pines and oaks in a canyon south of Cachuma Lake, recently hosted 82 people for a luncheon in Solvang, and plaques were presented to individuals and groups who were involved in the rescue.

The events had special significance as raging wildfires in Northern California have killed more than 40 people, destroying more than 7,000 structures. More than a dozen fires have scorched 220,000 acres-plus. And as everyone in California knows — including here on the Central Coast — that could have been us.


Roses also to the folks who run the Santa Ynez Valley Therapeutic Riding Program, which over the years has helped people of all ages overcome inner fears and anxieties.

The program operates out of the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Center on Refugio Road, and its primary mission is showing compassion for those who suffer from cerebral palsy and autism; K-12 special-education students from Valley and Lompoc school districts; Vandenberg Air Force Base families with special-needs children; participants from Los Prietos Boys Camp; and people, young and old, with physical challenges.

OK, OK, we also have some goodies for the horses to snack on.


Let’s linger a while longer in mid-county, and give flowers to the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation for its $3,000 donation to the Friends of the Library to help pay for programs aimed at getting kids excited about reading.

In fact, we’re in favor of just about any program that will pull young people away from the cell phones and video games so they can experience the endless joys of literature.

Bravo, and long live the library culture.


More props to Allan Hancock College, which was recently ranked among the top 150 community colleges in America. Tell us something we didn’t already know.

The distinction of being one of the best also puts Hancock College in the running for the Aspen Institute’s $1-million prize for general excellence.

The new rankings were culled from about 1,000 community colleges nationwide, so being in the top 150 is huge.

Now, if only California community college administrators could see their way clear to include Hancock College in the system’s four-year degree program, we could make available a trainload of roses.


No raspberries this week, though heaven knows there is plenty of bad stuff deserving of bitter fruit.

We’re at the beginning of another beautiful weekend, maybe a bit on the toasty side Sunday. But who’s complaining?