It’s another roses-and/or-raspberries Saturday, and the first topic of discussion maybe deserves a little of both.

The Santa Maria City Council this week approved water/sewer rate increases. Whenever a governing body OKs higher costs for residents, there is a tendency toward tossing verbal raspberries, which a few disgruntled Santa Marians did.

However, government at every level is responsible for community programs and services that are necessary, and Santa Maria’s elected leaders deserve roses for fulfilling their duty in that regard. So, roses for a worthwhile effort.

No one likes to get hit in the wallet, but this is one of those situations that demands more revenue to compensate for overall higher costs. In this case, the city needs to provide service to the city, maintain pipelines, build a reserve fund, and cover its ongoing costs related to the State Water Project. Higher fees were almost a given.

The rate increases are not small, but they are necessary.


Meanwhile, Santa Barbara County’s governing body made a questionable choice to relocate its fire protection and emergency medical services dispatch operation at the Emergency Operations Center in South County.

Once again, North County is being treated like the naughty stepchild. Raspberries to the Board of Supervisors majority for this latest policy-making move.

The vote on construction of modern facilities was 3-2, with North County supervisors Steve Lavagnino and Peter Adam dissenting, mostly because putting the combined dispatch services in the same area as other county services fails to provide separation in case of a large-scale emergency, and because South County housing is among the most expensive on the planet, making it tough on folks working at the center.

With the approved location, county taxpayers will now have to foot the bill for a backup dispatch center in North County, unless everyone is OK with having most of our emergency-services eggs in one basket.


Roses to Santa Maria’s Recreation and Parks Department for once again thinking outside the envelope when it comes to providing valuable community services.

The department’s latest gem is an after-school program that provides music lessons for junior high and high school students at the Youth Center at 600 S. McClelland St. — and the lessons are free.

The program began in August and continues to run from 3-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The classes begin with basics such as chords and scales, and evolves into open jam sessions that combine multiple instruments.

Sounds like fun — and valuable in so many ways. Here’s how: Research has nailed down a solid connection between musical training and nearly every measure of academic achievement. SAT scores, high school GPA, reading comprehension and math skills all improve with musical training. Music improves a young person’s powers of recall in all class subjects, and can increase a student’s overall IQ.

Music lessons also improve specific academic skills. Music and math are highly intertwined. Music training develops physical and social skills. It helps with discipline and patience, and boosts self-esteem.

That reads like a playbook for a successful student and citizen. Roses, all around.


A bouquet of pink beauties for Barbara Andrastek, who passed away more than a year ago, but left a gift that will live long into the future.

Her estate’s $380,000 gift to the Allan Hancock College nursing programs will benefit so many people here on the Central Coast.

College officials plan to use the gift to further develop nursing skills for students in the school’s licensed vocation nursing, certified nursing assisting and registered nursing programs.

Another community angel.

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