Any year in which California makes it to late August with a minimum of monster wildfires is a year to be admired, if not cherished.

State fire officials said earlier this week that acreage burned statewide so far this year is down about 90 percent compared to the average over the past five years.

That’s a major accomplishment, when you consider the killer wildfires Californians have endured over that five-year span, including the massive Thomas fire that raged in the hills above Montecito late in 2018, and contributed to subsequent deluge-provoked mudslides that ravaged the quaint village and killed two dozen people. The state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported it has fought fires on 38 square miles this year, which is a lot of wildlands, but far from an average of 416 square miles burned over the same period the past five years. Last year was the worst in this state’s history, with more than 970 square miles destroyed.

So, this is truly great news — if we can keep up the good work. Keep your fingers crossed because the worst fires typically occur in the fall.

And because this is Saturday, our day for handing out roses and raspberries, roses to every Californian who has the presence of mind to avoid doing the sort of thoughtless things that can and often do ignite a wildfire.


Santa Maria officials have called a community meeting for Monday to address issues in the city’s northeast area. The meeting begins at 6 p.m., giving busy families a chance to attend, at the Christian Family Church of God, 324 N. Suey Road.

For this meeting, the Northeast neighborhood is defined as Broadway on the west, Fesler Street to the south and the riverbed to the northeast.

Mayor Alice Patino will be on hand with city staffers to talk about enhancements to city services, then open the meeting to questions. Our guess is folks in that neighborhood will want to talk about crime and other topics.

Roses to city officials for giving residents this kind of opportunity, which could and should be done for all the city’s neighborhoods.


Roses also to the Lompoc Unified School District and the United Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, who have partnered up to offer more after-school options for Lompoc kids.

The Boys and Girls Club will offer free after-school services at La Honda STEAM Academy. Those services will be in addition to the After School Education & Safety programs already offered at other campuses by the Boys and Girls Club and the Lompoc Family YMCA.

One very favorable aspect of the program is its versatility and flexibility. For example, the program will feature an open-attendance policy, without requirements, which really helps working parents trying to plan their day.

The Family YMCA offers the most after-school programs in the Lompoc Valley with its Afterschool Care services at Buena Vista and Miguelito elementary schools, as well as at Los Berros Visual and Performing Arts Academy. The YMCA also offers ASES programs at La Honda, as well as at La Cañada and Clarence Ruth elementary schools.

For more information on the Boys and Girls Club’s after-school services, contact the club between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays at 805-736-4978. For information about the YMCA programs contact Claudia Ortiz, youth development director, at claudia.quezada-rocha@ciymca.org or 805-736-3483.

Learning shouldn’t stop when the final bell rings on regular classes, and after-school programs fill a crucially important educational niche.

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