Chamber Beautification Projects of the Year good for the soul, the economy
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: February 22, 2013
Beautification is a quality of life issue that can have bigger payoffs when it comes to the local economy, and the ambitious upgrade of a car dealership and the ongoing projects tackled by a nonprofit group dedicated to filling the city with flowers were honored February 12 by the Chamber of Commerce.
Those efforts led to the 2012 Beautification Projects of the Year being awarded to Santa Paula Chevrolet/John Macik and America In Bloom, founded by Dianne and Dudley Davis. The awards were presented at the Ventura County Agriculture Museum (The Mill), where Citizen of the Year Fred Robinson, Larger Businesses of the Year Vintage Production and Calpipe and Small Businesses of the Year Tisa’s Salon and Garden Market were also lauded.
“California Dreamin’” was the theme of the annual luncheon that featured the State of the City address by Mayor Ralph Fernandez. City Councilmen Rick Cook and Martin Hernandez and City Manager Jaime Fontes as well as Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long attended the awards luncheon.
Chamber Board President John Chamberlain offered the welcome and introduced Chamber Board Director Marilyn Appleby, who presented the awards.
“Making a town beautiful is a significant accomplishment,” as it “enhances quality of day-to-day life.” Appleby noted another positive aspect of beautification is that it “pleases and attracts visitors” and encourages them to spend time in the jewel that is Santa Paula.
America In Bloom has been dedicated to beautifying Santa Paula since Dianne Davis founded the local chapter of the national organization. Although Dudley always credits his wife, co-owner of their Do Right’s Plant Nursery with starting the organization, Appleby noted the Davises had already been involved in beautification - providing hangers and containers of flowers and plants, as well as maintaining them, in the historic Downtown.
Appleby said the organization has tackled numerous projects, using volunteers who have beautified city entrances, schools, a strip mall and other locations with landscaping. America In Bloom also oversaw the Bike Trail project, and has been lining up volunteers to help “adopt” and maintain the city’s new recreational path.
Gary Nasalroad, an America In Bloom board director who coordinated the Bike Trail project, said when the Davises first heard about America In Bloom, “They thought what a great idea.... They gathered a group of citizens” for a board and aggressively launched the program.
Sections of Peck Road, Palm Avenue, Harvard Boulevard, Main Street and the Community Center have been the recipients of America In Bloom efforts, as has Blanchard Community Library where a new garden has native plants that were carefully selected to match the Chumash History Mural. Nasalroad said perhaps the “most visible is the hanging baskets and planters... and we’re not through, there will be more throughout Santa Paula,” ultimately 240 privately sponsored baskets.
Alex Flores and Santa Paula High School Future Farmers of America, Interim Public Works Director Brian Yanez and Interim Recreation Director Ed Mount have been “tremendously supportive” of America In Bloom. But, added Nasalroad, such improvements would not have been possible without “the vision and civic commitment” to beautify the city as demonstrated by Dianne and Dudley Davis.
Dianne said the couple was “very honored.... It makes us feel good to make the city pretty,” and America In Bloom is looking forward to assisting the city with the $600,000+ grant-funded renovation of 10th Street.
The Santa Paula Chevrolet dealership on West Harvard Boulevard is now “as sleek as a Chevrolet themselves,” said Appleby following a major renovation. The award-winning dealership underwent a transformation “on the outside and the interior,” including walls, ceiling, lighting and furniture.
“The beautiful new look matches,” Santa Paula Chevrolet’s status as a highly-admired and recognized dealership, considered one of the top ranked in the western states for sales, service and customer satisfaction. Appleby said Santa Paula Chevrolet and John Macik are recognized supporters of community, and “generous donors” to a variety of causes and organizations.
Macik noted that in 2008 and 2009 at the height of the economic low, “the last thing I wanted to do” was spend money for any reason. But the corporate office of Chevrolet wanted their dealers to be ready for a turnaround and people again buying cars.
“We didn’t do it on our own... Chevrolet encouraged us very strongly,” and Macik said he is “very proud of it... and our 45 employees including my wife,” Sandra Macik. All, he added, “sacrificed a lot for the project,” which took months and created less than ideal working conditions during the process. “I want to thank the city... they were amazing to work with,” and Macik said he believes “It is great to have a dealership to benefit Santa Paula.”