A little bit about a lot of things:
• The “help wanted” shingle is out for the Newman Fall Festival.
With the community’s signature event gearing up to celebrate its 50th year, organizers are hoping to throw a party to remember when Labor Day weekend rolls around in a few months.
There have been some changes in the ranks of the Fall Festival’s executive board, however, as Julie Barcelos has stepped down as general chair to focus on family and work responsibilities. Teri Ramos has assumed that leadership role. She is assembling a team of volunteers to serve on the executive board and on the committee as event chairs.....and is emphasizing that more folks are needed for the milestone celebration.
Ramos reported to us that the festival is in need of a secretary for the executive board, chairpersons for the park, parade, wine-and-cheese event and craft fair, and general volunteers willing to pitch in to help.
Ramos acknowledged that in light of the organizational changes the initial plans for the 50th may be scaled back a bit.....but emphasized that special touches will still make the celebration a memorable one.
“The Fall Festival is not going to be less than it has been, but it won’t be this five-day event that we had talked about doing,” she shared. “It would just be too much with this many new people.”
The key, Ramos emphasized, is having enough volunteers to where the responsibilities can be comfortably divided rather than relying on three or four folks to do the lion’s share of the work.
That makes sense, as it is after all a “community” celebration.....
The more people who are involved, the more the festival can offer.
“We have some good ideas, but we need people to help,” Ramos stated.
I am confident that the 50th annual Fall Festival will be a wonderful celebration, and perhaps it will also lay the foundation for festivals to come by bringing out a new group of volunteers to carry the event forward. Like any organization which relies on volunteers, the Fall Festival occasionally needs new folks to step up and continue the tradition.
Anybody interested in learning more about being a Fall Festival volunteer may contact Ramos through the Fall Festival’s Facebook page or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, better yet, attend the next Fall Festival Committee meeting, which will be held Monday, March 2 at 5:30 p.m. in the community meeting room behind the Newman police station (entrance off Kern Street) to learn more about festival plans and volunteer opportunities.
• So the Highway 33/140 roundabout in Gustine is inching closer to becoming reality after years of planning.....but not before some more important decisions are made.
The roundabout project is interesting in many ways.
I don’t know that anybody actually likes the current intersection in front of Richard’s Market, where the state highway makes a 90-degree turn. I have seen numerous near-misses there involving drivers who are confused by the fact that it is not an all-way stop and southbound drivers proceeding through the intersection instead of turning do not stop.
It’s just an odd intersection, and I hope that a roundabout makes it better. I believe that a roundabout (just like the one planned downtown) will simply become the new normal in time. Still, it seems the roundabout idea has yet to be embraced by the council or the community.
All of which leads me to what is still another potential bone of contention.....the question of what feature will grace the center of the planned Highway 33/140 roundabout.
Expect plenty of debate before that one is decided, if the preliminary discussions at the council level are any indication.
An ad hoc committee will be meeting regularly to try to formulate a recommendation to the council, which must decide no later than its April 7 meeting so the roundabout project, which we’re told could break ground next January, can move forward.
The possibilities are endless, and I’m sure the suggestions will range from earnest and well-reasoned to facetious and satirical.
Could be a statue, a clock tower, a sculpture, a flagpole.....just to name a few of an endless list of possibilities.
At any rate, City Hall is welcome to suggestions from anybody with an idea of what feature should grace the roundabout as its centerpiece. Give them a call and share your thoughts (on the centerpiece, not the roundabout, as that ship appears to have sailed). Hmmm....maybe a ship? Nah. That would be weird.
• The Redskin nickname, banned from California high schools a few years ago by the state legislature in all its infinite wisdom, remains cherished by those who represented that mascot with pride at Gustine High. The City Council paid tribute to the name by agreeing last week to co-name a block of North Avenue Redskin Way. The secondary name will apply to the single block at the east end of North Avenue which runs alongside the front lawn of the school.
I understand the gesture, which apparently was suggested a couple of years ago by a student, supported by a couple of alumni who heard of the proposal, and brought to the attention of city officials by school board member Pat Rocha during “two-on-two” committee meetings of city and school leaders.
Feelings still run deep on the “Redskin” issue, obviously.
That heritage and legacy should not be forgotten....but we should also remember that (if I am doing the math right) this year’s graduating class and those following have known nothing but the new “Reds” nickname during their GHS years. They are building their own proud traditions and legacy as they represent their high school and community.