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Wasco hopes to make vet banners more available

The city plans to make the Veteran Salute Banner Program more accessible after Councilmember Vincent Martinez brought to the City Council's attention that the current cost of the banners might be prohibitive to some veterans in the community.

"The city supports our veterans, and we want to honor them in the best way possible," Councilmember Martinez told his colleagues Tuesday night at their regular meeting.

The banner program celebrates honorably discharged veterans and presently serving active-duty military personnel from any branch of the United States Armed Forces. Banners featuring the service member's name, military branch, years of service and photo are set to adorn streetlight posts throughout downtown Wasco along 7th Street from Independence Day through Veteran's Day.

To better improve the program, councilmembers discussed some options. They provided guidance to staff who will bring back new procedures for the program including the ability for citizens to donate for a particular banner or to the program in general. Donated funds may be used to help with the initial cost of a banner and to defray the cost of ongoing maintenance and replacement of aging banners. The council also favors honoring the city's employees who are veterans with a banner.

Councilmember Gilberto Reyna said, "The Veteran Salute Banner Program is a profound symbol of our community's respect and gratitude towards our brave armed forces and a testament to the courage and sacrifice of our veterans. I'm proud to celebrate our veterans' service and actively support this program."

The current banner application cycle closes at the end of April. Once approved, the improved procedures will take effect within the next year's cycle. Visit for more information on the banner program.

Also, at the meeting, the council reviewed and approved a mural concept for the east wall of a building located at 1140 7th Street. The owners, Jenny and Tilo Cortez, are working with Wasco High School art teachers and students to paint a mural on the side wall of their business, California Home Pros.

"A mural was always our vision for that wall. We didn't know the city had plans to beautify downtown when we bought and started rehabbing the building. We are very excited about what's to come with the downtown beautification project. We hope that our building and the finished mural will add to the aesthetic," Jenny Cortez said.

Community Development Director Kerri Cobb said, "Public Art is an integral part of the overall improvements being made in downtown Wasco, and we are pleased that a local business and property owner has stepped up and decided to beautify his building with a mural."

Of the students who are painting the mural, she added, "Involving our youth in a project is a great way to give them a meaningful hands-on experience and sense of pride and accomplishment."

Kern County Fire Department Division Chief Joe Appleton reported 147 incidents in March: 14 fires, 96 medical calls and the rest miscellaneous. The most recent fire was on Tuesday on Prairie Rose Way.

"A shed in the backyard was on fire. Engine 31 responded along with several other fire engines. When they arrived, the shed and several fences were on fire. Our firefighters took quick action to put the fires out and to keep them from spreading into the house."


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