By Raiza Giorgi

In presenting Buellton’s top award for community service, Executive Director Kathy Vreeland of the Buellton Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau became emotional as she described the winners. 

“These people go above and beyond for our community and are unsung heroes that support so many organizations and causes,” Vreeland said. 

When she revealed that Jon McDermott and Doniece Parson, owners of Mother Hubbard’s Restaurant, were this year’s winners of the Vincent B. Evans Award, the audience at Flying Flags RV Resort erupted into applause. 

Parson accepted the award with some of her family members, but McDermott couldn’t attend because he was busy serving lunch at the family-run restaurant. 

The couple has owned the restaurant for 20 years, and Vreeland said they don’t toot their own horn often enough. They help local organizations raise funds by hosting special dinners; create coloring contests for kids; help We Support the Troops, the local nonprofit that sends care packages overseas; and serve free meals to those in need, such as people who had to flee their homes after the Thomas Fire and Montecito debris flows in 2018.

Parson said she was honored and surprised to receive the Evans award, because she thought she was going to get a recycling award. 

“I knew the Evans family, and they were amazing people,” she said. 

Gray Hartley of Hartley-Ostini Wines accepted the Beautification Award for their remodeling of their tasting room and adding lunch service. 

Buellton officials and other local dignitaries joined a crowd of about 150 people at the Feb. 27 State of the City luncheon to hear about Buellton issues and to have an entertaining lunch. Mayor Holly Sierra usually gives a history of Buellton as her opening remarks, but instead chose to give a history of City Manager Marc Bierdzinski, because he is retiring in June. 

An entertaining video presentation from the Recreation Department depicted people participating in its many programs and activities, ranging from day trips to longer excursions, as well as after-school programs and summer camps.

The city and the chamber host many festivals each year, creating opportunities for both residents and tourists to experience the growing city. Those include the Buellton Wine and Chili Festival, the Easter Eggstravaganza, a July picnic, a big haunted house in October in collaboration with Solvang, and the popular Winterfest weekend.

“When I first started in the Planning Department, this land was vacant and slated for apartments. I am really glad that Flying Flags took it over and built this beautiful event center and area for the community,” Bierdzinski said. 

Renderings for a mixed-use project on Avenue of Flags and Second Street show the structure’s art-deco design.

Bierdzinski also told the audience that Buellton is growing and holding to its visioning process, including moving forward with developing the Avenue of Flags into a prosperous downtown area with an art-deco theme. A new mixed-use building is slated to start construction soon at Avenue of Flags and Second Street. 

Revenue from property taxes and transient occupancy taxes are helping Buellton maintain a healthy budget with a surplus close to $1 million dollar, he said. He also noted that about half of the top sales tax and property tax generators are local businesses such as A & A Pump and Well, Rio Vista Chevrolet, Wild Wood Door Factory, Anderson’s Pea Soup, Flying Flags RV Resort, Platinum Performance, Farm Supply, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, Buellton Self Storage, Todd Pipe and Supply, and others.

The city has a budget of $15.5 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year. General fund revenues are projected at $7.5 million and general fund expenditures at $6.6 million.

The city’s water use remains under conservation mandates. The city gets most of its water from upland wells, combined with river wells. It also receives state water shipments. 

Water and sewer rates have increased slightly, but the city continues to supplement a portion of the costs so they aren’t a burden for ratepayers, Bierdzinksi added.

Several new projects are in the development pipeline, including the Village Hotels, Live Oak Lanes, The Hub, The Network, and new homes being built on Central Avenue.