Santa Ynez Valley honors veterans

Members of local VFW Post 7139 once again honored all American veterans during their Veterans Day celebration on Nov. 10 at the Veterans Memorial Building in Solvang.

This year, the VFW chose to especially honor those who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The event began with an outdoor flag raising by the members of Solvang American Legion Post 160 followed by “Call to the Colors” and “Taps” by bugler Michael Roberts.

Patriotic music provided by the Santa Ynez Valley Master Chorale, the American Heritage Girls and both the Santa Ynez High School band and jazz band filled the hall throughout the event.

Local boy scouts also presented flags representing the six branches of service with Rudy Henderson, an Air Force veteran of the Korean War, presenting the POW/MIA flag.

The keynote speech was given by Col Robert York Jr., commander of the 30th Space Wing Medical Group at Vandenberg Air Force Base. A number of other veterans shared messages of gratitude and reverence for those who have served and are serving the nation.

The event concluded with a free barbecue.


New oak tree to be planted in First Street median

The empty median on Solvang’s First Street where a 150-year-old tree was recently removed will not stay vacant for long.

The Solvang City Council approved the planting of a new oak tree near the rear of the traffic island on Nov. 13. The new tree will cost approximately $700.  In addition, some type of artwork will be placed toward the front of the median, which could be removed if deemed necessary in the future once the tree matures.

The giant coast live oak that stood in the middle of the road was removed in late September after rot and disease made it dangerous, according to city staff. The tree was standing before the founding of Solvang in 1911, and there has been much uproar in the community about its removal.

Before the oak was removed an arborist inspected the trees inside city limits and determined that 18 of them were hazardous, so they also have been scheduled for removal.

The type of artwork that will be placed in the median has not been decided.


Solvang City Council eliminates appointment protocol

The Solvang City Council eliminated its protocol for filling vacant council seats during its Nov. 13 meeting, bringing closure to months of disagreement about the way the council should fill unexpected vacancies.

The protocol was removed by a 4-1 vote, with Neill Zimmerman opposed. Zimmerman restated his belief that council seats should be filled only by special election.

After numerous disagreements and deadlocked votes among the four remaining council members related to filling the vacant seat left by Hans Duus’ resignation in August, the council opted to default to state laws rather than keep a protocol in place that was not truly enforceable.

State law requires vacancies to be filled by appointment or special election, but does not determine how the process should occur. Prior to its removal, the council’s protocol stated that a vacant seat should be filled by a runner-up from the most recent election or an application process.

Going forward, the process to fill vacancies will be determined at the time of each vacancy.