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Guest Editorial

Help with downtown flower baskets, banners very much appreciated

This is a long overdue THANK YOU to everyone who made downtown Sunnyside a great place to gather and visit this summer.

Flower baskets were hung right after Memorial Day. Community volunteers got up at 4:30 each morning to water them. We have lost count of the many compliments this one act of service has generated in the community. EVERYONE - locals and visitors -- are impressed with the beauty of downtown Sunnyside.

Banners joined baskets this year. Thanks to a great committee (Mary Lee Robinson, Phyllis Olsen, Mary Werkhoven, Bill Flower and Ray Morrow) eight designs were chosen to represent this community's culture, economics and heritage. Thanks to Gordon Kezele, as all the banners were hung with care.

A tragedy of early summer's fire dampened downtown Sunnyside's optimism momentarily....but as a phoenix rises from ashes, so did property and business owner's attitudes soar as the summer progressed. It was not long before a vibrant positive attitude prevailed throughout the retail area.

Who to thank for the creative turn-around downtown?

First of all....the Sunnyside City Council, the city manager and the city finance officer. We all can be proud of Sunnyside city officials for "taking the bull by the horns" and leading wholehearted downtown beautification efforts. The entire community thanks you for this support.

Watering flower baskets is a big deal! Last year we watered with a "wand, tractor and trailer". This year because Bob's Auto Clinic donated a pick-up and Valley Truck Service donated time, energy, brains and brawn, we watered from a pick-up equipped with hydraulically operated arms, which watered two baskets at the same time. For this we are deeply indebted to Mike Farmer, Ed Werkhoven, Chad Werkhoven, the crew at Valley Truck, Valley Auto Supply, K&U Auto Supply, Bleyhl's Irrigation Department and Bonino's Auto Painting & Repair. We thank them also for keeping us "on the road" for the entire summer!

Having equipment half solves watering.......the other half is having someone to run the equipment! Thanks to Pat Kezele, a corps of volunteers gathered with Pat keeping a roster and schedule. Many, many thanks to the volunteers: Pat and Gordon Kezele, Gary Lund, Eroll Miles, Jim Sleater, Bill Gardner, Judy Trull, Phyllis Kaiser, Linda Farmer, Dale Miller, Norman Morrow, John Van Wingerden and his family, Doris and Paul Burma and Herman te Velde.

We thank Tori Bakker, hanging basket designer, and the staff at Sun West Nursery for the beautifully designed and healthy hanging baskets.

Many thanks to all who donated dollars for this project. This could not have succeeded without your support. We thank Yakima Federal Savings & Loan, Johnson Foods Inc., Valley View Center, Inc., Rose Marie and Douglas Wrung, Linda Egley, The Fashion Corner, Robinson Licensing Bureau, Port of Sunnyside, Valmont Industries, DK Bain Real Estate, Lower Valley Credit Union, Conquistador Restaurant, El Major Taquito, Valley Auto Parts, Bos Rentals, Valley Cleaners, Marie Duim and El Fara Café.

The centerpiece of downtown Sunnyside continues to be Centennial Square. This park is beautifully maintained through the efforts of Sunnyside Netherlands Reformed Church School. A number of years ago, the school teachers and students decided they needed a community service project and took on planting flowers around the bandstand. They have expanded their community service to manicuring and maintaining the whole park. It goes beyond words to express our thanks and appreciation to this group for their efforts in making this community a better place to live, work and raise our families.

Lastly, thank you, citizens of Sunnyside, for showing your appreciation to the volunteers, contributors and leaders of this project. You are the ones who make this community the wonderful place it is.

This Saturday....the 2011 hanging baskets will be sold, for only $25 each, at Yakima Federal Savings & Loan Park, located at 9th & Edison Avenue, beginning at 9 a.m. Last year those who purchased baskets enjoyed them right up to Thanksgiving-time. Your purchase is "seed money" for next year!

- Bill Flower, a former Yakima County Commissioner, is a long-time Sunnyside businessman who has been instrumental in the beautification and revitalization efforts of the downtown Sunnyside core.

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