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City of Lancaster Celebrates Local History with The BLVD Community Program

City of Lancaster Celebrates Local History with The BLVD Community Program

Lancaster, CA. 2/9/2011 – Local residents, business representatives and City officials gathered yesterday to celebrate the unveiling of the first tree plaques to be sponsored on Lancaster Boulevard through The BLVD Community Program. The program, which was launched in November 2010, allows members of the community to participate in the revitalization of downtown Lancaster, also known as The BLVD Transformation Project, by sponsoring trees or banners on The BLVD.

“This is an incredible opportunity to truly take an active role in our community,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “The BLVDTransformation Project has restored Lancaster Boulevard to its former status as the heart of the Antelope Valley. Each and every one of these sponsors has now become a part of this next phase in The BLVD’s history.”

Ron Smith presents plaque to Western Equipment Service Heating and Air Conditioning

“This program provides a nice way to honor loved ones,” said Vice Mayor Ron Smith. “These trees will be an essential part of ourBLVD community for decades to come. Today, I am proud to represent the City in recognizing these upstanding citizens and businesses who have contributed so much to the Antelope Valley.”

The first 11 individuals to sponsor trees were presented with keepsake replica plaques by Vice Mayor Smith. Among the sponsors was Geraldlyn Drake, who purchased a tree in honor of her grandparents, longtime Antelope Valley residents Olin and Beatrice Derrick. Drake and the Derricks received their replica plaque near their tree in front of the post office.

The BLVD holds historical meaning for them,” she said. “I chose this area of the BLVD so I can take them to visit it and reminisce about the ‘good old days.’”

Ron Smith presents plaque in memory of SDPO Gary Lippman

The Derricks’ history in the area dates back to 1935, when Olin first arrived in the Antelope Valley. He soon established himself as an alfalfa farmer, and he and Beatrice still live on their ranch today.

The Derricks wasted no time in becoming involved in the community. The pair was among the pioneers of the original Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, donating hay to help raise money for the purchase of the land. They continued to donate numerous hours of service to the Fair each year. Olin was deeply involved in the Fair’s Rural Olympics, serving as a Starter, Committeeman, Safety Officer, member of the Protest Committee, and Judge for more than 50 years. After being knocked down by a truck which was backing through the chutes, he decided to retire. In recognition of this service, Olin was awarded entry into the Rural Olympics Hall of Fame and received a Golden Hay Hook in 2007.

“They are the best grandparents ever,” said Drake. “I am very blessed, along with their children, other grandchildren and great grandchildren. They have lived long, healthy, and prosperous lives.”

The Derricks celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in September 2010. Drake presented them with the tree as a birthday present, as Beatrice celebrated her 89th birthday on February 4 and Olin celebrated his 93rd birthday February 8 immediately after the plaque presentation.

Ron Smith presents plaque to Rottman Drilling Co

Memories made on The BLVD also led Gary Sutton to select a tree in front of the post office.  He donated the tree in memory of his fallen comrade, S. Sgt. James H. Duty, a veteran of the Vietnam War.

“As teenagers, we used to walk up and down Sierra Highway to check out the used car lots and Lancaster BLVD,” Sutton said. “On July 16, 1959, we were walking down Lancaster Boulevard. We walked between two palm trees in front of the [Western] hotel and a bird [pooped] on my head. As luck would have it, the sprinklers came on at the post office and I was able to wash my head.”

Sutton has many good memories with Duty, a helicopter gunner who had survived being shot down multiple times.

“We had lots of laughs and good times walking all over Lancaster and working together – he was a really good mechanic,” Sutton said. “Every day I go to the post office and see the two palm trees, I remember the laughs we got out of the bird [pooping] on my head and me down on my knees washing in the sprinklers.”

Resident Merlynn Aston also took advantage of the opportunity to honor the memory of loved ones, donating a tree in the name of her husband, the John Aston Family, and her father, the Al Nimigean Family. She selected a tree in front of what is now BeX to commemorate fond memories with her father.

“In 1950, the first electric door was in our grocery store on this corner,” she said. “I asked my dad how it worked, and he said that a little man sits at the top of the door and pushes a button to open it for us.”

To strengthen her ties to the downtown area, Aston’s father worked at Singer Sewing Machine on The BLVD.  In addition, both families were active in the Masons, Shriners, Eastern Star, Women’s Club, Moose, Elks, and the Christian church.

“Both families lived, worked, and spent their money and time here making a difference,” Aston said.

Other tree sponsors included:

·         Robert Laich, in memory of SDPO Gary Lippman

·         Phyllis Lask, in memory of Salvadore A. Lask, M.D.

·         Chris Aune, in memory of his grandparents, Mary and Joseph Gonzales

·         The Ralph and Virginia Bozigian Family

·         Rottman Drilling Co.

·         Western Equipment Service

·         The City of Lancaster Planning Commission

·         Helga Coleman

·         Gregory Wright

·         City Manager Mark Bozigian and his wife, Karen, in honor of their children, Brenna and Sean

Trees are still available for sponsorship through The BLVD Community Program. For more information,, e-mail or contact Chenin Dow at (661) 723-6165.



February 10, 2011 Posted by | on the blvd, The BLVD Community Program, The BLVD Transformation Project | , , , , | Leave a comment