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We enjoy a Parade of Flowers every Saturday, handing out roses to our heroes. Today’s gifts are easy calls.

The first bouquet goes to the Santa Maria City Council, whose members wasted no time — and perhaps more importantly, no taxpayer money — choosing a replacement for retiring City Manager Rick Haydon.

Council members decided to put Haydon’s right-hand guy, Jason Stilwell, in the city’s top administrative job, which will be Stilwell’s come Dec. 5, Haydon’s last day on the payroll.

It’s a big responsibility. The city manager serves as Santa Maria government’s chief executive officer, coordinating and overseeing the activities and operations of the city’s 10 departments, which include more than 700 employees and an overall annual budget of more than $160 million. Stilwell will be directing administrative services, preparing annual budgets and hiring department leaders, and advising and helping the City Council, among other duties.

Like we said earlier, a big job. Let’s hope Stilwell catches up on his sleep between now and early December, because it gets really hectic for him after that. Maybe a rose will help him get some rest.


Coping with student debt has morphed into a really big thing in America, and some grads are so deep in debt they feel like they’ll never get out from under the weight.

That’s where dozens of local high school and college students come in. They recently gathered around computers in the Pioneer Valley High School library, joining volunteers from the California Student Opportunity and Access Program and other organizations that provide assistance and advice on the college financial aid process.

Recipients of such help will someday realize that each and every one of the volunteers deserve a rose for their efforts. That’s especially true for local high school students planning to move on to the next level of education, and who need some financial aid.

As of mid-summer, student debt nationwide had reached a record-high $1.34 trillion — enough to be a big factor in the nation’s overall economy. It’s not unusual for graduates in professional careers to have a debt of $350,000 or more. Think about that.

Bravo, and roses to the volunteers who help alert high school students to the details and pitfalls of borrowing for college.


How about a bouquet of American red beauties for folks who have donated blood in the wake of the Las Vegas concert shooting, the worst mass murder in modern U.S. history.

Local Blood Bank officials report a surge of volunteers at a time when blood is desperately needed in Las Vegas. The count as of late this week was nearly 60 killed, and more than 500 injured, many of them in critical condition and needing transfusions.

More than 200 donated blood products have been shipped to Las Vegas, and local Blood Bank officials are hoping to be able to provide more.

Donors can make an appointment to donate blood online at, or by calling 543-4290, ext. 0.

While O-positive, O-negative and platelet donations are most needed whenever a large-scale tragedy occurs, United Blood Services Central Coast urges existing and first-time donors of all blood types to make an appointment, or visit a mobile blood drive by going to

Donating blood is good any time of the year, because you never really know when a family member, loved one or even yourself may need blood in an emergency situation.

Americans may be a contentious bunch, but when it comes to responding to a national crisis, we rise as one.