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This is gap week, the days between two major celebrations in America, and it’s almost over.

The countdown has already begun for the exciting, midnight glitter-ball drop in New York City. All kinds of stuff is being dropped at midnight Monday, to signal the start of another new year.

You have to admit, the year soon to expire has been an interesting one, at least from a news perspective. And we have probably awarded several tons of roses in these Saturday commentaries, but only a few buckets of raspberries.

As the imagery and general aroma factor imply, roses go to the good-deed doers, raspberries in their sourest form to those who transgress in one way or another.

The fact that roses dominated this space on Saturdays throughout 2018 is a testament to the inherent goodness of people in our communities. We don’t anticipate much of a change in 2019.

So, in keeping with the preamble above, roses today to the following:

First batch — and it’s huge — goes to the 900 or so Santa Maria-area elementary school children who graduated from the DARE program. DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, and it happens in local schools twice a year.

DARE focuses on teaching students to take responsibility for themselves and for their own actions, by giving kids the tools to stop and think about the decisions they're making.

What started as a drugs-only program has morphed beyond its drug-free message to focus also on resisting peer pressure, dealing with stress and making smart choices.

Strong lessons that will serve a person well throughout life.

***

Roses to the folks who dreamed up the Food for Thought Speakers Series at Cachuma Lake’s Nature Center, especially for the program planned next Sunday featuring a talk about bees and beekeeping.

So, why are bees so important? Here’s why:

Bees are among the most important creatures to humans on Earth. These amazing insects pollinate over 80 percent of all flowering plants, including 70 of the top 100 human food crops. One in every three bites of food we eat is derived from plants pollinated by bees.

With bees and other insects pollinating a third of all our food, it is evident that a world without pollinators — primarily bees — would be devastated with regard to human food production. From a purely economic and self-interest point of view, it pays to protect the bees.

So many reasons to be at the Nature Center from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6.

***

Roses and a tip of the hat to Santa Ynez Valley’s People Helping People’s Youth Coalition, whose members are trying to get the message out about sobriety and safe driving on this holiday weekend.

Data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that Christmas and New Year’s Eve/Day are very dangerous times to travel when it comes to fatal crashes.

December can be especially dangerous for motorists, as researchers found that 41 percent of the fatalities occurred on New Year’s and 38 percent on Christmas. More than 40 percent of the fatalities during Christmas and New Year’s involved alcohol, with drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 tending to be more often involved in fatal crashes related to alcohol use.

That’s where the Youth Coalition comes in. When you encounter the group’s banner about staying alive to greet the new year, with emphasis on staying sober, they hope you’re getting the very real message.

If a glass or two of bubbly is on your agenda this weekend, designate a sober driver.

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