SAN JUAN, November 14 - Something newsworthy happened in San Juan last night.
It wasn’t a major drug bust or a shooting or even a politically motivated lawsuit.
There wasn’t a major car accident or a fire either. We didn’t host a major movie or music star or have some other dignitary on hand.
But what we had was more newsworthy than any of the above-mentioned headlines. A group of citizens came to the San Juan City Commission meeting and, with great dignity and pride, highlighted a need in our community, and then asked city leaders to take care of this problem.
Unlike many presentations that come our way, these citizens didn’t scream, holler or insult anyone. They didn’t attack or demean anyone. They were succinct with their topic, gave excellent information and were highly professional. They brought colorful visual aids that looked to have taken time and effort to develop, and shared personal stories. They were selfless in their request, as they talked about the direct benefit to all the children of San Juan and the community as a whole. They explained that it was an investment in the health, safety and well-being of all of us living today but also on into the future.
These were not highly paid consultants, contractors or vendors. These citizens were students from Carmen Elementary School. They were a group of children accompanied by their parents that came to raise their voice and be heard. They explained that our city needed to upgrade its playground equipment. They noted that although equipment was in place, it needed improvement. They explained that the playground equipment should be accessible to all children, especially those with special needs. They told us that kids today are easily entertained and distracted by TV, video games and other electronic devices that cement their feet indoors and slams the door on their bodies and brains.
The work of those children was front-page material. Their first class-presentation assured the city commission’s unanimous approval to move forward with park equipment upgrades, including the purchase of new playground equipment that will be accessible and appropriate for children with special needs.
In a not unrelated item, the commission also passed a resolution that it will commit to installing street lights in all residential areas of our city within the next 10 years.
San Juan is dedicated to being a city in which all of its residents feel welcomed, respected, safe and protected. I am proud to live in a community in which a group of elementary kids can walk into a city commission meeting, raise their voices, and be heard.
Armando, Garza, Jr., is a commission member and mayor pro-tem for the City of San Juan, Texas.