Elk Grove News

Elk Grove street signs to honor city’s veterans, police and firefighters

Elk Grove neighborhood near Laguna Blvd. and Harbor Point appears in this composite photograph of three images digitally stitched together on Monday, October 31, 2011.
Elk Grove neighborhood near Laguna Blvd. and Harbor Point appears in this composite photograph of three images digitally stitched together on Monday, October 31, 2011. rbenton@sacbee.com

Elk Grove will require that housing developers name at least one street in memory of a military veteran, police officer or firefighter, an ordinance so unique that the region’s largest home builders association had never heard of such a rule.

The Elk Grove City Council approved the ordinance Wednesday, with a confirmation vote expected at its next meeting. Known officially as the Veteran and Public Safety Street Naming Program, the goal is to promote public awareness of the person and honor his or her contributions.

“We’re recognizing the service that came before us and raising awareness for the next generation,” said City Councilman Pat Hume, who first spearheaded the effort in 2009 when he served as mayor, saying the ordinance is a “way of codifying the dedication people show in serving something higher than themselves.”

Hume is the son of an Air Force colonel who lost his life in a peacetime accident when the councilman was a child.

A second reading on the ordinance is set for the City Council’s next meeting, Jan. 28.

The street signs will carry Elk Grove’s familiar green field with white letters, but on the left side will display the Stars and Stripes on a white background, distinguish whether the person honored is a veteran, law enforcement officer or firefighter, and carry the inscription “Honoring those who have served.”

Elk Grove will soon solicit nominations for names of veterans and first responders. The city will market the effort through social media and in the city’s newsletter, as well as meet with veterans’ groups across the city. Developers will then choose names from a city-approved list, according to a staff report.

Candidates must meet the following criteria:

▪ Deceased, though they need not have died while serving. If military, they must have been honorably discharged and resided in Elk Grove. Police and firefighter candidates must have worked in the city. Candidates may not have been terminated for cause from employment.

▪ Residents who served in the branches of the armed services and the Coast Guard, when under the authority of the Department of Navy, are eligible.

▪ Individuals of earlier communities who served the greater Elk Grove area and immigrants who served in the armed forces of allied nations during wartime are also eligible.

“We’re proud of the program. There’s finally an easy way to pay respects to veterans,” said Richard Shepard, city public works director, whose department oversees the program.

Elk Grove is home to more than 9,000 veterans; hundreds more residents wear the uniform as active-duty personnel or members of the National Guard. Elk Grove’s namesake boulevard every Veterans Day becomes the site of one of the region’s largest tributes to service members past and present, and the city is moving forward on plans for a new veterans center.

Officials at the locally based North State Building Industry Association said they were unaware of other California cities with similar codes on the books. The group welcomed the Elk Grove ordinance, calling it “a great way to bring attention to the contributions of these veterans.”

Henry Sanchez leads American Legion Post 233, the city’s largest veterans group with more than 200 members. Sanchez said prior to Wednesday’s meeting that his post had not been contacted by the city about a list of Elk Grove veterans but looked forward to working with the city.

William Boles, a Vietnam War veteran and member of the Elk Grove American Legion post, said he is eager to see the street sign tributes so younger generations remember and honor the contributions and sacrifices of those who came before.

“I want there to be something that my kids know about and that my grandkids know about,” Boles said. “As new generations, they need to know who these people were.”

For more information, visit the city’s website at www.elkgrovecity.org/streetsign/program.asp or send an email to streetsign@elkgrovecity.org.

Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.