Friday, January 25, 2008

Solano: A Great Place To Grow Up

Solano: A Great Place To Grow Up
County Named One Of Top 100 Areas For Young People For Third Consecutive Year
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 01/25/2008

For the third consecutive time, Solano County was recognized as one of the best places for at-risk youth to get help, it was announced Thursday.

America's Promise Alliance, a national organization dedicated to children and youth, in partnership with Capital One, named Solano County a winner of its 2008 100 Best Communities for Young People competition, said Solano County spokesman Stephen Pierce.

The competition recognizes the top 100 best places nationwide for young people to live and grow up, Pierce said. More than 300 communities in all 50 states applied for the honor this year and the winners span 37 states, he said.

Solano County was the only Bay Area location selected, one of two in Northern California and one of seven statewide, Pierce said. Solano was among 44 third-time winners. The competition was founded by Gen. Colin Powell in 2005, according to the alliance Web site.

"Solano County was selected as one of the 100 Best because of its collaborative approach to helping its young people," Pierce said.

This year's award focused on county efforts to reduce the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs among young people, he said.

"Solano County's Public Defender's office went to every middle school in the county and did a pretty grotesque presentation on the dangers of methamphetamines," Pierce said. "It was much more intense than 'This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.' "

The first-time award focused on health issues, and the second emphasized the county's education programs, Pierce said.

"Each year has built on the year before," he said.

Solano County Public Defender Jeffrey Thoma, who accepted the award in the nation's capitol on Thursday, said he's "overwhelmed and humbled by the fact that we're the only California jurisdiction to be a three-time winner - to be recognized for our community's efforts towards young people."

Winning the award could translate into more help for youth, Thoma said.

"Having won this, we're eligible for a playground grant," he said. "And other opportunities will arise for even more work toward children in the community."

"The prosperity of every community and this country depends on how well we care for our children and youth," said alliance president Marguerite W. Kondracke. "Although no place is perfect, when we have communities that make young people a priority and are working to make sure they stay in school and have all the resources necessary to lead healthy, productive lives, we must recognize them and by extension inspire other cities and towns to follow their lead."

Josephine Wilson, interim director of Fighting Back Partnership, one of the county's most effective community partners, welcomes the recognition.

"I think it's a great opportunity to publicize the collaborative work everyone is doing around youth," Wilson said.

This year's 100 Best winners were selected by a panel that included some of the nation's best-known civic, business and nonprofit leaders, Pierce said.

"Solano County demonstrates on a daily basis what it takes to be a great community for our young people. Quite simply, we put our children first," said Solano County Supervisor John Silva. "This county is proud that our steadfast commitment to our youth has earned such esteemed national recognition for three consecutive years."

For more information about the 100 Best competition, visit

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