Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Teen Center To Bear Name Of Yarbrough

Teen Center To Bear Name Of Yarbrough
By Ben Antonius | Daily Republic | February 26, 2008

FAIRFIELD - There were tears aplenty and one rekindled relationship on Tuesday night.

Billy Yarbrough's family members, friends and supporters came out to watch the City Council name the soon-to-be-built teen center after the longtime developer and philanthropist.

'Of all the honors he has received in his lifetime, none would be more important than this,' said son-in-law Anthony Russo.

Over the years, Yarbrough and wife Louise built an extensive legacy of philanthropy in the community. They donated 18 acres for the Fairfield Expos baseball team, built the Octo Inn Soccer complex and contributed to the Fairfield Center for Creative Arts, high school athletic fields and the skate park in Allan Witt Park.

Fairfield moved closer to a long-term teen center Feb. 19, when the council unanimously approved leasing a 9,300-square-foot space near the intersection of Travis Boulevard and North Texas Street.

The city plans to renovate the space and offer supervised tutoring, basketball and boxing through the Police Activity League. Once site improvements are finished in summer, the building's official name will be the 'Billy G. Yarbrough Youth Center.'

'Billy and Louise Yarbrough have given a lot to this community and we have a lot to thank them for,' said City Manager Sean Quinn.

Yarbrough started Solano Concrete in 1960 and later formed development firm B&L Properties, through which he has been an active political donor. Since 2005, B&L Properties has contributed to the successful election campaigns of Councilmen John Mraz, Frank Kardos, Chuck Timm and Matt Garcia.

Yarbrough, a land developer, largely withdrew from Fairfield affairs after a 2005 falling out with some controlled-growth proponents then on the council, who Russo said 'lost sight of the values Billy championed.'

That relationship appeared to be on the mend Tuesday, however; All five councilmen read part of a resolution honoring Yarbrough, who could not attend the ceremony due to failing health. And daughter Debra Russo presented the city with a check for $50,000 to be put toward the long-term endowment for the teen center.

'More than anything, we just wish it to be successful,' Russo said.

It is technically the family's second such contribution.

In July, Fairfield announced the discovery of a 33-acre parcel of land, apparently deeded over by Yarbrough in the 1980s and then forgotten for 25 years. Officials are hoping to put proceeds from selling the land toward the endowment as well.

Before the Yarbrough presentation took place, officials with the city Twilight Rotary club presented the council with a $5,000 check from a recent fundraiser, also to be put toward the teen center.

'If we can get the rest of the community behind us, we will see a difference,' Timm said.

Reach Ben Antonius at 427-6977 or

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