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[whitespace] Crossing flags unfurled at WGBPA meeting

Willow Glen--Demetri Rizos, head of the Willow Glen Business and Professional Association, introduced a simple solution to a major problem plaguing downtown Willow Glen at the annual WGBPA gala last Thursday, April 1. The solution is small, lightweight and neon orange--crossing flags for Lincoln Avenue.

"Hopefully they will see you by now," Rizos said, waving the flags in the air and demonstrating proper flag technique to the audience. "What this will do hopefully is get people to slow down when they're driving down Lincoln Avenue. We don't want anybody to get hurt."

Since 1989, 23 people have been hit crossing the avenue.

The flags will be located on both sides of the crosswalk in front of Blockbuster and Sharky's. Pedestrians crossing Lincoln will carry the flags with them and then leave them on the opposite side of the street. Beginning sometime late April, the pilot flag program will be limited to one crosswalk, initially. If the pilot is successful, the plan is to flag all the Lincoln Avenue crosswalks between Coe Avenue and Minnesota Avenue, Rizos says.

Marv Bamburg, owner of MBA Architects, takes credit for the plan. After seeing the flags at work in the small town of Kirkland, Wash., a town with a downtown similar to Willow Glen's, he suggested using the program on Lincoln.

"It seemed to be a very simple solution to a large problem," Bamburg says.

The WGBPA is funding the flag program.

"We're doing it all on our own," Rizos says. "No one is helping, including the city. We've spent $50 so far, and it is a $50 well spent."

The association has already considered the possibility of the flags disappearing.

"We're hoping people won't run off with them," Rizos says. "The purpose is for safety--not for people to steal them. And we're not going to make them that glamorous for people to want to steal them."

At the gala, Rizos outlined the upcoming events for 1999. Farmers Market will return to Willow Glen on April 17, Dancing on the Avenue will be held June 19 and the annual tree-lighting will be held Dec. 2.

Rizos also announced a new format for Founders Day '99. The annual celebration will once again be a two-day event, September 18 and 19, and will feature professional arts and crafts vendors lining Lincoln Avenue, food and a parade.

Several members of downtown Willow Glen were honored at the gala for their financial assistance and volunteer efforts at community events. The generous corporate sponsor award went to Washington Mutual Bank, formerly Home Savings of America. The entire Washington Mutual staff was also recognized for their volunteer and financial support.

Associate members Ken and Debbie Mckenzie, owners of Expert Solutions, won the volunteers of the year award. Generous contribution awards went to Barbara Formento, owner of Prudential Realty; Tyler Peak, owner of Peak Travel Group; Donna Minardi, owner of Gagliardi Realtors; Dave O'Mara, owner of Aqui; and the entire staff of Willow Street Wood-Fired Pizza.

Rizos also announced the new officers of the Willow Glen Business and Professional Association. David Machado, vice president of Washington Mutual will serve as president. Dot Cohen, owner of Willow Glen Chiropractic, Jeannie Caton, owner of Caton Design and Julie Painchaud, owner of Our Secret will serves as first, second and third vice-presidents, respectively. Candice Ayres from Bay View Bank will serve as treasurer and Randi Fredericks, owner of Willow Glen Kitchen and Bath will serve as secretary.
Jessica Lyons

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Web extra to the April 8-14, 1999 issue of Metro.

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