A renovated park hosted a celebration of Lompoc, recognizing its past 135 years and the people who shaped the community’s character while also looking to the city’s future.
The Sunday morning event culminated in the City of Lompoc’s 135th birthday and the Electric Division’s 100 years of serving the city. It attracted more than 100 people, including residents and local officials.
“Lompoc’s history is a story of committed residents who sought to contribute to this community,” said Assemblyman Gregg Hart, D-Santa Barbara. “Generations of people have invested in this town and the work that they’ve done is our responsibility to continue on.
“Lompoc stands as a testament to the power of unity and collaboration.”
Hart’s father served as library director in the 1960s and he attended kindergarten in the city.
“This is a very special place; this is a very special day,” he added.
Hart noted that the future includes the resurrection of the historic Lompoc Theatre through a grassroots effort he said he has found inspiring.
“Reopening of the theater will have a tremendous artistic, educational and economic impact that will be positive for the city and the entire region of Santa Barbara County …,” Hart added.
The celebration of Lompoc’s incorporation on Aug. 13, 1888, took place at Centennial Park at the corner of South H Street and Cypress Avenue where city crews recently completed a much-needed renovation of what many described as a dirt patch.
The project included adding a new flagpole, new irrigation system, fresh lawn benches and sign.
“It was a shoestring budget so they really stretched it and got a lot done,” City Manager Dean Albro said.
Lompoc has focused on renovating multiple parks in the city with plans for others, but the last budget cycle and current budget cycle add up to $10 million spent on parks.
Through the years, Lompoc has seen huge losses that have hit the economy hard: the cancellation of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory in the late 1960s, the cancellation of the West Coast space shuttle program in the 1980s and the demise of the local flower industry.
But the community has rebounded after each loss, and pivoted to invest in itself, Mayor Jenelle Osborne said.
This includes both local business owners as well as national chain stores investing and expanding in Lompoc.
“I want you to take pride in your community,” Osborne said.
Despite being an event to celebrate the city, only two members of the current City Council attended the ceremony: Osborne and Councilman Jeremy Ball.
“People here are really engaged,” she added.
“Your support has been immeasurable and it is no exaggeration to say we in the Department of Defense could not perform our national security mission at Vandenberg Space Force Base without you,” said Col. Mark Shoemaker, commander of Space Launch Delta 30.
Vandenberg has been the launch site of weather and reconnaissance satellites and also sent the first Global Positioning System spacecraft into orbit, he said.
In addition to rocket launches and missile tests, base personnel also conduct space operations missions and train Space Force Guardians.
With many military members, defense contractor workers and civil servants living in the city, quality of life remains key, whether it’s housing, schools or medical services, Shoemaker said.
“You’ve always made it know that we’re partners in the community,” he added.
Shoemaker noted that the number of launches expected this year from Vandenberg will be the most since 1987.
Launches bring crew members and spectators to the Lompoc Valley, with many staying in local hotels, eating at restaurants and buying gas for vehicles.
“Space is a thriving domain and it isn’t slowing down,” Shoemaker said. “As our space launches, our Department of Defense test missions and global space operations increase, I know it will only bring us closer together as a community.
“We truly appreciate Lompoc being a welcoming city that so many of us can call home and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for us in the future,” he added.