Biola community taking action to light up town, how you can help

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Street lighting is something that can easily be taken for granted in a big city, but Biola Chamber of Commerce and executive board member, Phillip Cervantes says lamp posts are so much more than aesthetics.

"It's actually being able to walk as a family. To be able to walk in their community and feel safe in a lit area. It's not a luxury, it's something every American city deserves," he said.

Each cone along the east side of fifth, between E and G streets, shows the lighting project initially gained momentum.

That progress came to a screeching halt during the pandemic.

Cervantes says, "The sidewalks were probably three and a half years ago. So the lights and the bolts that are sticking up have been there for that long."

Once pandemic restrictions lifted, the chamber hosted a successful fundraiser but still fell $7,000 short of the fundraising goal.

Another hurdle -- the cost of materials and time frame nearly doubled.

Cervantes says an electrician who wants to remain anonymous is donating his time to install the lighting to offset costs.

He says, "We just have to be able to come up with the money for the lights and we'll be able to install them for nothing."

Biola's chamber of commerce is celebrating 100 years.

Each year, they host two fundraisers for various improvement projects and scholarship opportunities.

Cervantes says, "If you come into town, we did all the benches in the downtown and the garbage cans. We also did the 'Welcome to Biola' or 'Bienvenido a Biola.'"

The successful projects have encouraged community involvement. The chamber has been working with Fresno County on various grants and giving the community a forum to give input on what they hope to see that now includes a medical clinic, grocery store and gas station.

Cervantes says, "We want to be the posterchild for other small communities who don't think it's possible."

Ziveli Winery has created a Biola Chamber of Commerce label. $10 from each bottle sold will go toward to the chamber and the lighting project.

Donations can also be sent to the Biola Chamber of Commerce at: P.O. Box 245 Biola, CA 93606.
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