The True Blue for Clean Air sponsored by the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District announced their winners including a Santa Paula Boy. Above left, is Erik Gomez, Santa Paula; Erik took 1st Place in the 6-8 year-old category. Right, is Beth Hicks, Moorpark; Beth took the 9-11 year-old category.

Erik Gomez takes top prize for Air Pollution Control tips

September 15, 2000
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesA Santa Paula boy who wants to save the environment came in first in his age division for an essay on how to cut down on air pollutants in Ventura County.Now, 8-year-old Erik Gomez has his head in the clouds after being among the group of winners who were lauded in a special ceremony held recently in Camarillo.“True Blue for Clean Air” was the theme of the contest jointly sponsored by the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District and Vons grocery stores. The competition also acted as an education campaign to raise awareness of air pollution and ways to help eliminate same.Gomez wrote that more trees, flowers and plants would greatly enhance air quality by reducing pollutants. . .an added bonus is the plantings would also beautify neighborhoods, he noted.“To clean the air this summer I will plant spider plants and philodendrons because they remove pollutants from the air,” he wrote.
Gomez had stiff competition: in all, the contest drew over 350 entrants ages 6 to 11 and was open to all children in Ventura County.Ventura County Air Pollution Control District officials touted their record at the awards presentation ceremony: smog season is May 1 through October 31, but the county - in the late 1970s one of the most polluted in Southern California with 122 days of unhealthy air - so far this year has had no unhealthy air days.The district has six air meters placed throughout the county that monitors air quality around the clock. A proactive speakers’ bureau visits area schools on a regular basis to make presentations on air pollution and what students can do to reduce same, including air quality friendly alternatives. Middle school presentations include a demonstration of an electric car in the hopes that as production increases more and more kids waiting for that first car just might consider one that plugs in to an electrical outlet and not the business end of a gasoline pump nozzle.Tylour Morrison, 7 of Oxnard placed Second behind Gomez for the best air pollution control tips and Third Place went to Jordan Bustillos, 8 of Ventura, who were all entered in the age 6-8 category. In the age 9-11 category, Beth Hicks, 11 of Moorpark, took First Place, 11-year-old Jessica Castro of Camarillo Second Place and Courtney Eubank, 10 of Camarillo placed Third.

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