Steven Smith, guest writer

Leaders from around the community gathered at Azusa Pacific University to share their most significant happenings from the past year for the State of the City Address on Feb. 16. This was the first time the State of the City was held at APU.

Presenters included representatives from the City of Azusa, APU, Azusa Unified School District and the Azusa Chamber of Commerce.

“I was really impressed that four very different presentations had a common theme … It all centered around service and calling,” Maureen Taylor, executive director of strategic communication at APU, said.

The event, which is put on by the Azusa Chamber of Commerce, had outgrown its previous venue, according to Steven Castro, CEO of the Azusa Chamber of Commerce and emcee for the event.

“Last year we had about 162 people that showed up for the breakfast that was held at the woman’s club downtown, this year we had 182 people,” Castro said.

Presentations at the event started with Mayor Joseph Rocha of the City of Azusa. The addition of the Metro Gold Line, a new chief of police and improvements to water quality were a few of the topics announced.

“The [reconstruction] of McDonald’s on Alosta Ave has now been completed. Mcdonald’s has a special place in our heart, since I worked there and my four grown kids worked there. It was a nice place to work at,” Rocha said.

President Jon Wallace of APU addressed the audience about APU’s involvement with Senate Bill 1146, which prohibits post secondary institutions from discriminating on the basis of sex and gender identity.

“It put at risk Cal Grant students choosing faith based institutions,” Wallace said during the presentation. “At Azusa Pacific we have more than 1,500 of those students.”

Wallace also discussed the visitation of Catholic Bishop David O’Connell to the campus and the importance of the Catholic voice during the SB 1146 lobbying. Another point was the election of APU alumni Blanca Rubio to the State Assembly and the swearing in ceremony held on January 28. Wallace concluded his presentation by displaying a “treasure” from University Libraries Special Collections, a bible that was carried during the Civil War by General Thomas Rugar.

Assistant Superintendent Arturo Ortega opened his presentation for the AUSD by sharing some connections with previously mentioned subjects. McDonald’s was also his first job and that he was the principal at Rubio’s school when she was a teacher.

He announced improved state test scores and college acceptance rates that “broke records.” He also talked about the district’s improved Wi-Fi capabilities and new fencing around the schools amongst other improvements.

Chairwoman Benbow and CEO Castro’s presentation for the Chamber of Commerce included discussing nonprofits as members of the Chamber.

Giving back was a common theme, despite none of the speakers comparing notes, Castro said.

“I think events like this whether it’s state of the city, state of the schools or Azusa prayer breakfast, etcetera. they just serve as tangible reminders of the importance of the city you reside within or you call home and the importance of relationships and neighbors,” Taylor said.