By Anne Marie Fuller
TRACY -- Holiday shoppers will see something new this year in the parking lot of West Valley Mall.
Five military veteran parking spots have been designated with red, white and blue signs reading "Veteran's Parking" and "Thank you for your service."
The signs were the idea of former Tracy City Councilwoman Evelyn Tolbert, as a way to honor those who have served the country in the military.
"The idea came from the many people who wanted to find a way to just say 'thank you' to those that serve from our town," said Tolbert. "We are so very proud of all of them. The parking spots are symbolic of the honor and respect that we, the community, hold for our veterans that served in times of our country's conflicts."
Tolbert wrote a letter to Mike Donaghy, general manager of the mall, and proposed the idea.
"This is a great way to honor our veterans," said Donaghy. "We have a large military population out here. This will be a convenience for the veterans, and it's such a small way for us to show our appreciation. I think this project is a good example of community team work."
There are three veterans parking spots near the front main entrance of the mall, off Naglee Road and the other two are close to the rear mall entrance off Corral Hollow Road.
"I think this is very nice and gives a little recognition that someone cares," said Vaughn Gates, the commander of Tracy Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1537 and a retired Air Force first sergeant. "Many vets from out here serve our country. We have a lot of World War II vets around, and it's nice to give them an area to park at the mall."
There are a total of 3,258 parking spots on the mall property, five of which are now reserved for veterans. In addition, the mall also has reserved handicapped, expectant mom and senior citizen parking spots near the front entrance.
The five new veterans parking spots were added in time for Veteran's Day last month and are a permanent addition for the mall parking lot. They are available through the "honor system" for use. No sticker or placard is needed.
West Valley Mall is at 3200 Naglee Road.
Contact Anne Marie Fuller at firstname.lastname@example.org.