Rialto Celebrates Centennial in Tough Economy - NBC Southern California

Rialto Celebrates Centennial in Tough Economy

Rialto pulls out all the stops for a centennial celebration during tough times

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    The Inland Empire city of Rialto spends thousands of dollars on a centennial celebration during tough economic times for the city. (Published Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011)

    Rialto is 100 years old. But because of the economy, the city had to spend a year raising money for a weekend of parties.

    They've booked a concert with Pancho Sanchez, hired a carnival company to bring rides to town and published sheets of commerative postage stamps.

    The largest expense was the installation of a "Walk of Fame" on Riverside Avenue.  It has room for 250 granite stars and costs $70,000.
     
    Sanchez and his band cost $4,000 and the custom postage stamps were $2,750.
     
    The city hopes to recover some of the expense by selling concert tickets, custom engravings on the stars and sheets of stamps which memorialize Rialto's citrus heritage.
     
    City Administrator Michael Story said $100,000 has been raised to cover the costs.  If the centennial celebration goes over budget, the city will be responsible for making up the difference.
     
    In October, Rialto was forced to lay off 20 full-time employees due to a budget deficit.  The city also faced difficult negotiations with its firefighters. Budget talks hinged on pay raises and pension contributions.
     
    "You only turn 100 once," said Story, who has faced some criticism over the cost of Rialto's party.
     
    Story said he felt a responsibility to give people in Rialto a reason to be proud of their heritage.

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