Congratulations to Matt Matheney and Bill Stamps Jr., winners this year of the Del Norte Pride Award.

On the front page of today's newspaper, you can read all about what these two people have done to help make Del Norte County a better, more beautiful place.

Both have shown their pride in our community through their civic improvement work. While they have taken different approaches, they have demonstrated a real spirit of optimism and pride and both have achieved impressive results through their personal efforts to improve our community.

The Del Norte Pride Award program was launched in 2004 as a collaborative initiative of the Crescent City-Del Norte Chamber of Commerce and The Daily Triplicate. We're pleased to note that the program has grown in its second year. We're optimistic that it will continue as an annual celebration of good things happening in our community.

The intent of the Del Norte Pride Award program is to acknowledge those who believe strongly enough in our community to invest in its aesthetic betterment and, by honoring these winners and their efforts, to inspire others to do the same.

We think it's working. One sign of this is that the number of nominations has grown in the Del Norte Pride Award program's second year. Perhaps that's because there are more and more people and projects here that deserve recognition. Perhaps it's because, as a community, we're becoming more conscious of the importance of aesthetics. We'd like to think it's some of both, but either way it's a win for Del Norte.

Aesthetics do matter. Tourists are more likely to stop in Del Norte and spend their money in our hotels, restaurants and retail shops if they find our community an attractive, inviting place. Studies show that successful community beautification efforts result in higher property values and lower crime rates. On all counts, this benefits those of us who live here.

Last year's Del Norte Pride Award winner was Matt Fearing, who was honored for his Front Street Plaza project. Fearing turned a dilapidated warehouse at the city's southern gateway into an attractive retail complex.

There were some impressive brick-and-mortar projects nominated this year, too. But from among all of the nominees, our judges chose two winners who in 2005 built pride by investing in Del Norte in a different way.

To both Matt Matheney and Bill Stamps Jr., we offer our congratulations and our thanks.

The Daily Triplicate