Sharon Silva, who revived the Los Banos Downtown Association, has moved on.
Due to health concerns, she retired as LBDA executive director this past fall and moved to Turlock to be near her daughter. But she continues to have good feelings about Los Banos.
Silva, who lived in Los Banos as a child, returned to her hometown in 2016, when her friend Gene Lieb asked her to come back and help revive the Downtown Association. Gene remembered that she had revived Turlock’s downtown, and he thought she could do the same for Los Banos.
“My husband Manuel and I would have never moved from our home in Las Vegas, where we lived after I had retired the first time,” Silva said, “if Gene hadn’t asked. He has been a good friend of mine for a long time and continues to be a good friend to this day.”
Lieb asked Silva to come to Los Banos and give the Downtown Association some advice. She thought it would be a very temporary assignment. But the more she came to know the association’s board, the more she was drawn to stay longer and eventually move to Los Banos.
After working for six years advising and leading the association, Silva feels she left Los Banos’ downtown in good shape. “Thanks to a great board,” she said, “the Downtown Association accomplished a lot during that time,” she said.
“We were able to develop a strong organization,” Silva noted. “We set up an office, passed a measure to establish a PBID (Property and Business Improvement District), developed many new or expanded events, added more trees and shrubs and became more welcoming to new downtown businesses.
“To do this we needed to work as a team,” she added. ”It indeed ‘takes a village’ to make good things happen.”
Silva sees good things ahead for Los Banos’ downtown area. The old Crest Theater, for example, should be opening soon as a sports bar, and other improvements will be coming soon after.
In the long run, however, to fully develop the downtown, Silva believes local property owners will need to pass a second PBID. “The first PBID, which was passed more than four years ago, was for five years,” Silva said. “I hope the next PBID will be for 10 years. If that happens, I believe 10 years from now Los Banos’ downtown will be considerably more attractive, more vibrant and busier.”
Much of Silva’s confidence comes from her belief that the current Downtown Association board is an excellent one. “They work hard,” she said, “they’re committed, and they have a vision for a thriving downtown.”
Silva also has fond memories of her time with the Los Banos Rotary Club, where she served as president in 2021-22. “I was blessed to have a smart, hard-working board,” she said, “including Mike Larson, Toni Huarte, John Cates, Gene Lieb, Brian Rocha, Mike Neu, Paul Llanez, Joe May and Tom Kaljian.
“We were able to accomplish a lot,” she added, “especially in adding 10 new members to the club, which was my goal at the start of my presidency. We were also able to bring back our annual crab feed, which I’m glad to hear will also be held this year on April 1.”
Sharon continues to be involved in Rotary in her new home in Turlock. Years ago, she served as president of the Turlock Rotary Club, and she keeps in touch with many friends and colleagues in the club.
She has, however, learned to slow down. “During my year as the president of the Los Banos Rotary Club,” she said, “I encountered several serious medical problems. I made many trips to Stanford and spent some time in the hospital.
“I learned I had to slow down for my health’s sake,” she added. “And I decided it would be wise for me and my husband Manuel to live closer to my daughter in Turlock. She was kind enough to welcome us with open arms.”
Silva’s health is on an upswing, she believes. “I feel as though I’m gaining strength and energy,” she said. “But I realize I need to take better care of myself and cut down on my commitments.”
Sharon’s optimism remains high for herself and for Los Banos, especially the city’s Downtown Association and Rotary Club. “There are so many good people continuing to do good things in Los Banos,” she said, “it’s easy to be optimistic.”
On another note: The Los Banos Empty Bowls event will take place Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Ted Falasco Arts Center (Fifth and J Streets). Tickets will continue to be sold at the door.