Ozona Bank transitions their lighting to be dark-sky compliant. Pictured are Ozona Bank employees Jennifer Ramirez, Jeannie Miller, Jenifer Reed, Daina Slover and Philip Walker with IDA-Texas.
Daily Record photo by Dalton Sweat
Ozona Bank helps to keep stars bright in area skies
“It's important to me, because I love seeing the stars at night,” Jenifer Reed, branch operations manager at Ozona Bank San Marcos, said. “I mean, they say the stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas. Well, it wouldn't be if we didn't keep the lights down.”
Ozona Bank is the first business in San Marcos to receive the “Be a Star: Nature, Neighbor and Night Sky Friendly Award” from the International Dark-Sky Association-Texas and Hays County Friends of the Night Sky.
To do so, Ozona Bank changed out the lights and fixtures to attempt to limit light pollution, something they have also done at their branch in Wimberley.
Beyond saving money and limiting glare, controlling lighting can have other benefits such has helping birds during migration or other wildlife that counts on the darkness of night.
“There are a lot of animals that need the natural darkness in order to navigate,” Cindy Luongo Cassidy, president of the board of IDA-Texas and the Hays County Friends of the Night Sky, said. “For instance, our birds. We’re in bird migration season where you may have heard of the Lights Out Texas program. We're heavily working to encourage people to pay attention to their lighting during migration season, especially. It helps living things with their reproductive processes and their feeding processes. All the pollinators that pollinate at night need that natural darkness. It’s just so many living things that need it. We as people need it, because it triggers natural hormones that help us to not only sleep well at night, but to rebuild our immune system. So we need that natural darkness.”
The Dark-Sky Association encourages people to follow five principles for responsible outdoor lighting practices. In general, all light should have a clear purpose, should only be directed where needed, should be no brighter than needed, only be used when it is useful and should be warmer-colored light when possible.
“When you do all these things, you not only save money and see better and protect our health, but you also allow us to see the stars at night, and that has been part of our culture,” Cassidy said. “So we keep that heritage. The connection with the night sky has helped with science, with our math, art literature, so many things are connected to the night sky. And it's been proven to be healthy for us to have that connection.”
Overall, it is a practice that Ozona Bank hopes more businesses in San Marcos are interested in applying.
“We definitely want to encourage other businesses to do it,” Reed said. “The more people that are on board, the darker it gets… It’s really important to us.”
For more information on the Be a Star award and dark-sky friendly lighting, visit the local night sky friendly organization at hcfns.org.