In all, a pretty productive week:
- City Council Meeting this week will have some key items including, Introduction of our new Police Chief, a potential K9 Program for the Police Department, the height regulation for the Freeway Hotel, second readings for the Sign and Noise Ordinances, the selection of Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem, Valley Oak Playground Easement, City Council Liaison/Committee Assignments and an RFP for consulting services for the upcoming senior housing project.
- This week we formally announced that John Miller is being appointed as Police Chief. Attached is a press release on the appointment with some background information. The new Chief will be at City Hall beginning at 5:30, at The Scoop at 6:00 then at the City Council Meeting at 6:30.
- The City is accepting applications for the Winters Planning Commission to fill the vacancy left by the election of Bill Biasi to the City Council. Click HERE for the application or come by City Hall. Applications are due by July 25.
- The item on the Valley Oak Playground Easement is about the City re-conveying an easement back to PG&E on their property located at the corner of Grant Ave and Valley Oak. This will include the removal of the skate park feature which was developed in the easement. In return, PG&E is giving the City $100,000 for the construction of recreation facilities elsewhere. The basis for the re-conveyance is the fact that skate park is constructed over one of the gas distribution lines. PG&E has initiated their Community Pipeline Safety Initiative (attached) which includes removing structures away from their large distribution lines to avoid problems should they need to do emergency or maintenance work. PG&E has been a really good partner on this and although the skate park is going away, we will work to bring other recreation opportunities. Stay Tuned!
- Persons representing various interests on Putah Creek met with the Army Corps of Engineers this week seeking to resolve permit issues for two key projects. The meeting was extremely productive and we are hoping to see permits soon.
- It looks like Caltrans is finally ready to issue the encroachment permit which will allow the construction of the Walnut Lane Roundabout. Good news!!
- The Winters Friends of the Library Concert Series continues through July on Thursday nights at Rotary Park beginning at 7. This years lineup includes a wide variety of music types. Breakout the picnic dinner, expand your horizons and support one of Winters best organizations, WFoL!
- Tonight and Saturday, the Winters Shakespeare Workshop will present “Twelfth Night” beginning at 8 p.m. each night at City Park. Admission is free, but bring a donation to help support culture in Winters.
- Talk with a Cop will be at The Scoop from 6-7 on Tuesday, July 19. Come on by, get a yogurt and meet some of Winters finest!
Finally, Tuesday, July 12 was the 15th anniversary of the day that I interviewed with the City Council to become the Winters City Manager. The City Council at that time included Mayor Tom Stone, Chris Calvert, John Frazier, Jiley Romney and Harold Anderson. To be very frank, I knew very little about Winters and a friend and the executive recruiter were the one’s who convinced me to even show up to interview for a job which paid less than I was making in my then position as Assistant City Manager in southern California. I later learned that I was the only one who showed up for the interviews.
The morning of the interview, we ate breakfast at the Putah Creek Café and when I went to meet with the Council, my wife Kathy and the kids went to City Park and they played on what the kids thought was the best playground they had ever seen. The interview went pretty well and I walked to City Park to find my family. On the way up Main and from someone who was an “economic development guy”, the Downtown looked pretty closed with only the PC Café, Ace Hardware and the bank open. Everything else was empty which was a big red flag!
They called me later that afternoon and asked me to come back the following Thursday to talk some more about the position. My tour guide that day was Harold Anderson who took me to lunch at the Rotary Club. At lunch, I met a wide band of friendly characters who I would later come to know as Charley Wallace, Robert Chapman, John Greenwood, Bill Cody, Larry Justus, Mike Kimes and others. They left an indelible impression on me of people who really cared about this little town.
After lunch, Kathy and I met with Jiley Romney, John Wallace (city attorney) and Mary Jo Rodolfo (who was John’s Assistant and President of the WJUSD Trustees). We talked about the schools and a number of subjects, but mostly about what a wonderful place Winters is to raise your children. I will tell you that both the lunch and the meeting at John’s office with Jiley and Mary Jo was a life altering experience from a quality of life and family perspective. These folks genuinely cared about their community and the importance it made to the quality of life for them and their children.
Over the course of the next couple weeks, the City offered and I accepted the position. I will tell you that it can be pretty scary making a decision to pack up your family and move 500 miles to a place (in the middle of nowhere- in my then view) that you had only discovered a few months prior. We packed up and sold our house and the result has been one of the best decisions I think I could have ever made in my life.
In 15 years, I have learned and appreciate what an incredible community and quality of life we have in Winters. From a professional standpoint, I have been blessed to work with incredible City Council members (20) and the best staff any city manager could dream of having! My hiring strategy has been to find folks who really love this town and it has paid off in what has become one of the most recognized cities in the region. From a personal standpoint, I have met some of the kindest and caring community members any town could imagine having as residents. Winters is essentially a dysfunctional family who are extremely loyal to the town, fight a bit about some things, but when it really matters, they come together to celebrate what a special place we really have.
Have a nice weekend!
John W. Donlevy, Jr., City Manager