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CITY MANAGER UPDATE ~ 11/13/15
 

All,

·        Lots of activity in the Building and Planning Departments with permits and projects activities. Winters Ranch pulled 6 more permits (21 total now), the Downtown Hotel grading has begun and we had a team in to discuss projects out by the freeway.

·        The Putah Creek Car Bridge hit an important milestone with the intersection at Railroad and Russell St being poured in preparation for the bricks. The railings are scheduled to be poured next week and the bridge will be opened shortly thereafter.

·        Police Chief Sergio Gutierrez has announced his retirement from the Winters PD after 23 years of service. The Chief began his career as a school resources officer and has served many capacities in the Department, including key roles in two recent murder investigations. We will be appointing an interim chief by January and will begin a recruitment after the first of the year. The realistic start for a new chief will be in the summer 2016.

·        To keep up to date and see all of our major projects happening in town, click HERE and get a view of some of the really cool things going on.

·        So what is happening with the Downtown Hotel and why the big hole in the ground. The project is in the “grading” phase which means they need to essentially excavate the property and bring the soil back in layers in order to achieve the desired compaction to meet building standards. Basically, they have excavated half of the lot and will put it back then they will do the other half and put it back. Easy!!

·        An easy City Council Meeting this week with a contract extension for the Walnut Park Design, a refinancing agreement for the Winters I Apartments, a Notice of Completion for work with Vaca Valley Construction and minutes.

·        Do not forget to vote for Winters High School by going to www.celebratemydrive.com and voting. It is super easy and they are in the running for $100,000.

·        Winters made one of those “Top 100” lists as one of the 100 most Redneck cities in California! Click HERE for the list. Coming in ahead of us were those super oakie towns of Sausalito, Marina del Rey, Woodside, Capitola, Tiburon, Westlake Village, Pismo Beach, Emeryville and the super cow town- Indian Wells. Too funny.

·        Congratulations to our Winters High Varsity Football team who won the Sacramento Valley League championship with a perfect 5-0 league record. They also secured the #1 seed in the NSCIF Div. IV playoffs and will Play Esparto this tonight at Dr. Sellars Field at 7:00.

·        Tonight is the Friday the 13th Party at the Winters Express, now on Russell Street. Tonight is also Newts retirement as the worlds oldest paper boy! Go on buy, have a beer on Charley and find out what Newt’s plans are after the Express.

Finally a salute to our Veterans! Our nation and the world is grateful to the men and women who advance the cause of freedom and human rights throughout the world. Our nation is the greatest on earth because the men and women of our armed forces sacrifice so that other may live free. A very genuine thanks to all as we honor your service.

Go Warriors!  ~  John


CITY MANAGER UPDATE ~ 11/11/15

All,
Winters High is in the running for $100,000 in the State Farm Insurance Celebrate My Drive safe driving challenge. The past two years, they have won $50K. Let’s support WHS, so please take 30 seconds and vote.
It is easy, click HERE and enter your e-mail and you have voted.
Go Warriors!! ~ John

 
City Manager Update  ~  11/6/15

All,

This was an absolutely awesome week for Winters! Lots of ground breaking and ribbon cutting to help shape what is to come in 2016.

· The PG&E Gas Operations Technical Training Facility Groundbreaking on Monday was a momentous occasion. Click HERE to watch a video from PG&E. Just a very happy occasion after 2.5 years of hard work. Congratulations to all who participated in the process.
· The grading for the Downtown Hotel has begun! Look for a lot of activity to be happening for the next 16-18 months.
·  On Thursday, the ribbon cutting occurred for the Winters Ranch Subdivision and the models are now open for view. The homes are beautiful and available for purchase. The homes will mostly likely sell quickly!! Click HERE for a link to the website on the project. The models will be open each weekend for public viewing.
· Monday marked a three week closure for the Putah Creek Car Bridge. Look for the bridge to re-open sometime around Thanksgiving.

This weekend is the Winters AYSO Regional Tournament. Come on out and see some awesome soccer all day Saturday.

Have a nice weekend. ~ John

City Manager Update  ~  10/30/15

All,

Lots...

  • The PG&E Groundbreaking is this coming Monday, November 2, 2015 at 11:00. Below is the invite and all are encouraged to come!
  • The Putah Creek Bridge Project crews are working on their last big push to complete the bridge and get the bridge open to traffic. In order to facilitate this process the bridge will be closed beginning Monday 11/2 at 9 am and will remain closed until approximately Sat. 11/21. Please use Putah Creek Road to Hwy 505 as a detour during this time. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your cooperation during these last few weeks as we work to complete the project before the rains begin!
  • City Council Agenda has a couple items including the Tree Lighting Ceremony and Tractor Parade for Christmas, the second reading of ordinances for second units and home occupations and the inspection contract for the PG&E facility.
  • Construction on the Downtown Hotel has begun!!! Grading started this week and will proceed for the next few weeks. (It amazes me how much guys are intrigued to stand and stare at machinery in action!) Look for the project to get the site work done, then let the El Nino hit it and then the project will start coming out of the ground. This is getting exciting!
  • Congratulation to Yolo Housing who is celebrating their 65th Anniversary of providing quality public housing in Yolo and Solano Counties. Our Mayor Cecilia Aguiar Curry is the current Chair and Winters resident Lisa Baker is the Executive Director. El Rio Villa was the first housing project for Yolo Housing, so our community is an important part of their celebration and success.
  • Lisa Baker is an absolute star in Yolo County! Her efforts to re-establish Yolo Housing after a very controversial period has been an important success story. Yolo Housing through their staff and Board has become a nationally recognized Housing Agency and saying it has been a tough road is an absolute understatement.
  • The Winters Veterans of Foreign Wars will be holding a scholarship fundraising dinner on November 12 starting at 6:00 at Tomats Restaurant as a kickoff for the Holden Philbrook Memorial Scholarship. Holden was a Winters High Grad stationed in North Carolina with the Army when he died in a motorcycle accident. Funds from the dinner will go toward a scholarship which will be awarded at the 2016 graduation.
  • The Fire Departments Annual Shrimp Feed in support of Toys for Tots is on November 14 at 6:00 at the Fire Station. Go by the station for tickets!

Have a nice weekend. ~ John

PG&E Groundbreaking Invite (PDF)


City Manager Update  ~  10/24/15

All,
First, a couple reminders of things happening:
· The City and Waste Management will be holding a bulky item/e-waste/Household Hazardous Waste drop off this Saturday October 24 from 9-1 at the City Corp Yard on East Baker Street. Bring a utility bill or a picture ID with your address along with all your junk. Click HERE for the details.
· Tonight is the last Fourth Friday Feast in Downtown! It should be a beautiful evening to celebrate what is really cool about Winters and support our local merchants.
· The WJUSD is hosting a Vision/Mission Workshop on Monday, October 26, 2015 from 5:30 - 7:30 PM at the Margaret Parsons Community Room at the Winters Community Library. The Board and Interim Superintendent Todd Cutler have been working really hard to put together a positive direction for the District. This is a great opportunity to provide input into the future of our District.
· PG&E will be hosting the groundbreaking of the Gas Operations Technical Training Center on November 2 beginning at 11:00. Shuttle services will be available from the Community Center Parking Lot or you can drive out to the location at Grant Ave/505. It should be really good.

A couple more items:
· Construction (mostly earthwork) on the Downtown Hotel Winters will begin next week. The parking area across from City Hall will be Closed for most of the week. Look for this area to be mostly closed during the duration of the construction which will take the good part of 12-16 months. This is an infill project which needs a construction staging area and this is the most logical location.
· City Hall will be building an employee parking area in a lot adjacent to City Hall to take about 10 cars off of the street. Business employees are encouraged to park in either the Community Center, Railroad or along West Main Street near second street. In total, the walk from any of this parking adds up to about 1 city block to the furthest business. Try doing that in Sacramento, San Francisco or any larger city!
· The Putah Creek Car Bridge will see a two week closure from November 2-16 for the construction of the roadway. This will require detour via 505 as they install bricks and the roadway section.
· The Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Apartment Project cleared another financing hurdle this week and we are now looking for construction to begin in 2016.
· The Walnut Lane Roundabout actually got a response from Caltrans and we are now looking at a spring 2016 construction date. Because we are trying to work with Caltrans, who really knows!

Have a nice weekend. ~ John

City Manager Update  ~  10/16/15
All,

This week, I will give some insight into the key initiatives in each of our Departments.

· Public works is working a lot in our water and wastewater areas. Each division has aggressive preventative maintenance and replacement programs. On the task list now are upgrades and repairs to the emergency generator at the East Street Pump Station and extensive maintenance to Pond 4 at the wastewater treatment facility. The are also working on issues related to our SCADA system which controls the operation of all water wells and our lift stations.
· From an environmental standpoint, lots of things in the works. Look for a bulky item/e-waste/HHW pickup day at the Corp Yard (19 East Baker) on October 24 from 9-1. This area is also working on updates to ordinances which will bring changes to our green waste (containerized) and commercial food waste disposal. Chromium 6 is also in the mix of things we are working on.
· Administrative Services is working toward upcoming labor negotiations, updating the bid process for City contracts for services and capital projects; updates to the City website and finalizing open enrollment for our employee health benefit plans.
· Economic Development has a lot on its plate. The Urban Communities Project will build a mixed commercial project on the parking lot located on Railroad Ave between Main and Abbey Streets. We are working on the purchase/sale agreement, appraisal and land survey issues.
· Look for the last fencing to go up and dirt to start moving on the Downtown Hotel. This will include a disruption of parking across from City Hall for some time, so get the pitchforks out!!!
· Building is seeing a lot of activity pick up in regards to the Winters Ranch Subdivision. The developer is seeking foundation permits for a number of the units, so expect to see a lot of activity in the next few weeks. These houses should sell really well!!
· Winters Fire is implementing a $150k grant to replace our breathing apparatus. This is a huge deal and our entire Fire team needs to be congratulated on getting the funds to replace these critical life/safety equipment.
· Police has a ton going on. Car thefts (see below), a senior fraud faire, working with the Yolo Crisis Intervention Team and internal audits from the Department of Justice. Kudo’s to the PD who are busy and doing well!
· The upcoming Planning Commission will include a day care center on Russell Street at the Pioneer Church and a review of Phase II for Walnut Park.
· City Attorney has been working on a variety of items, most notably finalizing things for the start of the PG&E Gas Operations Training Facility.

A couple notes on notable things:

· The Police Department is 2 for 2 on car thefts in the past two weeks. The girl who stole the car from the Winters High parking lot last week and appeared in social media and the newspaper has been caught. The sad thing about both car thefts is that they are traced back to people who live in Winters. It is time to have a stern talk with kids and tell them that just because you steal the car in the small town, you will get the same charge and prison time as the big city. There are no exceptions, so it is parenting time!! Car theft is car theft and the charges and prison record will equally ruin your life.
· Look for the groundbreaking for the PG&E Facility on November 2 from 11:00 to Noon. Look for the ads for the event.

Finally, I was at a professional meeting today in Sacramento and they showed this really glitzy ad touting the investment in Downtown Sacramento saying “$1 Billion in public and private investment” in their City. So, the population of Sac is 479,600  which makes them 68 times larger than Winters! So let’s compare the scale of investment and increase in assessed valuation to our little town over the next year.

In 2016, we will see the PG&E Gas facility ($75m), Putah Creek Car Bridge ($15m), Downtown Hotel ($11m), Blue Mountain Terrace Apartments ($22m), Yolo Credit Union ($2m), Freeway Projects ($10m), Winters Ranch ($26m) all go into the City for a grand total of $161 million dollars. Looks like we are doing pretty well in comparison, which is good for the tax base, jobs and our community.

Have a nice weekend - John

City Manager Update  ~  10/09/15

All,

First a reminder of some happenings in our community:

  • “Circle Mirror Transformation” produced by Andrew Fridae and staring our own Mayor Pro Tem Woody Fridae will be on the Community Center Theatre stage Friday and Saturday beginning at 8 and a matinee performance on Sunday. This is a must see!

  • Berryessa Brewing is celebrating its third year anniversary bash on Sunday, October 11 from “Noon to Dark”. Try some of their “Station 26” beer in celebration of our incredible staff with Winters Fire. This event is one of the coolest, not to be missed events in town. Expect a huge crowd, bring a designated driver and have a GREAT time!

  • Winters Healthcare Foundation is holding their annual Golf Tournament at Yocha de He this Sunday. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. and shotgun is at 9:00. This is always a great tournament for a good cause!

Just a couple updates:

  • Police had some excitement on Wednesday with two juveniles stealing a truck from Russell Street and taking it for a joy ride. They went on to SB I505 and rolled it on the Putah Creek Rd offramp totaling the truck. The kids walked away, but probably cashed in 7 of their 9 lives. Dumb!!
    · Progress is being made on the Putah Creek Car Bridge project. The project is entering that final phase for both the roadway and the actual bridge. There is no way around it, it will be loud, disruptive, dusty and a pain for the neighbors near the project for the next 3 weeks. Expect to see the railings poured and the belvederes completed, sidewalks and curbs will go in and then paving and additional concrete work. The schedule has people actually driving on the bridge the first week of November. Stay tuned!!

  • We are working with PG&E on a date for the groundbreaking for the Gas Operations Technical Training Center on November 2. Look for announcements in the coming week.

  • Public works is doing a lot of roadwork around town. Watch for our crews fixing potholes, repairing excavations where water/sewer lines have been fixed and other repairs.

Have a nice weekend and GO Warriors vs Willows tonight.  --  John


City Manager Update  ~  10/02/15

All,

Lot’s to report…………..

·         The City was evaluated by the analytics division for the Insurance Services Office (ISO) which is the private firm responsible for establishing the underwriting criteria for most private insurance companies that provide residential and commercial insurance in our country. Ratings are based on a scale from 1-10 with 1 being perfect and 10 being worst. The City received a two classification upgrade to 03/3Y up from 05/5Y. That means that residential and commercial insurance rates should see significant reductions in premiums beginning in 2016.

In 2002, the City’s ISO rating was “7” which was considered a rating for a very rural community. Basically the rating showed very little confidence in the capability of the City to provide adequate structural fire suppression within our town. Organizationally, we made reducing the ISO classification a priority, because we knew it would immediately save our residents and businesses money through reduced insurance premiums. The City has made significant improvements in our water system (Construction of Well 7 and distribution system improvements) and our public safety (through the expansion of fire services and capabilities). In 2009, we saw the drop to “5” and now we see it at a “3”. Kudo’s to our City Council’s vision and the work of our public works, engineering and finance teams for getting us to a classification equivalent of a modern well run community. Special recognition to Shelly Gunby our Director of Financial Management for managing the overall water financial portfolio so we made wise strategic capital investment and City Engineer Nick Ponticello who pressed key projects. Also a shout out to our late Fire Chief Scott Dozier who had a personal obsession with seeing our ISO rating go down and was an important leader in getting us to this point.

·         The City Council Agenda this week has a lot of housekeeping stuff. Items include finalizing some environmental clean-up on the Downtown Hotel, technical studies on wastewater for the Winters Highlands Subdivision, funding for the design of a traffic signal for West Main/Grant Ave (Yah!), the Public Improvement agreement for the PG&E Gas Operations Facility, staffing plan for the Building Services Division and a 2 year agreement with Yolo Sheriff for Animal Services. Mostly business items on existing stuff!

·         Water use in town went up a bit in August! Our overall conservation is at about 28% but we need to keep at it. When it starts raining (hopefully), we will begin publishing groundwater level reports to let people know about groundwater recharge.

·         Look for more road closures on Railroad for the Putah Creek Car Bridge as the roadway improvements are starting to go in.  This will be the new entrance coming into Downtown and we are really excited for this portion.

·         Winters Seniors are on the move and getting busy. They have trips planned and big ideas. Check out their web page by clicking HERE. Their next meeting is on October 14 from 2-4 at the Public Safety Facility.

·         This week saw Yolo County lose a really important leader to a well earned retirement. Carol Richardson, the Assistant City Manager for the City of West Sacramento since 1987 has decided to be a full time grandma! Carol’s accomplishments are considerable, literally touching all aspects of the renaissance of West Sacramento, Key projects there included the incorporation of the City, creation of the Police Department, Raley Field, expansion of social services and the clean-up of Raley Field. In Yolo County, Carol has been a critical leader in our 911 system, animal services, cooperation agreements between the Cities and Yolo County and many others. She was always considered the 5th City Manager in Yolo for her leadership and acumen in helping us work through issues.

·         Kudo’s to the Fire Department for delivering another baby into the world this week! Second one in the past year!

·         Attached is a flyer for the Fire Department Shrimp Feed on November 14. Tickets go quickly, so get yours today!

A couple items for the weekend.

·         The Winters Theatre Company will present Annie Baker’s play  “Circle Mirror Transformation” October 2, 3, 9 and 10 at 7:30 and on the 4 and 11 (matinee 2:00). Come see Andrew Fridae’s directorial debut in Winters and some of our local talent including our own Woody Fridae.

·         Tonight is homecoming for WHS. Come out to Dr. Sellers Field to root on the Warriors.

Have a nice weekend. - John


City Manager Update

09/18/15

All, 

This was a really good week around City Hall. Let’s go down the list. 

·         The City was notified of an award of $2 million in Community Development Block Grant Funds (CDBG) toward the development of a Senior Citizens Center to be constructed at part of the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Apartment Complex. The $2m will include $1.5m toward construction of the facility and $500,000 toward services. This is very good news and it fulfills an important goal of the City to expand services to the older genre of our population. Kudos to Dan Maguire from the City and the team from Domus Development (Meea Kang and Bernadette Austin) for their efforts in generating the grant application and gaining the funds!! Domus has done a fine job on delivering on the pre-development work on this project and we are looking forward to a 2016 start for construction. Congrats and good for our community.

·          Staff from the City and PG&E met on Monday to begin the launch for the Gas Operations Technical Training Center. The meeting included representatives from DPR Construction who will be the general contractor for the construction. The meeting was extremely productive and it was exciting to meet with such high quality professionals. Things are off to a good start! For more information on DPR, click HERE. To see what they will be building, click HERE.

·         On Wednesday, City Council, Staff, Chamber members and Property owners travelled to Napa to meet with representatives of the City and Downtown Business Association to discuss seismic issues and planning for the sustainability of older downtowns in the case of a seismic event. The theme of the meetings was “If you new then what you know now about earthquakes” what would you have done to prepare better. The meeting was an incredible experience to learn from Building Officials, Community Development, Fire and the Downtown Business Association on their insights and knowledge. We left the meeting with a ton of really good information and suggestions. We really learned that we have “A LOT” to do and it will require a real partnership between the private businesses and building owners and the City to be successful.

·          Staff met with the developers for the Winters Highlands Subdivision Project to discuss the plans for the linear park which will run North/South in the project. Included in the meeting were City staff, Homes by Towne and HLA Architects to discuss key elements and design considerations. Overall, it was a really good meeting.

·         The Winters Ranch Project was fully paved this week! Overall, it looks great and things are starting to come around. To seek floor plans and the models, click HERE,

·         Saturday is the Putah Creek Clean-up starting at 9:00 at the Rotary Park in Downtown.

·         Winters High plays football tonight at Dixon. Go Warriors.

·         My can’t miss thing to do this weekend is………..Most of Davis will be here in Winters this weekend to play AYSO soccer. This is the busiest weekend in my time with Winters AYSO. Davis has a really good program and the inter-play between our two regions is important. If you are looking for something to do, come on out this weekend to Shirley Rominger School and the Middle School, eat some hot dogs and nachos and enjoy some really exciting soccer!

·         Mark you calendar for October 11 for the Berryessa Brewing Birthday Party. This is an incredible event and will include local restaurants, incredible beer and music.

·         The Winters Afterschool Program is holding a fundraiser at Pizza Factory on Wednesday, September 23rd from open to close. $10 of every ASP Family Package goes to the Waggoner ASP. The ASP “Family Package” includes: 1 large 1 topping pizza, small bread sticks and 5 drinks

Have a nice weekend. 

John


City Manager Update

06/05/15

All, 

A super busy week with lots going on. Here are the highlights. 

·         The PG&E Gas Operations Training Facility will be under review by the Planning Commission at a special meeting on Thursday, June 11, 2015 starting at 6:30 in the City Council Chamber. Here is a link to the entire packet of materials. The packet is an extremely large file!

·         Kudos to both the City and PG&E on getting things to this point. This has been an enormous undertaking with many people contributing to the effort. A genuine congratulations to everyone!

·         The Winters Ranch Subdivision off of Main Street has received its first building permits. Look for the sidewalks and streets to begin installation and soon you will see the models starting to go up.

·         The City’s Engineering Team met with representatives from both the Callahan and Winters Highlands Subdivisions to discuss key infrastructure issues. Expect to see the Callahan Project (just north of Winters Ranch) to be before the Planning Commission and then the City Council sometime this summer.

·         The north arch on the Putah Creek Car Bridge was poured this morning. The balance of the arches will be poured later in June and will result in some road closures. Look for announcements on the date for the pour and avoid the area.

·         The Winters Police Department has issued their annual report for the last reporting period. It contains a lot of information on key crime issues and the efforts of the Police Department. Click HERE for the report.

·         The Rotary Trap Shoot is this Saturday, June 6 beginning at 8:30 in the morning at the Yolo Sportsman Club next to the Yolo Airport near Road 95. The shoot includes trap, tri tip lunch and a raffle.

·          Persons interested in serving on a committee to discuss Downtown Parking should contact tracy.jensen@cityofwinters.org to get on the list. 

A key project still under consideration is to develop the corner of Main/Railroad Ave. The City has an exclusive negotiating arrangement with a group who is interested in possibly submitting a proposal for the project. Today, we went with the developer to explore a concept project in Sebastapol called The Barlow. Click HERE to check it out and let me know what you think. 

Have a nice weekend. 

John


City Manager Update

05/29/15

All, 

A couple items this week. 

·         The PG&E Gas Operations Training Center Project is scheduled for the Planning Commission at a special meeting on June 11 at 6:30 at City Hall. The agenda reports and final information will be out on June 5. Click HERE for a link to the website with all of the information. The project will then move to the City Council at the July 7 and 20 meetings.

·         Lot’s of information flying around about Putah Creek. The guy at the heart of much of what is going on is the Putah Creek Streamkeeper Rich Marovich. The Putah Creek Council will be hosting  Rich for a “Creek Speak” presentation on June 4 at the Winters Public Library at 7:00. This is a great chance to learn exactly what is going on!

·         Winters Ranch Subdivision is really moving along. We expect to issue permits for the models next week!

·         The next pours for the Putah Creek Car Bridge will occur in the later part of June or the early parts of July. For the segments on the North side of the creek, it will require a 24 hour closure of the temporary bridge. Watch for signs and announcements.

·         To watch the construction of the bridge in about 2 minutes, click HERE.

·         Lot’s of Water Leaks all over town. Watch for our Public Works Crews and be patient. As frustrating it is for you to have your water shut off for a couple hours, trying spending a couple hours in a muddy hole or being on top dodging cars!

·         Water Conservation is a hot topic around City Hall and the entire State. The City is looking for residents to reduce water consumption by 25%. The easy way to do this is by reducing overall outside watering to two days a week, taking shorter showers and fixing leaks. Look for this to be on the City Council Agendas in July.

·         Staff, Mayor Curry and Councilman Harold Anderson along with Supervisor Don Saylor met with representatives of SACOG and Caltrans to discuss moving forward with planning to address the I505 overcrossing. It was a really productive meeting. Expect that the City will apply for some planning funds and that a process will begin before the end of the year.

·         Lots going on with the Winters Police Department. To get updates on everything from lost dogs to the next DUI Checkpoint time and location, click HERE to go to their website and subscribe to both their Facebook page and a Smartphone app called Nixle which provides alerts. Good stuff!

·         Congrats to the Winters AYSO u14 and u19 teams that competed last weekend in the Davis World Cup. They both played well, with the U14 Boys taking 3rd in their division. These players represent our community well against the much larger programs. Really proud of their accomplishments and how they give us a good name!

·         Lot’s of Winters Teams are participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life on August 1-2 at Dr. Sellers Field. To sign up for a team, go to www.relayforlife.org

Congratulations to all the Winters High School Grads who are taking one step closer to their future. A special shout to all the parents and teachers who have supported and guided these students. Whether they know it or not, the graduation is really for the parents!

 John

City Manager Update

05/22/15

All, 

On holiday weekends, the readership and response on my updates is really low. So here is the very little effort version with some real nuggets. 

·         Carol Scianna was in Portland, Oregon this week and received a national award from the National Trails Foundation for the North Bank Trail Project. This is huge for the City and very deserving for Carol. Her impact on the Creek is incredible and the national recognition is more than deserving. The project was a team effort with the Winters Putah Creek Committee but the reality is that Carol is in charge of implementing and delivering. She did a fine job and we are really proud of her efforts.

·         Speaking of the Creek, lots of talk and controversy on things regarding Phase III and the relocation of the final segment of the channel with the demolition of the sewer ponds. I get to meet with all sides and I have done so over the past few days and will next week.  

One of the most passionate outcry’s has involved the evolution of the environment with beaver and otters now returning to sections of the creek and people wanting to preserve habitat. Click HERE for a really cool video which shows the evolution of Yellowstone and is similar to what is occurring from the efforts along Putah Creek. Ecological restoration takes time and the many projects we are doing over the past few years have seen the return of beaver, otter, salmon, trout, hawks, mink and many other animals.  The video is short but provides a nice comparison. 

·         Winters AYSO has two teams (U14 and U19 Boys) in this weekends Davis World Cup Soccer Tournament. Both teams are really good and expect top performances from both. Hopefully both play well and at least one brings home a championship. Go Winters!

Finally, Memorial Weekend is an important time for us to remember those who gave the greatest sacrifice in defense of our freedom and liberty. We are so blessed to live in the greatest country in the history of civilization but the fact is that there has always been a cost for what we have. Please keep those who died in your prayers. 

Thanks, 

John

City Manager Update

05/15/15

All,

A number of items…………

• Demolition of the 314 and 318 Railroad addresses for the Downtown Hotel project should be complete by early next week and the commencement of the demolition for the remaining buildings will happen the week of June 1.
• Today, they bridge crews have begun removing the forms from the pour of the first arch of Putah Creek Car Bridge, while many of the key forms for the other parts are being erected. Look for the next phases of the project to move rapidly as we see the bridge begin to take shape.
• A key aspect of the Bridge Project will be the street improvements which will occur on Railroad Avenue. This will include brick intersections and bulb outs at Russell Street (similar to the Main/Railroad intersection), the installation of an entry median island and improvements in front of the Community Center. This will create a pretty incredible entry into the Downtown! Look for construction on the street to occur in July and August. Expect delays and periods of closure for the bridge when the major elements of the roadway are installed.
• Staff is working diligently on a number of key water projects. The exploration into how to remove Chromium 6 from the potable water is a major project for the City. Also on the project list is continuing the re-use of our treated wastewater and exploring enhanced investments in our wastewater treatment capacity. These are all major projects which will require considerable capital investments.
• The upcoming City Council Agenda will have TDA Funds, the Memorandum of Understanding for the Police Sergeant, PERS Rates Update, a discussion of the Downtown Development Project, Building Department Staffing Update and a presentation by Arc Guitar on their business. Get their early, as seats will fill up quick!
• The Fire Department has a number of new faces. In total we have 15 new reserves who have joined the Department.
• Two Fire positions which have been filled include our new Division Chief Dean Sarley and Captain Matt Schechia.
• Chief Sarley was promoted from Captain in the Dixon Fire Department from a competitive recruitment. He brings over 20 years with Dixon Fire and is now working in our shared services relationship. We are really lucky to have him serving as our Training and Operations Chief.
• Matt Schechia comes to us from Burney where he previously served as a Captain in their fire district. He brings an impressive resume to the job and will be a good fit in our organization.

Water and the drought are big issues in California and will dominate our households and business operations for the next number of years. Our state, by its nature, is an arid climate, subject to wide variations during periods in relation to rainfall, snow pack and flow. We are also one of the largest (if not the largest) agricultural economy in the world, requiring a variety of water sources to help us feed the world. Controversies are significant regarding dams, the effects of excessive groundwater use, the northern part of the state subsidizing the water needs for the populous southern parts of Southern California. There are no easy solutions.

In Winters, we supply our residents with groundwater from the Putah Creek Watershed. There are huge benefits to having Lake Berryessa behind out town, and the benefits to our groundwater supply are significant. As long as Berryessa has water and the Monticello Dam stays in place, we should have groundwater. As stewards of our environment, it is critical that we use responsible means to preserve the quality of that watershed to help manage our future and remain sustainable for both residents and the quality agriculture which surrounds us.

Some key things to watch in the near future regarding water which are going to create controversy and hit all of our wallets:

• Staff is rapidly reviewing our water rates in light of the drought and the call for conservation. The simple fact is that the current rate structure spreads operational AND capital costs across both the base charge and the meter charge. Conservation (more people using less water) results in a deficit in covering the capital costs which is unsustainable for how we operate our system. Look for new rates to push more cost into the base rate to cover the capital charge which means higher rates, especially for those on the lower side of the use equation. This is going to cause controversy and my guess is that neither the staff nor City Council will be very popular as we move in this direction. Bottom line- its what needs to be done to maintain the system.
• A recent court decision ruled that water agencies cannot operate under a tiered rate system. That means the meter charge can only have one rate, thus no penalizing those who use the most water. This means the collapse of the tiers into a single rate which will result in a higher charge. This is just the reality of how it is done.
• The edict from the State requiring that the City reduce the levels of Chromium 6 in the water will result in a massive charge to our customers. The justification for the new regulations is controversial, but the result could cause our rates to more than double! We are doing all we can to try to combat this regulation. Assemblyman Bill Dodd has stepped up to help and is trying to get the implementation of the regulations delayed for a period. The only one’s who will benefit from this will be the persons selling torches, pitchforks and rope outside the City Council hearings. Stay tuned on this!
• The regulations and edicts coming down from the Governor seem to change every day on what they are mandating on the drought. Once they decide what everyone needs to do, we will get information out to all of our customers.
• The City will be hosting our second Water Wise Workshop on May 21 at 7:00 at the Public Safety Facilty. This weeks topic is how to remove your lawn! Admission is free with really great snacks, incredible information from the UC Davis Master Gardeners and prizes!

The City is getting calls and people circulating video of how we are “wasting water”. Much of this involves people reporting seeing either broken sprinklers in parks, employees discharging water from our water wells/hydrants or times when we are washing down equipment.

• First, there is no explanation for wasting water! City Staff are fully aware of the importance of conservation and we do our best to be models for conservation.
• Parks- We operate almost 30 acres of parks including the Putah Creek Nature Park. People come and go and you would be surprised as to what happens with sprinklers. We do weekly testing and try our best to do leak detection.
• Water from Water Wells and Hydrants- This is typically done as we are flushing wells and lines to insure water quality to our customers. When you see the large discharges coming from a well building, it means we are disinfecting the well as a means of reducing problems with biological elements in the water, ie, we are cleaning out the well! When water is being discharged from hydrants, we are clearing debris from the lines (rocks and sediment). Discharges like these are infrequent and sporadic but essential to making sure we provide quality drinking water.
• Fire training also uses water when you see our staff practicing our wildland fire skills. We cannot just pretend when we practice putting out fire, we really do need to use water! The past few fire seasons have been massive (including our own 6,000 acre Monticello Fire).

Overall, water is and will be a huge topic for all of us.

Have a nice weekend.

John

City Manager Update

05/08/15

All, 

A couple items this week: 

·         The pour of the first arch for the Putah Creek Car Bridge started this morning and will continue for the next few days. This is GREAT news and a real milestone for the project. You will be shocked at how fast things start moving on the bridge coming out of the ground.

·         Staff is working on so many projects right now, it is almost overwhelming. Meetings this week included Broadband, Water, Wastewater, the Railroad Ave/Dry Slough Bridge, Downtown Hotel, Parking Roundabout and City Budget. Look for an extended update sometime next week.

·         The topic of Water is dynamic and moving every single day. The new edicts from the Governor/State are draconian and the Chromium 6 mandates will make for an ugly year. Once these things hit the Council agenda, there will be a lot of frustration from everyone. Get ready.

·         Congrats to each of the Winters organizations for the donations received on the Big Day of Giving. The WFoL received over $29,000 and the Winters Theatre, Putah Creek Council, Winters Healthcare and the Center for Land Based Learning also did well. Winters is a special place and it is awesome to see the public support for these important organizations.

·         Saturday is the Winters Garage Sale, the cultural event of the year! This years theme is “Only really good stuff”, so come on out to Main Street and the core area and get those bargains.

·         The next water wise workshop will be on May 21st at the Public Safety Facility from 7:00- 8:30. This program will focus on how to take out your lawn.

·         The City welcomed 15 new reserve firefighters to the organization with an nice orientation and swearing in ceremony on Thursday.  

See everyone at the Garage Sale. 

John

City Manager Update

05/01/15

All, 

A number of items. This week is a little light on business items and a little more on announcements. 

·         Winters Day of Service is on Saturday beginning at 9:00 at Rotary Park for those who want to help the community. Projects will be in the parks and library.

·         Congratulations to the Winters Youth Day Committee for another incredible day. All in all, very few problems!

·         Parking in the Downtown is becoming a “Hot Topic”, so the City Council has asked staff to put together a group comprised of businesses, property owners and a couple Council members to start looking at the topic. Anyone who is interested in being on the committee can contact me.

·         JJ’s and Cody’s were pulled down this week, with much of the debris removed by the end of next week.

·         The Putah Creek Car Bridge pour was put off a week and is supposed to commence starting on Wednesday, May 6. Who knows?????

·         The City will be hosting “Water Wise Workshops” on May 7 and 21 at the Public Safety Facility (700 Main St). Both will begin at 7 p.m. May 7 will focus on protecting your plants during the drought and May 21 will show you how to convert your turf to a water wise garden. Click HERE for the flyer. Prizes will be given out and all those in attendance will receive a free water sensor.

·         A lot of discussion and talk about the creek in recent weeks. Click Here for an article about the work being done to save fish and click HERE for an article about the work done by Putah Creek Streamkeeper Rich Marovich. Both are pretty balanced about what is being done along the creek.

·         May 5 is the Big Day of Giving. Click here to go to the website. Click HERE to go to the website to make a donation. Winters has four organization which you can donate including the Winters Friends of the Library, Putah Creek Council, Winters Theatre Company and the Center for Land Based Learning.

·         The Winters Friends of the Library has been the premier community organization in support of literacy and education as they support our community library. Last year, they raised and donated almost $25,000 toward services, furniture and programming at the Library. Enough cannot be said for how important they are to supporting a wide array of programs for children, students, adults and seniors.

·         Winters Theatre Company not only entertains us, but they serve as an integral part of opportunity for community members and young people to express themselves. WTC has been a huge supporter of the community center during tough times.

·         The Putah Creek Council has been our environmental leader in Winters for almost 25 years and they need our help to keep going strong. Their stewardship of the creek, community education and advocacy for improving the ecology in and around us has been incredible. This winter, salmon spawned in the creek and we can thank the Putah Creek Council for that happening.

·         The Center for Land Based Learning has put Winters on the national and world maps. Their focus on connecting people to the land where our food is grown has helped change the way we view how we eat and the importance of stewardship. They genuinely change peoples lives through education and programs held right here in Winters! 

Each of the organizations make a huge difference to our quality of life in town. Open your wallets and make a donation on Tuesday. 

Have a nice weekend.

 

John

 

 

City Manager Update

04/24/15

All,

Tomorrow is Youth Day, the perennial Winters Community Homecoming Day with a ton of things going on. Here are some highlights:

• Tonight is the Duck Derby, the premier fundraising event for Youth Day. Things will kick off behind the Community Center around 5:00. This has become THE go to event the night before the festivities. If you have a duck in the race, hopefully, your duck is the lucky duck!
• The Rotary Pancake Breakfast starts at 6:30 tomorrow morning. This is easily the best breakfast you can have. Early birds get a $2 discount off the $10 price if you come before 7:30.
• The Parade begins at 10:30.
• Kid Faire and the Park events begin at 12:00.
• Downtown will feature a variety of activities including a Car Show (12:30), Nut Box Races (4:00) and a Concert in Rotary Park beginning at 8:30.

Lot’s of fun.

The sour note on the week is someone broke into JJ’s overnight on Thursday and stole the bar top which the City planned to keep. A police report has been taken. We have some leads (the thief’s left a couple items behind). The Police Department can be contacted at (530) 795-2261 if you have information on who may have done this. A reward is offered for information on the whereabouts of the bar is located.

Thanks,

John

 

City Manager Update

04/17/15

All, 

Mostly a week of updates and save the dates: 

·         Demolition of the properties on Railroad Avenue (JJ’s, Cody’s and the Express) for the Downtown Hotel Project will begin the week of April 28.

·         A Rotary Fundraiser for scholarships will be hosted at JJ’s on Thursday, April 23 from 4-7 in the evening. The theme is “Last Call before the Wrecking Ball”. This is your last chance to enjoy the ambiance of the corner bar, get a beer and share memories before the place is torn down. Donations will be at the door. Beer and hot dogs served!!

·         FFA is having a Plant Sale on Wednesday April 22nd from 11:30am-3pm at the Ag Site or during the school open house that evening. Tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables.

·         Next week is Youth Day. The pancake breakfast, parade, horseshoes in the park and the kids faire. See the Express insert in the paper for the complete schedule.

·         The comment period for the PG&E Gas Operations Technical Training Center ended on Monday, April 13. The item is scheduled for the Planning Commission June. Watch for details.

·         Key aspects of the Putah Creek Car Bridge are about to happen. The pour of the first arch will occur the week of April 28. Staff is also working on the timing of the Railroad/Russell intersection. Once we have details, we will be holding meetings with businesses and neighbors. 

Have a nice weekend. 

John

City Manager Update

04/10/15

All, 

A pretty busy week at City Hall as spring comes upon us. 

·         Mayor Curry and Staff met with Congressman John Garamendi on Wednesday to talk “broadband” infrastructure for the Winters area. We expressed our priorities as 1. Upgrading the City as a catalyst source for fiber and bandwidth, 2. Supporting the regional ag interests from Winters to Capay Valley and 3. Pursuing funds through an upcoming grant program called “First Net” which will support broadband communication for public safety. The congressman was extremely supportive of what we are doing and will assign both District and Washington Staff to assist us.

·         Staff met with a small broadband supplier who is interested in coming to Winters to support our broadband efforts as a provider. From both an economic and residential perspective, this is huge!!

·         Water conservation is upon us with the recent edict from the Governor. The process is extremely dynamic at this point and we are trying to figure out what we need to do. We have been meeting as a Staff and will get information out to both residents and businesses in the coming weeks. Over the past two years, Winters residents have cut our water utilization by almost 18% (which will be factored into how we calculate things for the State). Additionally, we are one of the few wastewater operations which reuses 100% of our treated water!

·         PG&E and the City made Fox 40 News last night. A nice article on the project. Click HERE to watch.

·         A really great way to keep and store water is through some form of a rain storage system. Check out BlueBarrelsystems.com for some products they offer for water storage.

·         At the City Council Meeting, the demolition contract was let for the Railroad Ave. buildings for the final preparation of the property for the Downtown Hotel. Look for the work to begin in the next few weeks.

·         The Council also approved an application for funding for the Senior Center which will be constructed with the new Senior Apartments. Kudos to Housing Manager Dan Maguire and Bernadette Austin from Domus Development for their work on moving things forward. This is a difficult project and Dan and Bernadette are total pro’s making it look easier than it really is.

·         Youth Day is just two weeks away! A key fundraiser is the Duck Derby. Contact Kathy Cowan at 795-9090 to reserve your ducks.

·         Congrats to the Chamber and local businesses on a successful Fourth Friday Feast. The event was very well done and will only get better as we roll into summer.

·          The pour of the first arch section of the Putah Creek Car Bridge will now begin on April 28 and last for 4 days. Big kid, big equipment fun for all. I am delivering a bottle of wine and earplugs to Debbie Hemenway next week for her patience!

·         May 2 will be the Winters Day of Service with a number of volunteer opportunities for people to serve the community. We will have projects in the Parks, Community Library and along Putah Creek. An organizing meeting with be this Wednesday, April 15 at City Hall at 6:30 if you have a group or friends who are interested in participating. It will be a half day from 9-noon, with a BBQ following. For more information or questions, please email me at john.donlevy@cityofwinters.org .

·         The Winters Garage Sale is on Saturday, May 9. This is clearly the cultural event of the spring season!! The theme this year is “only really good stuff”. To reserve a spot at City Park, contact Bruce Guelden at 795-4919 . 

Have nice weekend. 

John

 

City Manager Update

04/03/15

All, 

One of the most endearing things I love about Winters is that we close for half a day on Good Friday! That is something totally “old school” about things around here which are fun. 

A couple things…. 

·         A key issue has become the number of rescues we have been called to do at the Cold/Stebbins Canyon loop trail. In 2014-15, the number is close to 20. Staff met with representatives from UC Davis, one of the main property owners this week to talk about a number of issues. It was a great meeting, but the one takeaway from the meeting is that there are A LOT of issues.

·         Using some technology (which I won’t disclose because it will give away a secret) there were approximately 35,000 hikers in 2013. In 2014, that number went to 65,000!!! The combination of visitors, rescues and parking issues means that we need to become a lot more organized as to how the location is managed. In the coming weeks, we will be convening a meeting with a number of agencies to seek some ideas on how to manage what is happening up at the trail. Stay tuned.

·         Phase I of the demolition for the Downtown Hotel is complete and we will be moving forward with the demolition of the structures on Railroad toward the end of the month. It is a real strange sight seeing the old station gone!

·         On Friday, April 10, we will be having a key meeting on “broadband and band width” with representatives from WAVE. Anyone interested in attending can contact me. Location is yet to be determined.

·         The “pour” of the Putah Creek Trestle Bridge will begin on April 20th now. For those who are fans of big trucks and machines, this will be your chance. 10,000 yards of concrete is a lot!!!

·         The PG&E EIR is still out for comment which will close on April 13 at 4:00.

·         The City Council Agenda will have a Public Hearing on CDBG Projects, Demolition for Railroad Properties and extension of the negotiating agreement between the Winters Healthcare Foundation and the City. 

I wish everyone and their families celebrating Easter and Passover a wonderful weekend.

 John

 

City Manager Update

03/27/15

All, 

A number of items……….. 

·         The hammering of the cement and the crash of the excavators continues as the old fire station demolition continues for the Downtown Hotel Project. I a have the front row seat for it and it is amazing with the new view I have!

·         The City Council and the Planning Commission held the environmental workshop and hearing on the PG&E Training Facility EIR. Click HERE for the link to the information on the project. Key issues which came up included a discussion on the Creek, design and working to have the channel which runs North/South as an amenity for the community. Really good input from all who attended. The close for official comments is April 13 at 4:00.

·         A workshop for the Winters Realtors was held this week at the Public Safety Facility. Key items on the agenda include Winters Ranch, Winters Highlands, Downtown Hotel, PG&E and the Senior Affordable Project.

·         Staff and Mayor Cecilia Curry met with a representative from the USDA to discuss potential funding opportunities for upgrading broadband infrastructure in the “greater Winters area”. We need to work on an overall inventory of 911, Public Safety and Agricutural needs and put together a plan. Realistically, our next step is to take our strategy to meet with folks in Washington DC to lay the groundwork for out next steps. A really good meeting.

·         Staff and the Mayor also met with a field representative for Senator Barbara Boxer. We discussed issues including the impacts of the longshoremans strike in the ports, the need for a Transportation Bill, the need to modify some of the requirements of Obamacare to alleviate the negative effects on our Seasonal/Part Time employees and also Broadband. Generally, it was a really good meeting.

·         For all those who like to see big trucks and equipment, take the week around April 10 off and get ready for the pour of the first span of the Putah Creek Car Bridge!!! This will be a really exciting event which happens only once every 100 years. 

Tonight is the Fourth Friday in Downtown. Food, wine and lots of fun.  It should be a beautiful evening! 

Have a nice weekend. 

John

 

 

City Manager Update

03/20/15

All, 

Sorry for missing last weeks Friday Update, but I was on a cruise to Mexico with my beautiful wife. Life got in the way of getting one out! LOTS going on…. 

·         The PG&E Gas Training Facility was the topic of a joint workshop of the City Council and Planning Commission. The issues reviewed included design, site plan and infrastructure for the project. Click here to see the designs and information from the workshop.

·         The next workshop on PG&E will be this Tuesday, March 24 at the Public Safety Facility. Click here for the agenda packet. The topics this week will include the environmental and planning entitlements, along with the improvements along Putah Creek. The meeting starts at 6:30.

·         The Downtown Hotel Project started in a big manner with the demolition of the old firehouse. The building will be removed and then the concrete will be taken out. The concrete process will be very noisy and should last the good part of a week.

·         Lots of inquires on the Winters Ranch subdivision project and information on the new homes which will be built. Click here for a link to the website with information on the houses.

·         The City Council has authorized the bid of the replacement for the bridge which crosses Moody Slough just north of town on Rd 89. The construction should occur this summer. Expect a detour and some closures.

·         Staff received a comprehensive update on the Putah Creek Car Bridge Project. The good news is that the bridge is “out of the ground, meaning the piers are in place for the erection of the structure. The framing of the false work (basically the forms) is well under way and you can actually see the arches. The first spans/arches of the bridge will be poured around April 10!!! This will be an important benchmark for the project.

·         The expected completion of the project (including the removal of the temporary bridge is February/March of 2016. We will be driving over it sometime near the end of 2015!!

·         One aspect of the project which is important is the improvements on Railroad Ave. Staff and the contractor are working on a plan which will hopefully get the improvements done in an expedited manner. This may result in a temporary closure of the street to expedite the construction. Stay tuned…

·         Kudos to the Winters Police, Fire and School District for a successful Every 15 Minutes drunk driving awareness program. This is a very dramatic lesson for the students at Winters High School. Good job to all. Click Here for a link to the video of the program.

John 

 

City Manager Update

03/06/15

All, 

A very busy week. 

·         A reminder that the PG&E Gas Operations Training Center EIR is open for public review and comment. HERE is a link to the site with all of the information.

·         Workshops on the project will be held on March 17 and 24 at the Public Safety Facility starting at 6:30 on both nights.

·         She’s at it again!!!! Mayor Cecilia Aguiar Curry has got us front and center on Broadband. Today, we were featured in a webinar with Jenna Moser presenting on behalf of the City. I was in a meeting with all of the City Manager’s from the region and one walks in and congratulates me on the exposure our City is getting on the topic. Good going Cecilia and Jenna!!!

·         Fencing is up at the old fire station and things are going to start coming down soon in preparation for the Downtown Hotel Project.

·         HERE is a really cool time lapse of the Putah Creek Car Bridge under construction. Fun!!!

·         Staff met with representatives of a number of animal rescue organizations to discuss the future of animal services in Yolo County. Myself and Paul Navizio are the City Manager representatives working with Christine Crawford from LAFCO on developing revised plans on advancing animal services. Stay tuned on where we are going!!

·         The City Council took the first steps on dealing with the issue of Chromium 6 by authorizing (some reluctantly) further engineering evaluations. We are all going to be tired of this topic in the near future!!! Stay tuned…..

·         This Saturday, March 7 is the WFoL Fruit Tree Sale which starts at 9:00 on Railroad Ave. Get there early. Trees are $10 and citrus are $25. 

Have a nice weekend. 

John

 

City Manager Update

02/27/15

All, 

Lots of information to share: 

·         First, the Winters High School Girls Varsity Soccer plays on Saturday at 12:00 at Dr Sellers Field for their second consecutive North Section Division III title. Get there early and prepare to root our girls to the championship!

·         The PG&E Gas Operations Technical Training Facility Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was released on Tuesday. Click HERE for the link to the document, appendices and the technical reports.

·         Kudo’s to both the City and PG&E Teams for reaching this phase of a HUGE undertaking. This is the first “full scope” EIR in the City since 1992. Special recognition to Jenna Moser, Heidi Tschudin, Ethan Walsh, Dave Dowswell and Alan Mitchell from the City and Tom Crowley, Nate Lishman, Kate Hart, Mary Ellen Itner and Alisa Okelo Odongo from PG&E. This was a big project and the release of the EIR is a significant benchmark for an important project.

·         Workshops on the project will be on March 17 and 24.

·         The Planning Commission did design review of the Hudson Ogando Subdivision which will now be known as “Winters Ranch”. Click HERE to see the designs and plans for the various units. Prices will be in the high 200’s to high 400’s.

·         The developer for the subdivision is Clyde Miles Constriction. Here is a link to the website for Winters Ranch.

·         This week was really fun to be from Winters. On Wednesday, the broadband advocacy organization “Next Century Cities” hosted a workshop at The Hacker Lab in Sacramento and highlighted our community and Mayor Cecilia Aguiar Curry for our work with the Yolo Broadband Project. Enough cannot be said about Cecilia’s work in advancing technology for both resident and the farming operations in our area. It is really incredible when statewide leaders are referencing our City as a beacon of innovation and positioning for the future!

·         The City Council Meeting on Tuesday will include a lot of housekeeping type items. Items include a FEMA Grant for Firefighters, Demolition of the old fire station, Permits for the Davis Bike Club Century Ride and Buckhorn Car Shows, Well Monitoring Services for the old landfill, Purchase of an ATV for the Public Works Department, Chromium VI Compliance and some Redevelopment Dissolution Loan Agreements. Click HERE for the Agenda.

·         The meeting will also have an update on the Putah Creek Car Bridge by the Solano County Engineering Team.

·         Kudos to Winters Fire on another great Fish Fry last week! A lot of work for their Toys for Tots Program. There are too many people to mention by name, but it was an incredible team event. Congrats!!! 

Finally, a little recognition for some folks who really make a difference. 

The Winters Friends of the Library (WFoL) held their 11th annual Quiz Show last Friday. WFoL really is a premier organization in town and sponsors numerous programs throughout the year in support of the Winters Community Library and Literacy. They are a really fun group who help define the community mindedness of what it means to live and give to a small town. The Quiz Show was just terrific with a wide range of questions, participation from 8 different teams and a format which is both interesting and entertaining.  Enough cannot be said for how important they are to Winters! (As a side note, my Quiz Show Team “Out by 8” did not make it out of the first round, but the good news is that we did not finish in last place). 

The fundraising activities go directly back into the community in the form of extended hours at the Library, equipment and literacy programs. Click HERE for a link to the WFoL Website. 

Next Saturday, March 7 is the WFoL Fruit Tree Sale on Railroad Ave starting at 9:00 until all of the trees are gone. Click here for the flyer on the event. At $10 for a bare root tree, the price is absolutely a steal!!! 

Have a nice weekend. 

John

 

City Manager Update

02/20/15

All, 

Too much happening this week and I need to get to the fish fry to start preparation (I am the fish cutter), so here is the ultimate Cliff’s Notes Update: 

·         Fish Fry starts tonight at 5:00 at the NEW fire station- $15 at the door for all you can eat. There will be a huge line, so my advice is to get there early or come a little late (after 6:15) to get in.

·         The Friends of the Library Quiz Show is at the Community Center starting at 7:00. Entries tonight will cost you $120 but it is worth the support of the Friends! My team is called “Out by 8” and we are one of the longest competing teams. We never get out of the first round of questions and will be at Preserve by 8:00 having drinks. We may not get the answers, but we are by far the most entertaining group!

·         Next Tuesday on the Planning Commission is the design review for the new subdivision on Main Street. Click here for a link to the packet and the chance to take a look at the drawings. 

Have a nice weekend. 

John

City Manager Update

02/13/15

 

All, 

Happy Friday the 13th

Lot’s going on but not much to really update. Here are a couple items for the coming weeks. 

·         Next week’s City Council Meeting will have a number of presentations and items for consideration. Click here to get the Packet or here if you just want the Agenda.

·         Presentations on the Agenda will include a proposal from Yolo County Health on Tobacco Sale Regulation, the swearing in of a new Police Officer- Morgan Hatcher and recognition of three Winters High Students (TY Spaulding, Brandon Freed and Colwyn Martin) who have attained the rank of Eagle Scout.

·         The City will also have a special presentation to Congressional District Representative Ellie Fairclough who has represented both Mike Thompson and John Garamendi in the past years. Ellie has helped the City on a number of important projects, most notably the North Bank Trail Project along Putah Creek. She is moving towards a much earned retirement.

·         Also on the agenda will be a Lease Agreement with Charley Wallace and the City’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

·         The City Council attended a meeting on Monday  regarding the Sacramento Region’s Metropolitan Transportation Plan. The focus of the plan is rapid transit and high intensity areas. This means Sacramento to Roseville will get the majority of the funding and rural communities like Winters will see less funding. 

This is a three day weekend with City Hall Closed in observance of President’s Day! Have a wonderful weekend! 

John  

City Manager Update

02/06/15

 

All, 

Sorry for not getting an update out last week. I was at a conference out of town and trying to do an extended report from my ipad was just not in the cards. Plus, I was playing golf at the Olympic Club which was a real treat and is a bucket list item!

Here is the update: 

·         On Tuesday, January 27, the Planning Commission reviewed and approved the designs for the Downtown Hotel Project. Overall, a really good meeting with some good input. To say we are excited about this project is an understatement. The Project Team from Royal Guest did a superior job in the design development. Click here for a link to the packet to take a look at the Hotel, floor plans, etc.

·         The Commission also reviewed a subdivision for “Olive Court” which the orchard across from the varsity baseball field and is bordered by Hemenway and Apricot Ave. This is an 18 unit subdivision and the layout is very well done. The details are here in the packet from the meeting.

·         A key questions from some in the community in regards to Olive Court is why they need to build 18 units, when some would like fewer lots and custom homes. The reality is that the City has a zoning code which details the density of the development. Density is important from the point that it correlates to streets, water, sewer and conformity with the neighborhood. In this case, the MR land use dictates a density range of 4.1 to 6 units to the gross acre.  The two parcels total 4.21 acres which allows 17 to 25 lots. Why is this important?? Land use is a critical part of the overall business plan for the City. If someone over builds on a property, infrastructure is stressed and conformity in the neighborhood is affected. If it is under built, the infrastructure accounts would be way under funded and the City’s ability to do planning for infrastructure would be significantly affected.

·         Broadband was a key topic at the City Council Meeting on Tuesday evening. This will become THE critical infrastructure discussion for the City in the coming months. As consumers, businesses and residents will become increasingly aware of how important quality broadband and internet resources are for the viability of the City. It will play a critical role in property values, local jobs, education and healthcare in Winters. I liken it to having electrical or water service to your home. Stay tuned……….

·         Hudson Ogando Subdivision is well under way. Grading is done and they are installing all of the utilities. This is without a doubt one of the best contractors we have ever had in Winters. Their overall efficiency and quality is impressive. The builder, Clyde Miles has submitted preliminary designs which are under review by the Staff and will go to the Design Review Committee in the coming weeks and then to the Planning Commission on February 24. I have gotten the sneak peak (which I get on most things) and the layouts look pretty good.

·         The environmental documents for the PG&E Gas Training Facility are in development and are scheduled for release in late February. Register here for notifications on when these documents are released.

·         Joint/Public Workshops on PG&E will be held on March 17 (Design/Infrastructure/Creek) and March 24 (Environmental).

·         Yesterday, the Academy Team who will run the GOTTC were in town to discuss their plans. Talking about the function of the facility is VERY exciting. Winters and PG&E are on the verge of something very exciting for both the town and gas safety. They told us a bunch of really cool stuff about their operations which I am not totally sure I can share yet, but you have to trust me, it is really exciting!!!!

·         Congratulations to The Buckhorn Team, their business partners and employees on the opening of Buckhorn BBQ in the Nut Tree in Vacaville. Carrying on their overall excellence, the restaurant is similar to the Buckhorn Grill’s which are around California  and extend all the way to Rockefeller Center in New York. I went to their dry run/preview night (I felt special being one of their first customers) and it was awesome. John and Melanie Pickerel are icons of the quality food movement and help define the excellence which represents Winters so well. They are the consummate hosts and it is thrilling to see how they bring a taste of Winters to the outside world with their restaurants. The Buckhorn BBQ is open now so go and enjoy!!!

·         Congratulations to award recipients from the Fire and Police Appreciation Dinner held last Saturday.

·         From the Police Department, Gordon Brown was Officer of the Year, Gail Jimenez was Employee of the Year, Chaplain Robert Duval received a commendation for Lifesaving and Jose Hermosillo received a commendation for Exemplary Work.

·         From Winters Fire, Adrian Ramirez was named Firefighter of the Year (third year in a row), Anthony Selvitella EMT of the Year and Shawn Pritchard and Mike Miller received lifetime achievement awards for their service to Winters Fire.

·         Mark your calendar for a very busy February 20. The Fire Department Fish Fry and the Winters Friends of the Library Quiz Show are both that night. For fish tickets, call the station at 795-4131 and to enter a team for the Quiz Show, call Rebecca at 795-4600.

Last Week, I attended the annual City Manager’s Conference which was held in San Francisco. This is a critical meeting for updates on things impacting cities. It is also an outstanding chance for me to gain both professional development AND a perspective on where we sit in relation to the rest of California cities. 

The keynote speaker was James Fallows from the Atlantic Monthly, who has recently visited Winters with his wife Deborah as part of their research on small and medium communities across the country. In his talk, he mentioned key factors to what make communities GREAT. Many of the factors included having quality “downtowns”, commitments to education, especially linkages to research universities (Davis) and Community Colleges (Solano), key community facilities (like the pool, library, community center and public safety facility), community based organizations (WFoL, Rotary, Volunteer Fire), known “patriots” (leaders) within the community who are making things happen and a true sense of “community”. Of his list of 10 key factors, Winters scored a 9 out of 10 (one factor was overcoming a disaster which I do not think we fell into). One of their key factors includes have a local brewery (I corrected him later and told him we have the BEST local brewery in Berryessa Brewing!!  

Here is a link to an article they did describing our City. Here is another article on Winters High which really gives a perspective on what sets us apart in their eyes. An IMPORTANT perspective is that this is the oldest continually published magazine in the country and they are highlighting WINTERS, CALIFORNIA. (start the band and pop the corks) 

In his talk he mentioned only two California cities; San Bernardino (in bankruptcy and in political meltdown) and Winters! Mr Fallows mentioned us as one of the successful communities in his research (which is continuing). His mention of our Winters and me by name (which is a two edge sword- like being called out by the principal at the school assembly and yes, I was buying drinks for people later that night) was a sense of great pride for all our community has accomplished. I get to represent our town (and get a lot of credit for stuff done by members of our team) and it helps provide a perspective on what a special place we have.  

We really are a community of “patriots” who get things done. From the students at Winters High, to the businesses, to the community organization who provide for and define us, to the citizens who coach soccer and little league. We are certainly blessed and some of the most respected journalists in the country are writing about us. 

A really good week! 

John

City Manager Update

01/23/15

 

All, 

A big week this week and a big week next week!

This week ……..

·         The City Council reviewed the amendments to the Winters Highlands Subdivision Development Agreement which were forwarded from the Planning Commission. There were 14 recommendations from the PC and the Council modified just three, including reducing the maximum units per year to 100 (reduction from 200), requiring 20% of the units to have photovoltaic solar panels and basically told Homes by Towne that Winters is not very receptive to Mello Roos Financing Districts. Overall, the meeting went well. Winters Highlands has brought some of the highest controversy and concern in the past 20 years and this meeting had the potential for being one of those really hot items.

·         The discourse of the meeting was exceptional. The City Council was burdened with a HUGE packet of information for the item which combined legal, financial, environmental analysis, land use and technical information. They all did their homework and it really showed. The public comments were well presented. Winters is really lucky to have people like energy expert David Springer in town who brings a tremendous amount of technical knowledge to development issues and consumer trends. Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, Charley Wallace and Jeff Tenpas all provided solid input and questions into the process. The meeting was extremely respectful, analytical and resulted in a quality review and ultimate decision making by all involved. It really  showed the quality of the public process in Winters in a positive light.

·         The City Staff is being led through emergency training by our Fire Chief Aaron McAlister. The 3 day class covers the Incident Command System which is an organizational analysis following FEMA’s guidelines for common organization and terminology.

·         Mayor Cecilia Curry and I met with Andrew Kim from Congressman John Garamendi’s staff to discuss broadband strategies. It was a really good meeting and a chance for us to catch up on the congressman’s assignments in the new congress!

·         On Wednesday, I attended the Ukulele concert put on by the City’s After School Program which was held at Shirley Rominger School. The performance was part of a “Capstone” project by WHS senior Loren Tolley. The program was terrific and the kids were quite the musicians. Congrats to Loren, the Afterschool Staff and mostly the kids for doing a wonderful job!

Next week………………

·         The Planning Commission with have the Downtown Hotel, an 18 unit subdivision off Hemenway Street (across from the varsity baseball field) and the design review for three homes on Mermod Place.

Finally, a couple fun items:

·         If you have not seen the piano drop video from December, click here, it is really great. Click on it and share on your facebook and twitter. Let’s get 10,000 views.

·         Citizen of the Year/Year in Review for the Chamber of Commerce is this Saturday. Mayor Cecilia Curry a very deserving recipient of this years award.

·         U14 soccer at SRIS this Saturday!

Thanks,

John

 

City Manager Update

01/16/15

All, 

A super busy week on key projects: 

·         Staff is working diligently on the PG&E Gas Operations Training Facility Environmental Impact Report. The schedule has this being release in February. This is a “full scope” EIR and is one of the first of its kind for the City of Winters. We have a very impressive team working on the document. To get notified on the release of the EIR, click here and sign up to receive all notifications for the project.

·         The City Council will have the revisions to the Winters Highlands Development Agreement on this weeks agenda. There are not real big changes to the map or the project (duplex lots being changed to single lots) but the agreement is being modified similar to the changes which were made to Creekside and Ogando Hudson Development Agreements. The biggest change is the Development Agreement has been re-written to consolidate previous amendments into a single re-stated document. City Attorney Ethan Walsh has done an exceptional job on this project in pulling everything together. Go to the City’s website to review either the agenda or get the entire packet.

·         The project team for the Putah Creek Car Bridge met this week and are planning an acceleration of the work on the project. Look for more construction activity in the coming months and a chance to see the bridge start rising from the creek. The architectural design of the bridge is beautiful and it will be something we will be very proud of as an entrance to our town. They are working on the timeline and I will get that out as soon as I have it.

·         Winters Fire had another rescue up on the Cold Canyon Trail last Saturday evening! I can tell you that it is getting really old really fast when people are attempting a challenging hike with little to no preparation and we need to rescue them. The hike and the trails are exceptional, but we will begin working with local hiking groups and agencies to try and gain a semblance of order to things up on the hill.

·         Winters Friends of the Library (WFOL) will be holding their annual Quiz Show on February 20 at 7:00 at the Community Center. This is a highlight event in the community for all those trivia buffs out there. There will be a warm up for the event this Saturday, January 17 at Berryessa Gap Tasting Room. For more information, call Rebecca Fridae at 795-4200.

·         Berryessa Brewing is serving all of my favorite beers right now- Pumpkin Death, Separation Anxiety and Double Tap are all on tap. Even on the cold foggy nights, the food truck food, music and the total vibe of the place is where you need to be. The location is one of the best spots in Winters and a great place to either end the week or just decompress on the weekend.

·         Back in December, I mentioned our meeting with Assemblyman Bill Dodd who came to town with his Chief of Staff to discuss Winters issues as he assumes his role as our assembly representative. His staff has hit the ground running and Councilman Pierre Neu and I had a chance to stop by their Capitol Office and meet some of them on Wednesday.

·         Our State Senator, Lois Wolk has served us in both the Assembly and Senate for the past 12 years has really made a real difference for Winters on key issues. Lois’ help was very effective in 2013 in helping us work with the State Emergency Medical Services Agency to achieve 24/7 ambulance service to our community. She also played a role in the delivery of the Putah Creek Car Bridge Project and has been a key player in some of the most important issues to California, including the recently passed Proposition 1 Water Bond. In a Legislature that has not always been very kind to local government, Lois has been extremely fair and a champion for critical issues which are important to cities. She has always been a stellar representative for Yolo County and an outstanding representative in the Legislature. While nobody agrees on all of the issues, Lois’ integrity and ethics have always been beyond reproach. She has been effective in transcending partisan politics to work on legislation which actually benefits Californians. Our Legislature would be a much better institution if they followed Lois’ example. 

Have a nice weekend. 

John

 

City Manager Update

01/09/15

All, 

Happy 2015!! So far, so good for the new year based on this week. 

To start,  we ended 2014 and began 2015 by saving some lives: 

·         On December 27, Winters Police responded to an emergency call at a residence in town which involved an overdose. Our officers, including Corporal Albert Ramos and Chaplain Robert Duvall were the first on scene and started CPR (Robert is a former paramedic). They were successful in bringing the person back to life in support of Winters Fire who showed up with AMR and stabilized the person. A great way to end the year for the Winters PD and Winters Fire!

·         Last Sunday, Winters Fire was called out for another rescue on the Cold Canyon/Blue Ridge Trail. The incident involved a rappelling accident where a man was seriously injured. There is an incredible back story on how the Solano County dispatchers located where the incident occurred. Click here for a feature from Good Morning America on how these dispatchers used social media to save this persons life! Winters Fire, along with the CHP and other responding agencies were successful in airlifting the man from the location to Vacaville Kaiser Trauma Center and his life was saved. 

This was a good week! 

·         On Monday, the Planning Commission reviewed some updated provisions to the Winters Highlands Development Agreement and has moved forward recommendations for approval of the agreement to the City Council, which will be heard at the City Council Meeting on January 20.. There are NO changes to physical project, but there are modifications to the development agreement which are similar to those we have done for the Creekside and Hudson Ogando Projects. Click here for a link to the agenda packet which has the report from the Planning Commission Meeting.

·         Kudos to the Planning Commission on their work and study for the Monday meeting. There was a lot to read and prepare for the meeting over the holiday and they were absolute troopers. They were prepared, well read on the material and did a detailed review of what was before them. The community is luck to have such a group on the Commission.

·         Staff and PG&E met on Thursday on the Gas Operations and Training Center project and all went well.

·         A big City Council Meeting for people to watch will be on February 3. Broadband infrastructure will be a key topic, as will Chromium 6 and addressing the new State standards. Good and bad both at the same meeting!! Watch for the agenda.

·         The City Park Basketball Courts were resurfaced on Thursday. They will be painted in a few weeks.

·         The Downtown Hotel Project drawings are available for review at City Hall. They are located upstairs in the City Manager’s Conference Room or can be brought downstairs to the City Council Chamber.

·         The Woodland Daily Democrat did an outstanding article on Winters High School student Tynam Spalding. Ty is my neighbor and a real exceptional young man. Click here for the article. I have seen Ty grow up and we are really proud of his accomplishments. He has really good family support from his parents Bill and Kim. The article will make you feel good for our community!   

I like to tell people that we are “in the business of where people live”! The way we ended the year and started 2015 were just incredible. 

The story on the rappelling accident and the save of the individual who overdosed are examples of the business we are in at the City of Winters. Our jobs involve providing services to our residents and visitors among which includes saving their lives. We have a team which includes all who work in our organization as well as our partner agencies. Winters Fire, Winters PD, AMR, Solano and Yolo Dispatch changed some lives in the past week for the positive. 

As the City Manager, I cannot express how proud I am to be associated with the men and women of our public safety departments and the supporting agencies. They risk their lives every day to keep our community safe and to rescue those in peril.  They are real life hero’s, changing lives on a regular basis. 

Thanks and have a great weekend. 

John

 

City Manager Update

01/01/15

All, 

City Hall is closed the last week of the year, so things are pretty quiet. As we get ready to begin 2015, I thought I might take some time to review some of the top things from 2014, both good and bad. 

This year, we saw some pretty good things start to take shape and conclude (in no particular order): 

·         In September, PG&E formally announced that they have selected Winters as the location for their Gas Technical Training Facility. This was the worst kept secret and was met with incredible fanfare in their announcement. The project is good for PG&E and really good for Winters!

·         The opening of the new St. Anthony Church and the remodel of Parish Hall were certainly a highlight of the year. I would venture to say it is one of the most beautiful buildings in town and a real asset to the community. Father Michael Hebda and the Parish development team did an incredible job and the community investment is absolutely amazing. The new church is certainly a symbol of caring and inclusion for our community.

·         The Downtown Hotel Project has been an important goal for the City. In April/May, Royal Guest came forward with a proposal for a 51 unit boutique hotel for the downtown core. In December, was received the architectural drawings for the hotel and they are amazing. Look for a groundbreaking sometime in either March or April. Wow!

·         The conviction of William Gardner for the murder of Leslie Pinkston showed the ability of our Police Department and other agencies to investigate and convict someone who commits such a heinous act of violence in our community. Words cannot express how proud we are of the men and women who worked toward the capture and conviction of Gardner. Kudo’s to the Winters Express and McNaughton Press for their outstanding coverage on such a sensitive issue to our community.

·         Recycled water finally flowed for agricultural use after years of efforts to make this happen through the regulatory process. The drought was the main factor, but the City team who worked on this certainly deserve a lot of credit for preserving almost 30 million gallons in the aquifer.

·         Dollar General is almost completed and is looking really good! Expanded retail in Winters will be good for all businesses in town with people hopefully taking advantage of shopping locally!

·         New homes are on our horizon! The Hudson Ogando Project will see 70 new homes constructed adding much needed market rate housing to the community. Look for the first move-ins sometime in 2015.

·         Senior Affordable Apartments also took legs! The 60 unit Blue Mountain Terrace is through some key planning hoops and in the process of getting funding. The project looks amazing and will bring much needed senior housing to town.

·         We witnessed salmon spawning in Putah Creek for the first time in decades. The work of the various creek committees and local efforts paid off in an amazing way. “Amazing” is an absolute understatement! 

2014 also saw some challenges and tragedy which cannot be overlooked: 

·         The Monticello Fire covering over 10,000 acres taxed local and State fire resources over a number of weeks. We learned to appreciate the quality and the importance of our Winters Fire team along with how things are coordinated with CalFire and the State Emergency Management Agency.

·         The construction accident on the Putah Creek Car Bridge which cost two lives was a traumatic event which put a pause on this really important project. It gave us perspective on the danger of some professions and an appreciation for the important bonds of family, friends and colleagues. The response by our City team was stellar and the handling of the incident showed the professionalism in how to deal with such a situation.

·         The passing of many community members throughout the year seemed disproportionate in many respects. In most cases it was sudden and unexpected, causing a chill and the reality of our own mortality. The community grieved way to much in 2014 and hopefully we will see less of that in 2015.

·         The suicide of our friend and colleague Scott Dozier rocked the City of Winters organization and our community. As Chief,  Scotty really was the father of the modern fire organization, leading the charge on the construction of the public safety facility, the modernization of the fleet and equipment, enhanced training, the inception of the 24/7 staffing and ultimately the transition to new and progressive leadership for the Fire Department. He was humble and a true friend who is missed on a daily basis and at every event. His passing has truly made people appreciate those who give to our community more and more. 

The main thing about 2014 I will remember is the resiliency of the Winters community and the way we have of coming together to deal with the most challenging of circumstances. In the Monticello Fire, Car Bridge Accident, murder of Leslie Pinkston and the passing of Scott Dozier, we witness the utmost in professionalism and compassion in dealing with situations. The combination of doing the job correctly while not ignoring the fact that we are a small town which is impacted by serious events in a unique way was amazing. We are blessed with the fact that we can take the human factor into account to ease the impacts of practically any event, no matter how tragic. We are lucky to have a newspaper like the Winters Express who has a tough job of balancing literary professionalism in reporting on very personal events. Debra and Charley saw these challenges way to often this year and did so professionally and with the utmost in journalistic sensitivity (not particularly easy). 

The greatness and character of the Winters community is defined by the things we do. In May, I witnessed it in an incredible manner when my neighbor Julie Orozco passed away in her sleep. I saw neighbors immediately comforting the children, Father Michael showing to administer the sacrament, our Police and Fire personnel handling the situation in a respectful and compassionate manner. It was an extremely beautiful occurrence where neighbors and those from Winters came together to unconditionally care, love and grieve at the same time in support of our own.  It is the benefit of living in a small community which is not shared or experienced in many other places. It is what truly separates us and makes Winters a special place. 

Have a happy new year! 

John 

P.S- Our police will be out in force over the holiday! Get a designated driver or hire a high school kid to chauffer you to the evening parties. DUI’s are REALLY expensive and worst is injuring or killing yourself or someone else. Please be safe during the remainder of the holiday!

City Manager Update

12/23/14

Like most, I am working to get ready for the holidays and want to sneak out of the office, so here is the update for the past week. 

·         Mayor Cecilia Curry and Councilman Woody Fridae and I met with Assemblyman Bill Dodd last week to discuss local issues. Bill was sworn in as our new Assembly representative a week ago and has hit the ground running. He has his staff on board and is beginning to put his office together. Click here to go to his website to get his contact information. Bill is a real down to earth person and seems ready to serve District 4. It was the first time in almost 5 years I have met with one of our elected representatives or their staff and it was refreshing!

·         The Downtown Hotel Project went before our Design Review Committee to a packed house last Thursday. The design concepts are incredible and the developer has a high quality team in place to move the project forward. Look for the project to go before the Planning Commission on January 27. If you want to see the preliminary drawings, come by City Hall and they are in the City Council Chamber.

·         The last City Council Meeting had a really short agenda, but that does not mean we are not doing anything around here! We are neck deep in the PG&E Project, Senior Affordable Housing, Dollar General, Downtown Hotel, Winters Highlands, etc. Lot’s going on and in the works. Probably the busiest I have seen in around here in years.

·         The Planning Commission will hold a special meeting on January 5 to review the updated Winters Highlands Development Agreement. The Agenda Packet should be posted to our website next week.

·         On Friday, many of us attended the hearing regarding the designation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain Region as a National Monument. This has been an ongoing project for about the past 7 years and has bounced between being a “Conservation Area” (which requires Congressional action) or a “National Monument” which requires only the authorization of the President. Congressmen Mike Thompson and John Garamendi have been leading the charge in Washington D.C.. Tuleyome (click here to go to their website) has been coordinating this designation on the local level and has done an incredible job. Last weeks hearing included the Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell and the undersecretary of Agriculture in attendance. It was a BIG deal meeting and the support was overwhelming.

·         A lot of credit needs to go out to Woody Fridae’s 5th Grade Students who read letters of support for the Berryessa Snow Mountain designation. Of all the heavy hitters at the meeting who spoke, these Winters students were by far the most poignant and effective. They made our community proud!!

·         One of the biggest issues the City will deal with in 2015 are new regulations related to Chromium 6 in our drinking water. New water regulations from the State reduce the acceptable amount of Chromium 6 from 50 to 10 parts per billion (ppb). Chrom 6 is naturally occurring in ground water and 100% of our water is pumped.  In Winters, our levels bounce around 15 ppb. This will require complete filtration of all water and cause rates to become almost unaffordable for many people. Literally, we are looking at rates in the hundreds of dollars if we are required to comply with these regulations.

·         Staff met with the Central Valley Regional Control Board to discuss the renewal of our recycled water program for our wastewater operations. Last year, we re-used almost 30 million gallons of water for agricultural purpose. The meeting with the Board Staff was extremely positive and it looks like we will be doing a simple renewal and possibly expanding our use to other crops in 2015. Congratulations to Carol Scianna for her exemplary work on this subject! 

As 2014 approaches a close, I would like to wish everyone in the Winters Community a very safe and happy holiday season. From Christmas and Hanukah to New Years and beyond, please be safe! In 2014, we lost a lot of really great people in our community and we need to buck that trend in 2015. 

John

 

 

City Manager Update

12/12/14

All, 

This was a GREAT week on many fronts! 

·         Salmon have Returned!!!! Putah Creek Park has been a big focus of the City for a number of years. During the last 13, a combination of folks including the Putah Creek Council, Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee, the City, and many citizens have worked toward the ecological restoration of the creek. A dream has always to see the spawning of salmon within the stretch of Putah Creek Park near the trestle bridge. This week that was realized as we watched females building gravel nests and males fighting for dominance in the creek. It was a truly magical moment for many who have worked so hard and diligently to improve the habitat to make this happen. Congratulations to the entire Creek team, especially Rich Marovich (Putah Creek Streamkeeper). There are a lot of back stories which could be shared regarding the creek, but to finally see salmon was worth all the grief many have endured through the years.

·         PG&E President in Town- Chris Johns, President of PG&E was in town for a brief meeting with the Mayor, me and Councilmember Wade Cowan. It was a wonderful meeting and a chance to hear first hand the vision for the Gas Operations Technical Training Facility and its role for their company. Chris was very direct and candid about their goal of developing a world class training center for their gas operations and their hopes that it will be an industry wide benchmark for the gas industry. He shared with us the common values of how important it is for PG&E to be an active member of the communities it serves and how that fits with Winters in so many ways.  We were mutually impressed with the vision for where things are moving and the role that PG&E will play in the economic development of Winters and how our community will play a role in the improvement of the largest Utility in Northern California. Exciting is an understatement!

·         Storm of the Eon a really nice rain- The great storm of 2014 was a super bucket of rain for us! Calm, steady rain all day certainly was not a negative and gave a chance for some groundwater re-charge and a good soaking. Hopefully, we have a couple more just like it to help us move past the drought and into a more regular cycle in the years to come.

·         I received a report from Lake Berryessa Manager Jeff Laird who gave me the following “The lake level has risen approximately 4 feet in the last two weeks, including almost 3 feet in the last 24 hours.  Boat ramps at Markley, Pleasure Cove, Steele Canyon and Putah Canyon are open.  Capell Cove is still closed, but if the lake continues to rise, we hope to be able to re-open Capell in the coming weeks.” Good news all the way around!

·         Next Thursday will be the preliminary design review for the Downtown Hotel. The preliminary design and material boards are at City Hall if you are interested in seeing them. One word describes them…. Awesome!!

·         Staff met with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board to discuss the continuation of our recycled water program. The results were extremely positive and we will be preparing the necessary documents to continue and possibly expand the program in 2015. Congratulations to Carol Scianna from the City Staff who has been the lead on this project. Last year, we saved over 30 million gallons of water from being pumped from the aquifer.

·         The Winters Highlands Subdivision will be before the Planning Commission on January 5, 2015 for a review and update to their development agreement!

·         Kudo’s to the Chamber, Winters Friends of the Library, 4R Rescue, Santa and all the elves for an incredible kick off last Saturday to the holidays. A special recognition to Wade and Kathy Cowan for their efforts in decorating Downtown, especially the lights on the tree which are off the charts this year!!! Also a big thanks to the Rotary Club of Winters for the cookies and hot chocolate!

·         Special recognition to Santa who did a wonderful job! Who knew Santa could sing so well!!

·         Holiday parties (I love holiday parties) are kicking into gear and the Winters Police Department is all trained and certified for the recognition, evaluation and testing for persons driving under the influence. This is a brutal combination and will ruin your holiday cheer when you get arrested for DUI. Get a designated driver, walk home or even call the Police and they will give you a lift, but DO NOT DRIVE DRUNK BECAUSE IF THEY FIND YOU UNDER THE INFLUENCE, YOU WILL GO TO JAIL.  Just sayin……

 Finally, a couple tips on the local scene. First, order your holiday roast early from Lorenzo’s (it is a deal and they do a superior job). Second, our tasting rooms all have recommendations of wine pairings for your meals which never miss. Finally, give the gift of the best food and hospitality around! The Buckhorn has gift bags (click here), Ace and True Value have incredible buys, the wine rooms have incredible selections, Eagle Drug has some really fun gifts and most restaurants and shops have gift cards. As many know, I am a huge fan of Berryessa Brewing and their entire scene. They have gift cards, shirts, growlers and lot’s of fun stuff. This holiday season, give the gift of Winters.

 Have a nice weekend.

 John

 

 

City Manager Update

12/05/14

All, 

A number of items after a couple of weeks off. 

·         On Monday, we held the Public Workshop regarding the Environmental Impact Report which will be prepared for the PG&E Gas Technical Training Facility. A nice evening with some really good questions. Click here to go to the City’s web page for everything you may want to know about the project.

·         Last week, the Planning Commission reviewed the design application for the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Apartment Complex. The designs for the project are absolutely AWESOME and the Planning Commission did a stellar job in their review. We are entering the “funding phase” for the project which will include a variety of applications to State and Federal Tax Credit agencies. This should take about a year and we would expect the project to begin either late 2015 or early 2016. Click here to look at the plans and designs, which are very impressive.

·         Winters has a new Senior Group which is forming to bring programming, services and social events for our grey haired population. The City has a web page for Seniors (click here) . The Chairman of the group is Wally Pearce (denropro@gmail.com) and other officers are Joe Tramontana, Mary Rolston and Patty  Schariff. Keep an eye on our web page or contact Wally to get on their list.

·         This week, the City’s Wastewater Division did some major maintenance (cleaning) of our force main. The  process is called “pigging the line” which involved sending a series of inflated pillows (not real pigs- that did not work so well the first time they tried it) to abrasively clean debris built up inside the line. From all accounts, it went extremely well and it helps in increasing the overall capacity of our force main. Kudo’s to the maintenance staff for a job well done!

·         The City was featured in the first of a series in The Atlantic Magazine by author and writer Deborah Fallows. She and her husband James Fallows were hosted for a couple days during the spring by Woody and Rebecca Fridae. The Fallows are researching a book on what makes and keeps small communities great and they seemed to really like what Winters is all about. Click here for the article to see what some national writers think about our little slice of heaven.

·          Congrats to the Winters High School Warriors for taking the Northern Section Division III Football title for the second consecutive year. Coach Daniel Ward and his staff have certainly built a dynasty for our little community. The coaching and the team help build community pride and character which we can all be proud of! Congratulations to WHS and Warrior Pride!

·         People seem to like the Friday Update and I do my best to get it out each week (if it is late it is most likely my fault and being a flake in getting it out). The past two weeks I received a number of inquiries as to where the updates were. Here are my excuses- I was in Mexico the week of November 17 (the Police tells me not to tell 7,000 people I will be on vacation so I don’t) and I never send the Update on Thanksgiving Week- the reason is that this update goes to a lot of e-mails and everyone sets their “out of office” response on and the City’s email server is bombed with responses back to me. I then need to delete literally hundreds of e-mail replys which is a pain. So don’t look for the update during Thanksgiving. 

Finally, we can let the healing begin and put the horror of the murder of Leslie Pinkston in our rear view mirror. William Gardner was sentenced on Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Enough cannot be said for the awesome work of the Winters Police Department, Yolo District Attorney, Yolo Sheriff, Woodland and Davis Police Departments and the FBI who all contributed to the conviction of this murderer. Kudo’s again to Debra DeAngelo the Editor of the Winters Express and Laura Keene from McNaughton Press for their outstanding coverage of the case and the trial.  

The ill of domestic violence in society was highlighted in this case. Empower Yolo is a critical group in Yolo County bringing resources to help victims of domestic abuse. Click here for more information. 

Thanks,

John

 

 

City Manager Update

11/14/14

All,

A short update this week and no update next week!

• Grading has begun on the Hudson Ogando Subdivision Project. We are allowing Saturday work to allow them to expedite the process which will benefit all. It is amazing how many people like to just sit and watch tractors work!
• The City Council will have the development agreement for the Downtown Hotel on the Tuesday agenda! This is really exciting and a big first step. Expect that the project will be before the Planning Commission in January!
• The Notice of Preparation is out for the PG&E Project.  This is the first step in the EIR process. The scoping meeting for the project will be on December 1 here at City Hall.
• Congratulations on the opening of The Scoop Frozen Yogurt Shop. The place is super tasty and a wonderful addition to the Downtown.
• The Winters Warriors start the playoffs this Friday in defense of their North Section football title. Game starts at 7:30 at Dr Sellers Field.

Have a great week.

John

 

City Manager Update

11/07/14

All,

A mostly good week!

• Tonight should be a fun time in Downtown. The Pike’s Market Fish Mongers will be throwing fish on Main Street. Things should be rolling by about 5. Also, The Scoop frozen yogurt shop has opened on Main Street. I went to their “soft” opening last night and it was GREAT!
• Look for the Notice of Preparation for the PG&E Gas Training Facility to be released today! The scoping meeting is scheduled for December 1 in the City Council Chamber.
• The Development Disposition Agreement for the Downtown Hotel will be before the City Council on November 18. Look for the project to be before the Planning Commission in December.
• Earth moving on the Hudson Ogando Project is starting next week!
• Congratulations to the Winters Community Library on its 5 Year Anniversary. The Winters Friends of the Library (WFOL) held a nice celebration on Wednesday with Sac Bee Political Cartoonist Gary Ohlman and a nice spread of food and cookies. WFOL is certainly one of the best organizations in Winters, supporting hours of operation, programming and now purchasing new furniture at the Library. They announced how they will be investing $24,000 raised from last years “Big Day of Giving” into our community library and it is impressive. Whether it is time or money, WFOL is an organization that you can count on to maximize your giving!!!!
• Last week, a jury convicted William Gardner of the murder of Leslie Pinkston in our Downtown. It was a horrible crime which shattered the sanctity of our peaceful town. The jury returned the verdict within hours of deliberation. On November 18, the friends and family of Leslie will hold a vigil on Railroad Ave (6:00) with a potluck dinner following at Creekside Bar. On November 9 at Creekside, friends will host “Calie’s Carnival” from 12-5 as a fundraising event for Leslie’s daughter’s college fund.

The murder of Leslie last year set in motion a 3 week manhunt, capture, extradition from Nevada, arraignment, trial and now conviction. Sentencing will be December 1 at Yolo County Court. All of this has happened in less than a years time with the efforts of Winters Police Department, Yolo District Attorney’s Office, Davis and Woodland Police, the FBI and the Federal Marshall’s Office. The agencies and individuals involved worked diligently to bring this conviction which was an absolute slam dunk once it hit the jury. The case has been under a judicial “gag order” which has prohibited anyone at the City of other agencies from discussing any aspects of the case. We can now talk about the behind the scenes stuff.

First, as a small jurisdiction, we do not have the resources to do a full investigation like this on our own. I like to tell people “we have really good friends” and in this case, our friends really came through for us. Each of the agencies stepped in to help us for which our community is eternally grateful. They helped bring an absolute monster to justice. Jeff Resig, instantly becomes an honorary citizen of Winters for eternity. He and his staff did an amazing job on this case. They get hero awards for their efforts as do the many investigators and professionals who put the case together.

Our Winters Police Department did an amazing job on the case from the first seconds of the call. From the first response by Officer Albert Ramos to the start of crime scene evidence collection by our Community Services Officer Gail Jimenez, our Department responded with the highest levels of professionalism which is second to none. Our staff are well trained and they were total professionals in how they handled their jobs. Details of what they did will eventually come out, but I can tell you that their actions were more than impressive. Their work combined with resources we have invested in our law enforcement capabilities made an enormous difference. Reports from the Court describe our staff as “rock stars” on this case. I am very proud of their efforts and how they represented the City of Winters.

The underlying root cause of the murder was the ill of domestic violence in our society. From the murder of Leslie to some notable cases in the media today, domestic violence against both women and men is a serious societal issue which needs to be confronted and the remedies supported! Yolo County has an organization, Empower Yolo which provides resources to victims in finding help from sexual assault and domestic violence. The Winters Police Department is working closely with them to provide outreach within the Winters community. Check out their web page and look for announcements in the coming weeks for resources and information.

Finally a commendation to Debra DeAngelo (Winters Express), Laura Keene (McNaughten Newspapers) for their outstanding coverage of the trial and case against William Gardner. Because of the “gag order” they were the key source in keeping up with the case and their reporting was excellent. Check out Debra’s column this week in the Winters Express. Her rant/vent will make you feel better as she puts it out there about what this case has meant to our community.


John

 

 

City Manager Update

11/03/14

All,

Sorry for the delay in the update. Frankly, I had a big update on a variety of topics dealing with a certain legal issue, but a “gag order” from a judge put the kibosh on what I wrote so nothing went out. Not Happy!

Here are a couple items:

• Tuesday’s City Council Meeting will include Hudson Ogando Subdivision, a USDA Pre-Application for Wastewater improvements, an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement for the City Parking Lot with Urban Community Partners and a shared services agreement with WJUSD.
• Downtown Hotel was supposed to be tomorrow night but will now be on the November 18 Council Meeting. Attorney’s…………
• Grading on Hudson Ogando Subdivision started today! Look for lots of earth moving in the coming weeks.
• Look for the Notice of Preparation for the PG&E Project within the next week. I will include a link with this week’s update.
• Putah Creek Car Bridge is moving along. The key piers next to the creek are being worked on which will facilitate the rest of the project moving at a more rapid pace.
• Dollar General is really moving and they have started sheet rock on the interior. The exterior will be stucco with a rock façade. The building is steel and the exterior you see now is the “skin coat”.
• Congrats to the Fire Department for an excellent Shrimp Feed. This was the first cooking event without Scott Dozier and the volunteers really stepped up and did an outstanding job.
• I wanted to say some nice things about the work of our Police Department but a judge won’t let me, so I won’t!

Have a good week!

 

 

City Manager Update

10/24/14

All,

A re-cap of some of the highlights this week:

• Deal points for the Downtown Hotel were approved by the City Council on Tuesday night. Here is a link to the packet with the key elements. Look for the Development Disposition Agreement on the November 4 City Council Agenda.
• The revision to the Hudson Ogando Development agreement were approved and the transfer of the agreement was approved to Ashdon Development. The principals behind Ashdon built the Griffin Way subdivision off of Niemann St next to the Ag Site. Look for earthwork to commence in the next few weeks!
• Design review for the Senior Apartments was held last week. The preliminary designs look GREAT!! The project is now known as Blue Mountain Terrace! The planning application is in and we expect the project to be before the Planning Commission in November.
• The improvement plans for City Park are moving forward. Check out the agenda report for the details. Playground, basketball courts and pathway improvements. The place is going to look really good!
• A three (3) year extension of the Shared Fire Chiefs Agreement with the City of Dixon was approved on Tuesday. This has been a real “win/win” for both cities and is a model for smaller agencies. A special thanks to Chief Aaron McAlister for his commitment to the agreement and to Winters Fire!
• The “false work” is starting on the Putah Creek Car Bridge which means it is starting to take shape! Look for things to start moving in many areas.
• Congratulations to the Hispanic Advisory Committee for their Community Dance last weekend. It was a GREAT family event with dancing food and a wonderful time by all. They are planning a Valentine Day Dance and I would recommend all to attend!
• Lot’s going on this weekend. On Friday, a home football game against Live Oak, the Harvest Festival is Downtown, and too much soccer on Saturday!
• November 7 will have the fish mongers from Pike’s Place Market throwing salmon on Main Street. This is not to be missed!

Happy Homecoming to all the Winters High Grads!

John

 

 

City Manager Update

10/17/14

All,

A couple notes:

• The City Council Meeting will have some hot topics. Downtown Hotel will be a key, the revised Development Agreement for the Hudson Ogando Subdivision, Fire Services Contract with City of Dixon, Update on the City Park Rehabilitation. Put the DVR to record the World Series and come on by the City Council Meeting.
• Railroad Ave has been paved and it looks GREAT! Thanks to our Public Works and Engineering team along with Vintage Paving of Winters who did the work. Ed Carbahal and Rob Nicholson with their workers really take care of us when doing work in town. Striping will occur next week.
• Remember to go to Celebratemydrive.com and support Winters High School in the fundraising drive. It takes about 2 minutes and could result in a $100,000 grant to our community. You can do it once every 24 hours.
• The Hispanic Advisory Committee will be holding a Community Dance at the Community Center this Saturday October 18 from 7-11. Cost is $10 per ticket and they will have tacos and drinks. The ticket will enter you into a contest to win an IPAD.
• Lot’s of movement on the PG&E Gas Operations Training Center. The schedule is in development and we will release it sometime in the next few weeks.

Thanks and have a great weekend.

John

 

 

City Manager Update

10/10/14

All,

A pretty good week and very busy!

• PG&E submitted their project application to the City on Monday for their Gas Operations Technical Training Center (GOTTC). The application is under review and the City will be issuing a project timeline and schedule in the next few weeks. The process will take approximately 8-9 months and will include a “full scope” EIR. Lots of work, but the milestone of the submittal is a critical first step in the process.
• KOVR Channel 13 will have a segment on the project coming to Winters tonight at 6:00!
• The Downtown Hotel deal will be before the City Council on October 21. The type of hotel will be from the “Ascend Collection, a luxury boutique style hotel. Click on the link and check it out. The City will enter into a Development Disposition Agreement with the developer “Royal Guest” and the process will begin. Expect the project to be before the Planning Commission as early as December.
• Staff is still working with the Freeway Hotel developers. Look for something in the coming months.
• Kudo’s to the City’s Public Works Staff who made a MAJOR repair to the Sewer Force Main overnight on Thursday. Two key portions of pipe, along with the installation of a maintenance valve were installed. Our team is extremely professional and they took on an extremely difficult task and accomplished it well.
• Domus Development submitted a project application for a 60 Senior Apartment Project for Baker Street. The project will be called Blue Mountain Terrace. Look for it to hit the Planning Commission in the coming months.

As stated, this was a good week for the City from an economic development standpoint! It often seems like things “suddenly start happening”, but it is quite the opposite.

The events of this week represent years of efforts which have positioned the City for success. Key projects include the Public Safety Facility (which brought us 24/7 Fire Service), backbone infrastructure projects like Water Well #7 and the many water improvements, the extension of utilities to the freeway/Grant Ave, the clean-up of planning issues along Grant Ave., the development of the Grant Ave Design Guidelines, key traffic studies, the Downtown Master Plan and revitalization projects and the development of City services to meet the demands which private companies need to locate and invest in a community. The reality is that it takes teamwork and many factors to make this past week happen.

In the case of the City of Winters, it has taken our entire community to accomplish what happened this week. First is the City Council and the Community at large. The projects listed above represent literally hundreds of hours of meetings and study. The many community members who have participated in the various workshops have been invaluable. The City Council has worked diligently and made some tough decisions. The Council’s leadership has been visionary and the results include a thriving Downtown, solid utilities and a very promising future.

The City Staff has done and incredible job in moving projects forward. As the City Manager, if given any team to pick to take on the big issues, I would always pick the team who has worked on the many projects. The City is blessed with a committed workforce who does a stellar job of looking after the long term interests of Winters.

Finally, I would like to credit the McClish Family who has been an essential player in some of the key projects. From the PG&E Project to the extension of utilities across their property, the McClish/Newkom clan have been in the middle of everything and dedicated a lot of time and energy. I have worked with them over the years on many issues and will jokingly admit that it has been contentious at times. The City sincerely appreciates their efforts in advancing the future of Winters.

Have a nice weekend.

John

 

 

City Manager Update

10/03/14

All,

Short and sweet this week!

• Tune in to the City Council meeting on Tuesday October 7 for a BIG announcement.
• Get ready for an incredible October. Downtown Hotel on the October 21 City Council Agenda, Subdivision work, Freeway Hotel and Senior Apartments.


Have a nice weekend.


 

City Manager Update

09/26/14

All,

A really busy week with not a whole lot to necessarily update on.

• PG&E, Downtown Hotel and Freeway Hotel- nothing to report!
• The Hudson Ogando Subdivision Project will go before the City Council on October 7 for their map and the public improvement agreement. Items related to their development agreement will be before the Planning Commission in a special meeting on October 9 and those items will go to the City Council on October 21.
• Kudo’s on an incredible Senior’s Meeting and Luncheon on Wednesday. Mayor Cecilia, Mary Rolsten, Howard Hupe, Joe Aguiar all deserve credit for an incredible meeting dedicated to moving senior issues forward.

Winters High is in Woodland tonight and it looks like fall is coming upon us.

John


City Manager Update

09/19/14

All,

Project updates:

• We are diligently working details on the PG&E Project. Lot’s going on with many details. Stay tuned…..
• Downtown Hotel details are being finalized and I expect that we will have something before the City Council by the November 4 meeting. The folks with Royal Guest have some preliminary plans which will have you spending your vacation in Downtown Winters! This project is going to be really special and make us a destination for many!
• The Freeway Hotel got some press this week which was a surprise for us all. I can tell you that we do NOT have a final deal with a hotel developer for a project at the freeway, but we are definitely interested! Stay tuned.
• The Hudson Ogando Subdivision is a 71 unit market rate project. 22 smaller homes and 49 homes which will start in the $300’s with sizes up to 3,000 sf. Staff is meeting with the developer on Monday and it will be before the City Council and Planning Commission in October. I will update anticipated start dates for earthwork next week.
• The Railroad Ave Rehab Project is making progress. The new ADA ramps are in and next up will be the road work. The road stuff will be a grind and a 2” pave. This will be really nice!
• We are working on the Senior Apartments and the neighboring site for the Winters Healthcare Foundation. I was on a call with the parties on Wednesday and they are working through things.
• Things are moving on the Putah Creek Bridge Project again. Look for delays and stuff moving in the air.

Winters Fire (OES 333) is up in El Dorado County fighting that massive fire. Pray for the safety of all the firefighters and the safe return of our crew. Our reserves and staff are an incredible group.

Berryessa Brewing (one of my favorite businesses) is celebrating their second anniversary on September 28 starting at 12:00. The party will have fun for the entire family with music, food and some of the best beer anywhere. They will have a dunk tank fundraiser (Winters School Music Programs) with me and Mayor Cecilia Aguiar Curry sitting in it for a while. Chris, Lori and their entire team are awesome and represent the quality Winters is known for!! The place is going to be swapped with parking adjacent, so I recommend a car pool and a designated driver!

Finally, Winters has lost a couple wonderful residents over the last week with the passing of Tony Martin and Dudley Sparks. Both men were local ranchers and incredible individuals. Tony was (the father of past Mayor Mike Martin) helped pioneer nuts in the area and Dudley provided some of the best citrus (mandarins which I personally think are the finest around). These guys lived long, fruitful lives and contributed much. Condolences to their families and godspeed to their souls. Winters is a little emptier now!

Winters High at home versus Dixon tonight! JV starts at 5:30 and Varsity at 7:30. Lot’s of Soccer tomorrow at Shirley Rominger School!

Have a nice weekend and Go Warriors!

John

 

 

City Manager Update

09/12/14

All,

A couple of items-

• Work on Railroad Avenue has begun with the replacement of sidewalk and accessibility ramps on the various corners. The demolition has been completed and expect that the forms and concrete will go in next week. Following will be the grinding and paving which should occur in the next few weeks.
• A couple of law enforcement items this week included a barricade incident and a burglary. The barricade included a family dispute and the need to call in a crisis intervention team to negotiate with the person locked in the house. The good news is that the person was taken into custody without incident. The burglary included someone breaking into a home through a locked door and the theft of items within the home. Facebook posts floating around town said the house was ransacked, which is not accurate.
• More rescues of folks from the Cold Canyon Trail. If you know of anyone who is thinking about a local hike, please remind them that Cold Canyon is a challenging hike which requires people to have a moderate level of fitness, they should wear hiking boots and carry water and supplies. We are encountering way to many people who go up there not prepared for that type of hike. Not good for them or our emergency personnel. The helicopter ride off of the hill will cost you thousands of dollars.

Have a nice weekend.

John


City Manager Update

09/05/14

All,

I simply cannot believe it is September! A pretty busy week with really not a lot of new news!

• We were working on PG&E, Freeway Hotel, Downtown Hotel and progress was made on all projects. Nothing really big to report!
• PERS was in doing an audit of the City. This is a routine audit, but it is a lot like going to the dentist. It happens, you really don’t like it, and you just hope no cavities or they find a cracked tooth.
• Dollar General poured their slab today and they are setting up their forms for the building. Look for “sticks in the air” sometime next week!
• Bids were opened on Thursday for the Putah Creek Project and the costs were way above the projected budget. We will re-evaluate the project and put the thing out for bid again soon.
• So far, we have delivered almost 35 million gallons of recycled water to neighboring orchards. At some point, it will make an impact on the groundwater!

Tonight is the Winters High Football Home opener against Colfax. JV starts at 5:30 and Varsity at 7:30. Go Warriors!!!

Have a nice weekend.

John

 

City Manager Update

08/22/14

All,

A quick update this week:

• Really good meetings with PG&E this week on the Gas Training Facility. We looked at preliminary designs, discussed the processing schedule and went over concepts for how the property will interface with Putah Creek. Really productive! Kudos to Jenna Moser who is coordinating this project (not an easy job but she is making everything extremely professional).
• Staff met with representatives for both the Downtown and Freeway Hotel Projects. We are close on both projects!
• Representatives from the Winters Highlands Subdivision were in town on Thursday and we have begun the process for updates to the prospective revised development agreement.
• Dollar General is grading away on the site. Good news for the shopping future of our community.

This weekend is the “kick off” for Winters AYSO. Soccer is a combination of dedicated coaches (they are the heart of the program), referees and the parents who support the kids and the program. A special recognition to Alfredo Rodriguez the Regional Commissioner, Diane Bosse the Registrar and the other members of the Board who bring everything together. AYSO is the largest youth organization in Winters with over 400 players on 36 teams.

Have a nice weekend.

John

 

 

City Manager Update

08/15/14

All,

• This week’s City Council Meeting will have an update on Wastewater issues, Chromium 6, Dog leashes, Ordinance and Dog Park for the Putah Creek Area and the 14-15 B ROPS for the State Department of Finance. Here is a link to the Agenda Packet http://www.cityofwinters.org/pdf/2014_CC/20140819%20Packet.pdf 
• Dollar General has their building permit and the pre-construction meeting with all the key folks was held this week. Expect dirt to start moving in the next few weeks. The store will open sometime around the first of the year!
• A really good meeting with folks from PG&E this week on the Gas Training Center Project. Additional meetings are scheduled for next week and we can expect some key decisions over the next few weeks.
• On Wednesday, a group of Senior Citizens met to discuss the formation of a seniors group here in town and to begin addressing various issues which are impacting the older generations of our community. Transportation, activities and services were all discussed. They are planning another meeting with a Program and a Luncheon for the coming months!
• Staff and members of the Engineering team met with representatives for the Hudson Ogando subdivision met on Tuesday and made important progress on a number of issues, including the traffic signal for Grant/Main, bike lanes and improvements along Grant Ave. They are completing some of financing aspects of their project and are hoping to start moving dirt on the project soon.
• A big question which keeps arising is in regards to the completion of the street improvements on Grant Ave in front of the new St. Anthony’s Church. The hold up in completing the project has to do with a gas line and approvals from Caltrans to install the storm pipe which is required to cross the road. The contractor for the Church is awaiting a decision from PG&E for the relocation of the gas line before they can install the pipe and pave the road. Our engineering team is awaiting the PG&E decision then hopefully we will gain the approvals from Caltrans to complete the work.
• Things are moving forward on the Senior Apartments on Grant Ave. The development team from Domus Development met with Winters Healthcare last week about combining the projects to increase the overall efficiency for the installation of key shared infrastructure (water, sewer, storm drain). Piecing this project is quite a challenge, but we are certain that it will get done.
• Walnut Park is still awaiting a decision from the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service for the mitigation on the vernal pool on the site. We are offering to pay the mitigation fee so we can build the project, but they seem intent on dragging this process out for a long time. Stay tuned!!!
• The Downtown Hotel will be the subject of a Closed Session with the City Council this Tuesday. Basically we are getting direction and approval for real estate negotiations which are occurring regarding the sale of the property. Things are progressing well and hopefully we will have a deal in the coming weeks.
• The Putah Creek Car Bridge will be getting back to work starting on Sunday. Thanks in advance to Debbie Hemenway and the folks who live along Russell Street for their patience. Next week will be “pile driving week”! Hopefully they will get a good rhythm with a back beat to keep everyone ok with the disruption because it is going to be loud and some will feel the thump, thump thump. For those who will complain, the only answer I can really give is “they are building a bridge and it is not a quiet job”!
• Congratulations to the Governor and the California Legislature for finally doing something on water for the State. It is amazing how long it has taken to address water supply and storage with the onset of the dramatic changes in our climate and weather patterns. Big credit needs to go to our State Senator Lois Wolk who has been a real leader over the years on this topic. Lois has been working on water issues during her entire legislative career in both the Assembly and Senate. Lois is a fine leader who has been trying to convince people over the years to address water in California. Let’s see how the bond does on the upcoming ballot in November. Because it will address both supply and storage, it should be a no brainer for most Californian’s.
• As of today, 12.5 million gallons have been delivered for agricultural irrigation and has been saved from being pumped from the aquifer because of our recycled water program.
• Soccer Referee Training will be held this weekend from 9-3 at the training room at the Fire Station. No cost and lunch is provided!

Have a nice weekend!

John

City Manager Update

08/08/14

All,

A couple items:

• As of today, our recycled water project where we are selling our secondary treated wastewater for agricultural irrigation has sent over 7 million gallons to a local farmer. This has helped keep the equal amount from being pumped out of the aquifer!
• The contract for the paving of Railroad Ave was approved Tuesday night by the City Council. A schedule will be coming out next week.
• We are meeting with PG&E on Tuesday regarding the gas training project. Hopefully we will know more.
• Congrats to our Interns who completed the 2014 Summer Program. Omar Herrera, Charlie Tschudin, Sam Donlevy, Jacob Lucero and Nicole Martinez all did a great job for the City. Stay tuned for a comprehensive report on their projects!

Have a nice weekend.

John

 

 

City Manager Update

08/01/14

All,

A bunch of items from the past couple weeks. Sorry for no update last week, it was a crazy week and I was at a meeting in San Francisco on Friday.

• Yesterday was “decision day” on the PG&E Gas Training Facility location. A couple weeks ago, some of the new project manager’s revealed they were looking at alternative sites and said that July 31 was the big day where the funding committee for PG&E would determine where the facility would go. We are waiting to hear the results for a project we have spent over a year working on. We will see……..
• The Putah Creek Car Bridge Project will be restarting the serious construction work within the next few weeks. Following the crane accident which claimed two lives, the cranes on the site were removed and the logistics of bringing in new equipment and operators, as well as getting clearance from Cal-OSHA and Solano County has taken time. Expect to see a more active construction activity start to pick up. As of my conversation with the engineering team, it looks like the project is about 3.5 months behind schedule now!
• The City Council will consider the award of the paving contract for Railroad Avenue on Tuesday, with construction to begin during the month of August. The low bidder for the project is Vintage Paving of Winters. It is exciting for the local company to win the contract. Vintage does a great job and we are glad to partner with them on projects when we can!
• On July 22, the City successfully began delivering recycled water for agricultural irrigation purposes. In total, we are providing almost 500,000 gallons of water per day which is an enormous benefit to the local aquifer. Congrats to Carol Scianna and Jim Keating and the entire public works and engineering teams for getting this going. Drought or no drought, the re-use of water is a very logical thing to do and it has now taken us over 10 years to make it a reality!
• We are expecting to issue the construction permit for Dollar General next week, so look for construction sometime soon!
• Other projects still in the works but in progress include the Hudson Ogando Subdivision, Senior Apartments and Walnut Park. Some things just take time and these are still moving forward.

Finally, a hearty thanks to the Fire Department for the excellent job in the services for Scott Dozier. Few organizations can transform a room from an elaborate service and program to feeding 500 people lunch in 10 minutes. It was quite an effort and a tribute to what an awesome team we have and the men and women who make up Winters Fire! Also a thanks to an incredible team from Dixon Fire who came and helped in the preparation of the meal. These guys were incredible professionals who donated time to help out our City.

Thanks and have a nice weekend.

John

 

 

City Manager Update

07/18/14

All,

A couple items on a really sad week:

• The Department of State Water Resources has issue a permit for the re-use of our wastewater for agricultural irrigation purposes!! The permit will allow us to sell approximately 500,000 gallons of water to local farmers for orchard irrigation. Conversly, that will help reduce the amount of groundwater pumped. This is an enormous accomplishment for the City. Carol Scianna- Environmental Services Manager and Nick Ponticello and Alan Mitchell our City Engineers deserve a lot of credit for getting this permit processed. Congrats to them and it is good for the environment now that we can re-use this water.
• The City has received a grant for parks in the amount of $117,000 for use at Walnut Park.
• We are crossing t’s and dotting I’s on the Hudson Ogando Subdivision Improvement Agreement for homes on Main Street. Look for something soon.
• Work has begun at City Park for the renovation of the playground, basketball court and the addition of walkway facilities. Look for these improvements to occur over the course of the next two months.
• The Railroad Ave Rehabilitation Project will open bids next week and work is expected to begin in August. Engineering tried to get the project done before the start of school, but State requirements for additional upgrades to sidewalks and ADA ramps caused some re-design needs for the project. Look for some congestion when the project begins.
• The swimming pool is clear and operating at full capacity. Lap swim was expanded to mornings at 6, Noon and at 6:30 in the evening. Look for the Night Swim’s for families and recreation swim during the afternoons.
• Services for former Fire Chief Scott Dozier will be held on Tuesday, July 22 starting at 10:00 at the Fire Station. The services will begin promptly at 10 and will be followed by a luncheon.

A couple notes on the past week and the passing of Scott Dozier:

• Our Fire Chief Aaron McAlister and Deputy Chief Ron Karlen are incredible professionals who have dealt with the death of Chief Dozier with the utmost professionalism and care. They are leaders in the truest sense in helping the Department deal with the passing and the planning for the upcoming services. Their leadership with Winters Fire is helping us get through this thing.
• Our paid, reserve and volunteer firefighters along with the AMR crew have gone above and beyond the call of duty in helping deal with the situation. Enough cannot be said about the service the men and women of Winters Fire have stepped up over the past week to help the Dozier Family and the community deal with the entire situation. A special acknowledgement to Art Mendoza and Brad Lopez for their efforts on a number of things which have gone beyond the call.
• Debra DeAngelo and the Winters Express have taken a lot of unwarranted flack and criticism in their attempts to report and inform the public on the passing of Scott. Debra’s reporting has been accurate and fair in dealing with a horrible situation. The circumstances surrounding the Chief’s death “are what they are” and I know that Debra did her best to both accurately report those to the public while being sensitive to the impacts on the family. In my view, Debra and the Winters Express did a very professional and credible job in a tough situation. The Express was in a no win situation on this and did a fine job!

Finally, last weekend was an absolute shock for all of us with the combination of the death and circumstances surrounding the passing of Chief Dozier. He was a lifelong resident of Winters and someone who literally gave his life in service to our community. When you consider people who are “all in” for Winters, Scott was the guy! He was an incredible fireman who brought incredible talents and capabilities to Winters Fire. Scott was “old school” with abilities to work on all of the equipment, put out fires and adapt to adversity with hard work and ingenuity. When the City flooded, was on fire or there was a horrific car crash, he was there.

As our Chief, Scott modernized the facilities and fleet, then advocated and recommended the transition to Chief Aaron McAlister to take the Department to a “higher level” than he was technically able to do. He was humble and acknowledged his own limitations in his decision to retire. His interest was always in the betterment of Winters Fire!

For those of us who worked with Scott over the past number of years, we are heartbroken, to say the least. We genuinely loved Scott as a member of our team and our City family. Tuesday will be a tough day for us all but I know we will have a very fitting tribute to a man who was an incredible friend, colleague and most of all, one heck of a fireman in service of the Winters Community!

Thanks,

John

 

City Manager Update

07/11/14

All,

A super busy week with the fire and many other issues.

• First, Cal Fire and the entire response organizations for major California fire incidents are awesome. There are many things about the State of California to not like, but Cal Fire ranks right at the top of those we DO like!
• The Monticello Fire has consumed almost 6,500 acres and included close to 1,800 personnel over the past week. Enough cannot be said for how awesome the fire fighting organizations of California respond to events like this. In my view, no organizations in government are as fine tuned as California fire professionals to respond to crisis and need. A huge thanks needs to go to Cal Fire who managed the incident and the many agencies who participated.
• Winters Fire was a star in the response and I cannot be prouder. Led by Chief Aaron McAlister, Greg Lewis, Ron Karlen, Art Mendoza, Brad Lopez and Jason Van Doren, the first four days of response saw our reserves and volunteers putting in exhaustive shifts and providing leadership to help the legion of fire fighters who were on the incident. Our entire team were successful in seeing zero homes and structures damaged and no serious injuries on the most serious fire emergency in the last 50 years. The entire community can feel proud that our fire department helped protect our town with the utmost professionalism and care!
• A huge thanks to those in the community who made donations of water, Gatorade and snacks for the fire personnel. It was overwhelming and needed. Winters really came together and the generosity was immense. A ton of thanks.
• Winters businesses who really stepped up on the fire included Burger King, Chuy’s, El Pueblo, Steady Eddies, Pizza Factory, Lester Farms Bakery, El Pueblo, Lorenzo’s Market, Taco Bell, AM PM and many others. They were a huge support and really came through!
• A BIG thanks needs to go the the Woodland American Red Cross and their team who supported the evacuation shelter at the Community Center. They were critical resources for the almost 50 families who were displaced during the fire. They were here literally within minutes of notification and did not leave until the last person in need was fully on their way.
• One major personal observation was the work that the “CDF Fire Crews” provided on the fire. These are the crews in the orange jump suits driving in the huge panel buses with names like “Delta Crew and “Ben Lomond Camp”. These fire crews are State inmates who are within a year of release from prison who are assigned to what has to be the most intense and hard working assignments you can imagine. They cut mile long fire lines, remove brush and debris and do the dirty work on the fire. In the early morning of Saturday at the beginning of the fire, they traversed some of the toughest country in our foothills with Cal Fire personnel to help stop the fire from burning down the homes on Positas and Golden Bear Estates. These crews are impressive in many ways and are critically important to fire fighting in our State. Give them a thumbs up when you see them, because they certainly deserve recognition for helping our community!
• The next few weeks are critical in regards to the PG&E Gas Training Facility in Winters. They are making key funding decisions over the next few weeks and we will see if it will become a reality. Our staff has worked really hard over the past 14 months on this project and the community support has been incredible. Hopefully we will know the direction around the first week of August.
• A really light City Council Agenda with an update on the Pool, some authorizations for sewer work and authorization to award a bid for the road improvement work on Railroad Ave.

Have a nice weekend.

John

 

City Manager Update

07/4/14

All,

Really short on the holiday weekend:

• The 4th of July Pancake Breakfast starts at 7:00 at the Fire House in support of the volunteers and the firework display. $8 for adults!
• Fireworks at Dr. Sellers Field will start on Friday night when it gets dark. Gates will open at 7:00 and I can tell you that it will be a terrific show.
• Tell everyone with the illegal fireworks that the Police Department will be out in force! Caution needs to be made with both the safe and illegal fireworks. Everything is super dry and a fire is the last thing we need.

Have a safe weekend!

John


City Manager Update

06/20/14

All,

A couple items as I get ready to leave for a short vacation:

• We received word that things may start moving forward on the Hudson Ogando Subdivision soon. This is the 70 unit project on Main Street next to the Public Safety Facility. Expect earth and site work to begin soon, the installation of utilities and houses to start going up sometime after the first of the year. Good News!!
• Staff and PG&E had a very productive meeting regarding the Winters Gas Operations Training Facility on Thursday. Look for things to get moving on the processing of the project in August. As soon as the timelines are in place, I will let you know.
• The Regular Planning Commission Meeting scheduled for June 24 has been cancelled.
• A real productive City Council Meeting with the adoption of the City Budget! This is for the next two years and includes improvements to City Park, the Walnut Lane Roundabout, major improvements to our water and wastewater facilities.
• The City is looking for local persons who write grants and might be interested in helping on an on-call basis. Experience working on State and Federal Grants is mandatory!
• Dog lovers need to know that both the Off Leash Dog Area for Putah Creek and vicious dog regulation will be on the July 15 City Council Agenda.
• We expect the purchase of the property by Dollar General to be completed next week and to see the start of the site development soon.
• Kudos to our Fire Department, again! The area caught on fire again this past week and our staff was on it. We have a huge reserve and volunteer core who really make a difference and they were needed more than ever this last week. When you see them driving around, give a thumbs up or waive to let them know how awesome they are in protecting our town.
• This Saturday is the Winters Quilt Show in Downtown. This is a not to miss event!
• Best wishes to the Winters High School Football teams as they travel to Gold Beach Oregon for a football camp!

Finally, this week saw another transition for the City Council with the swearing in of Cecilia Aguiar Curry, Harold Anderson and Pierre Neu. We also saw the departure of Bruce Guelden who has served two terms on the Council and over 20 years on the Planning Commission. This election was a no lose proposition for voters because the choice was amongst the best of Winters!

The biggest thing I have learned about Winters is the genuine call to service people have about sitting on the City Council. Since I have been City Manager, I have had 17 different people serve on the Council. The politics have been practically non-existent and the focus has always been on constructive debate amongst the council and community on “what is best for Winters”. Everyone brings a willingness to work hard for the community and try to find the best solutions to issues. The people of Winters have been blessed by their representatives.

The City Council are my bosses and I get to know them as well as anyone. I cannot promote anyone, but it is important that you know who is on the City Council and what they are doing. Here are some things I know about the six people who were active the other night as we transitioned another council term. These folks are pretty humble, so let me tell you a little about what I know.

Cecilia is our Mayor and she is in line to do so possibly for the next four (4) years. Few work as hard for Winters and gives of their time than her. Besides being Mayor, she is the Chairperson for Yolo Housing, represents the City on the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, is on the League of California Cities Environmental Policy Committee, will serve a two year term on the Yolo Local Agency Formation Commission, coordinates the Hispanic Advisory Committee and the Festival de La Communidad, she has spearheaded Yolo County’s initiatives to improve broadband access and is the City’s Chief Ambassador on everything Winters. Cecilia is a strong advocate for western Yolo County and works closely with the Capay Valley, Yocha de He and she coined the term “West of 505” which is now a common reference for leaders throughout Sacramento. Cecilia has received many honors this year in a series awards this year, including Woman of the Year during Women’s History Month for Yolo County, an award from the California Emerging Technology Fund for her work on broadband and this month she is being honored by the Sacramento Business Journal as one of the “Women who mean business” in the Sacramento Region. Cecilia has put Winters “at the table” on many initiatives resulting in literally millions of dollars coming to the City, schools and other local organizations.

Woody is the Mayor Pro-Tem and has served as Mayor two prior times. Woody did probably one of the most selfless acts I have ever seen in my career the other night when he turned down the title of Mayor due to conflicts with other professional appointments and his view (and personal recognition to her) that Cecilia could represent the City better in advancing the interests of Winters during this critical time. His kind and generous words in turning down the appointment and nomination were sincere and reflected on his character and love for Winters in ways that few could imagine. I have never seen such a kind act on a council dias, it was amazing and quite touching!

Here is what I know about Woody in the time I have known him. He has helped build over 60 water wells in a remote village in western Tanzania and is helping build a girls school and community center in the same village. Through his vision as President of the Rotary Club of Winters, he set the club on a course for scholarships and community projects by helping facilitate one of the finest planning workshops the Club has ever experienced. He coordinated an entire team of Rotarians to travel to Mexico to work at a community center in a poverty ridden area to build a community garden, sustainable water system and picnic shelter. As a dual emersion teacher, he works as hard as anyone I have ever seen in helping advance opportunity for his students, including his civil war program, celebrating the Union Army, the Emancipation Proclamation and a trip for the students to Angel Island which creates a memory which will last a lifetime. He coordinates a program called Pioneer Days for Shirley Rominger School to re-enact life from the 1800’s. From Rotary to the Friends of the Library Woody is one of the most involved people in Winters. Woody taught me a very important principle to be “hard on the problem but not hard on the people”! Saged advice and words to live by!

Harold Anderson has served on the Winters City Council for more than 20 years and brings both knowledge and wisdom to every meeting he attends. I quiet complain that he is the most prepared person in the room on any topic for which we convene. Harold serves as a Director on both the Yolo Transportation Commission and the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Board. He represents the City on the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Council and is a leader on the Winters Putah Creek Committee. He has served as the City’s representative on SACOG and has been very active with the Local Government Commission. Harold is a past Citizen of the Year and the Grand Marshall for Youth Day. He is the coordinator for the Rotary Pancake Breakfast and has led many community efforts on efforts to re-build both high school and little league ballfields.

Wade Cowan is one of those newcomers to the City and has made a tremendous impact in a very short time. Wade served on the Planning Commission before his election two years ago, but he has quickly become an integral part of Winters. Wade is married to Kathy who helps make them one of the most dynamic husband/wife teams in our community. Wade and Kathy have made the holidays extra special in the past few years. They coordinate the Christmas Tree Lighting (Wade hangs the lights and Kathy helps coordinate the ceremony) the wooden candy canes were their idea and they made/distribute/pick-up and store them. They have brought important new life to Winters Youth Day with the Duck Derby and they help do everything from hang the signs to bring in new sponsors. They are active in the Chamber of Commerce and helped coordinate all the new Downtown Business signage. They have led the clean-up/fix up days at the local schools including painting the multi-purpose room, outside buildings and most recently one of their sons painted that awesome mural on the library. They are leading the efforts to help re-build City Park including the playground and walking paths. (I know I’ve missed more than I put here, but you need to trust how much they do in Winters. Awesome!).

Pierre Neu is recently elected but he has been very active in town for the past number of years. Pierre has lived here for almost 17 years. He has most recently served eight years on the Winters Planning Commission for two terms, most recently as the Vice Chairman. As a commissioner, Pierre has always been one of the most prepared people for the meetings, which is extremely helpful to the Staff and most importantly, the applicants. Pierre has also served on the Winters Putah Creek Committee and has been an active volunteer on many of their creek projects. He has most recently been serving on a City committee looking at issues related to an off leash dog park in the creek and other dog related issues Pierre is a retired teacher and does work as a contractor. Over the next year, he will be busy acclimating to his new role on the City Council and learning from his peers. A busy time is ahead!

Bruce Guelden may be leaving the City Council, but the impact of his role will be very much missed. Bruce has the distinction of filling two vacancies for Councilmember who left for various reasons (Chris Calvert moved and Mike Martin- Solano College Board). He has served over 20 years on the Planning Commission and is one of the most knowledgeable people in town about the City’s General Plan and the specifics of many development projects. Bruce is the coordinator of the Winters Garage Sale held each may. It is amazing how one man can convince 50 people to have a garage sale on the same day. Most importantly, Bruce really does care about Winters in many facets whether it is hiring teens to do odd jobs to bartending at most social events!

Winters is really blessed by the call to community service many so eagerly take on. Without a doubt, Winters would not be the place it is without these and many other individuals taking up the task of making the City a great place to live!

 

-John

 

City Manager Update

06/13/14

All,

A brief update:

• The investigation into the construction accident on the Putah Creek Car Bridge is continuing. Cal-OSHA is on the site today and say it will take up to six months for them to conclude their report. The expectation of the construction team is that things will resume within the next month as far as work on the bridge and that they will work with Disney Construction and their internal team to set a schedule. Stay tuned!
• City Council will see a re-organization this coming Tuesday. Three Councilmembers and the City Clerk and Treasurer will be sworn in for their terms, we will recognize Bruce Guelden for his service and then the seating of the Mayor and Mayor Pro-tempore will occur. We will also have cake!
• Other items on the City Council Agenda will include sound permits for the Friends of the Library Concert Series (each Thursday in July), the Quilt Festival (June 21), wastewater services and the City Budget. Something for everyone!!!
• Kudos to Winters Fire who have been busy putting out fires on Putah Creek and Moody Slough. Fire season runs until November, so get ready for a busy year.
• Another plug for the Bastille Day Feast on July 12 which benefits the Farm to School Program of Winters and Yolo County. Here is information and contact stuff. http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/tickets-on-sale-now-for-winters-bastille-day-feast/

Have a Great Weekend.

John


City Manager Update

06/06/14

All,

A super busy week with a lot of short updates:

• Freeway Signage (those blue signs) finally went up by Caltrans for Winters businesses along I505. These are expanded signs and now include Burger King and Taco Bell. Getting these signs has been difficult and credit needs to go to the project owner Sunny Ghai for his persistence in getting things done to get these up. Fighting State bureaucracy can be an impossible task, but he was successful and we are all grateful. Good job Sunny!!!
• Some really positive movements on the PG&E Gas Training Facility. Staff has been in the thick of things with both the PG&E Project Management and property owners. This is a large and not a very simple project with many moving parts. Look for some updates within the next few weeks which will reveal the direction the project is headed. I can tell you that it is good stuff!
• Congratulation on the election of Cecilia Aguiar Curry, Harold Anderson and Pierre Neu to the City Council and to Nanci Mills- City Clerk and Mike Sebastian- City Treasurer. Public service in Winters is important and the congeniality of the election by all candidates was amazing. Also congratulations to Supervisors Don Saylor (our Yolo County Supervisor) and John Vasqez (our Solano County Supervisor)on their re-election. Don has been an important part of the Winters team and we are glad to have him around for four more years! John has been critical on so many projects and represents our interests well south of Putah Creek!
• Also, a congratulation and thanks to Bruce Guelden for his two terms on the City Council. Bruce is an amazing citizen of our community and has served the City for over 20 years on both the Planning Commission and City Council. There are certain people who make Winters, Winters and Bruce is one of them!
• This week I met with someone interested in opening a birthing center and midwifery practice here in Winters. They are looking for locations within the City to provide a combination of women’s health, pre/post-natal, birthing services and child/mother development. The concept is a growing part of health care and the concept which was presented was exciting. Stay tuned and look for presentations before Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce.
• There are many dynamics moving on both the Freeway and Downtown Hotel Projects. Staff is talking to developers on both projects and we expect some movement within the next few weeks. Stay tuned!
• The beginning of summer means the start of things at the pool and things are absolutely packed. Lot’s of kids for swim team, recreational swim and lessons, almost too many! Lot’s of issues and things to work out so a note to all the pool people, stay patient.
• Winters Farm to School is taking reservations for the “Bastille Day” feast on July 12 at the Wolfskill Ranch. This is an incredible lunch offering the best of Winters for the Farm to School Program. Here is an article on the day with additional information http://www.dailydemocrat.com/food/ci_25845702/winters-farm-school-bastille-day-this-summer  For more information, call 530-795-6109 .
• Saturday in Downtown will host the weigh in for a major fishing derby at Lake Berryessa. Fishermen will bring their catches down from the lake for the weigh in and awards. Look toward more than 100 boats and their crews to hit Rotary Park beginning at 1:00 and into the afternoon. Vendors, a giant fish tank and beer provided by the Rotary Club. This is a not to be missed event!!

Finally, today is the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and the beginning of the liberation of Europe by Allied Forces. Generationally, they call the Americans and Europeans who participated “the Greatest Generation” for the heroism displayed in ending the second world war. They taught us how precious freedom is and that both courage and sacrifice are key ingredients to the liberties we all enjoy today. While 7 decades has passed, we enjoy the results of the liberation each and every day. At church, light a candle or in your private thoughts, pay homage to that greatest generation for the freedoms we are so lucky to enjoy.

Have a nice weekend!

John

 

City Manager Update

05/30/14

All,

Frankly, a really rotten day in our community.

This morning, on the Putah Creek Car Bridge Project, a construction accident caused the deaths of two working on the project. This resulted in a day long investigation and recovery operation which required a huge allocation of resources from throughout the area. In town, we had Cal-OSHA, District Attorney’s Office, Coroner working along side Winters Fire, Dixon Fire, Yocha De He Fire and our City Public Works.

The incident involved multiple members of the same family, a real tragedy!

The work these construction workers do is dangerous when you combine heavy equipment and some of the tasks involving literally hundreds of tons of stuff. Their jobs are not easy and in this case, very dangerous, costing two lives.

Our City Team did a stellar job. The professionalism of our fire staff was exceptional! The dignity and respect paid to those who died, along with the care shown to the family was amazing.

Our City Chaplains Jim Wilson and Robert Duvall brought an unbelievable compassion to the situation. They spent literally all day providing an opportunity for family members who drove all the way from Milpitas to the scene. From prayer to consultation, they were there for those families and the many people affected by the incident. They made a real different in the lives of those people today.

Thanks,

John

 

City Manager Update

05/22/14

All,

A very trying week on a number of fronts!

First, the good stuff:

• Last Saturday, I had the honor of attending the dedication of the new St. Anthony’s Church. The service was amazing and the church is absolutely beautiful. The architecture and grounds make it an incredible asset to our community. The parish hall has been remodeled and is very impressive. I would venture to say that it is one of the most beautiful buildings in town. Congratulations to the entire parish and all those who worked hard to make it a reality.
• Special recognition to members of the City team who worked on the project. Mary Jo Rodolfa was instrumental in coordinating many of the planning matters at a critical time. Alan Mitchell and Tom Johnson played a key role in the infrastructure. Gene Ashdown did an incredible job in the inspection and plan checking for the facility. While so much credit goes to the architect and the Church Committee in making the church a reality, I was especially proud of the City team and the role we played in this project.
• The Planning Commission meets next week. Topics include a subdivision of a lot on Mermod and awnings for Rootstock and Berryessa Gap on Main Street. Here is a link to the agenda packet http://www.cityofwinters.org/pdf/2014_PC/pcagd052714.pdf 
• Lake Berryessa is slowly coming back to life since the departure of the former operator of the various resorts. The Bureau of Reclamation is working with a number of private operators to open campgrounds and boat ramps closed in recent years. The lake is definitely open for business. Here is a link to key information of what is happening http://www.usbr.gov/mp/ccao/berryessa/
• Markley Cove is a very important Winters business at the lake. At our Berryessa Advisory Board Meeting, Linda and John Fraser operate the resort and Linda recently gave an update to the Board on improvements they are making and the services offered. From boat slips and jet ski rentals to house boats and cabins, it really is impressive what sits just 9 miles to our west. Here is a link to their website http://www.markleycoveresort.com/
• Staff met with PG&E regarding their gas training facility. We are working through a litany of issues, but things are still looking positive. Stay tuned!
• The Downtown Hotel Project is in the “negotiation” stage for an overall development deal. We are excited with the prospects of making this project a reality!
• The pool is open for lap swim and swim team and recreation swim begins on June 2. Come by City Hall for swim passes and sign ups.

Finally, this Tuesday morning I had an experience which brought me incredible sadness yet also demonstrated what incredible people live in our community. There are truly heroes amongst us! Here is a short overview of what happened.

As I arrived home from my morning walk with my dog, my phone notified me of an emergency call to our Fire Department. I looked at the message and it indicated a serious medical event for an address directly around the corner from my house. I walked from my house and around the corner to find our Fire Department and EMS personnel parked in the cul de sac. My neighbor and friend had just been found deceased in her home by her children!

As I walked up to the home, I found the children and some of my neighbors gathered in the driveway as the EMS personnel were in the home. There was no life saving measures occurring, she was deceased! The look of absolute shock was incredible for the two children who were probably experiencing the worst moments of their lives as the realization that their mother had passed. A combination of tears and sadness was simply there. What immediately happened was incredible!!

The neighbors and friends immediately turned their attention to the children. The comforting, support and compassion was instant. Our Fire and Police Staff were kind and professional in completing the worst part of their jobs (I cannot tell you how proud I was of the team who were there). One neighbor took the younger child to their home. The older daughter, supported by her father and another neighbor was thrust into being the “next of kin”. Our Police Department Chaplains almost instantly appeared to provide solace and support. Father Michael from St. Anthony’s miraculously appeared to administer the sacrament of the “Anointing of the Sick” (commonly called last rights). The outpouring of love and support from the neighbors was amazing to witness. Everything in their lives (work, appointments, etc) was immediately cancelled as they turned their attention to the support of the children and family. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

For those of us with children, the worst thoughts always can focus on “what if something horrible happens and I cannot be there for my child, who will be there to support and care for them”. Our deceased friend and neighbor was a wonderful and supportive mother who was blessed with people who were there for her children in this time of incredible need. The love and kindness shown was something which indicative of our small town! These people were not only friends and neighbors, they became heroes.

I am never shy about telling people that the best and worst things about living in Winters is that you know everybody! This was the week where the best magically came through!

Have a nice Memorial Day as we remember those who have died in the service to our country and the freedom we enjoy!

Thanks,

John

 

 

City Manager Update

05/16/14

All,

Lots going on all around us!

• First, a big congratulations to St. Anthony Parish on the grand opening of the new church this Saturday. This has been a stellar project and their entire team deserves a big thanks and congratulations for a project well done. The building and grounds will be a significant addition to our community.
• The City Council and Planning Commission held a joint workshop on the Downtown Hotel Project and to receive a review of the upcoming revisions to the Winters Highlands Subdivision development agreement. Overall, a really good discussion of the issues.
• Staff met with the PG&E team on a number of issues this Thursday. Overall, a good meeting and we will keep progressing on the overall project calendar. Stay tuned.

Some big news on things going on around us! The City of Vacaville has really excelled in bringing quality, high paying jobs to the area on a number of fronts. Here are some of the highlights of what is happening:

• ICON Aircraft http://www.iconaircraft.com  announced that they will be developing a research and manufacturing facility at the Nut Tree Airport. The project will bring almost 500 jobs and will provide a world wide audience to what is happening here.
• Genentech is doing a $150M retrofit of their cell culture plant, ramping up for new production 250+ new employees. This will put the world’s largest cell culture plant into production (finally).
• J&J/Alza, now called Janssen, is migrating various OTC products to the Vacaville site for manufacturing. 400+ employees.
• Novartis just sold their Vacaville Plant to Eli Lilly, they are doing a gut and revamp, plus expansion, will lose some folks but get back to 200-300 employees there, too. All animal health products being proposed, may end up being the nation’s largest producer of animal health products.
• Kaiser Trauma Center is up and running, new birthing center, 50 new docs/nurses/techs in Vacaville.
• NorthBay is getting ready to construct a Cancer Treatment facility in Vacaville. Not sure of the number of new jobs yet.

News that 1,500 high paying jobs are on the horizon is a amazing news, most of which are just 11 miles down the road!

A lot of these accomplishments are supported by many of the advancements being made by Solano College. Their approach to modifying curriculum to aid in job training for biotech, aircraft and other fields in support of the private sector is the ultimate example of how public institutions can support the private business. When the local education is in sync with the needs of the local economy, magic can happen! In this case, we see literally thousands of high paying jobs moving in because they know they can find or train qualified workers to help them in their business.

Credit also needs to go to the City of Vacaville who has made strategic infrastructure and service moves to make them an attractive place to locate. I really think Vacaville is a well run City. In a similar vein, in Winters, we have worked to strategically invest funds to improve our water/sewer infrastructure, build the Public Safety Facility and create a renaissance for our local business community. The result has been key companies like PG&E now considering us as a location for which to locate.

Have a good weekend.

Thanks,

John

 

City Manager Update

05/09/14

All,

The past couple of weeks have been very active with a wide array of items. Next week will be no exception, so here is what’s up:

• The City Council and Planning Commission will hold a Joint Workshop to discuss the Winters Highlands Subdivision Development Agreement and the concepts for the Downtown Hotel. For the Winters Highlands Project, Staff has been working for the past year on amendments to the original development agreement and this workshop will be an opportunity to review some of the main changes in an open forum with the Council and Commission. The workshop will be on Tuesday, May 13 at the Public Safety Facility starting at 6:30.
• Staff has been diligently working through a number of issues related to the PG&E Winters Gas Training Facility. There are a litany of things occurring about the project. Stay tuned!
• The Winters Garage Sale is this Saturday starting early. For people who do not live in the core area of town, but would like a spot to sell items, spaces are available on Main Street at City Park. Contact Bruce Guelden at 795-4919 to save a spot.
• Congratulations to the Winters Friends of the Library for their success on the “Big Day of Giving”. They successfully raised almost $21,000. WFoL is legitimately one of the best organizations we have here in Winters. Their efforts on the development of the Winters Community Library, Literacy Programs, expanded operating hours and the library and many other functions make them one of the organizations most worthy of your donation. When you give to WFoL, you know that it will be a well spent donation in benefit of the Winters Community. They worked really hard for this fundraiser and it shows!
• Youth Soccer sign-ups will be on Thursday, May 15 starting at 5:00 at the Public Safety Facility. An easy way to sign-up and save $5 per player is to go to eayso.org and reference Region 436 for Winters. Print the application and bring it by the sign-ups and it will be $5 off.

Have a nice weekend and see everyone at the garage sale.

John

 

 

City Manager Update

05/02/14

All,

This was a crazy week around here, so here are a couple items:

• The City Council Agenda is packed with items which include the selection of a developer for the Downtown Hotel, Rosenberg's Rules of Order, Fishing Derby, Youth Council Proposal, Summer Kids Camp, Recycled Wastewater and an honor for Kai’mi Drumright for earning his Eagle Scout.
• Next Saturday is the “Winters Garage Sale” along Main Street and the core area of town. This year’s theme is “Buy American”, so it will be an opportunity to buy used goods from right here is the good ole USA. The sale begins at 8:00.
• Tonight, Winters own Andrew Fridae will be appearing at The Palms starting at 8:00.
• Saturday is the Relay for Life at the Winters High School Track. Thing begin at 9:00 a.m.

Thanks,

John

 


City Manager Update

04/25/14

All,

This has been an insane week with lots going on. Mostly, it is Youth Day Weekend and I have lots to do.

A couple items:

• I LOVE Youth Day Weekend. I like to describe it as the homecoming for our community with so many events and parties happening. Have fun, watch how much you drink (LOT’S of police in town that day) and enjoy.
• The Pancake Breakfast starts at 6:30 and runs until 9:30. This is the best pancake breakfast you will ever attend, so get there early and bring your friends. The proceeds go right back into the community. The placemats at the breakfast list all the projects Rotary has provided to Winters which is absolutely amazing.
• The parade starts at 11:00. This is without question, the best parade we do all year!
• The balance of the afternoon will include the events at City Park, the Roots to Wine event at Rotary Park, a Downtown Car Show and the Nut Box Race. Lots to do, eat and drink for the entire family. See the Winters Express Youth Day edition for details.

On non-Youth Day note:

• Staff met with one of the Downtown Hotel developers this week to review their concepts. The plan includes a 51 unit hotel, a conference center and outdoor amenities. The project looks REALLY good! Dan Maguire is the project manager.
• Key meetings for PG&E needed to be rescheduled for a variety of reasons. I will give a big update next week.
• The Bobbie Greenwood Community Swimming Pool will open for adult lap swim starting on May 1. Time to squeeze into those swim suits and get your swim on! Monthly passes are $50. Contact susan.hyde@cityofwinters.org  to get your pass.
• The City Council held a budget workshop on Monday evening. Things are tight and almost balanced! No real highlights or low lights to talk about. I will provide a more comprehensive update as we get closer to adoption.

Have a nice Youth Day!

John

 

 

City Manager Update

04/18/14

All,

A couple items on Good Friday and Easter/Pesach Weekend:

• Staff met with the team from Domas Development regarding the Senior Affordable apartment project for the Grant Ave Commercial site. A REALLY good meeting. The Domas Team is very professional and came ready to see a nice project move forward. They are impressive!
• The process includes the execution of a “Exclusive Negotiation Agreement” which basically allows the City to negotiate the land deal and the parameters of a “Development Disposition Agreement” (DDA) which will detail the advancement of the project. Once the DDA is adopted, the project will proceed within the scope and parameters outlined.
• On Tuesday, Mayor Cecilia Aguiar Curry, Nanci Mills and I went before the CalPERS Pension/Health Benefits Committee to lobby to switch Winters from the Bay Area Region for health premium rates to the Sacramento Region. Our argument was based on the premise that “we are not the Bay Area” and should not be subject to premiums driven by costs from the area. The effects have been that our employees have been subject to paying premium costs attuned to Bay Area prices. While the Health Benefits Committee shot us down, the next day, the PERS Executive Board voted for Yolo County to be moved into the Sacramento Region. This will result in significant reductions in costs to our employees. Kudo’s to Nanci Mills for her work in representing us over the past few months in advancing this initiative to the Board. We also need to thank and recognize the Cities of Woodland and West Sacramento for helping on this issue. It was a wonderful Yolo team effort which will save the cities and County millions of dollars annually.
• The Walnut Park environmental review seems to be hitting another brick wall as we have the vernal pool mitigation reviewed by the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service. The USFWS bureaucrats are hinting that we may need to mitigate at a 4:1 ratio which will kill the project. Stay tuned.
• The State Health Agency adopted the Chromium 6 levels at 10 parts per billion for drinking water, which is our worst nightmare scenario. This will require up to $20 million in infrastructure and modifications to City water wells. As I do the math on the costs, it may drive monthly water rates over $200 per month for most residents which is not good. I have contacted our State representative with no answer back. This is a huge issue and nobody at the State level seems to care about the fiscal impacts on real people. The reality is two years ago, residents were paying about $500 a year for water. If this goes forward, the basic resident will be paying close to $2,500 a year! The facilities which will be required to make this happen will also be really ugly! I know this is going to make a lot of people upset and mad at the City, but I can tell you that it is eating the City Staff up just thinking about it. Stay tuned!
• The State is also looking to begin regulating agencies which use groundwater. The prospect is to charge fees to sustain a massive NEW State bureaucracy to regulate water providers. California economist Paul Romer made a famous quote “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste” which has been picked up by politicians and economists alike. The State is using the drought as a vehicle to expand State jurisdiction over water. That will also lead to higher costs for consumers. Don’t be surprised when water taxes and fees start coming down from the State level!
• The Good news on the water front is the work of our wastewater team led by the City’s Environmental Services Manager-Carol Scianna who is working to secure permits for the reuse of our wastewater for agricultural use. Carol is working with local farmers and State regulators on the necessary permits to allow the City to sell the water for the beneficial watering of certain crops. This will benefit many of our rural residents when the farmers do not need to pump from groundwater. Water reuse has been a goal of the City for many years and through Carol’s persistence, it will soon happen! Carol has played a key role in advancing the City’s environmental goals and sustainability practices over the years, with this water reuse being one of the most significant environmental accomplishments to date. Winters is recognized for the City Council’s policy vision on sustainable practices and Carol is our leader in implementation!
• Two of the biggest community stars in Winters over the past few years are Wade and Kathy Cowan. Their involvement with the Chamber of Commerce, City (Wade has served on both the Planning Commission and now on the City Council), school district, little league, WPNS, etc has been stellar. From Christmas Tree Lighting, School fix up days, Candy Canes, Youth Day Duck Race and now Youth Day kids fair and practically everything, they are a driving force for making things not only happen, but doing so in a very special manner. Kathy has been incredible in fundraising this year for Youth Day, bringing in over $10,000 in donations, which is incredible!
• Youth Day kicks off on Friday Night with the Opening Ceremonies and the Duck Race at the Community Center.
• To purchase your ducks, you can go to the Visitors Center on Main Street or contact Kathy at 795-9090. The ducks are $10 each, 6 pack (quack pack)is $50 or $100 will get you a dozen. $500 first prize, $250 for second and $150 for third. Hurry, they are going fast!!
• The Pancake Breakfast starts at 6:30, Parade at 11:00 and the park is from 12-4. Also happening in town is a Car Show at the Buckhorn and the Roots to Wine Festival at Rotary Park. Lots going on for our little town!
• Pancake Breakfast tickets can be purchased at the Winters Express or on site. $2 off between 6:30 and 7:30.
• Mayor Cecilia Aguiar Curry will be awarded the LINK Award and the California Digital Access Summit for her work in the advancement of broadband interests in Yolo County. This is the fourth major award for the Mayor this year! Congrats to Cecilia for her many accomplishments this year!
Finally, this week saw the sentencing of former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo for his crimes against the public. He was sentenced to twelve years in prison, which in my view was a “slap on the wrist”. He is the poster boy for city management in California and the one everyone who wishes to be critical and paint a broad brush about local government manager’s will point at. His crimes were beyond the money, they represented a violation of the public trust and gilded the title of City Manager throughout the State.

I am very proud to be a City Manager! I am a third generation, with my father serving 5 California cities and my grandfather was the original County Manager for San Mateo County. We get to do one of the most rewarding jobs around, which is serve the communities we live and work in! From building parks and streets to providing water and protecting/saving lives, we are in the business of where people live, work and raise their families. Nothing can be better!

We are also very skilled professionals! City Manager’s need to be experts in finance, land use, law, regulations and leadership for complex organizations. We run multi-million dollar organizations (in Winters, it is a $13.4 million a year organization). Should we be fairly and well compensated for what we do, I say yes! Excessively, no! City Manager’s need to be some of the best business professionals around, which requires education, experience and skill to deliver services and accomplish complex goals for a community. To see how much I am compensated, you can go here to find out: http://www.cityofwinters.org/administrative/pdf/Donlevy%20Contract%201-2014.pdf

Being a City Manager is a tough job. It requires a significant commitment of time, sacrifice, expertise and energy which is what you sign up for when you take the title. It also requires a deep commitment to social responsibility as a fiduciary of the public trust. That means avoiding personal aggrandizement in how you conduct yourself in leading the city organization. In my view, a person’s “character and ethics” are determined by what you do when nobody is looking! Robert Rizzo violated this responsibility to the maximum degree possible, for which no sentence nor restitution can ever resolve or cure. His character and ethics are repugnant.

This weekend is Easter for Christians and the end of Pesach for the Jewish faith. Happy Holiday‘s to all!

Thanks,

John

 

City Manager Update

04/04/14

All,

A real busy week!

• The City is now formally pursuing the development of a Senior Housing Project on our Grant Ave Commercial site. The City Council has authorized a formal negotiation with Domus Development to pursue a 41 unit project. Look for something on a Council Agenda sometime in either June or July.
• Dave Dowswell started on Thursday as the City’s new part time planner. Dave has worked as the City of Dixon’s planner for the past 8 years and will be working for us one day a week. His broad background in planning and working for smaller jurisdictions make him a perfect fit for Winters.
• The California Highway Patrol is looking for witnesses and clues for the hit and run fatality of a cyclist on Putah Creek Road on Wednesday, March 26 around 5:00 p.m.. If you have any information, please contact the CHP Fairfield Office and ask for CHP Officer Chris Parker at (707) 428-2100.
• Staff met with two firms interested in the development of a “boutique” Downtown Hotel this week. Both firms have interesting approaches to the project and we have asked them to work on a number of aspects and get back with us. After the projects have been refined a bit, we will put together a review panel to help select the preferred project.
• We have two firms looking to build hotel projects at the Freeway. These will be more of the common variety (Best Western/Holiday Inn styles). We have sent information off to both and we expect that they may begin the process of submitting projects by the summer.
• Staff met with the PG&E team on Tuesday for extensive discussions on the Winters Gas Technical Training Center. The focus of the discussion was on the refinement of the project proposal as well as helping define the project for the environmental impact report. The project is behind the original schedule a bit as all parties work to get the necessary information together for the “full scope” EIR.
• The City Council approved the release of the 2013 Comprehensive Annual Finance Report. This document is prepared in conjunction with the City’s Auditor and is a comprehensive and historical look at the City’s financial status. Here is the link http://www.cityofwinters.org/finance/pdf/2013CAFR.pdf  . Kudos to Shelly Gunby and the audit team for a job well done.
• Here is a really cool video of the Bridge Project https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFnm1s6lP-8 
• Head up for all those who like to talk on your cell phone and text while driving. The Winters Police Department will be doing “Distracted Driver Enforcement” during the month of April. That means they will be pulling over and ticketing people without the hands free devices. Those tickets are expensive, so be careful.
• Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor is helping sponsor two events in Winters on Wednesday, April 9. From 5:00-6:30, a discussion on the State of California’s Realignment Program and AB 109 Early Release Program will be held at the Winters Community Library. From 7:00-9:00 there will be a Job Faire as part of the Winters High School Open House in the school gymnasium.
• The Winters Relay for Life will be held on May 3-4 at Dr Sellers Field. To enroll a team or to just join a team, go to www.relayforlife.org  and type in Winters, CA to get more information. This is a really great event for our community and wonderful support for the fight against cancer and in support of cancer survivors.

A couple of items of interest from this week.

Chromium 6 Alert:

The State of California Department of Public Health will imminently be making a decision regarding the revision to acceptable standards for the levels of Chromium 6 in drinking water. The Federal Standard is 100 parts per billion per litre of water, California’s current standard is 50 parts per billion and they are considering a revision to less than 10 parts per billion. The City of Winters level is approximately 10 parts per billion. Why is this important????

If the State moves forward with the revised standard, the City will be required to implement a filtering system for all of our drinking water. The preliminary estimates for the facilities necessary to accomplish this are between $16 and 20 million. The estimated cost per unit in Winters will be approximately $1,600 per year or $130 per month. To determine what your monthly water bill will be, just take your current bill and add $130. This means that most residents will be paying water bills of close to $200 per month. This is absolutely crazy and we are monitoring this as best we can. If you see or know any of the Legislature, contact and let them know that this is a big issue.

County-wide Emergency Response Coordination:

Yolo County and the four cities do a wonderful job of working together. One of the real success stories is our County-wide Emergency Planning and Response! The County and Cities all contribute to fund the Yolo County Office of Emergency Services. This office helps coordinate the development of emergency response plans, individual and joint training, but most importantly, keeping all of the jurisdictions ready should disaster strike.

County OES has really helped the City of Winters over the past year. They helped sponsor the “Active Shooter” drill held in March with the Winters JUSD and they recently filmed a video of how to activate the Winters Emergency Operations Center.

This week, I attended the quarterly meeting of the Yolo OES to get a review of what is happening. Some of the highlights included updates to the City and County Response Plans (I personally hate doing that), a mass notification system which can call thousands of residents instantly should a major incident occur, a training class in Washington DC at FEMA Headquarters for key County, UC and City personnel and a number of grant opportunities for helping Yolo cities.

Communication is always one of the key elements when disaster strikes. Phones, computers, radio and media are always big topics. A real interesting feature being investigated is an integrated computer program called “Web EOC” which allows for the documentation of incidents within the city and would integrate incidents County-wide. Yolo OES is currently negotiating a group rate for this and it should be coming forward sometime within the next year.

Finally, not update next week. My beautiful wife and I will be enjoying a spring break. The kids and the dog will stay home, so if you hear about a party at my house for next week, enjoy!

John

 

City Manager Update

03/21/14

All,

A crazy busy week with lots to report:

• The EIR Scoping Meeting for the PG&E Project was held on Wednesday. (Here) is the handout from the meeting which gives a good overview of the process for reviewing the project as well as the many ways for people to stay informed on this project.
• The best way to keep abreast of what is happening is to get on the mailing list or view the most up to date documents through the City’s website. Go to the following and sign up http://www.cityofwinters.org/community_dev/community_development_PGE.htm
• Winters had a very distinguished visitor this week when The Atlantic Monthly’s national correspondent James Fallows was in town at the invitation of Mayor Pro-Tem Woody Fridae who convinced him of the uniqueness and successes of Winters. Mr. Fallows is researching how small towns can be successful and came by to hear the Winters story from many of our residents. During his two day visit, James and his wife Deb met with a number of people from the Winters community and got the royal tour. It was really cool having such a distinguished author from a national magazine take an interest in what we are doing. When the article comes out, we will make sure to get a copy for our website. Good job to Woody for his persistence in convincing Fallows to come to town and arranging the visit.
• Staff will have an initial meeting with the firms submitting on the Downtown Hotel Project starting next week.
• The City received 3 proposals for the Senior Affordable Housing Project at our Grant Avenue Commercial site. The Affordable Housing Steering Committee will do interviews on Monday, March 24 and the recommendation will go to the City Council on April 1.
• The April 1 City Council Meeting will include recognition of our Lady Warriors Soccer Team, a presentation from Empower Yolo, the selection of a developer for the Senior Affordable Housing Project, City Audit and Rosenburg’s Rules of Order.
• Staff is working on a proposal for a pilot program to remove Chromium 6 from our water. Chrom 6 is a naturally occurring element and is under consideration for enhanced regulation. The national acceptable safety standard from the Clean Water Act is 100 parts per billion (ppb). We live in California, so our current State standard is 50 ppb. Our water currently is at 14 ppb. The State is proposing to lower it to 10 ppb. If it goes to 10 ppb, water rates in Winters will go up dramatically and we will all need to make a run on Ace and True Value for rope and pitchforks for the State!
• Problems on a couple sewer mains in town. For those who live near Apricot and Peach, you are getting the high dollar fix to remove tree roots and a crack in the main.
• The City received over 50 applicants for the Account Clerk position.
• Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday will include a review of the City’s projects for the next two years, the Winters Highlands Affordable Housing Plan and an update on PG&E.
• Staff is reviewing sewer and water projects for next year’s budget. Lots to consider!
• The City, WJUSD, Yolo County and public safety personnel from around the County held an Active Shooter Training on Wednesday. The simulation considered a scenario of a gunman on the Winters High School Campus. The situation was facilitated by the State Office of Emergency Services and posed a number of difficult situations to test response. Kudos to Winters High Principal Paul Fawcett for being put as the center of attention (cops are a tough audience) and also Chief Sergio Guttierez who coordinated the drill through Yolo County OES.
• Winters has a new Engine 26 which was officially put into service on Thursday. Hopefully you will not need it, but if your house catches on fire, a really cool, high capacity fire truck will be putting it out.
• Look for a Bike Rodeo for kids after school on Monday March 24 at Waggoner School.
• The Walnut Park Dog Walking Area is open.

Have a nice weekend!

John

City Manager Update

03/13/14

All,

I will be representing Winters AYSO this weekend as I ref the State Soccer Championships in beautiful Bakersfield. I know you are all jealous of such a luxury location to spend my weekend and even more about the 5 hour drive each way. Its called taking one for the team!

A couple items……….

• The Downtown Hotel Project received two proposals for consideration. We are evaluating those and will bring a review process to the City Council on April 1.
• Due to issues related to the redevelopment dissolution process with the State, an extension for the Dollar General Project will be processed and the probability is that construction will not begin until summer.
• The Affordable Housing Steering Committee will be meeting on March 28 to review proposals from developers interested in construction a Senior Affordable Project on our Grant Ave property between the corporation yard and Subway. The will also be considering an affordable housing plan for the Winters Highlands Project.
• The Walnut Park Dog Area will open next week.
• Staff had a very good meeting with the Regional Water Quality Board regarding the reuse of our treated wastewater for agricultural purposes. We are pursuing a permit which may allow us to sell up to 500,000 gallons per day which will be awesome for all those folks north and west of town who share aquifers with the farmers.
• City Staff is beginning a process of developing our Fiscal Years 2014-15 and 2015-16 budgets. This is a huge project and takes a lot of time.
• The increase in water rates has motivated some of our customers with leaks to get them fixed. Good for them and for the City!
• March 20th is the target date for our newest Fire Engine 26 to go into service. People will be impressed.
• The City and WJUSD are working on a shared services agreement where we will share an employee who will mow City and School facilities and fix irrigation. Overall, it should improve the quality of the fields and parks and help save costs from improvement maintenance of sprinklers.
• The Police Department had some excitement last week when an officer attempted to pull a suspect over. The person ran from the vehicle due to a felony warrant for their arrest and was captured by our officer.
• Five reserve members of Winters Fire participated in a driver operator training course last week to improve operation of fire vehicles. All passed with high marks. Good job to all!
• The March 18 City Council Meeting will include honors to the Winters High School Girls Soccer Team, replacement of a vehicle lost in the Hay Kingdom Fire, a presentation on the Plein Aire Arts Festival, Youth Council Proposal and environmental services, testing and grant writing agreements. The Housing Element Annual Progress Report will also be on the Agenda.

Finally, the 2nd Annual Relay for Life cancer awareness and fundraiser will be held on May 3 and 4 at Winters High School. You can sign up at www.relayforlife.org . This was an incredible event last year and this year should be event better! A kickoff bonfire will be held this Friday Night at the high school football field from 6-9 p.m. Coordinators will be on hand as well as music and a lot of camaraderie.

Have a good weekend.

John

 

City Manager Update

03/07/14

All, 

A pretty full week of meetings and things working at City Hall. Here are a couple highlights in a less than inspired update (A long week and I need to get to the Fire Department for tonight’s fish fry!). 

·         Tonight is the Fire Volunteers Fish Fry staring at 6:00 at the Public Safety Facility. Mention that I sent you and you can get in for $15 per adult! Proceeds go to the annual Toys for Tots Program which served over 200 families last year!

·         The Notice of Preparation for the PG&E Project was officially filed with the State on Monday, which triggers a notification and response from key government agencies regarding the development of the Environmental Impact Report. The project manager is Heidi Tschudin who will be coordinating the environmental review, technical analysis and the planning coordination for the project.

·         January was a month of some pretty significant water leaks on some residential properties. Our meter system identifies homes with leaks and we are able to quickly notify the property owners for the correction. One was extremely large- 672 units= 502,626 gallons. The property owner was right on fixing the leak and we are granting an exception on the billing when we find these one time occurrences.

·         Preparation for the City’s Budget is under way. Our economy is starting to come back but we will be cautious as we begin our financial planning.

·         City Staff is in full gear working on our wastewater operation. The two key elements are testing each of our key facilities (pump stations, collection system and treatment) along with exploring the re-use of our treated wastewater. We had a very heavy meeting on the topic on Wednesday and will be working on this aggressively over the next number of months.

·         My hot tip for the weekend is Berryessa Brewing on Saturday afternoon. Sourdough Slim and Bob Armstrong will be playing in the afternoon (3:00 I think). Chris and crew have the beers totally dialed in and it should be beautiful weekend.

·         The Winters Theatre Company has the production “You Can’t Take it With You” this Friday (7:30) and Saturday starting at 8:00 and a matinee on Sunday at 2:00. Ask for Howard or Richard and they will get you a great seat!.

·         Good Luck to City maintenance staff Ramiro Bacera who is taking the exam to gain his Grade II water operators license. When he passes, we will have 5 members of the staff with either a Grade II or Grade III license. That is huge for a small town like ours and backs our commitment to overall water quality and safety for the community.  

Finally, a big congratulations to the Winters High School Girls Soccer Team for winning the Northern Section Division II title last weekend. 20 of the 22 girls on the team played in our Winters AYSO Program and 5 of them are volunteer soccer referees for me. These ladies are a class act and earned that championship. Congrats. 

Have a nice weekend. 

John

 

City Manager Update

03/01/14

All, 

Things have been super busy in the office. The Buckhorn says that “Thursdays are the new Friday”! At City Hall, Fridays seem to be the new MONDAY! Ugh!!! 

·         The formal Notice of Preparation and Scoping for the Environmental Impact Report for the PG&E Winters Gas Training Facility is out for public notice. Here is the link to the document: http://www.cityofwinters.org/community_dev/pdf/PGE/NOP_PGE_FINAL.pdf

·         The City Staff had our regular internal meeting for the PG&E Project on Thursday. A really good meeting for what is the largest project to every come to Winters. We have divided the project into key sections and assigned project leads for each area. These include Planning/Environmental- Heidi Tschudin, Design Review- John Donlevy, Public Safety, Creek Issues- Carol Scianna, Public Safety- Greg Lewis, Engineering- Nick Ponticello and Alan Mitchell, Building Inspection- Gene Ashdown, Public Works- Carol Scianna and Eric Lucero, Financial Analysis- Shelly Gunby, Education Initiatives- Dale Hunter.

·         The “Project Manager” is Heidi Tschudin and the internal coordinator will be Jenna Moser. While we are sad at the retirement of Mary Jo Rodolfa, we are especially excited to have Jenna move into the key position to help us keep the project on track internally.

·         The City will be doing an expedited process to request firms interested in building a Senior Affordable Housing Project on our Grant Ave Commercial Site. Look for this to be posted on our website on Monday.

·         Proposals are due for the Downtown Hotel Project are due on March 11, 2014 . Here is a link to the Request for Proposals http://www.cityofwinters.org/pdf/Outreach/Request%20for%20Proposals.pdf

·         The Walnut Park Project may be getting back on track as we trudge through the environmental process to mitigate the quarter acre of vernal pool. Applications with the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service are developed and submitted. If you go to church on Sunday, light a candle for Walnut Park!

·         Staff met with the developers for both the Winters Highlands and Callahan Estates subdivisions. The challenge is the cost of infrastructure! Both parties are having a difficult time balancing out the costs for some key items, specifically the sewer and storm drainage lift stations. We are looking at options, including a financing district option. Stay tuned.

·         The City Council Agenda this week will include NEPA for the Walnut/Grant Ave Roundabout, Shared Mowing Services between the City and WJUSD, a Public Hearing on the proposed election to increase the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax from 10% to 12%, permits for the Buckhorn Car Shows and Proclamations for the Red Cross and Women’s History Month. 

The theme for this year’s Women’s History Month is “Women of Character, Courage and Commitment” and I cannot think of a City or organization which has individuals who fit that theme better than the City of Winters. I am so honored to work with these ladies who make a tremendous impact on our organization and within the Winters community.  

On the City Council, our very own Mayor Cecilia Aguiar Curry will be one of the honorees at the 2014  Yolo Women’s History Month Celebration next Thursday. As our Mayor, Cecilia has done a stellar job of representing our community in the region and throughout the State. She also the Chairperson for the Yolo Housing Authority, services on the Water Resources Agency, is an incoming member of the Local Agency Formation Commission and is the driving force behind the Hispanic Advisory Committees “Festival de la Communidad. Cecilia is a past president for the Sacramento Division of the League of California Cities and a member of their Executive Board. 

Our City Clerk and Director of Administrative Services is Nanci Mills. Nanci is (by my account) the longest servicing elected person in the history of Winters (pretty close with Peg Dozier) as our City Clerk and she is our longest serving City employee with almost 28 years of service. Last year Nanci and Dave Mills were recognized as “Winters Rotarians of the Year” for their support of the Club and community projects. Dave and Nanci coordinated the Wine and Food Jubilee which raised thousands of dollars towards community projects and scholarships for Winters students. Nanci was a soccer coach for years and has also played a key role with the Winters Chamber of Commerce in the past. 

Nanci is supported in Administrative Services and I am supported in the City Manager’s Office by Tracy Jensen. Tracy was the City’s Captain for Relay for Life Team last year and coordinates the employee training and benefits. Most importantly (for me), she coordinates my schedule and puts up with the demands of the City Manager and City Council. There is a special place in heaven for people like Tracy.  

Shelly Gunby is our Director of Financial Management. She oversees an almost $20 million portfolio of funds and has been the key person for keeping the City financially solvent during some very tough times. Shelly has the distinction of receiving over 30 awards for Excellence in Financial Reporting and Budgeting from both the State and Federal associations for Finance Officers. She is also the coordinator for the Annual Quilt Show which occurs each June. She is a member of the Winters Dam Quilters and she and her husband John are active in a motorcycle club (no, not the Hells Angels) in Sacramento. 

In Financial Management, Shelly is supported by Mary Lou Mendoza (she pays all our bills), Jenna Moser (she pays all our employees) and Susan Hyde (she takes all the money in at the counter). I like to tell all the third grade kids that these ladies are the ones who take in and spend all of the City’s money! 

In Public Works, Carol Scianna is our Environmental Services Manager and is responsible for all or our water and sewer utility reporting and monitoring. Carol works diligently with our Public Works staff to keep our drinking water clean and the City out of regulatory problems. Carol can be credited with leading the charge for the development of Putah Creek and now the new car bridge project. She is a past Citizen of the Year (2003), president of the Winters Friends of the Library and is an awesome grandma in support of her grandkids. Carol will leave an incredible legacy of accomplishment on the Winters environment when she is done. 

In our Police and Fire Departments, we really know who runs the show and it is the women! Karla Ferguson is our Administrative Supervisor for the Police Department and coordinates the activities for both of the Fire and Police Chiefs. She has coordinated most of the activities for the police records management system, dispatch technology and the internal operation for the Police Department. She is supported by Deanna Isenhower who has coordinated our evidence and records systems and Gail Jimenez who is our Community Services Officer. Gail has been a key part of the evidence and crime scene investigations teams for many of the top cases in the City over the past number of years. Robbie Rubio is the coordinator for the activities of the Fire Department. She is a past secretary for the Winters Volunteer Fire Association and an essential member of the investigative team as the photographer on major incidents.  Each of these ladies play a key role in keeping Winters safe.

In our Fire Department, we are blessed with ladies who save lives and property. Our reserve firefighters are Megan Brady, Danielle Bailey and Alyssa Gunderson. These women are genuine hero’s, rolling on calls from medical aid to structure fires. From major incidents to the many community events, you can count on these ladies to literally help “save the day”. 

One of the most important people in our Fire organization is Barb Karlen who is a long time volunteer. She and her husband Terry joined the Department so they could see their son Ron (now Assistant Fire Chief) when he was an explorer. Barb was the long time driver of the Winters ambulance when it was run by the volunteers, literally saving lives. Barb is one of the key reasons why the City now has advanced life support with an ambulance stationed in town, because if not for the efforts of those volunteers driving the ambulance, we would not have had the leverage to force an ambulance in to town. Barb and Terry are incredible members of Winters Fire with Terry driving the water tenders and Barb running on the fire calls. Barb is also the main “hostess” for all of the wonderful dinners and functions put on by the Department, coordinating the decorations and preparation.  

In Planning, Mary Jo Rodolfa has served as the key element in keeping the Planning processes moving. Literally, Mary Jo is the glue that has kept things together during the tough times of the past few years. She is truly a star in community service to Winters, serving on the WJUSD Board of Trustees, Youth Day Committee, Citizen of the Year 2002, Winters Friends of the Library and most recently the coordinator of the Festival de la Communidad. We will really miss her at City Hall as she retires, but she absolutely deserves a rest from the hustle and bustle! 

The Winters Planning Commission has two very dynamic ladies who serve in the evaluation of projects for our community. Lisa Baker has served for 2 years and is a member of the City’s Design Review Committee, was a member of the City’s Economic Development Committee and is a liaison to the Affordable Housing Steering Committee. Lisa is the Executive Director of the Yolo Housing Authority and is a member of both State and National Boards on funding for housing and community development. Kate Fraser has served for 1 year on the Commission and is extremely active with the Winters PTA and our schools. Kate moved to Winters a couple years ago and is a native of Alaska. She does an incredible job of representing the residents with young families and brings a perspective which supports business and quality in projects. 

Assisting Mary Jo in planning as our “special projects” person is Linn Meyer who is that key person in the background of many of the activities at City Hall. Linn is a past Citizen of the Year, a member of the Rotary Club of Winters, serving as Club Secretary for 8 years and on the board for the Winters Friends of the Library. Linn and her husband Paul were the long time coordinators for the Earthquake Festival and are incredible supporters of the Chamber of Commerce. 

Supporting the City both in the Planning side and legally, we are blessed with some key contract members of the City Team. Heidi Tschudin is our Project Planner for all major development projects. She is recognized as one of the foremost experts on California environmental issues and is an instructor throughout the State for planning and environmental review. Harriet Steiner and Iris Yang serve as Assistant City Attorney’s. Harriet is the City Attorney for the City of Davis and helps coordinate key legal review for City projects. Harriet is one of the most respected attorney’s in the region and has argued cases before all of the highest courts, including the United States Supreme Court. Iris Yang serves as our special counsel on redevelopment matters with the State of California. She is the City Attorney for Paso Robles.  

The people who make a difference in the lives of children every school day are the ladies of our After School Program. Bianca Cox is the Director and she is supported by Nicole Halley- Site Coordinator at Waggoner School and her staff including Betsy Bryan, Rosa Chavez and Ilda Franco. At Shirley Rominger School we have Diana Tafolla who is the Site Coordinator. The women make a difference in the lives of children with after school homework help, recreation and child care. They are truly stars in our organization. 

The Community Center is where things happen and we have a staff who keep the parties and activities under control as our attendants. These ladies include Jeri Baker, Darline Kovach, Jill Nelson and Ana Del Toro. If not for these ladies, the show would literally not go on at the Community Center! 

We really are blessed in Winters with women of Character, Commitment and Courage! 

Have a Nice Weekend. 

John

 

 

City Manager Update

02/21/14

All,

A week of some ups and downs:

• And the winner is……………. 112 units and a $439 water bill. This is the water bill of one of my neighbors and is the high water bill for the February water meter reading!!! We are in a drought and the water rates just went up. We sent our warning letters, mailed notices in the utility bills, public meetings and the bills are now arriving. For what its worth, I recommend brushing up on conservation because the Governor and regulatory agencies are looking at ALL water, including agencies like Winters who delivers ground water to their customers.
• (link) is our 2013 Water Report and some trends and information on our overall water utility. This is put together by Elliot Landes and it is a really interesting report. Enjoy!
• Staff is developing an overall internal schedule for the PG&E development. Look for the key meetings on the EIR to happen in July and August of this year.
• Chromium 6 is a naturally occurring element in ground water. The State is looking to change the acceptable levels which could require water agencies, including the City of Winters to filter our water at huge cost. Stay tuned on this because it could get really ugly!
• On Thursday, Staff met with our consulting team on the possible sale of our processed wastewater to local farmers for orchard irrigation. Because of the drought, Governor Brown has ordered the Regional Water Boards to make water reuse a priority. This may expedite permitting for re-use and enable us to sell the water (almost 500,000 gallons each day) and reduce the need for the farmers to pump water from the aquifer. This would be significant for the City and is something we have wanted for a very long time.
• This week the Berryessa Advisory Forum met where I sit as a Board Member representing the Gateway Communities for Napa, Solano and Yolo Counties. They are moving forward on many improvements to get the closed resorts up and operating. There are many challenges facing the Bureau of Reclamation team which were caused by the previous BOR administration and the former concessionaire. My view is that the current administration is doing their best in a very difficult situation. Patience is important!

Finally, yesterday, Mary Jo Rodolfa announced her retirement from her position with the City. Mary Jo worked for the City over an almost 20 year period in Recreation, the City Attorney and City Manager Offices and finally coordinating the Planning Division for the Community Development Department. She is a past president of the Board of Trustees for the WJUSD and was recognized as the Winters Citizen of the Year in 2002. Her contributions to our team are numerous and she certainly played a key role in many of the key projects we have accomplished over the past number of years. Her departure will leave big shoes to fill for our organization. Mary Jo is a class act and we genuinely will miss working with her.

Have a nice weekend.


John

 


City Manager Update

02/14/14

All,

Just a couple quick items on a week that went by like a blur!

• Three meetings this week on both Freeway and the Downtown Hotel Projects. Lots of interest from some pretty serious folks. Real good news!
• The new City Fire Truck has been delivered to the final prep facility in Modesto. Expect the engine to be on the streets of Winters in the next few weeks!
• A real light City Council meeting on Tuesday with the City purchase of a property for the Downtown Hotel Project, a permit for a Roots to Wine Event on Youth Day afternoon and some really boring business between the City and the Successor Agency to our former redevelopment agency.

Finally, look for the Interact Club from Winters High School who are doing a Pancake Breakfast on Monday morning, February 17 at the Community Center. This is the high school Rotary Club.

Thanks and have a nice weekend.

John

 

City Manager Update

02/08/14

All,

The rain dancing worked! Here is the update for the past week:

• For those hoping the federal government has a glimmer of hope in providing better services, get ready to pull your last hair out!!! This week marked the one year mark for our submittal to the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service to address the vernal pool in the Phase II area for Walnut Park. Our environmental team called the person we sent our forms to and he said he will not be reviewing our application for mitigation and that we need to submit under another program and send it to someone else! His only alternative was “avoidance” which means not doing the project. It is amazing how federal bureaucrats have zero accountability and can simply not do their job for a project which will benefit thousands of people. Plus, he made us waste an entire year and burn up thousands of dollars in consulting fees for absolutely nothing! Ugh!!!
• A number of meetings next week on people interested in the Downtown and Freeway Hotel projects.
• Staff and PG&E met on Monday afternoon to review their project proposal. They need to submit numerous technical reports and expanded descriptions for the project. Look for some joint workshops between the Planning Commission and the City Council in the coming months to begin design review and preliminary discussions on the implementation of the project. Overall, it was a really good meeting.
• Yolo County, LAFCO and the four cities are working on an evaluation of how to improve broadband internet services throughout Yolo County. Broadband is a critical infrastructure which will determine the future of key economic elements in our communities. The following is a link to an important survey which residents and business need to complete. Here is the link and please take some time to complete it.
For more information on the project visit our website:
http://www.yolocounty.org/Index.aspx?page=2504

Survey Link for Yolo County Businesses:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/yolo-business

Survey Link for Yolo County Residents:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/yolo-residents

• Water and Sewer bills hit everyone’s mail boxes with the new water rates. If people have issues with their bills, please direct comments to me or Shelly Gunby but please be kind to our staff downstairs at the counter!
• The 1908 Putah Creek Car Bridge came crashing down this week! Kudos to the Solano Bridge Team and Disney Construction for a real effective job in the demolition. Now, on to the construction of the new bridge.
• It is time for the development of the City Budget. Over the next three months, we will be in full swing on putting together our two year budget! Staff will be scheduling a workshop with the City Council to discuss projects and needs for the upcoming budget.
• Staff held our first internal meeting to begin the Budget development. The following were some of the key themes from the half day meeting:

Budget Themes from the internal staff Workshop:

• Temper excitement of new projects with fiscal realities. We will not see the real monetary benefits of the projects in development for many years down the road.
• Fiscal sustainability needs to be an ongoing discussion for the Staff and the City Council. We need to separate the view of the one time revenues (permits and fees) from the recurring revenues (property and other taxes) which come later.
• The City must think strategically on how we ramp up programs and staffing to address needs of the projected surge of development versus long term service and staffing needs.
• The upcoming budget needs to incorporate long term thinking.
• Sharing resources and services needs to continue (fire services) and we should explore other opportunities (planning and other).
• Transparency and information sharing needs to be an organization wide priority. We need to engage and provide information to residents and businesses on a constant and proactive basis.
• New businesses (hotels and freeway) will not only bring enhanced revenues and opportunity, but also new challenges for public safety and infrastructure.
• We need to continue to expedite processing for people wishing to do business with the City.
• Records management and the technological advancement of internal systems will be critical.
• Employee retention and care is of the utmost priority. Those who have helped us attain our success and have sacrificed to keep the City solvent should see the reinstatement of compensation and benefits.
• Capital Projects and enhancement to facilities needs to be a priority. Projects need to focus on the long term investments versus short term.

Finally, I spent much of this week in Long Beach and the League of Cities City Manager’s Conference. I not only learn a lot (it is a really good conference) but I also use it as an opportunity to network with many peers I have known through the years and to renew my passion for the profession.

This year’s conference included a keynote address from the Executive Director of the International City/County Management Association (the key organization for city manager’s). In his address, he talked about how important the City Manager/City Council form of government is to the success of democracy in our country. The quality of life in communities in the United States is second to none throughout the world. Much of that correlates back to the benefits of the professional management of cities and counties and the local elected who dedicate themselves to making their communities work. He talked about an emerging program from the Association called “Life Well Run” which highlights the value of the city government profession. Here is a short video clip on that program. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CkgvlAaNR4

Another key takeaway this year is how great communities are produced. Winters is lucky to have such an active and dedicated City Council, Staff, County Staff and Supervisors and the awesome Winters community. We have so much going on and there is a direct correlation between the positive passion and commitment we have in Winters and the good things that happen here. A recurring theme where “bad” things are happening is the negativity which is pervasive in their communities. People and groups who dwell, act or create negativity are going to produce negative outcomes. It really is that simple.

Finally, I sit on the Executive Board for the City Manager’s Department and that include being assigned to serve on subcommittees which make recommendations on a variety of key issues. One subcommittee I sit on is City/County Relations, which is often a challenge due to the State of California pitting us against each other (the State has a divided and concur mentality on many issues). As we addressed a variety of issues including AB109, Redevelopment dissolution, shared services, etc it became apparent how good we have it in Yolo County. We have really incredible administration with our County CAO Pat Blacklock and Assistant CAO Dirk Brazil (both of whom were at the conference) and great leadership and congeniality with the Board of Supervisors. It REALLY is different working in Yolo County and how we conduct business.

Have a wet weekend!

John

 

City Manager Update

01/31/14

All,

Lot’s going on after a really good week!

• On Thursday, the City officially received the official Planning Application from PG&E for the development of the gas training center. The City and PG&E teams will be meeting on Monday to work through the application and begin an approximately 7 month process for environmental review and clearance for the project.
• Look for the official noticing of the project near the first part of March!
• The south side of the Putah Creek Car Bridge came crashing down on Thursday. Here is the video from the City’s Youtube channel- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5cVlXFwdck&feature=youtu.be
• The north and center spans will be demolished on Monday, February 3.
• The response to the re-release of the Downtown Hotel Request for Proposals has been significant. The interest for both the Downtown and potential freeway projects is high.
• City staff has attended meetings and workshops with the State Water Resources Agency on the topic of Chromium 6 in domestic water. This is naturally occurring in groundwater and the State is looking to decrease the threshold from 50 parts per billion to 6 parts per billion. The City of Winters water has levels near 14 parts per billion. In order to comply, the City would need to make improvements to 5 water wells at a estimated cost near $4 million per well. The State Agency seems to be ignoring water providers and is siding with those pushing for the lower testing limits. The result could be a dramatic increase in City water rates and assessments. Stay tuned!
• The Planning Commission met on Tuesday and reviewed and approved the Railroad Ave “Parklet Project”, the Taco Bell monument and pylon signs and the lighting standards for Dollar General. We have a really well engaged Planning Commission who do a very thorough job on our projects!
• Staff has completed the necessary paperwork for the Railroad Ave Paving Project and the Walnut Lane Roundabout. Look for these projects to move to construction during the summer.
• Phase II for the Walnut Park construction is still in limbo. Staff is still waiting on a response from the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the mitigation requirements for the vernal pool on the property. The City wants to purchase mitigation credits, but the Fish and Wildlife folks need time to evaluate and comment on the situation. The application has only been in their office for one year and I am told that I would be foolish to think they would move any sooner to look at it. Crazy!
• Look out for a green fire truck with “Dixon” on it running around town over the next few weeks! As the City gets ready to take delivery of our NEW Pierce Fire Engine, Winters Fire personnel will be training on a similar truck on loan from our brethren from Solano County. Captain Art Mendoza and Deputy Chief Greg Lewis were back in Appleton, Wisconsin this week inspecting our new truck prior to its deliver in late February. Funding for the truck comes from a grant put together by our staff from FEMA.
• Kudos to Yolo Supervisor Don Saylor (our District 5 representative who covers Winters) for his “Soup’s On” event to benefit the Yolo Senior Nutrition Program. The event held at St. James Church in Davis was absolutely packed and obviously raised a bunch of money. The star’s of the soup event were Wade and Kathy Cowan who brought their award winning Clam Chowder and Buckhorn Catering who supplied a wonderfully spicy soup. Congrats to all who participated and people need to give a huge thanks to Don and his staff for coordinating the event. First class for an important cause!!!
• The Winters Quiz Shoe sponsored by the Winters Friends of the Library is tonight at the Community Center beginning at 7 o’clock. The coordinator of the event is the three time first lady of Winters, Rebecca Fridae and the host and moderator is our very own Mayor Pro Tem Woody Fridae. My team has only missed one year and I am certain that we are the most consistent team in the competition, never qualifying for the second round! Come and root on the teams and even bring a team. The entry fee is $120 per team.

Have a wonderful Super Bowl Weekend. Please behave, use a designated driver or call the Winters Quick Cab at (530) 219-6664.

Thanks,

John

 

 

City Manager Update

01/24/14

All,

VERY busy this week, so a short list to end the week!

• The City is releasing our updated Request for Proposal for the construction of a Downtown Hotel. It includes updated criteria, a market feasibility analysis and a site plan. It will be available on the City’s website on Monday!
• An important meeting on Broadband infrastructure will be held next week for western Yolo County on Wednesday, January 29 at 5:30 at the Esparto Library. For those interested in finding out more or providing input on broadband in our area, please plan on attending.
• The Planning Commission has a busy agenda next week. The Taco Bell monument sign, a “parklet” proposal for Downtown and lighting for Dollar General are all on the agenda. The meeting is on Tuesday and starts at 6:30.
• The car bridge is coming down! The demolition started on Tuesday and it is going quickly. Expect large section (if not the entire bridge) will come down next week!
• The new sewer and water bills will come out next week with the new water rates.
• We are expecting the PG&E Planning application to be submitted early next week.

Pray for RAIN!!

John

 

 

City Manager Update

01/17/14

All,

A busy and productive week:

• The Temporary Bridge for the Putah Creek Car Bridge Project is now open! Demolition of the old bridge is scheduled to start almost immediately. For those looking for those final pictures of the bridge, I would recommend that you do not wait.
• A busy week on the PG&E Project. A huge turnout at the Open House on Tuesday with the City Staff and PG&E Team meeting on Thursday. We have developed a schedule which will put approvals for the project in the summer, with construction starting immediately following. As soon as the final schedule is developed, we will let you know.
• On Monday, PG&E met with the Winters Putah Creek Committee. A really good meeting! It is incredible the resources we have on the committee and they provided some critical input on some key aspects of the project.
• The January 28 Planning Commission will be busy. A “parklet plan” for Railroad Ave, Lighting for Dollar General and signage for Taco Bell will be on the agenda.
• The prosecution of murder suspect Stephen Gardner began this week and he pleaded NOT guilty. The case will now go into a court calendar, preliminary hearing and other court matters. Look for this to probably become more active around summer.
• Staff met with a team seeking to purchase the 441 unit Winters Highlands Subdivision. They are in a due diligence phase looking at all of the previous approvals and trying to figure out whether they are interested in pursuing the purchase. I can tell you that they at a major national builder and they are doing quite a bit of work on looking at the project. Stay tuned.
• On Tuesday, Staff will be meeting with the developer and the builder for the 70 unit Hudson Ogando Subdivision. I am not able to give the name of the builder, but they have done a project here in town before and the staff is excited to have them selected to build more in the community.
• The City Council Meeting on Tuesday will have a couple items: Presentation of Police Officer of the Year, an update on the Yolo Habitat Plan, a recommendation for a Youth Council for the City, drainage impact fees, health benefit fees.
• Staff has received the market feasibility analysis for the Downtown Hotel Project. The numbers look pretty good and we will now move aggressively on getting this project on line. Stay tuned.
• City Staff will have an internal workshop to begin preparing our 2014-15/2015-16 Fiscal Year’s Budgets on February 4. We will be scheduling a workshop with the City Council for early February.

Have a nice weekend.

John

 

 

City Manager Update

01/10/14

All,

Happy New Year and 2014. I really think this is going to be a GREAT year! A couple items:

• It looks like dirt will start moving on the Hudson Ogando Subdivision in March. Staff met with the developer on Wednesday and it looks like they will finalize the home builder early next week and get things ready to start within the next 45-60 days. This is a 70 unit subdivision on Main Street just north of the Public Safety Facility with a combination of smaller and larger lots. It stands to be a nice project and hopefully the start of some much needed housing development in town.
• The advent of Hudson Ogando starting is going to mean consideration for ways to expand the capacity for the Building Department. There is the possibility that within the next six (6) months, we could have PG&E, housing, Dollar General and at least one hotel under construction. The current location at City Hall will not cut it from a space standpoint. Look for some changes in the near future.
• The PG&E Project will have another public meeting at 6:00 on Tuesday, January 14 at the Public Safety Facility. The Winters Putah Creek Committee will also meet with the PG&E Design and Engineering Teams on January 13 to discuss the interface of the project with the creek area.
• The deck has been installed for the Temporary Bridge for the Putah Creek Car Bridge but I refuse to try and tell anyone a date for the opening. They need to finish paving the approaches on both sides and complete a lot of prep work. I am as interested as anyone to see how it comes out and when it will open.
• The January Planning Commission is shaping up to have a couple items. These will include a review of the Taco Bell pole and monument signs and a “parklet” design proposal for Railroad Ave in front of Turkovich Wines and Cheese. Chris has done an outstanding job on developing a proposal and conceptual plan. The parklet has the potential for being one of the coolest projects for Downtown this year.
• Things will be kicking off again for the Downtown Hotel Project this month. The feasibility report (which financiers need for hotels) is in update and the staff team is ready to get this project going ASAP.
• The St. Anthony Church project is shaping up with many improvements to the front of the building and preparation for the outside finishing touches. This is such an awesome project and a real addition to the Community- Thank God for this building!!! Kudos to Fr. Hebda and the entire Parish Development Team for their efforts in getting this project done.
• We need rain!!! Whatever superstitions, rain dances or prayers need to be dusted off and implemented immediately. The folks living in the country are dying from the lack of well regeneration.
• The City welcomed our newest Police Officer Jose Hermosillo to our team. Jose brings experience from working in both Williams and Colusa County. Congratulations and welcome!

Next week, the Chamber of Commerce will host their “Year in Review” which is also the “Citizen of the Year” dinner. It is really an honor to go to this annual dinner where we have an opportunity to recognize people who make a difference in the Winters Community. The Citizen of the Year is recognition for significant contributions over many years of service.

A really great part of our City Hall team is the number of people who work or are associated with our efforts who have been “Citizens of the Year”. Last year’s recipient, Dan Maguire is our Economic and Housing Manager, Carol Scianna is our Environmental Services Manager, Bobbi Greenwood from Swim Team, Harold Anderson from City Council, Mike Sebastian- City Treasurer, Mary Jo Rodolfa- Management Analyst- Community Development and Linn Meyer- City Manager’s Office. In the past, we also had Gloria Marion- Recreation, one of my favorite people from Winters of all time.

A big congratulations to John Pickerel, this year’s recipient. Enough cannot be said for the impact John and Melanie have made to Winters both as business owners and citizens. John has helped shape the lives of so many as an employer, friend and mentor to the youth of the community. The efforts and sacrifice he and Melanie have made to advance our community are significant. Good job John!

Thanks and have a great weekend.

John

 

City Manager Update

12/31/13

All,

A couple items as we end 2013:

• We have a City Council Meeting next Tuesday. Items on the Agenda include swearing in our newest Police Officer Jose Hermosillo, Drainage Impact Fees, a discussion on Prevailing Wage requirements for the City Park Rehab, a possible increase in the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax and a ballot measure and Downtown Business Security.
• We are still waiting on the Temporary Bridge for the Putah Creek Car Bridge Project. I have given up on giving updates, so anyone’s guess is as good as mine on when it will be open. They tell me they need to complete some paving on the south side, then install the deck and pave the bridge. My prediction is sometime in 2014!
• January is shaping up to be a very busy month, let by both the PG&E Project and kicking the Downtown Hotel project into gear. Look for an update for all Departments in next week’s update.

Finally, best wishes on the year 2014 to all. Our organization has always been about looking forward and planning and implementing great projects and quality services for the best community in the region.

Last weekend, my wife Kathy and I did some organizing and I came upon a cache of newspaper articles from over the years from the Sacramento Bee. Each talked about the “emergence” of Winters, plans for things like Downtown renovation, creek trails, the library, public safety center, Burger King and other projects. It was fun to see quotes from people in the articles talking about the hope of renaissance for Winters. The awesome thing is all of the “hopes” talked about in the articles have all happened!

The best thing about Winters is we do everything we say we are going to do! We are truly blessed with business and community leaders, City Council, Staff and regular citizens who care enough about our town to make dreams into reality. It will be fun to recap the “plans” we have on the board today, this time next year when they are all happening.

Have a very safe and Happy New Year’s celebration. Put you seat belts on, 2014 is going to be our biggest year in a long time.

John

 

City Manager Update

12/20/13

All,

A really incredible week to enter the holiday season!!

• Today, we received approval from the State Department of Finance of the City’s Property Management Plan which allows the disposition of the properties previously owned by our now dissolved redevelopment agency. This is probably the best news we have received since the State dissolved the agencies in 2011! It also represents the culmination of almost 8 months of work by our Oversight Board, City Council and on the staff side, Finance Director Shelly Gunby, Housing and Economic Manager Dan Maguire and our legal counsel Iris Yang. This is tremendous news and enough cannot be said for the work of Shelly, Dan and Iris for navigating an incredible bureaucratic maze. Congrats, today is seriously a GREAT day!
• The folks at the Department of Finance are under considerable legal and political pressure from the Governor and the Legislature (it must be a pretty horrible place to work). We will be raising a toast to Justyn, Kelly, Medy and Wendy for getting this thing through. They worked hard and were fair in the end on how they treated us!
• Standard and Poors Rating Service has sent us a rating letter for our Sewer and Water Bonds from 2007. They gave us a –AA rating which is absolutely incredible for a small City like Winters. Being a small city, it is almost impossible to get a AAA rating-uninsured. The limited size and diversity of our economy and City land potential simply cannot demonstrate an unqualified perfect rating, no matter how much we may want it. This rating and the letter says we are doing the right things and the City is making good decisions about how we operate. I am genuinely proud of where we stand from a financial rating standpoint. It is a reflection of having solid financial policies which guide us, along with the track record of the City Council making the right (sometimes unpopular) decisions which keeps things financially solvent.
• So much of the credit for this credit rating needs to go to Shelly, Elliot and Carol who have been leading the financial charge on Water and Sewer Rates. Shelly does such an awesome job with our finances and a good report card from the largest rating agency in the world is pretty special.
• Taco Bell will be opening this weekend!! Kudos to owner Sunny Ghai and his entire project team for pulling off the build which came in under 90 days. Sunny is a real good businessman and has been good to work with. Congratulations to the entire Taco Bell team for bringing this to fruition.
• A considerable amount of credit on the City side needs to go to our Building Official Gene Ashdown, Public Works Inspector Tommy Johnson, Assistant City Engineer Alan Mitchell and Mary Jo Rodolfa who really got this project across the line. Gene and Tommy did a considerable amount of work in helping the contractor get this constructed in a timely manner. Good job to them and the entire City team on a job well done!
• PG&E Outreach Meetings concluded this week with a Neighborhood Workshop, presentation to the Design Review Committee and the City Council. The next step for the project is for their formal planning application which should occur around January 21, 2014. Lots of work has already gone into the project in preparation and when will start the formal processing of the project. The next stops for this after submittal will be the Planning Commission, then the City Council.
• Staff met with a developer considering the purchase of the Creekside Estates Subdivision. This is the 41 unit project boardered by the Public Safety Facility on the north, St. Anthony’s on the east and Dry Creek on the south. This would be a premier subdivision which will hopefully get started as early as 2014. Good news for people looking to buy a home in this area of the City.
• Good news on the funding front, as the Walnut Lane Roundabout and the money to re-pave Railroad Ave. were approved this week. Expect the roundabout to be constructed in the summer and Railroad Ave paving the same!
• The Temporary Bridge for the Putah Creek Car Bridge Project was projected to open on New Year’s Eve. We actually considered opening it on that date and selling tickets for people to watch all the cars crash as partiers came back late at night, but our legal said that was a bad idea. Look for it to open the first week of January.
• Here is a time lapse video of the temporary bridge being installed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5JN0snvOs0&feature=youtu.be

Finally, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

During the holidays, it gives time for reflection and reminds us to reflect on what is truly good about our lives. In Winters, we are blessed with living in one of the most beautiful and bountiful areas in the world. We know our neighbors and the sense of community is always abundant in our every day lives. Our town really is a big, dysfunctional yet loving family who bring together strengths and weaknesses which make Winters an incredible place to live, work and do business. We are blessed with many great partners from outside agencies, businesses and people who just love our little town.

I am personally grateful for the wonderful City Council, Staff, Commissioners and citizenry we have in Winters. It really is a special place and for that, I am thankful.

John

 

City Manager Update

12/13/13

All,

This was a super busy week with a big focus on the PG&E Public Outreach. Here are a few items:

• A good meeting at the Planning Commission. They approved the landscaping plan for the Walnut Lane Roundabout, increased the spacing on the plantings at the Hahn Feeny Building and saved some trees at the St. Anthony Church Project.
• Anyone who is wishing for a 400’ metal span bridge for Christmas this year, you will get your wish. Disney Construction is rapidly moving on the temporary bridge for the Putah Creek Car Bridge Project. After a setback, they are rapidly assembling the bridge and it is expected that it will be in operation around December 26. Anyone who wants a 107 year old concrete bridge can come pick it up once the car bridge is in operation.
• Lots of meeting this week on the PG&E Project. The meetings next week will be the Neighborhood Meeting on Monday at 6:00 at the Community Center (food will be there) and a presentation to the City Council on Tuesday at 6:30. The meetings have been very well attended and I encourage anyone who is curious about the project to go to any of the meetings.
• Toys for Tots Presents will be distributed at the Fire Station on Saturday, December 21. The Christmas Baskets will be given out the same day at the Community Center. For needy families, sign ups are being still be taken at City Hall until Wednesday.

Finally, it was good news this week that William Gardner was captured in Las Vegas. The extradition will take some time, especially since this is such a serious case, they will want to make sure everything is done perfectly. Justice takes time and in this case, the good news is he is in custody and not on the loose. We hope this brings a sense of security to the friends and family of Leslie Pinkston, knowing he is in custody.

The reality of this case is we are relying on the help of many outside agencies. The U.S. Marshall’s Service Fugitive Task Force help in the capture of Gardner and the Cities of Woodland, Davis and the Yolo Sheriff have been of immense help in the investigation. Winters is blessed with having exceptional relations with outside agencies who are willing to help us deal with situations. In this case, enough cannot be said for how grateful we are for the help we are receiving!

Have a nice week. Shop local!

John

 

City Manager Update

12/06/13

All,

A ton of stuff going on as we get ready for the holidays and the new year. For this week’s update, I thought it might be beneficial to go over by category some of the projects and priorities for the City for 2014. Here they are:

• Key economic development projects which will either start or go online include the PG&E Training Facility, Downtown and Freeway hotel projects, Dollar General, Taco Bell and Yolo Credit Union.
• Park projects will include the construction of Walnut Park Phase II, Putah Creek Park waterway alignment and the rehabilitation of City Park playground and basketball courts.
• The Ogando Hudson Subdivision will break ground in the spring and we have meetings with developers on the Creekside Project (41 units) across from the Parish Hall. There is a group considering the purchase of the Winters Highlands Project and we will be working with them on a re-start for that project.
• The BIG planning projects for the year will deal with the processing of the PG&E Training Center and the request from Bellevue North for the annexation of 200 acres into the City.
• In January, the City will begin the formulation of our Fiscal Years 2014-15 and 2015-16 Budgets. This will be a really big undertaking!
• Redevelopment Dissolution will continue. The City receives nothing in reimbursement for our efforts to dissolve our former redevelopment agency in what really is a continuing nightmare.
• In the area of Water Services, we expect to be dealing with a potential regulation change regarding Chromium 6 in our drinking water. In our case (and in almost all areas) it is naturally occurring in groundwater. The current regulation is 50 parts per billion and ours is about 14 parts. The new regulation would be 6 parts per billion and require the construction of a filtration system which would be tens of millions of dollars. If you think our rates are high now, they would be massive if this takes effect. Stay tuned.
• Sewer will see the need to consider our wastewater services. Our agreement with Southwest Water ends in December, 2014 so we need to determine what we are going to do!
• The City will have an election in June 2014. The City Council may consider putting a tax measure to increase our transient occupancy tax to 12% up from 10%. This will be considered in February.
• Capital Projects will include the Putah Creek Car Bridge, the Road 89 Overcrossing (over Moody Slough near Six Pac), the Walnut Lane Roundabout and the paving of Railroad Avenue.
• The City will begin working on a renewal of our Fire Services Agreement with Dixon. The arrangement has been excellent and we will need to strategize on the next few years.

Lots going on for our little town!

A couple of announcements………….

• The Tree Lighting Festivities will be on Saturday, December 7 and start at 5:00 with the actual tree lighting at 6:00. The Downtown looks GREAT with a lot of credit to Wade and Kathy Cowan, our Public Works Crew, Winters High School Art Class and the entire Chamber and business community. It may be cold, but wear a coat and gloves and join your neighbors in a wonderful Winters tradition.
• The Public Forum on the PG&E Project will be on December 11 at the Public Safety Facility and will start at 6:30. Come learn about this project!
• Planning Commission will be meeting on December 10 at 6:30. On the agenda are the landscaping plans for the Walnut Lane Roundabout, a modification to sidewalk dimensions at the new St. Anthony Church and a request to reduce the landscaping at the Hahn Feeney Building Project.

Have a great weekend and shop local!

Thanks,

John

 

City Manager Update

11/29/13

All,

I was off for two Fridays on a short vacation, so I am kinda back on a short thanksgiving week. A couple items:

• First, a big congratulations to Coach Daniel Ward and the Winters High School Football Team who won the Northern Section Division III Championship with a 57-28 victory over Hamilton City, there! It was absolutely awesome to see a huge Winters contingent who traveled the 90 miles to root on the Warriors. One of the coolest things about being from Winters is the community support for our kids and Wednesday night was a prime example.
• The City Council Meeting on Tuesday, December 2 will have just a few items on the Agenda. Proclamations for the Red Cross, David Brown the retiring Executive Director of the Sacramento Vector Control District, an Update to the City’s Affordable Housing Ordinance, a discussion on the City’s Animal Services and a revision to the Property Management Plan for the City’s Successor Agency to our Redevelopment Agency.
• The Affordable Housing Ordinance will simply re-adopt some interim amendments made a few years ago which exempts projects with fewer than 15 units from our inclusionary housing rules. Basically, this means that if you are building 15 or fewer units, the affordable housing regulations do not apply. This benefits infill development and should certainly help the City down the road on small projects in the core area of town.
• The City Council will also be recognizing Medic Ambulance at the meeting. In January, we will celebrate the one year anniversary of having Advanced Life Support Ambulance Services in Winters. A lot of credit needs to go to Medic who stepped into our community as a service provider. They deserve a key to the City for their efforts and a lot of gratitude!
• The Animal Services discussion will talk about the structure of how the animal shelter is run, the designation of some areas in the City for “off-leash” dog walking, enhanced regulation for licensing and vicious animal issues; and finally a proposal to promote a local animal group to help coordinate community licensing and vaccination clinics and the promotion of responsible dog ownership. Animal issues have been a hot topic in the past and Tuesday will be an opportunity for continuing the discussions.
• The PG&E Training Facility will be proposed for the 50 acre property located across from Chevron. There will be many meetings on the project during the first three weeks of December, most notably for a Public Forum which will be held on December 11 at 6:00 at the Public Safety Facility. All are invited. I will be sending out a comprehensive schedule of meetings on Monday.
• The construction of the temporary bridge for the Putah Creek Car Bridge Project was slowed by the theft of some key parts for the construction. They have now installed camera’s and enhanced security to keep this from happening again! Look for progress to be made on the temporary bridge over the next week.
• Give the Gift of Winters!!!! Today is “Black Friday” and it is a chance to support our local businesses. Buying local helps support our friends and neighbors so make sure to give the gift of “Winters” this season. All restaurants sell gift certificates, the wine rooms sell a variety of local food products and both Ace and True Value sell the same products available at the big box stores. For all you revolutionaries out there who need to get lead for reloading, Charley at the Winters Express sells lead ingots which are great stocking stuffers! Buy local and support our community!
• Taco Bell is on task to open before the end of the year. The building is going up at a record pace, so expect to be eating that seven layer burrito before January!

Finally, things are progressing on the manhunt for the individual who killed Leslie Pinkston on November 18. The Winters Police Department has done a superior job in coordinating the investigation. A reality for our small town and Department is the need to tap outside resources to help us in the case. The U.S. Marshall’s Office Fugitive Team is helping with the search, as are many other law enforcement agencies. The final disposition of this case will require many agencies to come together to find this guy and bring justice to this very tragic chapter in our year.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

John

 

 

City Manager Update

11/08/13

All,

A couple items………….

• The installation of the temporary bridge for the Putah Creek Car Bridge Project will begin next week. They estimate that this will take 2-3 weeks to assemble.
• The City Newsletter mistakenly indicated that the metered sewer rates would take effect in July, 2014. Here is what is happening. The new metered water rates take effect in January 2014. A new flat rate for Sewer will also take effect in January 2015. The revised sewer rates based on meter counts will take effect in January, 2015.
• Taco Bell is moving along quite well. Believe it or not, but they will start the roof on Monday! Yo quiero Taco Bell!
• On Wednesday, Solano County held a meeting in the City Council Chamber regarding commercial locations within their unincorporated areas which might house Medical Marijuana Dispensaries if they were to legalize them in the County. These are NOT proposed locations, just potential locations if they are to lift their moratorium. The Staff will report back to the Solano Board of Supervisors on December 3. For more information go to http://www.co.solano.ca.us/depts/rm/medical_marijuana/default.asp
• Ken Davis is a photographer and biologist who has been helping document the restoration and ecological issues along Putah Creek. Ken made a presentation to the City Council about salmon and trout which are spawning in Putah Creek. Here is a link to his website with video taken from here in the creek http://www.creekman.com/  Click on the videos of trout in our very own reach of the creek. Awesome stuff!
• Congratulations to the Winters Volunteer Fire Association and their Shrimp Feed last weekend. This is without a doubt the new HOT ticket in town. The food was off the charts and the overall organization was done extremely well. The only bad part of the entire evening was that I did not win a single prize, including the shotgun. There is always next year…………….

Have a nice weekend.

John

 

City Manager Update

11/04/13

All,

A brief update on what is happening in all of the Departments:

• The Public Works Department has been busy working on streets, sidewalks and water issues. The recent paving of Peach Place was a significant improvement which was long over-due. Numerous sidewalks have been repaired throughout the City recently, most notably near the parks and on routes to schools. Finally, we have had a rash of water service failures in the Dry Creek Meadows Subdivision (Carter Ranch) which has been difficult. When one water line goes out, it requires coordinating with the neighbors and everyone gets to feel the pain of the fix.
• The Sewer Division is completing some major maintenance items at the Wastewater Treatment Facility. They have done a major clean-out of two aeration ponds and are replacing a couple aerators. The Sewer Manager, Jim Keating and City maintenance staff Ramiro Becerra, Tony Luna and Terry Vender have done a miraculous job in addressing some significant deferred maintenance items at the facility. We will begin a process of setting a two year capital replacement program for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 Fiscal Year Budgets in February.
• The Police Department has just completed its transition to new computers in all of our vehicles to coordinate with the recently upgraded Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) System at Yolo County Communications. Our vehicles are really high tech now and allow for enhanced dispatch and information searches. For all the people with radio scanners who track the location of our officers, you will now need to get with the NSA to find out where we are going, it is now on the computers! :D
• The Fire Department has welcomed 7 new reserves and has 9 Winters High School Seniors serving as explorers. The reserves have begun running calls with our paid officers and the high school students will be going through our local academy to learn what it is like to have a career in fire service. The Fire Department is also in the final design stages for our new fire truck (picture attached). The truck is 85% paid for with a FEMA grant. Kudos to the design team and the Department members working on the project. We can look forward to having the truck in service by spring, 2014.
• Financial Management is in the throes of completing the piles of mandatory reports required by the State of California. Not fun, but now all of our information is with both the State Department of Finance and the State Controllers Office. The big difference is that you can go onto their websites and get financial information about the cities, but practically nothing real about the State. A big double standard!
• Kudos to Shelly Gunby, our auditors and the entire finance team who just received our eleventh consecutive Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers Association. After 10 consecutive awards, they sent us a really nice marble plaque and you just add years onto it with brass buttons. This award is a big deal and represents our efforts to maintain a policy based approach to how we manage the City’s finances and transparency in how we report things to the public. Good financial reporting is the foundation for maintaining Good job to all involved!
• Our Community Development functions (Planning and Building) have semi-morphed into the City Manager’s Office. A lot of the activity has been focused on the Taco Bell and St. Anthony Church Projects, along with processing the Dollar General and Grant Ave. Commercial Projects. Mary Jo Rodolfa handles both the Planning Commission and the activities of the Oversight Board for the Successor Agency to the City’s former Community Redevelopment Agency.
• Our City Building Official, Gene Ashdown recently was recognized with a scholarship from the local chapter of the International Code Council which sponsored him to attend the annual codes review and update in Atlantic City. This conference spends almost 15 hours a day for a week reviewing building standards across the country. A very responsible task and it is awesome to have Gene distinguish our City through his participation. With the slowdown in recent years, Gene has been operating solo in the Building Department and has done a fine job of keeping permits and inspections on track. We are very proud of Gene and his representation of the City on a number of levels. Good Job, Gene!
• Housing and Economic Development has been focused on completion of the update to the City’s Housing Element, shepherding the Grant Ave. Commercial Projects and the project management of Walnut Park.

A couple project updates:

• PG&E is considering an alternate site for the Gas Training Facility within the City. They are working on an outreach plan to communicate the project to Winters residents and businesses. Plan on a rollout of information by the end of November. There will be many opportunities for information on the project and we are working on a list of meeting groups and times for people to get up to speed on the project. Stay tuned!
• The installation of the temporary bridge for the Putah Creek Car Bridge Project will begin the Week of November 11. The piers are in and the girders are being welded. The actual bridge goes in like an erecter set, so once it starts, it will go quickly.
• Staff is working on a proposal to install a web cam to document the construction of the new bridge. We will have it on the City website and it will take still pictures periodically to update progress. One service then combines all of the still images to create a movie of the construction from the time lapse photography. Elliot Landes is the project manager to help document this historic construction!
• A second bridge project is in the works to replace the concrete overcrossing a Moody Slough on Road 89. We have cleared the environmental process and have the design documents in development. The project should go to bid in 2014, so believe it or not, we will have TWO bridges under construction at the same time!! Carol Scianna and Alan Mitchell are the project managers.
• This Thursday at 6:00 in the City Council Chambers, Solano County will be holding a workshop on potential locations where medical marijuana dispensaries (MMD’s) could be located in their unincorporated areas. The County Planning Department has identified all of the properties which potentially could hold such a dispensary. These are NOT proposed locations, but the Solano Board of Supervisors has asked their staff to get input from those who could be affected under current zoning. Solano has a ban on MMD’s through the summer of 2014 and they will be considering options, including a permanent ban.
• I made a mistake in my communication a couple weeks ago about SACOG funding for the engineering and design for the West Main/Grant Traffic Signal. It is NOT being recommended for funding in the latest round of transportation projects. Staff will be working on alternative funding to kick start the project.
• Staff is working with some local business owners on some concepts for Railroad Ave to include "parklets". Here is a link to pictures from San Francisco on the concept: http://sfpavementtoparks.sfplanning.org/parklet_photos.html  The Plan is to work with the business and property owners on a plan, then bring the concept before the planning commission for their review, a workshop and ultimately their consideration of recommendations to the City Council. This is a real fun concept and another addition to our Downtown.

Finally, the 2013 fall season for Winters AYSO wrapped up this past weekend with all 409 of our players in games at Shirley Rominger School. Our soccer program is an important part of the community and one that I am especially proud to be associated with. It is a 100% volunteer organization with coaches, referees and Board Members all working for just the joy of the sport and helping the players between the ages of 5-19.

The season ended on a perfect note and made all the games I reffed and the Advil taken worth it. Here is the detail………………

The 3 o’clock game was the Under 10 Boys Championship game with two well balanced teams playing (Jen Spears and Bruce Edman are the coaches). It was a GREAT game with 1 point separating the teams up until the last couple minutes. The stars of the game were the second half goal keepers for both teams (realize that these are 8-9 year old boys shorter than 5’ tall) who were making terrific stops and saves to keep out goals. They were literally diving on the ground and getting hard shots bouncing off of them. They must have been black and blue that night!

In the about the 21st minute of the second half, a player was fouled and a penalty shot was called for (as a ref in a championship game, a penalty shot is horrible because they are made about 98% of the time, a game changing call!). Winters has some very skilled players and the boy who stepped up buried the shot into the corner of the net. The keeper had zero chance of preventing the goal! The keeper was VERY upset and began to cry, thinking he had let his team down and cost them the championship. The game soon ended and the keeper came to the sideline and was consoled by his family. What happened next was AWESOME!!!

Following the traditional team handshake at the end of the game, ALL of the players from both teams surrounded the goal keeper with hugs and kind words. The kids were literally hugging their friend and congratulating him on an awesome game and assuring him that he had not cost his team the game. It was a sign of true sportsmanship, friendship and kindness that transcends sport and competition on any level. All the players left the field a few minutes later, smiling and feeling good about the game and their efforts.

People often wonder if what we try to teach our kids about being kind, showing compassion and the true meaning of sportsmanship is sinking in. I learned this weekend, it is!

Have a good week!

John

 

City Manager Update

10/25/13

All,

Lots of projects to update on this week.

• Winters High School is in the running for up to $100,000 grant from State Farm Insurance for the Celebrate My Drive Campaign. You can sign up each day for them to get credit and the contest goes until Saturday. Go to www.celebratemydrive.com  and register. Have everyone in your family use all of their e-mails to register.
• Taco Bell is starting to take shape. The foundation has been poured and the walls are starting to go up. The goal is for tacos before the end of the year!
• Grant Ave Commercial is become a real challenge due to the State Department of Finance. Because they were former redevelopment properties, we must receive clearance from the State to sell the properties. In the case of Dollar General, we purchased the land for $3 a foot and we want to sell it for $6 a foot. The State has 100 days to even review our request for the sale and they indicated that they are too busy to get to it. Dollar General is ready to go on the project but we are at the will of the State. Anyone who has any pull with the Governor needs to let him know that his Department of Finance is preventing jobs, revenue and economic development.
• Some activity with the subdivisions. Hudson Ogando has their grading and public improvement plans approved. There are buyers for the Winters Highlands Project and we antificpate a meeting with them in the next few weeks. Creekside is for sale and we know that there are two active buyers.
• The Water and Sewer Rates are causing a lot of questions and news articles. The best advice for keeping your sewer bills low is to watch your overall water consumption in the three main winter months December, January and February, when most plants are dormant. We will be using the average of the lowest three months of the year, and statistically, these are the lowest months. Using some simple conservation tips during these months can help save all year long!
• The Freeway Hotel and the Downtown Hotel are in limbo right now, pending the direction of the PG&E Training Facility. We are awaiting training numbers for a revised market study for the Downtown Project.
• The PG&E Project is considering multiple sites in the Winters area. Expect an announcement in the coming weeks.
• The Bellevue North 200 acre annexation proposal is in process with all of the planners. The City, LAFCO and the applicant are working on a strategy on ways to best move things forward. For those non-planners, I will save you the details. Just know that things are moving!
• Mariani Nut is planning a remodel and creation of an office in the house located at the corner of Walnut and Grant Ave.
• The Putah Creek Car Bridge has the pilings in and the temporary bridge is being delivered. Expect the installation to begin in the next few weeks. Here is a video of a similar bridge made by the same company being installed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eGZGWL3zwA
• The St. Anthony’s Church project is really taking shape! Walls are starting to go up inside and the parking lots are being filled with gravel. The project is scheduled to be completed sometime after the first of the year.
• All are welcome to attend a free Water-Wise Landscaping Workshop Saturday November 2, 8:30 am to 12:30 pm at the Winters Public Safety Facility. The City will host Yolo County RCD landscape expert Jeanette Wrysinski, who will take a group to visit three sites in town and talk on converting gardens and lawns for low water use, Topics will include drip watering, lawn reduction and removal, drought resistant plantings and more. Contact elliot.landes@cityofwinters.org 
• The City has a couple grants which are being recommended for approval which will improve City streets. We are in line for $647k for the construction of the Walnut Roundabout, $110k for the engineering and permitting for a signal at West Main and Grant next to the Public Safety Facility and $100k for the re-paving of Railroad Ave from Neimann to Grant. We are waiting for the final approval by the SACOG Board and we can expect the work to start in 2014! Kudo’s to our engineering team for the grant applications and positioning us to get these funds!
• Friday is a big night in Winters. The Harvest Festival starts at 5 and it is a Street Meat Night at the Buckhorn.
• Upcoming City Council Agendas will include Animal Control issues coming back in December, the City Budget process after the first of the year.

Finally, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there are many groups and organizations that have donned the pink to promote awareness. From Winters High School football and stat girls to Winters AYSO, there has been an awesome attempt to make people think about breast and other cancers. The August Relay for Life was an incredible coming together of our community to celebrate survivors and remember those who have passed.

For anyone who has not experienced cancer, I can tell you that it is a terrifying experience. The diagnosis, the biopsy then the waiting for the results is an experience I would not wish on anyone. For those diagnosed with cancer, the battle and the fight for life creates a new perspective and prioritization. Those who survive should be celebrated and those who don’t mourned.

In Winters, we have some folks who are really doing a lot to help the awareness through various efforts. One of those people is Cheryl Moore, the co-owner of the Tree House. Cheryl was an important coordinator of the Relay for Life and has kept the momentum going.

On Tuesday, October 29, Cheryl’s Relay for Life Team, “Today is a Gift” is hosting a Drive Thru dinner from 5-7. They will be serving pulled pork sandwich or meatball subs, potato salad or coleslaw and a dessert. You can pick it up in front of The Tree House between 5-7. Cost is $10 per dinner. All proceeds will go to the 2014 Relay for Life. Contact Cheryl at Cheryl@winterstreehouse.com to reserve some dinners and support her efforts.

Have a good weekend!

John

 

 

City Manager Update

10/18/13

All,

A couple items this week:

• Water and Sewer Rates were established at the City Council Meeting on Tuesday. The system provides a two tier rate structure for water and an average of three winter months for sewer. In the end, the Council did a pretty thorough review of things and a lot of public awareness was made. The new water rates go into effect in January and the sewer rates in January, 2014.
• Also adopted by the City Council was an updated Housing Element for the City’s General Plan. Based on a number of factors, the City does not need to address the Housing Element until 2012!! Good news and a relief to finally have the thing done.
• The Putah Creek Car Bridge is coming along. Paving next week on the modifications to Putah Creek Road (expect lots of delays), the pile driving has been not a noisy as expected and the installation of the temporary bridge is but a couple weeks away.
• Saturday is the Public Safety Facility Open House from 1-4. Your chance to see the trucks, meet the personnel and squirt the hose! Car seat inspections for all new parents and lots to see and do!
• WHS is competing in the Celebrate my Drive competition. Hopefully you heard of Celebrate My Drive by now! State Farm is partnering with Winters High Schools to spread the word about teen safe driving. They are giving away 10 100K grants, 90 25K grants, and a chance to win a local Kelly Clarkson concert. I think the WHS has a great shot to win the $$$. Please support Winters High School by visiting… http://www.celebratemydrive.com/RegisterStudent.aspx
• Tonight is Winters Homecoming with the football game against Oroville High School! JV game starts at 5:30 and Varsity at 7:30. Great floats and the crowning of the King and Queen at halftime.

Have a nice weekend.

John

 

City Manager Update

10/10/13

All,

A couple items:

• Look for an intent to name the ambulance provider being recommended for Yolo County next week. I sat on the review panel but cannot disclose information yet based on a confidentiality agreement. A recommendation has been forwarded to Jill Cook, the Yolo County Health Director for her decision. Stay tuned.
• In the Yolo County EMS program, Winters falls into a priority call area which mandates a minimum 8 minute response time. This is the same as the other cities in the County. Our previous minimum response time was 20 minutes!
• City Council will be at the Community Center this meeting. Items on the agenda include Water and Sewer Rates, Recycling Market Development Zones, Adoption of the Housing Element and an update on the Natural Heritage Program Acquisition Area Map.
• Good news for trauma! Kaiser Vacaville has been selected as the primary trauma center for Solano County, which benefits us immensely. Things just keep getting better and better for our City in the area of emergency medical services.
• Forms are up for Taco Bell! Permits were issued last week and they are full steam ahead.
• Dollar General is ready to build, but the State Department of Finance is stalled on the review of our property sale agreements. I talked with them today and they said our best bet is to get something back from them in mid November.
• Lot’s of frustration with the Department of Finance. The Governor and the Legislature have essentially piled statutes and workload for the dissolution of redevelopment on an understaffed and untrained workforce. They are processing financial documents and property management plans from 431 redevelopment agencies. On top of that, they are reviewing property disposition of literally thousands of parcels throughout the State. I really don’t blame the DOF Staff, they are only following orders and they are always very cordial in person and on the phone. The process is highly political, very litigious and they always appear scared and timid when you ask them questions. Not good for them or us! So far, they have about 150 lawsuits filed against them!
• Walnut Park is open. The dog walking area is still closed as we wait for the hydro seeding to take root. We will open it soon! I always tell everyone, check out the park two years after the opening and you will love it!
• This week on the Car Bridge included work on Putah Creek Road and the headwall sections for the temporary bridge. If you drive by, the recently graded section is the new alignment for the road which will be paved in the next few weeks (this will be both the approach for the temp and new bridges). The work on the banks is for the headwall for the temporary bridge.
• Lot’s of movement on the PG&E project that I am not at liberty to disclose………..stay tuned!
• We are waiting on information from the PG&E Project for an updated market feasibility study for the Downtown Hotel. Once a couple decisions are finalized on the PG&E end, they will release information for the updated study. We then move into discussions on the financing of the project.
• The Police and Fire will be hosting an Open House on Saturday, October 19 from 1-4. This is your chance to see all the cool trucks, squirt the fire hose, see the latest in police equipment, see the holding cells without handcuffs on, meet Smokey the Bear and look at the inside of an ambulance while vertical.
• We have a new police officer in the Winters Police Department- Bryan Webb. He will be sworn in on November 5. Welcome Bryan!
• The Chamber of Commerce is hosting the Harvest Festival on Friday, October 25 from 5-8. There will be a farmers market, FFA will have their pumpkin patch, face painting and live music by Miss Lonely Hearts!
• Next week is Homecoming at Winters High School. Powderpuff and the night rally is on Wednesday, pep rally and parade in Downtown at noon on Friday and the big game is on Friday against Oroville at Dr Seller Field.
• Winters High School in conjunction with State Farm Insurance is promoting a safe driving and awareness in the Celebrate My Drive Campaign. The most enrolled school will win $100,000 and a concert by American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. Go to www.celebratemydrive.com and enroll and take the pledge starting October 18. You can do this numerous times to help generate numbers for the school.

Winters High football is home this weekend against Sutter and lots of soccer this Saturday.

Have a nice weekend.

John

 

 

City Manager Update

10/04/13

All,

Just a few items this week.

• Taco Bell was issued their building permit on Thursday and has already begun grading, Their target for opening is December, so expect to see them really hustle to get things going. Both the City’s project team as well as the developer, Sunny Ghai have worked diligently to make this happen. Good job to all!
• On Monday, we cut the ribbon on phase I of Walnut Park. (PDF of Park Plan Map)
• The noise on the Putah Creek Bridge project begins next week. This will be toward the installation of the center pier for the temporary bridge. The project team has kicked around how to mitigate the noise from a pile driver. The consensus on how to reduce the noise is to tell the contractor to get the job done quickly.
• The first phase of the Car Bridge will be the installation of the temporary bridge. Here is a video of a similar bridge going in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eGZGWL3zwA
• A couple hot issues I am involved with include the selection of the new ambulance provider for Yolo County and the selection of a consultant to help with expanding the wireless broadband capabilities for the County area.
• No reportable news on either the Downtown Hotel or the PG&E Projects. We are working on both (mostly just talking with key players and providing City information) but nothing really to discuss as far as more details. Stay tuned!

Finally, Winters lost one of our real characters with the passing of Shirley Marks last week. Shirley worked at the Winters Post Office for many years and stayed active in the community for many years. My experience with Shirley was either a periodic visit or a phone call with a critique or opinion on how things were going on whatever topic got Shirley excited. She certainly had her opinions on issues and was not afraid to tell them to you in a very direct manner. Her calls to me always started “John, this is Shirley Marks, now you listen to me about….”! The thing I really enjoyed about Shirley is that you could be as honest and forthright to her as she was direct and honest to you!

A very small town occurrence on her passing which is one of those things that only happens in Winters happened. Before her passing, Shirley had put some brownies in the oven to take to the post office staff. When our Fire Department responded to her home, accompanied by our Police Chaplain- Robert Duvall, they turned off the oven with the baking brownies. The friend who had found Shirley informed Chaplain Duvall that she had been baking them for the Post Office staff. The Chaplain called her family to notify them of her passing and mentioned the brownies for the staff. He asked if it was ok for him to deliver the brownies to the Post Office and inform them of Shirley’s death and they said fine. The brownies were delivered as Shirley’s final act of generosity and kindness.

Winters will certainly miss Shirley and has lost a real character from our cast!

Have a nice weekend!

John
 

City Manager Update

09/27/13

All,

A couple items this week……………

• Don’t miss the Festival de la Communidad this Saturday starting at 5:00. This is an awesome event featuring a Carnitas Contest, music, dancing, information booths and activities for both adults and children. There will be a bike rodeo for kids and a bike/skateboard demonstration team. The event is sponsored by the City’s Hispanic Advisory Committee.
• The City Council Agenda this week includes street closures for the Harvest Festival and the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, a sound permit for the children’s festival, memorandums of understanding with some of the City’s bargaining units, a presentation from the Chamber and introduction of their new Executive Director, the City’s Housing Element and lot line adjustments for the Grant Ave Commercial Project.
• The fire at Hay Kingdom is a real tragedy. The company lost almost 40 acres of hay, 4 very large buildings and some very important equipment used in their processing. They are an important part of the agricultural economy for Yolo, shipping hay literally across the world and producing “waddles” which are used on construction sites to prevent erosion and harm to water sources.
• The response from Winters Fire and our supporting jurisdictions was impressive. The incident Commander was Winters own Division Chief Ron Karlen under the support of Chief Aaron McAlister. Our field personnel were led by Captain Art Mendoza. We had support from numerous outside agencies including Yocha de He, Dixon, West Plainfield, Suisun, Vacaville, Sacramento, Davis, Madison, Esparto, Colusa and Zamora. The response and teamwork from these departments was absolutely exceptional.
• Yesterday, the City Council and I had an opportunity to tour the under construction St. Anthony Parish Church. One word to describe it is WOW! This is going to be a facility the entire community will be proud of. They will be having a variety of “capital campaign” events coming soon, so look for them and consider participating.

Thanks and have a nice weekend.

John

 

 

City Manager Update

09/20/13

All,

Just a few items:

• Walnut Park is complete, on schedule and on-time. Located on Dutton Street, the first phase has reached completion and it looks great! The park has recently been hydro-seeded and everything is pretty young, but the sense of a beautiful neighborhood park is there! The detention pond is available for off-leash dog walking. Check it out!
• The project team on Walnut Park was led by Project Manager Dan Maguire, Eric Lucero, Mary Jo Rodolfa and Dave Rodriguez along with the Melton Design Group and Ponticello Engineering. Congratulations to all
• Yo Quiero Taco Bell!!! The grading permit for the Taco Bell Project was issued this morning. Look for dirt to begin moving next week.
• Get ready for the “clang, clang, clang” of a pile driver for the Putah Creek Car Bridge. This is supposed to begin on Monday, September 23 and last about a week. Loud, obnoxious and annoying!
• We received a further update of our Sales Tax Report. In my review, things are up, even with the stabilization of gas prices. This is a good sign that the Winters Economy has stabilized and is strengthening. Some key businesses reported good earnings and increases.
• This week, I attended the League of California Cities Annual Conference which was held at the Sacramento Convention Center. Overall , a pretty good conference with lots of information!
• No updates on the Downtown Hotel, PG&E, Bellevue North Annexation or other projects.

Have a nice weekend.

John

 

City Manager Update

09/13/13

All,

Just a few items:

• This week, the State Department of Health Services did a water well inspection for health, testing and water quality. We received passing grades in all areas and they were impressed with our overall programs for quality assurance! Congrats to our Water Division!
• A small agenda for the City Council this week. Discussion of the City Park Rehab and a lot of routine business items.
• St Anthony Church is coming along. The framing is covered and it is really starting to take shape. Fr. Hebda and the entire parish should be proud in such an impressive structure!
• The Putah Creek Car Bridge is off and running. The clearing and grubbing of both sides of the creek is completed and the next phase will begin the installation of the pilings for the center support for the temporary bridge.
• Expect a week of “clang, clang, clang” on the bridge in the next week or so which will be loud and annoying. Sorry folks, no way around it. My direction to the construction team was to get in and get it done as safely and quickly as possible. You simply cannot muffle a pile driver. Expect some temporary closure of the pedestrian bridge when they really start hitting the piles. Sorry!
• We are working on ways to save portions of the upper railings of the bridge for uses to commemorate the bridge. Our plan is to salvage the end caps, the section with the commemorative plaque and 50’ of other sections and develop a reuse plan for the pieces. We are thinking about putting together an over look or park setting. We figure that if everyone who has ever hit one of the ends from leaving the bars in town gives $5, we should be able to fund a nice project!
• Congrats to everyone for behaving last weekend which was epic for food, beer and wine. Not a single DUI with all locations having huge crowds! The police were out, but all reports say that people behaved themselves which is awesome.
• Tonight should be fun in Downtown. The Winters Express’ Friday the 13th party will be happening and the Winters Healthcare Foundation has their open house. Food and drink at both locations. The oldest paperboy in America sets a new record daily, so take a dish and enjoy his hospitality.
• The undefeated Winters Warrior Football hosts Willows tonight with the JV game starting at 5:30 and Varsity at 7:30.

Have a nice weekend.

John

 

City Manager Update

09/06/13

All,

A really good week!!

• The groundbreaking for the Putah Creek Car Bridge went really well and they have started construction of the temporary bridge. Thanks to Solano County for taking the lead on the ceremony, they are a real class organization and have been a wonderful partner to Winters on many projects.
• The schedule is simple for the next 3 years, in 2013 we will build the temporary bridge, build the new road on the south side and demolish the old bridge; in 2014, we will begin the construction of the new bridge; and in 2015 we will finish the new bridge, remove the temporary bridge and clean the place up. Easy!!!! 
• Good news on the bridge front as it looks like we will have flexibility from some of the permitting agencies on the seasonal start and end of construction periods. This could add significant time to help expedite the construction and get this done sooner. Cross your fingers.
• First up will be building the road section on Putah Creek Road. Winters very own, Vintage Paving will do the job! They will be the subcontractor to Disney Construction. Ed Carbahal and Rob Nicholson have always done a great job on city projects and we are really glad to see them and their crew on this project.
• Get ready for lots of activity as they get things going on the bridge. Let me be the first to remind and caution that there will be delays, frustration and less than optimal circulation at times. Remember, WE ARE BUILDING A BRIDGE!!!! There are a lot worst places to get stopped in traffic.

As an aside, next Tuesday, September 10 will mark the end of my 12th year as City Manager in Winters! The first item on the first City Council Meeting with me sitting at the desk was the narrowing of the two alignment options for the proposed Putah Creek Car Bridge Renovation Project! I guess in two years I can finally check that project off my list of “pending projects” during my performance evaluation!!

• Walnut Park is taking shape! Concrete is poured, seat walls and barbeques are in place, trees planted and the fence around the detention area/dog park are in. The community garden is evident, but no fence is in place yet. Go on the Dutton Street side and check it out. Kudos to our project team, especially the Project Manager Dan Maguire, Eric Lucero, Tony Luna, Terry Vender and Sal Del Toro from public works and Dave Rodriguez our inspector and project consultant. Good job and it shows!
• JD Nielson from Vacaville is the contractor for Walnut Park and they are using a number of locals as subs, including Ample Electric. It is great to see our Winters locals building our projects. Diane Nielson and her entire group have done some very good work in the past here in town and continue to do so on this project.
• Taco Bell plans are starting to find their way out the door from engineering and the building side is processing the structure. Yo Quiero Taco Bell!
• Good News on Freeway Signage! Caltrans has finally relented on allowing for an expansion of the blue freeway directional signage for freeway serving businesses. Look for an expansion of signs to include Burger King and Taco Bell in the future.
• I spent some time reviewing our second quarter sales tax numbers. The freeway is really a cash potential for the City. Downtown showed a lot of strength and some of our home businesses perked up a bit. I cannot wait to see the third quarter (July, August, September) which should be huge.
• Fire Department activity has been up with fires, traffic accidents and medical aids and assists. Lot’s of people losing it on control burns and a lack of weed abatement. We had a significant 3 car accident on 97D which required a recall of personnel for Station coverage. The medical stuff is just a reminder that the Winters population is getting older and we are the “first responders” for a lot of folks living alone.
• Our Finance Department is prepping for our final audit of the year, submittal of all our State required reports and the final close out from the prior budget year. Next up, start on a new budget!

This weekend will be epic in Winters, so go to the bank and get ready for a great time:

• Berryessa Brewing will celebrate their one year anniversary on Saturday and Sunday (September 7 and 8) at their tasting room 1 mile west of the City on Highway 128. Great beer, music and food trucks will be the order of the day. Chris, Lori, Dan and the entire staff have created a superior destination for Winters. The quality of their beer is out of this world and the entire vibe at the tasting room makes even me feel cool! I strongly recommend car pools, bikes or the Winters Quick Cab 530-219-6664, the place is going to be packed but you do not want to miss what will be one of the big events of the year.
• Tempfest in Downtown on Saturday, Winters will overflow with Tempranillo during a three day festival celebrating Yolo County wine country’s affinity for the Spanish grape, September 7 – 9. Things kick off in Downtown from 5-10 on Saturday with food (paella!) and lots of Wine. All happening at Turkovich, Berryessa Gap and Rootstock. Check it out!
• The Kermes International Festival for St. Anthony Church will be from 2-9 at the Parish Hall. Kermes is the celebration of the patron saint for a church and this is an important fundraiser for that beautiful church which is going up. Food and fun for the entire family.
• Winters Soccer will be in full swing this weekend. Lots of games!
• Tonight is the opening night for Winters High Football. Come out and cheer to our players in our version of Friday Night Lights!

Have a wonderful weekend!

John

 

City Manager Update

08/29/13

All,

I am taking a day off to get a 4 day weekend, so here is a short update:

• Notices are going out for the next round of Water and Sewer Rates for consideration by the City Council on October 16. This is our time to send a special mailing to everyone in town. Kudos to the staff for their efforts in the folding, licking and stuffing of over 2,300 letters.
• Nothing to report on the Downtown Hotel!
• The Freeway Hotel project is in for fiscal review. For those with concerns about conflicts with the Downtown Project, we need both hotels and in talking with the developers for each, they see no conflict issues. Two hotels will be good.
• The Walnut Park is well under way! They have poured the entrance to the park and it is really starting to take shape. I have attached a picture of the workers finishing the concrete entrance as a point of reference. The park looks really good!
• The Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new Winters Putah Creek Car Bridge is next Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 3:00 behind the Community Center. Come and be a park of history!
• “Tempfest” is next Saturday. Here is a link to the Berryessa Gap Vineyards website for the specifics. http://www.berryessagap.com/
• Kudos to the schools and staff in the Winters School District for the recent open houses. Our teachers and administrators are awesome folks who really care about our kids. The open houses have been well done and informative.
• The Yolo Land Trust will host their “Day in the Country” on Sunday, September 8 at the Taber Ranch in Capay Valley. This is always an wonderful event for a really important Yolo County organization. For tickets, go to www.yololandtrust.org 
• Soccer season has opened in Winters. Regular games begin on September 7, 2013 with a huge schedule for the season. This year we again have over 400 players in the program! The hard work at this time of the year goes to our Regional Commissioner Alfredo Rodriguez, Registrar Diane Bosse, Coach Administrator Chip McKenna, Picture Coordinator Heather Hagey and Treasurer Jenyse Lichwa. A nice start to a big year!!

Have a nice Labor Day Weekend.

John

 

 

City Manager Update

08/23/13

All,

A number of items to keep everyone in the loop:

• Water and Sewer Rates were the hot topic at the City Council Meeting. The decision was to move off of the three tier proposal on water and focus on a two tier system. Notices will be going out on the new rate structure next week and public workshops on the impacts will be held in September. The new rates will be back for official consideration in October! Look for the notices in the mail around labor day.
• Ultimately, the implementation of any new rates will be in January. The sewer rates for residential will not take effect until January 2015, but will be based on a three month average of water use for December, January and February. Our advice is to really watch water use during those months to reduce your average in order to get the best sewer rates!
• The Hudson Ogando and Callahan Subdivision ordinance amendments were approved and it looks like we will see some new homes coming to town by the fall of 2014. They have a website up for the projects which you should check out and take their survey. www.NewHomesInWinters.com
• The City Council also approved funding for more street repairs which should start in the coming months. The focus will probably be on Peach Place, utility trenches and potholes.
• A grant funding application for Railroad Ave repairs and upgrades has been submitted and we should hear within the next two months. Things look really good on this application!
• The Putah Creek Car Bridge construction is beginning. Get ready for some delays and the typical headaches of dealing with road construction. The next few months will see a focus on the construction of the temporary bridge and the realignment of Putah Creek Road. Delays will occur, but in reality, there are worst areas to sit in a delay than along the creek parkway. We expect complaints, but these projects take time and create a little frustration.
• City Staff are working on sewer issues and planning for our Wastewater Treatment Facility. We are scoping the work with our consultant team for submittal of our application for our discharge permit and hopefully a chance to reuse some of our treated water for agriculture and environmental purposes. This is complex, time consuming and costly. We have a good team who should help lead us to a good plan and hopefully a permit!
• The official groundbreaking for the Car Bridge will be on Thursday, September 5 at 3:00 in the amphitheatre behind the Community Center. The last one was in 1904, so come and be a part of Winters history!
• Taco Bell plans are under review and they plan to break ground the later part of September.
• Staff is working with the folks regarding the 200 acre annexation called Bellevue North 250. The applicant is working on putting together their application and addressing some planning and environmental work to make the process ready to go upon submittal. Look for something in the coming months.
• We received our first quarter 2013 Sales Tax report for the City which was up 15.6%. Gas and service stations were up, as were restaurants, food and auto related businesses. Convenience stores and beer were down a bit.
• Speaking of beer, Berryessa Brewing is celebrating their one year anniversary on September 7 from noon to 7. They are most likely the reason why beer in the stores was down because Berryessa Brewing craft beers are absolutely awesome. Most weekends have music and different food trucks, creating a perfect place to just hang out and enjoy great beer and a fun vibe. Here is their website http://berryessabrewingco.com/home/ or check them out on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BerryessaBrewingCo
• Soccer season starts this weekend in Winters.

For those going to the Earthquake Festival, have a good time, but not too good a time!! Lots of police in town tonight!!

Have a nice weekend.

John

 

City Manager Update

08/15/13

All,

An early update because I am crazy busy this weekend and taking Friday off in preparation:

• Hot items on the City Council Agenda will be water/sewer rates, ordinances enacting the two subdivision development agreements, property sale agreements for the Dollar General and Yolo Credit Union, budget adjustments for some street work and the purchase of new mobile data terminals for police and fire vehicles.
• Taco Bell plans were submitted today! Hopefully we will be eating tacos by the holidays!
• The Caltrans road work on Grant Ave this past Monday stirred interest in town! Lots of calls and chatter about starting on Monday at 7 on the first day of school. A little inconvenience, but they sure did a nice job and it will look even better when they paint the lines!
• More road work starting Monday, August 19 thru Wednesday. The City is replacing a major sewer inlet manhole in the middle of Grant between Dutton and Walnut. One way traffic fro 7-5 each day. Leave a little early or avoid this area.
• The “Groundbreaking” for the Putah Creek Car Bridge will be on Thursday, September 5 at 3:00 behind the Community Center. A once every 100 year event!
• The August 27 Planning Commission will focus on the role of being on the Commission and an overview of some of the key master plans, design guidelines and the form based code. If you are into process and procedure, this meeting is for you.
• Today we received our assessed valuations for the City. The entire City is valued at about $420m, up about $16m from last year. That comes out to about a 3.5% total increase!
• Soccer Referee training is this Saturday, August 17 starting at 8:30 a.m. This is a great opportunity to work with the largest youth sports organization is town and get plenty of exercise each weekend!
• Kudo’s to Winters PTA, Rotary and volunteers from all over the community who helped last weekend in the clean-up and maintenance of Winters schools in advance of the first day. Lots of work to make a difference in where our kids go to school!

Thanks and have a great weekend!
John
 

 

City Manager Update

08/09/13

All,

Just a few items:

• We expect Taco Bell plans will be in the Building Department next week.
• Dollar General has been in plan check for the past month and could be ready to start building at any time! The State is slowing the project because the property was owned by the City’s redevelopment agency. The State Department of Finance has given itself the authority to delay and review economic development projects which could happen on properties formerly owned as part of redevelopment. The way things look, the State may take months to allow the project to begin.
• Both the Hudson Ogando and Callahan Estates subdivision development agreement amendments were approved on Tuesday night. The effort took almost two years and included a lot of people. This will hopefully lead to some housing starts over the next year!
• The City and Winters Joint Unified School District conducted the first of a series on emergency planning meetings which are designed to help us work closer in responding to emergency situations. The topic this week was a review of “active shooter” scenerio’s. We will be working together on the development of various procedures and resources for this type of event to help coordinate our strategies. The City and District will be planning a “table top” exercise for sometime after the first of the year.
• The Bellvue North property was on the City Council Agenda in anticipation of their request for the annexation of their property into the City limits. To sum the request up, they own 400 acres which is currently in the City’s General Plan Area. 200 acres was annexed in the 1990’s and they are now requesting to annex the remaining 200. The property has been planned for in our various plans and the request by Bellvue is to work toward the development of a specific plan for the property. The initiating resolution will be before the City Council on August 20.
• The annexation process involves both the City and the Yolo Local Agency Formation Commission. Here is an overview of the process which will be followed http://opr.ca.gov/docs/LAFCOs_GeneralPlans_City_Annexations.pdf
• The fun fact from the presentation on Bellvue is that they have planted over 50 thousand trees as part of their project! That is a lot of almond butter!
• The ground breaking for the Putah Creek Car Bridge Project will be on September 5 at 3:00.
• On Thursday, the agencies throughout the Putah Creek Corridor met to discuss issues with recreation along the creek and the various trails. A good meeting an more information to follow.
• Congrats to the Winters Relay for Life for raising almost $35,000 last weekend for cancer research. Team City Hall raised over $3,000 and we had a GREAT time!
• School starts next week in Winters!

Have a nice weekend!

John

 

 

City Manager Update

08/02/13

All

A couple items from a pretty good week:

• The PG&E Training Facility is a really hot topic around here! I cannot tell you how impressed we have been with their entire team who are working on this project. The project is in the development stage, as they evaluate properties, site configurations, engineering, water, sewer, storm issues, etc. There are a lot of questions which simply cannot be answered at this point because the project is just not at the stage where clear direction has been established. We talked with some key members of the project team and they are firmly committed to public outreach and taking questions from the public. Look for their plans to take shape sometime in September and for some community meetings to launch the project discussions around that time.
• The Putah Creek Car Bridge will start work sometime the end of August, with a public groundbreaking sometime the first week of September. The overall schedule is still in development as the contractor and the engineering team start working the logistics of literally, building a bridge, tearing down a bridge, building a bride and tearing down a bridge. Not an easy task with a cast of thousands! Vintage Paving of Winters is a key sub-contractor on the project, so good news for local employment.
• Taco Bell is working its way through the engineering process. We are hoping for the plan submittal at any time and construction to begin in the fall.
• The City Council Meeting will be busy! The agenda includes consultants for hotel fiscal and project management, the County-wide Habit Plan, a Annexation workshop, Subdivisions and a parade! Each of the items has its merits and it should be a pretty good meeting from an information standpoint.
• The August 20 City Council Meeting will see the return of Water and Sewer Rates, animal control issues, the Dry Slough Bridge on CR 89 and employee MOU’s.
• Also on the August 20 Agenda, don’t miss the Wastewater Update from Jim Keating from Severn Trent Services. For some reason, Jim insists on being first on the agenda, so the expectation is for a superior report!
• Today, I attended the mandatory pre-bid meeting for ambulance services in Yolo County. Winters has been classified as a priority response area which means we will have an 8 minute response time which is comparable to the other cities in the County. Look for a real modernization of emergency medical services in the future, and much of the credit needs to go to the team with Yolo County Health, the County Fire Chiefs and to Winters Fire Chief Aaron McAlister who has done an outstanding job of positioning our department.
• This weekend the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints on Anderson Ave will be hosting an open house to show off their new addition. The times are Friday 6-9, Saturday 9-Noon and Sunday church services beginning at 9:30. They did a great job on the church and should be congratulated on providing such a beautiful asset to our community!
• This weekend in the Relay for Life at Winters High School. Things kick off on Saturday at 9:00 with the “Survivors Lap” with many other activities happening over the following 24 hours.
• Congratulations needs to go out to our Building Official, Gene Ashdown who has been awarded a scholarship from the International Code Council to participate in the Public Comment Hearings in Atlantic City, New Jersey in October. Gene has been a real leader in advancing contractor education and advocating for building codes over the years. Good Job Gene for the scholarship and making our City look good!

Finally, a special thanks needs to go to Tracy Jensen, who has been serving as our “Team Captain” for the inaugural Winters Relay for Life. She has done a tremendous job in motivating participation of our staff and their families. From Team City Hall tee shirts to scheduling and arranging for our team area, she has gone way beyond in helping make this a special occasion for all involved. Tracy is an awesome member of the City Hall Team and someone who makes a real difference in helping keep things on track in the City. She is one of our true stars who makes a real difference in many ways!

The Relay for Life is a special time to recognize cancer survivors and bring awareness towards one of man-kinds most dreaded afflictions. At a recent staff meeting, I asked if there was anyone in the room who has not been impacted by cancer to a loved one or a friend. Not a single person raised their hand with many sharing stories of a family member impacted or the experience of “going through the battle”. I will share that one of the most traumatic times of my life was when my grandmother was diagnosed with liver cancer and was told she had less than two weeks to live. We immediately gathered and spent what cherished little time she had left and she died on the 15th day. There was no battle, but it sure gave a perspective on life, love and how powerful cancer can be!

As we celebrate the survivors and remember those we have lost, this weekend is certainly a chance to bring our community together to champion a cause which can benefit us all!

Also, don’t forget about the pancake breakfast at the track on Sunday morning from 7-10. All proceeds will go to Relay for Life!

Have a nice weekend!

John
 

 

City Manager Update

07/26/13

All,

A busy and HOT week! Here is the update:

• A productive week at the Planning Commission. First, a welcome to our newest Commissioners Kate Frazier and Dave Adams. Congratulations also go out to the reappointment of Lisa Baker and Pierre Neu. Bill Biasi was re-elected Chair and Pierre will serve as Vice Chair. A special thanks needs to go out to Joe Tramontana who finished with 17 years on the Commission and Richard Kleeberg who served for the past year!
• The Draft Housing Element was reviewed and recommended for the next phase of the submittal process. The draft is now submitted to the State who will review and make comments and modifications. It then comes back to the City Council for consideration, which should be in 4 months. If finalized, it means we will not need to deal with it for an eight (8) year period, which is awesome!!
• If you plan on attending the August 6 City Council Meeting, bring a sleeping bag and some 5 hour energy drinks, the agenda is significant!
• Amendments to the development agreements for the Hudson Ogando and Callahan Estates subdivisions were reviewed and recommended to the City Council. These will appear at the August 6 City Council Meeting.
• A reminder that a workshop on the Bellvue North Annexation will be at the August 6 City Council Meeting. They have a very impressive team and it should be the start of a very interesting and productive process.
• The Yolo Habitat Conservation Program Joint Powers Agency will be on the August 6 City Council Meeting. Under consideration will be the City’s continued membership for the next year. This is a significant project and decision for the City Council. Our representatives on the JPA are Woody and Bruce who have done a fine job in getting up to speed on some pretty complex and broad ranging issues. The time and dedication this has required is significant.
• Also on the August 6 meeting will be consulting agreements for hotel fiscal analysis, project management
• The BIG news of the week is the Putah Creek Car Bridge Project, which issued the Notice to Proceed to the Disney Construction. Look for a groundbreaking sometime in August and the start of construction. Congrats to the entire engineering team and public works for bringing this project to this stage! Once I have a schedule, I will pass it along.
• The Winters Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be holding an open house on Friday, August 2 from 6-9, Saturday the 3rd from 9-Noon and Sunday the 4th church services at 9:30 at 435 Anderson Ave. Their new addition and steeple are absolutely beautiful and worth a visit!
• The St. Anthony Church construction is well under way and looking really good. The bible references the church as a “rock” of strength and the way they are constructing this church, it certainly will be strong both spiritually and physically! Take a look, they have a good contractor, architect team and a coordinating committee all of whom have done a fine job!
• The PG&E Project is moving along. This week was a heavy focus on engineering with a meeting with the civil folks to review road, water, sewer and storm drain issues.
• Last Saturday, we “rescued” another person from the Stebbins/Cold Canyon Trail. Winters Fire personnel hiked over two miles uphill in 100 degree temperatures to the person and facilitated a helicopter evacuation. Once off the hill, the person thanked the crew for the helicopter ride, said he was fine and left with his friends. Our personnel were required to hike down the hill. The “victim” was from out of state and it is suspect on whether we will be able to collect anything for the rescue or the helicopter. A “summit” on the Stebbins/Cold Canyon Trail with all of the agencies will be held in the next few weeks to discuss options. Stay tuned!
• On Tuesday, we interviewed 6 candidates for police officer. A really good group and things look very promising. From interview to hire is generally a 3 month process, so look for an announcement sometime in the fall.
• An important job of being City Manager in Winters is helping select the varietal mix of soon to be released wine blends. I have included a picture of a collaboration between the Buckhorn and Turkovich Winery. There will be both a Red and a White, so look for the debut sometime in the fall!
• Winters celebrates International Albariño Day~August 3rd from 5-9pm. They are closing down Main Street, pairing Albariño Wine with Seafood dishes. Berryessa Gap, Turkovich Family Wines and Route 3 will release their 2012 Albariño. Special food pairings prepared by Buckhorn, Putah Creek Café, Anderson Family Catering, Ficelle and Preserve. Live music featuring Tree-O from 5-7pm and Sarah Madsen will be playing from 7-9pm. You don't want to miss all the fun!
• The Relay for Life will be August 3 and 4 at Dr Sellers Field. So far, Winters teams have raised almost $17,000 in support of cancer research. The event will involve many activities, including a pancake breakfast on Sunday morning from 7-10, with all proceeds going to the Relay for Life. To donate or enter or join a team, go to www.relayforlife.org .
• Lion’s Club Blood Drive is on Monday at the Community Center from 3-7.

Finally, I would like to express my appreciation for the awesome teamwork we have here at City Hall and within the community. We are truly blessed with people who work hard for Winters in a very dedicated and selfless manner.

• Whether it is the 128 Wine Trail, International Albarino Day, Street Meat or the Winters Visitors Center, we have an absolutely awesome business community.
• Our electeds are working overtime on many issues and topics which require a considerable amount of time which is way beyond anything they could have imagined they were getting themselves in for when they ran for office. They have tough decisions to make at times, but they put a lot of personal sacrifice and do things that most would not in service to our community!
• The inaugural Relay for Life has 24 teams signed up. Wow!!!
• The Winters City Staff is the best! We are extremely lean in the ranks, but we come together and work hard to make things happen. I feel truly blessed to come to a place with people who support and work well together. This week was a monster on many fronts and we certainly came through like champions! If anyone ever asked me who would be on my dream team, I would tell them I would pick our team every day of the week.

Have a great weekend.

John

 

 

City Manager Update

07/19/13

All,

A very busy week on a variety of topics! Things are never boring………..

• The water and sewer rate discussion at the City Council Meeting was very productive. The direction from the City Council is to bring back multiple options with 1, 2 and 3 tiers along with potential adjustments to the base element of the rate. This item will be back at the August 20 City Council Meeting.
• I sit on the advisory board for the Yolo County Emergency Medical Services Agency representing Winters and the City/County Managers. We are on the brink of releasing the request for proposal for ambulance services for the County. Winters response time requirement will be 8 minutes, the same as the other cities in the County. As a comment, the Board of Supervisors and the staff at Yolo County have really stepped up to help advance emergency medical services for our community over the past year. Unlike some city-county relations, Yolo County and its cities have a solid partnership in addressing key issues for the benefit of all. From a professional standpoint, it is really a joy!
• We held the pre-construction meeting for Walnut Park on Thursday. The notice to proceed has been issues! Expect construction to being at any time. The contractor is GD Neilson who did a good job on the construction of Well 7. The park has an aggressive construction schedule, due to be completed by September 20.
• The Putah Creek Car Bridge will begin construction sometime in mid-August. The documents are signed and the pre-construction meetings have been held.
• The Planning Commission will have a busy agenda on Tuesday. Both the Hudson Ogando and Callahan Estates development agreements will be reviewed and the draft update of our Housing Element will be discussed.
• Staff met with a group considering the purchase of the Winters Highlands Subdivision project on Wednesday. We expect to know more about their intentions by the end of August.
• A workshop on the annexation request for the Bellvue North property will be on the August 6 City Council Meeting.
• The Yolo Habitat JPA met on Monday and discussed a draft plan which would acquire and manage over 170,000 acres at a cost of over $500 million over the next 50 years. The plan is very ambitious and is under consideration by the County and all the cities. Woody Friday and Bruce Gueldan are the City representatives and our Yolo Supervisor Don Saylor is the Chair. They deserve a lot of credit for getting the plan to this point and helping manage the JPA out of a very difficult situation both financially and administratively. The draft plan an exhibits are almost 2500 pages. If you want a copy go to http://www.yoloconservationplan.org/ .
• Applicants are still being recruited for the City Park design committee. Contact Eric Lucero at 795-4727.
• August 3 is the Winters Relay for Life at Winters High School. There are many community members who will be participating to enter, join or sponsor a team, go to http://www.relayforlife.org/index .
• Kudos to the Winters Police Department for their “Bail Out for Life” fundraiser in support of the Winters Relay for Life. A lot of people were arrested and made bail in support of cancer survivors. Special recognition to Tracy Jensen, Sergio Gutierrez, Karla Fergeson, Todd Barnett, Judge Mike Sebastian and our honorary Police Officers Dago Fierros, Omar Herrera and Sam Donlevy.
• Friends of the Library Concerts have started on Thursday evenings. These concerts are part of the special aspect of living in our town.
• Winters Shakespeare Workshop presents a “Country Wester Midsummer Night” at City Park starting at 8 this Friday and Saturday. Bring a lawn chair, picnic, ice chest and a nice donation for what will be an awesome show.
• The Lions Club is hosting a casino night fundraiser Saturday, July 20 at the Palms Playhouse in support of new bathrooms for the Winters High Football Stadium. Any and all who go to the games should come support the end of porta potties on Friday night!
• Rumor has it that the Buckhorn will be debuting “street meat” this Friday and Saturday.
• Rumor #2 has it music will be performed on Saturday night at the Main Street mini park. Maybe around 8.

Have a nice weekend.

John

 

City Manager Update

07/12/13

All,

A really GREAT week with many things going on.

• We started our street repair efforts with significant repairs to both Baker Street/Railroad Ave and Orchard Lane. Both projects came out pretty nice. Next up in the coming weeks will Main Street. Railroad Ave is a huge priority and we are currently seeking a grant to expand the scope of the project. Look for this to happen in the fall.
• The Oversight Board to the City’s Successor Agency for our former redevelopment agency met on Monday and approved a couple of key documents for submittal to the State Department of Finance. These included a “Property Management Plan” which, when approved, will give discretion to the City to again assume control of properties formerly owned by the redevelopment agency and open them for development. Additionally, the oversight board approved the sale of the properties for the Dollar General Project and the Yolo Credit Union. These folks on the Oversight Board are doing a great job in what is really a mundane process of bureaucracy.
• Dollar General is in for plan check and we expect the Taco Bell project to come in within the next few weeks for plan review.
• Tuesday will bring plenty of excitement at the City Council Meeting when they consider the proposed water and sewer rate increase for the next 5 years. On Thursday, we had a public workshop which brought a lively discussion of how to distribute costs and the impacts of water conservation.
• Last weekend the Fire Department responded to a very sad situation which resulted in the fatality of an individual visiting the Canyon Creek Resort. Both bystanders and our Winters Fire personnel acted heroically in trying to save the life of the individual which unfortunately was not successful. Of special note was the management of the incident by Captain Brad Lopez and our Police Department Chaplain Jim Wilson. In what was a tragedy for the family and friends of the individual, the quick action in helping those grieving was exceptional and made a huge difference in what must have been the worst day in that family’s life. Good job to our entire team for going above and beyond in helping this family!
• Hotel Update: We have two hotel projects working now with the Downtown Project and the I505 Project. On August 6, staff will bring a recommendation on the hire of a consultant to help finalize the overall analysis of both projects, with the goal of finalizing both deals by September.
• The Planning Commission will be considering the updated development agreements for both the Hudson Ogando and Callahan Estates Subdivisions on July 23. In total, 195 single family units, with Hudson Ogando (75) going first. Look for movement regarding builders and timing sometime in September.
• Thanks to everyone who helped with the Fourth of July Celebration. The Fire Department did a fine job with the pancake breakfast, Nanci Mills (who is really responsible for the fireworks display), Scott and Josh Dozier for coordinating the shooting of the fireworks show. It always amazes me how awesome the fireworks all over town go off after the display at the high school. Frankly, I cannot believe we don’t burn the place down with all the action . Kudo’s to Winters Police for keeping a semblance of order in town up until midnight.

Finally, the big news is a proposed PG&E Training Facility which is planned to be proposed just north of the City. On Tuesday, we held a coordinating meeting with the City, Yolo County and PG&E about the logistics of a proposal they plan to submit in September/October. Here are some of the key aspects of the project:

• A State of the Art Training Campus for gas safety training. The people being trained at the facility will include PG&E employees, contractors, subcontractors and public safety personnel.
• 30-50 acre educational campus for both classroom and functional training. The property is located off Road 32 next to the City’s Wastewater Treatment Facility. The PG&E property is approximately 300+ acres and the exact location and citing dynamics if the campus are yet to be determined.
• Project construction budget is $75 million
• Approximately 65 full time jobs
• The campus will have the capacity to train between 100-300 persons on a variety of gas safety topics.

In our preliminary meetings, the PG&E project team has articulated goals of creating a world class facility which will be a benchmark for worldwide gas operations and safety to be measured against. They have been extremely impressive in their approach and their commitment to an exceptional project. They are very serious about the quality of the safety center and plan to do a considerable outreach over the next few months with many groups in the Winters and Yolo/Solano County areas. Look for many updates on this project which has the potential for creating an important asset to Winters.

Look for an article on this in this weekend’s Sacramento Bee!

Have a nice weekend!

John

 

 

City Manager Update

07/02/13

All,

This is one of those odd holiday weeks so I thought it important to get the update out early.

• July 4th will be busy in Winters!
• The Fire Department will be hosting a Pancake Breakfast until 10:00 at the Public Safety Facility. The breakfast is a fundraiser for the evenings firework display. Breakfast is $10 for adults and $5 for children. I have it on good word that this will be a breakfast to rival the Rotary Pancake Breakfast! You can decide.
• The fireworks will be shot at Dr Sellers Field at Winters High School. Gates will open at 7:00 with music and activities and the fireworks show going off once it becomes dark. Donation is $1 per person at the gate. No fireworks, alcohol, coolers, pets, etc inside the stadium.
• The Putah Creek Car Bridge was given official authorization by Caltrans. They approved the $12.3m budget and the award to Disney Construction. We will start the ramp up on the project and begin making schedules. This will become a real big deal really soon!
• The PGE Project will kick off on Wednesday with a conference call between me, the PGE Project Team and County Planning. We will formulate the agenda and the needed materials for the July 9 kickoff meeting at the Public Safety Center. I am still not privy to release a lot of details, so stay tuned in the coming weeks. This could be a really great project for Winters!
• Draft Amendments to the Development Agreements for Hudson-Ogando and Callahan went out to the developer on Monday, as did the public noticing to the newspaper. These will go to the Planning Commission on July 23 and the City Council on August 6. The developer has committed to bringing the proposed builder to City Hall to a talk. A big hurdle on these amendments was cleared last week when the affordable housing steering committee reviewed the changes in the affordable housing requirements (allowing in lieu payments and offsite development). A lot of hard work is culminating in these amendments with a hope that we see some dirt moving within the next few months.
• Walnut Park bids were opened last week and we are ready to award at tonight's City Council Meeting. Look for this project to start construction within the next few weeks.
• A serious issue Winters Fire has been dealing with over the past year is the popularity of the Cold/Stebbins Canyon hiking trails at Lake Berryessa. On Saturday, in 106 degree heat, a hiker was beset with heat stroke and our fire personnel were required to hike through the canyon to make the rescue. The hikers have been unprepared and the strain on the public safety personnel to hike or fly their way to rescue them puts other lives in danger. The Stebbins trail is a “strenuous” hike and if persons are not able to make the hike, it cause many issues.
• The City will be meeting with local agencies which own/control these areas to develop a plan for better signage and possibly a permitting system for persons wanting to use these areas.

Last week, I was in Gold Beach, Oregon with the Winters High School Football Team for a football camp attended by 14 other schools. Everyone needs to be really proud of our players for the levels of class and competitiveness they brought in representing our community. The camp features a variety of challenges including football scrimmages, skill competition, weightlifting and agility challenges. Our players over the past few years have always won or placed in the competitions, often amongst schools which are significantly larger with resources we can only dream of. Our players bring a level of class and a very positive representation of our community. The coaches do a fine job of preparing and working with the kids and there is always a very positive support network of parents who make the 500 mile journey to the camp!

Have a happy and safe Independence Day!

John


City Manager Update

06/21/13

All,

Here are a number of items:

• Saturday is the annual Quilt Show in Downtown from 9-4.
• Good news on the Car Bridge. The project team has secured funding authorization from Caltrans in the amount of $12.4m and the project is anticipated to be approved by Solano Board of Supervisors on June 25 for construction authorization. A schedule will be forthcoming after that and we are expected to get started sometime this summer. Stay tuned!
• Good news on property values and taxes! Today, we were notified by the County Assessor that property values and assessed valuation in Winters increased by 3.8%. That is good news for homeowners and City finances alike!!
• The City is currently working with PG&E on a project which will roll out in July. Generally the project under consideration would be a regional training facility for gas service and distribution safety. The project is in the planning stages, but is exciting for the consideration of Winters and PG&E’s commitment to safety and its customer base. Stay tuned for details later this summer.
• The Planning Commission reviewed and approved a comprehensive re-model to Lester Farms Bakery. The project looks GREAT and can be seen in the Planning Commission packet at this address http://www.cityofwinters.org/pdf/2013_PC/20130619%20PC%20Agenda%20Packet.pdf
• Look for movement on two western area subdivisions at the July 23 Planning Commission Meetings. The Hudson Ogando (75 units) and Callahan Estates (120 units) will have their development agreements before the Commission for recommendation to the City Council. No huge changes, just modernization of certain sections to bring them current.
• The City and WJUSD are working together on some joint Emergency Response Training this summer and into the fall. We will be working on ways to maximize the ways we will collaborate on incidents and coordinate the school and City plans and procedures.
• Get ready for some roadwork to begin. The City will be commencing projects throughout the City to repair major broken areas and utility trenches to bring our streets into better shape. A key thoroughfare needing repair is Railroad Ave, which we have located a funding source which will enable us to repair/pave the entire width of the street instead of patching. The funding will delay the project a bit, but the result will be a considerably better improvement.

Question of the Week: Why do you see police officers leave their vehicles running when they run into the store or stop at a residence?

Answer: Each of our police vehicles carries a considerable amount of electronics and computer equipment. From radios and in car cameras to MDT computers, each has somewhere in the vicinity of $20K worth of electronics in the car. This equipment requires air conditioning during the summer months to prevent damage. The electronics also draw a considerable amount of electricity from the car battery. Turning off the vehicle for short stops does not include turning off all the equipment and it kills the battery. Hence, we keep the cars running when they exit the vehicle for short durations.

Have a good week!

John

City Manager Update

06/06/13

All,

A couple items from a crazy week:

• Taco Bell was approved by the Planning Commission on a 6-0 vote. A good meeting and a wonderful presentation from the project applicant, Sunny Ghai. This was probably one of the most thorough jobs done on a design/site plan review and it has proven to be a nice project.
• The ARCO-AM-PM/Burger King will be hosting a “Grand Opening” this weekend with a ceremonial ribbon cutting this Friday at 12:00. They have some awesome discounts and it will be a fun affair, don’t miss it!
• The Downtown Hotel Project is being worked on diligently to reconfigure some options to make it work from both a financial and site planning perspective. Look for us to bring this before the City Council sometime this summer.
• Staff met with the group looking to build a hotel at the I505. They are putting their plans together and we expect something in the coming weeks.
• Lester Farms Bakery is bringing a remodel/ design review project before the Planning Commission on Wednesday, June 19. They are the first ones through on our Form Based Code and their project is really nice!
• As many may know/be aware, Mary Jo Rodolfa and I have been doing much of the Planning duties for the various projects. From our work on both the Taco Bell and Lester Farms Projects, we have found numerous issues with our sign code and update needs for the Form Based Code. Neither of these documents have been used in many years and frankly, are in need of updating. Look for something later this summer as far as modifications.
• St. Anthony’s Catholic Church is rising and in full construction. This is a metal building and the posts are going up as this is being written. This will be a very important addition to the Winters Community! The best part of the last week is that they offered a prayer for our planning and building departments which is much appreciated! We need all the prayers we can get……
• The July 23 Planning Commission will be busy, with the Hudson Ogando and Callahan Estates subdivision projects being on the agenda for modifications to their development agreements. This will hopefully lead to the start of these projects for the first “market rate” housing in almost 6 years. These are nice projects and will be assets to the town and are very much needed.
• Staff is expecting to hold a workshop on August 6 for the first annexation to the City in many years. The Bellvue North property has recently been planted with almond trees and the owner is looking to annex approximately 300 acres into the City. The property is within the existing planning area for the City and the expectation of the General Plan is that it will eventually be developed for housing and public facilities. The Bellvue North Group has proven to be very good to work with and extremely professional in their dealings. Very refreshing and easy to deal with!

Have a nice weekend.

John
 

 

City Manager Update

05/31/13

All,

A crazy busy week with a lot to update on.

• The Putah Creek Car Bridge project has been sent through Caltrans to locate additional funding for the project. The original construction budget was $8.8m and the low bid came in at $11.6m. Given an improving economy, it is not a total surprise that costs have increased. This is also a very difficult project because it involves building the bridge in five month phases over a 4 year period. The unpredictability of costs over a four year period is significant and probably played a huge part in the bids exceeding basic estimates. The bridge team is working with Caltrans and we should know in the coming weeks if we are allotted additional funding to get started. We were hoping to start the project in June, but that may be delayed for up to an entire year. We will see, stay tuned!
• Taco Bell will be on a special meeting agenda of the Planning Commission this coming Monday, June 3 at 6:30 in the City Council Chamber. Here is the link to the packet with pictures and the overall analysis for the design and site plan review. http://www.cityofwinters.org/pdf/2013_PC/20130603PCAGD.pdf
• The reason for the delay of the review for the Taco Bell was because Staff was making sure the details of the project were addressed prior to it going into the public hearing. The analysis, checklists and footnoting of the documents are probably the most comprehensive review of a project every done. Kudos to the entire staff, especially Mary Jo Rodolfa for getting this together and ready for the hearing. The project looks pretty good and they are hoping to open sometime before the end of the year!
• The City Staff and our legal representatives met with the State Department of Finance regarding a letter they sent demanding that we pay $386,000 for payments made as part of the dissolution of our redevelopment agency. The meeting was really short with the DOF staff admitting that they were wrong and summarily retracting the letter and demand for the money. Our Director of Financial Management, Shelly Gunby and Assistant City Attorney, Iris Yang did a wonderful job in defending the City. For those of us who earn our living in the bureaucratic malaise of government, there are times when really good staff work saves the City and this was definitely one of those occasions. Good job Shelly and Iris!
• Notices for the proposed Water and Sewer Rate increases went out in the mail today and will hit every mailbox in town! A community workshop on the rates will be on July 11, 2013 at 6:30 in the City Council Chamber.
• The City’s contract wastewater provider, Southwest Water has sold the City’s contract to Severn Trent Services (STS) with the contract effective on June 1. Welcome Severn Trent!
• The Community Pool will open to full public use starting June 1. Open swim is from 2-5, lap swim from 6-7:30 Mon-Sat and 9-1030 on Sun.
• The City has 3 Interns working with the City this summer: Dago Fierros in Community Development, Omar Herrera in Public Safety and Sam Donlevy in Public Works. Each will be working for the next 10 weeks on key City projects including hydrant testing and inventory, the building department database update project and a database for the police and fire departments to contact businesses. They will also be doing special projects with the wastewater division and financial management. Welcome to Dago, Omar and Sam.
• Congrats to Winters Fire Reserve Brian Madsen who represented our Department as a contestant on the Price Is Right- Firefighter Edition. He was a winner in the preliminary round getting a new high def television and a Jacuzzi, but he missed out in the Showcase! Brian looked GREAT on the show and made us proud!
• Mark your calendars for Quilt Fest 2013 which will be held on Saturday, June 22, 2013 in the Downtown. Time to break out those quilts and show them off in what has become a significant community event. Here is a link http://www.wintersoutdoorquiltshow.com/
• Adult Softball begins June 12th - All fees ($330 per team)and rosters need to be into City Hall no later than June 6th. For more information about starting a team contact Greg Creamer at gregorycreamer@att.net
• The Downtown Hotel made the paper this week. Two great quotes in reference to the editorial come from Mark Twain and Yogi Berra. Twain said after his obituary appeared in a New York newspaper “the reports of my death is greatly exaggerated”. Yogi Berra said, “it ain’t over till its over”. I can report to you that the Downtown Hotel project is not dead!

The reality is that Winters is a small town and that plays largely into the ability of businesses to justify locating here. Whether it be a full scale supermarket or any major business enterprise, the size and demographics of the community plays a significant role in the ability to justify such a venture. In the case of the hotel, the margins on the proposed project are very thin and the structuring of a deal which provides security for investors is very close. To be very frank, things are much tougher to get going in Winters based on our limited resources and size, it just is.

Staff and the folks with Presido Companies are exploring various options to reduce overall costs on the project and bring it into an attractive range for the needed investment parameters. The market study says a Downtown Hotel can be supported, but there are many intangibles, specifically the need for weekday business from private industry. This is our highest priority project from an economic development standpoint, but it is also our most difficult. Staff is working to get it done in a manner which protects all of those involved including the City, developer and investors. Its tough, but I am certain we will get it done. It just will take a little time.

Remember, there were those who said the library project was dead, the swimming pool was condemned, the restoration of Putah Creek was a pipe dream and the Downtown was 50% empty only a few years ago!

Have a nice weekend!

 

 

City Manager Update

05/24/13

All,

Just a few notes this week as I am trying to start the holiday weekend like everyone else!

• The Taco Bell Public Hearing will be moved from the meeting on May 28, 2013 to Monday, June 3, 2013. The reason for the move is to make sure the Staff Reports and exhibits for the review are complete and thorough. The project is shaping up nicely and we will be ready for the hearing. The Planning Commission will hold a very short meeting to continue the item on Tuesday.
• Designate a driver this weekend! Police and Highway Patrol will be out in force this weekend looking for drivers under the influence. A DUI Checkpoint will be on Grant Ave. tonight (May 24) from 8-2. There will be enhanced patrols all over Yolo and Solano Counties. The best advice if you plan consume beverages at the lake, dinner or parties is to designate a driver.
• If you cannot designate a driver, call the QuickCab1 (Winters Taxi) at 530-219-6664. They have flat rates for service around town and are ready to go. If you are a senior, they offer a 20% discount.
• Last week was a tough week for bids, with both the Walnut Park and Car Bridges coming in high. We are adjusting the projects and trying to get the costs down. Stay Tuned.

Finally, a few words of gratitude for all of those persons who gave the ultimate sacrifice and their related families on this Memorial Day.

We are truly blessed to live in the greatest nation on earth which provides so many liberties and freedoms not shared in most of the world. While we are not a perfect nation, Thomas Jefferson’s words defining the “unalienable rights” in the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are some of the greatest words put to paper in defining the characteristics of any nation, ever. The United States has always stood for the pursuit of freedom and rights, and we have fought many wars both domestic and foreign to keep and advance the concept of freedom and to bring peace. There is a cost to keep us free and it has ultimately come through the lives of American soldiers who have taken the cause throughout the world to defend that value and given the ultimate sacrifice so that we may continue to live in freedom. The United States is currently at war and we must pray that the cost, in lives, is measured and goes lower.

Memorial Day is special because it is meant to remember those who have given their lives so that others may live free. It is an unselfish act beyond measure! As we all gather to take a day off or share the weekend with family and friends, please take a moment remember those who have sacrificed so that we may live free and enjoy the lives and opportunities we have as Americans!

Have a nice weekend.

John
 

 

 

City Manager Update

05/17/13

All,

A mixed week at City Hall and I am really glad it is Friday:

• Thursday was bid opening day for both the Putah Creek Car Bridge and the Walnut Park. Neither went particularly well from a cost standpoint. The car bridge came in almost $2.5 million over budget and the Walnut Park almost $300k over the budget. We are looking at our options on both projects and will need to find some more financing. Stay tuned!
• The Tuesday Planning Commission was outstanding. On the Agenda were preliminary reviews of the Grant Ave Commercial Site, Taco Bell, a Senior Apartment Project and an update on the Walnut Lane Roundabout. The Commission did an outstanding job, provided some really good input and represented the City well with the prospective developers.
• The first run of the new Design Review Process and Development Review Committee was held on Wednesday for the Taco Bell Project. Things went fairly well and an extensive amount of verbal and written comments for the developer were generated. I have attached the preliminary site plan and color renderings for the project.
• Taco Bell will be on the May 28 Planning Commission Agenda for final design and site plan review. Their goal is to be open before December!
• Dogs have been a hot topic lately. A request came regarding the idea of a “dog park” for owners to take their dogs off leash in a controlled environment. Both the Walnut Park and the Taco Bell Project include locations for dogs and pet owners. Hopefully we will see both of these open in the next few months!
• The Winters Bikes Group along with the Winters Police Department held a Bike Rodeo at Shirley Rominger Intermediate School on Thursday. Over 50 kids participated in obstacle courses, safety checks and instruction. A really great day.
• Water and Sewer Rates will be on the May 21 City Council Agenda. A public notice will be going out in June. No dramatic increases in the rates, but Staff is recommending a steady cost increase over the next few years to cover inflation and utilities!

Have a nice weekend!

John

 

City Manager Update

05/10/13

All,

We are super busy on a variety of topics. Here is a quick update:

• The May 14 Planning Commission is a workshop with no decisions, but a lot of input. A preliminary look at Taco Bell, discussion on the Grant Ave Commercial Property, Walnut Roundabout and the proposed Senior Affordable Project. Here is a link to the packet with pictures of the proposed Taco Bell, site plans for Grant Ave commercial property, the design for the roundabout and the preliminary plans for the senior housing. http://www.cityofwinters.org/pdf/2013_PC/20130514.pdf
• Basic details on the Taco Bell submittal. The building is about 2500 sf and is a new modern style design which incorporates some key elements of the Grant Ave Design Guidelines, especially the signage and materials. The project includes a “Dog Park” and picnic area to encourage those travelers with pets to pull off and let fluffy stretch their legs.
• The May 21 City Council Meeting is starting to stack up with the City Wide Assessment Levy and Engineer’s Report, TDA Fund Request, Weed Abatement Public Hearing, Winters Police Annual Report, Southwest Water Annual Report, Walnut Park Bid Opening Results and the City Council designating the voting delegate for the League of California Cities Annual Meeting.
• The Putah Creek Car Bridge bid opening is now on May 16. Rumor has it all the big name bridge builders are putting together bids, so this should be a fun bid opening.
• This weekend will be the dedication ceremony for the California Peace Officers Memorial for officers who have given their lives in the line of duty. William Rice, the only Winters Police Officer to die in the line of duty will be recognized with a plaque at the memorial. Rice died in the early 1900’s. Chief Sergio Gutierrez and Gail Jimenez plan to attend the ceremony representing the City and Department.
• The City received our 2nd Quarter 2012 Sales Tax numbers and things were pretty good. The addition of the ARCO/AMPM/Burger King has met all of our expectations from a tax revenue standpoint. I really cannot share too much detail, but I can say that the addition of the ARCO has the City retaining a lot more of our local spending on fuel!
• A key goal at City Hall has been to advance economic development efforts which help create shopping opportunities which helps the City retain local spending. In a 2008 report commissioned by the City, we found that the Winters residents spend over 95% of their purchases for “comparison goods” (shoes, tv’s, furniture, clothing, etc) outside of the City limits. A recent estimation is that our residents spend the majority of their food and fuel purchases outside the City, also. Increasing the opportunity for local purchasing is important, as is attracting outside purchasing inside the City is very important. Dollar General, ARCO, BK and now Taco Bell are examples of expanding our tax base to help pay for local services.
• Dogs and animal control have been some front burner issues of late for the community, City Staff and Council. The City is working with the other cities and the County on strategies for improving service, reducing costs and alleviating some of the problems and issues associated with domestic and wild animals. Frankly, animal control is one of the most difficult issues citys deal with. The role of the animal shelter is not necessarily pleasant and “incidents” are not created by the level of services provided. Look for details on what is being done to come out during the summer. Some really good work is going into this in Yolo County so we will see. Again, this is not an easy subject!
• The rotation of the Yolo County DUI Checkpoints will be coming to Winters for later in May. A press release will go out with the day, time and location. Keep an eye out in the Winters Express and get ready to designate a driver!
• Speaking of designating a driver, this Saturday from 11-5 at Rotary Park will be the Wine and Art in the Park event. The event will include 10 wineries, the Plein Aire Art Festival and music. Admission is $20 the day of the event.
• Saturday is also the Winters Garage Sale. Many opportunities to find that special treasure or gift to give your mom for Mothers Day.
• Schedules and programs for the summer session for the Winters Community Library are in the works and will be released soon. Here is a link to the website http://www.yolocounty.org/Index.aspx?page=260
• Winters Bikes is a group committed to increasing the use of bikes by all ages of the community. On May 16 from 3-6, they will be sponsoring a Bike Rodeo for school age kids at Shirley Rominger School. Safety inspections, minor repairs, instruction and obstacle courses. Kids are encouraged to bring their bikes for a great day!
• Winters High School Teacher Matt Ariel Biers is a motivating force behind Winters Bikes and advancing the bike movement/culture in the Winters Community. Matt is an English teacher and a accomplished author with his most recent book The Bar Mitzvah and The Beast chronicles an incredible journey with his son across the country by bike. His passion and motivation are infectious!
• Winters AYSO Sign-ups are occurring for Fall 2013 At the Winters Library. Early Discount $50 per player only on May 9 and Thursday May 15 from 5:30pm to 8:00pm
$65 per player on June 18 5:00-8:00pm. Wait List July 16, 5:30-7:00pm Last chance to register if space is available on teams.
• Swim Team sign ups are on June 1 from 9-noon at the Community Pool.
• Swim Lessons are currently open for registration at City Hall.
• Adult Lap Swim is currently open from 6-7:30 pm.

Have a nice weekend! Buy some “Really Good Stuff” at the Garage Sale, drink some awesome wine, enjoy art and maybe head out to Berryessa Brewing for some incredible beer. And yes, if you plan to try too much, designate a driver (that is the only plus of having a teenage kid with a drivers license).


John
 

 

City Manager Update

05/03/13

All,

A couple notes for this week:

• On Saturday, May 4, the City along with the Yolo RCD is sponsoring a Landscaping for Water Conservation Workshop at the Public Safety Facility from 10-Noon. The cost is Free and will be a chance to meet some master gardeners and make your home gardens “water wise”.
• On Thursday afternoon, we had a suspect enter a store and grab some beer and take off in a vehicle. The Winters Police Department took the call and located the car and when they tried to do the car stop, the suspect took off with a short chase. The car crashed into a pole on Railroad Ave and the suspect attempted to flee on foot. Our officer with the assistance of Yolo Sheriff caught the suspect who was found to have an unloaded handgun in the vehicle. The suspect who was identified as a registered Norteno gang member was booked into the Yolo jail on multiple charges.
• The May 14 Planning Commission will be a workshop with some key projects up for input and discussion. Agenda items will include information on the Grant Ave Commercial Project, a 40-60 Senior Apartment Project, two potential retail projects and an application for design/site plan review for a new business at the freeway! 6:30 in the City Council Chamber.
• After a number of weeks of speculation, the new business going in next to Burger King is…………..Taco Bell!!! They will bring a preliminary look at the building on May 14 with the final review and public hearing on May 28. They want to be open no later than December.
• When we went through the debate on fast food establishments, Taco Bell was suggested as something the community really wanted and the folks took note of that. The design of the building is a new look building and will be the second look under our Grant Ave. Design Guidelines.
• Things are getting really close on two of the subdivision projects. We may see dirt moving before the first of the year, which would be a good thing for a number of reasons for single family home development. The last subdivision started was 11 years ago!
• Congratulations to everyone involved with Youth Day 2013. The Duck Derby (thanks to Kathy and Wade Cowan) was a huge hit to open things on Friday, the Rotary Pancake Breakfast was awesome, as always, the Fun Run was very well attended, the parade and park events were a ton of fun and the Nut Box Race and Buckhorn Car show were well done. Good job to all!
• The best news for Youth Day was zero DUI’s (probably a record)! Only one arrest at the park, and other than that, a real nice day for all involved.
• Time to clean out the garage and empty the storage bin, on Saturday May 11 will be the Winters Garage Sale. This is the cultural event of the year and a not miss. Spaces are still available at the park if you want to sell right on Main Street. Contact Bruce at 795-4919 if you are interested in participating. This year’s theme is “Really Good Stuff”!!
• Rise Inc of Winters is in the planning stages for a mini-Triathlon for this summer. Contact Peter Benites at 530-794-6000 if you are interested in helping organize this first time event.

Finally a big thanks to all of the volunteers in town who make Winters what it is. Everything done for Youth Day is done by volunteers who work for months prior to make the day special for residents and visitors alike. The day is a real tribute to the giving nature of Winters residents who give of themselves to make a memorable and special day. The many events take a lot of work to plan, set-up/take down and generally make fun and enjoyable. From the Youth Day Planning Committee to Rotary, the Combined PTA, Buckhorn staff and the many other organizations, a sincere thanks for another awesome last Saturday in April.

Thanks,

John
 

City Manager Update

04/26/13

All,

A busy week leading to a fun weekend:

• The Planning Commission reviewed an updated design review process for Grant Ave and the Downtown areas at their Tuesday meeting and provided some really good input. Look to see something approved by the City Council on May 7.
• The City has its first potential annexation request in many years from a property owner just to the north. The area is within the City’s planning area and I expect something within the next few weeks.
• Staff is working with the potential developer for a Senior Apartment Project in the Grant Ave Commercial Property. It will stretch the entire back of the property along E Baker street. We are trying to schedule a preliminary look at the project before the Planning Commission sometime in May.
• The City has received a planning application for another business at the freeway. The application is under review and we should make the determination of completeness and let everyone know what it is next week. Students from Winters High, get ready to cheer!
• An exciting event to plan for this summer is a Relay for Life is coming to Winters on August 3&4th. They are looking for people who want to build a team, join a team and help with the event. Relay for Life is a 24 hour community gathering that gives everyone the opportunity to help fight cancer and help save lives. Because cancer never sleeps, each team is asked to have a representative on the high school track at all times during the 24 hour event. At the event they celebrate survivors, remember loved ones lost to the disease and learn more about how to fight back against cancer. Please contact Cheryl Moore if you are interested in being a part of this event in any way cheryl@winterstreehouse.com

Ok, now for the not to be missed for Youth Day (See the Winters Express Special Edition for all the details and our history):

• Friday Night- Duck Derby- 5:30 at the Trestle Bridge. This is the inaugural of this event. Get there early and you might be able to get a Duck.
• Friday Night- Opening Ceremonies and Concert- 7:00 at the Community Center.
• Saturday Events:
• 6:30-9:30- Pancake Breakfast at the Community Center. This is the BEST pancake breakfast you will ever attend!
• 6:30-7:15- Fun Run- Time to burn some calories before the Pancake Breakfast. This helps support Winters PTA and our schools.
• 9:45 Kiddie Parade. After the Pancake Breakfast go see the cutest kids in Winters show their stuff.
• 10:00- 77th Annual Youth Day Parade- From the Pancake Breakfast, head on to Main St or First and watch you neighbors, horses, community groups, etc show their stuff. From Moms on Mopeds to whatever the Winters Friends of the Library come up with, the parade is a not to miss event.
• 12:00- 5:00 Park Events- After the Pancake Breakfast and the Parade, head on back to the park for horseshoes, food, display booths, the talent show and a beer or soda. This is your opportunity to justify eating a funnel cake without people looking at you sideways.
• 12:30-4- Main Street Car Show (Sponsored by the Buckhorn)- All those cool cars from the parade will be on display.
• 4:00- 5:30- Nut Box Races- This is the second annual nut box derby on Main Street. Put your running shoes on and find a daring partner to sprint down the street!
• 12-8 Berryessa Brewing will be serving up some great beer and less amplified sound just out of town! Not to be missed!
• 8:30- Teen Dance at the Community Center- Good music and a nice way to get the kids out of the house after a long day.

Have a nice Youth Day Weekend!

John

 

City Manager Update

04/19/13

All,

A number of things going on:

• Winters Fire Volunteers/Reserves were highlighted on KCRA 3 last night in a segment focusing on volunteer firefighters in light of the tragedy this week in Texas. As usual, out staff did a fine job in representing not only Winters but volunteers throughout the region.
• The City has been notified by the Regional Water Board that we are required to apply for an upgrade to our Waste Discharge Requirements for our Wastewater Treatment Facility. This is a rigorous process and a lot like going to the IRS for the ultimate audit. Carol Scianna will be the lead on this project which will take the better part of the next 2 years.
• A really good week for churches in town! St Anthony Catholic Church has finally broken ground on their new 400 seat church on the Main St. near Grant Ave. next to their parish hall. The church will be approximately 10,000 sf and is absolutely gorgeous. The design is a Spanish/mission style décor with trellises connecting the church and parish buildings.
• The Winters LDS Church raised its steeple last week on Anderson St and it looks really good! The steeple is part of an extensive renovation and expansion to the facility.
• The City has been formally notified that Southwest Water Company has sold our contract to Severn Trent, a British water company. They have submitted a request of the transfer, which will be considered by the City Council in May.
• Youth Day is next Saturday!
• Things kick off on Friday night with the Duck Derby race in Putah Creek. This is a really fun new elements to Youth Day and should bring a big crowd to the Creek. To buy a duck, call Kathy Cowan at 795-9090.
• The Pancake Breakfast starts at 6:30, Fun Run registration starts at 6:30 and the run at 7:15, the parade begins at 10 and the Park activities at noon. The Downtown Car Show starts around noon and the Buckhorn is sponsoring the “Nut Box Races” again.
• Youth Day is basically “Winters Homecoming”, so plan on a full day of fun and activities!

The terror in Boston and the tragedy in Texas this week are reminders as to how fragile life can be! The innocent victims remind us to always hug our kids and families a little longer because you just never know! The police and fire personnel who lost their lives while trying to save others show how dangerous those jobs can be and the commitment they make when they put those badges on their chests and go to work each day. There are many families and friends of those who died this week who need our thoughts and prayers as they gave the ultimate sacrifice trying to help others. If you go to church, light a candle or just do something nice for someone in tribute to those fallen souls.

Have a nice weekend.

John
 

City Manager Update

04/12/13

All,

I was away last week, but here are updates on some key items:

• The Putah Creek Car Bridge Project is out to bid and we should have a contractor in May. Expect construction to start in June. Due to environmental issues limiting construction to June-October, this will be a four year project. Year 1 will include the construction of the temporary bridge and a construction trestle for a crane which will be used on the construction of the new bridge the old bridge may also be demolished. Year 2 will include the construction of the head walls, installation of the piers for the new bridge and extensive roadwork. Year 3 will see the construction of the deck and the completion of the new bridge. Year 4 will be the demolition of the temporary bridge and things getting back to normal.
• The wind this week cause quite a bit of damage to trees but little property damage except for a number of blown down fences. Our Public Works Crew was busy cutting up down limbs and trees all over town.
• Lap Swim starts at the pool on May 1!
• A fun item on the City Council Agenda will be the naming of the new park next to the Orchard Village Apartments between Dutton and Walnut. The City practice is to name neighborhood parks after “trees” so some front running names Staff has thrown out are Walnut, Almond and Orchard. The meeting starts at 6:30 if you have any better suggestions.
• The Bureau of Reclamation has re-named many of the resorts at Lake Berryessa. The new names are:
• Putah Canyon Recreation Area – formerly Putah Creek Resort and Chaparral Cove
• Monticello Shores Recreation Area – formerly Rancho Monticello Resort and Manzanita Canyon
• Berryessa Point Recreation Area – formerly Lake Berryessa Marina Resort and Blue Oaks
• Spanish Flat Recreation Area – formerly Spanish Flat Resort and Foothill Pines
• Steele Canyon Recreation Area – formerly Steele Park Resort and Lupine Shores.
• For more information about what is happening at the Lake and the re-use process, go to http://www.usbr.gov/mp/ccao/berryessa/index.html . The new Lake Manager is Jeff Laird, a Winters resident! His team is working hard at getting the Lake up and running and outreach to those who use the facilities.
• Its time for some excitement at City Hall and for me to re-new my blood pressure medication, Development inquiries are starting to come in! The major subdivisions are starting to show an interest in moving and we have some interest in some freeway projects. Look for applications to come forward in May!
• The Cities of Winters and Dixon are conducting a joint recruitment for reserve firefighters. The link to the application is here http://www.cityofwinters.org/administrative/pdf/Volunteer%20Fire%20Fighter%20Job%20Annoucement%20[Winters_Dixon].pdf .
• Youth Day (April 27) is only 3 weeks away! To enter the parade, join the “Fun Run” or purchase a duck for the “Duck Derby” go to their website here http://www.wintersyouthday.com/
• Besides all the other events, Rotary puts on the best Pancake Breakfast you will ever eat on Youth Day from 6-9 at the Community Center. For all those fun runners and parade entrants, it is a great way to start the day! A not to miss part of Youth Day.
• A big shout out to our Winters Volunteer and Reserve Firefighters who participated in the Sacramento Fight for Air climb on April 6. The Walk includes climbing to the top of the Wells Fargo Center in Downtown Sacramento (34 floors) in support of the American Lung Association. Attached is a picture of our team who did a fine job in representing the Winters community in the battle against cancer!
• For all the property owners in town, get ready for a heavy weed abatement season! Notices go out next week and compliance is required by May.
• On May 11, Officer William Rice will be honored with his name engraved on the California Peace Officers Memorial. Rice was killed in the line of duty as a Winters Police Officer in 1914.

Have a nice weekend.

John
 

 

City Manager Update

03/29/13

All,

• The Putah Creek Car Bridge Project has received all applicable funding and permit authorizations and will go to bid early next week!! Kudos to the entire bridge team from the City and Solano County.
• Today is one of the most important meeting days on the Downtown Hotel. I am hoping this is a GREAT Good Friday!
• The Fire Department received the news that we have been awarded a $479,000 grant for a new Fire Truck. The engine will replace two older trucks from the fleet and significantly expand our overall fleet capabilities. Good Job for the entire group in the Fire Department.
• Last Thursday a controlled burn in Golden Bear Estates escaped in the wind and dry conditions resulting in a 2 acre fire. CalFIRE responded and assisted Winters FD. Things are drying out at an unusually early time this year. Without significant rain we anticipate an early fire season.
• Winters Fire provided mutual aid to Dixon last Thursday night. E26 covered Dixon for 4 hours during a 3 alarm fire which destroyed an airplane hanger, four trailers and several vehicles.
• A fire destroyed a large tractor AKA a “squeeze” at Hay Kingdom early this week.
• The large “gas leak” caused quite a stir in town yesterday. As it turns out PG&E conducted a planned “blow down” of a large diameter gas line. The sound produced is similar to a large jet engine. The community was never at risk. The wind conditions were such that the gas was taken away from the community. City officials and Fire Department Staff have been in contact about improved communications during these planned events so as to not alarm the community.
• Winters FD provided a mutual aid water tender to Dixon yesterday, Wednesday for a barn fire on Curry Road.

Finally a very Happy Easter, Pesach Sameach to those celebrating Passover and have a nice “Spring Break” for those in the Winters schools.

Thanks,

John


City Manager Update

03/22/13

All,

A couple items for the week.

• Winters Little League held their opening ceremonies last weekend. The fields look absolutely awesome and a lot of credit needs to go to volunteers from LL and our City maintenance staff. Little League has really stepped up over the past number of years with the reconstruction of the field, irrigation and sod. A big thanks to all involved with an organization which makes Winters a great place for kids!
• The North Bank Trail is getting a lot of use and we are adjusting a number of things. First, is the addition of more trash cans along the trail. We are also seeing the emergence of conflicting interests with dog walkers, bikes, skateboarders (it really is a great run for skaters) and others. The flowers are starting to bloom and the plants are growing. If you have not been down their, you need to check it out.
• The utilities are relocated and we are simply waiting for authorization to bid the car bridge project. A lot of people are asking for a schedule which we simply will not have until the bid is awarded. All I can tell people at this point is that it will start in June! Stay tuned.
• As an update on the sewer rehabilitation project, on Thursday, we replaced one of the last residential sewer laterals and we are waiting for authorization for some tough locations on Grant Ave. The pipe work for sewer mains begins on April 1. Kudos to the public works and engineering teams for a job well done….. so far!
• Speaking of sewer, kudos to our public works crew and the Southwest Water staff (Jim and Roger) for some work at our wastewater treatment facility north of town. They have completed a significant repair of the south spray field which has had issues for a number of years. The combined City and Southwest staff are really doing a great job on getting the systems working well.
• Time to get the swimsuit out and lose about 15 pounds, swim season starts on May 1 with lap swim. The best advice is to start walking the North Bank Trail and get a membership at Anytime Fitness.
• Next Friday (Good Friday) is a BIG meeting with a key investor in the Downtown Hotel Project. It could be a make it or break it meeting. Look for the project to be on the April 16 City Council Agenda and Meeting.
• Progress is being made on the revisions to a number of the subdivision projects. It looks like some projects are aiming at “moving dirt” by the end of the year. I am not holding my breath, but it sure would be great to get some market rate housing started.

This week, I receive a letter from a resident about the poor condition of some of the streets in town and the lack of an scheduled maintenance program. The following was my response:

Dear Citizen,

Thanks for your letter. I can appreciate and absolutely share your frustration about our ability to do regular road maintenance. It’s a difficult, if not impossible, situation! Unfortunately, I don’t have any miracle answer for how we are going to improve things any time soon.

I may sound like a typical bureaucrat, but the reality is that there simply is not enough money to do much. Our most recent survey of our streets show that we have almost $5 million in deferred maintenance. The Gas Tax we receive each year is approximately $190,000 which goes toward all aspects of streets including street/traffic lights, striping, signs, sidewalks, streets and any major/minor repairs we have for the roads.

Our strategy is to save any excess funds for a couple years, then do a project. The cost of roadwork is extremely expensive and a simple re-build of a street can cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. California voters passed Proposition 42 a couple years ago to improve road maintenance, but these funds have been “borrowed” by the Governor and State Legislature indefinitely to pay for State programs (my bet is we never see these funds). Proposition 42 would have given us about $120,000 more each year for road maintenance!

The allocation of gas tax and other road funding is done based on population, so Winters as a small community gets minimal funding to help us. Road maintenance is a complicated funding process which I would be happy to explain if you really want the details (it will make you even more unhappy).

New development does not pay for “maintenance” for existing roadways. The apartments did expand the sidewalks through the area and widened Railroad in front of the complex. The island which was installed was done to help slow traffic through that section, which we know has occurred.

The last real road “maintenance” we did was in 2010, when we did an extensive slurry program on approximately 40% of the City streets. Slurry is mostly a preventative program and we did it on streets which were moderate to good condition. In the past 5 years, we have also done a number of projects which replaced some of the worst street sections in town including Mermod, parts of Hemenway, MacArthur Street, Taylor, Jackson, Rosa and Abbey.

The good news is that we will be targeting some of the worst pothole and bad areas on Railroad for our upcoming maintenance. It will probably look like a token attempt, but we are certainly trying to address the areas we know need repair. We have also attempted to find other transportation funding without success (our size is the main factor) but we keep trying.



John

 

 

City Manager Update

03/15/13

All,

This is a really quick one as I am out of town to the Local Government Commission Meeting the next couple of days to talk about “smart growth”.

• The Dollar General project squeaked out of the Planning Commission.
• The Downtown Hotel Project will now be before the City Council on April 16 instead of April 2.
• The Sewer Rehab Project will be clicking into pipe and lining mode. Get ready for water shut offs, periods of service disruption and lots of calls to City Hall!
• Public Works is getting ready to start fixing pot holes and repairing some pretty awful cul-de-sac’s.

One of the meetings I will be in will be with Speaker John Perez. I plan to ask for our money back from the redevelopment mess. I don’t think he will budge, but I hope to feel better in the end.

Have a nice weekend.

John

 

City Manager Update

03/07/13

All,

A short update this week as I am heading out of town to the second “Happiest Place on Earth” next to beautiful Winters!

• Things are down to the wire on the Downtown Hotel. Look for something before the City Council on April 2.
• Dollar General will be before the Planning Commission on March 13. For those who have not seen or heard of them before check out their website at www.dollargeneral.com
• City Staff had an opportunity to get an inside the dam view of the Monticello Dam this week. Winters resident Jay Shepard was our guide and we had a chance to see the updates to the power turbines below and the inside of the actual dam. Very exciting and a real education on a major facility at our doorstep.
• The Lake Berryessa Re-use Forum will hold its next meeting on the Visitor Service Plan on March 27 from 1:30-3:30 at the Winters Public Safety Facility. This is a major outreach effort to help guide and inform the public on the future of the resorts and recreation at the facility. All are welcome.
• Next week, we will focus on an expanded look at economic development and housing on the horizon for Winters.
 

Have a nice weekend.


John

 

 

City Manager Update

03/01/13

All,

A couple items this week:

• The Lake Berryessa Coordinating Council met for the first time this Wednesday and I am on the board representing the Gateway Communities. The focus is on getting information out to the public on the steps the Bureau of Reclamation is taking to re-start the Visitors Service Program (VSP) for the Lake. The most recent update is that they are working to extend the current concession contracts with both Markley Cove and Pleasure Cove. They are also working to establish a plan and a schedule for addressing the other resorts around the Lake. There is a lot to do and I expect to get more information out as it becomes available.
• Staff met with some of the most effected businesses with the Putah Creek Car Bridge Project to discuss the logistics of the project. Some of the basics include the project will be bid in March and construction should start as early as June. The Solano County Engineering Team is trying to make the project a “three summer” project which would take a full year out of the construction schedule. That is wonderful news, but we still need to see how things shake out from the bidding process.
• A key thing for people to understand about the project is that there is a limited work period where construction can actually occur on this project. Because of environmental issues (birds, fish and critters) the construction period is from June to October. Between November and the end of May, no activity can occur. The best case scenario is that the first year will include the installation of the temporary bridge and the demolition of the existing bridge. The second year will include the construction of the new bridge. The third year would include completion of the bridge and the removal of the temporary bridge. If construction is delayed for any reason, the project will push into the fourth year which will be the removal of the temporary bridge.
• Some good news to report on redevelopment dissolution and working with the Department of Finance. I reported last week that Finance effectively was denying our most recent appeal. This week, we were on the phone with one of the key staff and they are helping us through two key stages which will help us wrap things up on come housing money and getting us to the end of the whole process. This is very good news and is much appreciated!
• More good news is that the Yocha de He Tribe has announced a second technology grant to Winters schools. Yocha de He is a tremendous partner for Winters and has provided very generous support on a number of community projects.

Finally, a couple events to be aware of ……………

• Woody Fridae has an exhibit TONIGHT at Main Street Cellars at 7:00. He is displaying some of his photos and helping raise money for PTA programs. Go, have a glass of wine and help support Winters schools. As an avid collector of Woody’s Photos (I am also a past “assistant” on one of his legendary photo shoots), I can assure you that few artists have captured our town as effectively as Woody!
• The Winters Spirit Night is on Saturday March 2 at St. Anthony Parish Hall. The dinner is sold out, but “chance” tickets are still available.

Have a great weekend.

John

 

City Manager Update

02/22/13

All,

Lots to update on-

• The grand opening of the North Bank Trail is this Saturday, February 23 at 1:00 behind the Community Center. Come down to see a wonderful project.
• Nothing to report, but progress on the Downtown Hotel is being made and from a negotiation standpoint, we are as close to a deal as we have ever been. The developer, Presidio Companies is good to work with! We have a couple more steps to go through with a goal of getting this done by April!
• Dollar General will now be before the Planning Commission in March versus February 26, 2013. The developer is coming out of Houston and scheduling on a couple things has become an issue.
• We have interest in some lodging and RV/campground facilities near the freeway. The preliminary look at the site and the ideas has been very positive.
• City staff met with representatives from the Department of Finance on Wednesday. They have denied the City’s ability to use $1.1 million of our own money on some key housing projects we are trying to get started. The meeting was to get some grace on using the funds, but when the meeting starts with “we intend to continue our denial of you use of your money but go ahead and tell us what you want to tell us”, it kind of leaves a sour mood on things.
• The City Council met on Wednesday to discuss “Economic Development”. We had a pretty good turn out from the business community and some wonderful conversation. Some of the key topics were the community center, Lake Berryessa, advertising along 505 and using technology to market the community.
• The affordable housing steering committee heard plans from two developers on Wednesday. The first is looking to reconfigure some of the affordable units within approved subdivisions. The second is looking to build a Senior apartment complex on Baker Street.

A couple really good events this weekend-

• This is “Beer Week” in the Sacramento region and our very own Berryessa Brewing Company is one of the featured locations. Berryessa is one of our hottest new businesses producing some of the freshest and best tasting beers anywhere in the old Tuff’s Packing Shed just west of town on Highway 128. Great beer and typically music on the weekends, this place is a must for tasting some of the best beers you will ever encounter. The brew master is Chris Miller and the tasting room is run by his wife Lori. The place has an incredible vibe to just go and relax and take in local music, beautiful views and drink a selection of beers which will make you want to take some home with you. Check out their website at http://www.berryessabrewingco.com or friend them on Facebook for updates on happenings.
• The Almond Festival in the Capay Valley is this weekend on Sunday. From Esparto to Rumsey, you can sample local food and see the Almonds coming into bloom. It should be a beautiful weekend to drive through the valley and enjoy the northern part of West Yolo County.

Have a nice weekend.

John W. Donlevy, Jr., City Manager

 

City Manager Update

02/16/13

All,

Lots going on but I have a really bad cold, so this will be a less than inspired update!

• The North Bank Trail will be officially opened/dedicated on Saturday, February 23rd at 1:00 behind the Community Center. All are invited and it should be a wonderful day. The trail is awesome and it will be a community asset for years to come.
• Staff met with Presidio Companies on the Downtown Hotel on Thursday and we are very close to a deal! We will meet in closed session with the City Council on Tuesday to discuss the negotiation points and will be ready to present a final deal to get this thing done. Look for the deal to be on the April 2 City Council Meeting.
• The Planning Commission met on Tuesday night and provided the final approvals and direction for the construction of the park between Walnut Lane and Dutton. The park will be built in two phases because of a vernal pool on the site which still requires mitigation.
• Senior Housing is a hot topic lately, with two developers actively seeking projects in town and a provider of assisted living also talking with Staff. The Affordable Housing Steering Committee will meet on Wednesday, February 20 to discuss a proposal for a 40 unit project as part of the Grant Ave Commercial Project.
• Commercial development is on the horizon. The Dollar General Project will be on the February 26 Planning Commission Agenda. Following that, expect at least four more projects in the coming months! Very exciting!
• Now is the slow season for Downtown, but enough cannot be said for the efforts of The Buckhorn to attract people into the business district. They run their radio ads on KUIC 95.3 and advertise Winters as much as their own business. For Valentines Day, it was John Pickerel and Joe the Butcher advertising the “Tomahawk Chop” which is a huge rib eye for two. Those two guys bust me up with the ads they do! More importantly, they are always giving back to our town. The generosity of John and Melanie Pickerel is considerable and Joe the Butcher is the largest fund raiser for the 4th of July Fireworks Show! Thanks for all they do!
• Speaking of businesses, we have a new screen printing business at 106 Main Street. R&V Screen Printing relocated from Vacaville. Owned by Roberto and Maria Rodriguez they do both screen printing and embroidery. (I coached soccer with and against Maria for a number of years) They are a wonderful addition to our business community!
• The City Council meets twice this week. The regular meeting will be on Tuesday. They will also meet on Wednesday for a workshop on Economic Development goals.

Finally, I have discussed the roll out of the in-car camera system for the Police Department. Last week, we realized our first real benefit! Officer of the Year 2012 Matt Martin received a call for a domestic violence incident. Matt is equipped with both the car camera and what I like to call, the individual “cop cam” which is clipped to his chest. With his cop cam running, he approached the suspect and invariably arrested the individual on the assault charge. The person was transferred to Yolo County Jail and incarcerated.

Back at the station, Matt was reviewing the tape and noticed that as he approached the person, the suspect reached into his pocket and discarded a small package on the ground. Matt drove back to the location and found the package which contained a quantity of methamphetamine. He booked it in as additional evidence and the suspect got another charge to the domestic violence.

Good going Matt and a notice to everyone that we now have instant replay in the Police Department.
 

 

City Manager Update

02/08/13

All,

• The Planning Commission has two meetings this month. On February 12, they will be reviewing a Conditional Use Permit for the new park on Walnut Lane. On February 26, the Dollar General site plan and design review will be under consideration.
• The grand opening and dedication for the North Bank Trail will be held on February 23, 2013 at 1:00 behind the Community Center. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.
• The final touches on the North Bank Project will include some grading of the grass area in the amphitheatre behind the Community Center. This will include moving dirt, relocating some irrigation and then we will SOD the project. The area may look a little undone, but we will be at the will of sod providers to get things in, so hold on and it will be complete when we can get the sod in!
• Things continue to stir on the residential housing front. The Hudson Ogando and Callahan subdivisions will present their inclusionary housing plan to the Affordable Housing Steering Committee on February 20. The reality is that we will see some changes in overall philosophy on some aspects of our approach to affordable, in particular how we consider the advancement of “very low” units. Under consideration will be the payment of in-lieu funds which can then be used by affordable housing developers to leverage other monies to make the projects happen. The City has been VERY successful in using cash (Orchard Village, Winters I and II) to make quality very low happen. We will see…
• On Monday, we met with representatives of the State Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) to discuss the Winters Ambulance Zone in Senator Lois Wolk’s Office with Lois, Supervisor Don Saylor and a number of the Senators staff. The meeting was positive and we did our best to represent the long term interests of both the City and the unicorporated areas we service in the Winters Fire District. I am expecting a letter from EMSA as early as today with their determination which all signs point to being in our favor.
• As a short explanation of the difference in medical assistance provided by our Fire Department- Basic Life Support (BLS) is typically immediate response care performed by a trained EMT. BLS responds to both life threatening (heart attack, severe trauma) but is limited in the ability to administer various types of medications to treat the patient. Advanced Life Support (ALS) is response performed by both EMT’s and Paramedics with advance medical training. As an example, the diffence in care for a heart attack would be in BLS, providing oxygen, CPR and resuscitation and ALS doing all of that plus possibly administering key medications. “Advanced” means the ability to extend the “basic” life support services in saving lives. Absent a paramedic staffed fire truck, the ambulance is how ALS is provided to patients in the field.
• The evolution of our Fire/Life Safety services in the course of one year has been amazing. In October, 2011, we began 24/7 fire response with BLS and in January, we added an ambulance bringing ALS services to our residents! Pretty awesome and a credit to some great teamwork throughout the City organization, with help from our partners at Yolo County!
• The Downtown Hotel is still moving forward. A big meeting next week to go over more information. I was always told that “patience is a virtue” so we should all be saints at the end of this process!
• The second Strategic Planning Workshop of the City Council will be on February 20 at the Public Safety Facility starting at 6:00. The focus topic will be Economic Development. I will include the agenda and a link to the staff report in next weeks update.
• The BIG happening for the past number of months has been the HUGE orchard project north of town. The property owners have done extensive preparation of the soil, installed irrigation and planted trees. A key component of the work has included the relocation and improvement of the Willow Canal which collects run off from the area. This aspect of the project will be before the Yolo County Flood Control District in the coming weeks. The City has been supportive of the property owner in the improvements of the canal which we all hope will positively impact the overall flood issues to the north area. The orchard development team has been very impressive to deal with over the past number of months and they do things in a very professional manner!
• For readers of the New York Times, look for an article on Winters very own “Oldest Paper Boy in America”, Newt Wallace. They were in town on Wednesday for a big interview and they followed him around delivering papers. Congrats to Newt!
• Evidently, the 49ers loss in the Super Bowl correlated to fewer drunk driving arrests in town than anticipated. The Police Department reported that the lack of celebration seemed to keep everyone in line and cut down on the number of DUI’s. Go Ravens in helping keep everyone sober!

Have a nice weekend!

John

 

 

City Manager Update

02/02/13

All,

A pretty busy week and movement on some key items.

• The City Council held a Strategic Planning Workshop on Tuesday. The focus was a pretty informal identification of key priorities for the City in the coming years. Some of the hot topics included, Economic Development, Housing, Senior Housing, Community Services/Development, Public Services and how we communicate with our residents. Overall, a good meeting. I will be forwarding a more detailed outline of the main topics from the meeting next week.
• The Sewer Rehabilitation Project continues with clean-out installation and video inspection of lines under consideration for replacement and/or relining. Expect most of the pipe work to begin sometime within the next two weeks.
• On Monday, Mayor Cecilia Curry, Supervisor Don Saylor, Chief Aaron McAlister and I will be meeting with representatives from the State Emergency Medical Services Authority in Senator Lois Wolks Office at the State Capital to press our case regarding ambulance services within the Winters Fire District Area. We think the issue is pretty resolvable and an easy interpretation, but there are a lot of politics involved. We will see!
• The majority of the week, I attended the League of California Cities City Manager’s Department Annual Meeting. This is the chance for all of the City Manager’s to meet and discuss many of the most pressing issues facing City’s and learn about some of the key developments affecting cities. A couple of the key issues and takeaways from the meeting:
• Pension Reform and Unfunded PERS Liabilities will be HUGE issues for decades to come! The State of California has liabilities which exceed $100 Billion and some cities obligations are projected to be in the billions of dollars. One example is the City of San Jose which has annual pension/benefit obligations of almost $225 million per year of a General Fund Budget of $900 million! In Winters, our TOTAL unfunded pension liabilities are a little over $1 million and we are working on what our medical obligations are for retirees. We do not provide medical benefits for our retirees, but because we are in the PERS Health Benefit Program, we do have a small contribution which needs to be calculated into our total liabilities. I walked away feeling better about our situation but really bad for other cities and the State. This is a serious issue which will bring controversy for the next 20-30 years!
• Redevelopment was a key topic. The takeaway here is that most cities (like us) are just moving on and the hope for any help in spurring economic development is a long way off. The reality is that “markets” will determine development and assistance from local governments will be done in a very limited manner, especially for those more challenged/older parts of a community. The biggest issue is the burden of “redevelopment dissolution” and the relentless pursuit of funds by both the Department of Finance and State Controller. In the Governor’s recent budget, he is forecasting the State receiving $1.4 billion dollars from redevelopment, which cannot be a good thing.
• The most positive news on assistance for cities is a bill authored by our State Senator Lois Wolk dealing with help for infrastructure financing. The greatest challenges for most development projects is dealing with either older/undersized/dilapidated utilities and streets. The bill being moved forward by Lois would enable cities to form “infrastructure financing districts” to help a developer in paying for improvements. This was very positive and it was great to have our representative being recognized as someone working to help cities. Lois has always been a great supporter of cities and the past few years has been difficult given the situations being dealt with regarding the State. The negative things which have come down upon cities has not been done by representatives like Lois, but by others and in some cases were self inflicted by cities on themselves. Kudos to Lois for trying to find something to help move cities in our State forward.

Finally a feel good for being from Winters!

Next year, I will reach my 30 year mark working in city government. I know a lot of people in the local government business and when given the opportunity to share about where I live/work in Winters, I like to do that (my chance to brag!). The hotel I was staying in San Francisco was across from the Westfield Mall where a Buckhorn Grill is located. During the lunch break, I took a group of 8 colleagues over to lunch to share a Buckhorn experience. I ordered a combination of “little buck” sandwiches and a couple salads with tri tip. The food was “off the charts” and the service quality was excellent! My challenge to them was to come and experience the main restaurant in our Downtown. Later that night, we all committed to a Napa/Solano/Yolo City Manager’s Dinner in Winters in the coming months.

I always love the opportunity to show people what it is about our little part of the world which sets us apart. The combination of beauty, quality of life, food, wine and the vibe which makes up Winters is a reason to brag! Good stuff.

Go Forty Niners and everyone stay safe if you are going to that big super bowl party.


John
City Manager Update

01/25/13

All,

This was one of the best weeks I have had as City Manager in Winters!

• Ambulance Service is now 24/7 in Winters. We have received written commitments from both Medic and AMR who will be stationing ambulances on a 24 hour basis. Medic will be in town on odd days and AMR on even. We are working to have both stage at the public safety facility with an offer for them to use the apparatus bay, sleep in the dormitory and train with our staff. Monday was the first day of service and yesterday was when we wrapped up a couple of key issues on response zones to have a solid response capability. Kudos to Chief McAlister for his coordination of getting the service going, our legal staff, Supervisor Don Saylor and the folks at Yolo County Health and the City Council for their support of the effort.
• This turn of events is a real milestone for the Winters community. Last year, we moved to 24/7 fire services and cut our response times substantially. Now, we add advanced life support with an ambulance! This makes our town as safe as it has ever been from an emergency medical services standpoint! A perspective is that we have now cut our ambulance response time from 20 minutes down to a fraction of that. Up until Monday, ambulance service responded from Davis and sometimes West Sacramento. Now it responds from our Public Safety Center along side our fire staff. WINTERS BECAME A MUCH SAFER PLACE THIS WEEK!
• One thing I have learned to appreciate is the work of those who kept Winters going during the tough times! The efforts of Chiefs Scott Dozier and Dave Kidder along side the volunteers did an outstanding job of protecting Winters. They built the foundation of a strong department which served as the basis for where we are today. Their efforts to keep a local ambulance operating was the linchpin to some legal maneuvers used this week to get the ambulance in town. A big shout out to Barb Karlen and the other volunteers who drove the ambulance through the years and did what they could to help this community. I take a lot of pride in my association with these folks and the entire community owes a significant amount of gratitude for their commitment to keeping Winters a safe place. Thank you to all of them!
• The City Council and the Planning Commission met in a joint workshop this week to finalize the design elements for a new neighborhood park on Walnut Ave. The main components will be a playground, picnic shelter, grass play field, basketball court and a community garden. We had a nice turnout from many neighbors and it looks like we are going to have a nice park. Look for construction to begin this summer.
• The Planning Commission also finalized the Bikeway System Master Plan. The plan includes an overall strategy for making Winters a more bike and pedestrian friendly place. Look for it on the City Council Agenda on February 19.
• This Saturday is the Citizen of the Year Dinner sponsored by the Winters Chamber of Commerce. They are recognizing our very own Dan Maguire as the Citizen of the Year. The Chamber is a mostly volunteer group with Debra DeAngelo as the President. Their Board helps plan and coordinate various events, monthly “mixers”, Xmas lights, Earthquake Festival and they manage and operate the Visitors Center of Main Street. In the past few years, they have really come to life under Debra’s leadership and are doing a great job for our community. They help manage the www.visitwinters.com website. Check it out and see the good things they are doing, you will be impressed.
• A little on Dan in recognition of his Citizen of the Year honor this weekend. He and his wife Julie came to us from Marin County (we don’t hold that against him) around 2002 and he served as the Executive Director of the Winters Chamber. After a couple years, Dan started work with the City, initially part time with our Redevelopment Agency and eventually became our Housing Manager. He brings an incredible attitude and willingness to help in any area and eventually his position evolved beyond housing, into economic development, project management and “special projects”. Dan has played a key role in the evolution of the Downtown, the Winters II and Orchard Village housing projects and is now leading the efforts on Grant Avenue, the design of the new park on Walnut Ave and the Downtown Hotel. We are blessed at City Hall with a close knit team who are helping make all that is happening occur. He is a key member of the team and we are a much better organization with him a part of it. Dan is really “all in” for Winters, having been President of the Rotary Club of Winters (twice) and now serving as President of the Board of Trustees for the Winters School District. Winters is a community where giving of oneself is important to making it a great place to be. Dan is a wonderful representative for those who make Winters the place it is! Congratulations to Dan.
• Fun news from the project team on the North Bank Trail is that they are looking at dates in early February for the GRAND OPENING of the trail. Paths are poured, plants are planted and we are walking through the project to develop the “punch list” for the completion of the construction phase. I walked the project this week and it looks awesome. Once everything begins to grow, we will have an amazing amenity for our town.

Finally, this past Thursday, the Winters Friends of the Library hosted the 8th Annual “Quiz Show” at the Community Center. The Friends do a great job on coordinating this event with Woody Fridae serving as the MC (he does a great job) and Rebecca Fridae generating the questions and categories (A stellar job!) For the 8th year, I entered a team which is made up of people I recruit from the crowd or pull out of the local bar with a promise of buying a drink after we get knocked out of the competition. I always name my team “Out by 8” !

Up until last night, I had never advanced past the first round but last night, we made it into the second (mostly because ALL teams advanced to the second round). I am really proud to say that my team of recruits (Pinky, Christine, Roger and Emma) did really well. We did not make it into the finals, but we did not end up in last place either! Look for the Quiz Show next year and enter a team or come by and watch it. Woody, Rebecca and the Friends have created a really fun event which is becoming an iconic event for the community. Totally FUN!

Have a nice weekend.

John

 

City Manager Update

01/17/13

All,

A very busy week with lots to report.

• City Update- Included with this report is one of my “extended” updates which basically tells you everything that is going on in the City. Based on the volume of work which is occurring, it took me an additional week to complete it. It is worth a read and I think you will be impressed with what we are doing with such a small staff. Enjoy!
• The City Council Meeting this week covered a lot of topics. From an update on School District finances to Climate Change, the meeting included a lot. Check out the Agenda at  Agenda . You will be impressed.
• We continue discussions on the modernization of development agreements for the Winters Highlands, Callahan and Hudson Ogando subdivisions. In the Agenda Packet, I included an update which features some of the key provisions and talking points we are dealing with. From a staff perspective, we think we are close to completing the preparation phase, but then it needs to move through the process with visits to both the Planning Commission and City Council for consideration.
• Schools- One of the presentations at the City Council Meeting was a presentation from WJUSD Superintendent Brent Cushenberry and CFO Gloria Hahn who gave a perspective on the fiscal difficulties they have been dealing with. Since 2004, enrollment has shrunk by 25% and the prospect is for more declining enrollment over the next few years. Since 2008, they have experienced a 27% reduction in funding. One of the worst parts is that the State defers payment of 54% of the Districts revenues for an entire year, requiring them to take loans in order to make payroll.
• The WJUSD has been hit very hard in recent years and the resiliency of the Board, Administration and Teachers is amazing. As a parent, I am proud to say my kids went through the Winters schools and so much credit needs to go to the teachers and staff who make Winters a great place to raise your children! They need our continued support as they face some big decisions in the coming years.
• The Sales Tax figures are in for the third quarter of 2012 and a single month of reporting for the Arco/AM PM/Burger King Projects. I cannot give numbers, but with one month of operation, the ARCO/AM PM ranked 4th on our Sales Tax list and Burger King came in at 20th. Both are destined to be top 10 generators for the City and are performing in the range we estimated they would. Both of these businesses have become good citizens of Winters and are helping the overall tax base. Thanks to both!
• The City Council has appointed Pat Riley to the Planning Commission to fill the vacancy created with the appointment of Bruce Guelden to the City Council. Pat has previously served on the Commission and is a past Chair. For a short time, he moved out of town but moved back and is interested in serving again.
• The Council was VERY impressed with the candidates who applied for the Planning Commission. We already have a very strong Commission, but there are four seats up in the summer and all are encouraged with the ability to fill slots which may become vacant.

This report was a little short, but I encourage you to look through the Winters City Update. Our City is AWESOME and the things we are working on often amazes me. I am very proud of the City Council and Staff with how we have been able to move the City forward during some of the most difficult economic and fiscal times. Definitely worth a read!

Go Forty Niners!

John

City Manager Update

01/11/13

All,

• The Grant Avenue Commercial site located between the City corporation yard and Subway is progressing. The Dollar General is working toward a Planning Commission hearing date on their site plan and design review. Staff has also reviewed a preliminary site plan which includes an O’Reilly Auto Parts Store and a Senior Apartment Complex. Things are coming together and the preliminary drawings look pretty good!
• The recent events regarding school shootings has our attention! I talked with Police Chief Sergio Gutierrez and the Police Department will be moving forward with planning and training in this area. This will involve training and working with the WJUSD on planning and procedures. This subject actually covers a wide variety of issues, so it will be a chance to include a variety of subjects.
• Progress is being made to advance some of the subdivision projects which have previously been approved. While we do not expect expansive development any time soon, it will be nice to be ready when the market turns. As a point of reference, the City has only seen 1 single family home constructed in the last 7 years!
• The North Bank Trail hit a snag when we found certain path areas needing to be adjusted to meet ADA guidelines. This required a significant adjustment to the wall behind the Community Center and modifications to some paths. The good news is that the plantings are going in and much of the fencing and post/cable fencing is being installed.
• Staff met regarding the Downtown Hotel this week. Good progress was made regarding key “deal points”. These things take time, but we see progress!
• The Winters Car Bridge will hopefully be out to bid in March and construction will begin in June. Get ready!!!
• A big recognition to Mayor Pro Tem Woody Fridae. Woody will be speaking next week at the Asilomar Conference Center in Monterey on interpretive historical programs, specifically about the Angel Island Program he does for Winters 5th Graders. The Civil War Program gives students the experience of being a Union Soldier including living in rustic barracks to marching, signaling, and midnight watch. It is a genuine highlight for Winters students and is considered a model in Northern California. Anyone with kids has seen how dedicated both Woody and Rebecca Fridae are to providing life long memories and experiences for their 5th and 6th grade students. Rebecca takes all 6th graders to Camp Loma Mar (just north of Santa Cruz) for a week of camping, nature walks and a comprehensive interpretive program. These programs make profound impacts in the lives of these students and have become important mainstays of the educational experience in Winters. It is pretty awesome that Woody will be talking about a program which has benefitted literally thousands of our kids! Good going Woody!

This weekend is the Fire and Police Recognition Dinner.

Have a nice weekend.

John
 

 

City Manager Update

01/04/13

All,

Happy New Year! For a short week, we have been very busy.

• Staff has received some of the preliminary drawings for the Dollar General Store and they are looking pretty good. The Grant Ave. Design Guidelines provide a good framework for the design of stores and the new California “Green” Building Code helps bring home some of the necessities of building in California. The staff is doing the preliminary review to get it ready to go before the Planning Commission, hopefully in February!
• Lot’s of calls from people looking to do projects in town! The calls range from Freeway development to housing, Downtown, nursing homes and room additions. 2013 looks to be an active year with building starts which means positive things for the Winters community.
• The North Bank Trail along Putah Creek is paved and now getting planted this week and next. The contractor is installing fencing and some of the path amenities in the coming week. There is still more paving and sidewalk work to be complete near the Community Center. We do not have an opening date for the trail, but it is really coming together! When we actually open the trail, I will sent an email to everyone letting them know it is open. It is a real treat.
• The Holiday Season in Winters was pretty quiet as far as the Police Department went, but the Fire Department had a number of medical calls and one fire on Baker Street.
• The Police Department continues to implement the in-car camera system. The program is an important addition to the overall law enforcement effort from an officer safety perspective as well as preserving records of officer contact. Our staff in the Police Department have done an excellent job over the past few years in upgrading the overall technology for our law enforcement capabilities. You don’t need to get pulled over to view the system, if you want to see it, flag down an officer or schedule a time to go by the Police Department to get a look.
• The City Council and Planning Commission will be reviewing the plans for the park next to the Orchard Village Apartments off of Walnut Lane on January 22, 2013. This will be a joint meeting with the final review before we move toward construction. I have a copy of the preliminary plan in my office and it looks pretty cool!
• The City Council Chamber Audio/Visual upgrades are being installed over the next few days. For those who watch from home, expect an improvement!
• Look for an extensive update of City activities with next week’s Friday Update. I will be publishing a comprehensive report which covers everything going on in the City organization. It will be a link from the website.

Have a nice weekend!

John
 

City Manager Update

12/21/12

This is a last update for 2012. Overall, a pretty good year!!

• A little excitement in town last night with a “parolee at large” being spotted entering a house on Dry Creek Lane. Our PD called for backup and we got 5 cars from Solano County with a dog and a negotiator and 2 cars from Davis with a dog. The suspect saw the dogs and gave up, but this is a good example of what to expect under the State’s “realignment” of the corrections system.

Under AB 109, the State has reduced prison populations by pushing some offenders into County Jails, causing overcrowding there and the need for Counties to parole “low level offenders” into the community who are then supervised by the probation department and local law enforcement. The result is still people who should be in jail or prison are now living in our communities with electronic monitoring bracelets. The problem is that they are not always 100% with the program as far as being good and following the rules.

We lucked out with a successful capture of this parolee, but that is not always the case with the need to extricate the suspects in a more progressive manner. This was a good job by our police staff, but expect similar incidents in the future with sometimes a different story line!

• There is more movement on the approved subdivisions starting to show life. Staff is being contacted on a variety of levels by persons working to get these housing projects moving. The prospect of housing development could be wonderful for the Winters economy with jobs and people coming to town.
• Staff met for a preliminary meeting with the Melton Design Group to review plans for the park between the Orchard Village Apartments and Walnut Lane. They brought in some awesome design concepts and we worked on getting the project closer to budget. There will be a joint workshop with the Planning Commission and City Council on January 22 at 6:00. The project will then move to construction drawings and probably construction starting in the summer 2013.
• The Police Department is getting ready to implement the in-car camera system as well as the personal camera’s for the officers. This will provide for a full sound and video documentation for all incidents and contacts. These will be an important addition in documenting contacts with persons. Here is a sample of the videos system we are installing http://watchguardvideo.com/videos
• The State Controllers Office’s came to City Hall as part of a property audit and has ordered the transfer of properties sold by our former Community Development Agency to the City as a form of debt repayment to be returned to our successor agency to the former redevelopment agency. This is part of the process the State is going through where they adopted laws retroactively to try to take additional funds away from cities to solve their overall fiscal mismanagement. We do not see this stopping any of our current projects, but is sure is a pain!
• On January 15, Gloria Hahn, the Chief Financial Officer for the Winters Joint Unified School District will present an overall update on the fiscal crisis the State has put school districts in. The presentation provides some hope that Proposition 30 will save schools for one year, but what they are doing to schools in other areas will shock and disappoint you. Gloria does a great job and you need to hear her presentation if you have a chance.
• Winters Bikes will be holding a bike fix-it workshop on Saturday, December 22 at the old fire station on Abbey Street, starting at 9:00. Come on by and help or see if you can get your bike fixed.
• A big thanks to the many persons who helped with the Staff Holiday Breakfast. Scott Dozier, as always helped with the food prep and cooking (I really could never do it without his help), Harold Anderson, Dan Maguire, Bruce Muramoto, Dave Mills, Nanci Mills, Shelly Gunby, Mary Jo Rodolfa, Tracy Jensen, all the staff at Station 26. A special thanks to Barb Karlen for the decorations (she always makes everything look very special). Most importantly, my wife Kathy for all her help in food purchases and generally for putting up with me as I spring the idea that we cook for a huge group.
• Reminder, City Hall will now be closed until January 2, 2013. For emergenices, call 911 or just call us when we get back.

Finally, a sincere wish that you all have a wonderful holiday season and that you enjoy a terrific new year. In Winters, we are blessed in many ways but mostly with the opportunity to live in a nice community with so many caring people. Winters is a very “real” place where people really do make a difference in making it a special location to live, work and do business.

From everyone at the City, I wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

See you next year!



John W. Donlevy, Jr., City Manager

 

City Manager Update

12/14/12

A couple items 11 days before Christmas!

• The Bureau of Reclamation issued a major decision last week that they have terminated the concessionaire contract with Pensus Corporation for the operation of resorts at Lake Berryessa. On Wednesday, December 12, the BOR held a town hall style meeting at our Public Safety Facility where they discussed some of their new direction. Some of the tidbits include negotiating a new interim agreement to keep Markley Cove operating, keeping the current agreement with Forever Resorts at Pleasure Cove and the intent of the BOR to operate the other 5 resorts until new concessionaire contracts can be put in place. Go to the City’s website for the complete announcement and explanation on what is occurring. www.cityofwinters.org
• Jeff Laird, the recently hired Park Manager for Lake Berryessa is a Winters resident, having purchased a home in the past few months (he is my new neighbor). Here is a link to the BOR website to keep abreast of what is happening at the lake www.usbr.gov/mp/ccao/berryessa/index.html
• This announcement provides some stability for the Winters community because it will insure the operation of Markley Cove for the foreseeable future as a prime recreation location for our residents and an important business resource for Winters merchants.
• Sutter Health Clinic has received (111 B Main St.) its final inspection this afternoon and should be opening for business soon. Our Building Official, Gene Ashdown reports “The complete process with them and their contractor West Fork Const. was very professional and went smoothly.” Good for all involved.
• We are starting to get interest in possible movement on some of the approved subdivision projects. Look for some revisions to development agreements to the Planning Commission and City Council in the coming months.
• The North Bank Trail is paved!!! I will admit that I took my bike for a ride and it is AWESOME!! The entire project team has been working to get the trail completed and open to the public. Next week will see the fencing installed and the concrete walks poured.
• The State Controller’s Office audited property transfers between the City and our former Community Development Agency and has ordered some properties be transferred back to the Successor Agency. This will not slow currently planned projects, it just makes a lot of busy work adhering to new State regulations.
• Fire went on another rescue mission at the Cold Canyon Trail. This is an excellent hiking location, but it is a VERY strenuous hike, especially for those not adequately prepared. The elderly gentleman rescued required 2 helicopters and three agencies to pull him out of the location where he fell. This is at least the 5th time this year we have gone on a rescue here and will need to work on both public education and search and rescue policies.
• The Fire Department is reporting that over the past year, call volume is way up, mostly for medical aid and lift assists. Winters is getting older and this is an indicator of things to come in the future.
• The Planning Commission and City Council will hold a joint workshop on January 22 to review the plans for the proposed park next to the Orchard Village and Almondwood Apartment complexes.
• Last week, I forgot to recognize the contributions of some of the key businesses that helped make the Christmas Tree Lighting a success. Both ARCO AMPM brought cookies and free drink coupons, Burger King brought these really good Cinnabons and Linda from Rootstock played a key role in making it a special evening.
 

On a sad note, unfolding today is a horrible tragedy in Connecticut which brings to light some of the difficult circumstances which we in city government must deal with. Not unlike the recent event in Colorado at the movie theatre, the horror which can be inflicted upon innocents by sick individuals on an unimaginable level can effect the lives of so many for a lifetime.

As parents and family members, the sudden loss of a family member, especially a child can be catastrophic. The public safety personnel involved in the situation are significantly affected and will equally need help in dealing with what unfolds. Sadly, those in our public safety ranks deal with varying degrees of tragedy on a regular basis, which makes what they do both difficult and heroic.

As we count our blessings during this holiday season, we should always keep those affected by tragedy and violence in our thoughts and prayers. It also gives credence to the importance of hugging our kids more, showing peace and goodwill to our family and friends and recognize how special and fragile love and life are to all those around us!

Thanks,

John

 

City Manager Update

12/10/12

All,

Sorry for the delay in getting this out. Friday was a little hectic (actually I had a hot Christmas shopping date with my wife and just did not get back into the office)!

• On Tuesday, December 4, the Yolo Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to exit the Sacramento Sierra Valley (SSV) Emergency Medical Services Agency and begin the process of enacting a similar agency for Yolo County. This is the agency responsible for regulating and monitoring ambulance and emergency medical issues within the County. This is big news for Winters as it will begin the process of upgrading our advanced life support services with a new ambulance contract which will improve overall response times and the obligations on the ambulance provider.
• This is an issue which we have been working for years to improve. SSV has been very unresponsive to past requests for helping us improve our services over the years and the action by the Yolo Board is essentially a new day in helping elevate the services to Winters residents.
• There are many legal issues surrounding ambulance services but the linchpin enabling the Yolo Board is based in part on the Winters Volunteers Ambulance Service which existed up until 2002. The fact that our volunteers kept this service going enabled particular findings to be made to allow Winters to break from the current SSV contract. Enough cannot be said for the past efforts of the volunteers and helping position our City almost 10 years later. A big thanks to those past volunteers and the Chiefs Dozier and Kidder for their efforts.
• The State Controllers Office is now auditing land transfers between the City and our former redevelopment agency. Being only 30 miles from Sacramento is really rotten and this is one of those cases. They seem to be on a fishing expedition and are basically gold mining in a warm up for going after the bigger cities in the future. We are confident that everything we did was legal and we will be fine!
• The Hotel Market Study has been completed and we will be back to finalizing an overall deal for the Downtown Hotel. Look for the final deal to be completed sometime in January and something before the City Council in February!
• The news from the Bureau of Reclamation that they have terminated the contract with Pensus Corporation of their operating agreement at Lake Berryessa gives us some breathing room as Markley Cove will continue their operations into the foreseeable future. Under the previous plan, the prospect was that everything would be torn out at Markley and need to be re-built, which would have resulted in excessive closer for the resort. The current operators have done a very good job over the years and have been great business people for the Winters area.
• A public meeting on Lake Berryessa will be held at the Public Safety Facility this Wednesday, December 12 at 6:00 where the regional directors for BOR will present their plans for the future.
• The North Bank Trail continues to take shape. Completion will probably not happen until sometime in March. It’s looking really good!
• Kudos and recognition to Councilman Wade Cowan and his wife Kathy for their job on decorating the Downtown Christmas Tree and coordinating the tree lighting ceremony. A stormy forecast and weekend did not detour and wonderful event with the tree lighting and Santa at the old fire station. A job well done.
• Congratulations to Bruce Guelden on his appointment to the Winters City Council. Bruce is a past City Councilmember and has been a stalwart on the Planning Commission for many years. He brings a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge to hit the ground running.
• The Winters Toys for Tots are accepting donations up until this Wednesday at the Fire Station. Contact Robbie Rubio at 795-4131 if you need to know what kind of gifts they need. The Volunteers do an awesome job for the community with this project.

Finally, for those who enjoy looking at Christmas Lights on houses, you need to drive no further than by our very own Efren and Sherry Del Toro’s house at the corner of Taylor Street and Adams Lane. The house is decorated with a variety of displays which are sure to get you in the holiday spirit.

Thanks and have a great week.

John


City Manager Update

11/30/12

This week was dedicated to catching up on work! Just a few items and updates.

• The Downtown Hotel Project is moving along with the required “market analysis” which is done by an outside firm. They are contacting local businesses and regional organizations to gauge the overall market potential to support a local hotel. They are very thorough and quite a bit goes in to the analysis. We expect to get some feedback within the next few weeks.
• Planning Commission was in action this week. They reviewed and make recommendations on Housing Ordinances for Farmworkers, Transitional Housing and Density Bonus. All important issues.
• They also heard a presentation on the update of the City’s Bikeway System Master Plan. An important part of the process is a online community survey. To help in the survey, go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/M9CQP76
• On Wednesday, Mayor Cecilia Curry and Councilman Harold Anderson along with Carol Scianna from the Staff and Rich Marovich, the Putah Creek Streamkeeper attended an award ceremony for the State River Parkways Grant Program. The Winters Putah Creek Project has been awarded $1.2 Million to complete the last phase of the creek channel realignment. This was a wonderful day (getting $1.2m) and having a chance to highlight the remaining work being done in our Putah Creek Park.
• The Yolo Habitat JPA (of which the City is a member) won a $600,000 grant from the Wildlife Conservation Service to help complete the generation of the Yolo Habitat Conservation Program document. This is a big step in the completion of a project which has been in development for almost 12 years. This effort is finally getting back on track and we are confident to see a draft of the document by sometime in June, 2013.
• The storm of the past few days has shown our overall preparedness from the Public Works Department. No major issues or problems from the storms.

Please remember the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony starting at 5:00 Saturday night. The lighting will happen at Main/Railroad Ave and Santa should be making an appearance sometime around 5:30 at the Old Fire Station on Abbey Street. The Rotary Club is supplying Hot Chocolate (really good!), cookies and Santa will probably have sugar for the kids.

Thanks,

John
 

City Manager Update

11/21/12

All,

During Thanksgiving week, we have an opportunity look back on the past year and ponder what we have to be thankful for. Our community and City organization has so many things which have occurred, it is simply amazing! So what should we give thanks for………..

• Winters enjoys tremendous leadership and community involvement from our City Council, Planning Commission and the Putah Creek and Hispanic Advisory Committee’s. The City is also blessed with wonderful organizations like the Friends of the Library, Lions. Rotary and Soroptomist. Community involvement is what makes Winters the place it is!
• For the eleventh (11th) consecutive year, the City will be receiving awards for Excellence in Financial Reporting AND Budgeting from both the National and State Finance Officers Organizations! Unlike many cities in California, our finances are sound and we continue to maintain strong reserves and fiscal controls. This has not been easy and we are simply blessed to have strong financial controls which have kept us afloat!
• It has been one year since we started 24/7 Fire Services from the new public safety facility which was dedicated in November of last year. From a life safety standpoint our community is reaping the benefits of years of planning and dedication from the best fire organization in the area. From the paid staff to the volunteers/reserves, we are seeing some of the best response times and trained personnel in the history of Winters. We especially need to give thanks to all those Chiefs and volunteers who have paved the way for what we have today. We need to give thanks for and remember Chief Vern Bruhn who passed away during the past year. Vern was quite a man and deserves a lot of credit for where Winters Fire is today.
• The Police Department has new leadership from top to bottom! In the past year, we have seen five (5) promotions from individuals who are now leading the Department to levels of service never witnessed before. Winters Police is performing better and stronger because we have developed strong training and leadership capability. The City is safer because of their work.
• In the last year, our utilities have seen Water Well #7 go online and our staff has dialed in very reliable water and wastewater systems. Few give enough credit to our Public Works Crew, but for most people, try starting your day without the water working and you will get a higher appreciation for what these people are doing! They are tops in my book. In 2013, we will perform the largest rehabilitation project in the history of our sewer system! Its one of the projects that nobody will see, but is critically important to our utility system.
• Putah Creek is about to become “THE” destination in Winters and the years of restoration work will become visible for all to see. From the North Bank Trail to the channel restoration, residents and visitors alike with get an opportunity to view a very beautiful amenity which has been hidden.
• 2011 saw the end to redevelopment and a key revitalization tool for Winters. Our only blessing has been the skill of our finance and legal teams in fighting off the assault from the State. Enough cannot be said for the amount of work and maneuvering being done to meet the ever changing demands being placed on the City.
• The Winters Car Bridge has been in the works for the past 12 years and is finally on the brink of construction. In recent weeks, the project has become threatened, but because of the teamwork of our engineering team, elected officials and many others, it appears that we are on our way!
• Yolo County really is a model for working together. As a group, the County and cities have tackled huge issues (redevelopment dissolution, EMS, Animal Control, Emergency Services, Habitat) and we are sharing resources to generate positive outcomes. Winters is lucky to be in Yolo County and enjoy a harmonious existence with people who share and respect our interests. The County has a tremendous staff and a wonderful Board of Supervisors!
• Thank God for Churches! Both the Winters LDS Expansion Project and the new St. Anthony’s Parish Church are under development and will be constructed into the new year. Both projects will be wonderful additions in the community!
• From an economic development standpoint, we are seeing so much happening. First, enough cannot be said about the wonderful businesses in the Downtown who have made Winters a destination. From the Buckhorn/Putah Creek Café and Preserve to Turkovich/Berryessa Gap and Steady Eddys, these businesses continue to make the Downtown an incredible destination. The Arco/Burger King Project is pulling people off the freeway and creating jobs for young people. The coming year will hopefully see up to two hotels moving forward, retail/mixed development on Grant Ave and more expansion at the I505.
• The Unsung of our City who provide so much service to our residents and are the backbone of what we do! From billing and payments to facebook and agenda’s at City Hall, to the Winters Express, Chamber of Commerce and Winters Theatre Company there are those amongst the City who seem to make so much happen almost magically. If not for them, so much would never get done!
• Housing development is starting to breath life again and we will hopefully see some previously approved projects move forward. The benefits to property values, City and School finances and job creation will be considerable! Last year, we saw the opening of the Orchard Village Apartments, a simply incredible project!

Finally, we simply need to be thankful for being in a wonderful community like Winters. The small town values and commitment to getting things done has enabled us to achieve more than anyone else in the region. Winters is really just one big (sometimes dysfunctional) family who come together at the right times to make this a great place to live and work.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

John
 

 

City Manager Update

11/16/12

All,

Short weeks can be the busiest and this was no exception!

• The Putah Creek Car Bridge hit a bump in the road last week with some issues regarding funding for the $8.5 million project. Staff and electeds from Yolo, Solano and area transportation organization have been busy addressing numerous issues. Significant progress has been made and it looks like things will get back on track for a June, 2013 start of construction. Many thanks to all involved, especially Mayor Cecilia Curry, Supervisor Don Saylor, Senator Lois Wolk and her staff, Supervisors John Vasquez and Jim Spearing from Solano County. The engineering team led by Alan Mitchell from the City, Matt Tuggle from Solano County and folks from SACOG have been wonderful. Good Job all.
• Congratulations to Chief Sergio Guttierez on his one year anniversary at the helm of the Police Department. During his short tenure the Department has seen a number of organizational changes, the new facility has come online and many upgrades in our overall public safety services. Good job, Chief!
• Congratulations also going out to Chief Aaron McAlister celebrating his one year anniversary at the helm of Winters Fire. During the past year, we have added almost 30 volunteers/reserves and gone to 24/7 service. The overall development of the Department has been tremendous. Congratulations also to Division Chief’s Ron Karlen and Greg Lewis on joining the Winters Fire Team! The guys have become real assets to our organization.
• Ramiro Becerra from the Public Works Water Division passed and received his Water Distribution Certification within the past week. He is a great example of a staff member working hard to not only improve himself but also our organization. Good going Ramiro!
• The City’s Housing Element has a couple deadlines requiring updates to various ordinances in order for the City to be granted an exemption on certain State requirements for updates. Kudos to Dan Maguire and Mary Jo Rodolfa for getting the ordinance drafted on a very short schedule. Look for joint meetings of the Planning Commission and Affordable Housing Steering Committee then Public Hearings on December 4.
• Winters Police Department has been active in a number of investigations over the past few weeks. Of late, Corporal Albert Ramos has been involved in a very detailed investigation and arrest. Albert has been a key investigator on important cases in the past years helping solve crimes and keep our community safe.
• Winters Fire has been offering “drive up” service lately with the sick and injured showing up at the station instead of simply calling 911. Record response times, but a little spooky seeing 700 Main Street show up on the emergency paging system!
• Wastewater Services will again be on the City Council Agenda this coming November 19. Staff, legal and Southwest Water reached agreement on a 2 year Contract which will get the City’s sewer systems in good shape, provide expanded training opportunities for City personnel and address a number of important capital issues. Thanks to the entire Public Works Staff, the Southwest Water folks and the attorneys from the City and SWWC.
• Get ready for a lot of politicking as Yolo County begins the formation of a Yolo County Local Emergency Medical Services Agency (LEMSA) to regulate ambulance services. Last week, the Yolo Emergency Medical Coordinating Council voted to recommend to the County Board of Supervisors that a LEMSA be formed and that we leave the 10 County Sacramento Sierra Valley LEMSA. The recommendation is based on local control for ambulance services. Winters will be the first to go out to bid for a provider, followed by the rest of the County.
• The base rock went down on the North Bank Trail Project this week. I took my bike down for a test ride and it was awesome!! The project is at about 50% with much still to be done. If you want a tour, contact me or Carol Scianna and we will get you down to see it under construction.
• The Winters Bikes group is looking for donations of those unused bikes sitting in your garage. The goal is to get 100 bikes for Winters High School Students to use in commuting between the High School and the AG site in lieu of them riding a bus. Contact Carol.Scianna@cityofwinters.org to donate your bikes.
• Staff met with Cross Development regarding the Grant Avenue Commercial site. We are discussing the idea of a “mixed use” development with a mix of commercial, medical, senior housing and the Yolo Credit Union. Things are really preliminary on this, so we will see!
• A big recognition to Mayor Pro-tem Woody Fridae for his representation of the City on the Yolo Habitat Board. We may be a small town, but we bring a lot of input to some of the County’s most pressing issues. At the November 15 meeting, Woody provided some very insightful recommendations on the future of the habitat efforts for Yolo. Good going Woody!
• The City Team is full of exceptional individuals and a couple of weeks ago, we found out that Dan Maguire is the 2012 Citizen of the Year! Dan joins others from our team who have also been Citizens of the Year, including Harold Anderson, Carol Scianna, Mary Jo Rodlofa, Linn Myer and past Councilmember Tom Stone.
• Rise Inc and the Yolo Food Bank are accepting donations for holiday meals. Both are wonderful organizations to the Winters Community and worth your consideration.

Finally, a word about customer service and how the little things in life that can make a difference. Last summer, the Police and Fire Departments recorded the save of a little girls stuffed bear that had fallen into a storm drain. To some this may seem insignificant, but to that little girl and her family, it was very important and probably made an impression on that girl which will last a lifetime! The letter from the Nevada City family was beyond priceless.

On Wednesday, just outside City Hall a couple of moms and their kids were walking down the street and the kids were just in awe of the fire truck parked along Abbey. Members of our Winters Fire Crew had those kids up in the truck in no time, giving them a close up tour and literally making those kids week. The moms came into City Hall and it was like the kids had been fed a thousand jelly beans as they bounced around in excitement for what they had just experienced. Winters Fire not only saves lives but also “makes” lives. Nice going Winters Fire! We need to remember, it’s the little things!

This weekend is time to shop for Thanksgiving. My wine recommendations are Berryessa Gap Horseshoe Chardonnay and Turkovich Viognier. Both really good with the turkey!

Have a good weekend.

John

 

 

City Manager Update

11/09/12

All,

Lot’s going on in our little town, so here goes…

First, I have expanded my distribution list, so if you are getting this for the first time, it is my weekly update on things going on in town. If you want off the list, just let me know.

• A mixed congratulations to our very own Mike Martin for his election to the Solano College Board of Trustees. This means he will need to resign from the City Council. Mike has done a fine job on the Council, including a term as Mayor. Their gain is our loss. His last meeting will be on December 4.
• The decision on how to fill the position will be on the November 19 agenda. The choices before the City Council include an election, appointment, applications and/or interviews.
• The Downtown Hotel is moving forward and we are in the “market study” phase which is the last part of the exercise. Within the next few weeks, we will finalize the development agreement, the developer will complete the market study and we will hopefully bring a project before the City Council. So far, it has been a very positive process and the developer has been excellent to work with. The process seems to be slow, but these things take time, especially for the quality of project we hope to see in our Downtown. Stay tuned.
• The Yolo County Habitat JPA is a hot topic because of their dire financial situation. The City Council voted to participate in a bailout of the JPA which will allow them to get the habitat conservation plan to a “draft” stage.
• The North Bank Improvement Project is moving along and it is starting to take shape. This week they completed a number of retaining walls. The path and earthwork is mostly completed but there is still quite a bit of detail work left to do. Expect that the contractor will use the entire work period (until February) to complete the project. A long and slow project, but it will be worth the wait. If you want to get a tour of the project, contact me or Carol and we can get you an orange vest and take you down. It is a real treat!
• This week, the Putah Creek Car Bridge Project hit a bump in the road when we were notified by Caltrans that they were bumping our project off until the Fiscal Year 2015-16. This is horrible news and we plan to contest this decision. The utilities are moved, all of the environmental studies will expire and we will have literally thrown in excess of one million dollars into the trash and need to basically start a large portion of the project over. Stay tuned.
• The Grant Ave Commercial Project is moving along and we have the folks from Dollar General coming in to discuss planning and processing sometime next week. A new twist is the interest we have from other developers looking to add senior residential on the site. This could turn out to be a very dynamic project with a final product of mixed uses. We will keep everyone informed.
• On Wednesday, Staff and our legal met with representatives from the State Department of Finance. The issue was our appeal of their denial of the repayment of a $680,000 loan the City made to the redevelopment agency in 2009 to make a mandated payment to the State in order for our redevelopment agency alive. We presented our case, showing that the legislation provided that a loan was allowed. They took it under advisement and we expect to have a decision from DOF sometime in December. I will let everyone know what happens.
• A lot of questions on the results of the elections impacts on Winters. The answer at this point is, we will see! Here is 5 cents of interpretation from where I sit…
• The passage of Prop 30 will give the Winters schools some relief ($500,000) for at least this year, but who knows about the future. Prop 30 guarantees some funding for AB 109 which will supplant local law enforcement with some funding, but it also includes some cryptic language about the State not being required to make funding for mandated programs. These types of measures also include some “projects”, so we will see what is rolled out over the course of the next number of months. We are waiting for some additional analysis and I will keep you appraised.
• Proposition 30 is not a fix for the State fiscal issues, more like a band-aid! They still have a significant structural budget problem, no reserves and they have been borrowing like crazy for the past few years just to cash flow their basic expenditures. Hopefully they will view economic growth and an increased tax base as a solution which should help cities along the way.
• The Democratic Supermajority on both sides of the Legislature and how it will affect cities is a big wait and see. The Democrats have not been particularly friendly to cities in the past few years. The Republicans are now a non-entity in the legislature, so we can expect to see some factions develop within the Democrats. Democrats have not been big on regulatory reform in recent years but we can expect some pressure on the Governor and Legislature to help in job creation and economic development. Everyone dreams of having a supermajority, but it means there is nobody else to blame if things go bad. The good news is that we have many legislators who have good intentions and level heads! Again, wait and see!

Who can believe that Thanksgiving is two weeks away!!!!!!!!!!

Have a nice weekend!

John

 

 

City Manager Update

11/02/12

All,

In our positions with the City, we get to effect the lives of many people. I like to believe that we are in the business of “where people live”. Today was a magical part of doing that.

A project we moved along a number of years ago was the Cottages at Carter Ranch, a 31 unit all affordable housing project. It required a lot of work from many folks within the City family to make it happen (it was really tough). Of the 31 units, 28 were sold to Winters residents. From the design and work quality to the appliances and carpet, we made sure this was going to be a quality project. The Planning Commission was thorough in its review and the City Council generous in our homebuyer assistance program.

At that time, I was coaching soccer and one day one of my players shows up at practice with a stack of photo’s in his hand. He proceeds to tell all of the other players that he is moving into “his new house”. He showed pictures of “his” room and talked about not having to share a room and bed with his sisters and brothers. He would have his room with his younger brother only. The pride was incredible and it literally brought a tear to the eye as he bragged that he no longer was going to live in the trailer park. He told me he had never lived in a house before. It was a feel good day!

Today, Dan Maguire received the final payment on the silent second the family was given by the City to get into the home. They are the first family in Winters from this project to pay off the loan. The boy (now 18) was in to translate for his mother as she brought the cashiers check from First Northern Bank. He is a student at Solano College and will transfer into a four year after getting his general education done. He was very handsome, articulate and well spoken young man.

Dan was wonderful and we congratulated them on being the first to pay off one of these loans. We told them they needed to be proud for their hard work in getting this paid off. It was a priceless moment.

There are many on our team who worked on that project to make it happen. As this family should be proud, so should all in our family who helped make that project happen and get those people into the project.

Have a great weekend.

John W. Donlevy, Jr., City Manager
 

 

City Manager Update

10/26/12

All,

This was a really busy week with lots of things moving forward. Also, who can believe Halloween is this coming week and Thanksgiving supplies are in the store. Unbelievable!!!

• First, a big congratulations to Dan Maguire who will be crowned “Citizen of the Year” at the Chamber’s Annual Year in Review Dinner in January. Dan is not only a top member of the City Staff, but is very active in our community with the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Winters Education Foundation and his service on the Winters Joint Unified School District where he serves as the President of the Board of Trustees. He represents all that is really great about living in Winters and this is a very deserving honor. Congrats Dan!
• Also being honored will be Wade and Kathy Cowan who will be receiving the “Theodore Winters Award”. This award recognizes people who have made extraordinary contributions to the community over the past few years. Through their efforts, the Playground at City Park received a comprehensive renovation, the Waggoner School Cafeteria was renovated and re-painted and they have been very active in a number of community organizations. Kathy is a member on the Chamber Board of Directors and has been a key member of the Youth Day Committee in recent years. Congrats to Wade and Kathy on this award.
• The Traffic Signal at Matsumoto Lane and Grant Ave is finally working. Our third traffic light will hopefully cure some of the collision problems we have seen over the years near this location and will help with some of the traffic from the new development. A special congrats to the public works and engineering staffs, including our inspector Tom Johnson, Alan Mitchell and Jim Fletter. A special recognition to the CALTRANS group for helping get this thing going. Good Work.
• Last week, I met with some of the key management for the Bureau of Reclamation to discuss the status of the renovation of Lake Berryessa, specifically, the status of Markley Cove and the potential takeover by the Pensus Group. In August, BOR found Pensus in “non-compliance” with the contract which could affect who will be operating the 6 resorts which were awarded to them in 2008. The City position on the reuse of the lake has been very specific, “Markley Cove cannot be closed”. This is based on the key economic benefits we accrue from the many visitors who come to the lake through that location. Lot’s of folks are up in the air on who will be operating Markley next year. I was told a decision would be coming down very soon. Stay tuned.
• Yolo County is currently reviewing the possible establishment of a Yolo Local Emergency Services Agency to manage ambulance services in the County. Yolo is currently a member of the Sacramento Sierra Valley Region EMS which includes 10 counties. The goal is to have a more localized management of this important service. I sit as the representative for all of the City Managers and County Manager. Winters has been saddled with 20 minute response times which is unacceptable. The committee I am on is being helped by Winters resident Ted Selby who is the coordinator for Solano County. Our Fire Chief, Aaron McAlister has been integral in helping move the evaluation of EMS services forward to benefit our community. Stay tuned
• Staff is working on moving some of our economic development projects forward. We met with our legal staff to draft the agreements for the Downtown Hotel, Dollar General and the Yolo Credit Union Projects. These projects are all in a the final stages of document review and we should start to see things hitting the Planning Commission and City Council sometime after the first of the year.
• We have also been in discussions with some of the major subdivision projects on updating provisions of their development agreements. There appears to be a growing interest to beginning starting some of these projects and they are talking specifics. We view this as a positive sign as we can certainly use the development.
• We are diligently working on the Downtown Hotel Project. I have received a number of questions about the type and quality of the hotel we are discussing. The hotel operator is Starwood Hotels and the brand is a Sheraton Four Points. Here is a web link to the type of hotels under this brand http://www.starwoodhotels.com/resorts/brands/index.html?brandCode=4P
• Also, a lot of questions on Dollar General. Even though “dollar” is in the name, it is not a “dollar” store. Here is a link to the company and their most recent ad. http://www.dollargeneral.com/home/index.jsp
• Winters made the news with a really great feature on Univision. Here is the link: http://univisionsacramento.univision.com/videos/video/2012-10-15/su-boleto-a-la-diversion/embed
• Don’t forget the Open House at the Public Safety Facility. Lots of demonstrations and tours of the Fire and Police Departments. This Saturday from 10-2.
• Rumor control….. Absentee Ballots must be turned in to polling places or at the Registrar of Voters, not City Hall!
• Over the past few weeks, I have been meeting with all the members of our staff to discuss the elements of our organization which make us successful. I cannot express how incredible the meetings have been and to hear from staff about what they feel are the most important elements of our success. Lots of opinions and ideas! Really good stuff.
• The City Council Goals Setting Workshop will be rescheduled to January. The meeting was cancelled simply based on workload and the importance that we have a focused session which is not buried by other things going on. Look for the date soon.
• Also, don’t forget, City Potluck on Halloween. Bring something really good!

A very busy weekend. Winters High Football is in Gridley tonight, the swim team is competing in a huge swim meet in Redding, lots of soccer and my 21st wedding anniversary.

Have a great weekend

John W. Donlevy, Jr., City Manager
 

City Manager Update

10/19/12

All,

Lots of fun things happening as we get ready for Fall.

• A lot of chatter about things going on at the freeway and development regarding fast food. Here is the scoop! Except for the Burger King, there are no (and have never been) proposals at this time. I would imagine that they will come in the future because we have a really good location. In the past few weeks, we have had meetings with property owners and real estate folks who have indicated that nothing is in the mill at this time. As mentioned, NO Taco Bell or IN N Out, Starbucks, etc. The most realistic prospect is either a modernization of the Chevron with a food establishment or the Arco/BK will expand with a commercial fueling business.
• I talked with the owner of the Arco/BK Project and he said they are very happy with the location. Their transaction reports show lots of travelers from I505 getting off and the freeway. A good example of people just dropping dollars into the Winter economy and leaving. Good stuff!
• The City Council approved an additional sale of property at our Grant Ave Commercial Site. This will go to Yolo Credit Union who wants to build and open a branch here in town. We do not have a timeline, but we will work with them to close the transaction and facilitate a project. Stay tuned.
• We opened bids for the 2012-13 Sewer Rehabilitation Project and it came in at $1.5 million, right on the engineers estimate. Expect work to begin in the coming months. Kudo’s to the entire public works and engineering team on developing the most comprehensive sewer line rehabilitation project in the history of Winters.
• Planning Commission Meeting on October 30 will have the new St. Anthony Church Project for approval. It looks awesome!
• The shooting in town last weekend showed really great teamwork by our Police Department, Winters Fire and Yolo Sheriff. An incident with both a victim and assailant generates an amazing effort and everyone stepped up to help. The Yolo Sheriff provided on scene staff coverage, Fire attended to the victim and Police are doing the investigation. Good work all the way around.
• The State of California, Governor and the Department of Finance have literally robbed us again. Their rejection of the re-payment of a loan between the City and our former redevelopment agency is absolutely criminal. They have literally sucked $629,000 out of our reserves, jeopardizing our fiscal situation.

In 2010, the Legislature implemented legislation which said if the redevelopment agency did not make the required payment, the redevelopment agency would cease to exist. The City loaned the redevelopment agency the funds, which was allowed under the legislation. In 2011, the Legislature and Governor adopted new legislation which eliminated redevelopment agencies and they said the loans were no longer valid. One law says “pay the ransom or we kill the redevelopment agency” so we paid the ransom. Then they adopt a law which kills redevelopment and they keep the ransom. Essentially, a bait and switch.

A good example of why nobody trusts the State, Governor and the legislature.

The loaned funds came out of our Service Reserve Fund which is an invested savings account to help fund things like police, fire, community center, parks and the community pool. It also serves as a financial safety net for the City. This is called sound “financial planning”, something the deficit and debt ridden State of California seems to know little about.

• A big congrats to all involved in the Seasonal Flu Clinic at the Community Center on Wednesday. We work with the Yolo Health Department and simulate the establishment of a mass vaccination clinic in the event of an emergency outbreak. City Staff, Fire and Police take their emergency roles and we dispense the flu vaccine. They do this in each of the Yolo cities and Winters had the highest turn out with 250, beating Davis, Woodland and West Sacramento. Our coordinator for the event was Mary Jo Rodolfa and many from the Staff took their roles at the clinic. Good job!

Finally, I get a number of questions on the Friday Update and I encourage you to send them in. This weeks question deals with automated bill paying through electronic checking, debit or credit cards. Why don’t we do this for water, sewer or building fees?

This is something we are working on, but it is not easy. Under the law, fees and billings we charge our customers are strictly governed by the government code. We can only charge the exact cost of providing the service which is provided. The issue with electronic transaction is that there are typically transaction fees from the various credit companies, banks, etc. The problem here is that we cannot increase the charge to cover the service charges and would lose money from the electronic transactions. This hurts our overall budgeting for providing the services, thus requiring a subsidy from another fund. We are researching our options on this topic and will bring something forward after January. Stay tuned.

A fun weekend coming up. Winters High versus Wheatland tonight in football, soccer, the Davis Bike Club Foxy Fall Century Bike Ride (lots of spandex and lycra in Downtown on Saturday), Taste of Capay and a cooling trend.

Have a great weekend.

John

 

City Manager Update

10/12/12 Update

A week off and much is happening in our little town………… Here is an update-

• Nothing yet to report on the Downtown Hotel Project as we have the attorneys and the finance people involved to being working the nuances of a potential deal. Things are VERY positive but we are in the midst of reviewing and developing many important documents which all take time. Stay tuned!
• Staff is currently working with the Regional Water Quality Control Board and local farming interests on the concept of re-using treated wastewater for irrigation purposes. Once it goes through our secondary treatment process and is sterilized with chlorine, it is very clean and would be a perfect use for watering trees, vines and other none food elements. This could be a major project for the City in expanding the overall use and capacity for the wastewater operations.
• The North Bank Trail Project is cut through and is in a very rough state, but the project is definitely moving. I walked it today and it looks AWESOME!! When it is opened for the public, it will become one of the biggest amenities in the community!
• The Sewer System Rehabilitation Project is out to bid. This will be the largest sewer rehabilitation in the history of Winters. The “core” area of the City will see lines either lined or replaced. Key streets affected will be Baker, Edwards, Abbey, some alleys and key locations along Main. This is a very important project and will cost almost $2 million. You won’t see the final results, but it will be there and it will benefit the community for many years to come.
• The signal controller for the new traffic signal at Grant Ave/Matsumoto Lane is in testing and we expect that the signal should be tested and powered within the next few weeks.
• Staff met with the developer for the ARCO/Burger King Project and he indicated that it is a big success. The most important aspect is that it has created 27 jobs filled by Winters residents, mostly current or recent grads from Winters High School. Go Jobs!
• Finally some rumor control. Information has been circulating that a Taco Bell is being built on Grant Ave near I505. There is NO approval nor has there ever been an application or discussion by anyone interested in building a Taco Bell. There are lots of folks who WANT a Taco Bell, but there is nothing in the plans for one.

Good things happening this weekend. WHS Football is looking to rebound their season in Oroville tonight, there is a Clean-up Day at Winters High from 8:30-Noon on Saturday and lots of soccer at Shirley Rominger School this weekend.

Have a wonderful weekend.

John
 

 

City Manager Update

09/23/12 Update

This was a big week for the start of major capital projects………..

• On Wednesday, the bids for the 2012-13 Sewer Main Rehabilitation Program were advertised for contractors. This will include almost $1.2 million in renovation to the City’s sewer collection system. The streets to be impacted will be some of our oldest streets (Baker, Edwards, Abbey and Railroad). This will mark the most comprehensive work on these lines in the 137 year history of Winters.
• Sewer mains are some of our most important utility assets and are essential to every day life. They don’t get the respect or attention deserved, but I can tell you this is one of the most important projects we will do over the next couple years.
• The North Bank Trail is back under construction with trail clearing and the removal of many eucalyptus trees in the creek bed. Some of the earlier work behind the amphitheater looks amazing and the tie-in with the trail will make an incredible amenity to compliment the Downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. Look for some pretty intensive work in the coming weeks with completion due sometime in November. Enough cannot be said about the work of the City Council, Winters Putah Creek Committee and the City Staff led by Carol Scianna.
• The final plans for the Putah Creek Car Bridge are 95% and almost ready to go to bid. Mobilization has begun on the project and utilities are beginning to be moved. You will see work near Railroad/Russell St. beginning. Construction of the car bridge will begin in June 2013 . We are now seeing the start of what will most likely be 5 years of construction.
• Nothing new on the Hotel. We are in the process of putting the contracts together and completing the financial analysis for the project. Like I have said a number of times, this is not an easy deal and it takes time.
• Home builders are beginning to show interest in Winters and Staff is discussing many issues and options. Don’t expect a flurry of activity, but it is refreshing to see interest in something happening.
• October is Emergency Services month and the City and many outside agencies will be having events and training.

This is homecoming week for Winters High School! Wednesday is Powderpuff Game and the Night Pep Rally. Thursday night is when they will toilet paper the school. Friday is the noon parade and pep rally in Downtown and the night football game is against Las Plumas at Dr. Sellers Field with the dance following.

It should be a great week for our community!

I will be away the next two Fridays, so no updates for three weeks.

John
 

City Manager Update

09/14/12 Update

All,

Lots going on...

• Nothing yet on the hotel. These things take time and it is a complicated process and deal. Stay tuned!
• Urban Futures, the City’s financial consultant is reviewing the hotel pro-forma and we are having a conference call with them next Thursday to go over it.
• I have Planner, Jim Bermudez putting together the processing packet for the hotel. Once we have a DDA, we will work to fast track the planning and thorough community review process to get this thing moving.
• The Grant Ave Commercial Site interested from many stores now that the word is out on Dollar General. We should be in a position to put together a nice commercial center which will provide some much needed retail in town.
• No Planning Commission meeting for September!
• Staff met with Jim Hildebrand from Hoffmann Development, the owner of the Ogando Hudson and Callahan Estates subdivision. We are discussing points related to the development agreement and they are beginning the process of implementing the entitlements. They are starting to work with engineers, so we view this as a positive. They/We need to modify some provisions of their Development Agreement to bring it current with such items as financing issues related to the public safety facility, library and pool. They will be paying impact fees since these facilities have been built and the costs have been allotted into the fee programs. Construction and housing could be on our horizon which would be important to our community.
• Staff is working with representatives from the WJUSD on a project we are calling “Winters Bikes”. The idea is that we help develop a program where Winters HS students ride bikes between the school campus and the ag site for classes. We are working to obtain bikes and will hopefully roll out some type of pilot program relatively soon.
• Construction fencing is going up along the entire length of Putah Creek and Ghilloti Construction is moving in to begin the construction of the North Bank Trail Project. Access will be very limited during construction and people will need to cross the creek to gain full access. An article is going out in the paper next week and flyers have been distributed in the neighborhoods. This is the main phase of what should be an incredible project.
• The Arco BK Project has a landscaper and the final improvements should be going in within the week. Kudos to our entire team on this project, including Tom Johnson and Gene Ashdown for a job well done.
• This was “Church Week” in the Building Department. The LDS Church submitted their expansion plans and the Catholic Church submitted their construction drawings for the new church on Main St next to the Parish Hall. THANK GOD!!!! We need the building fees!
• Don’t forget about the Festival de la Communidad on Saturday, September 29 at the Community Center. Carnitas, mariachi’s, craft booths, music and dancing. Fun for the entire family!

This Saturday is the busiest day for Winters AYSO Soccer. 32 games and it is picture day! Close to 2,000 people will go through from 8-6.

Have a nice weekend.

John
 

 

City Manager Update

09/07/12 Update

All,

A productive week for a short one!

• Kudo’s to our After School Staff for their quick action in regards to the missing student at SRIS on Wednesday. They did an outstanding job following procedures when the student did not show at the program and they coordinated well with the Police Department in moving toward a search.
• The Police Department moved toward an active search/possible abduction scenario in a very professional manner. As we began activating the City’s EOC and the many area law agencies began appearing, it was apparent that we were ready to go in the search! Good Job to Matt Martin, Albert Ramos and the entire Police Staff for their efforts.
• The fiscal review for the Downtown Hotel Project is in process and the terms of a possible agreement will be passed along to legal next week.
• The agricultural grading in the northern part of the City has resulted in an examination of flood resources and management plans. Staff met with Yolo Flood Control and representatives for the property owner to discuss improvements being made to aid in the flow of water during the rainy season. Overall, a good meeting.
• The City and Yolo County met during the week and the main topic was road conditions and improvements on arterials which surround Winters. County Supervisors Don Saylor and Duane Chamberlain met with Mayor Cecilia Aguiar Curry and Mayor Pro Tem Woody Fridae to discuss such topics as the I505 overpass, Covell Rd and possible funding options for future improvements. Overall, a really good meeting.
• The mystery store described in this weeks Winters Express is Dollar General. This is not a “dollar store” as they sell all name brand products similar to stores like Target, Walgreens and Walmart. Such a store would be a welcome addition to the community, providing a source of comparison goods, clothing and sundries.
• Congratulations to Mayor Cecilia who was honored at the League of California Cities for her service on the Executive Board for the past 4 years. Cecilia does a great job in keeping us represented with the state-wide agencies and she has been a very active participant with the League.
• Kudo’s also go out to Councilmember Harold Anderson who attended the League of Cities Annual Conference in search of grants and watering solutions for a community sports park. Going to this conference is not an easy task!

Saturday is the opening for Soccer and Youth Football in Winters! Get ready for great seasons!

John

 

 

City Manager Update

08/30/12 Update

All,

• Arco AM/PM opened today with low gas prices and Icee’s. This is almost 10 years in the making and countless hours of work and planning to finally see the freeway services begin to operate.
• Burger King will open for lunch starting at noon on Friday, August 31. Go have it your way!!!
• Staff is working diligently on the Agricultural Hub Concept. This week, Staff met with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments for assistance in studying the economics of the project and we met with a large meat processing operation who are looking for a site to open a state of the art operation. The phone is constantly ringing on the prospect of developing a regional food operation. Interest is off the charts.
• Staff and Presidio Development met with Starwood Hotels and a major investor in the Downtown Hotel Project on Monday. Things are getting very exciting as we work through the negotiations to see if we can make the project a reality. Stay tuned!
• The proposed hotel is a “Four Points by Sheraton”. Here is a web link to check out what is being proposed http://www.starwoodhotels.com/fourpoints/index.html
• Winters Fire Personnel returned home after extended deployments throughout California. Chief Ron Karlen was gone for 16 days and the crew assigned to the strike team was gone almost 9 days. Good work by all in saving structures and helping put out the fires.
• Earthquake Festival went off well this year with 0 arrests and an overall well behaved group. Good job by the Chamber.
• Utility Work is beginning for the Putah Creek Car Bridge. AT&T will start the work, then look for PG&E and others to follow. Bidding on the project will occur this fall.

Thanks,

John

 

 

City Manager Update

08/24/12 Update

All,

Lots of excitement on projects and things working!

• Sometime next week we should be eating the first Whoppers and Icees from the Arco/BK Project. The official “Grand Opening” will be in October allowing time to get the bugs out of the new systems.
• Staff is currently in negotiations with a major retailer for a portion of the Grant Ave. Commercial site between Subway and the Corporation Yard. We expect to have a Letter of Intent from the real estate broker next week and will take it to the City Council on September 4 for the world to know. Very exciting.
• Monday and Tuesday of next week will be huge for the Downtown Hotel Project. We are at a critical stage in our overall negotiations with the developer and potential partners on the project. Expect the deal to be before the City Council in September.
• The North Bank Trail Project has hit a stall with the contactor working on another project and will not reach Winters again until the second week of September. The overall schedule was changed due some hawks nesting within a portion of the Creek, causing the establishment of a protective buffer around their nest until the chicks fledged from the nest. The contractor will return in September and look for lots of activity.
• The City is getting a lot of interest on the Ag Hub concept. A combination of private and public agencies are contacting us from all over. On Tuesday, we are meeting with persons representing international interests in “sustainable agricultural industry”. Stay tuned.
• One of the larger housing developers with subdivision maps was in town on Thursday to discuss their project. Signs that the housing economy may be moving are beginning to emerge, which is a positive for Winters. We need construction of market rate housing which will be a godsend to the local economy, City and WJUSD.
• The Planning Commission will be holding a workshop on a draft City of Winters Climate Action Plan. The session will focus on Winters “carbon footprint” and bring information on how we impact the environment. 6:30 on Tuesday, August 29 at City Hall.
• Winters Fire personnel are fighting fires throughout the State. One crew is Tehema and Shasta Counties on a fire which has burned almost 50,000 acres. We are also near Lasson.
• The Car Bridge Project is about to go to bid. Construction is expected to begin in June, 2013.
• Tonight is the Earthquake Festival in Downtown Winters. Time to get your dancing shoes on, forget about your diet and designate a driver (police will be out in force)! It should be a fun time for all! Be safe, not sorry!

Have a great weekend!

John
 

City Manager Update

08/17/12 Update

All,

Lot’s going on for the Yolo County Fair Week.

• The City has been contacted by a major retailer who is looking into locating in Winters to open a store. They sell mostly “comparison goods” and name brands. They are big nationally with smaller stores (10,000sf) and are well know in the mid west and east coast. They seem to know a lot about Winters and are anxious to get something done in a short period. Stay tuned.
• No update for the Downtown Hotel Project for this week.
• Putah Creek is a finalist for the third grant phase to complete the renovation of the Creek channel. Staff and representatives from the Putah Creek Council, Solano Water Agency and the City toured the site on Wednesday with the folks from the State Water Resources who will make the final determination on the grant funds. This will be an incredible project if funded!
• On the City Council Agenda, we have a proposal to lease half of the old library to RISE, Inc to expand social services to youth and adults in Winters. They will staff the office with two people who will do programs including job training, counseling and a variety of development areas to support Winters.
• Winters Fire personnel are working fires all over the State. Personnel were assigned to the fires in Lake County and can be expected to go elsewhere once they put that fire out!
• The latest update on Burger King is that it will open before Labor Day. This is my last update on that!
• Kudo’s for the Public Works crew for getting all of the crosswalks painted before the start of school. That is not an easy task but the accomplished it! Good Job!!
• Expect the road stripping to be completed for the I505/Grant Ave work to be done next week. The traffic signal installation is anybody’s guess! Trying to order metal street fixtures these days is next to impossible, so we will just wait!
• Come to the Yolo County Fair this weekend and visit the Winters Fire concession booths in the Fair Arena during the demolition derby. This is our largest fundraiser of the year toward the toys for tots program.

Thanks and have a nice weekend!

John

 

 

City Manager Update

08/10/12 Update

All,

A couple short items:

• The Arco/BK Project is now scheduled to open on August 23. It should be a whopper!
• Thanks to everyone for the patience with the construction traffic on Wednesday during the paving. That was an absolutely impossible paving challenge for the contractor and everyone did the best they could to make it work. Overall, good job to all involved on a really tough situation.
• Kudo’s to the entire engineering, finance and public works teams on the I505/Grant utilities and infrastructure project. The extension of water, sewer, gas and electricity as well as roadway expansion, off ramp improvements and a new traffic signal was a big undertaking. Special recognition to Shelly Gunby for working the finances, Ponticello and Langenour and Miekle Engineering and the City Public Works Staff for making this stuff happen.
• The improvements were contracted through Vintage Paving from Winters. It was great having a local contractor take on our most difficult project in years!
• The Putah Creek North Bank Project is progressing. The retaining wall and path are in and the deck overlook is under construction. This is an awesome project and something for everyone to be proud of!!
• Staff is currently working on the concept of an agricultural industrial area to take large scale processing, distribution, storage and product development industries. The vision is for a regional industrial area to support our local agriculture which currently ships the vast majority of all which is grown out of the area. From vegetables and meat to rice and corn, this could be huge for us!
• Watch out for snakes!!! The farming to the north of town has generated a rise in the number of snakes around town, especially the kind that rattle! They may look cute and playful, but my advice is to get a broom and stay away.
• Don’t forget key events coming up. The Yolo County Fair the 15th-19th featuring Winters Fire and FFA , the Earthquake Festival on August 24 and mark your calendar for the 4th annual Festival de la Communidad on September 29. Food and fun for all!

Thanks and have a great weekend.

John
 

City Manager Update

07/27/12 Update

All,

A lot of really fun things happening!

• The Downtown Hotel Project is progressing in a very positive manner, though it is still a very difficult negotiation. The next three weeks will see some critical proposals and analysis occurring which will make or break the project. Overall, a very good week in the negotiations with cautious optimism!
• Staff is bringing a conceptual project to pursue an agricultural industrial project often referred to as an “aggregation hub” for economic development. The concept involves working with small and medium farmers from the area to work cooperatively on processing, distribution, storage, value adding and other components of the process of getting food to market. The concept is being promoted by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments who may have funding to assist in advancing the concept from an economic and planning analysis. Stay tuned.
• The City Council Meeting will have the long awaited “in car camera system” on the agenda for approval. This system has the potential to help modernize our overall law enforcement system both operationally and from a training basis.
• A HUGE issue as it relates to the City of Winters next week involves our Emergency Medical System which manages our ambulance and advanced life support services. The Yolo Board of Supervisors is considering a report which outlines many ways to improve this critical service and has the potential for a number of key things for Winters. Stay tuned!
• A fun project for the Downtown is a proposal being worked on for “way finding signs” for businesses. Elliot Landes is the project manager and he has put together a very attractive prototype under consideration with the Chamber of Commerce and local businesses. Look for some final decisions and the signage to be installed within the next few months. Good Job Elliot!
• Take a walk along Putah Creek and you will see quite a bit of activity! From the watering of new plantings to fish biologists, there is a lot going on and worth the hike along this incredible area.
• The Winters Oversight Board for the dissolved redevelopment agency meets on Monday. Kudos to Shelly Gunby for her work in trying to meet the ever changing demands of the State of California Department of Finance. No Fun!
• A BIG recognition for the work of Eric Lucero and the Public Works Staff for helping in the movement of Staff and the reconfiguration of offices at City Hall. Through their scavenging of the old Police Department, they have configured many new work stations and helped modernize a number of offices. They have saved the City many thousands of dollars with their efforts.
• Good things are happening at the WJUSD during some very tough times. The hire of new superintendent Brent Cushenberry has brought a lot of excitement and progress in working with the City. He is very positive and it is exciting to begin working with him. The District has some very tough times ahead as they must figure out how to reduce their budget by almost $670,000 over the next year which is difficult. The good news is that it looks like they have a good team in place to try and figure things out.

Have a great weekend!

John
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City Manager Update

07/13/12

All,

We are plugging along on a number of projects and initiatives, so a quick update:

• Staff will begin the formulation of some key economic development implementation plans for the various commercial and industrial areas of the City. With the completion of the I505/Grant Ave. planning clean-up work, we are now positioned to take the next step and begin a marketing plan which clearly defines development potential and needs. Look for us to focus on agricultural supporting businesses and industry.
• A conceptual proposal for a City/County initiative to site an agricultural “aggregation hub” in the Winters Area will be on the August 7 City Council Agenda. Basic discussions have occurred and we will look to being discussing the topic with the City Council and the business community.
• Get ready for more work at the I505/Matsumoto Lane as they begin to install the last of the traffic improvements, including the installation of the traffic signal. The work will begin to get heavy the week of July 30 and continue until everything is completed.
• It looks like the ARCO/BK Project will open in August. A fun aspect is that they have hired close to 20 young people to work at the Burger King, creating much needed local employment.
• Staff met with the new owners of the 400 acres north of the City regarding the grading activity. They are prepping the soil for planting orchards for the near future. They are a company out of Los Banos and have begun relocating some of their key people to Winters to start up their operations.
• The North Bank Trail has received clearance from Fish and Game for construction to begin in the area once inhabited by the swainsons hawk nest. The portion of the trail next to Trestle Bridge has made significant progress with the construction of the retaining wall and other improvements under construction next to the Community Center. This is a marquee project for us, to get ready for all the really good stuff to begin to emerge.
• Ambulance and Emergency Medical Services will be a hot topic in the coming months. Winters is eligible to bid our ambulance contract and help better define our overall service levels. Expect a lot of discussion!
• The City Staff is excited to welcome Susan Hyde who will be working downstairs at the public counter. Susan lives in Winters and both her son (Kevin) and daughter (Meghan) have previously been lifeguards and swim instructors at the pool in past summers. Welcome Susan!

Have a great weekend!!!!!!!!!!

John

City Manager Update

07/20/12 Update

All,

A couple notes to end the week.

• Staff has been diligently working on the Downtown Hotel Project and we had some critical meetings with key players on the project. Things are progressing in a very positive manner and there is a lot of confidence on making the project a reality. Good stuff all around, it was a good week for the project. Dan Maguire is the project manager and has really helped move this project forward. Good work, Dan!
• The North Bank Trail Project is moving forward and they are pouring the footings for the retaining wall as I write this update. To get a good view of the latest work, simply go to the Trestle Bridge for active viewing of the construction activity.
• The hawks which were nesting in the trail area have moved on and we have been given the green light on constructing the rest of the project. Expect a lot of earthwork to begin within the next few weeks. Kudos to Carol Scianna and the entire North Bank Trail Team for their work on all of this.
• The City Council passed the modifications to the I505/Grant Ave Planning Area. This has been an almost 4 year project to clean up planning issues which negatively impacted the ability of the City to develop. Good work by all involved.
• The word from the ARCO/BK developer is that things will be open in August! Whoppers for everyone!!!!
• A big issue on the horizon for the City will be the bidding of ambulance services. This will be a political hot potato and will make the news for our area.

Thanks and have a nice weekend.

John
 

City Manager Update

07/02/12 Update

All,

A couple notes on a patriotic week….

• A big thanks to those who made the July 4 holiday a huge success. First, Nanci Mills and the entire fundraising crew including Buckhorn, Putah Creek, Charley Wallace and the Winters Express for raising the money for the show. Most importantly, we owe a huge amount of gratitude to Scott Dozier for renewing his license to shoot fireworks and for coordinating the show. It was a GREAT show and it may not have happened if not for Scott.
• The City Council on Tuesday approved the design contract for the Orchard Village Park. The timeline has us completing the design by October and construction commencing as early as winter with completion the end of June. Dan Maguire, Mary Jo Rodolfa and Eric Lucero will take the lead on the Staff for the project.
• Welcome to Dago Fierros who is interning with the City over the summer. Dago is a 2011 graduate of Winters High who is attending CSU Sacramento. His main project is scanning and entering property data for all building permits for properties within the City.
• The City Council also approved an extension for the hotel negotiations. The project is a lot of work and is a tough negotiation. We are thinking positive at this point.

Have a nice week.

John
 

 

City Manager Update

06/19/12 Update

All,

A super busy week……………..

• The Planning Commission reviewed and approved a number of planning amendments and zoning issues related to the I505/Grant Ave corridor. The approvals mark an important milestone in cleaning up significant hurdles and barriers to economic development. The next stop will be the City Council on July 17. The Planning Commissioners had a substantial amount of detailed information to review and they all were extremely prepared to everything which was reviewed. A special thanks to both Mary Jo Rodolfa and Jim Bermudez for their work in getting this project across the finish line!
• Staff interviewed architects for the park project next to the Orchard Village Apartments. We received 13 proposals and interviewed 5 firms. We had some excellent choices and will take a recommendation to the City Council on July 3.
• The City is in very preliminary talks with the County and SACOG about agricultural industry locating to the Winters area. The idea of maximizing our current businesses and expanding some of the industrial aspects could bring jobs and aid in our overall economic development.
• The North Bank Trail has a couple key components going in. Directly adjacent to the Trestle Bridge, they are pouring the base for the overlook deck which will span out over the Putah Creek Floodplain. This is a real fun element and can be seen under construction simply by walking on the bridge.
• The State Budget was further damaging to cities and former redevelopment agencies. The “trailer bills” are classic demonstrations of a big mistake voters made when passing Proposition 25 which reduced to 50% the votes needed to pass a State Budget. In this year’s process, legislators released the trailer bills literally minutes before they were voted on with zero transparency for the public or anyone interested in seeing what was being considered. If the City did our budget the way the State does, we would be broke. Oh, that’s right, the State is broke! They will never learn until they need to file bankruptcy from a total collapse. Hopefully the State will not pull all of us into the grave with them.
• There is still time to help donate for the Fourth of July Fireworks Display. Nanci Mills is the main coordinator and Scott Dozier will be shooting the show.

Thanks and have a great weekend!

John

 

City Manager Update

06/22/12 Update

All,

This was a packed week with lots going on:

• Congratulations to Cecilia Curry, Wade Cowan and Woody Fridae for a big City Council Meeting on Tuesday. Cecilia was elected Mayor and Woody is Mayor Pro-tem. Wade was sworn in for his first term on the City Council and Woody for his fourth.
• The fourth of July is quickly approaching and we are still fundraising for the fireworks display. Two of our big contributors are the Putah Creek Café and Buckhorn with Fred Reyes and Joe the Butcher leading the way. Check them out on our Facebook or the City website http://www.cityofwinters.org/
• This week had a lot of focus on economic development. Staff met with representatives from the Downtown Hotel Project and for the Grant Ave Commercial Project. Both projects are extremely difficult negotiations but are still progressing. The tough economic climate and financial lending are really causing a lot of work in trying to make things happen.
• Staff has finalized the review of proposals from architecture firms for the design and construction specifications for the Orchard Village Park Project. Staff reviewed 13 proposals and will interview 6 firms next Wednesday. Dan Maguire is the project manager, Mary Jo Rodolfa will coordinate the grants and Eric Lucero will coordinate the construction and site preparation. Expect construction in 2013.
• The North Bank Trail is progressing next to the Community Center. A lot of construction fencing and a lot of mess during the demolition phase, but this is going to be a landmark project for the City.
• Carol Scianna is now the staff “ornithologist” in one of her “duties as assigned”. She is watching the nesting hawks which have setup inside the North Bank Trail Project. Once the hawks have fledged from the nest, the trail project will commence.
• The I505/Grant Ave Planning clean-up will be before the Planning Commission on Tuesday, June 26. A lot of work has gone into the project and we are looking forward to seeing this project to completion.
• Phase II work on the Grant Ave/I505 improvements will begin next week. This will involve changes to the offramp, installation of a traffic signal and street improvements at Matsumoto Lane. Expect delays during the daytime. The key word here is “patience”.
• Staff has met with the County to discuss economic development opportunities which surround agricultural processing and innovation. This is very preliminary but a chance for Winters to expand our economic development with an agricultural flare!
• The past few weeks have been extremely busy for the City Council outside of the City on boards, committees and commissions. Water, air quality, SACOG, regional leadership, the environment and transportation have all been topics on their agendas. The City has definitely gotten the $150 stipend out of the Council this month.
• A big welcome to the new Winters JUSD Superintendent Brent Cushenberry who started this week. A nice reception was held on Wednesday to celebrate his start. Brent comes to Winters from the Woodlake School District near Visalia.
• Congrats to Lisa Baker on her appointment to the Planning Commission. Lisa has served on the Economic Development Committee and her regular job is Executive Director of Yolo Housing.
• The Rotary Club Trap Shoot is this Saturday starting at 8:30 at the Yolo Sportsman. $40 and a chance to win some great prizes.

The City Staff/Council/Commission Fourth of July BBQ will be held on July 3rd from 5:30 to 8:30 at the Community Center.

Thanks and have a nice weekend.

John
 

City Manager Update

06/15/12

 

All,

I was away on vacation last week (which I highly recommend) and I am back to work. Here are a couple items we are working on.

• The State Department of Finance has successfully crashed the credit rating for tax allocation bonds for cities throughout the State. Here is an article which should make everyone’s blood boil. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-06-15/moody-s-cuts-11-dot-6-billion-california-redevelopment-debt  This just made the cost of debt for California municipalities very expensive. Junk bond status means we might as well start borrowing from the mob to fund local projects. Next time Governor Brown comes to town, thank him!
• The I505/Grant Ave. are moving rapidly. Most utilities are completed and next up will be the roadway improvements and a traffic signal. I know people to not like traffic lights, but they do work and cut down on accidents at key locations. The area in front of Chevron will see fewer incidents in the future.
• The North Bank Trail Project is under way (sort of). The improvements behind the Community Center are starting but much of the project will now be delayed until September. As part of the project, a Swainson Hawk Nesting Survey was required and we found a nest right in the middle of the project. Under the law, nesting hawks require a quarter mile buffer from construction. Score the hawks 1, construction jobs- fewer.
• Kudo’s to both John Wallace and Carol Scianna for jobs well done in getting the North Bank Trail to the construction phase. While to project may be delayed for a bit, they worked hard on moving the paperwork and handling the environmental stuff. Good job all involved.
• The parking lot across from City Hall is striped and looks good. Kudo’s to Eric, Terry, Juan and the public works staff for getting that done.
• The negotiations on the Downtown Hotel are progressing and we should have some things to the City Council in July.
• We are still in negotiations regarding the Grant Ave Commercial Property. We have been talking about one business, but now we may have up to 4 for the site. Stay tuned!!

Please mark your calendar for July 3 starting at 5 at the Community Center. We will be having a Staff/Council/Planning Commission BBQ for the 4th of July. Look for a flyer early next week.

Thanks,

John

 

City Manager Update

06/01/12 Update

All,

Some really good, good, kinda good and not so good news for this week.

Let’s start off with the really good and just good news for the week!!

• The fundraiser for Winters High School Senior Marie Hendrix was a huge success, raising (at last count) almost $17,000. More importantly, it was an amazing expression of how the Winters community can rally together for a good cause. Kudos to all the folks from Winters High School, the business community, the City of Winters and most importantly the residents of Winters who came out to support the cause. Marie is still in critical condition at UC Davis Medical Center.
• Winters Middle and High Schools held their “promotion” and graduation ceremonies this week. In a small town, it is easy to get emotional seeing students we have all witness grow up reach milestones in their lives. The WJUSD does a great job of making these events a reflection of our small town values and a show of real class! Good job to the entire District for a job well done.
• The improvements along Grant Ave reached a critical juncture with the tie-in of the water lines at East Main Street. This is the point where the water lines to I505 are looped into the entire City system so as to achieve maximum flows for pressure, fire flow and overall water quality. It was a big moment for the economic future of Winters.
• During the week of June 4, expect to see electric and gas utilities installed along Grant Ave and a significant tie-in of the sewer lines at the intersection of Matsumoto Lane (Rd 90) and Grant Ave. If you have an appointment on Wednesday or Thursday of next week and need to go on Grant Ave, give yourself a little extra time.
• Recreation swim starts next week. They swim staff already has some really great programs scheduled which should make for a really good summer for kids in Winters.

Now just the kinda good news.

• On May 22, the City Council approved the fiscal year budgets for FY 2012-14. These include comprehensive spending plans for all City operations and projects, including water and sewer. Some of the highlights and low-lights of the budget include.
• Highlights: While not balanced in either year, the first year (FY 2012-13) has us maintaining service levels with a modest dip into reserves of about $130,000. Projects to be accomplished include extensive rehabilitation to sewer lines throughout the core area of the City, the North Bank Trail Project, the Putah Creek Car Bridge replacement, repairs and upgrades at City Park, upgrades to the Wastewater Treatment Facility and the addition of a police officer in the second year. Based on where expenditures end for the current fiscal year, there is a chance that our overall fund balance will be larger, thus the $130,000 will not be the actual reduction from our current levels.
• Lowlights: Year two of the budget has a significant hole of almost $450,000. This is primarily due to low development and permit revenue due to the bad economy. If the horizon does not show additional economic development, the City will be faced with some very tough decisions to produce a fiscally responsible budget.

As I prepared the Budget Overview for the soon-to-be-published budget document, I was amazed that even with a tough year coming before us, that we have been able to navigate the worst financial situation in 70 years without the need for massive cuts to programs and services, closure of community facilities and significant layoffs or furloughs. I primarily credit our overall prudent financial management, a very lean staff and our responsible approach to making sure we do not over-reach on long term expenditures. The Staff is very responsible in how they spend money and for the past few years, we have consistently come in “under budget”. We have a huge hole to fill for next year, but even a little development, combined with some positive direction of the economy can do wonders to helping us balance things out. We will see!

The not so good news still revolves around redevelopment.

• On Thursday, a Sacramento judge ruled against 9 cities who filed a suit challenging the State’s raid on some redevelopment funds. This means that the State Department of Finance will have the ability to cause defaults of millions of dollars in bonds if it decides to cut off funding to pay for redevelopment debts. The State is creating an Armageddon scenario created entirely by their own inability to manage their own finances. This is literally a situation where they are willing to pull event the healthiest of cities into financial ruin with them. Just plain ugly!


Finally, and to end on a more positive note, I would like to congratulate the current City Council who will see the current term end with the election on Tuesday. The past two years have included some of the toughest decisions, strategic projects and genuine leadership to position Winters for a positive future. For some on the Council (over the two year period), they attended more than 300 meetings, functions, briefings, etc representing the City. They receive really low pay for some pretty high expectations. A real big thanks and congratulations for all they accomplished.

Have a good week.

John

City Manager Update

05/25/12 Update

• Things are really moving on the I505/Grant Ave Improvements. Sewer and water lines are being installed this week and electric and gas next week. The intersection, off-ramp modifications and traffic light will begin in a few weeks. It is really nice having our local contractor, Vintage Paving as the general contractor on the project! They do good work and are responsive!
• A key part of the improvements will be the “looping” of the water lines through that area. This is an important fire department requirement and a water quality issue.
• The pre-construction meeting for the North Bank Trail was on Wednesday and we expect construction to begin on or about June 15. The direction to the contractor is to “get in and get the project done”. We expect disruptions and some issues as they build the trail and mitigation areas, but we plan to do our best to address concern as they come up. This will be a marquee project for Winters and an important connection for the Downtown to the Creek.
• The City is doing some re-organizing with the downsizing of some of our staffing. Big congratulations to Mary Jo Rodolfa, Jen Moser, Mary Lou Mendoza and Tracy Jensen who are all being reclassified and promoted into new positions as they assume additional responsibilities. These ladies have all earned their new positions and are real assets to the Winters team. As they have improved their skills and taken the initiative to assume new responsibilities, our organization has become much stronger. Congratulations to all!
• With the adoption of the City Budget on May 15, we will now take a “wait and see” as to what will occur at the State level. The State is required to pay the City of Winters almost $150,000 they “borrowed” from us three years ago during their “fiscal emergency of 2009”. At the time, the State declared that this “loan” would help them get their financial house in order and help them “avoid fiscal issues in the future”.
• Staff has authorized (and is paying for) the use of the Public Safety Facility for a spaghetti fundraiser for Winters High School Senior Marie Hendrix who was critically injured last Friday in a car accident where a drunk driver hit her and her father on Road 31. She is in critical condition at UC Davis Med Center with head and internal injuries. The fundraiser will be this Saturday evening from 5-8 and food is being supplied by the Buckhorn. I have made the reservation for the room and will personally pay for the rental cost to keep consistency with our policy. A very sad occurrence when a nice girl is fighting for her life one week from her high school graduation!
• The State Controller has hired 250 auditors to begin doing extensive audits of the former redevelopment agencies and their assets. The first city contacted was West Sacramento and they expect Davis, Woodland and Winters to be numbers 2, 3 and 4. Because we are so close, they will use us as training missions. There are no guidelines or jurisdiction for the audits and it looks like this will be a gold mining expedition by the State. It is amazing that a State Agency can take wide powers and broad jurisdiction, outside law and the legislature to investigate and develop new requirements on the fly. These actions can only be described as both scary and divisive. The relationship between the State and cities is at its worst when the actions of the State can only be described as predatory.
• Staff has sent letters of protest to the State Department of Finance regarding their decision to deny loans previously made between the City and the former redevelopment agency totaling $2.7 million. The loans made in 1995 and 2002 are fully documented and were denied based on what the State is describing as their “claw back” provision in 1X26. The “Claw back” is their self described write to make ex post facto laws which declare previous legal agreements illegal so the State can then come in a take the money owed.
• On Thursday, eight (8) cities filed suit in Sacramento Superior Court asking for an injunction against the State Department of Finance for threatening to cause almost $30 million in bond defaults by withholding tax revenues from former redevelopment agencies. It looks like this is only the start of the serious issue of the State essentially causing massive bond defaults which will significantly threaten the fiscal viability of the entire State.
• This week, Dan Maguire and I met with the Yolo County Economic Development Team consisting of County Staff regarding economic opportunities east of 505. A really good meeting and we are beginning the development of an outline from which we will formulate a proposal to bring to the Board of Supervisors and City Council. On a preliminary basis, we will be meeting with some of the property to get them in the loop. I will let you know when we plan to do so to give you a heads up.
• On Tuesday, Staff met with Hoffmann Land Development regarding them moving forward on part of the Ogando Hudson Subdivision. There is a new paradigm in affordable housing with the State stealing local funding. Dan and I will take some ideas to the affordable housing steering committee in June. Expect some items to go before the Planning Commission and City Council later this summer.
• Staff met with Linda Hines from Rootstock regarding some outdoor dining/encroachment in front of both Rootstock and Berryessa Gap. The concept is that we have a uniformed encroachment permit for the businesses to have outdoor sitting, tasting and music without the need to a permit each week. Jim Bermudez and I will work up a comprehensive permit and amendments for the Conditional Use Permit for the tasting rooms and restaurants in Downtown and will take it to the Planning Commission in July. Overall, a really good meeting.
• Winters has three (3) teams competing in the Davis World Cup soccer tournament this weekend. Go Winters!

Finally, a big thanks to all our veterans’ and their families for their service and sacrifice in serving our nation on this Memorial Day. They say that “freedom does not come free” and it often comes at the ultimate cost so we can enjoy the benefits of a free and liberated society. As we enjoy our busy holiday weekend, make sure you raise a toast to those who are serving and have served to allow us to live in the greatest country on earth.

Have a nice weekend


John W. Donlevy, Jr., City Manager
 

City Manager's Office -

05/18/12 Update

• The May 15 City Council Meeting was probably the busiest agenda we have gone through in many years. In one meeting, we welcomed a new police officer, covered the City-wide Assessment District, a replacement project for the Dry Slough Bridge (Road 89), a mitigation easement and maintenance contract for the North Bank Trail Project, Adoption of the Fiscal Years 12-13 and 13-14 Budgets, a request for proposals for the park adjacent to Orchard Village, the start of weed abatement, purchase of a new electric vehicle, our TDA claim to provide bus services and road maintenance, authorized a key repair for Water Well 6 and helped reconcile our redevelopment obligations. A huge agenda, both literally and figuratively!
• The City Council welcomed Police Officer Gordon Brown who comes to us from the Fairfield Police Department where he previously served as a Community Services Officer. He brought many family, friends and colleagues from the Fairfield PD. A real nice welcome!
• The pre-construction meeting for the I505/Grant Ave improvement project was held this week. The contractor is Winters’ very own Vintage Paving who has constructed out past two major projects on Grant Ave. Look for construction to begin within the next couple of weeks.
• The I505/Grant Improvements will be a $1.1 million project. The improvements will include a traffic signal and intersection at Matsumoto Lane and Grant Ave., the reconfiguration of the off-ramp and a right turn lane and the installation of sewer and water lines.
• The new park next to Orchard Village between Walnut Lane and Dutton Street will be the largest park in the City (5 acres) when it is completed. This will be a “neighborhood” park and will include grass areas, a playground, picnic shelter and tables, walking trails and community gardens. The funding for the project will come from two grants totaling approximately $1.6 million. The schedule for the project will have it begin construction in 2013.
• A big congratulations to Councilman Mike Martin and to Environmental Services Manager Carol Scianna for obtaining an $8,000 grant from the Yolo-Solano Air Quality District for a new electric vehicle. The City was planning on replacing both of our GEM cars and this grant matches City funds and thus saves us a lot of money. Good going Mike and Carol.
• The redevelopment saga continues. The State Department of Finance continues to press new requirements upon the City in the wind down of our former redevelopment agency. They are advancing “clean-up” legislation which threatens City sales and use taxes and expands the authority of the Department of Finance at the expense of local control. If you see any of our local state representatives, ask them to pull the dogs off of the cities. They killed redevelopment and economic development, no need to keep the attack on local finances going. We did not create the State’s financial mess, but we sure are a key element to the solution, which is a healthy economy and jobs. Healthy cities mean a strong State.
• We met with the hotel developers in a very complex discussion of the entire project. Getting a Downtown Hotel will not be easy and the actions of the State of California towards former redevelopment projects is not helping things at all. The developer, Presidio Companies has been working hard, as has the City Staff to try to get our hands around what will be a very complex deal. We will continue working on this over the next few weeks.
• Winters Fire volunteers and personnel are doing training burns north of the City in preparation for what looks like a pretty ominous fire season. When the big fire hits, we will be prepared.
• Speaking of fire prevention, we are starting our weed abatement program for the City. If you own or know people who own properties with high weeds, it is time to start mowing or disking the properties!
• Last weekend was huge for our local businesses. From the Plein Aire Art Festival, Roots to Wine, Winters Theatre Company and the Winters Garage Sale, it was an epic weekend in Winters. Many thanks to all involved in making a wonderful weekend for residents and visitors alike.
• The City welcomes our new City Planner, Jim Bermudez who will work at the City one day a week. Jim is a Senior Planner with the City of West Sacramento and is working with Winters as part of a Shared Services Agreement. He will be in the office on Tuesdays.
• The July 4 Fireworks Fundraising is now beginning. This effort is funded entirely by donations from the community. Look for donation envelopes at City Hall, local businesses and in the City Utility Bills. If every house simply donated $5, we would pay for the entire display. Please encourage friends and family to help keep the tradition alive by donating a couple bucks.
• On Friday, May 18, Mayor Woody Fridae, Winters Express Publisher Charley Wallace and Team Winters will be defending the Sacramento Valley “Mayors Cup” Golf Championship. Winters is the 3 time consecutive defending tournament champion. Wish Team Winters luck!

 

 

City Manager's Office -

05/11/12 Update

• The pre-construction meeting for the North Bank Trail Project will be on May 23, 2012. The contractor is Maggiora & Ghilotti and they are the same company that did the Creek realignment project. Construction will commence in June. This will be a $1.6m trail and ecological restoration project which will establish a mitigation area and connect Downtown with the Creek. This is a very exciting project which will be one of the marquee accomplishments for the City in the environmental area.
• Much of the credit and work for making this project happen needs to flow to Assistant City Engineer Alan Mitchell from the engineering group who worked with Caltrans and the regulating agencies to get this through. Kurt Balasak (a Winters resident) and Erik Ringleberg from BSK Engineering for getting us through the environmental hurdles. A very important person in this entire process was Ellie Fairclough the District Representative for Congressman Mike Thompson (and also Mike Thompson) who got us through the maize of working with federal agencies.
• The real visionaries on the Winters Putah Creek Park are the City Council and the members of the Winters Putah Creek Committee which is staffed by Carol Scianna. They are the ones who have really helped establish the project priorities and the overall design for creating access to the Creek and providing for environmental restoration. Carol will be a key element in the supervision and construction management of the project and will help guide the final product. There are opportunities for some people to leave a strong legacy of accomplishment on areas of Winters and without a doubt, Carol is someone who deserves a lot of credit for what the creek is to become!
• Get ready to welcome our new City Planner, Jim Bermudez who will begin working on a part time basis next week. The City is sharing Jim with the City of West Sacramento, where he works full time in the Community Development Department.
• The I505 Planning Process is out for public notice. Here is the mitigated negative declaration on the City’s Website. (LINK)
• The attacks from the State of California on cities continues. The Department of Finance continues to find ways of taking monies away from cities through the audit of the former redevelopment agencies. They make the rules, they interpret the rules and change the rules as they deem necessary. In the case of Winters, it means cancelling loans of almost $2.7m of City money. Ultimately, it looks like we will have to write off these funds (90% equivalent of our General Fund) and move forward. Their next move will be regarding properties transferred between the former agency and the City.
• Kudo’s to Winters Fire for taking the 1940’s era “Buffalo Fire Truck” to the Buckhorn Car Show. The truck was shined and the tires cleaned. It looked great and made the City look good!
• Honey! Doneice Woody, our new reporter for the Winters Express makes local star thistle honey with her family. It is absolutely fabulous and you need to get some. You can pick some up at either the Winters Express or the Visitors Center.
• Lot’s going on this weekend. The Winters Theatre Company is presenting “Green Gold of the Valley”, a dinner theatre production written by Germaine Hupe on both Friday and Saturday; The Winters Garage Sale (the cultural event of the year) will be Saturday; the Plein Aire Festival is on Friday and Saturday, the Roots to Wine celebration at Rotary Park is on Saturday from 11-5. On Saturday, the Yolo Visitors Bureau will be hosting key Bay Area Writers at the Putah Creek Café. Sunday is a day of rest and sobering!!

 

Economic & Planning Update - 05/07/12

An update on some key planning and economic development projects:

• Staff is continuing to analyze the Downtown Hotel Proposal. We have contacted USDA and other financing sources to see what can be done to assist the overall project. We expect to schedule meetings with the developer next week.


• We are in negotiations with a prospective buyer of a portion of the Grant Ave Commercial Property to locate a major retailer to the location. Staff is privy to the retailer, but is not releasing the name at the request of the buyer. (no, it is not Amazon) We expect to have a deal done relatively soon and will bring a development agreement before the City Council sometime in June.


• Staff has had very-preliminary discussions with Yolo County about exploring development opportunities on the east side of I505. Ideas which have been kicked around are light industrial development to support agriculture, ie, an aggregation hub which can support both large and small farms from Capay Valley to Winters and parts of Solano in advancement of the Rural Urban Connection Strategy (RUCS) of SACOG. The next step is bringing a conceptual plan to the City Council and Board of Supervisors, which should occur sometime in summer.


• The I505/Grant Planning Process is well under way and is released for the environmental review. “Conceptual” projects included for the Grant Corridor and I505 Area include light industrial, commercial, a hotel and highway serving commercial. Expect to see public hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council sometime in June and July.


• Downtown is really clicking, but Staff intends outreach to the local businesses to see how we can help continue the momentum. Some ideas include more patio dining, events and publicity.


• On May 24, Cecilia Curry and I will be participating in a workshop sponsored by Supervisor Don Saylor on economic development in the 2nd District.


• There is much discussion regarding the Arco/BK Project with rumor and innuendo going in many directions about the I505 Area. A couple things of note: NO, Taco Bell is not going in next to Burger King, they have never come into the City to discuss; YES, we have had a lot of people who WANT a Taco Bell out by the freeway; NO, McDonalds has not submitted plans for going in next to Chevron, but YES they have expressed an interest in the past; NO, a freeway hotel has not submitted plans, but YES, a group has come into City Hall to discuss a freeway location in the past. NO, Black Bear Diner has not indicated they are coming to Winters.

Economic Development is a lot like fishing. Sometimes you land a fish (that is called “catching”) but most of the time you sit in the boat, watching fish jump on the surface, swim under your boat or just hope and dream. A lot of the time, you bait your hook, cast the line out and see if something hits the line. Most of the time, you reel in your line to make sure the bait is still there, change the type of bait on the hook and just pray.

Economic Development is our most important priority, given the predatory nature of the State of California to break cities. We need to spur some development to make up for the revenues being taken by the State. We need to do things, simply to stay even with the reductions in revenues.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Thanks,

John

john.donlevy@cityofwinters.org

 

City Manager's Office -

City Hall Update - 05/07/12

• Congratulations to our two new Corporals, Jeremy Warren and Albert Ramos who were sworn in at the City Council Meeting this week. Their promotions are a reflection of their training and leadership both personally and within the organization. We should all be proud of their accomplishments and their new roles within the organization to make us stronger.


• The City Council approved construction contracts for the I505 Traffic Signal Project and the North Bank Trail. Expect lots of construction activity for two marquee projects.


• The State Department of Finance rejected two loans between the City and our former Community Development Agency to the tune of $2.7 million. The loans occurred in 1995 and 2002 and are fully documented. In AB1X26, the Legislature adopted language which allows for a retroactive cancellation of legitimate contracts.


• The State is now auditing all of our former redevelopment agencies and is requesting all of the affordable housing money be sent to the County Controller to disperse amongst taxing agencies. This points toward what may be the end of affordable housing in California which will be huge blow to many Californians, especially seniors and the disabled.


• We are moving forward on the I505 Planning Process which is in the paper this week. Look for public hearings in June and July before the Planning Commission and City Council.


• Lots of events going on in town. The Friends of the Library have their member appreciation picnic on Sunday, May 6 from 5-7 and next week is the Plein Aire Festival and Roots to Wine at Rotary Park.


• Don’t miss the Winters Garage Sale which is on Saturday, May 12 around the core area of the City. I have been assured that this year will have nothing but high quality merchandise. Get there early!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Thanks,

John

john.donlevy@cityofwinters.org



 

 

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