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Category Archives: City Manager’s Update

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Friday Update on October 12 2018

All,

October 16, 2018 City Council Meeting:

  • Public Hearing for Impact Fees (To be Continued to 11/6/18 meeting)
  • Presentation- Putah Creek Council’s One Creek Restoration Internship Program Presentation
  • Presentation- ADA Transition Plan Update by Public Works Department
  • Presentation- Proclamation for Participating Students for the Mural Project at Lorenzo’s Market

Consent Calendar:

  • Public Improvement Agreement and Two Grant Deeds for Public Utility Easements for the Winters Healthcare Project
  • Chamber of Commerce Special Event Application for the Harvest Festival on October 26th
  • Cal Fire Grant for Golden Bear Pre-Planning
  • Request for Seed Money for Winters Community Dinner
  • APS Environmental Contract for Sewer Line CCTV Inspections
  • Climate Resiliency – Community Dialogue
  • General Plan Reports and Updates

Discussion Items:

  • Report on Senior Services by Consultant Sheila Allen
  • Valley Clean Energy Alliance
  • City of Winters APP
  • Strategic Planning Calendar

A couple items of interest:

  • Check out the updates on the Downtown Hotel on the major projects page in the City website. Click HERE to see the updated elevations, materials and the debut of Carboni’s Ristorante Bar and Marketplace, an Italian themed restaurant which will feature a bar, barista, seasonal selections, seafood, wood fired pizza, Italian sandwiches and salad along with a fresh pasta bar and an incredible wood fired grill which is going to bring a unique and updated flare into our Downtown. The project is getting exciting and is expected to open mid 2019.
  • Permits for both Heartland and Stones Throw subdivisions are really ramping up. Foundations are being poured and we are hearing sales and interest in the projects is high. These are really nice projects!
  • Congratulations to Winters Healthcare on the start of the construction of the new campus. Go to our major projects page HERE to see their planning application or go to the WHF website HERE to check out their vision for the project and where they are going.

Finally, the Strategic Planning Process Staff is discussing with the City Council has many important parts to it, particularly in relation to the future of the City’s organization as far as who and how we will hire people in the future for key positions. This all relates to much of our discussion on ”succession planning” as key members of our team approach the “red zone” of their careers and plan for retirement.

Amongst small communities in the Sacramento Valley, Winters holds a special distinction for the many accomplishments we have made in the revitalization of our town despite our size and limited resources. Much of this is attributable to our small but very dedicated staff who have been committed to the advancement of Winters. Community loyalty has been a key hiring criteria and a combination of the longevity of many staff along with a keen acumen for completing projects within a long term vision has made all the difference in the world. That longer vision has resulted in projects which some can take credit in marking in the legacy of their careers. They are people who have made a real and long term difference on the Winters Community.

I’d like to highlight two of those individuals who are “stars” of the City staff.

Carol Scianna has been our Environmental Services Manager in the City’s Public Works Department for almost 15 years. Her job entails much of the environmental compliance to the many governmental agencies we deal with and she is the lynchpin in the operation and compliance report for both our water and wastewater enterprises. She is the City’s lead on key climate issues involving recycling and waste management, green house gas reductions, action planning and the many permitting issues involving the restoration of Putah Creek. She has also been the key staff member on critical infrastructure projects including the Putah Creek Car Bridge, Moody Slough Overcrossing Bridge on Road 89,  the North Bank Creek Trail, each phase of the Putah Creek Park Channel Realignment, Downtown Restoration Projects and the Grant Ave Roundabout. Carol is also the manager of the City’s mitigation bank areas for elderberry!

I met Carol in 2001 when she was the President of the Winters Friends of the Library (WFOL), which is one of our community’s premier organizations. Her commitment to Winters is extrodinary and the difference she has made our environment will last for decades if not centuries. Dealing within the realm of the environment is not easy because you deal with passionate people who can disagree immensely. People experience Carol’s success literally every day whether walking down the creek trail, watching salmon spawn, driving over any of our bridges or dropping a child off at school.

Dan Maguire is the City’s Housing and Economic Development Manager and is also approaching almost 15 years on the City’s Team. His job entails managing the City’s affordable housing program, working with the various affordable projects in town, serving as the project manager on key new housing projects and working with developers to strategically develop plans for future projects. Dan oversees compliance with key State agencies who deal with housing and is our liaison with a key advocacy group, Legal Services of Northern California. To Dan’s credit, he has been the City lead on the Orchard Village Apartments, the soon to begin construction Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Apartments and the many moderate for sale units in the new subdivisions. In economic development few on the City Staff have played a more important role in the revitalization of Downtown than Dan Maguire. Dan was the manager of the City’s façade improvement program which renovated 27 storefronts, was the key liaison for all three phases of the Downtown Streetscape Program, negotiated the lease assistance program which brought businesses like Arc Guitar and the Turkovich Tasting Room. He is also the project lead on the Downtown Hotel Project and is the City’s liaison to the Chamber of Commerce.

I met Dan at 2:00 one morning trying to figure out how to take down a light tower following an epic Earthquake Festival. I quickly realized Dan was an “all in guy” when he purchased a truck so he could haul all of the things he needed to do community projects he was supporting. Few drive around with a water tank in the bed of their truck to water recently planted trees along the 505, have their own set of “hay hooks” to move hay bails for beer gardens or have their own permit with Caltrans to pick up trash along the highway and a collection of vests, goggles and hard hats required under said permit.

Dan and Carol are representative of what has made the City of Winters successful over the past number of years. They have integrated the community in their own personal and family visions. When disaster has struck, they are always amongst the first to show up and always the last to leave. They have tackled some of our most difficult projects and kept them alive all the way to the finish line. As each of them prepares for retirement in the next few years, they represent the toughest parts of “succession planning” because the transcend professional acumen, there is their commitment to the Winters community and how the City organization integrates into the fabric of the town.

The City has many “stars” who make up an incredible team. Everyday I feel blessed knowing that we have people on our staff who can be counted upon to bring their absolute best to serving an incredible community. A number of years ago, Nanci Mills and I established a fundamental hiring criteria and that was to find really smart people who “loved” Winters with the acknowledgement that we would train the rest of the job to them.

I give members of our team in the “red zone” of their careers a hard time because I don’t want them to retire (mostly based on love and respect). The reality is that each has earned their transition and we need to saver all that they have given and the legacy’s they leave on our community. We have much to accomplish as we move the City forward in the coming years and we need to prepare for the next generation of really smart people who love Winters.

Have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on October 5 2018

All,

A couple items this week:

  • Staff met with Caltrans at the annual Yolo/Caltrans Annual Update Meeting. Many big projects in circulation including the I80 widening project, the “World Class Bikeway” between Davis and Sacramento, the Metropolitan Transportation Plan and the purported impacts which may result from the repeal of the Statewide Gas Tax should Proposition 6 pass.
  • For Winters, I provided an update on the roundabout, a pending application to install Automated License Plate Readers on Grant Ave traffic signals and our recent planning project to widen the I505 overpass and to implement the last parts of the City’s Complete Street Program along Grant Ave. Caltrans was receptive to all elements fo the work we have been discussing. Overall a really good meeting. I would describe the overall customer service sense for Caltrans as very good with a strong amount of leadership from the top driving collaboration and the need to get projects done.
  • Under projects done with Federal Transportation Dollars (the roundabout project was done), there is an incentive for the State with rebates as a result of “project delivery”. For the past fiscal year, Caltrans received almost $400m from the Feds as a result of project delivery. This is really good news for localities as the money is then deposited into the SHOPP funding program which is then eligible for additional local projects.
  • The biggest takeaway are the ramifications for the entire State should Proposition 6 pass. In total, over 6,500 improvement projects in practically every community will be affected including streets, sidewalks, road safety and bridges along with the impacts on public transit. According to SACOG, the regional transportation plans will essentially need to be completely redone, which will jeopardize federal finding, including the I505 Overpass Project in Winters. The City has an adopted plan for spending these gas tax funds which I will forward in next weeks update.
  • A review of legislation passed by the State Legislature and being signed by the Governorwill bring many changes to society. Food carts can basically set up shop anywhere in town (including parks), streamlined permitting is upon us which will impact the City’s ability to plan and work with developers is drastically limited; and anyone below the age of 16 years of age cannot be tried as an adult which is retroactive and will most likely free a horrific Davis murderer in just a few years and many other murderers. Crazy what is happening!
  • Staff will be participating in a webinar next week regarding SB35 which was passed along with 15 other housing bills. The legislation requires a streamlined subdivision permitting process for communities which have not met their Regional Housing Needs Allocation, which is practically every city in California. The wording essentially gives a green light to developers to move forward with project with minimal public review and input. For Winters, it could be significant!
  • Staff has received a very affordable proposal for a Winters APP which will allow residents and visitors to access a litany of information about the City. Key features include the ability to report maintenance issues, graffiti, abandoned cars, a community calendar, locate businesses and much more. Look for this on the October 16City Council Agenda.
  • October 6 is the Public Safety Faire at the Public Safety Facility, 500 Main Street from 10-2. Lots of displays from police, fire, fish and wildlife and much more. This has become an incredible event for kids and adults alike.
  • Good news on a number of fronts for both the Downtown Hotel and the Fairfield Inn along the I505! Look for plenty of lodging in 2019!
  • A HUGE congratulations to the Winters Healthcare Foundation on the start of construction for their new campus on Grant Ave. This is a major project for our community and kudos need to go to the visionary leadership of many on their Board and Staff. Well done.

Our Winters Warriors have a bye this week, so come Downtown and enjoy a great evening on what is supposed to be a windy weekend.

John

 


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Friday Update on September 27 2018

A couple items this week:

First, the Festival de la Communidad/Carnitas Festival is this Saturday at Rotary Park and the Community Center from 4:00 to 11:00. The highlight is the “Carnitas” competition and dinner. This is one of our communities top events with food and entertainment for the entire family.

October 2, 2018 City Council Agenda

  • Salmon Festival Funding and Street Closure
  • Repairs for pumps at East Street Pump Station
  • Installation of Flashing Crosswalk Beacons on Railroad Avenue
  • Final Acceptance of Callahan Subdivision Public Improvements
  • Harvest Festival Street Closure on October 26
  • Strategic Planning Process and Schedule

Other happenings:

  • The Economic Development Advisory Committee is a really good group, brining perspective and vision on moving Winters forward in a measured and sustainable manner. At the September 27 Meeting we reviewed the SWOT analysis from previous meetings and started what we call the “idea building” process which involves folks from the committee offering ideas and concepts which will eventually form the recommendations from the group. Key issues discussed thus far including the flood zone and fees, the lack of key industrial and office locations, the vast ratio disparity of economic land zoning versus residential/public land and the need for a focused concerted public/private economic development team to recruit business. The group is exceptional and will be working on finalizing recommendations over the next month.
  • The “strategic planning process” on the City Council Agenda will be a very important program for moving things forward for the City over an almost 20 year period. The following is the main parts from the agenda report:

In 2007, the City Council, Staff and key community stakeholders held a two day workshop at the Abbey Street Fire Station 26 to set goals and priorities. In that workshop, many important priorities were established which included:

  • Downtown Renovation
  • Water and Sewer Projects
  • Utilities extended to I505
  • Construction of the Public Safety Facility
  • Putah Creek Improvements

The process included presentations on key needs, outlines of priorities from stakeholders and a number of exercises to gain input and consensus on the direction the City should be taking to achieve many of the goals. Without question, the process was an enormous success and the results can be seen all around town.

2018:

Staff is proposing that the City Council host a series of workshop on five (5) topical areas with key stakeholders to begin establishing goals and priorities for each area, which can then be funneled into a comprehensive “Strategic Plan” which would cover the next 15-20 year period.

Topical areas might include:

  • Planning and Economic Development
  • Community Facilities and Services (parks, facilities and services)
  • Infrastructure (Water, Wastewater, Streets, etc)
  • Public Safety
  • City Organization and Structure (succession planning)

Each topic will have an individual workshop to include City Council, Staff and Stakeholders in attendance. Projects and Priorities will be discussed, listed and ranked for each area. All meetings are open to the public and will be held in an open format.

From the topical workshops, theses priorities would then be brought before the City Council in a two day strategic planning workshop coordinated by professional facilitators. Each of the stakeholders from the previous meetings will be invited to attend the workshop and participate in a more global look at all topics and asked to help participate in a consensus process. Day 2 of the workshop will afford the City Council the opportunity to provide direction on the final priorities and give directions to the City Staff.

Stay tuned for the schedule as we move forward.

Happy Homecoming to the Winters High School Warriors as poor Live Oak faces a very impressive Warrior Varsity.

John


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Friday Update on September 21 2018

All,

Some items to end the week:

October 2, 2018 City Council Agenda

  • Senior Services Presentation
  • Resolution regarding Proposition 6
  • East Street Pump Station Repairs
  • Flashing Beacon Crossing Signals for Railroad Avenue
  • Salmon Festival – Request for Funds, Street Closure & Amplified Sound Permit
  • Waste Management Contract Amendment for Overage & Contamination
  • Winters Healthcare Public Improvement and Maintenance Agreement
  • Callahan Phase 1 Public Improvements Notice of Completion

Some notes on items occurring:

  • First, Congratulations to City Councilember Jesse Loren and local super involved resident Kate Laddish for being recognized by Congressman John Garamendi as Women of the Year for 2018. Jesse was recognized for her leadership roles within the City with the Hispanic Advisory Committee, League of California Cities and with the many regional agencies she represents the City on. Kate was recognized for her advocacy on affordable housing and work within the Winters Community. Congrats to both VERY deserving Women of the Year!
  • Lots of work occurring with the Heartland and Stones Throw Subdivisions. The interior roadways along with a section of Moody Slough Rd are well under construction and should be completed some time over the next few weeks. The projects are taking shape and will be nice additions to the community.
  • The City’s Building Department will have a “launch” of the same day permitting program on Wednesday, October 3 beginning at 3:30 at City Hall. Contractors and their representatives are welcome to attend to learn about the program as it gets ready to begin on October 9, 2018.
  • On Thursday, the City Council and I attended the one year anniversary on the opening of the PG&E Gas Operations Technical Training Academy. Key project personnel from PG&E were in attendance, including Gas Operations President Nick Stravopolous. It was nice to see this world class facility in operation and the overall commitment the utility is making to training their personnel and advancing gas safety at a very high level. During our conversations, we learned that the facility is considered a benchmark for other utilities throughout the country and by utilities world wide. Having such a world class facility in Winters is simply amazing. The facility trains over 150 personnel daily from all over the greater PG&E service areas in California. Kudos to PG&E and their entire team!
  • This Sunday is the inaugural “Porchfest” a series of mini-concerts and performances to be held on front yards and porches on Main Street between Second and Fourth Streets. Food trucks and performances will also be held at City Park. The event will be between Noon and 5 and is free to all attendees.

Finally, the City Council has approved the Downtown Parking Master Plan. The three (3) year effort was driven by community members and businesses concerned about the future of congestion and parking availability within our Downtown.  Some of the key recommendations and implementation programs which will be taking place include:

  • The establishment of the Winters Business Association, a compilation of business and property owners to guide management and policy implementation for parking within the Downtown. The partnership between the City and the private sector will be a key in the overall success in implementing the overall plan.
  • Construction of the new 38 space parking across for City Hall which will happen in conjunction with the opening of the Hotel Winters.
  • Re-striping of parking spaces throughout Downtown Winters. This will include a re-measurement and painting of all parallel spaces and re-painting of current diagonal spaces.
  • Establishment of parking time limits for the Downtown, re-signage and then enforcement. For most of the area, limits will be 2 hour from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with 30 minute zones in some key retail spaces and near the bank.
  • Alternatives for special event parking including remote parking lots and shuttles.
  • Working with businesses to have employees park in parking lots versus key visitor and customer.
  • Parking enhancements for bikes, accessible parking and electric vehicles.
  • Opportunities for the Winters Business Association to do assessments for future parking needs, structures, services and other alternatives including valet parking and enhanced security and lighting.

To see the entire Parking Plan and Report, go to http://www.cityofwinters.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/ParkingMasterPlan-FinalDraft073118.pdf.

Have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on September 14, 2018

All,

A busy City Council Meeting:

September 18, 2018

 

  • Executive Session:  Public Employee Performance Evaluation-City Manager, Conference with Joint Powers Agency-Insurance Liability
  • (2) Final Acceptance & Notice of Completions for Well #6 Rehab and Futsal Court
  • Sacramento Yolo Mosquito Vector Control District Appointment
  • Proclamation Recognizing 9/22-9/29 as Falls Prevention Awareness Week
  • Street Closure & Amplified Sound Permits for PorchFest Winters Music Stroll (9/23) and the WHS Homecoming Rally (9/28)
  • Public Hearing and Resolution Authorizing Additional Funding from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and from HOME Program Income for the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Housing Program
  • Public Hearing to Consider the Proposed Downtown Parking Master Plan
  • Golden State Finance Authority PACE Programs
  • Additional Funding from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and from HOME Program Income for the Domus Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Housing Project

A couple notes on things:

  • City Staff held a “rating call” with representatives from Standard and Poors (S&P) to gain a credit rating on the upcoming refinancing of water and sewer bonds.  The presentation included a comprehensive review of our utilities, discussion regarding water utilization, regulatory issues and extensive talk about the City in general. The City has regular calls with S&P each year but this was a marathon with over 50 slides in the presentation and lots of questions surrounding being a city in California. The S&P reps on the phone were from New York and Denver and they seem to be amused at what happens in California in terms of regulation. Overall, a good call! S&P give single letter ratings (A, B,C) in difference to Moody’s who gives three letter ratings (AAA, BBB,CCC). We have consistently rated high (A-) with our size and small customer base being the negatives.
  • The Putah Creek Phase III is well under way and the overall project is proceeding extremely well! The heavy tractor work will continue for the next week or so, followed by some plantings and erosion control to prepare for winter. We walked the flood planes today and the wildlife viewing is amazing as is the new channel and the backwater pond. For those worried about the otters, beavers and turtles, you can stop worrying, all is fine in their world and their presence is all over the place!
  • Putah Creek Clean-up Day is this Saturday, 9/15 from 9am-12pm (lunch is provided.) Meet at the Rotary Gazebo.
  • Staff met with a representative from the Bellvue North group which owns the 400 acres in the north part of the City. We discussed some procedural and planning topics in anticipation of moving forward with a process which will ultimately result in the annexation of approximately 250 acres and a specific plan for the property. In the meeting, Staff emphasized that the annexation and planning will need to include all properties within the City’s General Plan area. Bellvue indicated that their desire is to mitigate agricultural land directly to the north of the properties which are currently within their farming operation. Also discussed was the importance of a comprehensive solution to flood issues. Generally, a really good meeting.
  • Kudos to Councilmember Jesse Loren who is representing the City this week at the League of California Cities meeting being held in Long Beach. During the meeting, Jesse is being sworn in as a “Director” on the Board of Directors (a really big deal) and she has been working on the formation of a “rural communities working group” to bring better representation and focus to issues to smaller communities outside the urban core. On Thursday she facilitated a meeting of small communities advocating for the rural communities working group. Jesse has brought a significant level of leadership and is an important voice on issues for communities like Winters. Her selection as a Director on the League Executive Board is a reflection of her accomplishments within the City and Sacramento Valley Region along with her being recognized as a successful collaborator and knowledgeable elected representative. Well done, Jesse!
  • The focus of the Economic Development Committee this week was land use. We reviewed the zoning plan for the City, provided an update on the Flood Overlay Zone and identified a number of areas which might generate job producing projects. A really good group!

Finally, a court hearing was held on Monday regarding the Putah Creek Phase III project where an “emergency injunction” had been filed seeking to stop construction on the project. The request for an injunction was denied and the project is proceeding.

Phase III will provide enhanced access to the creek along with restoration of the area once the City sewer ponds. The collaborators on the project include the Putah Creek Council, leading UC Davis biologists and scientists, Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee and both State and Federal Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The permits for the project are numerous and from literally the most judicious agencies any permittee may need to face. The ecological and biological review has been extensive. There have literally been hundreds of meetings and thousands of hours spent working with key stakeholders.

Yes, part of the view shed along the creek is being removed, but it will be replaced with incredible direct access to the waters edge along with what will become a marquee nature park. It will take some time for plantings to grow, but the reality is that in 5-10 years, the place will be amazing.

The critics will be critical of the project and that is their prerogative, but the reality has been seen for years with salmon spawning, children swimming and people reconnecting with a creek once inundated by arrundo, blackberry and almost completely inaccessible.

If you have a chance, head down the north bank trail to seek things starting to shape up. Access to the new areas will be available once the construction is completed and planting have a chance to mature.

Have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on September 7 2018

All.

  • On Monday, September 10, 2018, City Staff and our financing team will be making a bond presentation before the bond rating agencies in preparation for the sale and refinance of Water and Sewer Bonds. This is a really big deal as it determines credit rating and the attractiveness of buyers to purchase the bonds at the desired interest rates. A solid presentation has been prepared and we are confident that we will be able to get high marks which leads to lower interest costs which equates to tens of thousands of dollars.
  • At the Tuesday City Council Meeting, the Council gave the green light on the implementation of a same day permitting program to help contractors and regular builders gain expedited permits for routine residential and commercial improvements. The Staff is working on a date for a workshop and a release date for an updated website to help folks to navigate the new system. At the workshop, attendees will receive a coupon for $25 off their next permit.
  • Tuesday night also saw the recognition of members of our public safety team who literally saved the life of Mr. Ramiro Garnica from cardiac arrest. Lifesaving awards were presented by the Yolo Emergency Medical Services Agency (YEMSA) to Brad Lopez, Jon Hunt, Adrian Draper, Steve Grisham from Winters Fire and Lisa Dolezal and Hollay Shayegi from AMR Ambulance. Also present were Jose Ramirez and Gordon Brown who were on the call. These members of the team provided lifesaving measures which brought Mr Garnica back to life and with all of us that evening. Truly hero’s in all meaning of the word!
  • Also awarded a lifesaving award was Oswaldo Garnica, Ramiro’s son who provided lifesaving CPR in the initial minutes of the call. Without question, Oswaldo is a hero to his family and the community for his quick action and willingness to begin CPR while emergency personnel were in route to the residence. Oswaldo is a graduate of the Winters Fire Cadet Program through the Winters High School Capstone Program where he learned the CPR which helped him save his father’s life.
  • Also in attendance at the meeting were representatives from the Yolo Emergency Medical Services Agency (YEMSA) including the director Kristen Weivoda. In 2013, Kristen was the lead in helping form YEMSA which resulted in an ambulance being stationed at the Winters Fire Station 26. The previous response times from Davis were typically 20 minutes but now they are less than 4. Prior to 2013, the chance of surviving cardiac arrest in Winters was very low. Today, we see the results with the saving of Mr. Garnica. Without question, Mr. Garnica’s positive outcome is attributable to the professionalism and effort made by Kristen and the entire team at YEMSA.
  • The City also recognized and thanked Mike Sebastian for his tenure as City Treasurer. Mike is an incredible asset to the Winters Community and the City is appreciative of his service over the past 12 years.

Finally, this week saw the notification of parents by the Winters Joint Unified School District regarding a possible threat on students. The notification brought a number of comments on social media which showed the good and bad of that entire medium.

The incident involved a juvenile student which carries significant confidentiality and is a delicate situation for both the WJUSD and the Police Department. I can share that the Staff at the District acted immediately as did Winters Police personnel in launching an investigation. The appropriate outside agencies were included and a thorough process involving authorities, parents and District personnel was implemented. This included the local FBI who investigated the issue and were the ones who directed the notification of parents. The determination of the investigation was there was no focused threat against any individuals.

The “duty to notify” is a new FBI protocol following the tragedy at Parkland High School in Florida. The School District was acting to prevent potential unnecessary concern from parents by receiving a “robo-call,” a call from an “anonymous” FBI agent, or a form letter from the FBI regarding a matter determined to be unsubstantiated but still merited notification out of a preponderance of precaution. The Police Department was involved in the decision process and completely supported the School District’s desire for a “personal” approach.

The District and Winters Police Department provided resources for the student and their family to address the delicate situation. The reality is that kids do some things which are not wise at times and they need to be dealt with in a measured and effective manner. It’s tough when those in authority cannot give many details about sensitive issues, which naturally leads to suspicion and guessing by many.

Unequivocally, I can share that Dr Todd Cutler, Chief John Miller and the staffs of the WJUSD and Winters Police put the safety and interests of students first along with addressing the sensitivity of the matter and the individuals involved. During a busy time when school was just starting and many key priorities were on tap, they worked diligently to address the issue, including interviews and meetings with a number of outside agencies, including the FBI. To theorize differently is simply ridiculous. Their professionalism and concern regarding the issue is without question. The community can be very confident in the manner and protocals of how they handled the incident. From the City perspective, we appreciate the team at the WJUSD!

Have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on August 31 2018

All,

A couple things:

  • Permits are being issued for both the Stones Throw and Heartland Generally, things are looking really good for both, the units are in line with approvals and we can expect to see some new homes going up over the course of the next couple of years.
  • Solar seems to be a big emphasis with the Heartland Project. Each of the units issued permits will be fully solar making this an exceptionally energy efficient project. Each of the new subdivisions will be covered under the “California Green” building code. This means from construction methods to the actual structures and landscaping will use very little energy. Stones Throw will also offer solar on each of their models.
  • The Downtown Parking Master Plan will go before the City Council on September 18. Initially, the big emphasis of the plan will include striping, signage for time limits, enforcement throughout the core area and the establishment of a “Winters Business Association”.
  • Staff is working on an ordinance to provide regulations for food trucks throughout the City. Some basics of the plan include that they can be located on private properties in zones which allow retail food sales, all must be permitted through Yolo Health, during special events they will be allowed in public rights of way and the direction is to avoid permits which allow for them to cluster.
  • Winters Fire has transitioned to Art Mendoza as Interim Fire Chief for the next four months. Chief Mendoza relieves Captain Matt Schechla who has served since May. The interim fire chief assignment has been a boon for Winters Fire, allowing for considerable professional development for the full time staff in the role of Fire Chief along with the “Acting Captain” position which has allowed a number of our reserve staff to see promotions on an interim basis. Overall, the programs have allowed for professional development and made Winters Fire a stronger organization.
  • Staff and the Mayor met with some key representatives from our playground community to discuss maintenance and future issues regarding the quality of experiences in our parks. The discussion included upkeep of playground structures, vandalism, trash and the decorum for renting park facilities for private parties. We kicked around the idea of the formation of some type of advisory group for parks as well as financing options and sources for facilities and maintenance. A really good meeting!
  • The Affordable Housing Steering Committee met to consider additional financing for the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Affordable Housing Project. Staff presented an option to loan approximately $700,000 to the developer to help assist the project move forward. The Committee’s recommendation will move to the City Council in September 18.
  • Staff is working with the Winters Express on a means for getting the Police Report out to residents. The issue has been the deadline for the newspaper (Tuesdays) and the ability of Police Department Staff to come in on a Monday and gather the information for the paper along with the many other duties required. Frankly, its tough coming in on a Monday and trying to get many reports input into State criminal data bases, address weekend issues (there are more on the weekends than weekdays) and meet the deadline for the newspaper. One option is publishing the report on the Police Department Facebook page during the midweek and sending the information to the press concurrently. The issue is that it misses the print newspaper or the information there is almost a week old. We will find a solution!

Finally, this week has a call to talk about the importance of newspapers and the free press. Unquestionably, the viability of print media is under enormous stress with the many sources available through the internet and other media. Personally, I prefer the local print newspaper versus the online versions. Given what social media has become, it is hard to find reliable sources for information out there, but one common and key resource is the printed newspaper.

The Winters Express has seen a transition in the past number of months. The passing of Newt Wallace, retirement of Charley Wallace, the departure of Debra DeAngelo and the tragic passing of Julia Millon has brought us a new publisher in Taylor Buley and an almost entirely new set of reporters. Taylor has changed the format and many aspects of the newspaper. Some support them and others not so much. The most important thing for which we need to count our blessings is that we have a weekly local print newspaper.

Whether someone agrees with the format or opinions of the newspaper, I would argue that Taylor is working diligently to make the paper sustainable. Without question, the Winters Express Staff are working hard, being creative and walking a balance between old school print journalism and bringing local reporting into the online era. Newspapers across America are folding due to the shrinking bottom lines. When that happens, an important part of the soul of those communities leaves and is gone forever.

As someone who is a frequent topic and sometimes a target of criticism and critique in the paper, I find the transparency and accountability that City Hall is held to as an important part of our democracy. Journalism plays an important role in both informing people and keeping those of us who hold key positions accountable for actions and recommendations. I tell people that my chubby demeanor is not what you think, I am actually all skin and bones, my skin is just really thick! The Winters Express is what provides this in our town.

Whether people agree or don’t agree with some of the stuff in the paper, we need to rally and support this critical resource. The Winters Express is an amazing institution of our town, recording our history and telling our stories on a weekly basis. The Winters Express is important, as is the free press.  Be grateful and support what we have.

Thanks and have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on August 24, 2018

All.

A couple items:

  • The Building Permitting Process will be a big focus on the September 4 City Council Meeting. Staff is working on a process for one day permitting for an extensive array of permits which will allow applicants and contractors to streamline the process for ease of application. The one day process will include both residential and commercial interior improvements, shade structures and minor additions, as well as photovoltaic systems. The Building Department is also looking online permitting as an option. Look for an extensive review in the agenda and at the meeting.
  • September 4 will have a presentation from the Yolo Emergency Medical Services Agency with a Winters resident who was resuscitated in a recent medical aid by Winters Fire, Police and AMR Ambulance. This will be an amazing event!
  • Looks like the Winters Healtcare Facility and Campus on Grant Ave will begin construction around October 1. This will be an amazing addition to our community.
  • The Police Department will begin a warning system for RV’s and camping trailers beginning next week. As summer slips away, so should the campers to the storage yards and out of the streets.
  • The City’s Human Resources Office will be focusing on professional development programs for all City Staff. This will include thorough training program audits for staff, along with projections for required training over each fiscal year.

Have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on August 17 2018

All,

The last few Fridays have been tough, so I apologize for no updates.

City Council Agenda for August 21, 2018

  • Public Hearing for Amended Tentative Map for Creekside Estates Subdivsion
  • Public Hearing for Prop. 218 Water & Sewer Rates– This will include recommendations on the adoption of new rates for residential and commercial customers.
  • Bond Issuance/Refunding– This will essentially refinance the 2007 bonds to a lower rate to reduce the financing costs and the impacts on rates.
  • Sacramento Yolo Mosquito Vector Control District Appointment– The recommendation is that Carol Scianna be appointed as an “Interim” Board Member to replace Greg Lanzaro who has served for the past 8 years.
  • Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) 50/50 Grant– this is a $5,000 grant to replace personal protective equipment including gloves, goggles, wild land gear.
  • WWTF Monitoring Services Agreement w/Luhdorff & Scalminini- This is the monitoring for the City’s wastewater treatment facility and groundwater protection.
  • WWTF South  Spray Field Repairs– This will replace sprinklers and water cannons which spray over the 200+ acres north of the City.
  • Carter Ranch Pump Station – Control Panel Upgrades
  • Amplified Sound Permit for the Festival de la Comunidad
  • Agreement Extensions for the Winters Highlands Phase 1 Subdivision– This includes extensions for projects already in progress including both the sewer and storm water lift stations.
  • Monitoring & Reporting Contract w/Wallace & Kuhl- This is for State required compliance monitoring at the former landfill on Moody Slough Road.

A couple other updates:

  • Things are moving rapidly toward the groundbreaking for the Fairfield Inn/Marriot Hotel next to I505. The developer is finalizing certain details and their engineering and building teams are lining things up.
  • Phase III of the Putah Creek realignment project is scheduled to begin the week of September 3.
  • The City Staff and Council will be working diligently on Animal Services including service levels and the development of a new Animal Shelter.
  • Look for the issuance of building permits for 13 homes in the Heartland (Callahan)subdivision in the next week.
  • Staff is working on a process to expedite one day issuance of building permits for standard construction projects. This will be on the September 4 City Council Meeting.
  • Staff participated in the “after action” re-cap for the County Fire and the Road 88 Fire. Key issued discussed were evacuation protocols and road closures. Overall, a good meeting!
  • Staff held a business owners meeting regarding the Food Truck Ordinance. A really good turnout and lots of input from businesses. Look for this to be before the Planning Commission in September.
  • Homelessness is an enormous issue in Yolo County. A coordination meeting was held in Woodland to begin coordinating efforts on a County-wide basis. In Winters, we have been dealing with folks camping in the creek. We will be coordinating with social services were applicable and doing code enforcement in some areas.

Have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on Friday, July 27, 2018

All,

Just a few items this week:

  • A really good meeting of the Economic Development Advisory Committee. This weeks theme was “collaboration” and we had presentatitions from Celia Esposito Noy, President of Solano Community College and Robert Burress the President and CEO of the Solano Economic Development Corporation. The Committee went through a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analsysis of the Winters economy with a lot of interesting views. The next meeting will be August 9 with a theme on Future Development which will include presentations from LAFCO and north area landowners.
  • Winters Police and Fire, Yolo 911, in cooperation with the Winters JUSD held an“active shooter” training on Tuesday at Shirley Rominger Intermediate School. This was a full/functional drill with radio calls, shots fired and a combination of assailants, victims and even the press. Many thanks to the City and District personnel who participated in a drill which we hope we will never have to deal with in real life.
  • The Planning Commission met on some key items, and approved a revised map for the Creekside Estates Subdivision and held workshops on both Air BnB and Food Trucks. Look for policies on both the short term rentals and Food Trucks to come back at the August meetings.
  • The Planning Commission will hold a Public Hearing on the Downtown Parking Master Plan and will receive an overview report on the City’s General Plan on August 14.
  • Winters Fire on OES Truck 333 is on the Carr Fire in Redding.
  • If you have time, check out the new mural at Lorenzo’s Market. An amazing tribute to the greater Winters area. A special thanks to the Winters History Committee and the Participation Arts for their sponsorship.

Finally, this was a really good week for Winters Fire, Police and AMR ambulance in that we had a “field save” of a life of a Winters resident. The law prohibits release of details, but I can share with you that we responded to a situation where we brought someone back from death. A combination of quick action, support from a bystander and the absolute professional acumen of the Winters team realized someone coming back to life and consciousness in an ambulance on the way to a trauma center. Amazing!

Our entire public safety team is a group of professionals who stand ready to respond at a moment’s notice, arrive on a scene with very few details, assess a situation, then make instant and critical decisions on care to implement life saving procedures. In this case, their fast action, professionalism and training helped bring someone back to life.

We are blessed to have these hero’s amongst us who can do what they do. I tell folks that our public safety personnel get to see people in the worst and most critical moments of their lives. In many (and most), the results are not as positive and the staff are often burdened in dealing with those outcomes. In this case, they saved the life of a someone who we know is important to both family and friends.

I am really proud of our team and grateful that I get to work with such stellar members of the City team. Good job!!

John


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Friday Update on Friday, July 20, 2018

All,

A couple things this week:

  • The Economic Development Advisory Committee will meet on Thursday, July 26, 2018 at 5:30 in the downstairs conference room at City Hall. The theme for this week will be “Collaboration” and the speakers will be representatives from the Solano Economic Development Corporation and Solano College. The session will also include a review of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats Analysis which is under way, along with a discussion of regional contacts for economic collaboration. This is going to be a really good meeting.
  • Street parking in town is limited to 72 continuous hours in any one location. In response to numerous complaints received city-wide, the Winters Police Department will begin proactively enforcing Municipal Code 10.16.050, which prohibits leaving unattached trailers on any street or alley for any period of time as well as parking any vehicle or recreational vehicle for more than (72) hour consecutive hours.

Citing and/or removing vehicles and unattached trailers pursuant to this section has historically been undertaken by the Police Department only in response to specific complaints. Unfortunately, the issues with these vehicles and trailers have increased around town and decreased the quality of life for many residents. In most cases, the Police Department will issue warnings to vehicles and trailers in violation of the Municipal Code prior to taking enforcement action. Vehicles that are clearly inoperable or have expired registration for more than 6 months may be towed immediately.

A permit can be obtained from the Winters Police Department to temporarily store a recreational vehicles or unattached trailer on the street for up to 5 days at a time. Please see Winters Municipal Code 10.16.270 “Exemptions—Issuance of permits,” the Winters Police Department website at http://www.winterspolice.org/records-services/, or call the Winters Police Department for further information.

  • The Planning Commission will have meetings on July 24 and August 14. On July 24, the Commission will hold a public hearing regarding the Creekside Estates Subdivision located on the corner of Grant Ave/Main Street. The Commission will also hold study sessions on Food Trucks and AirBnbs.
  • The August 14 Meeting will include a Public Hearing on a proposed Downtown Parking Master Plan and a presentation regarding the status of the City’s General Plan.
  • Staff is expecting a re-submittal of the plans for the proposed Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suiteswithin the next few weeks.
  • Homelessness is becoming a pervasive issue in Yolo County with impacts occurring county-wide, including in Winters. Look for an increased discussion by cities in the upcoming weeks and months. It’s a HUGE problem.
  • The Heartland Subdivision has paved a number of streets and is preparing for the construction of models. The project is starting to shape up!
  • Winters Police conducted a sweep of encampments in Putah Creek. A noticing procedure and trespass information is being provided to property owners along the creek.
  • The City Council has authorized the City Attorney to defend the City and respond to an suit brought against the City by the Friends of Putah Creek.

 

Finally, the City transitioned with the swearing in of recently elected City Council members and the selection of Bill Biasi as Mayor. Also sworn in were Tracy Jensen as City Clerk and Shelly Gunby as City Treasurer.

An issue covered in a couple letters to the editor, articles in the newspaper and on social media has been the passage of Measure G calling for the appointment of the City Clerk and Treasurer positions. A little more background:

Measure G was advanced under the notion that both the City Clerk and Treasurer positions had evolved into more professional and qualified positions versus purely representative positions. In order for the City Clerk to carry out the full range of duties, the person should become a certified municipal clerk requiring considerable advanced training and certification. Similarly, the City Treasurer requires professional training and acumen to fulfill the required duties and provide the necessary fiduciary financial responsibilities implied in the title and spirit of the position. Thus the concept of appointment of persons into these jobs has become necessary.

In 2004, the Department of Financial Management was established within the City based on the elevation of the complexity of many efforts being undertaken by the City. The City reformatted our financial management procedures, advanced the complexity of our budgeting and financial reporting along with preparation to issue debt financing for both redevelopment and water/sewer improvements. Part of the evaluation of the fiscal qualification of a community by rating agencies and underwriters is a consideration of the professional management structure of the City organization and the capacity of the financial management to fulfill long term obligations. Thus we created the Department of Financial Management which summarily absorbed the duties of the Treasurer.

The decision to move forward with Measure G was facilitated with the announced retirement of long time City Clerk. Nanci was the consummate professional and recognized the evolution of the position (she was a certified municipal clerk) and the importance of having a qualified professional in the position to protect the interests of the City. Because the duties of the Treasurer were now with the Department of Financial Management, it became only natural that we would advance a measure for the appointment of both.

Mike Sebastian who has served as the City Treasurer has provided incredible volunteer service to our community. The sole responsibility of his job the past 12 years has been that of an emergency check signer, a role he will continue to do. It is our full intent to recognize Mike’s service at an upcoming Council Meeting.

Have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on Friday the 13th of July 2018

All,

Happy Friday the 13th! A very busy City Council Agenda on July 17:

July 17, 2018

  • Second Reading of the First Amendment to the Restated and Amended Development Agreement for Callahan Estates
  • Second Reading and Adoption of Ordinance 2018-03 Approving Various Zoning Text Amendments to Title 17 (Zoning Ordinance) Re: Non-Conforming Uses, Structures and Lots
  • Street Closure Requests for Earthquake Festival & Monthly Downtown Street Meat Event
  • Two Claims Against the City of Winters – Barbara Meyer and Maribel Alexis
  • East St. Pump Station – Control Panel Upgrades
  • Appointment of Primary and Alternate Representatives on the Yolo County Public Agency Risk Management Insurance Agency (YCPARMIA)
  • Certify Election Results & Swear In Council Members
  • Resolutions to Appoint the Positions of City Clerk and City Treasurer
  • Designation of Mayor and Mayor Pro Tempore
  • Public Hearing and Approval of the Engineer’s Report and Ordering the Levy and Collection of Assessments within the City of Winters City-Wide Maintenance Assessment Dist. FY 2018/2019
  • TEFRA Public Hearing to Approve the Conduit Financing for the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Apartments Affordable Housing Project
  • Debt Issuance and Management Policy
  • Wastewater Treatment Facility Influent Screening Improvements, Project No. 16-03
  • Updates to Winters Municipal Code Related to Green Waste & Garbage Services
  • Designation of a Voting Delegate and Alternates for the League of California Cities Annual Conference
  • City Council Liaison Assignments

For the “summer swoon”, lots of activities going on around the City.

  • The Economic Development Advisory Committee held an organizational meeting on July 12. We essentially reviewed information about the economics of the City, went over some key documents which affect the City and set future meetings. Beginning on July 26, the Committee will meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays beginning at 5:30 in the Downstairs Conference Room at City Hall. Good stuff!!
  • The City welcomed our new Human Resources Manager Crystal Zaragoza on Monday. Crystal will be managing the human resources, risk management, training and benefits for the City. Crystal and her family live in Winters.
  • The Police Department is dealing with a multitude of homeless and transiency issue in Putah Creek. The plan is to work with the property owners and the transients to determine a course of action. Issues include fires, trespassing, health and sanitation matters and dumping. This is not an easy situation and we will work to find some common ground.

This week, I received a bunch of questions from a resident in relation to the notice which was mailed this week on water and sewer rates. Some really good questions and my attempts at answering them. Here is the Q and A:

  1. Who is responsible for managing the day to day of the water/sewer utility and what is the structure of the management? Is it City of Winters public works? City Council? Do we contract it out to a management company? Is it a single person? Is there a board of directors?…
    • Answer: The utilities are City operated. In 2013, we brought wastewater services in house (from a private contractor) and saved a considerable amount. The City Council is the “Board of Directors” and it is City managed and operated.
  2. Is the utility run as a for profit entity or is the goal net zero revenues?
    • Answer: The City is non-profit and the system is built to charge the service rates along with capital replacement for infrastructure. We are prohibited by California laws to charge beyond the costs of providing the service.
  3. When was the last time Winters Water/Sewer ran a annual surplus and what was it?
    • Answer:  Typically, any surplus is directed back into the capital funds for repairs (thus lowering future costs). When there are deficits, funds have been taken with a reduction of capital funds. Any or all excess revenues must remain in the Water/Sewer enterprises, they cannot be directed to other services within the City. Both Propositions 218 and 26 strictly prohibit fees from becoming general use taxes. The enterprises are meant to only benefit the system for which the rates are paid.
  4. What was the reason for the bond in 2007?
    • Answer: Extensive repairs to both water and sewer infrastructure. Specifically, we re-lined almost 40% of the wastewater collection system, replaced 100 year old water lines, rehabilitated two water wells and did extensive repairs to the wastewater processing system.
  5. How many customers (parcels) does the utility currently have?
    • Answer: Approximately 2,000 customers.
  6. At the current water rates how many more customers would the utility need to meet its revenue requirements?
    • Answer: Rate projections are based on the existing number of customers. Spreading costs across a broader base would ultimately lower rate increases, especially on the “fixed” portion of the rate.
  7. Would it be possible to get a copy of the financial statements for the past 5 years for the utility? (Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Statement of cash Flows)
    • Answer: Here is a link to the City’s comprehensive financial report which details the financial position of the utilities. Click HERE.  Go HERE for a link to a bunch of our online financial documents.
  8. As I understand it from the letter, the rate increase is required to keep the debt service coverage ratio in compliance with the terms of the bond and to fund current necessary capital infrastructure improvements and repairs. Is this a correct summary of the issue?
    • Answer: That is one of the key issues. The reduction in revenues has caused us not to be able to keep the debt service ratio of our bond covenants. The combination of costs along with lower water utilization (which means less revenue) is driving the deficits. It’s been 5 years since the last increases in utility rates and the proposed increases and refinancing of the existing bonds are meant to lower costs and a slight increase in revenues for the debt coverage and operations.

Have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on July 6 2018

All,

For the fifth year in a row, Winters witnessed a devastating wildfire which is close to 90,000 acres in size, the largest area we have experienced. This week was mostly dedicated to dealing with the ramifications of the County Fire and its impacts on the Greater Winters Area. The following is a synopsis and chronology of the events of the first couple days of the fire and some insight into our approach to response.

  • The actual fire began in Guinda on Saturday and quickly in the evening, we were being warned that conditions were ripe for a significant spread through the Capay Valley, into Indian Valley and along the ridge. By 4:00 on Saturday, we had “spotting” in key spots meaning the fire was headed south.
  • Sunday, July 1 9:00 a.m.- My phone starts blowing up with calls from the Fire Department, Yolo Office of Emergency Services and the Mass Care Coordinator for Yolo County.  By that morning, CalFire had already moved an “Incident Management Team” into Yolo County and was assembling at the Yolo Fairgrounds. By 9:00 am, we were given an estimate that the fire would possibly reach the outskirts of Golden Bear Estates and the Positas Road residential area. We were told that “mandatory evacuations” were being implemented with the prospect that the fire would reach the area within the next 6 hours. We were asked to activate our Emergency Operations Center and begin pushing information and notification to residents.
  • Sunday, July 1 9:30-Yolo County OES sent out a mass notification for key areas, including all properties “west of Road 89” from Madison to Winters. Unfortunately, the computer grab for the area included the City of Winters proper and more than half of the City residents were incorrectly notified to evacuate. We quickly worked to send a second call throughout the City cancelling the evacuation order and focusing it on the County areas outside the City and west of 87D.
  • By 10:30 we were setting up our EOC and many of our partners were arriving. The Yolo Sheriff’s Office arrived, City Staff, our Police and Fire Departments and our goal was to begin implementation of evacuation orders for Golden Bear and Positas.

Given that we have done evacuations and dealt with large fires previously, we knew we would run into some issues. First was skepticism from residents on evacuation. Golden Bear has about 50 residences and about 15 on Positas Rd. Over the past four previous events, the number of people actually evacuating has diminished significantly because of restrictions on re-entry even when the fire is out. People essentially choose to stay, which is their choice. We visited every residence in both locations with Sheriff Deputies.

  • By noon on Sunday, only a single confirmation of an evacuation had been confirmed from Golden Bear and 2 from Positas. The residents were staying put and we basically mapped the locations of those staying .

Our main goal at this point was to push information via our social media (mostly Facebook) and respond to “rumors” circulating about the fire. The Yolo Sheriff and OES did an amazing job of keeping the City in the loop on activities, as did the CalFire Incident Management Team. Regular briefings were scheduled we were represented at each.

  • We opened the Community Center as an “Information Center” to essentially gauge the evacuation of folks and to answer questions. No evacuees showed up but we did have some folks interested in coming in and talking about the fire. After 3 hours, we closed the Community Center and began directing persons needing shelter to the Esparto Boy Scout Cabin which had been set up as a shelter by the Yolo County Mass Care Coordinator. In total, only two people from the Capay Valley showed up for a single night.

Our experience with evacuations has taught us that most people are not interested in sleeping in a shelter. Many people have pets (which are typically prohibited) and most find a place to stay with friends. The Community Center does not have television, showers or internet which are now the basics of a good shelter. In the previous 4 years when we established shelters, we have never housed a single evacuee from Golden Bear or Positas. Most either do not evacuate or choose a hotel or stay with friends. The number one requested resource preferred during our previous evacuations was the availability and phone numbers for local hotels. Thus, when the evacuation order came forward, we immediately began calling hotels for availability and pushed that through our contacts and social media.

  • By the afternoon on Sunday, we closed the Community Center and made available the Boy Scout Cabin for persons changing their minds.

Some of the basic comments from folks was “why didn’t the City open a shelter”. The reason is rooted in our history of not having local evacuees and the amount of resources needed to staff a shelter. In this case, if we had requested the establishment of a shelter, they would have divided the resources from Esparto and sent them to Winters. In a shelter you also need to provide security and privacy. There is a system for persons coming to a shelter which is pretty labor intensive. Additionally, food, hygiene and things like television and internet are critical elements. Finally, we simply know our constituency for this situation.

In next weeks segment, I will cover the workings with CalFire and Incident Management Team 3.

Have a nice weekend.

John


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July 3 City Fireworks Show Cancelled

All,

With 44,000 acres burned, 3% containment (as of this morning), a mandatory evacuation in effect, poor air quality and smoke covering the town, we have made the decision to cancel the July 3 Fireworks Show. We will re-schedule for another date.

We also want to emphasize caution for all folks using fireworks during a very delicate time for our community.

John


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Friday Update on June 29 2018

Updates on some items before the Planning Commission on June 26 and upcoming City Council Meeting on July 17.

The Planning Commission considered design review and site plans for two properties and Phase I of the Olive Grove subdivision.

  • 800 Hemenway provides for a new 983 square foot single family residence on the property.
  • 508 Abbey includes a 933 square foot second story addition to the existing house.
  • The review for Olive Grove approved two separate plans for 5 homes on Hemenway Street. The plans include both single and two story residences.

The Planning Commission also heard updates on work being done regarding a new food truck ordinance and the creation of a regulatory framework for temporary rentals via Air BnB, VRBO and others. The Commission provide some really insightful input with both issues scheduled to come to their next meeting on July 24.

The July 17 City Council Meeting will have a pretty substantial agenda, including:

  • Certification of the June 5 Election Results which will include swearing in newly elected members.
  • Selection of the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem.
  • Appointment and Swearing in of the City Clerk.
  • Recommendation on designation of City Treasurer.
  • Two Public Hearings including the Engineers Report for the City-wide Assessment District and a Tax Allocation Hearing regarding financing for the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Affordable Housing Project.
  • Second readings for ordinances related to  the Zoning Text Amendment regarding setbacks for non-conforming structures and the Callahan Estates Development Agreement which were heard on June 19.
  • Street Closure Request for the Earthquake Festival.
  • A revised fiscal policy regarding City debt.
  • Authorization for construction for a bar screen at the Wastewater Treatment Facility.
  • Update on issues concerning City collected green waste and garbage services.
  • A revised lease agreement with American Tower Company for the cell tower located at the East Street Pump Station.
  • Appointment of a City representative to the Yolo County Public Agency Risk Management and Insurance Agency.
  • Designation of City Council voting member for the upcoming League of California Cities Annual Conference.
  • City Council liaison and committee assignments.

A couple of other notes:

  • Fees for trash service will increase based on the cost of living index starting July 1. The typical house will see their bill increase by about $2 per month.
  • Staff met with the City consultant on Senior Services and we expect that a report and recommendations will be coming by September.
  • The Police Canine Program is stalled and probably will be terminated, with funds raised being either returned to the major donors or transferred to the chaplaincy program and our K9- Kepi.
  • Fire and Police are working with other Yolo County public safety agencies on procedures for mass casualty incidents. A drill is scheduled for City personnel on July 24.
  • New body worn cameras for the Police Department will go into use in August.
  • Staff has submitted a grant application for funding toward a “refresh” of the City’s General Plan and the creation of a “sustainability element” to the Sacramento Council of Governments.

City Hall will be closed on July 4 in observance of Independence Day.

Have a nice weekend.


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Friday Update on June 22 2018

All,

A really big City Council Agenda, so I thought a Cliff’s Note Summary of some really important things which were covered is in order:

The consent calendar included:

  • The final map for Phase I of the Winters Highlands (now called Stone’s Throw) was approved. This includes the lot and subdivision which is recorded with Yolo County. The project has a development agreement and some of the provisions were modified to reflect some modifications to the conditions of approval in relation to public improvements and the timing of a number of things. The developer is also required to provide an irrevocable offer of dedication for all the the public improvements which includes the property, streets and various improvements being installed.
  • A contract with Vintage Paving was approved which will provide for street repairs to Edwards Street, East Main, Almond and Orchard Streets. The repairs will include spot repairs and paving.
  • An authorization was given for repairs to the Carter Ranch Sewer Lift Station to fix issues with the impellers and pumps in the well.
  • New salary ranges and revised job descriptions for City Employees were adopted.

The discussion agenda included five (5) public hearings and the City Budget.

The public hearings included and adopted the following:

  • The Yolo Habitat Conservation Program (HCP) and the Natural Communities Conservation Plan (NCCP) were adopted as part of the City’s participation in the Yolo Conservancy. In general, this is a 50 year plan to advance conservation of protected species and streamline mitigation programs for developers and the cities in Yolo County.
  • The establishment of a utility undergrounding district for Newt’s Expressway in the Downtown to deal with power and utility lines.
  • A hearing for all property owners to provide input in regards to weed abatement notices mailed within the past few weeks.
  • A zoning text amendment which allows existing/non-conforming properties which may encroach into setbacks to expand structures already in the setback which does not increase the current encroachment. This issue relates to many properties along Dry Creek which encroach into the top of the bank setback. In many cases, property owners can expand their homes “up” but not into the setback area.
  • The Callahan Estates Subdivision (now called “Heartland”) owned by Crowne Communities received approvals for their final map for Phase I, an amendment to the development agreement, an irrevocable offer of dedication for public improvements and the Public Improvement Agreement for the property. The amendment to the development agreement and the map involves turning one of three (3) small parcels designated as mini-parks into an additional buildable lot in exchange for a $90,000 toward park improvements.

Non-public hearing items included:

  • A review and adoption of an update to the City’s Wastewater Treatment Facility Master Plan which covers the main processing facility for all wastewater. The City Council selected option 2A which will add a future 50 acre storage pond, increased recycling/re-use of water and the continuation of secondary level treatment. Part of the discussion included that the City consider addition recycling options which might include wetlands uses near the current facility.
  • A review of increased rates for both water and sewer. The City Council was presented with three (3) options, and selected the lowest rate increase available which would provide for a $8.41 increase per month in the first year and an additional $1.99 in the second year for a total monthly increase of $10.41 per month over two years. The City will mail notices to all customer by July for a public hearing on the rates in August. The Council also authorized the refinancing of water and sewer bonds to take advantage of improved interest rates and lower the overall cost of debt on the monthly rates.
  • The Fiscal Year 2018-19 and 2019-20 Budgets were adopted. These provide for General Fund Budgets of $5.6m and $5.9m in each of the fiscal years which go towards parks, public safety and general operations of the City. All funds including water, sewer, capital projects and the general fund will include spending of $11.9 in FY 2018-19 and $15.4m in 2019-20. The budget include capital projects for street repairs from SB 1 funds, the addition of an additional police officer in 2019-20 and the expansion of facilities at the wastewater treatment facility. Also included is funding toward the design of a new community center and a sports park which will be contingent on whether the WJUSD pursues an additional facilities bond in November 2018.

The Planning Commission has a number of items this week including site plan and design review for homes on Hemenway and Abbey Streets as well as consideration of the first five lots of the Olive Grove Subdivision. Also, brief updates on the food truck and Air BnB regulations will be presented.

Finally, the last official full City Council meeting for long time City Clerk and Director of Administrative Services Nanci Mills was on Tuesday. There are few in the history of Winters who have provided a steady and impactful influence on the administration of the City of Winters as Nanci has!

During her tenure, Nanci has worked with four (4) City Managers, almost 40 different City Council members and has attended more than 900 City Council Meetings. In her position of Director of Administrative Services, she has hired all City  employees for the last 32 years, coordinated all labor relations, managed all recreation programs and facilities and overseen both risk management and the City’s records management system. In the absence of the City Manager, she has routinely served as the Acting City Manager. Her service to the City has been stellar!

Nanci has played a significant role in practically every major initiative of the City. The renovation of City Hall, revitalization of Downtown, the new library and swimming pool, major upgrades in water and wastewater utilities, the construction of bridges and the restoration of Putah Creek. Internally, Winters administration is as modern and professional as any in the area. Regionally, Nanci has served as the chairperson of the Yolo Public Risk Management Authority and is viewed and respected as a key leader in covering the liability and interests of the County of Yolo and the cities and special districts.

Most importantly, Nanci has served as a steady influence on the tone and demeanor of how the City organization works with our constituents. Her focus on helping folks and customer service has defined City Hall as an important resource in aiding those who come seeking assistance. Her ethics and moral compass has provided supervision and mentorship to many who have worked for the City over the past four decades. Without question, she has put Winters and our service before her own interests over the years.

Nanci is an irreplaceable member of our staff. I will share that those who will take some of her responsibilities come into a well run and professional operation that will continue the legacy of quality and thoroughness which defines Nanci.

As she moves into her “next phase”, Nanci will always remain a member of the City family and her influence will remain for years to come. She has a beautiful family and is a true friend to so many. While we will dearly miss her but we will quietly celebrate for her in retirement.

Have a nice weekend!

John W. Donlevy, Jr., City Manager


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Friday Update on June 15 2018

VSRP: No data available
VSRP: No data available

All,

Lot’s happening and ramping up for a new fiscal year with many projects.

City Council Agendas:

June 19, 2018

  • Winters Highlands (Stone’s Throw) Phase 1 Subdivision – Approval of Final Map #4507, Development Agreement and Conditions of Approval, Irrevocable Offer of Dedication of Right of Way and Public Utility Easement
  • Street Maintenance Agreement with Vintage Paving
  • Repairs to damaged impellers at Carter Ranch Lift Station
  • Labor Agreements (MOU’s), Job Descriptions, and Salary Schedules
  • Recognizing Rebecca Fridae for Serving 30 Years on the Yolo County Library Advisory Board on Behalf of the Winters Friends of the Library
  • Recognizing Nanci Mills for Serving 32 Years as City Clerk and Director of Administrative Services for the City of Winters
  • Adoption of Ordinance 2018-02 for Implementation of the Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan  (HCP/NCCP)
  • Approval of Newt’s Expressway Rule 20A Utility Underground District
  • Public Hearing to receive Input from Specific Property Owners Regarding Implementation of Weed Abatement
  • Introduction of Ord. 2018-03 to Consider Various Zoning Text Amendments Regarding Properties along Dry Creek with Nonconforming Uses, Structures and Lots in regards to creek banks and setbacks.
  • Proposed First Amendment to the Amended and Restated Development Agreement and Amended Tentative Subdivision Map for Callahan Estates Subdivision
  • Public Improvement Agreement and Subdivision Final Map for Callahan Estates Phase 1
  • Draft Wastewater Treatment Facility Master Plan
  • 2018 Water and Sewer Rate Increase
  • Proposed 2018 Water and Sewer Revenue Refunding Bonds for the 2007 Financing
  • Adoption of the 2018-2019/2019-2020 Budget

July 17, 2018

  • Second Reading of the First Amendment to the Restated and Amended Development Agreement for Callahan Estates
  • Approval of the Engineer’s Report and Ordering the Levy and Collection of Assessments within the City of Winters City-Wide Maintenance Assessment District, FY 2018/2019
  • TEFRA Public Hearing to Approve the Conduit Financing for the Blue Mountain Terrace Senior Apartments Affordable Housing Project
  • Debt Policy
  • Project Budget and Bid Authorization for Manual Bar Screen at Wastewater Treatment Facility
  • Updates to Muni Code Related to Green Waste & Garbage Services
  • American Tower Lease update for the existing cellular tower along Putah Creek

Some notes on things happening in the City:

  • Election results from Yolo County Elections are delayed, thus certification of the June 5 Election will not come before the City Council until July 17, 2018.
  • Staff held a pre-construction meeting with the development team for the Olive Grove Subdivision in regards to utilities and major infrastructure. Look for that project to get moving.
  • The update to the City’s development Impact fees is moving along. Staff will be meeting with the consultant on the project and should receive an update within the coming weeks. Look for this to move forward this summer.
  • Things are extremely busy at the Community Pool. Lot’s of swim lessons and we have added two more slots into the previous schedule.
  • The Blue Mountain Terrace Affordable Senior Apartments Project is in negotiation with the developer. One part of the project will be for the City to “disencumber” (give back) a $1m grant to the State and for us to reapply for a higher amount of funding. The projected costs for the Senior Center are around $2m. The previous grant limit on capital construction was a maximum of $1m. The upcoming grant process will allow construction costs of up to $5m and there is no penalty if we give the current grant back.
  • City is working with a number of groups, including the Winters Joint Unified School District on a career academy and job readiness program for high school students, focusing on the hospitality industry.
  • Emergency Management Training for City Staff and volunteers will happen on June 27 at the Public Safety Facility.
  • The July 24 Planning Commission Meetingwill include a revised tentative map for the Creekside Estates Development and the Downtown Parking Plan,
  • The Parking Committee has met and developed a final draft of the Downtown Parking Master Plan. The plan is in the final stages of editing and will go to the Planning Commission on July 24.
  • Lot’s of project plans are under building review including Winters Healthcare Campus, Stone’s Throw and Heartland model homes.
  • Winters Police have responded to a rash of calls related to fights and other domestic disagreements. We suspect that heat and alcohol may be contributing factors.
  • Police will be working with the WJUSD on an active shooter simulation at one of the schools during the summer break.
  • Chief Miller will be participating in a “School Safety Meeting” with parents and administrators.
  • The prescriptive burning along Highway 128has concluded. We are hoping this will reduce the prospects for another summer of wildfires in our local hills.
  • Public Works repaired the damage to the median portion of the roundabout. We suspect the damage was vandalism and have established measures to hopefully prevent similar incidents in the future.
  • Economic Development Committee will hold its first meeting on July 12, 2018 at City Hall beginning at 6:00.
  • The 2018 Management Internship Program is under way. Interns will be working on City Projects as well as getting exposure to outside agencies including Yolo County, LAFCO, Yolo Communications and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, ride alongs with the Police, drill nights with Winters Fire and inspections for both building and public works. A good group working on big projects.

The most controversial items on the upcoming agenda’s will be a discussion regarding water and sewer rates. Under considerations are increases in the $5-11 per month range for both bills. The call for an increase is simple, decreasing revenues are putting both utilities into the red.

The primary reason for the decrease in revenues is due to water conservation measures undertaken by the residents in response to the State of California’s mandatory 25% reduction in water use called for by the Governor and the Legislature during the drought. Our customers responded accordingly, reaching 30% reduction in water use when compared to pre-drought (2013) levels. The result of the conservation has significantly reduced water rate revenues to operate the system. More than 50% of the revenues for the Water Fund are based on volumetric (usage) portion of the water rate, which is comprised of a fixed fee based on the size of the water meter erving the property and a volumetric charge based upon the water used per month. The City’s current rate structure is generally allocated as follows- 40% Fixed/60% Volumetric Rate Revenue.

In June, 2018, the Legislature passed and the Governor has signed a bill making the conservation levels permanent and City revenue projections are tracking that the conservation will be sustained with the new regulations.

Similarly, the Sewer Fund also had a reduction in revenues. Like the water rates, the City’s sewer rate consists of a fixed monthly charge and a volumetric charge. Reduced water consumption has also resulted in reduced sewer revenues.

While water and sewer use has declined, the costs of operating the systems has only increased including electricity, maintenance, permits and personnel to operate the system leaving both funds unable to meet the cost of current year operations from current year revenues. Essentially both operations are running in a deficit position. The proposed increases are to the “fixed” portion of customer’s bills.  In 2007, the City issued bonds to do significant repairs on water and sewer lines throughout the City and the current revenues are positioning the City in a negative position to meet our bond debt service ratios which impacts the credit rating of the City and our ability to pay the financing costs.

Water and sewer bills are the toughest discussion within how the City does business. It hits literally every customer in the City. In this case, the cause is the State’s new conservation requirements and the worst part is, that it has the potential to get worse with the new regulations and building code requirements. The idea of paying more for a lot less does not sit well with anyone and we cannot agree more. The problem is we cannot just get rid of the operational aspects of the system, we need to pay the permits, electricity is constantly going up in cost and the cost of equipment just keeps going up and up.

The process for raising rates includes a mailer to all of our customers as required under Proposition 218.

John W. Donlevy, Jr., City Manager


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Friday Update on June 8 2018

All,

A bunch of items:

Here are the items on the June 19, 2018 Preliminary City Council Agenda:

June 19, 2018 City Council Meeting

  • Irrevocable Offer of Dedication of Right of Way and Public Utility Easement for Winters Highlands (Stone’s Throw) Phase 1 Subdivision
  • Final Map #4507 for Winters Highlands (Stone’s Throw) Phase 1 Subdivision
  • Adoption of the Ordinance for Implementation of the Yolo HCP/NCCP
  • American Tower Lease Extension
  • Certification of Election Results & Swearing in of New Council Members
  • Proclamation Recognizing Rebecca Fridae for Serving 30 Years on the Yolo County Library Advisory Board on Behalf of the Winters Friends of the Library
  • Public Hearing and Approval of the Engineer’s Report and Ordering the Levy & Collection of Assessments for the City-Wide Maintenance Assessment District, FY 2018/2019
  • Public Hearing for Weed Abatement
  • Public Hearing and Approval of Newt’s Expressway Rule 20A Utility Underground District
  • Consideration of Ordinance Regarding the Expansion of a Non-Conforming Building or Structure
  • Callahan Estates First Amendment to the Restated and Amended Development Agreement, the Tentative Map Amendment, and the Phase 1 Final Map
  • Waste Water Master Plan
  • Water & Sewer Rates
  • Refunding of Water & Sewer Bonds
  • Adoption of the 2018-2019/2019-2020 Budget
  • Full and Part-Time Salary Schedules

Items from a couple of the City Departments:

Public Works:

  • Rehabbing the North field spray heads – one line that hasn’t been operational has been finished and underground lines are being repaired.
  • Well #2 rehab is on video and the efficiency test will be next.
  • A new electric car charger has been installed and bricks are being replaced around the flowerbeds at the Community Center
  • Landfill has raised tipping fees due to State regulations and Waste Management wants to raise rates but will be required to go through the Prop 218 notification requirements.
  • Met with Cal Trans to discuss the Active Transportation Program and the funding of overpass improvements and the potential funding of projects along Grant Ave, including a second roundabout.
  • Planning: Received an e-mail of interest from Dutch Bros.

Building:

  • Posted three stop-work notices over the weekend.
  • Will be doing the first under floor inspection at Chevron and will schedule a pre-construction meeting with the general contractor.
  • Winters Healthcare re-submitted their plans yesterday.
  • Received complaints regarding an on-going yard sale on Emery Street.

Police:

  • Chief Miller is at Command College this week.
  • Cueto is attending critical incident training.
  • The department will be undergoing range qualifications.
  • There was a good police presence at graduation last week.
  • Gonzalez, McCoy & Ferguson attended a report writing demo.
  • New YECA dispatchers recently toured the facility.
  • Winters and Woodland Police Departments are two of the first agencies in the State to have dispatchers go on a ride-along with officers.  The officers will also sit in with the dispatchers.
  • Structure on Wolfskill has been red-tagged, which gives City representatives the right to go in unannounced.
  • There is a homeless population down in the creek.  While walking the creek from Wolfskill to I-505, 6 camps were found with multiple people in each camp.  Advised those folks to pack up and move elsewhere.

Fire:

  • An 83-year old hiker was rescued  in Cold Canyon via helicopter.  There is currently signage on the trail about fatigue, and the question of establishing a rescue fee for these types of rescues came up again.  The trail is technically on the Solano County side and falls under the Vacaville Fire Agency, but Winters F.D. is normally called because we are more familiar with the trail and its terrain. It was 96 degrees up on the trail and none of the hikers had water with them!
  • Received paperwork for fireworks on July 3rd and will put together a plan to cover the event.
  • Will be conducting two training burns, one being on the Hwy. 128 corridor.
  • Ignitions class burned off 15 acres on Wednesday.’
  • Putting together job description for seasonal firefighters as we are expected to lose 12-15 firefighters to Cal Fire.

Monday will begin the City’s 2018 Intern Program with three graduate level students in the program. Lot’s of assignments will be worked on over the summer, including:

  • Comprehensive Affordable Housing Report-This will include an inventory of all affordable housing in the City, mapping, an issues review of housing issues both within the City and throughout the State and finally an opportunities/constraints analysis which will evaluate both Federal and State legislation, financing and initiatives.
  • General Plan Sustainability Element-Working on the development of a new “General Plan Element” on sustainability topics and policies including energy, air quality, recycling, transportation and housing. This will include both policy and implementation program development. (Group Project)
  • Economic Development issues including our Ag Economy, Economic Contacts and Programs in the regions and a summary of the Brookings Report Study on the Sacramento Regions strengths and weaknesses.
  • Police projects will include a Creek Nuisance ordinance and dealing with property owners, False Alarm Ordinance, Parking fines update, Emergency Business Contacts Update and a grant proposal for a mobile field force grant.
  • Planning projects will include Air BnB regulations, Food Trucks and a review of transit alternatives through YCTD in Winters.
  • Public Works will include inventory and GIS coordination of City assets, Wastewater System Maintenance Program, Climate Action Plan and new State Water Conservation Regulations which will limit water consumption starting in 2020.
  • Emergency Services basic training for both Federal and State programs.
  • Fire will include an update to the Active 911 Program, Pre Plan Survey’s of Commercial structures and Lexipol Policy implementation.
  • In Financial Management, Interns will be generating Pension Rate Sheet Analysis, doing a business license survey of the region and the development of a template for our Annual Impact Fee Report.

Finally, our local elections are completed with the retention of the three incumbent Council Members and the passage of Measure G which makes the City Clerk and City Treasurer appointed position.

A common question asked by a lot of folks is “what does it entail being on the City Council?” The answer is revealed each City Council Meeting during the Council Comments section.

About 7 years ago, the City Council began going through their calendars and announcing their appointments and meetings which have occurred between each City Council Meeting. They report out their attendance at City events, Board and Commission Meetings, State-wide events, educational seminars and even their individual meetings with Staff and the City Manager. Each will recite the number of commitments required often without any explanation of their need for preparation, exhaustive reading and follow up with the staff from the outside agencies for which they represent the City. The typical member probably describes a minimum of 12-20 meetings and obligations each month, depending on the season. This is done for transparency and disclosure.

In a small town, the participation and due diligence of the City Council is a critical role. On major issues like the Yolo Conservancy Plan, they are often required to read thousands of pages of narrative and technical reports before attending 3-4 hour meetings with more homework following that meeting. Representation is critical, because their votes and attention to detail can represent thousands and at times, millions of dollars to the City.

The reporting out also understates their own personal knowledge which is required to be on the City Council. “Getting up to speed” on issues, especially land use can take years! “Routine” items like understanding the City-wide assessment district, the City’s debt limit report (Gann Limit), Weed Abatement Ordinance are no simple tasks. These folks work hard at what they do.

Mostly, being on the Council takes a pretty firm commitment to becoming a knowledgeable representative of the entire community and making votes and decisions which represent a very long view for City residents. When the Council votes, we often remind them that they don’t represent just the folks who show up at the meeting, they represent every resident and business member not in the room, which can make for a very unpleasant evening on controversial issues.

Winters has been blessed with City Council members who really care and take their roles seriously. They evolve into visionaries, seeking to make an impact both within and beyond the City’s borders. They have made Winters a regional “leader” on many issues, taking the local community interests and values and translating those regionally. They “represent” and extend the reputation of Winters in how they conduct themselves and ultimately, they are the one’s “at the table” when it is time for allocations of funding for City needs with their influence making the difference in how monies are distributed.

The City Council are developing and cultivating future leaders in a very unselfish manner. They develop opportunities for folks to “engage” with the City on committees like the Parking , Hispanic Advisory and  Economic Development Committee’s. Eventually folks rise to appointments on the Planning Commission which is a strong foundation for moving to higher levels.

I genuinely feel blessed with those I have worked with. Dedicated folks, who generously commit themselves (hundreds if not thousands of hours annually) to representing our community and take on leadership roles which eventually evolves into becoming mentors and cultivators of future leaders.

Have a nice weekend.

John


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Friday Update on June 1 2018

All,

First, a major omission in recognizing a major contributor to the City Park Playground Build and that is the Mariani Nut Company Foundation who was a top donor to the project. Without question, Mariani Nut is a major contributor to our community in many ways. They were a major donor to the first playground build in 1989 and their generosity was one of the key elements to spearheading the 2017 build. They are a major benefactor to the Winters community through grants and scholarships to graduates from Winters High School. From a corporate generosity standpoint, they are a model in Winters!

Lots of other stuff this week:

  • City Council Meeting has a very full consent calendar with City Wide Assessment District, Weed Abatement, Street Closure for the July 3rdparty, a Proclamation for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Environmental Monitoring Services for the Elderberry Conservation Easement, the Habitat Conservation Plan and the City’s Appropriation Limit.
  • City Staff met with representatives of the Bellvue North Group who own 400+ acres in the north part of the City and our General Plan area. Overall, a really good meeting regarding the area.
  • The Downtown Hotel is looking up! We are in full inspection on the project and so far, so good.
  • The Winters Police Department will now be carrying Nalaxone in all of our Police vehicles to help potential overdoses of persons with overdoses. Click HERE for the full story.
  • Slow down on Railroad Ave both coming into town and out. The speed limits have been adjusted and Police will begin enforcement.
  • Staff is working to address issues regarding vandalism in the City Park Restrooms. The reality is people do some pretty awful things in public restrooms which children and other visitors are being subjected to when they visit the park. It’s a persistent issue which is probably one of the most frustrating we deal with at the City. For people who see issues in the restrooms, before putting pictures up on social media and complaining, give City Hall a call so we can get someone out there to address the issue.
  • A little insight into our public restrooms! We expect that the restrooms (City and Rotary Parks) will be vandalized every day! Also, we do not lock the restrooms over night, because if they are locked, people will ultimately relieve themselves elsewhere in the park, most likely directly outside the restroom or in areas where children play. We have a professional company do a sanitizing clean three days and our staff cleans them on the weekends. There are two restrooms a side and we keep one locked each day and one open so 7 days a week we start with a clean restroom. Unfortunately, we have no power over when people will do disgusting things and it never fails that it is when a bunch of parents and children are on their way to the park. Like I said, if you see something, give us a call.
  • June 2 is Elder Day in Winters. The community will recognize John Barbee age 97, Helen Hosier age 90, Evelyne David age 99, Mary Jean Vaughan  01/11/192, Ben Shimomura  age 98, Brigita Alarcon 10/08/1928, Jose Diaz   09/26/1928. The program is at the Community Center and begins 2:00.

Finally, being the City Manager of a small town involves some highs and lows. In less than a 24 hour period this week I got to experience both in very dramatic ways.

On Memorial Day, I attended the services held at the Winters Cemetery which was sponsored by the Winters Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Cemetery District. It was our hometown at its best, with the Boy Scouts conducting a flag ceremony, the Brownies and Girl Scouts  doing the flag salute and the Star Spangled Banner. Mayor Wade Cowen gave an incredible speech on the meaning and history of Memorial Day and the day was culminated with the ceremonial wreath laying by Kimi Kato, the widow of Winters resident Pete Kato who went from a Japanese Internment Camp to a part of the most decorated division in the United States Military in World War II. Music was provided by ARC Guitar owner Al Calderon. The day was a little windy, but one of the most patriotic and beautiful ceremonies I have ever experienced. It never amazes me how folks coming together in our town can top anything you may see at any of the major events anywhere. It was just beautiful!

On the following Tuesday morning, I received notice from our Police Department that Robert Duvall, our Police Chaplain had been dispatched to give a death notification due to an auto accident. The name was Julia Millon. I almost fell down!!

Julia was a Winter High Valedictorian in 2008 and was a rising star with the Winters Express as the associate editor. I had considerable interaction with Julia in her coverage of the City and she had recently interviewed us about the demise of our redevelopment agency. She was bright, articulate and someone who certainly was a star in our community.

The thought of her passing was an absolute tragedy. All you can say about potential, future and loss can be attributed to her sudden death. Without question, she will be missed by many and her friends. We at City Hall have been especially sad!

Being a small town City Manager is an absolute blessing but the times when you are privy to bad news is the absolute worst. You get to know so many people, their families, kids, co-workers and the people. You lose a lot because the small town brings us all together and when one is taken, it’s a time of sadness.

I count my blessings for the times we all come together as well as the times where we mourn.

John


  • -

Friday Update on May 24 2018

All,

A couple items before the Memorial Day weekend:

  • The Planning Commission took on a number of issues the other night involving food trucks (sent back to staff for more research), elimination of a park parcel in a new subdivision (approved) and an interpretation regarding vertical development along Dry Creek (approved). The City has an exceptionally good Planning Commission with thorough insight and they are doing their homework. Well done this week.
  • Staff and Main Street Property Owners met to discuss the undergrounding of utilities in Newt’s Expressway. Overall a good meeting with more work to do!
  • Interviews for a new Human Resources Manager will happen next week.
  • Congratulations to the Winters High School Varsity Baseball Team for a 30-1 record and another Northern Section Title for WHS. A championship group with an amazing coach in Jeff Ingles. Coach Ingles has more than 500 career victories and has coached 29 playoff teams, 20 league champions and 13 section champions in 20 title-game appearances. Players and parents alike with agree that Jeff Ingles teaches the players more about success in life than just the baseball field. Winters is blessed to have someone like Coach Ingles guiding our varsity program!

Finally, Memorial Day is a chance for us to remember and honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defense of liberty and freedom in our Armed Forces. Services will be held at the Winters Cemetery on Monday, May 25 at 10 am.

A couple years ago, I was at a presentation by a representative of the “Gold Star Mothers”, a support group which helps families who have lost loved ones in military service. The presentation was absolutely riveting because most cases involve relatively young service members who had died in battle. The “mother” who spoke to our group lost a 21 year old son in Afghanistan two years prior. My heart absolutely dropped when I considered that my own son was the exact same age.

Her story told about a motivated young man who joined the service following a cadet program in high school and his desire to find and take advantage of the many opportunities available in our armed services.  He was a star high school athlete who wanted to serve his country while trying to figure out what he wanted to do in his life. A close family which was heartbroken at his passing, yet proud of his service and conviction.

You can imagine over the time of humanity, the individuals who have given their lives in defense of a cause. The families and friends who are impacted along with the potential loss with the passing. Both heroic and tragic at the same time.

In the United States and elsewhere, those who have given their lives so others may live in liberty and freedom are true hero’s. We can all feel blessed for the service and sacrifice for these men and women.

Hopefully people will take a moment on Memorial Day to remember those who have died in service of us all along with their families and friends who have sacrificed their loved ones.

John


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