Friday, September 30, 2005

Wine, music and chocolate--Suisun Waterfront hosts annual event

From Daily Republic // Sept. 30, 2005

By Andrea Garcia

VACAVILLE - Vito Accardi, a Sicilian-born winemaker with a strong sense of family tradition, wants folks to taste a sip of his culture.

His 5-acre estate, named Accardi Vineyards, was once a vast field of weeds nestled within the Vacaville landscape. Eight years after planting imported grapes, the acreage is now a wine-producing terrain.

More importantly, it is a place where the tradition of familia remains strong, a place where the four Accardi members grow and harvest their own product and share a glass of wine after a long day's work.

But Accardi's experience in wine is also an ancestry tradition.

As a child, Accardi roamed the Sicilian vineyards belonging to his grandfather, uncles and cousins. He learned their methods, bottled and sealed it, then brought it to the States, only to be shared with the public after the winery's inception in 1998.

Years later, and with a variety of seven reds and one white from which to choose, Accardi Vineyards has become the only winery in Vacaville to sell wine as well as one that provides naturally fermented selections.

"All of our wines taste different because they have no additives," Accardi explains with an enthralling Sicilian accent. He smiles. "These don't give you headaches like others."

Keep in mind, however, sulfite-free wines have a limited shelf life.

"Because our wines have no preservatives, it can hold for about three to four years," says Cinzia Accardi, Vito Accardi's daughter. "But we still have wine from 1999 that has maintained its taste."

Undoubtedly, Accardi wines do evince a unique quality. The smell of his 2000 Barbera, for example, flaunts a smokey-like aroma with a hint of clove, nutmeg, raisin and prune. The 1999 Sangiovese wine, offering grapes imported from the Tuscan region of Italy, also emit a strong oak barrel smell filled with a plethora of dark fruit.

"When you break the skin of the grape they mostly smell the same, but when it gets ripe and sweet, that's another story. You have to know when to pick them," the winemaker says of his full-bodied wine.

If the unparalleled taste from his vineyard isn't enough for the palette, perhaps the wine-filled chocolates could please the sugar-loving soul.

Apart from a selection of wines and a facility that offers "wine dinners" - meals prepared from scratch from Accardi's Sicilian-born wife, Adela - the winery offers bite-size dark Sonoma chocolates filled with their own 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wine lovers and beyond will have the opportunity to sample Accardi wines and chocolates, as well as a plethora of other local wineries and confectioners during the "Suisun City Waterfront Festival" Saturday at the Suisun's Historic Waterfront from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"It will be an exquisite art, wine and chocolate festival with family entertainment," says Shelly Kontogiannis of Suisun's Athenian Grill, coordinator of the event and president of the Business Improvement District.

Kontogiannis, along with Debbie Kiikvee of " Do Me a Favor Wedding and Special Events," collaborated with the BID and the City of Suisun City to bring this annual event as a way for the public to enjoy local food, wine and entertainment.

"We'll have more than 50 booths in total all around the waterfront," Kiikvee says. "We have several artisans, crafters, food vendors, free boat rides by Adam's Marine, a bake-off, bongos playing all day and a wine store."

Also featured at the event will be Eagle Eye Winery, a local vineyard owned by Bill and Roxanne Wolf. The wine, grown in the fertile land of Napa, is labeled with the artwork of Roxanne Wolf, which will also be sold at the event.

Other wineries include Ledgewood Creek, Kenwood Winery, Purple Pearl Vineyards, Inc., St. Supery, PRP Wine International, Sunset Cellars and Wooden Valley. Chocolate will be supplied by Thompson Candy, Guittard Chocolate, Granny Jan's Homemade Fudge and Vintage Sweet Shop. There will also be children's activities at the North Basin by Soroptomist International.

Reach Andrea Garcia at 427-6935 or


  • 'Suisun City Waterfront Festival'
    10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, 2005
    Suisun's historic waterfront at Harbor Plaza and the Promenade
    Free for event; $20 a glass with nine tastings
  • On Stage
    10 a.m. Stephen Dreyfuss
    11:30 a.m. Solano Youth Theater
    Noon Just Gotta Dance
    1 p.m. Time Bandits
    2:30 p.m. Bake-Off awards
    3 p.m. Time Bandits

Monday, September 26, 2005

Peterson Ranch: Suisun's newest neighborhood

From Daily Republic // Sept. 26, 2005
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Moving to the quiet streets of Peterson Ranch put another hour onto Pammi Singh's commute, but he doesn't mind.

"It is a quiet area," his wife Sophia Seboka said of their home. "We liked it for our daughter because it is a safer place to live. It is a little windy and there are a lot of little bugs."

"The bugs don't bother me," Singh said, calling Suisun City's newest neighborhood a nice place for families.

Peterson Ranch with its 578 homes, both built and still planned for, is the latest and last of Suisun City's major developments, and defines the city's northeast boundary.

Its construction helped ensure the recent widening and improvement of Walters Road as well as giving Suisun City a much-needed boost to its property tax base.

Sacramento-based K Hovnanian Forecast Homes started building homes in Peterson Ranch in October 2002 and home construction is still continuing.

So far, 384 houses have gone up in the Suisun City neighborhood with another 194 still planned or under construction, according to the Suisun City Planning Department.

The only wrinkle in getting some of the homes built is getting approval from the Air Force because of the houses' proximity to the nearby Travis Aero Club on Travis Air Force Base.

Even though the neighborhood is on the far side of Suisun City from City Hall, it has its own community center - which houses the Suisun City Police Department's crime prevention and code enforcement offices.

The center has office hours where residents can get information and use some of the police services. The building can be converted to an emergency dispatch center if needed.

"People are coming here more and more," said Joanne Ledford who heads up the department's crime prevention and neighborhood watch programs. "There are now people from Montebello and Lawler Ranch (neighborhoods) using us."

During a recent summer grass fire, some residents turned up at the community center asking for help.

Ledford considers the relationship with the neighborhood a mutual fit with nearby residents who tell Ledford when they are on vacation and would like an eye kept on their homes.

"We keep an eye on them and they keep an eye on us," Ledford said.

Despite having Travis AFB as a next-door neighbor, homeowners say they seldom hear the large C-5 Galaxy and KC-10 Extender aircraft when they take off or land.

"You are more likely to hear their loudspeaker playing reveille when the wind is blowing in the right direction," resident Thomas Dillon said.

Armando Antonio, who lives within sight of the base's large concrete storage bunkers, said he hardly noticed the base in his one-and-a-half years in Peterson Ranch.

"It is a very quiet and nice neighborhood," said Antonio, taking a break from painting his fence.
His wife convinced him to move from their house in Vallejo and she loves the place despite her own longer commute, according to Antonio.

Singh and Seboka have lived in Peterson Ranch for a year after hearing about the area from a friend.

His commute to his job in the Marin area is not bad since he leaves by 5:30 a.m., but the return is much more congested.

The traffic getting to Fairfield is not bad, but they would have liked to have schools nearer for their daughter.

While without any schools of its own, the students go to either Tolenas Elementary School, Grange Middle School or Armijo High School, all outside of Suisun City limits.

The area has four neighborhood watches and three neighborhood parks. To shop, residents can go down Highway 12 to the Sunset Shopping Center or into northeast Fairfield.

Due to its newness, most of the homes are owned by those who came looking for a move-up home, according to Vicky Hardy of Forecast Homes.

"Eighty percent of the people moved here from elsewhere in Suisun City," Hardy said. "They are mostly young families, a lot of them with children."

Lacey Gibbs and his wife moved to the area in 2003 after looking at other places in Vacaville and Fairfield.

Her commute is to San Francisco while his is just around the corner to Travis Air Force Base.

"I have been seeing the changes in Suisun City for the last few years," Gibbs said. "It seemed like a good place to move to and it has proved to be just that."

He describes his part of Peterson Ranch as "an awesome neighborhood that is not only ethnically diverse, but diverse age wise too."
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Peterson Ranch

  • Home construction started: 2002
  • Completed: Still under construction
  • Number of houses: 384 (578 at build out)
  • Median sales price: $550,000
  • Schools: Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District
  • Nearest Shopping Center: Sunset Shopping Center
  • Parks: Patriot Park

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

New Orleans family finds refuge in Suisun City

From Daily Republic // Sept. 21, 2005
Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - When Stella Price and her family headed west from hurricane-shattered New Orleans, they had little more than the clothes on their back and a car rented with the use of an American Red Cross voucher.

When Tech. Sgt. Renard Curry called his father - Arnold Miller - in New Orleans the day before Katrina hit, Miller said he was planning to ride Katrina out in the Ninth Ward home where he was born and raised.

A continent away from the devastated New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina's victims are making new lives for themselves with the help of Solano County residents.

'This is a dream'
Price and her family were saved from their flooded New Orleans home by helicopter after Katrina tore through the city.

It took days to gather together the other five members of her family from Red Cross shelters and decide to head west to her sister's house in Suisun City.

"We were just trying to get to family," Price said.

The Prices' salvation came in the form of an alliance of Suisun City employees, residents and local business people who were already putting together goods, services and housing vouchers to help families made homeless by Katrina.

That included a house provided by Jacqueline Kendrick, fixed up by Suisun City workers and business owners, and filled with clothes, linen, food, furniture and kitchenware to make it a home.

"It was people from all over, most of it done by Suisun City employees," said City Clerk Linda Hobson, who spearheaded the effort.

"I was in Dallas watching the news (when Katrina hit)," Kendrick said of how she got involved. "The Lord told me to help. I had no idea then that this would be the way."

This was not what Price and her family expected when they arrived in Suisun City.

"This is a dream. To be blessed with this is a dream," Price said. "We didn't know where we were going where I was going to live when we left Houston."

Hobson and others are still working to hook up family member Luther Price, who previously worked in New Orleans as a truck driver, and Edward Price, who worked as a laborer, with work.

Chaos in the Superdome
Curry spent the first few days after the hurricane trying to track down his father, finally locating him in the Houston Astrodome, where he was bused after spending several days in the Superdome.

With the support of his unit and help from the Red Cross, he collected his father and brought him to live with his family here.

Miller changed his mind during the hurricane when he looked outside to see a nearby tree bent over in the wind. He and a friend drove through the storm to the Superdome feeling they would be safe there.

"There was chaos in that dome," Miller said. "There was a loud rumbling. Then roof blew off and the rain poured in."

During the next few days, Miller had to struggled to stay dry, get food and water, and steer clear of the thugs whom he remembered were singing hymns while they were breaking into vending machines.

Miller was shipped to the Astrodome, which he said was much better organized than the Superdome.

During this time, Curry was worried about his father, trying to track down the locations of him and other family members.

"It was stressful," Curry said. "I didn't know what was up with him."

Once he located his father, Curry flew to Houston where he found Miller getting his first decent sleep since the hurricane in a hotel room.

"It was a good feeling to find him. We talked for three to four hours," Curry said.

Now, Curry has his father at his home here, got him set up with the Veterans Administration and is getting great support from friends and people in his unit.

"It has been good now," Curry said. "I have been trying to get him out to California but it took a storm to get him here."

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Suisun approves Adams Marine negotiations

From Daily Republic // Sept. 21, 2005
Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The City Council approved a deal on Tuesday to exclusively negotiate with Adams Marine owner Bill Adams to expand his business, but not before councilmembers voiced concerns over the project.

Adams wants to buy most of an adjacent Redevelopment Agency parcel from the so he can expand the Adams Marine building by 50 percent and increase the size of his boat yard.
He also wants to buy the land Adams Marine sits on, which he is leasing from the Agency.

Councilman Sam Derting was concerned that Adams doesn't want the entire lot, and that what he doesn't buy would be difficult to market.

Councilman Mike Segala also wanted to ensure whatever is built doesn't cut off public access to the waterfront, which would allow residents to walk along the waterfront from downtown to the public boat launch.

Mayor Jim Spering was not pleased to hear this, saying he was "disappointed that the council has decided to sit here and design." He cautioned the council against putting constraints on the project before it was presented to the city's planning commission.

Nothing was heard from a group of three developers who wanted to build three live-work houses on the site accused the Agency earlier this summer of sidelining them in favor of Adams' proposal.

Adams has 60 days to reach an agreement with the Agency with the possibility of getting a 45-day extension from the City Manager if she feels Adams and the Agency are close to a deal.

In other business, the council approved creating a business assistance program to help businesses in the Suisun City Waterfront Business Improvement District pay their assessment fees.

The program puts aside $5,000 to pay the district fees for businesses that can't afford the fees. The program was proposed after the city council approved requiring businesses to pay their fees if they want their business licenses renewed.

Resident George Guynn spoke out against the program calling it "another example of creeping socialism."

The BID requires businesses to pay between $200 and $300 a year for membership and one BID member said if the business can't afford that they should not be in business.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Social club works to renovate building

From the Daily Republic // Sept. 14, 2005

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The 80-year-old home of the Wednesday Club is in need of renovation and the club's members are rallying together to fix up the Old Town Suisun City landmark.

"Over the years, just as with your own home, it needs repairs," said renovation committee co-chair Polly Valeriote.

Wednesday Club members are kicking off their efforts with a renovation raffle at the club's annual Fall Festival on Oct. 12. The proceeds from the bazaar's booths will also go to fixing up the club.

"Usually, our money goes to scholarships," Valeriote said, adding that since the club's scholarship fund is in good shape, "this year, we are putting all of our money towards renovation."

The Wednesday Club is one of the oldest women's social groups in Solano County, founded in 1911 by 16 Suisun City women who felt their town needed a community group.

The present home of the Wednesday Club, a stucco building, was put up in 1925 on Sacramento Street and the club moved in a year later.

During the club's lifetime, it has been a part of dozens of civic and community projects as well as offering scholarships to local students and hosting speakers and performers at its monthly meetings.

The club's top-to-bottom needs range from a new roof and work on the floors to replacing the bathroom kitchen fixtures. One local builder estimated the cost at $160,000 to get everything done.

"It needs a lot and any little bit we can get is appreciated," Valeriote said.

Several local businesses have been generous with donating prizes to the Wednesday Club's raffle, according to Valeriote.

"People can donate directly to the renovation fund, but if they would like to have some fun while they are doing it, they should come to the bazaar," Valeriote said.

The bazaar will be held at the Wednesday Club from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. A lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with reservations required. For reservations to the luncheon, to get raffle tickets or for more information, call 483-0748.

Renovation donations can also be made to The Wednesday Club of Suisun City, P.O. Box 294, Suisun City, 94585.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Friday, September 9, 2005

Police chief: Suisun needs more officers

From Daily Republic // Friday Sept. 9, 2005

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City Police Chief Ron Forsythe told a Suisun City Council study session Thursday he needs two more officers to give his city the two dozen sworn officers it needs to protect the city.

"With that, we won't be in the crisis we are currently in," Forsythe said.

Whether that will be what the city council considers when it puts its budget together next month is up to a consultant who is creating his own report on what the police department's baseline staffing should be.

Mayor Jim Spering called in the consultant, saying he wanted an objective analysis of what was needed to protect the city. He warned the consultant that "I will be very upset if you represent the (police) department or the employees."

Forsythe did not get a hoped-for commitment from the council to bring back a 24-hour police department, with Spering replying the city has to determine what it is fiscally capable of doing first.

Suisun police has 22 authorized sworn officers, 17 of whom are patrol officers. Only 10 officers are available for patrolling the city and are putting in long, hard hours.

The police force has been stretched to the limit with tight funding and losses due to retirements, injuries and officers leaving for other jobs.

The Solano County Sheriff's Department has helped by handling early morning patrols for the past two years and both police and residents are concerned that the city's entire law enforcement may be contracted out.

Recently hired Commander Charlie Heitz told the council many officers are leaving because of the continuing long hours and a concern about the department's future.

"The future of the organization is in doubt," Heitz said.

Spering replied later saying the police department itself is perpetuating the rumors of contracting out, adding "I wish you would stop saying that."

Commander Larry Profitt started laying out the crime problems the city is facing, such as the increase in gang activity with gang members migrating to the city from neighboring Fairfield.
Suisun City was being seen as a "safe haven" for gangs, Profitt said.

Spering cut Profitt's report off, saying "we know there's gangs, we know there's shootings, we need to focus on what the staffing level needs to be."

It is now up to the consultant to analyze Forsythe's report and other information has collected from the city, and issue his report by early October.

The council will then have to determine what it can afford, where the money will come from and how the police department's staffing can be maintained long term.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Suisun City to offer housing vouchers to Katrina victims

From Daily Republic // Sept. 8, 2005

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City's Housing Department is pitching in to help victims from Hurricane Katrina by putting aside several Section 8 housing vouchers to help them put roofs over their heads.

The Housing Department reserved six of the vouchers that could be transferred to hurricane victims who lost their homes when Katrina devastated much of the Gulf Coast late last month.

Suisun City responded to a request to cities across the country from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to help victims displaced by the storm and floods that followed.

City Clerk Linda Hobson has also emailed other city employees asking them for help with household goods, clothes, blanckets and other necessities should Hurricane Katrina refugees make their way to Suisun.

"This is a chance for Suisun City to do what they can," Hobson said.

Anyone wanting more information or wanting to help out can contact Hobson at 421-7332.

Community Development Director Jake Raper told the Suisun City Council Tuesday night that the move would not adversely affect the city's Section 8 housing program.

Mayor Jim Spering responded, encouraging all of the city's citizens to contribute what they could to non-profit groups such as the Red Cross to expedite recovery efforts.

Fairfield, also contracted by HUD, has not taken such a specific action, "but we have indicated that we are interested in helping any way that we can," said Lee Evans of Fairfield's Housing Services office.

The city has sent off a list of rental listings to HUD and set aside six vacancies in Fairfield's senior housing.

Vacaville's housing office said all of its Section 8 housing vouchers have been used and has none available to help Hurricane Katrina victims.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Council to discuss police coverage

From Daily Republic // Sept. 8, 2005

By Ian Thompson
SUISUN CITY - What to do to improve police coverage in Suisun City will be the subject of an afternoon city council study session today.

Suisun City Police Chief Ron Forsythe is expected to ask the Suisun City Council to put money in the city budget for two more patrol officers on the street.

Forsythe has said the department is stretched to the limit with losses due to retirements, injuries and officers leaving for other jobs, and that is even with the Solano County Sheriff's Department handling early morning patrols.

The council will study both police staffing and service level concerns as well as how to deal with these in light of a general fund budget that has already seen several years of cutbacks.

There will also be a consultant on hand who will talk to police department employees before the meeting, analyze any proposals put forward during the meeting and produce a report.

The report is expected to land back in city council hands by October, when the council starts its budget hearings.

In November 2001, the city tried unsuccessfully to pass a tax to support public safety. The department also used state and federal grants to fund many of its positions, but the grants went away.

Suisun City has contracted with the Sheriff's Department for two years to have deputies patrol the city during the early mornings.

The council has also pondered whether to contract out its police services completely.

The Suisun City Council meets at 3 p.m. in the Suisun City Council chamber at 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Monday, September 5, 2005

Visiting family and enjoying the food in Suisun City

Daily Republic // Monday, Sept. 5, 2005
By Brad Stanhope

SUISUN CITY - What better way to celebrate a trip to the West Coast and a military promotion in the family than with Greek food on the Suisun City waterfront?

"I've been here five days and I haven't seen a cloud," says Mike Lloyd, a newspaper editor from Grand Rapids, Mich., who is eating lunch with his daughter-in-law and grandson at the Athenian Grill. "The weather is fantastic - why live anywhere else . . . except for the house prices."

Lloyd is eating with Kristen Lloyd and her 2-year-old son Jack. It's their first visit to the heralded Greek restaurant and they're sitting outside on a warm weekday.

Kristen says she asked the waitress for a suggestion, since Greek food was a new experience.
"I've mostly eaten it at fairs and carnivals," she says, laughing. "I'm impressed."

The visit to the Athenian Grill comes during Mike's visit to celebrate his son's promotion to lieutenant colonel at Travis AFB.

"Since he was visiting from out of town, we were looking for adventure," Kristen says. "This is an adventure. We'd heard it's a great restaurant. It was highly recommended by Air Force families."

While Mike and Kristen eat their Greek lunches, Jack munches on a more kid-appropriate faire.

"He's a good restaurant guy," Kristen says. "Give him chicken and fries and it's all right."

Mike plans to leave the area today and return to the upper Midwest. He'll leave behind the warm, non-humid weather, sunny skies, Greek food and his son, daughter-in-law and grandson.
And also, the high housing prices.

Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6925 or

Drawing inspiration from Suisun Marsh, artist's work featured on state hunting license

From Daily Republic // Monday, Sept. 5, 2005
By Barry Eberling

SUISUN CITY - Rich Radigonda finds inspiration for his creative side amid the solitude of remote Suisun Marsh wetlands.

The 67-year-old sold his Walnut Creek auto repair business seven years ago and became a full-time artist. His studio is on his Suisun Marsh duck club - in a second-story room overlooking Grizzly Bay, wetlands and tules. As many as 200 egrets sometimes flock to a nearby canal.

Otters live in the waterways.

"This is why I had to have this place," he said. "The view was everything. It's definitely a place to work."

Every duck hunter in California will see one of his most recent works. He won the contest for the soon-to-be-issued 2005 state duck stamp.

Duck hunters must buy the stamp from the state Department of Fish and Game for $13.50 and put it on their hunting licenses. Collectors also buy them. Money goes toward wetlands programs. Radigonda said the state sells about 75,000 stamps overall.

His winning duck stamp painting depicts a pintail drake taking flight, its legs kicking up the water near a clump of the plant called Swamp Timothy. Three other ducks fly against a blue sky with white clouds.

It's a scene out of Suisun Marsh - or is it? The foothills in the background could be either the nearby Mount Diablo range or the Sutter Buttes in far-away Colusa County. The eucalyptus and oak trees fit in with lots of places. This is no particular duck hunting ground and a little bit of all of them.

"Since it was for California, I tried to make it fit more than one area," said Radigonda, who lives in Benicia.

So Suisun Marsh provided the atmosphere for painting, not the particulars of Radigonda's duck stamp entry.

Radigonda has long been interested in both waterfowl and art. As an 8-year-old growing up in San Francisco, he built a raft to get a closer look at the ducks on the bay at Hunters Point. He wanted to draw them.

He and a friend ended up a quarter-mile from shore and unable to return. A passing boater rescued them.

His father introduced him to duck hunting, as well took him to auto races and air shows. Ducks, planes and race cars are three of Radigonda's main painting topics.

Radigonda has hunted on Suisun Marsh for decades. He can remember when people crossed Montezuma Slough on a slow-moving ferry powered by a Ford Model A motor, long before a bridge got built there. In 1998, he bought a 56-acre duck club amid this 115,000-acre, state-protected area.

Like all Suisun Marsh duck clubs, Radigonda's land is behind levees. He floods and drains the land at certain times of the year, growing brass buttons, fat hen and other plants that waterfowl like to eat.

It's a big job for one man. Unlike most duck club owners, Radigonda isn't motivated primarily by hunting.

"I don't shoot a lot of ducks out here," he said. "It's really used more for my artwork."
He first tried to win a duck stamp contest in 1984, but placed fourth for the Nevada stamp. He's tried about 10 times overall, tying for first for the California stamp in 1993, but ultimately losing.

"You strive for something, you wonder if it is ever going to happen," Radigonda said.

Now he's got the winner.

He's moving on to his next painting. The inspiration comes from his days with the U.S. Navy during the 1950s, when he worked on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga.

Radigonda helped with the catapults that allow jet planes to take off on the short runways. Steam-powered pistons pulled the planes across the decks to hasten their acceleration. The plane accelerated from 0 mph to 130 mph in two seconds.

This painting of the airplane catapult will be almost a self-portrait, Radigonda said. He won't be recognizable in it, but it's a scene from his past.

People can view and purchase Radigonda's work at his Web site at

Radigonda has wanted to draw and do artwork since he was a child. But his high school didn't offer much art instruction. As an adult, his creative urges often took a back seat to the need to earn a living. Retirement changed that.

"I'm free to create what I want to and create whenever I want to," Radigonda said.

And Suisun Marsh provides the atmosphere.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or

Controversy surfacing over redevelopment of Suisun City waterfront

From Daily Republic // Monday, Sept. 5, 2005
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - A proposal to expand Adams Marine's boatyard into an adjacent parcel is still Suisun City's favored plan for one of the waterfront's last undeveloped parcels.

The City Council is expected to further that relationship Tuesday night when it votes to formally negotiate with Adams Marine owner Bill Adams should his proposal be approved by the city's Redevelopment Agency.

That does not sit well with three other local developers who want to put eight live-work homes on the parcel and said the city led them on for almost a year before news about the Adams Marine development surfaced publicly.

"We submitted our proposal three weeks before Adams did," said Shane Ballman, one of the developers.

Adams said he has been trying to buy that land from the city for seven years and has been angling to expand his business there long before Ballman, James Jensen and Jim Pitcher showed up.

Both sides have already had one showdown in June before the City Council and Ballman, Jensen and Pitcher are still trying to push the city to give them an equal shot.

"That is all we ask," Jensen said.

It is something that Suisun City's downtown area has not seen for some time - two groups of developers vying against each other for the right to develop one piece of waterfront land.

Suisun City officials have put the proposal by Adams in the front seat on the contention that he already has an existing business adjacent to the parcel in question.

While saying he is interested in any proposal for the land, Mayor Jim Spering had said he would not do so at the expense of an existing business such as Adams Marine.

Adams contends his project would generate sales tax revenue that city leaders say they badly need.

Ballman and Jensen say the city has been showing Adams favoritism despite promises to them by then-Redevelopment Director Randy Starbuck that they would get equal time.

They pointed out that Suisun City's Redevelopment Agency holds a mortgage on land owned by Adams in Lake County. The mortgage was sold to the redevelopment agency by another lender in 2000, according to the Lake County Assessor's Office.

Adams' business has been a retail money maker for the town, according to the city, some years being its single biggest source of sales tax revenue.

For Suisun City, whose revenues have been flat for years while costs of running the town have steadily risen, bringing in projects that generate more sales tax is a top priority.

Adams said he is also working to buy the land Adams Marine sits on which is presently leased to him by the city's Redevelopment Agency.

If the city goes with Adams proposed expansion, Ballman and Jensen promised to take legal action and demand that the city's dealings with Adams be investigated.

Jensen and Ballman said they have been talking with Suisun City's Redevelopment Agency since early 2004 about their live-work housing project.

They had also shown Suisun City business groups a variation of their proposed development that has a lighthouse which would have a bait shop and private residence.

The two argue that putting their lighthouse on part of the parcel would be doing the city a favor by allowing it to save money by not having to build a lighthouse at the head of the slough.

A proposal to build a restaurant, kayak rental store and office space on the waterside land that Adams doesn't use has not moved forward since it was announced earlier this year by Fairfield real estate investor John Scaff.

Scaff could not be reached for comment on where his proposal now stands.

Adams wants to expand his business another 85 feet, adding 5,600 square feet with an upstairs office and more service bays. He is also looking at putting another marine-related business in the building.

"The harbor is going to expand eventually, and we want to be a part of that," Adams said.

Adams said his business will bring in more sales tax revenue and create more jobs. The project is expected to cost $1.7 million, both buying the land and building on it.

As for the competing developers, he said their proposal is not compatible at all for land that is located next to his existing business. Once his business fires up boat engines for testing, the homeowners will "fire up the complaints."

The Suisun City Council and Redevelopment Agency meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Suisun City Council chamber at 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Who: Suisun City Council
What: Approving a developer selection process for several city-owned parcels including one proposed for an expansion of Adams Marine.
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Suisun City Council chambers, Suisun City Hall, 701 Civic Center Blvd.
Info: 421-7300

Friday, September 2, 2005

Suisun City Council to seek solutions to officer shortage

From Daily Republic // Sept. 2, 2005

By Ian Thompson
SUISUN CITY - Suisun City's thin blue line has never been more fragile.

Due to a mix of retirements, officers leaving for other jobs, an injury and pregnancies, the department that had 22 sworn officers is putting three officers on the street each of the two shifts the department pulls.

Some officers have worked 14 days at a time and some pulled 20 hours on duty, according to Suisun City Police Chief Ron Forsythe.

Replacements are still in training and Forsythe has called in two retired officers from other departments to help run the department's operations and investigations.

That is with the Solano County Sheriff's Department covering one of those three shifts and recently adding an hour to the time their deputies are on Suisun City's streets.

The City Council will hold a study session on Sept. 8 on what to do about the city's public safety situation and will hear from consultants who have examined the department and the dispatch center.

Forsythe plans to recommend the city fund two more patrol officers to reinforce the thin line of officers he has to keep order in Suisun City.

The police chief called the study session "a critical juncture for the future of public safety in this community" which could turn the department back to 24-hour coverage or contracting out for police services.

"In absence of a long-term funding source, I will ask for interim steps for funding until the community can weigh on the possibility of some kind of tax," Forsythe said.

Forsythe is running a department with a count-the-pennies budget with the hope to someday again cover the streets around the clock instead of handing one shift to the Sheriff's Department.

This is a year after Mayor Jim Spering suggested the city seriously examine the possibility of contracting out Suisun City's police coverage, an idea that struck a raw nerve in a city council election year.

Solano County Sheriff Gary Stanton gladly offered his department's services two years ago to cover Suisun City Police Department's graveyard shift.

While Stanton has said it is hard to argue with the numbers and economies of scale his department offers, he has also repeatedly said he respects the city's desire to keep its department intact. Last summer, Forsythe had said he hoped to have Suisun police back on the job around the clock as soon as this year if finances get better.

Stanton said the situation for Suisun City police is not improving, a stance Forsythe agreed with, but Stanton said any decision over the fate of Suisun City's finest will be made by city officials.

In addition to covering the extra hour for Suisun City police at night, sheriff's deputies are hearing more requests for assistance from Suisun City police.

"They call frequently for backup," Stanton said. "They ask for resources during their normal shift."

The sheriff's office will provide what help it can provided it has sworn or reserve deputies to spare, he said.

The current arrangement can last only so long. At some point, Stanton will have to ask for a long-term commitment in order to hire officers to cover Suisun City, Forsythe said.

Sheriff's deputies have been great to work with, said Suisun City Police Sgt. Doug Riddick. In their small agency, officers handle a number of duties such as code enforcement and community policing, but Riddick doesn't feel overwhelmed.

"I don't think the work load is any different from any other agency," Riddick said. "Officers handle about four to five report calls a night. Some days are busier than others."

With less people on the force, officers may take minutes longer to respond to calls, Riddick said.

"I think anytime staffing is lower, response time is slower," Riddick said. "That creates less desirable conditions for the public."

Morale in the department is down, Riddick said. Officers are leaving for other agencies where their futures are secure. Riddick has never seen the department in this condition in his 28 years on the force.

"The department is at a crossroads," Riddick said. "People don't know which way it's going to go right now. I would like to see it continue. Time will tell if they have they staff and can maintain it."

Suisun City tried unsuccessfully in November 2001 to pass a tax to support public safety. It needed two-thirds of the vote to win, only got 47.1 percent, "and all the things we predicted would happen have come true," Forsythe said.

The police department had floated many of its programs and police officer positions on state and federal grants "but the trouble with grants is that they go away."

The department has lost six positions through budget cuts and has left 22 sworn officers who have bled even more due to retirements, injuries, pregnancies and military call-ups.

"We are now at the point where we are too understaffed to ensure that an in-progress emergency can have two officers respond to it," Forsythe said.

Making these law enforcement ends meet has meant putting officers on long shifts and working up to 14 hours at a time.

The contract with the Sheriff's Department was recently expanded temporarily to bring the deputies on patrol an hour earlier to give Suisun police time it needs to get newly-hired officers trained and on the streets.

"And that will continue," Forsythe said of the change.

Most recently, Forsythe hired on two retired senior officers, Lt. Charlie Heigtz from Hayward who will be the department's operations commander and Larry Profitt, who will head investigations.

Suisun City is old ground for Profitt, who left Suisun City years ago to be Rio Vista's police chief and then city manager.

"This is so I can bring some experience to the organization," Forsythe said of the move.
Forsythe and many officers are dead set against seeing Suisun City's law enforcement contracted out.

"The community is best served by having a department that is part of this community," Forsythe said, "and you don't have that when you contract out."

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at